Want to learn a little about climate science and hurricanes? Do an internet search using "Hurricane Sandy" and "climate change". A quick search at 4pm on October 30th revealed half a dozen major news sources posting very readable articles that explain some of the science underlying climate forecasts of storm severity.
Here's a selection:
- New York Times: Did global warming contribute to Hurricane Sandy's devastation?
- Washington Post: Yes, Hurricane Sandy is a good reason to worry about climate change
- boingboing.net: Did climate change cause Hurricane Sandy?
- Huffington Post: Hey Pols, Hurricane Sandy is climate change
- The Guardian: Was Hurricane Sandy supersized by climate change?
- NPR: The science behind Hurricane Sandy: climate change or freak storm?
For a collection of some pretty amazing satellite images: see this NASA web site.
Climate change skeptics for years counted UC Berkeley physicist Richard Muller in their ranks. Muller, a former McArthur award recipient, criticized the "hockey stick" graph of atmospheric CO2 versus time as a mathematical artifact (Muller 2004) and created a research institute, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, to examine the data more closely.
Based on his work, Muller now writes,
Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.
These findings are stronger than those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations group that defines the scientific and diplomatic consensus on global warming.
Alison Whipple spoke about how historical ecology research can help in restoring California's Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta on NPR's "Weekend Edition Sunday". Whipple, a first-year graduate student in Hydrologic Sciences at UC Davis and trainee in the Climate Change, Water, and Society (CCWAS) IGERT, and Robin Grossinger from the San Francisco Estuary Institute examined old diaries, photographs, and hand-drawn maps to gain insight into the landscape of the Delta in the 19th century.
According to Grossinger, their goal was "not to go back, but to understand how this landscape worked so we can re-establish ecologically functional and cost-effective habitats within the contemporary landscape.”
For more information on the project, see http://www.sfei.org/DeltaHEStudy
CCWAS IGERT PI Graham Fogg will be one of several speakers at the Second International Summit of Sustainability in Chile, on Thursday, 27 September 2012. Graham and his hosts, including José Luis Arumí and other CCWAS collaborators from the University of Concepción and CEAZA, will speak about the importance of groundwater in water resource management under climate change.
For more information, see the original press release.
Scientists generally exercise caution about becoming enmeshed in policy discussions. However, it would behoove scientists from all disciplines to become educated about the implications of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which will take effect in January 2013 unless Congress passes legislation to counteract it.
The Budget Control Act of 2011 -- through a process called sequestration -- stipulates across-the-board cuts in all federal agencies. NSF, NIH, EPA, the Department of Education, NOAA all fall under its axe.
Meredith Niles, a UC Davis graduate student in Ecology and trainee in the Responding to Rapid Environmental Change IGERT, has written clearly and eloquently about this in her blog. It's good reading for all scientists -- and for anyone concerned about scientific research, higher education, transportation systems, and other public goods supported by federal dollars.