2016 has been quite a year for the climate. Warmest year ever recorded. Record low sea ice extents at both poles. It has also seen many amazing climate visualisations and animations. I have collected some of my favourites on this storify page, including graphics for temperature, sea ice, pressure observations and Hurricane Matthew.
One of the graphics is shown below, mapping temperature changes from 1850-2016, and including the decadal averages of global temperatures. This graphic has been updated from a previous version.
What was the last truly ‘amazing’, ‘novel’ or ‘spectacular’ science paper that you read? According to a recent bibliographic analysis the chance of encountering such ‘ground-breaking’ research has increased almost nine-fold since the 1970s.
The Earth hasn’t always been struggling with global warming. Around 34 million years ago at the Eocene-Oligocene Transition (EOT) the Earth was undergoing a period of global cooling. This significant shift in climate led to the formation of the first permanent ice sheets of the Cenozoic Era over Antarctica, as shown by the dramatic shift (in a geologic sense) in the oxygen isotope records . The cooling, likely a result of declining atmospheric carbon dioxide levels but potentially also coinciding with Southern Ocean gateway changes, turned Antarctica from a green forested continent to the land of ice we know today. This is illustrated with an image of how this world might have looked.
What have we learnt at COP21 so far? The 147 world leaders who turned up spoke passionately. The negotiators seem determined to get a strong agreement, already working past midnight each evening. The process of the negotiations seems to be much improved from previous COPs, with small groups doing much of the hard work.
The Paris COP21 continues. The atmosphere today was far more relaxed after the excitement of the speeches from world leaders yesterday. Negotiations have started more seriously with discussions over decarbonisation – perhaps this should be called carbon austerity! Continue reading Reflections from Paris COP – day 2→