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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Beyond anecdotes and deniers SCIENCE finds dangerously accelerating warming, huge climactic swings, huge consequences

The Climate Crisis 
David Archer and Stefan Rahmstorf
From chapter three
Excerpt, editing by Carolyn Bennett

Stefan Rahmstorf appeared this week on Deutsche Welle’s “The Agenda” program with Brent Goff.

“When people think of climate change, they usually think of the atmosphere first,” the authors write in The Climate Crisis. “They think of the kind of things they hear about in the weather forecast: air temperature, rainfall, winds [but] Professional climatologists usually have a more encompassing view of the climate system, which includes things like the oceans, the ice sheets and mountain glaciers.”

Individual observations

“Many people feel that significant changes are underway – that winters are not what they used to be in their childhood, or perhaps that summers never used to be so hot and dry in their region.”

These are “often valid observations [but] any single person’s experience is necessarily rather limited to the region where they live and to what they can remember.”

World scientific findings

“Measurements from around the world unequivocally show that we are in the midst of an accelerating global warming:

Temperatures have increased on global average by
 0.8 Celsius (33.44 degrees Fahrenheit) since the late nineteenth century, and by
0.6 Celsius (33.08 degrees Fahrenheit) since the 1970s.

“Almost all regions of the planet have warmed over the past century.

“Both ocean and land areas have warmed; since the 1970s, the land areas have been warming faster.

“The incidence of extremely hot days is rising, while the number of extremely cold days is declining.

“Significant changes in rainfall are also observed. They show a more complex pattern, with some regions showing an increase and some a decrease.

“Many regions show an increase in the number of days with extreme rainfall amounts, raising the risk of flooding. On the other hand, drought problems are increasing in many parts of the world.”

According to the widely used Palmer Drought Severity Index, “the area suffering from drought has more than doubled since the 1970s.

“In addition, some changes in atmospheric circulation patterns are starting to become apparent.
Climate Change on Health blogs

Mid-latitude westerly winds appear to have increased, with storm tracks shifting somewhat towards the poles.

The incidence of El Nin˜o events has increased since the 1970s.

Tropical storms have shown an increase in intensity and duration since the 1970s.

By using ‘fingerprint’ analysis, “many of these observed changes have been shown to be due to human activities.”

Scientist, co-author of Climate Crisis
Franz Josef glacier

Dr. Stefan Rahmstorf has worked as a scientist at the New Zealand Oceanographic Institute, at the Institute of Marine Science in Kiel and, since 1996, at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, focusing on the role of the oceans in climate change.  He is Professor of Physics of the Oceans at Potsdam University; Head of Earth System Analysis, PIK; Fellow of the American Geophysical Union; Honorary Fellow of the University of Wales/Bangor; Member of the Academia Europaea; Member of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU).

In 1999, Rahmstorf was awarded the $1 million Centennial Fellowship Award of the U.S.-based James S. McDonnell foundation. Since 2000, he has taught Physics of the Oceans as a professor at Potsdam University. Rahmstorf is a member of the Academia Europaea and of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU). He was also one of the lead authors of the 4th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, http://ipcc.ch/). In 2007, he became an Honorary Fellow of the University of Wales and in 2010 a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union.

Franz Josef glacier
West Coast of New Zealand's South Island 
Dr. Rahmstorf studied physics at the Universities of Ulm and Konstanz and physical oceanography at the University of Wales (Bangor); completed a thesis on general relativity theory; then, in 1990, obtained his doctorate in oceanography at Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand).  In the course of his studies for the doctorate, he made a number of research cruises in the South Pacific. He has published more than eighty scientific papers (20 of which in the leading journals, Nature, Science and PNAS); and co-authored four books.

Available in English: Our Threatened Oceans (2009, with Katherine Richardson); The Climate Crisis (2010, with David Archer). http://www.pik-potsdam.de/~stefan/index.html

Sources and notes

The Climate Crisis Chapter three: “Climate change so far” by David Archer / Stefan Rahmstorf, 2010, 250 pages; ISBN 978-0-521-73255-0 (paperback version), Cambridge University Press

September 11, 2012, On Deutsche Welle’s “The Agenda” program with Brent Goff: “When The Ice Melts - The Challenge of Global Warming” Guest: Stefan Rahmstorf, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, http://www.dw.de/dw/episode/9798/0,,16186712,00.html

At Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stefan_Rahmstorf:
Personal website (http://www.pik-potsdam.de/~stefan/)
Climate-science blog with contributions from Stefan Rahmstorf (http://www.realclimate.org)
Interview with Stefan Rahmstorf about Climate Deniers and Climate Myths (http://knowledge.allianz.com/en/globalissues/climate_change/global_warming_basics/rahmstorf_climate_sceptics.html)

Image: Franz Josef glacier flowing downhill, to meet warmer temperatures where ice can melt

Franz Josef glacier is located in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island (Wikipedia)

Maps: Worldatlas

Stefan Rahmstorf’s published works 2001-2012 ─ Publications in the “Top Three” (Nature, PNAS, Science):
[See also http://www.pik-potsdam.de/~stefan/Publications/index.html]

•Rahmstorf, S. and D. Coumou, 2011: Increase of extreme events in a warming world. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the USA, 5pp. doi:10.1073/pnas.1101766108.

•Kemp, A. et al., 2011: Reply to Grinsted et al.: Estimating land subsidence in North Carolina. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the USA 108, E783.

• Kemp, A. et al., 2011: Climate related sea-level variations over the past two millennia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the USA, doi:10.1073/pnas.1015619108.

• Vermeer, M. and S. Rahmstorf, 2010: Reply to Taboada and Anadon: Critique of sea-level rise study invalid. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 107, E118-E118.

•Vermeer, M. and S. Rahmstorf, 2009: Global sea level linked to global temperature. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the USA, 106, 21527-21532.

•Hofmann, M. and S. Rahmstorf, 2009: On the stability of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the USA

•Lenton, T., H. Held, E. Kriegler, J. Hall, W. Lucht, S. Rahmstorf, and H. J. Schellnhuber, 2008: Tipping elements in the Earth's climate system. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105, 1786-1793.

• Rahmstorf, S., 2007: Response to Comments on "A semi-empirical approach to projecting future sea-level rise". Science, 317, 1866d.

• Rahmstorf, S., et al. 2007: Recent Climate Observations Compared to Projections. Science, 316, 709.
-Powerpoint slides with key graphs from this paper

• Rahmstorf, S., 2007: A semi-empirical approach to projecting future sea-level rise. Science, 315, 368-370.

• Rahmstorf, S., 2006: Testing climate reconstructions. Science, 312, 1872.
-Some comments on the Response by von Storch et al.

• Braun, H., M. Christl, S. Rahmstorf, A. Ganopolski, A. Mangini, C. Kubatzki, K. Roth, and B. Kromer, 2005: Solar forcing of abrupt glacial climate change in a coupled climate system model. Nature, 438, 208-211.

•Rahmstorf, S., 2003: Thermohaline circulation: The current climate. Nature 421, 699.

•Peterson B. J. et al., 2002: Increasing river discharge to the Arctic Ocean. Science 298, 2171-2173.
 -News item by Erik Stokstad for this paper

•Rahmstorf, S., 2002: Ocean circulation and climate during the past 120,000 years. Nature 419, 207-214.

•Ganopolski, A. and S. Rahmstorf, 2001: Simulation of rapid glacial climate changes in a coupled climate model. Nature, 409, 153-158.  


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