Friday, September 11, 2015

As If We Didn't Have Enough To Worry About

We are experiencing some extreme weather, some indications of what might be happening, a rise temperatures, droughts, more fierce typhoons in the Pacific.  But that is not really preparing us for what could be happening, and very soon, over the next ten or twenty years.

Eastern United States and Europe are relatively warm for their latitude because of a stream of warm water from the Gulf that flows into the North Atlantic.  Two new research studies show that the melting Arctic might affect this flow, bringing it to a halt, and paradoxically bringing cold temperatures to Europe, really cold temperatures.  

a team of Texas scientists, sheds new light on how the Earth’s climate responded during a similar thaw from the planet’s geological past. About 12,000 years ago, rising temperatures at the end of the last ice age released huge volumes of cold freshwater, disrupting the ocean’s circulation systems and sending parts of the Northern Hemisphere back in to the freezer. Scientists refer to the era as the Younger Dryas period. 
The study in the journal Nature Climate found a wide range of impacts, some of which lingered for centuries. While the far-northern latitudes experienced rapid changes — including a 10C drop in temperature in Greenland in less than a decade — droughts and other weather anomalies in the southern Pacific persisted for 1,000 years.

But other things are happening as well, things even worse.   There is some evidence that methane clathrates in the ocean are beginning to melt.  Such an event in the past has meant global temperatures rising substantially, enough to bring about major extinctions of life on the planet.  

So we have two opposing phenomena occurring in the near future.  We can just hope that one mitigates the other.  But one thing for sure, our near future will be nothing like what we have ever been prepared for.