Earth’s cloud cover. Photo: NASA
(First published on Dec. 16, 2016, on State of the Planet.)
After record-setting warmth this year, winter is upon us. That means it’s summer in Antarctica, and the Earth Institute has scientists camped there working on two projects that will help us understand what’s going on in this climate-changing world.
Margie Turrin of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory is filing dispatches and stunning photos from the IceBridge project. Researchers are studying polar ice (a similar program operates in northern summers in Greenland). Flying back and forth across the Antarctic Peninsula, they’re using sensitive instruments to measure the stability of the ice sheets and the tongues of ice shelves that stretch out over the ocean. A second team working on the ROSETTA project is looking at sea temperature and its effects on the Ross Ice Shelf.
Meanwhile, back in the northern hemisphere, the Arctic has been warming twice as fast as the global average, with impacts that will reach far beyond the far north. The melting season in some areas of Greenland is 30 to 40 days longer than in recent decades, said Lamont scientist Marco Tedesco, who helped write the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 2016 Arctic Report Card. The report was presented this week at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. (For more on that key meeting of scientists and the Earth Institute’s role, look here.)
“In other places, going from 75 F to 80 F might not make such a great difference,” Tedesco told NPR. “But if you cross the melting point, you are basically stepping into a completely new world.”
A rendering of Climate City, the first research center solely dedicated to climate change, in Lorraine, France, at a former NATO airport. Architect: Agence d’Architecture A. Béchu
(First published on March 9, 2016, on State of the Planet.)
Sometime soon, a flock of “Climate Birds” could be ascending from a former NATO base in northeast France to take the measure of climate change around the world.
The Chambley-Planet Air Base, located in the Meurthe-et-Moselle département, about 10 miles west of the city of Metz, has more recently been the site of mass flights of hot air balloons that paint the sky with bright colors during a biennial festival. But the vision of Earth Institute scientist Yves Tourre and Laurent Husson, his partner and Climate City’s CEO, would turn part of the base into “Climate City”: a center for research on the local and regional impacts of climate change.
(First published Oct. 23, 2015, on State of the Planet.)
Three interesting pieces of news about climate change, in case you missed them:
For starters, 2015 is shaping up to be the warmest year on record since 1880, according to new data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Potential sea level rise in Guilford, CT. Source: Climate Central
Second, if you’re wondering about the longer-term impacts of climate change: Climate Central has produced a startling new, interactive graphic that shows the potential effects of sea level rise, should the world continue to grow warmer, melting more and more of the world’s ice sheets and glaciers. From a general view of the impacts on the United States, you can drill down into the graphic and see what’s likely to happen in your nearest coastal community. You can adjust the scene to see what might happen under various scenarios, should we actually succeed in cutting back carbon emissions.
Translation? My former hometown’s downtown would be pretty much under water, along with a substantial stretch of the Amtrak line running up through coastal Connecticut, by the end of the century. Posted Oct. 14, you can check it out here—just in case you want to plan ahead.