Stephen Salter, Emeritus Professor of Engineering Design at the University of Edinburgh and major proponent of geo-engineering, has suggested that there may currently be a feasible way to combat global warming until greener alternatives have been reached in the future. The plan calls for large seawater pumps to convert the spray into tiny droplets of water in the atmosphere to reflect back sunlight, halting the problem of warming before it arrives on Earth. In previous iterations of the plan, Salter has entertained the idea of using specially built ships that can do this on a large-scale, mobile basis. However, the gravity of the warming situation has prompted him to look at alternatives.
“I don’t think there’s time to do ships for the Arctic now,” Salter said before the Arctic Methane Emergency Group Conference in Westminster.
The previous set-up, as envisioned by Salter, would require constructing infrastructure that currently do not exist and could take years before a prototype can even be launched to sea. By switching from a mobile to a stationary platform, Salter say that few resources would be needed.
“We’d need a bit of land, in clean air and the right distance north.”
When asked about where said facilities would be located, Salter hinted at both the Faroe Islands in the North Sea and the many islands in the Bering Strait. The plan will call for simple towers that pump seawater to the top and release extremely fine droplets. The pumping action will be powered by a renewable form of energy, possibly geothermal if the North Sea location is chosen. Droplet creation would be achieved through technology that is currently being developed at Edinburgh University and spearheaded by Salter himself.
The concept of creating fine mists of water to reflect the sun’s rays back isn’t a new one. In fact, this idea was first pondered by US physicist John Latham. In essence, the tiny droplets allow atmosphere water vapor to condense near each other loosely, forming whiter cloud layers that are much more reflective than the clouds normally seen over many of Earth’s major cities.
The Arctic Ocean is currently undergoing a rapid thaw. In particular, areas typically under ice-cover during the summer seasons have been shrinking at an alarming rate. This has been heralded by scientists as definitive proof of global warming. Furthermore, at the current rate of shrinking, the Arctic is predicted to have ice-free summers by 2015. While the shrinking of the Arctic ice caps is alarming, far more alarming is the issue of methane that is currently trapped under the ice-caps.
In terms of the effect it has on global warming, methane is a far more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, though its longevity in the atmosphere is far shorter. In fact, scientists have pinpointed the previous extinction cycle to a time of high atmospheric methane levels. If unchecked, increased methane presence in the atmosphere could very well lead to another large-scale extinction era.
Investigative teams have already reported that bubbles containing methane have been emerging from the Arctic regions during summer seasons. The amount is still currently under debate.
While some outlook to the future remain optimistic, pessimism seem to flow with every word from the scientific community.
“With ‘business-as-usual’ greenhouse gas emissions, we might have warming of 9-10 degrees Celsius in the Arctic.” said Professor Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University.
For reference, the total world temperature has not exceeded 5 degrees Celsius over the course of the past twenty years. A 9-10 degree rise in the Arctic will prove catastrophic.
Contrary to popular belief – the effects of moderate global warming may not be all bad. For the first time ever, a four year U.S. national assessment has examined the regional impacts of global warming revealing everything from potentially severe droughts to larger crop yields for some farmers.
The report, Climate Changes in the United States, predicts that as greenhouse gases continue to rise at their current rates and trigger extreme climate changes, average temperatures in the U.S. may rise 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit in the next century.
The report’s agricultural section projects yield increases for crops such as wheat, barley and most vegetables in regions like the northern plains. But on the downside, this would mean using more pesticides and an increase in the threat of nitrogen-fertilizer runoff into bays. And yes, on a positive note, the warming may take some of the chill out of winter in some areas, but when temperatures rise in the summer, the warming may lure disease-bearing mosquitoes and other animal sources of disease.
University of Toronto geography professor Danny Harvey says some of the report’s more positive projections should not detract from the many potential dangers of global warming. “A small amount of warming could have positive effects, but if we don’t take preventative action then we will end up not with a small amount of warming but a large amount of warming,” says Harvey. “A one or two degree of warming may have positive impacts in some areas but, a five to seven degree of warming could have very negative impacts.”
The report used computer climate models to predict the profound changes that may greatly transform regions, like the threat of drought in the Southeast and increased rainfall in parched areas of the Southwest. But some critics believe that computer models cannot accurately predict the impact of global warming on a regional basis.
Harvey thinks that these skeptics are missing the larger issue. “The things we’re most concerned about depend on very basic fundamental principals,” says Harvey. “We can say that drought risk will increase in the interior of continents and that does not depend on the details of any models. The point is that there is an overall risk.”
Although the U.S. report was the first that examined American regions on an in-depth scale, Environment Canada has been examining the regional impact of global warming for some time. Recent study by Canada Country Study (CCS) revealed many possible global warming consequences for Canada, including floods and droughts in southern British Columbia and coastal erosion in the Atlantic region. The six part national assessment examined the impacts of climate change on Canada as a whole and suggested modes of action as well as issues that need further research.
Roger Street, director of the adaptation and impacts research group for Environment Canada, says both the positive and negative issues that were uncovered in the Canadian study have to be put into context. “Having temperatures warm up in the winter cannot be all negative but even from this perspective we have to understand what could be positive for one community may be negative for another,” says Street, the study’s lead coordinator. “Warmer winters might be good for some but what happens to those communities that rely on snowfall or winter recreation?”
Street adds that many of the regional effects that are projected in the U.S. report were also stated in the CCS – one of the main concerns being a fresh water shortage. Both assessments also project that rain will fall heavily in some regions followed by long dry spells, bringing about flash flood weather patterns.
Street says that one of our hopes for dealing with global warming in Canada lies in the rate at which it is happening. “The slower the rate of change occurs and the less the rate of change occurs the more chance we have to adapt and develop coping technologies,” says Street. “Slow change will allow natural systems and human activities to adapt to changes.”
According to a study published in the PNAS (Ed.: Publications of the Academy of Sciences) last January 10 and funded by the National Science Foundation, climate change and habitat loss would cause a decrease the number of butterflies in California. Based on field data collected over the past 35 years, this comprehensive study draws attention to the decline of these species, indicators of general health of various ecosystems.
Led by researcher Arthur Shapiro, Department of Entomology at the University of California Davis, these works illustrate how large populations may react to global warming. Using the result of 35 years of research, spent out twice a month to ten sites located in northern California, A. Shapiro presents statistics on more than 150 species living in diverse habitats, at different altitudes (between the sea level and the limit of tree flora).
Overall, these data show a decrease in biodiversity of the insect order on all sites around the level of the sea butterflies living in areas of higher elevations are less affected. At the edge of the tree flora, A. Shapiro has even recorded a population increase, these regions welcome the butterflies usually live at lower elevations and seeking to escape the warming climate.
According to statistical analysis made by the team of scientists, climate change can not be held solely responsible for this decline. The data show that the decline of butterflies is more important when the rural settlements have been converted to urban or suburban areas. Species unique to urban areas, has shown a resilience more important than species living only in specific habitats (rural type), records a greater decline. According to Professor Shapiro, the latter result is surprising and shows the importance of taking into account all the environmental variables.
Man rejects more and more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. By contributing to global warming, CO 2 already threatened coral bleaching by promoting them, but in future it will also starving them. Researchers at the University of Queensland have shown that high CO 2 and water acidification could destroy algae symbiotic corals. (more…)
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On April 4, the plate Wilkins at the Antarctic Peninsula was separated from
the frozen continent. This huge block of ice as big as New York City
The splitting of the Wilkins plate was made at its most fine, a bridge 500
Following the posting of this huge block of icy Antarctica, many icebergs are
formed and drift.
Within two years, the surface of the ice in the Arctic has lost 22%. In 2007,
the loss peak with a melting 1.2 million square kilometers of ice.
The Arctic Ocean could be ice free by 50 years to a century. The impact on
ecosystems and climate would be dramatic
Antarctica contains 90% of ice and 70% of freshwater
The thickness of the Antarctic ice varies from 2 000 to 5 000 meters from place
to place. But it tends to decrease as a result of global warming
The researchers recorded a significant decrease in the salinity of the water
around Antarctica. Fresh water from melting glaciers dillies the concentration
Contrary to what one might think, the melting of ice and icebergs not raise the
water level. It’s the same principle as the ice floating on water.
The change of salinity of sea water directly affects ocean currents. This has
consequences on the climate.
If the frozen continent, Antarctica, and Groeland were to melt, the worst is to
fear for the planet. Entire countries were wiped off the map
The complete disappearance of the Antarctic would cause a sea-level rise of 70
meters, it will be 6 meters for the loss of Greenland
During this century, scientists have recorded a temperature increase of 3 Â° C at
the Antarctic Peninsula
These enormous expanses of ice floating on the ocean, the icebergs are monitored
by satellite to thousands of kilometers altitude
The disappearance of sea ice threatens an entire ecosystem. Many species such
as polar bears have their natural habitat destroyed.
Glaciers around the world are facing the same fate as the poles. Chinese
scientists have recorded a decline de196 km Â² of glaciers in the plateau of
Qinghai-Tibet in 40 years
The ice prevents the glaciers flowing into the ocean. If it disappears, no
barrier can keep them there and the water level will increase
The ice from the ice reflects light energy from the sun. If it melts, there
will be a decrease in the reflectivity. The oceans store, so much energy that
contributes to the warming and, consequently, climate disruption
Scientists predict an average increase in temperature from 3.8 to 7.2 Â° C on
Earth by 2100. The poles will be hard hit
Permafrost, ground that remains frozen all year, is threatened by global
warming. Basing, it releases carbon trapped over millions of years and that
increases the concentration of greenhouse gases
Global warming is a phenomenon in which climate measurements show an average increase in temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans in recent decades.
The seriousness of global warming in the present century will be much worse than had been estimated a few years ago. (more…)
Choosing the target for power management of power of Congress in Washington DC, the demonstrators – about 1,000 people – were divided into four groups to block different inputs of the industrial site. The event, very well orchestrated and over 90 different associations, has led to any arrests. This event, unprecedented in American history, had three objectives: the continued use of coal as the main source of energy, get legislation on climate change (GHG reduction) and together the various environmental movements around ‘ joint action. (more…)
The “environmental blogosphere” has inflamed this week after the publication on 15 February in the Washington Post of an article by George Will, a conservative political commentator in sight. The newspaper, whose circulation is 630,000 copies (5th largest national circulation), is accused of not checking the facts and propagate a position increasingly marginalized in the scientific world. (more…)