The number of cars on the world's roads surpassed one billion last year, according to a study that has spurred debate on what the rapidly-growing car population will mean for the world's economy and environment.
According to a report from Ward’s Auto released last week, the global number of cars exceeded 1.015 billion in 2010, jumping from 980 million the year before.
Not surprisingly, China led the way in vehicle growth, with the number of cars on Chinese roads increasing by 27.5 per cent, amounting to half the entire global growth.
That gives China the world's second largest car population, with 78 million vehicles. But the United States still constitutes by far the largest vehicle population in the world, with 239.8 million cars, the Ward's study reported.
El Niño–Southern Oscillation, or El Niño/La Niña–Southern Oscillation, is a band of anomalously warm ocean water temperatures that occasionally develops off the western coast of South America and can cause climatic changes across the Pacific Ocean. The 'Southern Oscillation' refers to variations in the temperature of the surface of the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean (warming and cooling known as El Niño and La Niña, respectively) and in air surface pressure in the tropical western Pacific. The two variations are coupled: the warm oceanic phase, El Niño, accompanies high air surface pressure in the western Pacific, while the cold phase La Niña, and accompanies low air surface pressure in the western Pacific.
The extremes of this climate pattern's oscillations cause extreme weather (such as floods and droughts) in many regions of the world. Developing countries dependent upon agriculture and fishing, particularly those bordering the Pacific Ocean, are the most affected.
La Niña is a coupled ocean-atmosphere phenomenon that is the counterpart of El Niño as part of the broader El Niño-Southern Oscillation climate pattern. During a period of La Niña, the sea surface temperature across the equatorial Eastern Central Pacific Ocean will be lower than normal by 3–5 °C. In the United States, an episode of La Niña is defined as a period of at least 5 months of La Niña conditions. El Niño is known for its potentially catastrophic impact on the weather along the Chilean, Peruvian, New Zealand, and Australian coasts, among others. It has extensive effects on the weather in North America, even affecting the Atlantic Hurricane Season. La Niña is often, though not always, preceded by an El Niño.
Higher Sea Levels
When water heats up, it expands. Thus, the most readily apparent consequence of higher sea temperatures is a rapid rise in sea level. Sea level rise causes inundation of coastal habitats for humans as well as plants and animals, shoreline erosion, and more powerful storm surges that can devastate low-lying areas.
Many weather experts say we are already seeing the effects of higher ocean temperatures in the form of stronger and more frequent tropical storms and hurricanes/cyclones. Warmer surface water dissipates more readily into vapor, making it easier for small ocean storms to escalate into larger, more powerful systems.
These stronger storms can increase damage to human structures when they make landfall. They can also harm marine ecosystems like coral reefs and kelp forests. And an increase in storm frequency means less time for these sensitive habitats to recover.
Melting of the Polar Ice Caps
GREENBELT, Md. -- A new NASA study revealed that the oldest and thickest Arctic sea ice is disappearing at a faster rate than the younger and thinner ice at the edges of the Arctic Ocean’s floating ice cap.
Multi-year ice "extent" – which includes all areas of the Arctic Ocean where multi-year ice covers at least 15 percent of the ocean surface – is diminishing at a rate of -15.1 percent per decade, the study found.........Comiso found that multi-year ice area is shrinking even faster than multi-year ice extent, by -17.2 percent per decade.
He also detected a periodic nine-year cycle, where sea ice extent would first grow for a few years, and then shrink until the cycle started again. This cycle is reminiscent of one occurring on the opposite pole, known as the Antarctic Circumpolar Wave, which has been related to the El Niño-Southern Oscillation atmospheric pattern. If the nine-year Arctic cycle were to be confirmed, it might explain the slight recovery of the sea ice cover in the three years after it hit its historical minimum in 2008, Comiso said.
The Weather Science Foundation also predicted, based on these various climate cycles, that our planet would turn much warmer and wetter by the early 2000s, resulting in general global prosperity. They also said that we would be seeing at this time widespread weather ‘extremes.’ There’s little doubt that most of their early predictions came true.
In 1864, a Scottish mathematician named James Clerk Maxwell published a remarkable paper describing the means by which a wave consisting of electric and magnetic fields could propagate (or travel) from one place to another. Maxwell's theory of electromagnetic (EM) radiation was eventually proven correct by the German physicist, Heinrich Hertz in the late 1880's in a series of careful laboratory experiments.
In a landmark experiment on December 12, 1901, Marconi, who is often called the "Father of Wireless," demonstrated transatlantic communication by receiving a signal in St. John's Newfoundland that had been sent from Cornwall, England. Because of his pioneering work in the use of electromagnetic radiation for radio communications, Marconi was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 1909.
In 1902, Oliver Heaviside and Arthur Kennelly each independently proposed that a conducting layer existed in the upper atmosphere that would allow a transmitted EM signal to be reflected back toward the Earth. Up to this time, there was no direct evidence of such a region and little was known about the physical or electrical properties of the Earth's upper atmosphere.
The excitement of Marconi's transatlantic demonstration inspired numerous private and commercial experiments to determine the ultimate capabilities of this newly discovered resource, the ionosphere. Among the most important early experiments were those conducted by radio amateurs who showed the value of the so-called high frequencies above 2 MHz for long distance propagation using the ionosphere.
Although our society has learned to use the properties of the ionosphere in many beneficial ways over the last century, there is still a great deal to learn about its physics, its chemical makeup and its dynamic response to solar influence.
HAARP is a scientific endeavor aimed at studying the properties and behavior of the ionosphere, with particular emphasis on being able to understand and use it to enhance communications and surveillance systems for both civilian and defense purposes.
...is an ionospheric research program jointly funded by the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy, the University of Alaska, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Built by BAE Advanced Technologies (BAEAT), its purpose is to analyze the ionosphere and investigate the potential for developing ionospheric enhancement technology for radio communications and surveillance. The HAARP program operates a major sub-arctic facility, named the HAARP Research Station, on an Air Force–owned site near Gakona, Alaska.
The most prominent instrument at the HAARP Station is the Ionospheric Research Instrument (IRI), a high-power radio frequency transmitter facility operating in the high frequency (HF) band. The IRI is used to temporarily excite a limited area of the Ionosphere. Other instruments, such as a VHF and a UHF radar, a fluxgate magnetometer, a digisonde, and an induction magnetometer, are used to study the physical processes that occur in the excited region.
The HAARP project directs a 3.6 MW signal, in the 2.8–10 MHz region of the HF (high-frequency) band, into the ionosphere. The signal may be pulsed or continuous. Then, effects of the transmission and any recovery period can be examined using associated instrumentation, including VHF and UHF radars, HF receivers, and optical cameras.
this will advance the study of basic natural processes that occur in the ionosphere under the natural but much stronger influence of solar interaction, and how the natural ionosphere affects radio signals.
The HAARP program began in 1990.....Many other universities and educational institutions of the United States have been involved in the development of the project and its instruments, namely the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Stanford University, Penn State University (ARL), Boston College, UCLA, Clemson University, Dartmouth College, Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Maryland, College Park, University of Massachusetts Amherst, MIT, Polytechnic Institute of New York University, and the University of Tulsa. The project's specifications were developed by the universities, which are continuing to play a major role in the design of future research efforts.
According to HAARP's management, the project strives for openness, and all activities are logged and publicly available. Scientists without security clearances, even foreign nationals, are routinely allowed on site. The HAARP facility regularly (once a year on most years according to the HAARP home page) hosts open houses, during which time any civilian may tour the entire facility.
That portion of the ionosphere that is not directly over the facility is not affected in any way by HAARP. As a result, there will be no impact produced by HAARP on the protective qualities of the earth's atmosphere. This was the conclusion of the environmental impact process, and the question was thoroughly studied by experts in the field prior to granting permission to proceed with the project.
In America, there are two related ionospheric heating facilities: the HIPAS, near Fairbanks, Alaska, which was dismantled in 2009, and (currently offline for reconstruction) one at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. The European Incoherent Scatter Scientific Association (EISCAT) operates an ionospheric heating facility, capable of transmitting over 1 GW effective radiated power (ERP), near Tromsø, Norway. Russia has the Sura Ionospheric Heating Facility, in Vasilsursk near Nizhniy Novgorod, capable of transmitting 190 MW ERP.
This figure shows how ionospheric delay can effect the transmission of GPS radio signals. This example shows that the amount of ionospheric delay varies based on the electron density and that the electron density can vary based on geographic location and sunspot activity. This diagram also shows that the amount of delay is different for the different GPS frequencies.
...an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which commits its Parties by setting internationally binding emission reduction targets.
Recognizing that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity, the Protocol places a heavier burden on developed nations under the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities."
The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005. The detailed rules for the implementation of the Protocol were adopted at COP 7 in Marrakesh, Morocco, in 2001, and are referred to as the "Marrakesh Accords." Its first commitment period started in 2008 and ended in 2012.
Mr. Kent said staying in Kyoto would force Canada to spend about $14-billion buying carbon credits abroad because the country is so far behind in meeting its targets. He blamed the previous Liberal government, saying it agreed to targets without a plan to achieve them.
Vice President Al Gore was a main participant in putting the Kyoto Protocol together in 1997. President Bill Clinton signed the agreement in 1997, but the US Senate refused to ratify it, citing potential damage to the US economy required by compliance. The Senate also balked at the agreement because it excluded certain developing countries, including India and China, from having to comply with new emissions standards.
The carbon price of 60 yuan a ton last month in Guandong, the manufacturing hub near Hong Kong, reflects government policy more than market forces, said Milo Sjardin, the Singapore-based head of Asia-Pacific analysis at New Energy Finance. Depending on whether China allows investors and financial intermediaries to participate in the domestic market, prices may eventually be driven by the supply and demand, he said.
Shanghai, China’s biggest city, and Guangdong plan to require producers of steel, petrochemicals and electricity and others with annual emissions of more than 20,000 tons to buy tradable permits. The other regions in China’s pilot program are Beijing, Tianjin, Chongqing, Shenzhen and Hubei.
China is starting a domestic carbon-trading system in the five years through 2015 to achieve a 2020 target to control greenhouse-gas emissions through a market-based mechanism, the National Development and Reform Commission said in a statement in January.
The Obama-Biden comprehensive New Energy for America plan will:
•Help create five million new jobs by strategically investing $150 billion over the next ten years to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future.
•Within 10 years save more oil than we currently import from the Middle East and Venezuela combined.
•Put 1 million Plug-In Hybrid cars -- cars that can get up to 150 miles per gallon -- on the road by 2015, cars that we will work to make sure are built here in America.
•Ensure 10 percent of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025.
•Implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.
Provide Short-term Relief to American Families:
•Crack Down on Excessive Energy Speculation.
•Swap Oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to Cut Prices.
Eliminate Our Current Imports from the Middle East and Venezuela within 10 Years
•Increase Fuel Economy Standards.
•Get 1 Million Plug-In Hybrid Cars on the Road by 2015.
•Create a New $7,000 Tax Credit for Purchasing Advanced Vehicles.
•Establish a National Low Carbon Fuel Standard.
•A “Use it or Lose It” Approach to Existing Oil and Gas Leases.
•Promote the Responsible Domestic Production of Oil and Natural Gas.
Create Millions of New Green Jobs
•Ensure 10 percent of Our Electricity Comes from Renewable Sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025.
•Deploy the Cheapest, Cleanest, Fastest Energy Source – Energy Efficiency.
•Weatherize One Million Homes Annually.
•Develop and Deploy Clean Coal Technology.
•Prioritize the Construction of the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline.
Reduce our Greenhouse Gas Emissions 80 Percent by 2050
•Implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.
•Make the U.S. a Leader on Climate Change.
Russia decided to discontinue its participation in the protocol because the world’s major producers of greenhouse gases – the United States, China and India – are still refusing to commit themselves to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Because of that, Russian leaders say, the Kyoto Protocol, which came into force seven years ago, had no impact on the rate of global warming.
The national and international carbon market is set to change dramatically over the next few years and Australia’s Carbon Tax is a significant part of this transition – organisations must adapt and prepare for a carbon constrained future.
What it Means for the Top 500 Emitters
The top 500 emitters will be charged a flat rate fee of $23 per tonne of emissions by the government in the first year, beginning 1 July 2012. The main objective is to cut Australia’s carbon emissions by 5% by 2020. Major industries affected include electricity and energy generators, mining, business transport, waste and industrial processes.
What Happens with the Money?
Monies will be reinvested into clean energy technology and renewable energy projects. Offshoot development funds will also be set up to focus on biodiversity, low carbon agriculture, small business grants and indigenous communities. The government has promised to compensate 90% of households for any increase in energy bills via tax cuts or increases to family benefits.
Polar Ice continued......
Gravity data collected from space using NASA's Grace satellite show that Antarctica has been losing more than a hundred cubic kilometers (24 cubic miles) of ice each year since 2002. The latest data reveal that Antarctica is losing ice at an accelerating rate, too
Two weeks after a new record was set in the Arctic Ocean for the least amount of sea ice coverage in the satellite record, the ice surrounding Antarctica reached its annual winter maximum—and set a record for a new high. Sea ice extended over 19.44 million square kilometers (7.51 million square miles) in 2012, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). The previous record of 19.39 million kilometers (7.49 million square miles) was set in 2006.
The ozone layer is a concentration of ozone molecules in the stratosphere. About 90% of the planet's ozone is in the ozone layer. The layer of the Earth's atmosphere that surrounds us is called the troposphere. The stratosphere, the next higher layer, extends about 10-50 kilometers above the Earth's surface. Stratospheric ozone is a naturally-occurring gas that filters the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation. A diminished ozone layer allows more radiation to reach the Earth's surface. For people, overexposure to UV rays can lead to skin cancer, cataracts, and weakened immune systems. Increased UV can also lead to reduced crop yield and disruptions in the marine food chain.
Each year for the past few decades during the Southern Hemisphere spring, chemical reactions involving chlorine and bromine cause ozone in the southern polar region to be destroyed rapidly and severely. This depleted region is known as the “ozone hole”.
The Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer revealed the size and depth of the ozone hole that first formed over Antarctica in the 1980s. Scientists used the data to demonstrate the need for a ban on ozone-destroying chemicals, which went into effect in 1989. (Images and data courtesy NASA Ozone Hole Watch.)
How a cyclone/hurricane forms
A cyclone/hurricane needs two main ingredients: a cluster of thunderstorms and a warm body of water – at least 27ºC – from which the storm gathers its energy. The warm, tropical ocean under a developing storm evaporates then condenses to form clouds, releasing heat throughout the process.
The heat energy combined with the rotation of the Earth gets the cyclone spinning and propels it forward. While the cyclone looks savage from the outside, its low-pressure centre, commonly known as the eye, is deceptively calm. This belies the danger of the dense wall of cloud that surrounds it, which is the deadliest part of a cyclone.
Here the strongest winds and greatest rainfall are found. The eye is usually 40 km in diameter, but can range in size from less than 10 km to over 100 kms.
Tropical Cyclones are characterised by strong continuous winds of more than 63 km/h. Once those winds reach 118 km/h the cyclone is classified as severe. Australia's Bureau of Meteorology classifies cyclones by the following criteria:
Strongest winds: Gales, 90 - 125 km/h
Negligible house damage. Damage to some crops, trees and caravans. Boats may drag moorings.
Strongest winds: Destructive, 125 - 164 km/h
Minor house damage. Significant damage to signs, trees and caravans. Heavy damage to some crops. Risk of power failure. Small boats may break moorings.
Strongest winds: Very destructive,165 - 224 km/h
Some roof and structural damage. Some caravans destroyed. Power failures likely.
Strongest winds: Very destructive, 225 - 279 km/h
Significant roofing loss and structural damage. Many caravans destroyed and blown away. Dangerous airborne debris. Widespread power failures.
Strongest winds: Very destructive, more than 290 km/h
Extremely dangerous with widespread destruction.
However, wind is not always the most destructive aspect of a storm. A cyclone can cause massive walls of water – storm surges – to move to shore at a high speed. The force of the water can cause damage to properties near the coast and is likely accompanied by torrential rain.
The city of Toowoomba, in the Darling Downs, was hit by flash flooding after more than 160 millimeters (6.3 in) of rain fell in 36 hours to 10 January 2011; this event caused four deaths in a matter of hours.
A three-week period where it had rained on all but three days had left the soil around Toowoomba super saturated and when a line of storms hit the city on 10 January, the resulting torrential rain rapidly ran off down gullies and streets. The central business district of the city sits in a small valley where two small water courses—East Creek and West Creek—meet to form Gowrie Creek. Unable to cope with the volume of water heading toward them, the creeks burst their banks, pushing a devastating wall of water through the city centre. This water then headed west, not towards the Lockyer Valley which was also experiencing extreme rainfall that fell on eastern facing slopes.
This year has seen the wettest April, the wettest June and the wettest April-to-June period on record.
The cause has been the unusually southerly location of the jet stream, a high-altitude belt of wind; but it is expected to move northwards soon.
4–5 August saw localised flooding across the UK in Devon, Tyne and Wear, West Yorkshire and Southern Scotland from torrential rains, in places exceeding 30mm over a short time. This storm crossed the North Sea and was designated as extreme weather event "Frida" by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute. Rainfall totals up to 100mm in 24 hours across southern Norway and parts of Denmark resulted in flooding and landslips.
Arctic sea ice extent
According to a study conducted by the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the National Snow and Ice Data Center, Arctic Sea ice is melting faster than predicted by climate models. The study concludes that the 18 models on which the IPCC has based its current recommendations could already be out of date, and that the retreat of the ice could already be 30 years ahead of the IPCC's worst case scenario, possibly leading to an ice-free summer Arctic before the end of the 21st century.
The IPCC [Working Group I] (2007) midrange projection for sea level rise this century is 20–43 cm (8–17 inches) and its full range is 18– 59 cm (7–23 inches). The IPCC notes that they are unable to evaluate possible dynamical responses of the ice sheets, and thus do not include any possible ‘rapid dynamical changes in ice flow’. Yet the provision of such specific numbers for sea level rise encourages a predictable public response that the projected sea level change is moderate, and smaller than in IPCC (2001). Indeed, there have been numerous media reports of ‘reduced’ sea level rise predictions, and commentators have denigrated suggestions that business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions may cause a sea level rise of the order of meters.
Arctic sea ice is an important component of the global climate system. The polar ice caps help to regulate global temperature by reflecting sunlight back into space. White snow and ice at the poles reflects sunlight, but dark ocean absorbs it. Replacing bright sea ice with dark ocean is a recipe for more and faster global warming. The Autumn air temperature over the Arctic has increased by 4 - 6°F in the past decade, and we could already be seeing the impacts of this warming in the mid-latitudes, by an increase in extreme weather events. Another non-trivial impact of the absence of sea ice is increased melting in Greenland. We already saw an unprecedented melting event in Greenland this year, and as warming continues, the likelihood of these events increase.
The impacts of an ice-free Arctic are far-reaching, and could be a trigger for abrupt, cataclysmic climate change in the future. Although it is difficult to see exactly how sea ice decline will impact the local and global environment, basic understanding of the Arctic as well as recent observations give us a good idea of how things might change.