By Water & Fire


In February the gringa posted “Rub A Dub, Dub, Nelson Needs A Tub” about how climate change is raising sea levels. I mentioned how great works of art along coastlines will disappear. A couple of weeks prior to that I posted “The U.S., Migrants & Climate Change” focusing again on the effects of climate change on sea levels. I reported that experts predicted Earthlings had at least two or three decades before we actually saw any islands swallowed up by the sea. Well, guess what? It is already happening.

The Washington Post recently reported that five, count that: ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE islands of the Solomon Islands have disappeared underneath the waters of rising sea levels thanks to climate change. The remaining six are still high and dry but a bit shrunken and reduced in size. With a population of 500,000, many families have witnessed their homes washed away into the sea as the unforgiving ocean claims more and more territory.

To see for yourself what is happening on these beautiful islands and the people who live there, you can view the video posted by the Washington Post.

The effects of climate change seem to be steamrolling their way across the globe at record pace. Scientists can talk about the proverbial tipping point all they want. The gringa believes that boat sailed long ago, that horse has long since left the gate. The snowball is roaring down the mountain, growing more monstrous and picking up speed.

Take a look at the wildfire at Canada’s Ft. McMurray. This disaster is of epic proportions. The gringa believes there is probably already bigwigs in Hollywood mulling over who they will hire to write the scripts and cast for characters. This horrific disaster most certainly came about because of climate change conditions affecting wilderness areas. 602 square miles are burning. 80,000 people have lost it all and are in limbo like refugees, and over 1,600 structures are heaps of ashes.

And the gringa has absolutely no suggestions. I can’t change the world. I can only clang my gong and sound the alarm.

Sources:  www.washingtonpost.com and www.cnn.com

Image credit: http://www.edugeography.com

 

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Amazing Grace and the Conveyor Belt


Is there a way to stem the tide of sea level rise due to climate change? I mean, if we can’t build a seawall around the coast of every continent and island, what other option is there other than an eventual mass human migration inland? Well, NASA thinks there very well may be a solution.

The Earth may be saving herself. Climate change researchers have been collecting data from NASA satellites to determine where all this extra liquid water from melted ice sheets and glaciers is ending up. It seems the Earth has absorbed over three trillion tons of water (that’s about the equivalent of what’s in Lake Huron) that are replenishing depleted lakes and underground aquifers. Now, this is great news but not a permanent fix. Researchers estimate this temporary band-aid will slow sea level rise by about twenty percent. Earth is buying us Earthlings some more time to get our you-know-what together and fix this mess we have created.

So, how does this “band-aid” work? The Earth’s regular water budget is provided by annual amounts of water evaporated from the oceans. This becomes precipitation that returns to the Earth through rainfall or snow. It then recycles back into the oceans as runoff or through rivers. As mankind’s use of groundwater has dramatically increased, the Earth has become quite thirsty as reservoirs are depleted. It has become a sponge, compensating for this unprecedented loss by absorbing what is melting from ice sheets and glaciers. This has served to curb rising sea levels despite the fact that glaciers and ice sheets continue to melt.

Now scientists are scrambling to recalculate future models and adjust previous projections of sea level rise as a result of the Earth’s warming oceans. So, although sea levels are still expected to rise, Earthlings have a little bit more time to solve the problems that will cause. But, once the Earth has slated her thirst, all that meltwater will then become a problem.

NASA is using a twin satellite system, GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment), to measure how much water is being stored within the Earth. Since scuba divers can’t delve into these underground reservoirs, just what kind of digital dipstick is being used? The satellites use gravity to measure liquid. The gringa scratches her head and says, “Um, what? A gravity yardstick? How does that work?”

As the twin satellites orbit the Earth, they measure the distance between themselves. Their measurements are so accurate and precise, they can get as close as a strand of human hair. Amazing! But, I digress. GRACE then transmits the data to Earthling researchers who use the information to measure any gravitational change in the Earth that is the result of any change Earth’s water distribution.

By using this method, scientists have measured how much water has been stored within Earth’s continents as a result of ice sheet and glacier melt. This is the first study of its kind. And, according to NASA’s mission to use technology to safeguard the future of Earth and the lives of Earthlings, the agency has shared this knowledge with other scientific communities around the world.

And GRACE is proving her mettle in other areas of climate change data as well. The satellites are tracking circulation and current patterns within the Atlantic Ocean. The typical current pattern of the Gulf Stream carries warm, tropical water northward to Greenland. By the time it arrives at its northern destination, the water has cooled significantly. Colder water is denser so the water that originated from the tropics, and was riding at the surface. has sunk as deep as two miles within the ocean by the time it gets to Greenland. The colder, heavier, bottom water is then dragged back South.

In this way the waters of the Atlantic Ocean are consistently agitated, cooled, oxygenated and nutritionally refreshed. Oceanographers call this pattern the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). However, the gringa prefers the common name, the “Conveyor Belt” of the Atlantic.

The Atlantic’s “Conveyor Belt” effect is like an air conditioner for the world’s oceans. It is critical to modulating the temperature of the Earth. Data collected from GRACE has revealed that the “Conveyor Belt” is slowing down. Researchers are uncertain if this is directly caused by climate change or if other factors are at play.

GRACE is going to help answer these questions. One way is by measuring gravity data from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Changes in the ocean’s currents will result in pressure changes that GRACE can detect with gravitational measurements.

And GRACE is also contributing to the development of practical solutions that can be implemented right now, helping the people of Brazil. 2015 was the worst year in over three decades for drought in Brazil.

Hydrologists were able to use data collected from GRACE to calculate that in a three year period Brazil lost about fifteen trillion gallons of water each year. Water levels of aquifers and rivers were also analyzed.

Brazil is heavily dependent on the country’s rivers to provide water for their people, electricity production and for critical agriculture. The data provided by GRACE enables the Brazilian government to create models that will simulate future expected droughts. This makes it possible for the nation to plan effectively, monitor their water resources responsibly and continue to provide for the water needs of over 200 million Brazilians.

And those are just some of the facts about “Amazing GRACE”.

 

Source:  www.nasa.gov

Image Source:  www.nasa.gov

 

 

 

 

 

 

El Nino 101


Climate change discusses, of course, changes in Earth’s climate. This includes things like warmer ocean temperatures and fiercer storm systems. Meteorologists on local news broadcasts attribute these destructive storms to something called “El Nino”. The gringa has been hearing this term for years and finds herself often saying, “Oh, yeah, El Nino.” But, when I actually take a moment to define what the heck El Nino is, um, I’m at a loss. Being familiar with climate change terminology doesn’t mean a person actually knows what that term means. So, here’s “El Nino 101” for some clarification.

El Nino is actually a weather system caused by oceanic temperature anomalies. El Nino specifically affects the equatorial Pacific region of Earth. It is defined by unusually warm ocean temperatures shifting eastward, traveling toward the coastal regions of South America. When trade winds shift from east to west, they drag warm surface waters westward. The warmer waters collectively pool in the waters east of Indonesia and northeast of Australia. As this is going on in the western Pacific, cooler waters are surfacing in the eastern Pacific which creates what is known as a “thermocline tilt”, an east to west ocean temperature gradation. This is Earth’s normal, healthy cycle of ocean agitation, much like stirring a pot to keep it from boiling over.

As spring breaks in the northern hemisphere, the trade winds abate, thus no more “stirring the pot” cooling effect. This causes the eastern Pacific to begin warming up, leveling out the thermocline tilt. If Asian monsoons do not restore the delicate temperature balance of the thermocline tilt, El Nino begins to happen. The warmer Indonesian waters begin to move eastward and the central Pacific waters continue to warm throughout summer and fall. The thermocline tilt disappears and warm surface waters prevent cooler, deeper waters from rising. This is called a “capping effect”. Capping results in central and eastern Pacific ocean regions warming by almost 5 degrees Fahrenheit, possibly even 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Eastern Pacific warming causes ocean water to “expand” which means sea levels rise. This rise could be a few inches or even up to a foot. However, the opposite happens in the western Pacific. As warmer surface waters flow eastward, the western Pacific experiences lower sea levels that can expose upper levels of coral reefs, resulting in their bleaching and destruction.

All of this warmer water feeds the moisture in the air which collects in cloud systems. This extra moisture being added to Earth’s normal “rainfall” budget then results in massive storm systems. And that, in a nutshell, is the story of El Nino.

Source: www.nasa.gov

Image source: en.wikipedia.org

Climate Change And Closet Space


As I spent a day roasting at the beach, I pondered climate change. I thought, well what could be some of the good points? How can I keep a positive perspective? Surely mankind will be able to adjust to changes. It may be a painful adjustment but, nevertheless, we should manage to survive as a species. If I am one of those survivors, what are some things I can look forward to? I only hear the doom and gloom about climate change. I only hear that Armageddon is imminent. Surely there’s at least one thing to look forward to?

Let’s see, closet space! I should be able to have more closet space! For a person living in a tiny apartment that is great news! My crafting tidbits that are packed here and there in unsightly containers doing their best to blend in with the décor of different rooms can finally have their own space. So, dear reader, you ask the gringa how climate change will give me more closet space. Isn’t it obvious? That one closet that contains coats, and ski bibs, and assorted insulated clothing and boots and gloves and hats can all get cleared out and donated! Goodbye Northface and London Fog! Hello craft supplies closet!

This idea leads to more closet space. As I tickle my toes with sand that feels like it must be three hundred degrees in the sun, I realize I can clear out all my shoes. Everything has rubber soles. They will all melt to the sidewalk on the walk out to my car. The only pair of shoes I will need will be a set of sturdy wooden clogs. If I get rid of all of my shoes, again, CLOSET SPACE! Plenty of space for “prepping” and stocking up on bottled water, canned goods and sunblock.

But, if my rubber sole shoes melt on the pavement that is probably cooking at about three hundred degrees or more, what about the tires on my car? What about recent reports that roads actually melted in India? I guess I won’t even need a car then. It will be too hot for the horses, so no horse and buggy either. I guess we’ll have to come up with a four wheel drive, metal wheeled chariot , solar powered Segway contraption that can drive on any surface.

As I bask in ocean breezes under my beach umbrella I take an imaginary stroll through my apartment. I suppose I can also get rid of my stove. Who needs one when it’s a hundred and fifty degrees outside? I could leave a grill out in the sun on my patio and toss dinner on that after it heats up to about three hundred and fifty degrees Fahrenheit. Oh my gosh! My apartment is getting roomier and roomier! Looks like climate change also means redecorating the house! But, no big furniture. Whatever I get will have to fit on the Segway chariot thing.

Also, when the sea levels rise my low rent apartment will become prime real estate and I’ll be locked into a long-term, low rent lease. Sweet! My one hour drive to the beach will probably end up becoming a ten minute stroll. However, the only time I will be able to enjoy the beach will be the dead of night when temperatures finally drop down to a cool and tolerable ninety-nine degrees Fahrenheit.

All kidding aside, however, the people of India truly have suffered a tremendous loss of life in an unprecedented heatwave. Experts who thought we humans may have at least another thirty years or so until life as we know it really starts to change may have gotten the timeline all wrong. The ball that started rolling a while back seems to be picking up speed.

Wars in the past may have been inspired by the control of oil, but, with climate change accelerating, the world may have to look forward to wars over food, water, and a shade tree. The gringa thinks no amount of “prepping” is going to help an individual survive such a disaster. The only thing to do is all come together and help one another. It may be too late to divert this environmental disaster, but it’s never too late to be decent human beings helping one another.

Sources:

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/05/26/3662797/india-heat-wave-deaths/

http://ringoffireradio.com/2015/08/the-climate-change-disasters-are-already-here-time-is-running-out/?utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=socialnetwork

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/14/us/politics/climate-change-deemed-growing-security-threat-by-military-researchers.html?_r=1

Photo credit: www.lwfyouth.org