Thursday, February 9, 2012

Extreme weather tied to climate change

Dave Young in Fox31 in Denver: Two records were set in Denver: first, the 12.5 inches of snowfall on Feb. 3 set a new daily snowfall record for that date; second, the storm's total snowfall of 15.9 inches set a record as the heaviest snowfall in the month of February since 1912. Climate researchers in Colorado are investigating whether this record snowfall and other extreme weather events might be part of a bigger change in weather patterns.

“We've never had a storm so heavy,” said Bob Henson, referring to the February snowfall record. Hansen is a meteorologist for the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder. Calling it "weather on steroids," scientists say two new studies point to climate change.

“We're losing mass up in Alaska, " said Dr. John Wahr, as he pointed to satellite images of ice sheet melting in Alaska. Using new satellite technology to create the images, CU physicists, including Wahr, measured the gravitational weight of global ice masses. The researchers found the ice masses are melting at an alarming rate, especially in Greenland and Antarctica.

“These glaciers are coming off of the ice cap … taking the ice into the oceans, and they've been speeding up," Wahr said. The melting glaciers add at least 500 billion tons of water annually to the Earth's oceans, and during the eight years the studies were conducted, four trillion tons of water was added. “That's enough water to cover the entire United States to a depth of one-and-a-half feet," Wahr said, raising the Earth's sea level by roughly half an inch.

The researchers attribute the changes to global warming....

Denver International Airport in the snow (from 2006), shot by ashleyniblock, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

No comments: