10 Jul

Summer Arctic Ice loss accelerating way faster than predicted

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When I wrote Arctic Rising, 2050 for ice-free sounded science fictional. Now some scientists are saying it’s 2040:

“Looking at not just the area, but also the age and thickness of sea ice is a key aspect of understanding why an ice-free Arctic summer could occur in far less time than previously thought – perhaps less than a decade from now.  It is also a level of complexity often ignored by the media.”

(Via Summer Sea Ice Cover Is Smaller, Younger, Thinner | Barentsobserver.)

01 Jul

Miami set to end up underwater at this rate

Rolling Stones has a very detailed look at why Miami has a lot of challenges ahead due to global warming:

“Of course, South Florida is not the only place that will be devastated by sea-level rise. London, Boston, New York and Shanghai are all vulnerable, as are low-lying underdeveloped nations like Bangladesh. But South Florida is uniquely screwed, in part because about 75 percent of the 5.5 million people in South Florida live along the coast. And unlike many cities, where the wealth congregates in the hills, southern Florida’s most valuable real estate is right on the water. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development lists Miami as the number-one most vulnerable city worldwide in terms of property damage, with more than $416 billion in assets at risk to storm-related flooding and sea-level rise.

South Florida has two big problems. The first is its remarkably flat topography. Half the area that surrounds Miami is less than five feet above sea level. Its highest natural elevation, a limestone ridge that runs from Palm Beach to just south of the city, averages a scant 12 feet. With just three feet of sea-level rise, more than a third of southern Florida will vanish; at six feet, more than half will be gone; if the seas rise 12 feet, South Florida will be little more than an isolated archipelago surrounded by abandoned buildings and crumbling overpasses. And the waters won’t just come in from the east – because the region is so flat, rising seas will come in nearly as fast from the west too, through the Everglades.”

(Via Rolling Stone Mobile – Politics – Politics: Why the City of Miami Is Doomed to Drown.)

18 Jun

More floods coming as world warms further

More floods are coming. Of interest is that the Flood Insurance Program is paid for by governments. No private industry is able to backstop flood insurance, so the government steps in to allow us to continue building near water that rises.

“Yesterday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) published a landmark investigation on the connections between climate change, population growth and sea-level rise. The study concludes that the amount of the U.S. at risk for floods could increase 45% by 2100, doubling the number of flood-prone properties covered by the National Flood Insurance program and exacting a strenuous toll on the country’s Flood Insurance Program.”

(Via Massive Floods Are Coming. We Are Not Prepared..)

Reason Magazine has a pretty good, and I believe accurate, rant on this:

The flood insurance program was created by Congress in 1968 to fill a void: because of the risk, few carriers provided flood insurance. Now, private insurers offer flood insurance in a partnership with the government — but taxpayers shoulder all the risk. It has turned out to be a bad bet. The program is $18 billion in debt, a sum the government acknowledges probably will never be paid back by premiums, and it is likely to need a new multibillion-dollar infusion to pay claims from Hurricane Sandy. It is long past time for the government to stop subsidizing home and business owners who live and build in dangerous flood zones.

Homeowners and businesses should be responsible for purchasing their own flood insurance on the private market, if they can find it. If they can’t, then the market is telling them that where they live is too dangerous. [emphasis added] If they choose to live in harm’s way, they should bear the cost of that risk — not the taxpayers. Government’s primary role is ensuring the safety of its citizens, so the government’s subsidizing of risky behavior is completely backward.

09 Jun

Two 1-in-100 to 1-in-500 year floods in eleven years is a bit suspicious

Central Europe taking a global warming hit (link via Christopher Mims on twitter):

“If it seems like getting two 1-in-100 to 1-in-500 year floods in eleven years is a bit suspicious–well, it is. Those recurrence intervals are based on weather statistics from Earth’s former climate. We are now in a new climate regime with more heat and moisture in the atmosphere, combined with altered jet stream patterns, which makes major flooding disasters more likely in certain parts of the world, like Central Europe. As I discussed in a March 2013 post, ‘Are atmospheric flow patterns favorable for summer extreme weather increasing?’, research published this year by scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in German found that extreme summertime jet stream patterns had become twice as common during 2001 – 2012 compared to the previous 22 years.”

(Via Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog : Extreme Jet Stream Pattern Triggers Historic European Floods | Weather Underground.)

30 May

Arctic ice continues melting dramatically

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I’m still not seeing a lot of calls for ice-free summers in 2050-ish, which is the ‘sf-nal’ component of my recent novel Arctic Rising, but Phil Plait here goes over why it will likely be by 2100:

“These two issues overlap mightily when it comes to Arctic sea ice. The ice around the North Pole is going away, and it’s doing so with alarming rapidity. I don’t mean the yearly cycle of melt in the summer and freeze in the winter, though that plays into this; I mean the long-term trend of declining amounts of ice. There are two ways to categorize the amount of ice: by measuring the extent (essentially the area of the ocean covered by ice, though in detail it’s a little more complicated) or using volume, which includes the thickness of the ice. Either way, though, the ice is dwindling away. That is a fact.”

(Via Arctic sea ice: Global warming is melting more ice every year.)

16 May

Climate research pretty unanimous on cause

Pretty straightforward consensus:

“A survey of thousands of peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals has found 97.1% agreed that climate change is caused by human activity.

Authors of the survey, published on Thursday in the journal Environmental Research Letters, said the finding of near unanimity provided a powerful rebuttal to climate contrarians who insist the science of climate change remains unsettled.”

(Via Climate research nearly unanimous on human causes, survey finds | Environment | guardian.co.uk.)

03 May

White House getting briefed on Arctic ice death spiral

The Department of Defense worries about global warming play a strong part in my novel Arctic Rising. In particular the Navy’s interest in global warming got my attention and a lot of the research for the novel sparked.

“US national security officials have taken an increasing interest in the destabilising impact of climate change. In February this year, the US Department of Defense (DoD) released its new Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap, which noted that global warming will have:

‘… significant geopolitical impacts around the world, contributing to greater competition for more limited and critical life-sustaining resources like food and water.’

The effects of climate change may:

‘Act as accelerants of instability or conflict in parts of the world… [and] may also lead to increased demands for defense support to civil authorities for humanitarian assistance or disaster response, both within the United States and overseas … DoD will need to adjust to the impacts of climate change on its facilities, infrastructure, training and testing activities, and military capabilities.’

(Via White House warned on imminent Arctic ice death spiral | Nafeez Ahmed.)