Saturday, October 22, 2005

Dear Europe, Get Out Your Woolens!

The Gulf Stream can be seen (red) in this thermal satellite image.
© NOAA Posted by Picasa

As for sitting in mediation, that is something which MUST include fits of ecstatic blissful laughter---brayings that will make you slump to the ground clutching your belly, and even after that passes and you struggle to your feet, will make you fall anew in further contortions of side-splitting mirth.


When the striving ceases, there is life waiting as a gift.

---Saul Bellow

Please do not get caught in that place where you think you know.

---Zen saying

Last month member and chemist Silvia Martinez, who lives in Spain, answered my request for links to articles she has been reading about a decrease in the flow of the Gulf Stream. I had heard dire predictions about this occuring some 30 years ago, but then it was all theoretical and frankly rather confusing. The idea is salt water can't freeze unless it's so cold the salt gets expelled in the process. For the last hundreds of years this has happened in the Greenland Sea most noticeably. The salt sinking causes warmer water from the southwest to flow in, washing the lower salt water southerly and forming a cycle we call the Gulf Stream (since it ends up and turns around in the Gulf of Mexico). More fresh water from the melting of ice age glaciers is diluting the salt water around Greenland to the extent that sinking salt isn't bringing in the same rush of warmer water. Here is the note Silvia sent me and the links.

Dear Richard,
I've been following this topic since a few years, and have read many reports. As you probably know, there is too much especulation & prediction, but few scientific data.
In this report, they comment that the melting ice in the Arctic Ocean is causing that more fresh water goes into the ocean, thus slowing down the Gulf Stream because of a decrease in the salinity of the water:
And this is the Times of London article that the above website refers to, reporting that the Gulf Stream slowdown is already occurring:,,2087-1602579,00.html
Others don't give so much importance to this stream in the context of the climate change:
This is a review pretty interesting and gives a lot of information about these ocean streams as it was observed in the past until the nineties, it's long but IMHO its reading is worthy. Besides, the main page has a lot of interesting reports.
Light and love,

A few hours ago UK's Independent put online its lead story of the day, which warns of a catastrophic winter ahead for countries warmed for centuries by the Gulf Stream~~~

Are we heading for a new winter of discontent?
By Jonathan Brown, Jeremy Laurance and Barrie Clement
Published: 22 October 2005

Britain could be left paralysed by energy shortages, a health crisis and gridlock on the roads if the predicted Arctic winter strikes with severity.

Prolonged sub-zero temperatures after nearly a decade of mild winters could result in the death of tens of thousands of people, with fears that the National Health Service faces the prospect of a full-blown winter bed shortage for the first time since Labour came to power in 1997.

The Confederation of British Industry warned that power shortfalls caused by the rising domestic demand to keep warm and Britain's dwindling strategic stockpiles could lead to factory shutdowns and a return to the three-day week. At present, only 11 days' supply of gas is being held in reserve, compared with 55 days' worth elsewhere in Europe. Consumer groups fear that hardest hit will be members of the two million poor households already struggling to cope with the 40 per cent rise in energy prices since 2003.

Transport specialists also warn that the authorities have not acted fast enough to keep motorways and other routes open in the event of heavy snowfalls. The situation would be worse in Scotland.

Concern has been mounting since the Meteorological Office took the unprecedented step of issuing a long-range forecast predicting the likelihood of a much harsher-than-average winter. The "amber alert" was based on lower-than-average sea temperatures recorded near Iceland and off the Azores this spring. The findings are a typical precursor for a phenomenon known as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) which has resulted in some of the harshest winters on record. The effects of the NAO were felt most spectacularly in 1963, when temperatures dropped as low as minus 22C, the Thames iced over and large swaths of southern England were blanketed more than a foot of snow for weeks on end.

Forecasters say they are 67 per cent confident that this winter will be among the coldest on record, and are urgently working on models predicting exactly how cold it will be and for how long Britain will freeze. A spokesman said the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott,had been informed immediately, as had the NHS, the Highways Agency and other relevant departments. "We told them to go back and look at their plans. We have had nearly 10 years of warm winters and society has changed in that time," the Met Office spokesman said.

The Arctic temperatures could not come at a worse time for Britain's energy consumers. All six power companies have relentlessly increased prices in the past two years in the midst of worsening volatility in the global energy markets. Average customers can now expect to pay £750 a year on fuel costs. Already two million households are spending 10 per cent of their income on gas and electricity bills. Three-quarters of these are classified as vulnerable - among them the elderly, sick or very poor. "When it is really cold at a time when prices have already gone up dramatically, will people make the decision to keep warm? We pray to God that they do," said Adam Scorer, head of campaigns at Energywatch.

An extra 8,000 deaths are anticipated for every one degree centigrade that the temperature falls below the winter average. When home temperatures drop below 16C, resistance to respiratory diseases falls. Cold air temperatures lead to a rapid rise in the number of strokes and heart attacks.

A DoH spokeswoman said plans were being made to clear beds and cancel operations should the worst-case scenario unfold. A spokesman for the department said: "We are aware of the Met Office's severe weather forecast for this winter but we always prepare for the worst anyway." Concerns are growing that the Government has seriously underestimated the impact of an exceptionally cold winter on business. Sir Digby Jones, the director general of the CBI, said this week that "businesses will shut down" and that the biggest energy users will be forced to "throw the switch".

Demand peaked in the relatively mild January of 2003, when 449 million cubic metres (mcm) of gas were used. This year, total availability will be lower than in previous years at 476mcm - allowing a margin of error of just 6 per cent. Lord Woolmer of Leeds, chairman of the House of Lords European Union Committee, warned that the situation had deteriorated since he submitted a report on the supply situation last year.

North Sea supplies have been run down faster than envisaged over the summer to exploit high prices on the Continent. Meanwhile the European energy market, from which Britain must now import much of its supplies, remains unreformed, and serious doubts have been expressed that it can meet the extra demand.

The severe hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico means that production of liquefied natural gas (LNG) has been badly disrupted. Consignments destined for Britain have been diverted to the United States. Big industrial energy users, such as steel and chemical companies, may have tohalt production on very cold days to allow domestic suppliers to take precedence. "The Government said that voluntary agreements will be sufficient. But the real danger is that they may not be enough," Sir Digby said.

The Energy minister, Malcolm Wicks, dismissed the talk of a three-day week as "scaremongering". A Department of Trade and Industry spokesman said: "The market is likely to correct itself in the event of any shortfall of supplies. A mechanism is in place to restrict supplies to some parts of industry should the situation require it."

1 comment:

jazzolog said...

Having celebrated our Thanksgiving in the States yesterday, we're reaching for cold turkey this morning with these headlines~~~

"Levels of carbon dioxide, the principal gas behind global warming, are now 27 percent higher than at any time in the past 650,000 years, according to newly published research findings."

So what? Some Internet philosophers are even saying more is better, but this much? I've often wondered whether ancient people could have survived breathing the air we breathe. But what is it doing to The Warming?

25.11.2005. 13:37:57

Scientists drilling ice cores in Antarctica have produced the world’s deepest sample and discovered definitive evidence that human activity since the Industrial Revolution has radically altered the planet’s atmosphere.

The 650,000-year-old ice, determined by estimated average annual snowfall levels, was extracted from the Dome Concordia (Dome C) in east Antarctica by a European team.

The research by the 10-country European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA) outstripped a previous drilling record 0f 210,000 years, set at the Vostok Antarctic site.

Contained in the ice sample are tiny bubbles of trapped carbon dioxide.

Analysis has revealed that in the millennia leading up to the mid-19th century CO2 concentrations stayed well below today’s level of 380 parts per million (380 ppm).

In pre-industrial times, the CO2 concentration was around 278 ppm.

“We have added another piece of information showing that the time scales on which humans have changed the composition of the atmosphere are extremely short compared to the natural time cycles of the climate system,” said the study’s lead author Thomas Stocker of the University of Bern’s Physics Institute in Switzerland.

Natural events such as volcanic eruptions release massive amounts of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide into the air and impact on the Earth’s surface temperature.

But the intensive coal-burning that has fuelled development since the Industrial Revolution has produced unprecedented amounts of CO2 emissions.

Evidence is continuing to mount that never before have temperature rises increased at such a rapid and advanced rate.

In the past five years, the average global temperature has jumped by 0.2 degrees centigrade – 100 times higher than usually seen over such a brief time span.

Ocean levels rising

Not only is the world getting hotter, with 2005 on track to become the hottest year on record, but ocean levels are also rising twice as quickly.

Glaciers in the Alps, Greenland and the Himalayas are melting faster than ever and ominous cracks have appeared in Antarctic ice shelves.

A research team led by Professor Kenneth Miller, from Rutgers University in the US, has released disturbing new findings based on drillings off the New Jersey coastline.

Sediment samples showed a steady one millimetre a year increase in ocean level from 5,000 years ago to about 200 years ago.

Sea level measurements from 1850, taken from tidal gauges, and more recently from satellite images, have recorded a two-millimetre annual rise.

“Without reliable information on how sea levels had changed before we had our new measures, we couldn’t be sure the current rate wasn’t happening all along,” Professor Miller said.

“Now with solid historical data, we know it is definitely a recent phenomenon.”

The studies have been published days before members of the United Nations’ Framework on Climate Change are due to meet in Montreal, Canada.

Scientists are hoping the research will sharpen international resolve to strengthen commitments on curbing carbon pollution.

In particular, focus is on the future of the Kyoto Protocol which is set to expire in 2012.

SOURCE: World News®ion=3