March 29, 2012

Acclimation to Ocean Acidification: Give It Some Time

Filed under: Adaptation, Animals

Rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels lead to an increasing amount of CO2 being dissolved in the oceans which drives down the oceans’ pH level. This is often referred to as “ocean acidification” and included among the list of ills that energy production from fossil fuels imparts to the environment. Type “ocean acidification” into your Google search and you’ll quickly be confronted with a litany of potential impacts—all bad. The Center for Biological Diversity refers to it as global warming’s “evil twin.”

“We mean it this time” our greener friends are saying about this current apocalypse. But is ocean acidification any different than the population bomb, global starvation, acid rain, ozone depletion, global cooling, and global warming—all forecast to cause the end of the world as we know it, and all falling a bit short?
It’s beginning to look like the same old same old. In what will come as no surprise to World Climate Report regulars, alarmists are overdoing things just a little. Their biggest mistake comes in assuming that the oceans’ denizens cannot deal either with the pace or the magnitude of the projected changes to the oceans’ chemistry.

The more researchers look into this, the more they report findings to the contrary.

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March 22, 2012

Tropical Forests Rejoice!

Filed under: Adaptation, Plants

When was the last time you heard good news about our tropical forests? Well, that’s just too long.

All we ever seem to hear about the tropical forests is that they are being destroyed, their destruction will exacerbate global warming, and on and on. You will even discover that some scientists think global warming destroyed the first tropical forests that evolved on our planet bringing rise to the dinosaurs! So it’s high time for some good news and World Climate Report is at your service!

A recent article in Landscape Ecology caught our eye with the title “Has global environmental change caused monsoon rainforests to expand in the Australian monsoon tropics?” Is someone really suggesting that global environmental change is causing rainforests to expand? We knew we would really like this one!

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March 16, 2012

Atlantic Hurricanes: The Long and the Short of It

Filed under: Climate Extremes, Hurricanes

Last May, we reviewed a paper on Atlantic basin tropical cyclone trends by Gabriele Villarini and colleagues that focused on a breed of storms called they called “shorties”—small tropical storms that lasted less than two days. The authors concluded that while the number of identified “shorties” has been increasing with time, the increase was primarily the result of changing (improving) observational practices not a changing climate. Now, we review a new paper that looks at the other end of the spectrum of Atlantic tropical cycles—“biggies” (our term)—intense Category 4 and 5 hurricanes. In a new paper, Andrew Hagen (University of Miami) and Chris Landsea (National Hurricane Center) conclude that changing observational practices have resulted in more Cat 4&5 hurricanes being identified in recent decades compared to past ones. Again, the increase is not due to a changing climate but changing detection technologies.

Whether talking about the total number of tropical cyclones (which is increasing because of detection technology) or their intensity (which is increasing because of detection technology) only a person unaware of this important research would say that there has been a climate-related trend.

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March 12, 2012

Western U.S. Precipitation Extremes—How Did This Turkey Get Published?

When it comes to changes in future precipitation across the United States, climate models projections are all over the map. In other words, they provide no useful guidance for the future. But that doesn’t stop people from trying to sell them. Now comes a paper which clearly demonstrates a systematic failure of precipitation models and still calls the results “useful”. Reviewers…halloo??

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