I am embarrassed I hadn’t heard about The Weather Channel’s climate documentary series, “Tipping Points.”
A tipping point, in climatology, is when a major change occurs to a major environmental system due to climate change, such as a shift in ocean currents or atmospheric circulation. These systems “tip” over from one stable state to another stable state, thus creating an entirely new situation. This new situation is irreversible. Sort of like spilling a glass of wine, you can’t put the wine back in the glass. Climate activists (whom I often disagree with) colloquially call this new state “the new normal.”
The show, Tipping Points, is hosted by Bernice Notenboom, an interesting journalist who combines science writing and adventure travel. She’s pretty good on camera, but most of the show seems to focus on showing 1) a climate change problem as it occurs in the real world (such as drought in the Amazon rainforest) and 2) a series of scientific experiments that aim identify the moment of a tipping point and then figure out how to manage the new system.
Tipping Points: Breaching Climate Stability
Hosted by Climate Journalist and adventurer Bernice Notenboom, Tipping Points embraces commentary from leading climate scientists surveying the complexity of the major tipping points effecting our current climate and their impact on changing weather patterns around the globe.
Adventurous and informative, Tipping Points explores the interconnectedness of all the elements that make up our climate system that influence global and local weather patterns. The Earth is in a delicate equilibrium; once one factor reaches its respective tipping point the other factors will also breach stability. As the atmosphere heats up and the chemical makeup of the atmosphere shifts there will be repercussions felt on a global scale. These elements are what Bernice and her team of climate authorities are going to explore is some of the most remote locations on the planet.
From the canopies of The Amazon to the ice sheets of Siberia, these climate specialists will chase answers to behavioral patterns of tipping elements in the climate system affecting our weather systems. View, here.
The European Union, which for years has sought to lead the world in addressing climate change, is tempering its ambitions and considering turning mandatory targets for renewable energy into just goals.
The union’s policy-making body is also unlikely to restrict exploration for shale gas using the disputed technique known as hydraulic fracturing.
A deep and lasting economic slowdown, persistently high prices for renewable energy sources and years of inconclusive international negotiations are giving European officials second thoughts about how aggressively to remake the Continent’s energy-production industries.
The details are still being negotiated in Brussels, but officials said the European Commission’s energy and climate proposal will probably include a binding target of reducing emissions by 35 percent to 40 percent by 2030. Some officials wanted to make the new targets for renewable energy nonbinding. But opposition this week appears to have turned the tide in favor of having a binding renewable target — although it would be applied across the European Union rather than to individual nations, according to an official briefed on the negotiations.
There is absolutely no way to reasonably stop countries from emitting carbon and GHGs.
The Minneapolis-based photographer Paula McCartney has exploited extreme weather to dazzling effect, capturing detailed portraits of natural winter elements, from frozen waterfalls to ice stalagmites to snow flurries. A look at her photographs: http://nyr.kr/LkiZ5l
Above: “Ice Floe #5” (2008). Photograph by Paula McCartney/Klompching.
Lovely photos. I like “Blizzard #9 2009” best.
Brilliant, real-time, animated map of earth’s current weather conditions. Must see, here: http://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/surface/level/
a visualization of global weather conditions
- forecast by supercomputers
- updated every three hours
- ocean surface current estimates updated every five days
Love polar bears? You’re not alone!
Today’s throwback pic was taken back in 2009 by one of our employees involved with our polar bear program.
The primary objective of this program is to ensure that polar bear populations in Alaska remain a healthy, functioning component of the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort seas ecosystems.
Photo: One of our biologists works with a tranquilized bear on the ice, 2009. (Karyn Rhode/USFWS)
I’ve unfollowed buzzfeeders and link baiter slag. My dash is not for trash…
Salmon, unable to swim upstream to spawn, at risk of extinction - species stranded in ocean awaiting water surge for migration.
The lack of rain this winter could eventually be disastrous for thirsty California, but the drought may have already ravaged some of the most storied salmon runs on the West Coast.
The coho salmon of Central California, which swim up the rivers and creeks during the first winter rains, are stranded in the ocean waiting for the surge of water that signals the beginning of their annual migration, but it may never come. All the creeks between the Golden Gate and Monterey Bay are blocked by sand bars because of the lack of rain, making it impossible for the masses of salmon to reach their native streams and create the next generation of coho.
The dire situation prompted the district to release 29 million gallons of valuable drinking water from Kent Lake early this month in an effort to lure the coho into the watershed, which winds 33 miles through the redwood- and oak-studded San Geronimo Valley on the northwest side of Mount Tamalpais. Steelhead trout, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, are also waiting offshore at the same streams, but they are more resilient - unlike coho, they can often wait a year to spawn.
A collapse of the fall run of chinook, which is the only viable fishery left in Central California, would put hundreds of commercial fishermen and marine-related businesses out of work.
The London Array is the world’s largest off-shore windfarm. Via NASA.
Twenty kilometers (12 miles) from England’s Kent and Essex coasts, the world’s largest offshore wind farm has started harvesting the breezes over the sea. Located in the Thames Estuary, where the River Thames meets the North Sea, the London Array has a maximum generating power of 630 megawatts (MW), enough to supply as many as 500,000 homes.
The wind farm became fully operational on April 8, 2013. Twenty days later, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite captured this image of the area. The second image is a closeup of the area marked by the white box in the top image. White points in the second image are the wind turbines; a few boat wakes are also visible. The sea is discolored by light tan sediment—spring runoff washed out by the Thames.
To date, the London Array includes 175 wind turbines aligned to the prevailing southwest wind and spread out across 100 square kilometers (40 square miles). Each turbine stands 650 to 1,200 meters apart (2,100 to 3,900 feet) and 147 meters (482 feet) tall. Each is connected by cables buried in the seafloor, and power is transmitted to two substations offshore and to an onshore station at Cleve Hill.
Geographical and astronomical illustrations from the mid-1800s by John Philipps Emslie via The Wellcome Collection)
Anonymous asked: How did they know the global average temperature in 1880? -a curious science follower
Great question! Simplest answer: thermometers. Simple instruments such as thermometers and barometers have been used for centuries. Governments began to collect data from these instruments beginning in the early 1700s. (There are early data sets, but these focused on local or route specific locations rather than globally. For example, shipping companies collected ocean temperatures during the 1600s along specific routes to report conditions to insurance companies.).
The old-school instruments were placed in locations all around the world (locations ranged from trees, church steeples and clocks, tall poles, cliff faces, to just stuck in the ground). Governments collected the temperatures typically for military, farming, and shipping purposes.
The U.S. Weather Bureau, established in 1735, was sporadically managed by a few individual states (rather than the Federal Government). The bureau collected local information - not global.
In 1814, the U.S. Federal Government established the U.S.’s first nation wide weather service. Army doctors and ‘war’ hospitals were instructed to keep diaries of local weather. But, again, this was not a global system.
In 1870, President Ulysses Grant established the U.S. National Weather Service (NWS):
The beginning of the National Weather Service we know today started on February 9th, 1870, when President Ulysses S. Grant signed a joint resolution of Congress authorizing the Secretary of War to establish a national weather service. This resolution required the Secretary of War:
“to provide for taking meteorological observations at the military stations in the interior of the continent and at other points in the States and Territories…and for giving notice on the northern (Great) Lakes and on the seacoast by magnetic telegraph and marine signals, of the approach and force of storms”
After much thought and consideration, it was decided that this agency would be placed under the Secretary of War because military discipline would probably secure the greatest promptness, regularity, and accuracy in the required observations. Via NOAA
The NWS worked internationally. It collected data from its own instruments, and also from data shared by other countries, such as Denmark, France, India, and the U.K.
The NWS’s information was collected over time, and digitized into big data sets. These sets are used today!
The chart below shows temperature data over 1,000 years. (NOTE: This chart is from wikipedia entry “Temperature record of the past 1,000 years." I do not endorse this chart. I’m posting for illustrative purposes to help answer anon’s question about records from 1880).
Note the black line (far right). It shows collected instrument data from 1850 to 2004. Data prior to 1850 is collected by climate proxies.
Finally, if you’re interested, you can read about the weather data sets collected in the 1850s. This paper, Uncertainty estimates in regional and global observed temperature changes: a new dataset from 1850, covers the history of that data, as well as issues with using it in modern climate models.
Hope that helps!