Saturday, November 22, 2014

Warmest October on record for planet, fourth warmest for U.S.

I put the U.S.-China climate deal in context in a parenthetical statement and footnote.
Given what the rest of the climate news I included in last week's Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday on Daily Kos was like, it comes not a moment too soon...Stay tuned for an entry about these stories.
It's time for that entry.

The top story comes from Brian Kahn of Climate Central via LiveScience: Earth Had Warmest October on Record.
For the third month in a row, global temperatures reached record territory according to newly available data from NASA. And if one global temperature record isn’t enough, the Japanese Meteorological Agency also provided new data on Friday that showed the warmest October on record.

Data from NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) show this October was 1.4°F above the 1951-1980 average they use as their baseline. That didn’t set a monthly mark, as did August and September, but rather tied 2005 as the warmest October since 1880. That keeps 2014 on track to be the hottest year on record.

While individual hot years or months don’t necessarily stand out, it’s notable that all 10 of the warmest years on record have all come since 1998, one of the clearest signs that the climate is warming due in large part to greenhouse gas emissions.
As if that wasn't enough, Kahn of Climate Central also told his readers in LiveScience to Feel the Heat: Fourth-Warmest October for U.S..
It might be chilly (OK, downright Arctic) in the middle third of the U.S. these days, but if you live there, you can warm yourself with memories of October. According to new data released Thursday, October wasn’t just a little warm, it was the fourth-warmest October for the lower 48 on record and not a single state recorded below normal temperatures.

In what’s been the year of the great weather schism, October showed reconciliation is possible. Warm weather that has been the hallmark of the West this year was also seen spreading across the South and Northeast. The only spot with near-normal temperatures was the Upper Midwest, though near normal probably sounds downright balmy to folks in Detroit who just weathered overnight lows of minus-14°F.

37 of the contiguous 48 states experiencing above-normal temperatures, that put the national average temperature 3°F above normal. That makes it the fourth warmest among the past 120 Octobers according to the new data from the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). Not a single state saw below normal temperatures, the first time that’s happened since July 2013.
If it hadn't been for Philae landing on a comet, these would have been the top stories last Saturday.

Follow over the jump for more of last week's climate stories.

Even more climate records were set, as the University of Hawaii reported Ocean warming picks up speed, hits warmest temperatures ever recorded.
This summer has seen the highest global mean sea surface temperatures ever recorded since their systematic measuring started. Temperatures even exceeded those of the record-breaking 1998 El NiƱo year, according to the analysis of recent climate data by Axel Timmermann, climate scientist and professor, studying variability of the global climate system at the International Pacific Research Center at UH Manoa.

From 2000-2013 the rise in global ocean surface temperatures paused, in spite of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. This period, referred to as the Global Warming Hiatus, raised much public and scientific interest. However, as of April 2014, ocean warming has picked up speed again, according to Timmermann’s analysis of ocean temperature datasets.

“The 2014 global ocean warming is mostly due to the North Pacific, which has warmed far beyond any recorded value...and has shifted hurricane tracks, weakened trade winds, and produced coral bleaching in the Hawaiian Islands," he says.
As for what these higher temperatures mean, Victoria Gill of the BBC reported Climate change 'will make lightning strike more'.
Global warming will significantly increase the frequency of lightning strikes, according to US research.

The research, published in Science, was carried out with the help of data from a US network of lightning detectors.

The teams says they have calculated how much each extra degree in temperature will raise the frequency of lightning.

"For every two lightning strikes in 2000, there will be three lightning strikes in 2100," said David Romps, at the University of California, Berkeley.
On Daily Kos, Global Warming = More Lightning and More Wildfires; Deniers Dig In by xaxnar expanded on the story.

In addition to the Sino-American climate deal, there was one other piece of good climate news I included in the Overnight News Digest.  Patrick J. Kiger of Discovery News asked Could a Carbon-Scrubbing Rock Slow Climate Change?
The big climate news this week has been a surprise agreement between the Obama Administration and China to work together in curbing carbon emissions, but some think it’s already too late for such measures to make a dent in global warming. That’s led to a revival of interest in a more radical solution: Geoengineering, in which massive measures would be used to alter the planet and mitigate the effects of human burning of fossil fuels.

One such geoengineering solution, featured in a recent articles in the New York Times and the online publications Grist and Inhabitat, would utilize olivine minerals, a group of abundant green-tinted silicates that are formed from the cooling of magma after volcanic eruptions.

In additional to having once been a favorite gemstone of the ancient Egyptians, olivine has another quality that intrigues geoengineering proponents: When left out in the open and combined with moisture under natural conditions, olivine absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and forms magnesium carbonate and silicic acid, which stores the carbon.
Technically, olivine is a mineral, not a rock.  The rock made of that mineral would be peridotite or dunite.  Just the same, this is good news if one thinks geoengineering is a good idea.  Given what I wrote in Greenfinger and Hacking the Planet, I'm not necessarily one of those.

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