The only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic. So if what I say now seems to you to be very reasonable, then I have failed completely. Only if what I tell you appears absolutely unbelievable, have we any chance of visualizing the future as it really will happen.

- Arthur C. Clarke (h/t Brin)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Slag in Oz


Craig Kidd looks at the melted metal of alloy wheels from his burnt out vehicles after a bushfire swept through his property on February 9, 2009 in Bendigo, 160 km from Melbourne, Australia. (Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Lifted brazenly from boston.com ; Go look at the rest of the pictures. Maybe they won't get on my case. Click a few links. Buy something from Boston.

Then there's this:



Barry Brook quotes an anonymous colleague, and agrees.
“Given that this was the hottest day on record on top of the driest start to a year on record on top of the longest driest drought on record on top of the hottest drought on record the implications are clear...

It is clear to me that climate change is now becoming such a strong contributor to these hitherto unimaginable events that the language starts to change from one of “climate change increased the chances of an event” to “without climate change this event could not have occured”.
Eventually things get too weird. Eventually you don't have to say "the sort of thing that is more likely to happen under climate change". Eventually you have to say, my God, this is unnatural. 

People in Australia are starting to say that; even people who know what they are talking about. Australians are second in line, after the Arctic people. 

Who's up next? 

5 comments:

Chuck said...

But are the Arctic people the largest per-capita emitters or coal exporters?

thingsbreak said...

Tangentially related, but-

The Big Picture from the Boston Globe newspaper is an excellent resource for images.

Off the top of my head, some recent (last 6 months or so) climate-related themes:

Indonesia (land use!)
Earth Observed
The green Sahara (paleo-ish)
Antarctica

Anonymous said...

Published research by Thompson and Solomon point to tightening of the Antarctic Polar Vortex as a possible explanation for higher temp and lower precip in Southern Australia.

The following are a few citations you might want to read. Some heavy lifting here but more informative than lifestyle of Koalas, cute as they are.

Starts with Australian government publication:

Australian Greenhouse Office, Department of the Environment and Heritage, April 2005

http://www.climatechange.gov.au/ science/ hottopics/ pubs/ topic9.pdf

“WHAT IS CAUSING THE RAINFALL DECLINES OVER SOUTHERN
AUSTRALIA –OZONE, CLIIIMATE VARIABILIIITY OR CLIMATE CHANGE?”

Excerpt:

Thompson and Solomon (2002) have shown that stratospheric ozone depletion over Antarctica in spring and early summer is strengthening the westerly winds blowing around Antarctica. (Stratospheric ozone depletion is caused by industrial chemicals such as CFCs.) The effect is greatest during summer and may persist into autumn.

Cite to the Thompson, Solomon study published in Science:

http://www.atmos.colostate.edu/ ao/ ThompsonPapers/ ThompsonSolomon_Science.pdf

“Interpretation of Recent Southern Hemisphere Climate Change”

Abstract:

David W. J. Thompson1* and Susan Solomon2

Climate variability in the high-latitude Southern Hemisphere (SH) is dominated by the SH annular mode, a large-scale pattern of variability characterized by fluctuations in the strength of the circumpolar vortex.We present evidence that recent trends in the SH tropospheric circulation can be interpreted as a bias toward the high-index polarity of this pattern, with stronger westerly low encircling the polar cap. It is argued that the largest and most signficant tropospheric trends can be traced to recent trends in the lower stratospheric polar vortex, which are due largely to photochemical ozone losses. During the summer-fall season, the trend toward stronger circumpolar low has contributed substantially to the observed warming over the Antarctic Peninsula and Patagonia and to the cooling over eastern Antarctica and the Antarctic plateau.

The ozone hole over Antarctica, in 2008, was at a record size and CFCs are not the cause to the degree that compound may have been before the Montreal Protocol.

John McCormick

Steve Bloom said...

John, subsequent to that paper some larger pieces of the puzzle fell into place. It turns out that the entire atmospheric circulation is shifting toward the poles (actually least of all over Antarctica). See also this interesting article about how the same mechanism is needed to explain the glacial cycles.

Chuck said...

See also:
http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/116330641/abstract