"Yes, Mr. President," the headline says. "We Remade Our Atlas to Reflect Shrinking Ice"
In a speech about climate change, Barack Obama had noted that over the years, National Geographic maps of the arctic had changed. The 10th edition of its Atlas of the World, especially, shows a much-diminished ice cap—and even more is gone in the 2014 edition.
As the ocean heats up due to global warming, Arctic sea ice has been locked in a downward spiral. Since the late 1970s, the ice has retreated by 12 percent per decade, worsening after 2007, according to NASA. May 2014 represented the third lowest extent of sea ice during that month in the satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).
Ice loss is accelerated in the Arctic because of a phenomenon known as the feedback loop: Thin ice is less reflective than thick ice, allowing more sunlight to be absorbed by the ocean, which in turn weakens the ice and warms the ocean even more, NASA says.
The most recent map shows the north pole barely fifty miles from the edge. [via Flowing Data]
Is it orbital changes? No? Solar variation? Uh uh. Volcanoes? Ffft. What could it possibly be? [Bloomberg]
Writes Brian Kahn at Climate Central: "The world just experienced its hottest June on record. The heat was driven in large by part by the hottest ocean temperatures since recordkeeping began more than 130 years ago. That makes this the third-warmest start to the year." I'm sure it's nothing.
When looking at land areas only, this was the 7th-hottest June. Temperatures averaged over land were 1.7°F above average.
It’s the ocean surface temperatures that put the month over the top. Temperatures were 1.2°F above average. That’s a smaller number than the 1.7°F land averages, but oceans tend to lag behind air temperatures. And despite being a smaller number, oceans cover 70 percent of the planet, which tend to give them more weight on global temperatures.
"Driven by Ocean Heat, World Sets Mark for Hottest June" [climatecentral.org]
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The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development -- a pro-establishment, rock-ribbed bastion of pro-market thinking -- has released a report predicting a collapse in global economic growth rates, a rise in feudal wealth disparity, collapsing tax revenue and huge, migrating bands of migrant laborers roaming from country to country, seeking crumbs of work. They prescribe "flexible" workforces, austerity, and mass privatization.
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"The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for May 2014 was record highest for this month, at 0.74°C (1.33°F) above the 20th century average of 14.8°C (58.6°F). " More great news about global warming in the NOAA National Climate Data Center briefing here.
From the Statue of Liberty in NYC to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, American landmarks are threatened by a likelihood of floods, rising sea levels and fires, said a group of scientists today. Read the rest
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In 1959, geologist Paul Walker put this note into a bottle and left it buried inside a pile of rocks in a remote part of the Arctic. More than just a "GEOLOGY WUZ HERE" sort of message, though, the note requested that whoever found it measure the distance between the cairn that contained the bottle and a nearby glacier and send the measurement to him. The goal: To document whether the glacier was advancing or retreating.
A group of scientists discovered the message this summer and followed its instructions. What they found is probably unsurprising to anybody who has been paying attention to the state of Arctic ice over the last couple decades. In 1959, the cairn and the glacier were 168.3 feet apart. Today, there is 333 feet between them.
Looking Glass is a prototype phone application that allows you to see the future of sea level rise right in front of your face. There have been some other programs aimed at visualizing sea level rise recently — Drown Your Town, which adds rising water levels to Google Earth, is the most famous example. Looking Glass is a little bit different in that it moves the sea level rise to a first-person point of view. So you can drown not just the town, but your living room, or the people standing directly in front of you.
Right now, Looking Glass is a prototype that only works for the town of Wickford, Rhode Island. But it's a cool concept that could be expanded to a larger number of cities, later on. The goal, says creator Eli Kintisch is to make the invisible visible — to take things that we can only read about in dry scientific papers and show us what they'd really be like to live with.
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My friend, former NPR colleague, and longtime journalism mentor Alex Chadwick has an incredible new radio documenting hitting the public radio airwaves this week. We're sharing it here on Boing Boing before it hits the radio-waves. I asked Alex to tell us a little about 'Rising Seas.' He explains:
The Rising Seas project grew out of an encounter at an MIT energy seminar almost a year ago. I met an Americanized Brit, Dr. Len Berry, from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. He's been speaking forcefully and clearly about the threat that rising seas present. At the end of his talk, I asked if Miami is a viable city. He smiled and answered, 'well, it is right now'.
And then I asked about the end of the century. He smiled again, but said nothing.
Eric Holthaus reports on the aftermath of last week's climate change report, which found that anthropogenic causes are almost certainly behind global warming.
Without jumping up and down on the desks of their computer terminals, this forum of scientists has done about as much as they can do. With this report, they have proven humankind’s impact on the climate, and confidently projected dire consequences should world governments fail to act immediately.