WSJ: The Warming Earth Blows Hot, Cold and Chaotic

WSJ (sub. req’d):

The Warming Earth Blows Hot, Cold and Chaotic:

Subtle Rises in Temperature Make for Wild Weather; ‘Exceptionally Unusual’ Becomes the New Normal

SAN FRANCISCO — Three independent research groups have concluded that 2008 was a comparatively cool year on planet Earth — a feverish chill on our warming world. (…)

“I do believe we are entering a new state,” says arctic researcher Julienne Stroeve at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo. “Ice loss is happening faster than the climate models are showing.”

Since 2003, for instance, more than two trillion tons of land ice in Greenland, Antarctica and Alaska have melted, adding enough water to oceans to raise global sea level by one-fifth of an inch, NASA geophysicists reported at the conference.

Alaska’s low-lying ice fields are disappearing at two to three times the rate of a decade ago, according to aerial surveys by researchers at the University of Alaska. Since 2000, Greenland alone has lost 355.4 square miles of ice — an area 10 times the size of Manhattan — Ohio State University researchers reported. Using data from two NASA satellites, they determined that Greenland’s 32 largest glaciers lost three times as much ice last year as the year before.

“I wouldn’t run for the hills,” says glacier analyst Eric Rignot at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “But it might be time to start walking.” (…)

By analyzing five years worth of infrared measurements from NASA’s Aqua satellite, JPL researchers found that high-altitude tropical storm and rain clouds are increasing. At the present rate of warming, the scientists reported last month, tropical storms can be expected to increase by 6% every 10 years. (…)

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