Part one of a three-part series.
May, 2018 marked the 401st consecutive month of temperatures greater than the twentieth century average: 60.0 degrees Fahrenheit versus 58.6 F for the combined ocean and land temperatures of this planet according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. For land only, the increase was 54 vs 52 degrees F. This is well above any "noise level" or routine variability. At this point, the only thing strong enough to cancel out global warming for one month would be the sun-blocking dense atmospheric cloud from a massive volcano eruption larger than the super eruption at Krakatoa (present day Indonesia) in 1883.
The current drought in the US West how has lasted nearly twenty years. As a result of decreased snow-pack runoff and hotter temperatures, the Colorado River, which supplies water to 40 million people from Los Angeles to Denver and then south, is running at only 40% of the long term average. As a result, Lake Mead, the West's largest reservoir, has dropped more than 150 feet, and now is only two feet away from triggering a federal threshold level that would trigger mandatory cutbacks. The impact on Arizona, both farmers and real estate developers, which depend on water for growing subdivisions, could be drastic.
Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases act to trap heat from the sun in the Earth's atmosphere. Carbon-dioxide levels have been increasing rapidly since the 1980s, and currently are in the 300 ppm (parts per million) range, with the warming changes clearly evident, at least for the past nearly thirty or forty years. If nothing changes the current rate of carbon-dioxide concentration in the atmosphere, scientists predict that sea levels will rise around 2.5 feet by 2045, and nearly 8 feet by 2100.
The July, 2018 National Geographic includes a four page "essay" comment that cites the Intergovernmental Environmental Panel on Climate Change, and reports on several key developments:
(a) Increasing "sunny day flooding," which results from sea water at high tides flooding streets and sewage treatments in the Atlantic and Gulf regions of the US. The difference between low and high tides is about ten inches. The number of these "sunny day" floods has increased by thirty to forty days a year along the Atlantic coast.
(b) Increasing numbers of "vast forest fires" in the Amazon Rain Forest and the US western mountain areas. (Note, this summer -2018 - so far has included historic heat waves with concurrent wide-spread forest fires in the US west.)
The entire National Geographic of November, 2015 was "The Climate Issue," and featured the blockbuster information that the Arctic is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth, with 5 degrees Celsius warming between 1960 and 2014!
A special report in the December 31, 2017 issue of the New York Times featured three key climate-related issues:
(a) Tropical Atlantic Ocean temperatures as measured in August have increased by one degree F between 1980 and 2017.
(b) Sea levels along the Gulf of Mexico have increased by eight inches between 1980 and 2016. Measurements were taken at Galveston, Texas.
(c) Due to increased water temperatures, August atmospheric water vapor divergences from normal between 1988 and 2017, for all tropical seas, have been about 2 Kilograms per square meter. The air is much more moist, which results in more rain in major storms.
The New York Times Sunday Magazine of November 15, 2015 featured more information regarding the impact of melting ice sheets and glaciers. These included:
(a) In the year 1900, nearly 75% of the Earth's fresh water supplies were frozen into the ice sheets over Greenland and Antarctica. These ice sheets now are losing more ice each year than they gain from snowfall.
(b) Sea levels, as measured by satellites and tidal gauges in harbors, are increasing by about 0.1 inch/year.
A recent report (January 2017) showed that sixteen of the seventeen hottest years in recorded human history have occurred since 2000. This warming trend began to accelerate around the 1980s.
From the National Geographic of January, 2018: In the 1980s satellite data showed that Arctic sea ice extended on average across nearly three million square miles at the end of summer. Since then, more than a million square miles has been lost - an area roughly the size of Alaska, California, and Texas combined. Climate models suggest that by the 2050s, less than 200,000 square miles of perennial sea ice will remain.
In the same issue, the arctic temperature increase "amplification" effect is shown. From a baseline in 1979, the northern hemisphere temperature now is 1.8 F higher and increasing sharply. The global temperature rise in the same period is 1.4 F.
Cheers. Enjoy life, it's the only one we have.
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