Saturday, July 31, 2010

Clear Signs of a Warming World

Global warming signs unmistakable, report says. A new report by 300 scientists has flagged the past decade as the hottest on record and compiled 10 "unmistakable" indicators that the world is getting warmer.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Huge chunk of ice breaks off of glacier in Greenland

A 2.7-square-mile (7-square-kilometer) section has broken off Greenland's Jakobshavn Isbrae glacier, NASA scientists report. Greenland's ice sheet, which is 2 miles (3.2 km) thick and covers an area about the size of Mexico, has been losing ice mass at an accelerating rate over the last decade. The ice sheet discharges much of its ice through fast moving glaciers that flow into the sea, with large chunks breaking off into the ocean. This most recent breakup last week pushed the calving front – where the ice sheet meets the ocean – back nearly a mile (1.5 km) in one day. The front is now farther inland than at any time previously observed.

The U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Centre, the Colorado-based institute that tracks the annual cycle of winter ice buildup and summer thaw, says in its latest report that June's rapid melt - which followed a similar record-setting retreat in May - means the polar ice cover remained on pace to shrink more than it did in 2007, when an unprecedented loss of ice first prompted scientists to raise alarms about the Arctic as a harbinger of global climate change.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mikhail Gorbachev on the Right to Water...

The right of every human being to safe drinking water and basic sanitation should be recognized and realized.

The United Nations estimates that nearly 900 million people live without clean water and 2.6 billion without proper sanitation. Water, the basic ingredient of life, is among the world’s most prolific killers. At least 4,000 children die every day from water-related diseases. In fact, more lives have been lost after World War II due to contaminated water than from all forms of violence and war.

This humanitarian catastrophe has been allowed to fester for generations. We must stop it.

Mikhail Gorbachev was the leader of the Soviet Union from 1985 until its dissolution in 1991. He is a founding member of Green Cross International and is on its board.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The incredible shrinking solar cell

The next generation of solar cells will be small. About the size of lint. But the anticipated impact: That’s huge.

Some of these emerging electricity-generating cells could be embedded in windows without obscuring the view. Engineers envision incorporating slightly larger ones into resins that would be molded onto the tops of cars or maybe the roofs of buildings. One team of materials scientists is developing microcells that could be rubber-stamped by the millions onto a yard of fabric. When such cells shrink in size — but not efficiency — it becomes hard to imagine what they couldn’t electrify.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Get Used to Heat Waves...

Folks sweating out the heat wave battering parts of the country may just have to get used to it.

As global warming continues such heat waves will be increasingly common in the future, a Stanford University study concludes.

"In the next 30 years, we could see an increase in heat waves like the one now occurring in the eastern United States or the kind that swept across Europe in 2003 that caused tens of thousands of fatalities," Noah Diffenbaugh, an assistant professor of environmental Earth system science at Stanford, said in a statement.

Diffenbaugh and Moetasim Ashfaq, a former Stanford postdoctoral fellow now at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, used a series of computer models of climate to calculate changes in the future with increased levels of carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere. Their findings are reported in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

They calculate that within 30 years average temperature could be 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, or 2 Celsius, higher than in the mid-1800s.

That level of increase has been reported by others and most atmospheric scientists expect it to lead to warming and a change in a variety of weather and climate conditions.

Diffenbaugh and Ashfaq focus specifically on heat waves over the United States.

They reported that an intense heat wave equal to the longest on record from 1951 to 1999 is likely to occur as many as five times between 2020 and 2029 over areas of the western and central United States.

In addition, they said the 2030s are projected to be even hotter.

"Occurrence of the longest historical heat wave further intensifies in the 2030-2039 period, including greater than five occurrences per decade over much of the western U.S. and greater than three exceedences per decade over much of the eastern U.S.," the researchers reported.

"I did not expect to see anything this large within the next three decades. This was definitely a surprise," Diffenbaugh said.

The research was funded by the Energy Department and the National Science Foundation. The climate model simulations were generated and analyzed at Purdue University.