Warm waters juiced Ophelia into the most powerful eastern Atlantic hurricane ever seen

Warm waters juiced Ophelia into the most powerful eastern Atlantic hurricane ever seen

SOURCE: ThinkProgress DATE: October 16, 2017 SNIP: Ex-hurricane Ophelia smashed into Ireland Monday morning with record-breaking gusts of up to 119 mph. The powerful extra-tropical storm — which has already killed two people and blacked-out some 360,000 Irish homes and businesses — is what’s left of the most powerful Eastern Atlantic hurricane ever seen. “This was the first major hurricane making it as far east in the Atlantic as it did,” climatologist Michael Mann told ThinkProgress via email. “Irma was the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever to form as far east as it did. As ocean surface temperatures rise, the regions where tropical cyclones can form and intensify are expanding. This latest storm is consistent with that trend.” What do all these powerful storms have in common? Hurricanes “extract heat energy from the ocean to convert it to the power of wind, and the warmer the ocean is, the stronger a hurricane can get,” as meteorologist and former hurricane hunter Jeff Masters has explained. “So, scientists are confident that as we continue to heat up the oceans, we’re going to see more of these high-end perfect...
Worrying new research finds that the ocean is cutting through a key Antarctic ice shelf

Worrying new research finds that the ocean is cutting through a key Antarctic ice shelf

SOURCE: Washington Post DATE: October 11, 2017 SNIP: A new scientific study published Tuesday has found that warm ocean water is carving an enormous channel into the underside of one of the key floating ice shelves of West Antarctica, the most vulnerable sector of the enormous ice continent. The Dotson ice shelf, which holds back two separate large glaciers, is about 1,350 square miles in area and between 1,000 and 1,600 feet thick. But on its western side, it is now only about half that thickness, said Noel Gourmelen, a researcher at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and the lead author of the research, which was just published in Geophysical Research Letters. The reason is the same one that is believed to be shrinking glaciers and pouring ice into the ocean across West Antarctica — warm ocean water located offshore is now reaching the ice from below. “We think that this channel is actually being carved for the last 25 years,” said Gourmelen, whose research team detected the channel using satellite observations. “It’s been thinning and melting at the base for at least 25 years, and that’s where we are now.” Dotson ice shelf as a whole has been thinning at an average rate of more than eight feet per year since 1994, even as the speed of ice flowing outward through the shelf has increased by 180 percent. But the thinning in the channel has been far greater. The research calculates that 45 feet of ice thickness is being subtracted annually from the channel. The new study calculates that as a result of this highly uneven melting,...
Stunning NASA chart shows how fast the ground beneath our feet is heating up

Stunning NASA chart shows how fast the ground beneath our feet is heating up

SOURCE: Think Progress DATE: Aug 22, 2017 SNIP: Global temperatures are rising faster on the land, where we live, than the oceans, where we don’t, NASA charts reveal. Since scientists have long predicted this trend and say it will continue, it’s worth a closer look. Let’s start with the long-term global warming trend. According to NOAA, “Since 1880, surface temperature has risen at an average pace of 0.13°F (0.07°C) every 10 years, for a net warming of 1.71°F (0.95°C).” But the warming is not evenly distributed: “Over this 136-year period, average temperature over land areas has warmed faster than ocean temperatures: 0.18°F (0.10°C) per decade compared to 0.11°F (0.06°C) per decade.” So over the entire record, the land is warming nearly 70 percent faster than the...
Antarctica Is Melting, and Giant Ice Cracks Are Just the Start

Antarctica Is Melting, and Giant Ice Cracks Are Just the Start

SOURCE: National Geographic DATE: June 28, 2017 SNIP: Seen from above, the Pine Island Ice Shelf is a slow-motion train wreck. Its buckled surface is scarred by thousands of large crevasses. Its edges are shredded by rifts a quarter mile across. In 2015 and 2016 a 225-square-mile chunk of it broke off the end and drifted away on the Amundsen Sea. The water there has warmed by more than a degree Fahrenheit over the past few decades, and the rate at which ice is melting and calving has quadrupled. On the Antarctic Peninsula, the warming has been far greater—nearly five degrees on average. That’s why a Delaware-size iceberg is poised to break off the Larsen C Ice Shelf and why smaller ice shelves on the peninsula have long since disintegrated entirely into the waters of the Weddell Sea. But around the Amundsen Sea, a thousand miles to the southwest on the Pacific coast of Antarctica, the glaciers are far larger and the stakes far higher. They affect the entire planet. “These are the fastest retreating glaciers on the face of the Earth,” says Eric Rignot, a glaciologist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena,...
Scientists warn US coral reefs are on course to disappear within decades

Scientists warn US coral reefs are on course to disappear within decades

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: May 30, 2017 SNIP: Some of America’s most protected corals have been blighted by bleaching, with scientists warning that US reefs are on course to largely disappear within just a few decades because of global warming. New research has shown that strict conservation measures in Hawaii have not spared corals from a warming ocean in one of its most prized bays, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicting yet more bleaching is likely off Hawaii and Florida this summer. “As scientists we are breathlessly trying to catch up,” said Cobb [Kim Cobb, an oceanographer at Georgia Tech]. “Things started to run away from us around 10 years ago but we were perhaps a little naive in not realizing that.” “This is another data point on the staggering breadth of damage across the global oceans. You can run but you can’t hide from the train wreck that is coming. The recent bleaching has been a brush with death and shows that this fatal stress is upon...