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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sea Level rising 60% faster than IPCC projections

Sea Level is rising 60% faster than IPCC projections according to a new climate change related study comparing the actual rise in CO2 concentration, global temperature and sea level with past projections done by the IPCC.

Rising Global temperatures are consistent with past projections made by the IPCC fourth assessment report. But Projections for sea level rise amounted to 2 mm a year, while sea-levels are actually rising at a rate of 3.2 mm a year.

Lead author of the study, Stefan Rahmstorf, said: "This study shows once again that the IPCC is far from alarmist, but in fact has under-estimated the problem of climate change. That applies not just for sea-level rise, but also to extreme events and the Arctic sea-ice loss."

Figure 2: Sea level measured by satellite altimeter (red with linear trend line; AVISO data from (Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales) and reconstructed from tide gauges (orange, monthly data from Church and White (2011)). Tide gauge data were aligned to give the same mean during 1993–2010 as the altimeter data. The scenarios of the IPCC are again shown in blue (third assessment) and green (fourth assessment); the former have been published starting in the year 1990 and the latter from 2000. From Comparing climate projections to observations up to 2011 Stefan Rahmstorf et al 2012 Environ. Res. Lett. 7 044035 doi:10.1088/1748-9326/7/4/044035

Chasing Ice: James Balog sounding the alarm on Glacier retreat and global warming

A new documentary film on extreme ice loss from glaciers - one of the impacts of global warming - is doing the rounds. Chasing Ice documents the work of National Geographic photographer James Balog in documenting the massive changes to glaciers in the Arctic region where global warming is having a much higher impact than in the mid latutudes or the tropics. Film maker Jeff Orlowski follows Balog on expeditions to the glaciers and tells Balog's story of the rapid and profound changes happening to glaciers.

The film Chasing Ice is the result. In september 2012 it won the Best Documentary at the 22nd Annual Awards of the Environmental Media Association, Excellence in Cinematography Award: US Documentary at the Sundance Film festival and some 21 other awards.

Australia's largest proposed wind farm on King Island to supply electricity to Victoria

Hydro Tasmania unveiled plans last night to a public meeting on King Island in Bass Strait for Australia's largest proposed wind farm - a 200 turbine wind farm project called TasWind. The wind farm will produce 600MW of power, enough to supply power for nearly half a million households. The project is estimated to be worth $2 billion.

The wind farm would be situated on the west of the island in the path of the roaring 40s, and most of the electricity generated exported by undersea cable to Victoria. Up to 20 percent of the island could become part of the wind farm and used concurrently with existing farming. Turbine towers would supply extra rental income for farmers plus a community dividend would be negotiated for the Island community.

A project of this size is estimated to provide perhaps 400-500 construction jobs, and 20 to 25 permanent ongoing maintenaince jobs. The seven year project would add direct economic benefits to the island and counteract the loss of the island's abattoir that ocurred in September. A feasability study would be undertaken from 2013 to 2015, followed by approvals and design process with Construction likely start in 2017 and expected completion in 2019.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Climate meltdown: Global Warming heading towards 6 degrees C warns World Bank

Last night I sat down and skimmed through the 106pp report prepared by the prestiguous Postdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) for the World Bank. It is a shocking read, that we are presently on the business as usual emissions path of 4 degrees C of global warming by about the 2060s and 6 degrees C of warming by the turn of the century, just 88 years hence.

The United Nations Environment Program warns that Greenhouse Gas Emissions Gap Widening as Nations Head to Crucial Climate Talks in Doha. The International Energy Agency warned in their 2011 World Energy Outlook report that we are on a 4-6 degree Celsius trajectory and that 80 percent of carbon emissions infrastructure has already been built and is in operation. We cannot afford to add any new carbon intensive infrastructure that will continue to pollute for 30-50 years, yet the World Resources Institute reveals nearly 1,200 Proposed Coal-Fired Power Plants, the majority in India and China.

But grassroots action is having an impact: thousands rallied against coal across India, and a very first Arab Day of Climate Action (Photos) organised by the Arab Youth Climate Movement occurred on November 10. In the US, the Sierra Club reports victories in stopping the coal rush.

A recent Price WaterhouseCoopers report warned that Business as usual Carbon emissions heading towards 6°C (10.8°F) of global warming this century. So there is widespread agreement from science and scientists, energy experts and experts in global economics and accounting that we are facing a climate meltdown.

Related: 4 Degrees or More? Climate Change: The Critical Decade - a speech by Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of PIK. The article includes a CSIRO media release on +4ÂșC scenarios for Australia's future climate. | Another view from Systemic Disorder: World Bank’s call for slowing global warming ignores own role

Monday, November 19, 2012

Study: Winds driving Record Antarctic Sea ice growth, global sea ice extent still declining

While the Arctic sea-ice has experienced a dramatic reduction, Antarctic sea ice continues to increase in extent hitting a new record in October this year. So what's going on?

The trend for a gradual increase in Antarctic Sea ice has puzzled scientists. Firstly, the gradual increase in Antarctic sea ice is far less than the amount of sea ice vanishing in the Arctic Sea. Global sea ice trend still shows a marked retreat.

But in the Antarctic working out why the sea ice trend has seen a one percent increase per decade since the 1970s has bamboozled the scientists. A new study based upon 18 years of detailed satellite ice motion measurements has put forward that it is primarily local winds pushing ice mainly north creating polyanas in the ice flows where more ice can easily form.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Climate change connection between Global temperatures, ice volume and sea level

There is a rapid response connection between polar temperature changes, ice volume and sea leavel according to a new method of dating of sea level records and comparing them with temperature data and ice core records for the last 150,000 years.

Previously the dating of ice-volume changes relied on the ‘Red Sea relative sea-level (RSL) record’. However this dating method did not have independent age control which inhibited detailed comparison with other well-dated climate parameters, such as temperature or CO2 records from ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica. The new method of dating the RSL record used Mediterranean data from radiometric (Uranium-series) dating of cave deposits which could be applied to the last glacial cycle reaching back 150,000 years, providing a continuous sea-level record with excellent independent age control.

According to the study sea level rise reached speeds of "at least 1.2 metres per century during all major episodes of ice-volume reduction" in the last 150,000 years.

One of the study authors, Professor Elco Rohling from the National Oceanography Centre Southampton said: "This is the first time that these rates could be measured for any other period than the end-of-ice age 'terminations/deglaciations'. Although it is always hard to step from palaeo reconstructions to future projections, it suggests that when significant ice-volume adjustments happen, they are rarely slow."

Friday, November 16, 2012

Climate change implications of new study on methane emissions in coal seam gas field

Coal seam gas has been touted as a green transitional fuel, far less polluting than coal, but a new study implies it may not be as green or climate friendly as the industry makes out. It hinges on the level of fugitive emissions produced in development and production of a gas field. A study by two scientists from Southern Cross University based in Lismore, northern NSW, detected much higher levels of the strong greenhouse gas methane around the Tara gas field on the Darling Downs of Queensland west of Brisbane.

Related: The Conversation: Mike Sandiford on A Lot of Hot Air in the Coal to Gas Transition| Renee Santoro on Methane makes shale gas a current climate danger

Action: Getup! have started a Dirtier than Coal? campaign calling on Federal Climate Change Minister Greg Combet to commission urgent research into the climate impacts of coal seam gas, and to make sure that CSG companies start accounting, and paying, for fugitive emissions.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Origin Energy under scrutiny over anti-renewables stance

Origin Energy, Australia's largest energy retailer, came under intense scrutiny today from shareholders at the Annual General Meeting in Sydney over it's energy portfolio placing great emphasis on development of gas, poor investment in wind and solar power, and a campaign by Managing Director Grant King to destabilise the Renewable Energy Target.

At one stage a banner was quickly unfurled infront of the board on the stage which said "Origin: Build wind and solar, not coal and gas". It was just as quickly taken down.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Indian monsoon more likely to fail as global warming accelerates - Climate tipping point

A new predictive study for future monsoon failure in India says that full season failure will become much more likely in the next two hundred years. Failure of the Indian Seasonal Monsoon (ISM) has been identified as a climate change tipping point by climate scientists.

The study highlighted that monsoon rains could fail about one year in every five between 2150 and 2200 with continued global warming due to continued human burning of fossil fuels, and related shifts in tropical air flows.

More than a billion people are dependent on the reliability of the Indian summer monsoon (ISM) for agricultural productivity. A small variability in rainfall on the Indian sub-continent has large impacts on agriculture. Lower rainfall can reduce crop yield, while excessive rain causes flooding damaging to crops and disruption to peoples' lives. India's monsoon lasts from June to September each year.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Australia commits to Kyoto 2 climate change treaty

Australia's Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet, today announced that Australia is ready to join a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol first commitment period is due to expire at the end of 2012. The second commitment period will extend the binding international treaty to 2020 when it is envisaged a much broader treaty encompassing developed and developing countries will come into effect. Australia signed the Kyoto Protocol in 2007 at the United Nations Bali meeting shortly after the election of the Labor Government.

"Australia joins as countries around the world are taking action to combat climate change." said Greg Combet. "Joining a second commitment period will ensure Australian businesses have access to international credits under the Clean Development Mechanism, helping Australia reduce emissions at the lowest cost to the economy. "

Martin Ferguson rebuffs Coal CEO Twiggy Palmcock in launching Energy paper

While Federal Resources and Energy minister Martin Ferguson was launching a white paper on energy, the press conference was interrupted by that scallywag Victorian Coal CEO Twiggy Palmcock who thanked the Minister for his support of the fossil fuel industry.

"I'd just like to say thank you Mr Ferguson, for being an excellent puppet for the fossil fuel industry. And I'd also like to say thank you on behalf of Twiggy Palmcock of Excretum Mining - my good self, and my friends Gina and other allies." announced Twiggy.

"We are very happy to have you representing our interests. Thank you Mr Ferguson for helping regional communities drink water and coal from the same tap. It's a marvellous outcome for all our regional communities in this situation. That they can now drink gas from the taps as well. Thank you very much Mr Ferguson" said Twiggy Palmcock, CEO of Excretum Mining.

Related: 2012 Energy white paper | RenewEconomy: Ferguson spies a green energy future … and steps on the gas | The Conversation: Energy White Paper plans to burn, burn, burn it all | A tale of two energy visions: China and Australia | Tony Abbott rebuffs Victorian coal mining magnate

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Business as usual Carbon emissions heading towards 6C of global warming this century

A new report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (UK) has warned that if we continue with business as usual with current global carbon emission reduction we are likely to hit 6 degrees Celsius or more of global warming towards the end of the century, overshooting the agreed upon global goal of limiting warming to 2 degrees to avoid dangerous and very extreme climate impacts.

The report is an annual analysis of the Low Carbon Economy Index devised by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), measuring developed and emerging economies progress towards reducing emissions linked to economic output.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tokelau ditches diesel for 100 percent solar PV power

The tiny self governing territory of Tokelau in the South Pacific has become entirely solar-powered, with the third and final photovoltaic solar farm being turned on at the end of October 2012.

Tokelau consists of 3 small atolls with a population of about 1500 people 450km north from Samoa, and a dependent territory of New Zealand. The atolls are low lying with perhaps the highest points just 2 metres above sea level. Rising seas this century threaten the future of these islands with 1 metre rise in global sea level due to climate change conservatively predicted by the end of the century.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Tony Abbott rebuffs Victorian coal mining magnate Twiggy Palmcock

Did you hear that Tony Abbott got heckled at Melbourne University the other day during his red tape speech? Actually it was just two young coal businessmen keen to meet their hero! Yes, Victorian mining magnate Twiggy Palmcock, CEO of Excretum Mining and sidekick Michael Higgins Beaumont, founder of Australia's Young Coal Champions, who were both keen to meet their hero and leader of the Liberal Party .

They attended the Secure the Future Conference to thank Tony Abbott personally for his "unwavering support of the fossil fuel industry".

They explain in this video how they just wanted to say "Thank you Tony" and urge him to encourage exploitation of Victoria's low grade brown coal and continue the massive tax subsidies for fossil fuel companies to keep them competitive with the upstart renewable technologies of solar and wind power.

"Because as we all know and as Tony has told us Climate change is a conspiracy theory invented by German zoo keepers to bring attention to their celebrity polar bears." said Twiggy.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Guest Post - Climate change, fire may wipe out Australia's giant gum trees

By Megan Clement, The Conversation

As Australia gears up for another risky bushfire season this summer, some of its most iconic and valuable forests are at risk.

Giant eucalpytus trees rely on fire to regenerate, but an increase in major bush fires due to climate change could stunt their growth, a Tasmanian ecologist has warned.

The Unviersity of Tasmania’s Professor David Bowman says giant gum trees – which can act as valuable carbon stores – may become a thing of the past.

Giant gum trees can grow up to 100 metres, and are hundreds of years old.

“They are a globally unique rainforest tree that recovers from bushfires with explosive growth to out-compete the other rainforest trees,” Bowman said.

Crops devastated, food crisis looms in Haiti from Hurricane Sandy

At least 54 people were killed by Hurricane Sandy in Haiti due to the torrential rains, flooding and destruction of essential bridges and roads. Many Concrete homes and tent camps in Port-au-Prince setup after the 2010 earthquake are largely destroyed leaving up to 18,000 families homeless according to Haitian authorities.

Substantial crop loss occurred due to the Hurricane winds and flooding, threatening hunger and famine in coming weeks and months. Staple crops such as bananas and breadfruit were severely damaged by hurricane Sandy. "We'll have famine in the coming days," Kechner Toussaint, the Abricots mayor, reportedly said. "It's an agricultural disaster."

Related: Superstorm Sandy a wakeup call on climate change for the USA? | UN Reliefweb: UN relief agency estimates 1.8 million Haitians have been affected by Hurricane Sandy

Superstorm Sandy a wakeup call on climate change for the USA?

Hurricane Sandy on October 29. Courtesy: NASA

In the three presidential debates between Mitt Romney and Barak Obama climate change was never mentioned, despite it being raised in all previous campaigns going back to 1988. And then came Hurricane Sandy from the Caribbean. A late season category 1 tropical cyclone that combined with a north-easter from the Arctic to pummel the northern eastern coast of the United States, one of the most populous and industrialised areas on earth.

The Hurricane crossed the coast in New Jersey on Monday night, 29 October, at about 8pm not far from Atlantic City. The storm surge caused widespread areas flooded leaving coastal towns decimated. The winds of the hurricane caused trees to fall and whipped up a massive 3 to 4 metre storm surge. A full moon and a spring tide also exacerbated the storm surge. 10 metre waves were measured just outside New York Harbour entrance. (See Accuweather Superstorm Sandy Stats)

Related: Skeptical Science - Hurricane Sandy and the Climate Connection | Crops devastated, food crisis looms in Haiti from Hurricane Sandy | Inside Climate News: 3-D Maps Pictured Sandy's Devastation–Five Years Ago