Thursday, May 20, 2010

Climate scientists bearing bad news: Oceans, Earth getting warmer; more records set

Michael Scott in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer: This was a good week for climate reports -- but none of them had any good news. In short, we heard about warming oceans; the warmest first quarter on record for average earth temperatures; and a comprehensive report that underscores America's "need for actions to reduce emissions and begin adapting to impacts" of a warming climate.

Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday that they've found that the upper layer of the world's ocean has warmed significantly since 1993 -- "indicating a strong climate-change signal." The scientists say that 80 to 90 percent of the increased global heat has ended up stored in the ocean -- a process that has somewhat absorbed a worse air temperature increase. The flip side: A warmer ocean is a direct cause of global sea-level rise, as water expands and takes up more space when it is heated.

…NOAA's National Climatic Data Center reported earlier in the week that we had just experienced not only the warmest April on record, but also the warmest first quarter of the year (January-April) for the "combined global land and ocean surface temperature."

While we reminded readers here to make the appropriate distinction between weather (what's happening now) and climate (what we can expect, on average), most of us also recall our record hot April in Cleveland. It began with four 80-plus degree days out of the first six and ended on a similar high note. This was also the warmest month on record for four Northeast states -- Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Jersey…..

A 1963 photo of the USAS American Mariner in rough seas; view from the fantail, showing wake, from Wikited via Wikimedia Commons

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