New Computer Allows Researchers to Analyze Climate Data at the Local Level

Climate behavior has always been an interest and concern among meteorologists. Researchers have always relied upon technology to record the data they need to help them analyze weather patterns. Scientists now have a new supercomputer at their disposal that can help them expand their research to new depths.

This new computer is known as Yellowstone and will help researchers study the weather and give them more precise data. The technological sophistication of Yellowstone will help researchers compute data on a regional level, rather than from a more broad continental scale. This will allow scientists to determine how temperatures affect water resources, wind patterns and wildlife.

Limitations in computing power have always been the setback for researchers. Older systems simply were unable to provide details on local climate and how it factors into the behavior of the weather in coastlines, valleys and mountain ranges.

Yellowstone will cost around 30 million dollars to operate; it is currently being funded by the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The computer will shed light on much anticipated questions, such as how much dryer will some regions be by the middle of this century and how much warmer will the summer season become.

Mathew Maltrud, who works out of Los Alamos Laboratory, works with models that simulate the behavior of rivers, vegetation and ocean tides. He says that the Yellowstone will allow the models to provide a more realistic representation and a more accurate prediction of what we can expect the weather to be like in the next 30 or so years.

With a superior capacity for storing data, Yellowstone will also be able to provide a snapshot of the climate every few hours rather than days.

With the advancement of research tools, scientists will be able to provide a better analysis of how the climate is changing and what, if anything, can mankind do about it.

Meat Consumption Linked to Global Warming

Some people just love to consume meat. No meal to these people is considered complete without a serving of steak or pork chop. Health studies, however, have long confirmed that the regular consumption of processed meat is associated with heart disease, high blood pressure and other ailments.

A separate study has now shown that there is another reason for cutting back on meat other than your health. For every serving of meat you consume, you may be contributing to the increase of nitrous oxide (N2O), a toxic greenhouse gas that is emitted and released into the atmosphere.

A study performed by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is urging that meat consumption on a global scale needs to be curtailed by at least 50 percent by the year 2050.

N2O is believed to be the third largest contributor to global warming, right behind carbon dioxide and methane. N2O is mainly spread through the use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers in farming and agriculture. Bacteria breaks down the fertilizer and releases the nitrous oxide into the air. The fertilizer is also used in handling livestock manure.

By consuming less meat, there will be lesser demands for it. This means less livestock and a lesser need for the use of fertilizers. It’s basically a domino effect that begins with the consumer’s decision to cut back on the consumption of animal flesh.

This is obviously not good news if you enjoy meat. Of course, nobody is advocating that the whole world adopts a vegetarian diet. The study simply revealed that there is a harm done to the environment as the demands for meat production increases. If you like the taste of meat, you are not obligated in any way to give it up. However, it wouldn’t hurt to cut down your daily intake by a serving or two.

The Truth About Global Warming

For a world already torn by various weather catastrophes, the latest caveat from top climate scientists foresees a decidedly grim future: More heat waves, more floods, more droughts and higher costs to deal with them. A draft summary by an international scientific report explains the extremes caused by global warming could eventually grow so rigorous that some locations become “increasingly marginal as places to live.”

The report from the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicates a change in climate science; that is, from focusing on subtle shifts in average temperatures to concentrating on the even trickier freak events that grab headlines, injure economies and even kill people. Experts on extreme storms have focused closer on the increasing number of super-heavy rainstorms, and not snow.

By the end of the century, the intense, single-day rainstorms that typically happen only once every twenty years now will happen only twice a decade. The summary chapter did not detail what regions of the world could possibly be afflicted by extremes so very awful that they will leave them habitable, marginally only.

There is an 80 percent chance that the recent Russian heat wave of 2010 would not have happened without the added push of global warming. Scientists think that all future hurricanes and other tropical cyclones to have stronger winds, however they will not increase in number and could actually decrease.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology meteorology professor Kerry Emanuel, who studies the climate’s effects on hurricanes, disagrees and believes more of these intense storms will occur.
Well, global warming is not the only villain that will be responsible for future climate disasters.

Al Gore Does It Again

The time has come for the world to face the impending realities of climate change. That is the message which was expressed by Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, that recently launched called “24 Hours of Reality.” This event, beginning at 7pm CT (8pm ET) on September 14, and running for 24 hours straight, is a global event featuring 24 presenters in 24 time zones, who “will connect the dots between recent extreme weather events — including floods, droughts and storms — and the manmade pollution that is changing our climate.”

The event comes on the heels of droughts, hurricanes and other extreme weather events that are slamming the United States, and as the country ended the second-hottest summer ever recorded.

The Climate Reality Project, in anticipation of the event has released video advertisements that suggest that when it comes to the climate crisis, “the fat lady is singing and the shit has hit the fan.”

You can watch the “24 Hours of Reality” event on a livestream in English on starting at 8pm ET.

Free live streaming by Ustream

Here is the write up on the Climate Reality website:

What is 24 Hours of Reality?

24 Presenters. 24 Time Zones. 13 Languages. 1 Message. 24 Hours of Reality is a worldwide event to broadcast the reality of the
climate crisis. It will consist of a new multimedia presentation created by Al Gore and delivered once per hour for 24 hours, representing every time zone around the globe. Each hour people living with the reality of climate change will connect the dots between recent extreme weather events — including floods, droughts and storms — and the manmade pollution that is changing our climate. We will offer a round-the-clock, round-the-globe snapshot of the climate crisis in real time. The deniers may have millions of dollars to spend, but we have a powerful advantage. We have reality.

When is 24 Hours of Reality?

24 Hours of Reality will be broadcast live online from September 14 to 15, over 24 hours, representing 24 time zones and 13 languages.

Where is 24 Hours of Reality?

From Tonga to Cape Verde, Mexico City to Alaska, Jakarta to London, people living with the impacts of climate change every day will tell their story. You can experience as much as you like without even leaving your home. Click here to find the location — or locations — where you would like to watch a presentation. Due to logistical considerations, three of the presentations will be broadcast remotely from New York — Tonga, the Solomon Islands and French Polynesia — but will include local footage and information. All other presentations will be filmed on location around the world.

Durban Climate Conference

Later on in 2011, international climate change negotiators will meet in Africa to look back on the famine which is now sweeping the eastern parts of that continent, and make predictions that climate change will be largely injurious to Africa’s future food production.

The World Bank’s special envoy on climate change, Andrew Steer, told The Associated Press:

“The challenges are overwhelming… Africa needs to triple food production by 2050…At the same time, you’ve got climate change lowering average yields …. So, of course, we need something different.”

He hopes for a refocused look at agriculture to take place at the talks that are to be held in South Africa’s eastern city of Durban, the first talks in Africa since Nairobi hosted a round in 2006. South Africa says that as chair of the Durban conference, it will alert the industrializing nations to deliver money and technology to help developing countries in Africa to create clean industries and cope with the droughts and floods.

Africa is hard hit by the effects of climate change and needs more money for managing water and creating seeds for food crops which can withstand droughts and floods.

Researchers with the United Nations-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that global agriculture accounts for 14 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. This is more than transportation’s 13 percent and almost at the industry’s 19 percent. Farming’s contribution to global warming possibly might offset techniques to store and sequester more and more carbon in soil and trees.

Sequestering carbon is good for the environment and has even yielded increases.

“You invest in things that are good for yields, good for resilience and also sequester more carbon…You can have it both ways if you get carbon back in soils.”

Steer says it is hard to determine exactly how much money is needed, and cautioned that while agreements on helping poor countries and a focus on agriculture could emerge at Durban.

Durban isn’t “a pledging session”, mind you, said Mr. Steer on the sidelines of a climate change conference on farming which attracted agriculture ministers from across Africa to Johannesburg.

In a speech which opened the Johannesburg conference, South African agriculture minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said that “Food security, poverty and climate are closely linked and should not be considered separately.”

Irene and Climate Change

Is climate change the driving force behind Hurricane Irene?

Kim Knowlton is a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council. She told the HuffPo:

“No one is going to point to Irene and say this is climate change…But we can say that we are seeing the fingerprint of climate change this year.”

This is in reference to the growing list of extreme weather events which have run amuck in the U.S. this year.

Atlantic hurricanes and tropical storms with “more destructive potential” have been linked to climate change as far back as the 1970s, according to Knowlton. Such higher wind speeds and larger quantities of rain are expected to accompany future storms, similar to the one currently pounding the East Coast.

Global warming apparently also redistributes storms, sending them on a northward trajectory. That means cities such as Boston and New York are in crucial danger.

This vulnerability to hurricanes is increased by other factors, some of which are linked to climate change than hurricanes themselves.

It seems as if some of the storm’s worst consequences, particularly the flooding, are being exacerbated by the long-term trend of rising sea levels. According to one expert:

“Sea levels around New York have gone up 13 inches over last hundred years…What that means is that the five foot wall protecting Manhattan is one foot less able to keep water out than it was a century ago. This is going to be a kind of wake-up call for New York City: It’s the first time they’re going to have to evacuate from Zone A, and it’s not going to be the last.”

A Gallup poll released last Friday reports that Americans considered climate change less of a problem in 2010 than in any year past: only 55 percent of those polled thought that it posed a threat to both they and their families. Perhaps that figure will change when 2011 is finished.

The Problem with British Jelly Fish

A foray of jellyfish into a cooling water pond at a Scottish nuclear power plant kept its nuclear reactors offline last Wednesday, a phenomenon that could become more common in the future.

Two reactors at EDF Energy’s Torness nuclear plant on the Scottish east coast remained closed for one day after they were manually shut down due to masses of jellyfish blocking cooling water filters.

Power plants draw water from nearby rivers or seas to cool down their reactors, however, if the filters that keep out marine animals and seaweed are clogged up, the station shuts down to maintain its temperature and safety standards.

Britain’s Office for Nuclear Regulation said that power plants follow a pre-planned program when such situations occur.

The most recent plant availability data from network operator National Grid showed Torness reactor 1 would be returning to service on July 5 and reactor 2, July 6, although, operator EDF Energy was unable to give a restart date.

Operators often take the opportunity presented by an unplanned stoppage to carry out maintenance work.

A spokesman for Britain’s largest nuclear power operator, EDF Energy, said:

“We are working to clear the jellyfish from the waters near the power station. This work, as well as monitoring the area for more jellyfish, is ongoing.”


Scientists say jellyfish obstructing power plants is not a common occurrence in England, though it has happened more often in other countries like Japan.

Water temperatures off the east coast of Scotland are currently 13 degrees Celsius, that is one degree above average levels for this time of the year.

Increasing global warming and fishing activity are giving jellyfish populations a boost, potentially making jellyfish invasions at nuclear power plants located near the open sea increasingly common in the future.

Arctic Warming Conference

At an Arctic warming conference in Copenhagen, scientists were told to use plain language to explain the dramatic melt in the region to a world reluctant to take action against climate change.

An authoritative report released at the meeting of 400 scientists showed melting ice in the Arctic might help raise global sea levels by as much as 5 feet this century.

The Arctic has been warming twice the pace of the global average in recent decades, and the latest five-year period is the warmest since measurements began in the 19th century.

The report stressed “the need for greater urgency” in combating global warming. However, nations remain bogged down in their two-decade-long talks on reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

The World Bank’s special envoy for climate change, Andrew Steer, insisted that the new findings “are a cause for great concern.” The sea rise will affect millions of people in both poor and rich countries, though, would particularly affect the poor.

Steer said bank studies portrayed the costs of major flooding events on infrastructure and the economy could run into billions of dollars.

Kyoto Protocol Successor

Kyoto Protocol NewspaperTalks by the United Nations have run out of time to meet the December 2012 deadline to set the binding successor to the Kyoto Protocol on curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

After more than three years of talks, Christiana Figueres said countries could not agree in time a full deal to follow on from Kyoto targets, which bind nearly forty industrialized nations to emissions cuts in 2008-2012.

Nations would need to ratify any new deal in national parliaments for it to have equal legal force with the Kyoto Protocol.

For now, this is considered impossible in the time frame, given the earliest that a deal could be agreed to in Durban will not be until the end of this year.

“Even if they were able to agree on a legal text for a second commitment period (of Kyoto), that requires an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol, it requires legislative ratifications on the part of three-quarters of the parties, so we would assume that there’s no time to do that between Durban and the end of 2012…Countries have realised this, that they actually stand before the potential of a regulatory gap, and are involved in constructive negotiations as to how they’re going to deal with that…”

The chief climate negotiator for the European Union told reporters that 2014 or 2015 is a more realistic target for a full legal framework.

Greenhouse Gas and the Courts

Despite the seethe of fringe scientists and conservative politicians, it remains a fact that greenhouse gases produced by mankind are among the main contributors to global warming.

The week before last, the Supreme Court considered one such way that emissions could be controlled, that’s through a huge and ungainly lawsuit filed by California and five other states against five different power firms as well as the Tennessee Valley Authority. A number of judges conveyed skepticism regarding the suit however should the court reject it there still won’t be opportunities for subsiding greenhouse gases.

While the lawyers and judges batted abstruse legal terms, the salient arguments regarding whether states had a right to sue and what the role of the courts should be in reducing emissions. One dilemma the states are faced with is the grounding of their suit not in the Clean Air Act but in the common-law idea that the courts should intercede to address the “public nuisance” made by the defendants’ emissions. The lawyer of the power companies mentioned — and the justices agreed —the court’s authority in the case is displaced by the Environmental Protection Agency.

A related weakness of the case is that the lawsuit would make the courts the regulator of first resort. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg put it, the states would “set up a district judge, who does not have the resources, the expertise, as a kind of super EPA.”

The case is different from a 2007 decision where the court ruled the EPA had the authority from Congress to control carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. In that case, regarding emissions from cars, the ruling was anchored to a statute and the court’s role was to interpret it. The finding that the EPA could regulate greenhouse gases has had matter-of-fact consequences: The Obama administration commenced the rule-making process for such regulation.