Media awareness about global warming and climate change has grown fairly steadily since 2004. My impression is that journalists today tend to possess a higher climate literacy than before. This increasing awareness and improved knowledge is encouraging, but there are also some common interpretations which could be more nuanced. Here are two examples, polar amplification and extreme rainfall.[Read more…] about Old habits
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) and Copernicus Climate Change Services (C3S) both provide sets of global climate statistics to summarise the state of Earth’s climate. They are indeed valuable indicators for the global or regional mean temperature, greenhouse gas concentrations, both ice volume and area, ocean heat, acidification, and the global sea level.
Still, I find it surprising that the set does not include any statistics on the global hydrological cycle, relevant to rainfall patterns and droughts. Two obvious global hydro-climatological indicators are the total mass of water falling on Earth’s surface each day P and the fraction of Earth’s surface area on which it falls Ap.[Read more…] about Area-based global hydro-climatological indicators
Climate adaptation steams forward with an accelerated speed that can be seen through the Climate Adaptation Summit in January (see previous post), the ECCA 2021 in May/June, and the upcoming COP26. Recent extreme events may spur this development even further (see previous post about attribution of recent heatwaves).
To aid climate adaptation, Europe’s Climate-Adapt programme provides a wealth of resources, such as guidance, case studies and videos. This is a good start, but a clear and transparent account on how to use the actual climate information for adaptation seems to be missing. How can projections of future heatwaves or extreme rainfall help practitioners, and how to interpret this kind of information?[Read more…] about Climate adaptation should be based on robust regional climate information
Future global warming will be accompanied by more intense rainfall and flash floods due to increased evaporation, as a consequence of higher surface temperatures which also lead to a higher turn-around rate for the global hydrological cycle. In other words, we will see changing rainfall patterns. And if the global area of rainfall also shrinks, then a higher regional concentration of the rainfall is bound to lead to more intense downpours (the global rainfall indicator is discussed here).[Read more…] about A potential rule of thumb for hourly rainfall?
Thread for discussions of the new special report. [Boosting a comment from alan2102].
Climate Change and Land
An IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems
Land degradation accelerates global climate change. Al Jazeera English
Published on Aug 8, 2019 New UN report highlights vicious cycle of climate change, land degradation. CNA
Published on Aug 8, 2019 New IPCC Report Warns of Vicious Cycle Between Soil Degradation and Climate Change. The Real News Network
Published on Aug 8, 2019
Guest Commentary by Mauri Pelto (Nichols College)
Preliminary data reported from the reference glaciers of the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) in 2018 from Argentina, Austria, China, France, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland and United States indicate that 2018 will be the 30th consecutive year of significant negative annual balance (> -200mm); with a mean balance of -1247 mm for the 25 reporting reference glaciers, with only one glacier reporting a positive mass balance (WGMS, 2018).[Read more…] about Alpine glaciers: Another decade of loss
The climate system is complex, and a complete description of its state would require huge amounts of data. However, it is possible to keep track of its conditions through summary statistics.
The most common indicator is the atmospheric background CO2 concentration, the global mean temperature, the global mean sea level, and the area with snow or Arctic sea ice. Other indicators include rainfall statistics, drought indices, or other hydrological aspects. The EPA provides some examples.
One challenge has been that the state of the hydrological cycle is not as easily summarised by one single index in the same way as the global mean temperature or the global mean sea level height. However, Giorgi et al. (2011) suggested a measure of hydro-climatic intensity (HY-INT) which is an integrated metric that captures the precipitation intensity as well as dry spell length.
There are also global datasets of indices representing the more extreme aspects of climate called CLIMDEX, providing a list of 27 core climate extremes indices (so-called the ‘ETCCDI’ indices, referring to the ‘CCl/CLIVAR/JCOMM Expert Team on Climate Change Detection and Indices’).
In addition, there is a website hosted by the NOAA that presents various U.S. Climate Extremes Index (CEI) in an interactive way.
So there are quite a few indicators for various aspects of the climate. One question we should ask, however, is whether they capture all the important and relevant aspects of the climate. I think that they don’t, and that there are still some gaps.
- F. Giorgi, E. Im, E. Coppola, N.S. Diffenbaugh, X.J. Gao, L. Mariotti, and Y. Shi, "Higher Hydroclimatic Intensity with Global Warming", Journal of Climate, vol. 24, pp. 5309-5324, 2011. http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/2011JCLI3979.1
Joanna Walters links extreme weather events with climate change in a recent article in the Guardian, however, some reservations have been expressed about such links in past discussions.
For example, we discussed the connection between single storms and global warming in the post Hurricanes and Global Warming – Is there a connection?, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has issued a statement, and Mike has recently explained the connection in the Guardian.
Another climate report is out – what’s new? Many of the previous reports have presented updated status on the climate and familiar topics such as temperature, precipitation, ice, snow, wind, and storm activities.
The latest report Climate change, impacts and vulnerability in Europe 2016 from the European Environment Agency (EEA) also includes an assessment of hail, a weather phenomenon that is often associated with lightening (a previous report from EASAC from 2013 also covers hail).
Usually, there has not been a lot of information about hail, but that is improving. Still, the jury is still out when it comes to hail and climate change:
Despite improvements in data availability, trends and projections of hail events are still uncertain.
When my kids were younger, they asked me why the ocean was blue. I would answer that the ocean mirrors the blue sky. However, I would not think much more about it, even though it is well-known that the oceans represent the most important source for atmospheric moisture. They also play an important role for many types of internal variations, such as the El Nino Southern Oscillation. Now a new study by Durack et al. (2012) has been published in Science that presents the relationship between the oceans and the atmosphere.
- P.J. Durack, S.E. Wijffels, and R.J. Matear, "Ocean Salinities Reveal Strong Global Water Cycle Intensification During 1950 to 2000", Science, vol. 336, pp. 455-458, 2012. http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1212222