Honors World Regional Blog Post #9 – Climate Change

This is the final blog opportunity for those of you who still have an outstanding blog post due. Please, write up your climate change research, with an emphasis on the mitigation and adaptation strategies that your group came up with. Usual rules, 500 words with citations where necessary. Please make it clear which of the four working groups you belonged to in the first line of your blog.



28 thoughts on “Honors World Regional Blog Post #9 – Climate Change

  1. Christine Carroll:

    In class I chose to look at the economic impacts of climate change. There are innumerable ways in which the changes in our planets long term climate and weather patterns effects our economy—from tourist seasons to consumer buying patterns, supply chain disruption, energy technology spending, and property destruction. We are already seeing the impact of climate change on our economy. Specifically, property damage is a very real issue that millions of Americans deal with each year, from natural disasters to theft and vandalism. The American insurance agency was a $1.1 trillion market in 2012, according to the Federal Insurance Office, and constitutes about 7% of the nation’s gross domestic product. The scope of property damage spans far beyond the effects of natural disasters, which go hand in hand with climate change, but a large chunk of property damage each year can be contributed to unpredictable natural occurrences such as hurricanes, tornadoes, landslides, and forest fires. As it become more and more difficult to insure especially coastal property at a profit for the insurance companies we could see a complete collapse of the insurance market.

    The island of Manhattan is a great example for the potential economic impacts of impending climate change. New York City is the nations hub for economic activity. Housing Wall Street, the amount of business done in New York City each day is unprecedented. The average daily trading value on New York Stock Exchange alone was $169 billion. On another plane, the total property value on Manhattan is estimated at more than $1 Trillion according the New York City Department of Finance. When sea levels rise to the point that Manhattan is uninhabitable, the entire world will feel an economic impact, not only as we shift our business operations from the Concrete Jungle further inland, but also with the loss of $1 trillion in property. That’s not declining property values like we’ve seen with the rise and fall of the housing market, rather property that simply will not exist anymore at the tune of $1 trillion.

    The housing market has already started to see the impact of rising sea levels, especially in Florida. According to the National Ocean Service, 39% of the American population lived in a county directly on the shoreline, and that percentage is even higher in Florida. Additionally, because of the higher amount of shoreline in Florida, much of the state is very close to sea level. When Florida updated their high-risk flood zoning many new areas were considered at a high risk for flooding and flood related damage. In the Miami-Dade County, which was subject to this change in classification, housing sales dropped about 7.6% even though the overall housing market saw an increase in sales. On another note, the state of Florida reported that 105 million tourists visited the state in 2015 and were the source of much economic tourist activity. What happens when the attractions and the actual travel destination no longer exists, or rather, is submerged underwater?

  2. The warming of the environment has caused the large areas that are mostly made of ice to melt. Global warming causes this. Global warming has been established as one of the things that has been having and will continue to have a large effect on the environment in the coming years. Among the science community, it is one of the more highly debated topics. Its impact will affect many different areas. These include, the melting of glaciers and permafrost, as well as the occurrence of more droughts and hurricanes. While all the things that global warming affects will hurt the environment, the impact of the melting of permafrost is especially troublesome.
    Permafrost is the layer of soil that is permanently frozen in cold regions such as Russia, Canada, and Alaska. While some of the topsoil above the permafrost may not be frozen during the warmer months, soil not very far below the ground is still frozen. This soil has been frozen for thousands of years, which affects that way the ground is formed. Since the average temperature of the Earth has been rising, it has been very hard on the permafrost. It has been consistently melting which causes a plethora of problems. One problem it causes is the ground changing shape. The permafrost has been a sturdy support for the topsoil above it, but when it melts, the ground loses is stable structure. This change in shape affects infrastructure, homes, trees, and everything else that is on the topsoil. Another problem that arises when permafrost melts is flooding. When the permafrost melts, it naturally starts flowing downhill towards bodies of water. Rivers flood which affects the villages that are located on them. While both of the previous issues are real concerns for the people that live in areas where permafrost is melting, there is still a problem that will have a larger impact on the environment. This problem is that when permafrost melts, it releases a gas called methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is much more reflective than carbon dioxide, so it will cause warming of the Earth to speed up exponentially faster than carbon dioxide. Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere which causes the average temperatures of the Earth to rise.
    All the issues discussed above are very worrisome for not only the residents of areas where permafrost is, but also for everyone else. Warming of the Earth is an issue for everyone no matter where they live. This brings me to the issue of how to stop permafrost from melting. One solution that has been suggested by many people is to cut down on carbon emissions. The emission of high levels of carbon from factories, automobiles and other places has been causing the environment to warm consistently.
    Global warming is a topic that must be addressed. If we do not come up with solutions that drastically reduce the rate at which the environment is warming, then the Earth as we know it will change significantly. Everyone needs to become more conscious about how they live their everyday lives and if what they are doing will affect the environment for future generations.

    Works Cited
    “Thawing Permafrost.” EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, 3 Mar. 2016. Web. 06 Dec. 2016.

  3. Assigned to the Drought and Disease Working Group, I researched Forest and Vegetation Die-Off. Climate change’s adverse effects on global vegetation and forest include a massive loss of biodiversity, increased tree and vegetation mortality – related to drought, and the loss of important carbon sinks. The net impact is predicted to be an approximate 50% decrease in projected ecosystem carbon storage within the North American region. Findings suggest a potential for a widespread shift from tree-dominated landscapes to shrub and grass-dominated landscapes, because of future warming and the consequent increases in water deficits.

    There are no silver bullet mitigation solutions to forest and vegetation die-off, but (forest) management is the key. Forest management practices that increase carbon sequestration include: afforestation, reforestation and forest restoration; increase of tree cover through agroforestry, urban forestry and tree planting in rural landscapes; enhancement of forest carbon stocks and increases in sequestration capacity through the modification of current forestry management practices. Community forest management is another mitigation alternative, specifically in situations which it might offer economic and social incentives to the general public. By embracing various degrees of community involvement, i.e. participatory forest management, joint forest management, co- management and community-based forest management, the public level of interest and of collaboration can be increased. Payments for ecosystem services may be useful in preserving, acknowledging and rewarding good community forest management practices. However, that requires the establishment of transparent and fair oversight arrangements. Specific forest and vegetation management practices which can be adopted include silvicultural treatments (tending operations), species selection, and modification of rotation cycles.

    Major companies can make an impact by introducing “zero deforestation” policies that clean up their supply chains – holding their suppliers accountable for producing commodities in a sustainable and environmentally-conscious way. Policies which when enacted, will help maximize the use of recycled wood, pulp, paper and fiber in their products would also contribute to the protect of currently threatened yet still existing forests.

    Forests, acting as carbon sinks, can be used naturally to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it as carbon – mitigating climate change in a relatively inexpensive way. The world even has an estimated 850 million hectares of degraded forests which could potentially be restored and rehabilitated to bring back lost biodiversity and ecosystem services, and at the same time, contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation. Sustainable forest management is also valuable in the wider context of sustainable development as a whole; contributing to food security, poverty alleviation, economic development, and sustainable land use. The threat to nature’s continued potential is one side of the same coin: “the less we harness today, the less we will be able to harness tomorrow.”

  4. The topic I chose to research about was East Coast Winter storms, part of the Storms research group. Winter storms form by changing weather patterns. Heavy snowfall is created by moist and cold air. However, the two do not typically occur in the same air mass because cold air can’t hold a lot of moisture. Because of this, two air masses are needed to collide with each other, those being warm-moist and cold-dry air masses. A warm air mass must be present to hold moisture in order for a collision with a cold air mass to happen, resulting in a winter storm. This is becoming more of an issue as a result of the exponential rise of global warming patterns. With more mid-latitude areas experiencing periodic blasts of Arctic air, global warming allows cold air form the north collide with arm air form the south. This process creates more heavy snowfall in these mid-latitude areas around large bodies of water, especially the east coast of the United States of America and the Great Lakes around New York. The Lakes are also a huge factor because they are getting warmer, which means they are icing over later than normal and melting earlier than normal. Without the ice, water can evaporate and enter the atmosphere earlier. This allows wind to blow moist air over the land, creating the so called “Lake Snow” effect, which is simply huge snow storms. Another important storm formation relating to winter storms and climate change is sea ice lost. The loss of ice develops into extreme winter storms on the North American and European continents mainly in part because it leads to a warmer than average Arctic region and colder temperatures. Ice loss is critical due to the generation of wind patterns linked to heavy snow fall.
    Winter Storms are increasingly becoming more violent and impactful, including the disaster Winter Storm Jonas brought to the whole east coast of the United States in 2016. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Jonas was the fourth worst storm in the past sixty-six years. At least fifty deaths were recorded, along with a quarter of a million power outages and hundreds of crashes. In total, 102.8 million people were affected covering 434,000 square miles cross 26 states. The highest report of snow was 42 inches in West Virginia. The economic cost of the storm is unreal, leaving the total in billions of dollars. However, the only current preparations for storms like Jonas are emergency kits, obtaining extra winter clothing, and staying inside homes. Mitigation needs to be a priority, and there are a few solutions to help better prepare for these storms. Obvious ones such as better preparation come to mind, but more specific solutions are more of an answer the people along the east coast need. One solution would be to recreate or form new barrier islands along the east coast. By doing that, the impact of the first wave of the storm will be lessened and absorbed, allowing a better chance of safety for the coastal cities. This is just one solution to solve the winter storm problem.


  5. Many problems in North America are associated with drought. Some of these problems include wildfires, water scarcity, and agriculture decline. These issues are a problem by themselves but also cause harm to human, animal, and plant health. In fact, sine 2000 drought is the third most costly natural disaster ranking in at $86.4 billion. This is largely due to the 2012 drought that stretched across 81% of the U.S., caused majored agricultural failure, 123 deaths from heat waves, and cost nearly $30 billion. The definition of drought is an extended period of reduced precipitation that causes water shortages that affect vegetation, animals, and people. Drought first usually starts as a meteorological change, such as precipitation deficiency, high temperatures and high winds, low humidity, increased evaporation, and less cloud cover. Next it affects agriculture and we start to notice soil water deficiencies, plant water stress, and reduced yields. After long term droughts the hydrological system can be affected. Reduced streamflow, lower lake and pond levels, and reduced wetlands are all observed after a long term drought. The meteorological definition is that drought is caused by a temporary change from normal climate conditions and varies greatly from region to region. As climate change increases in regions, drought will also likely increase in severity and frequency. Climate change is not the only thing that is affecting severity and frequency of drought. Human intervention is also a big issue. Mismanagement and overuse are the two biggest problems that increase the severity of drought. Water is a privilege that most don’t recognize and so we use it abundantly with no concerns of how it might affect us in the future. Currently the biggest and most problematic droughts are occurring in California and Georgia, according to Drought Monitor. Georgia and surrounding areas in the southeast are currently fighting numerous wildfires. Now usually this would seem like a very improbable issue as the southeast is known for being fairly humid. However higher temperatures and wind speeds, that have been brought on by climate change, are increasing the risk of wildfires. Georgia’s drought is not necessarily due to a precipitation deficit, as they recently received rain, but because of the higher temperatures and wind speeds that prevent fires from being put out or allow plants to soak in the water before it evaporates again. So if drought is an issue that is only going to continue to get worse then a solution must be found very quickly in order to avoid situations like California and Georgia. The most obvious, and least likely, is to conserve water and treat it like the very precious, limited, and valuable resource that it is. However, the likelihood of changing someone’s behavior is very low. Therefore, governments must take action, there must be incentives to get people to preserve water. Another solution would be to focus on lowering temperatures or inventing something that would catch and store as much rainwater as possible. One area of California has begun to replace roof tiles and pavement with higher albedo surfaces in order to lower the heat absorbed by the dark pavement. Whatever it is that is created to reduce the severity of drought, it needs to be implemented as soon as possible in all places, even those that have not yet experienced drought.


    Click to access Drought.pdf

  6. Climate Change: Economic impact
    Climate change has the potential to become the biggest problem America has ever faced. So far the changing climate has only caused relatively minor change in day to day life in America, but this will soon change if nothing is done to address global climate change.

    While climate change is often referred to as global warming, there is much more to it than an increase in the average temperature of the planet. The immediate consequences of the increased heat caused by the emission of carbon are predicted to cause a myriad of dangerous and sometimes unexpected side effects. The loss of glacial ice and the thaw of many frozen regions has started to upset the delicate natural processes that define life on earth, processes such as jet streams, ocean currents, and sea levels. Increasing atmospheric temperature around the Arctic Circle has begun to disrupt the normal behavior of the polar vortex, allowing it to slip farther south than it normally does. This translates into a very real consequence in the form of much more powerful winter storms in the Northeastern part of the United States. These storms, aside from the millions of dollars of immediate damage done, accelerate the degradation of critical infrastructure in the areas that they hit. Ocean currents, notably the Gulf Stream, could begin to change paths if large volumes of freshwater continue to run into polar oceans from melting glaciers. A massive influx of freshwater can change the salinity of these oceans, forcing currents away from the poles and towards the equator. If this were to happen with the Gulf Stream it could cause a potentially catastrophic decrease in temperature for the coasts of the North Atlantic. Rising sea levels have the rather obvious potential to flood heavily populated coasts. The loss of property and the massive population displacement that the flooding of the coasts could cause have the potential to bring the economy to a standstill. There has been speculation that the loss of so much coastal property could crash the insurance industry due to the sheer expense of the damage. Even minor rises in sea level, coupled with the increasing severity of storms that has accompanied the increase in temperature, could be enough to significantly disrupt maritime trade routes. According to the National Climate Assessment rising sea levels could even disrupt air travel, as 13 of the nation’s top 50 airports are near enough to the coast to be threatened.

    While it may seem that climate change is going to destroy America, there is still hope. All of these problems can be mitigated, and the whole problem could be solved if we just had the desire as a nation to solve it. Of the aforementioned problems, the easiest to address is probably the issue of infrastructure. Much of America’s infrastructure dates to post-WWII construction projects. As a result of this, much of the infrastructure in the United States is reaching the end of its usable lifespan and will need to be replaced in the near future. A relatively simple solution to climate-caused infrastructure damage is to redesign infrastructure as we rebuild it in such a way that makes it more resistant to climate damage. The rebuilding of America’s infrastructure is also a golden opportunity to work with and develop construction techniques that leave a smaller carbon footprint. The need for infrastructure repair and all of the construction jobs that would be created should make this a relatively easy idea to get America to support. Even rising sea level can be mitigated to an extent. Up to a certain level the rising sea can be held back. There already exist parts of the world that are below sea level. Perhaps the best example is the Netherlands. The Dutch have been using a system of dikes, levies, and pumps to reclaim land for centuries and have developed a robust system to prevent and mitigate flooding. With this system the Dutch have been able to safely inhabit vast sections of their nation that are below sea level, including the capital city of Amsterdam.

    Climate change is a massive problem, but it is not an unsolvable one. All America has to do is actually try to solve it. A nation that can go from horses and carriages to space shuttles within a century can address climate change. All it takes is a will to do so.

  7. In class I chose to do research on El Nino and was therefore assigned to the Storms group. El Nino is a naturally occurring weather pattern that occurs when the water around the equator varies in temperature. It is a common occurrence every two to seven years, but in the year of El Nino the trade winds that normally blow from east to west weaken. This causes the warm water that normally is pushed toward Asia and Australia to build up along the coast of South America causing rain and storms on the coast, but drought in many other places of the world. The effects of El Nino are mainly seen around the coast, but they can affect weather all over the world.
    The year after El Nino there is a switch that occurs and the normal trade winds intensify, blowing harder from east to west. Cold water builds up on the coast of South America and the reverse of El Nino occurs (La Nina). The weather patterns are reversed as well. The western pacific is rainy, and flooding can occur after the drought caused by El Nino. The effect of climate due to El Nino is that of rising temperatures. Scientist believe that even without the El Nino in 2015 it would have been the highest record temperatures, but the storm was responsible for an eight to ten percent increase in temperature. What makes the El Nino grow is something called positive feedback. There is a constant cycle with the increasing air temperature. When the ocean gets warmer the winds slow down, which makes the ocean warmer, which makes the winds slow down. Since the climate is getting warmer it is causing El Nino to happen more often than ever in the past. The effects of El Nino are most noticeable in the winter. Alaska and Canada are abnormally warm during these years.
    The mitigation and adaption for El Nino can be put into two categories. The main hazards for El Nino are the large storms that accompany it as well as the drought that occurs during that year in other places. While drought isn’t a problem currently with El Nino it is still a huge topic in other countries. Drought mitigation such as planting most of the crops early and then the rest a month later as well as planting crops that are more resilient to the weather change. For the wet climate that affects North America the structures that are built need to be reinforced to withstand the moisture coming from Hawaii, which is called the Pineapple Express. Ell Nino is occurring more often and stronger due to climate change so in order to directly tackle the frequency, the rising temperature must first be addressed. Reducing the emission of green house gases through efforts such as creating new carbon sinks, creating more efficient transportation, and protecting natural carbon sinks such as the ocean and forests. While climate change is much more than just global warming, like Josh stated above, global warming is the most direct cause of the increasing strength and frequency of El Nino. By mitigating for the storms and drought as well as tackling the ever rising temperatures El Nino will not become non existent, but it will not cause as many hazards. Since it is a naturally and regularly occurring weather pattern we will not eliminate, but rather tame this storm.


  8. Jackson Allen
    In class I decided to study the effects that climate change have on ice sheet and glacier melting. For the last few years, politicians and scientists have argued over whether global warming exists or not. I am not going to go deep into that argument, but one obvious sign that it does exist is the amount of ice that has been melting in North America. Alaska has seen its average temperature go up by three degrees Fahrenheit. Also, as more and more ice melts, water levels rise, causing the temperature of the water to rise, and therefore melting more ice. Another huge cause to the glacial melting is the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This is what makes the atmosphere hotter (besides the sun, obviously). This burst of carbon dioxide gas is related to deforestation because plants take in CO2. Many people believe that cars and the burning of fossil fuels have also added to the problem.
    Glaciers melting causes lots of problems. Polar bears, walruses, and penguins are losing their homes. Also, lichens in Alaska are dying out. Caribou eat these lichens, so they are also losing a vital item in their life. Animals aren’t the only ones suffering, Glacier National Park in the 1800s had 150 glaciers. Now it has twenty-five. Dan Fagre, a USGS research ecologist, and his colleagues believe the park will be glacier free by 2030. The losses of species and a national park are direct problems created by ice sheets and glacial melting. Indirect problems are just as big. Permafrost, frozen ground that is usually a few feet below the surface, is also thawing. When this begins to melt the soil above it begins to sink, destroying roads. Eighty percent of Alaska is covered by permafrost.
    Scientists have been speculating ways to solve this serious problem that affects so many people and animals. They have gone as far to test whether they can engineer climate change to do this. This includes injecting reflective particles high into the atmosphere. This will block more sunlight from getting to Earth, keeping the climate cooler. Other aspects of this engineering climate change are seeding clouds to make them bigger to block more sunlight and putting more iron into the ocean to increase the carbon that algae and phytoplankton take up from the atmosphere. After the scientists tried these ways and looked into them a little more, they determined that the ideas are either too expensive or don’t work well enough to be sufficient solutions. This leads to ideas of stopping deforestation and driving electric cars. Capturing and storing carbon below the ground from industrial smoke stacks of power plants is another efficient way of keeping less carbon in the air. The most interesting idea I have heard of how to stop the glacial melting is just refreezing it. It would cost around eight billion dollars, but with multiple countries contributing, this amount isn’t that overwhelming.
    In the long run, we as a community need to come together to help stop this ice melting. It’s hard to convince people that these problems exist, even harder to convince them that they are one of the causes, and even harder to convince them to change their ways to help. This melting will lead to sea level rise, which will see the loss of lots of land, especially in North America. One map shows that it would be possible for Pine Bluff, Arkansas, to be a “beach town.” Ice sheets and glacial melting is one of the biggest problems we have now, and it must be addressed soon.

    Works Cited
    “A Blanket Around the Earth.” NASA. NASA, 8 Dec. 2016. Web. 12 Dec. 2016.
    Cusack, Daniela. “UCLA Faculty Voices: No Quick Fix for Those Melting Glaciers.” UCLA Newsroom. UCLA, 12 June 2014. Web. 12 Dec. 2016.
    Maria-Jose Viñas and Carol Rasmussen. “Warming Seas and Melting Ice Sheets.” NASA. NASA, 26 Aug. 2015. Web. 12 Dec. 2016.
    “Photo Evidence: Glacier National Park Is Melting Away.” National Geographic. National Geographic Partners, LLC., 2016. Web. 12 Dec. 2016.

  9. For this project, my group chose to focus on the effects of sea level rise in reference to islands as well as coastal lands. Sea level rise is caused by the warming of the oceans in addition to the loss of land-based ice due to the increased melting. These mixed together created a rise in ocean level and temperature. The ocean temperature is also increasing because it is the ocean absorbs ninety percent of the increased atmosphere heat associated with emissions from human activity. The rising sea levels have the potential to wash away portions of the coast and flow miles inland, creating an economic devastation as well.
    My focus was on the loss of land in islands. For some islands, the rising seas are a total loss. For example, five islands,called the Solomon Islands, in the Pacific Ocean have already been completely lost to climate change. The islands surrounding Louisiana are shrinking just like the islands off the coast of Alaska. The rising sea levels cause an increase in tidal flood frequencies, higher tides, flooding, and shoreline erosion which are all detrimental to the land. Not only that but climate change has had a huge effect on the weather creating more storm hazards and stronger storms along with that. With an islands defenses wiped out by rising sea levels, they are left without anyway to be protected. Islands that are mountainous such as Hawaii will survive but not without a blow to their tourism industry. As the ocean moves farther inland, up to a mile in some areas, the hotel strip along the beaches will be washed out which will ruin most of the revenue for the state. Any place with beachfront property, including eight of the ten largest cities in the world, will lose property and money.
    We found ways to mitigate the issue by creating waterways into an underground cavern in places where the land was not used very much such as Kansas. The water would be pumped through the waterways and into the underground aquifer until it was full. However, after crunching the numbers, scientists found that this would only drop sea levels about an inch and not really help the issue very much. Leevees are also helpful in keeping water out but leevees can only hold together for so long and the upkeep cost would be enormous. In regards to land loss due to climate change, the only possible solution as of now is just to prepare for the loss as well as build farther inland to move the evacuating families when the time comes.


  10. Group 1 – Ice and Melting
    Subgroup – Ice Sheets and Glacial Melting

    I think that it comes as no huge surprise that global climate change, specifically increased global temperatures, are leading to the increased melting of glaciers and other bodies of ice around the globe, although this reduction of ice is not happening everywhere. The eastern part of Antarctica is really gaining ice mass, while the western side is losing ice. However, overall, the ice masses around the world are decreasing in size due to melting. Although the various glaciers/ice sheets are related in this problem, I focused on the Greenland ice sheet.

    The Fifth Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change from 2013 said that Greenland was then “losing about 215 gigatonnes (Gt) per year of ice,” noting the “‘very high confidence’” of the report that its loss of ice has “accelerated during the past two decades.” (1st link below) Why is this happening? Well, it seems to be more than just increased temperatures caused by an increase in car emissions. According to a press release from the National Science Foundation, research has claimed that the ash from forest fires in 1889 and 2012 (along with other factors) led to substantial melting of surface ice on the Greenland ice sheet. (2nd link below) As we discussed in class, this ash, traveling aerially from North America and Siberia toward Greenland, would trap more heat in the atmosphere, leading to increased melting of the ice.

    Given that much of climate change is globally related and causational, if we want to stop the ice deficit, then it would probably be a good idea to focus on the big picture as well as the local picture. If we simply focus on Greenland without looking at its earthly neighbors, who influence it by their actions and happenings, then we might miss the bigger problem. From what I have read, the problem does not only start at the glacier. Even though some global climate/warming problems come from the melting of glaciers, the ice melting is often set off by a more original source. Therefore, I think it would be wise to work with both local and foreign (in relation to Greenland) mitigation strategies. At a foreign level, we could try to mitigate energy expenditure that produces high amounts of greenhouse gases and the effect of fires, which are more likely to erupt in times of drought. Specifically speaking about fires, perhaps it would be helpful to invest more in firefighting equipment/technology so that they can be stopped more quickly. Similarly, there could be engineering/infrastructure projects that form something similar to fire lanes (I am not sure of the term), which put a buffer zone of non- or less flammable material between more flammable material, with the idea that a fire spreading through a forest or something might not be able to pass over the barrier. In forming the landscape and infrastructure in a way that fire would not spread as easily like dominoes, such monstrous fires could be limited in how far they spread, concealed within a smaller area. Obviously we would not just let the fire run its course in those areas and destroy everything there, but in case it gets quite out of control, a physical border of space could probably help to a great degree.

    Another mitigation option that you mentioned in class was pumping large amounts of water on top of glaciers to increase the mass of the ice. A combination of such mitigation techniques that work directly with the local problem of melting and techniques that work with the foreign problems that cause the melting would likely render more success in fighting ice melting and global change as a whole.

    I talked about two online articles, the links to which are:

  11. Climate Change / Hurricanes

    Hurricanes, giant and violent storms also known as tropical cyclones or typhoons. They form in tropical and subtropical regions near the equator where the water temperature is warm. Warm water is necessary for hurricanes as it provides energy for the storm to form. The temperature of water has to be at least 80 degrees for 50 meters below the surface (Sci Jinks). As the ocean’s water temperature increases in response to an expansion of what is known as the greenhouse effect, trends of more frequently intense (category 4 and 5) hurricanes are being recorded. Hurricanes are categorized on damage potential, storm surge and wind speed.
    It is widely believed amongst scientists that the greenhouse gas effect is increasing causing Earth to warm more than in the past and this is due impart to human activity emitting excess gasses than normal. These gasses include water vapor, methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. Since the Industrial Revolution immense amounts of CO2 were produced and more amounts of Methane are produced due to livestock. The gasses previously mentioned in the atmosphere reject heat from escaping into space. The restriction of heat (in the form of infrared radiation) from escaping causes the Earth’s surface to warm as well as the sea surface temperature as they absorb the rays that were reflected back to the Earth’s surface. The occurrence of the greenhouse effect is indisputable, and the effects it has on climate and weather are being proven as the years go by.
    Since the 1970’s records have shown that sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Atlantic Ocean have risen sharply and so have the frequency, duration, and intensity of hurricanes as well. This measure of hurricane activity is known as Power Dissipation Index (PDI). The trend of increasing SST’s are projected to continue increase PDI’s by 300% by 2100 (Geophysics Fluid Dynamics Laboratory). The trend of stronger, more intense hurricanes occurring with warmer waters of the past four decades is a good start to proving that climate change is causing severe and violent weather storms to increase.
    Hurricanes are natural earthy occurrences that will continue to occur as long as Earth is still a planet, however, mitigation efforts to reduce to the frequency and intensity of super storms can be made. Efforts to dramatically reduce the amount of CO2 humans produce would positively affect the greenhouse effect, in turn causing less storms. Ways to cut back on carbon dioxide emissions would have to be done by large counts of people such as by passing laws to limit CO2 emission. Restricting hours that factories can emit CO2 would help, as well as creating a policy on cars with low MPG rates. Strategies that would lessen the impact of hurricanes and super storms on the coastline would be the human making of barrier islands and sea walls. The islands would have to be rather large and strong to upstand a hurricanes’ intensities. Seawalls would perform the same task of barrier islands – absorbing some of the intensity of the water surges so when the hurricane does reach the populated coast lines that it causes less damage. Other ways to build resilience and adapt include conforming wetlands and dunes to be able to absorb storm winds and water forces.
    Building infrastructure that can withstand the strong winds of hurricanes will not only save lives but will also save thousands and even millions of dollars. Not only would these buildings have to defy high winds but would also have to endure the impact of debris that hurricanes wash up and destroy other structures.
    Climate change is real and can be reversed with knowledge on how the Earth’s weather is changing, what is happening in response, and the efforts humans can make to stop the negative effects.


  12. Our group was specifically focused on ice sheets, permafrost, ice cores, and clathrate gun hypothesis. In the ozone layer is a composition of gasses that hold in and trap heat. It’s comprised of a number of elements, most notable of which are carbon dioxide and methane. While carbon dioxide holds a majority in the atmosphere, methane traps heat at a substantially higher rate than CO2 and is therefore potentially more volatile to our atmosphere and earth. As humans burn more and more fossil fuels, pump HFCs into the air, and ravage Mother Nature, these gasses continue to grow in our atmosphere increasing overall global temperature at an alarming rate. As this temperature increases arctic ice and tundra begins to melt. As this ice melts it is deposited into the ocean, raising sea levels and heating the other ice around it creating a domino effect. As ice melts, it warms the water which warms the ice which warms the water and on and on forever. While this process does warm the ice, it actually cools the ocean around it causing much of the North Atlantic to look like it’s getting colder on an annual basis. This increases winter storms in places like New England and Northern Europe. Another huge issue with this glacial melting is the further release of methane. Trapped in permafrost are pockets of frozen methane called clathrates. When the ice melts, that methane is released into the atmosphere. This problem is also an issue in the terrestrial wetlands of North America and Asia. As the wetlands melt, massive amounts of undecayed biomass are released. As the biomass begins to decay it releases carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere in large quantities and quick succession.
    As a country (and world) our sense of moral and ethically urgency is a very difficult thing to tap into; even more so on the matter of environmental change. To mitigate this situation we would need a way to economically incentivize environmental policy and change. If businesses can see that it would be profitable to invest in climate control than they’ll pay more attention to the cause. Everyday, being energy efficient becomes cheaper, more reliable, and safer. Since 2008, the price of solar panels has decreased by almost 80%. For the most part natural gas plants cost less than their coal burning counterparts. It would also be beneficial to reduce the use of HFCs (hydroflourocarbons) used in products like refrigerators. These are all micro-solutions to a much larger issue. Large-scale industrial changes need to occur in order to cope with the ice melting. I’m not an engineer so I don’t quite understand the intricacies of projects like that but some effort has to be made and it needs to be incentivized. Whether that push comes through environmental policy on local, state, or national levels, through the classroom, through insurance companies or the housing market, it doesn’t matter. The evidence is clear that these ice caps are melting and that long term investment would result in a high yield both for humanity and businesses.

  13. As the world continues to get more and more warm and disasters keep happening more and more often, it can be assumed that people will continue to just not give a buffalo nickel’s worth of a crap about the planet. Or at least, not for a long while or until the Earth directly deposits a wallop to their checkbook. As soon as beachfront properties begin to disappear I have a feeling that people will somehow begin to see the problems associated with climate change. Though they will still have the insurance agencies to rely on and help them forget their problems. This is why slogans like: “It’s just like it never happened” are quite irksome to me. These perpetuate the idea that not caring or simply forgetting about natural disasters and chalking their increasing severity up to simple routine shifts in severity over time. Maybe once it gets a lot worse people will begin to consider methods in which we can repair a breaking world. Maybe not a breaking world, but a changing one that humans may find uninhabitable.
    One disaster that is nearly silent and very slow to the uptake is pest proliferation, which comes in many forms. Proliferation, I found out very quickly is not synonymous with perforation. Proliferation is actually rapid multiplication of pests, and their implications could not be darker. There are varying degrees of pests in the world, but some of the most horrid are mosquitos, locusts, and varying weeds. The constant battle with these pests often leads to the use of horrible pesticides, which in turn harm humans. Especially in drought-ridden areas where there is little vegetation except for scrubby weeds that prevent other vegetation from growing, pesticides can get blown around in dust or if there is a little rainfall they can get directly deposited into watersheds. In many cases though, these harsh pesticides do not even do enough to kill the evolving pests. As temperatures continue to rise globally the once harsh winters are no longer cold enough to kill a large chunk of the insect egg population, which can lead to more widespread disease, crop destruction, and thus a huge change in food scarcity.
    There were really few engineering undertakings that our group was able to come up with other than planting trees and coming up with organic pesticides. More research is needed though, so I would be very interested in seeing what the center for organic pesticides on campus has to offer the world. The biggest and most effective mitigation though lies in management and caretaking of vegetation that we have and realizing that it is not an issue that we can simply ignore forever. Trees and the like are rapidly disappearing and there is simply no way to regrow them quickly enough. You can say that trees are a renewable resource, but we cut them down a lot faster than it takes for the trees to regrow themselves. And it is not trees in the long run that will pay the price, but humans and their squandering of resources and larger interest in big prophet.

  14. Ice sheet and glacial melting
    In our group, we divided the research into three locations being, Greenland, the Artic, and Antarctica. I chose to research glacial melting in Antarctica and the affects climate change has had on the Antarctica ice sheets.

    In contrast to what most people will believe Antarctica is steadily gaining ice mass every year and has been over the past 10,000 years. I was surprised myself to believe that even with global warming Antarctica is still gaining ice. The increase of climate change has however, reduced the net gain of ice every year since 1992 to 2008. “According to the new analysis of satellite data, the Antarctic ice sheet showed a net gain of 112 billion tons of ice a year from 1992 to 2001. That net gain slowed to 82 billion tons of ice per year between 2003 and 2008.” (NASA). According to the NASA study, the ice in the Antarctic Peninsula and the Thwaites and Pine Island region of West Antarctica is melting at shocking rate. But East Antarctica and the interior of West Antarctica is gaining ice due to an increase of snowfall. Even though the West of Antarctica is melting at a fast pace it still does not outweigh the snow accumulation of East Antarctica. The problem is, if the West continues to melt at the rate it’s currently melting then the snow accumulation of the East will not be enough for the ice loss of the West. If we reach this tipping point, then Antarctica, as a whole, will be losing ice and causing the sea level to rise which would lead to catastrophic events. Zwally, a Glaciologist, believes that we could reach this tipping point in 20 or 30 years. As the ice starts to decrease, the Earth would get warmer since more of the sun’s energy would be absorbed rather than reflected. This would then just cause more ice to melt and the vicious cycle continues.

    All the coastal cities in North America would be impacted if we reached the tipping point. If all the ice melted from Antarctica sea level would rise up to 60m. Florida would be completely underwater, along with a big chuck of the coastal states. The Mississippi river would also flood and all states surrounding the river would be affected.

    There are a couple of solutions that would help reduce the number of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, but most of them are not that efficient and would cost a lot of money. A short-term solution that would help reduce greenhouse gases would be to plant more trees to absorb carbon dioxide from the air. However, it would take a massive amount of tree to make this solution effective. Possibly the best solution would be to trap carbon dioxide in carbon tanks and bury them underground or use the carbon dioxide in other ways. Carbon tanks are a good solution because they are cheap in compared to other solutions and low tech.

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