Friday, May 17, 2013

Quickies

Lots going on in the blogosphere, little of which I'll really take up in favor of mentioning that I'll be visiting Charlotte, NC next week.  Any of you in the area are welcome to drop me a note and maybe show me the area some.  If there's a Science Cafe in the area with an opening, I'd be glad to stop in and chat.

In the mean time, I've continued at a slow pace my work on the ESMR sea ice.  See the comment by MMM about the progress that the NSIDC has made on integrating it to the record with other satellites.  That's no reason to stop my effort here, though, because we're always better off if there are more lines of evidence, or more mehtods of analyzing the data, that independently come to the same conclusion.  Or, perhaps, it turns out that they don't support the same conclusions.  Either way, we learn something, which is the key for science.

A major European effort to re-examine prospects on sea level rise has completed and announced figures higher than the IPCC 4th report, but lower than some of those considered possible previously.  See ice2sea for details.

A 'citizen science' effort from Skeptical Science has confirmed the unsurprising, to those of us reading the scientific literature, that the overwhelming majority of the scientific literature either doesn't mention whether climate change is occurring and is human-caused, or that it supports the conclusion.  See 97% consensus for the details on what they did.

Climate change, by way of sea level rise, is starting to get attention of towns in the US, as Newtok, Alaska is now facing exile from its traditional locale since it'll be under water in the next few years.  I'm actually involved in a proposal that'll help provide improved information for the west coast of Alaska.  Doesn't affect this situation, but some towns farther inland, or where sea level isn't as obvious a factor, might be helped in their decision process.

The one-sided political divide continues on climate science.  Barry Bickmore, scientist and former GOP party official in Utah, has replied to a former GOP senator about the science.

Some time in the last week or two, we've reached 400 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere.  On the one hand, it's a milestone of sorts; the digits ticked over a round number.  On the other hand, there hasn't been a question of whether we would do so for over 30 years.  Purely a question of when.  As many have noted, levels have not been this high in human history.  Now, if you take history to mean the written record of 10,000 years, that's true, but no surprise.  We've been past the highest levels in history ever since the industrial revolution.  Call it the 280 ppm of 'pre-industrial'.  It's more surprising if you consider that it's longer than our species has existed -- the about 200,000 years 'anatomically modern' humans been around.  And, for that matter, we didn't see such levels even in our ancestors' times, for Homo erectus, back to around 1.8 million years.  Last time such levels existed is perhaps 2.5 million years ago, when the nearest thing to us was Homo habilis -- a species with less than half our brain size, and averaging perhaps 1.3 m tall (Wikipedia).

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