The wandering interests of JamaOwl

Climate and Weather

Quotes, comments and other things I found interesting.

From “The Weather of the Future”, By Heidi Cullen, Harper, 2011

“…El Niño (EN) describes the ocean component; …the atmospheric component is known as the Southern Oscillation (SO).  That’s why climatologists generally refer to it as ENSO. (p. xiv)

“It’s a book about climate science and climate scientists…  It illustrates that doing nothing and remaining complacent are tantamount to accepting a future forty years down the road in which your town, your neighborhood, and even your backyard will not look the same.” (p. xviii)

“…many of the first important discoveries about global warming were made during the 1800s.”  (p. 15)  I found this very surprising.  We think that global warming is a relative recent phenomenon.  Most of the initial thinking did not include global warming as a man-induced climate change.  Scientists were studying the ice age and glaciation, which at that time was not accepted very well.

“… (T)he notion that the global climate could be affected by human activities was first put forth by Svante Arrhenius in 1896.  He based his proposals on his prediction that emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels (i.e., coal, petroleum, and natural gas) and other combustion processes would alter atmospheric composition in ways that would lead to global warming.” (p. 25)

“Arrhenius … calculated the temperature increase to be expected from a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere – a rise of about 8°F.” (p. 25)

“With … a gas chromatograph, (Charles David) Keeling headed to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography to begin what is perhaps the single most important scientific contribution to the discovery of global warming.”  (p. 27) Keeling’s data tracked the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.  This became known as the Keeling curve.

“The Keeling curve is a monthly record of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels that begins in 1958 and continues to today.” (p. 27)

“Keeling, using his Mauna Loa measurements, could see that with each passing year CO2 levels were steadily moving upward.  As the years passed… Keeling’s CO2 record became increasingly impressive, showing levels of carbon dioxide that were noticeably higher year after year after year. … The slow rise in its concentration over the first several years was enough to prompt a report … to President Johnson in 1965, indicating that the early prediction that an increase in CO2 could occur was correct and that global warming would indeed be expected to occur.” (p. 28)

“In the northern hemisphere during fall and winter, plants and leaves die off and decay, releasing CO2 back into the atmosphere and causing a small spike.  And then during the spring and summer when plants are taking CO2 out of the atmosphere in order to grow, carbon dioxide levels drop.”  (p. 29)

“The Keeling curve proved… that CO2 levels in the atmosphere can indeed change and that they can change on very short timescales.” (p. 29)

“…(T)he level (of CO2) from A.D. 1000 to 1750 in the atmosphere was about 280 ppm…”  “…the concentration of CO2 has increased about 36 percent in the last 150 years, with about half of that increase happening in the last three decades.”  “… the CO2 concentration is now higher than any seen in at least the past 800,000 years.” (p. 30)

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