Back in July of 2008 Stefan Rahmstorf gave a presentation to the Arctic Expedition for Climate Action about “The 5 Most Important Data Sets of Climate Science.” You might disagree with his choice of “5 most important,” I might disagree myself, but they’re all certainly quite important. Of course, that was ten years ago; one might wonder, how have those data sets changed in the decade since?
Opportunity knocks, but not often. Right now, it’s knocking loud and long.
That opportunity is renewable energy. There are many forms, including solar, wind, geothermal, and biofuels. There are certaintly challenges, including energy storage, deployment, and efficiency. Yet despite the challenges, costs are plummeting while installations are muliplying. The race is on: whatever nation or nations find the technological solutions first, and make them available in markets world-wide, is going to WIN BIG. As in, win SO big that they will become the economic powerhouses of the next few decades.
Whatever nations drag their feet, too sluggish to keep up with the rapid advance of renewable energy technology because they’re still banking on fossil fuels, are going to LOSE. Lose BIG.
Rain comes, rain goes, but lately, when it rains it doesn’t just pour — it pours like never before. The reason? Man-made climate change.
I’m talking about the temperature in the atmosphere, and specifically the lower troposphere. The troposphere is where most of our weather happens, and for the lower troposphere we have temperature estimates inferred from satellites which measure “microwave brightness,” as well as thermometer measurements from balloons which carry instruments to high altitude and radio their data back to earth (radiosonde data).
By the way: the idea that transforming satellite data into temperature estimates is as simple as sticking a thermometer in your ear (like they do in hospitals these days) is extremely stupid. It’s a lot more complicated than that, which is why different teams that process the satellite data get different results, and those teams keep updating their data with new versions that differ noticeably from previous versions. But it’s the kind of story that sounds convincing to idiots like Ted Cruz.
The extent of sea ice in the Arctic has dropped dramatically. Here’s the data from NSIDC (the National Snow and Ice Data Center):
We need to reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and we need to do it quickly. The main ones increased by humans are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4, the main component of natural gas), and nitrous oxide (N2O).
How are we doing?
There’s a lot we don’t know about hurricanes, and a helluva lot we don’t know about how climate change is going to affect them.
Will they happen more or less often? There’s no scientific consensus, we just don’t really know. When they do happen — will they be stronger or weaker on average? A consensus has emerged that they’ll get stronger, more cat4 and cat5 hurricanes compared to cat1 and cat2. Will we see a whole new class, the fierce cat6? Just speculation.
But there’s one thing we can put in the “fer-sure” category, and that’s this: hot ocean water superpowers hurricanes. Talk to the National Hurricane Center. Talk to Kerry Emanuel at MIT.