Thursday, May 04, 2006

Change in Wind Speed and Ocean Temps, Humans to Blame?

There is an article in Nature magazine that is being used as the basis for a lot of climate change articles today. For many people, they will use the articles to spout off facts but the reality is not so solid.

The study shows that there has been a decrease in the Walker Circulation, most notably since World War II. That would appear to make sense due to the heavy industrial buildup and other sources of released carbon and other material into the atmosphere. The overall drop they say is about 3.5% since the 1800s. That would have to be the late 1800s since the english physicist, Sir Gilbert Thomas Walker, was not born until 1868.

In short the Walker Circulation is the circulation of air near the equator in the Pacific Ocean. It is thought to be the cause of the ocean upwellings near Peru and Ecuador. The upwellings are very important as they bring up very nutrient rich cooler waters from deep below. This is important because those nutrients are fed on and used by smaller animals and plants. Those animals are then fed on by birds and fish. Reducing the nutrients means that there is less to feed the animals and plants, which will cut back on their population. Cutting back on their population means that there is not enough for the birds and the fish and so they cut back on their population. If the downward cycle does not reverse or at least hold steady for quite some time, we could see the dying off of many birds and plants.

Sir Gilbert Thomas Walker was also the person who first described the effects of what we now call El Nino and La Nina. El Nino is an ocean-atmospheric occurance and can usually be seen around Christmas time near South America. As most know, El Ninos can have quite an impact.

The study proposes that the change in the air circulation can possibly bring about a long term effect very much like El Nino.

This article states:
The weakening of wind circulation was detected in shipboard and land-based data going back to the mid-1800s. It matches an effect predicted by computer climate simulations that trace global warming to a buildup of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, the researchers report. But simulations that consider only natural influences fail to produce the same slowdown, Vecchi said.

So, it appears the circulation slowdown is due to the buildup of greenhouse gases caused by human activity, the researchers concluded.

Wiki sources used for information:
Walker Circulation
El Nino-Southern Oscillation
Gilbert Walker

Meanwhile, China's glaciers appear to be in a rapid retreat. A 7% decline every year has been monitored and the areas will turn into high desert which could lead to more droughts and sandstorms. The data was collected over decades from 681 weather stations.

Climate change has been in the thoughts to everyone so much that it is getting religious.
Rev. Cizik said political stewardship, like environmental stewardship, has a biblical grounding. "The strategy is to hold political leaders accountable," he added, citing Jesus' reply to Pontius Pilate. Jesus said: "You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above."

Climate change is also forcing migratory birds to change their eating habits or die off. The warmer weather means that food staples emerge earlier and if the birds do not arrive in time, they find themselves without enough food to maintain the population.

Meanwhile Canada is cutting $1 Billion from their climate change programs over the next five years. The money is being used to fund a change in their tax laws that will allow citizens to save their bus fare receipts and claim it on their tax returns.

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