Climate change and global warming have many variables affecting the atmospheric temperature rise in decades to come. Which variables have the most effect? Which don’t have long term effects? What temperature change is advised by scientists?
This chart by Climate Analytics shows the recent 30 yr history as a black line. Projections of temperature rise using different policies and scenarios are labeled in colors at the right. If we proceed with no changes in government policies or human behavior, the projected baseline warming is at least 4.1 C˚ (7.4 F˚).
Limiting warming to 1.5°C (2.7 F˚) above pre-industrial levels by 2100 means that the emissions of greenhouse gases need to be reduced rapidly in the coming years and decades, and brought to zero around mid-century. See the IPCC report.
Current Policies put the world on-track for about 2.7 C˚ of warming by the end of the century. Clearly, this is a huge international challenge requiring concerted efforts and cooperation. To do nothing is not acceptable. Future generations depend on our action now.
The astronomy community has reported a confusing phenomenon in recent years that the universe is composed of mostly matter and energy we don’t understand and cannot see. The terms dark matter and dark energy are used to describe these unknowns. I posted earlier about their confusing nature. The normal matter we can see and measure comprises only about 5% of the universe. The remaining 95% is ‘dark’ to us. Not dark in the sense of absence of light. We are unable to see it in the same ways we detect ordinary matter. The distribution is depicted here by Chandra X-Ray Observatory.
Progress is being made toward the detection and better understanding of the distribution of dark matter and dark energy. The progress uses techniques which infer the presence of something invisible which affects the visible normal matter. Techniques such as gravitational lensing are used. Theories are tested to see if observations match predictions. Progress is slow and difficult.
There are some very smart people working on this puzzle. Two of them are a wife-husband team who work at the Jet Propulsion Lab JPL in California. Alina Kiessling and Jason Rhodes are Astrophysicists with NASA-JPL. On 17 October 2019 they presented the public talk linked below for JPL’s Theodore von Kármán Lecture Series. It was one of the best programs on this topic I have seen.
In their program, they explained aspects of dark matter and energy, how it is detected, and what might be the ultimate fate of the universe. All was done in a manner that was not technical or overwhelming and included entertaining and humorous examples. At the end they answered audience questions.
I looked at the GOES-17 full-disk view of Earth during sunrise across the Americas on the morning of 7 Oct 2018. It was a beautiful way to start the day. The video on the site looped repeatedly while I watched showing images taken every 15 min.
Something curious caught my eye in the Amazon Basin. I screen-captured this short video. Watch the Amazon region for movement of bright light up-river. It is sunglint. Reflection of sunlight off the water surface into the GOES satellite optics.
Using the tools on the site, I zoomed into the Amazon Basin for a better look. Here it is from the mouth at the Atlantic to the west toward the Andes. Not much of the river is visible.
Watch what happens when the same region is viewed at 15 min intervals in this video loop. I stepped the video forward over a 3 hour interval, rewound, and repeated.
Here is a close-up of the river and tributaries at the middle of the basin. Amazing what you can see with the new GOES weather satellites.
If you want to explore more from a GOES weather satellite. Here is a link to the image viewer. Note the tabs across the page. Try them out. The U.S. Regions tab offers closer views and animations. Go ahead and have some fun. You can’t break anything.
Fourteen years ago I walked to a pine woods not far from our backyard. New construction was taking place. I wanted to get some images of the pine trees before they were cut down. Lots of other trees were removed as new streets and lots were installed. I am glad to say these pines are still there.
For the images of the tall pines, I wanted a different perspective. I chose a spot with a good view upward. Lying on my back, I shot about 10 pictures up into the trees. The images were overlaid so the trunks and branches were in good alignment. The end result was very close to how I saw it.
Two contrasting headlines about recent climate in the U.S. this spring caught my attention. Both came from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. The headlines were from the assessments of climate in the U.S. for April and May of 2018.
• The contiguous United States had its coldest April in more than 20 years.
• The contiguous United States had its warmest May on record.
The part of the U.S. where you live might not have seemed unusual. However, we noticed these differences in the midwest. Before examining April and May specifically, we will look at the climate for the year-to-date in the next two graphics. Relative to the period from 1895-2018, the upper plains was below average in temperature for the first five months of the year. The west was above to much above normal with record setting temperatures in the southwest.
Not shown in the graphic, the Alaska year-to-date temperature was 20.7°F, or 4.9°F above average. It was the ninth warmest on record. Western and northern Alaska were much above normal. Record low amounts of sea ice in the Arctic likely contributed to the warming.