Monday, June 29, 2009

Climate Change

I was reading a news item that mentioned the cat breeding period had been extended by climate change (read global warming) that resulted in an increase in abandoned kittens.
Climate change is making cats' breeding season longer, resulting in more kittens taken to shelters.

And the thought crossed my mind, what else is being blamed on climate change?

For my dear readers I now present to you Lexcen's interim report on Climate Change
aka an inconvenient truth.

A quick Google search came up with these results:
1.Our recently-released Birds and Climate report clearly shows that climate change is affecting birds – and our world – now. For the past 40 years, as our climate has warmed, birds have shifted their winter ranges further and further north. This ecological disruption is yet another wake up call that we must act quickly to solve the climate crisis. The birds' northward movement is another signal that climate change is here and action is needed now.

2.Jellyfish are taking over Europe's favorite swimming spots in increasing numbers. Scientists blame climate change and overfishing for the proliferation of the stinging nuisance.Results of studies conducted during the U.N.-sponsored International Polar Year (IPY) have found that the Arctic and Antarctic regions are warming faster than previously thought.

3.Researchers announcing the initial results of their studies said it appears drastic global climate change and rising sea levels are now more likely than ever.

4.The polar caps are melting because of climate change.

5. Climate change and polar bears.

The main concern about climate change effects on polar bears is habitat loss and changes to sea ice habitat. The sea ice on which polar bears depend has undergone recent declines in area, duration of cover, and thickness as a result of climate warming. Observed changes to the sea ice and habitat that may affect polar bears are these:

  • decline in maximum extent of sea ice in winter of about 1.5% per decade
  • loss of multiyear ice (permanent polar pack ice), which is declining about 10% per decade
  • increase in amount of open water
  • shortening of the period of ice cover and lengthening of the open water period
  • increase in the rate of ice drift
6. The supply of fish stocks will plummet as the world heats up, impacting millions of people in developing nations who depend on fishing for their livelihoods, according to a new report released today by the United Nations Environment Program

Rising greenhouse gas emissions threaten at least three quarters of key fishing grounds, and this could affect the 2.6 billion people who derive their protein from seafood worldwide, the study noted.

7.The Gulf Stream — the mighty ocean current that keeps Britain and Europe from freezing.

They have found that one of the “engines” driving the Gulf Stream — the sinking of supercooled water in the Greenland Sea — has weakened to less than a quarter of its former strength.

The weakening, apparently caused by global warming, could herald big changes in the current over the next few years or decades. Paradoxically, it could lead to Britain and northwestern and Europe undergoing a sharp drop in temperatures.

Such a change has long been predicted by scientists but the new research is among the first to show clear experimental evidence of the phenomenon.

Peter Wadhams, professor of ocean physics at Cambridge University, hitched rides under the Arctic ice cap in Royal Navy submarines and used ships to take measurements across the Greenland Sea.

“Until recently we would find giant ‘chimneys’ in the sea where columns of cold, dense water were sinking from the surface to the seabed 3,000 metres below, but now they have almost disappeared,” he said.

“As the water sank it was replaced by warm water flowing in from the south, which kept the circulation going. If that mechanism is slowing, it will mean less heat reaching Europe.”

Such a change could have a severe impact on Britain, which lies on the same latitude as Siberia and ought to be much colder. The Gulf Stream transports 27,000 times more heat to British shores than all the nation’s power supplies could provide, warming Britain by 5-8C.

Wadhams and his colleagues believe, however, that just such changes could be well under way. They predict that the slowing of the Gulf Stream is likely to be accompanied by other effects, such as the complete summer melting of the Arctic ice cap by as early as 2020 and almost certainly by 2080. This would spell disaster for Arctic wildlife such as the polar bear, which could face extinction.

Wadhams’s submarine journeys took him under the North Polar ice cap, using sonar to survey the ice from underneath. He has measured how the ice has become 46% thinner over the past 20 years. The results from these surveys prompted him to focus on a feature called the Odden ice shelf, which should grow out into the Greenland Sea every winter and recede in summer.

The growth of this shelf should trigger the annual formation of the sinking water columns. As sea water freezes to form the shelf, the ice crystals expel their salt into the surrounding water, making it heavier than the water below.

However, the Odden ice shelf has stopped forming. It last appeared in full in 1997. “In the past we could see nine to 12 giant columns forming under the shelf each year. In our latest cruise, we found only two and they were so weak that the sinking water could not reach the seabed,” said Wadhams, who disclosed the findings at a meeting of the European Geosciences Union in Vienna.

The exact effect of such changes is hard to predict because currents and weather systems take years to respond and because there are two other areas around the north Atlantic where water sinks, helping to maintain circulation. Less is known about how climate change is affecting these.

But if that wasn't bad enough, I decided to do a Google search on "sex and climate change" hoping it would shed some light on the declining incidence of sex in my married life.

This is what I found...

Polar bear penis bones are shrinking in Eastern Greenland, according to Christian Sonne of the University of Aarhus in Denmark and colleagues. They found that polar bears living in the Eastern Greenland are somewhat less well endowed than their cousins in Svalbard and the Canadian Arctic. They say this could be due to the high prevalence of pollutants such as PCBs and DDT in Eastern Greenland - pollutants which records show are less prevalent in Svalbard and the Canadian Arctic.

At this point I had to stop and take a breather, climate change is indeed frightening.

In my next report I will be looking at crime and climate change.
McDonalds and climate change.
Globalization and climate change.
Global Financial crisis and climate change.

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Anonymous said...

Shrinkage! I knew there was a reason to hate global warming.

Jeannie said...

I thought the shrinkage was caused by cold!

And despite all the polar bear supposed habitat melting, polar bear populations have been increasing in Canada.

Hammer said...

I'm still holding out for the next Ice age that they promised us 10 years ago.

Anonymous said...

So, is there an increase in polar bear suicides due to low self-esteem? An increase in polar bear psychiatric practices? Increase in polar bear viagra prescriptions?

I didn't realize how urgent it was. We have to do something about this.