Saturday, August 05, 2006

Warm Age Cometh!

I don’t want this to sound like a huge grumble about my pet subject of “Global Warming.” But I have to, I should, I must. While we have been grumbling about heavy rains and flooding in Bombay things have been happening around the world, worrisome things.
Global temperatures: Courtesy: Wikipedia
We have heard the phrase, “Ice Age Cometh” now its time to say, “Warm Age Cometh,” because global warming has ensured that the icecaps should melt and that the unprecedented water that is released will inundate coastal areas leading to change in climate patterns (how this happens can be read here, here, and here).


The following is courtesy climatehotmap, particularly with respect to the Asian region, home to around three billion people. All the following are the consequence of the man-made phenomena of “Greenhouse Effect,” and very much controllable by banning carbon dioxide and other emission. But the will, sadly is lacking. So it will be back to flooding and “warm under the collar” weather for some time. So, I guess. Don't believe me? See the steeply climbing graph above, you will get a fair idea where we are headed.

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The Asian region spans polar, temperate, and tropical climates and is home to over three billion people. As the climate warms, many mountain glaciers may disappear, permafrost will thaw, and the northern forests are likely to shift further north. Rapid population growth and development in countries like China and India will put additional pressures on natural ecosystems and will lead to a rapid rise in the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere unless steps are taken to curtail emissions.


Llasa, Tibet - Warmest June on record, 1998. Temperatures hovered above 77 degree F for 23 days.


Garhwal Himalayas, India - Glacial retreat at record pace. The Dokriani Barnak Glacier retreated 66 ft (20.1 m) in 1998 despite a severe winter. The Gangotri Glacier is retreating 98 ft (30 m) per year. At this rate scientists predict the loss of all central and eastern Himalayan glaciers by 2035.


Tien Shan Mountains, China - Glacial ice reduced by one quarter in the past 40 years.


Southern India - Heat wave, May 2002. In the state of Andhra Pradesh temperatures rose to 120 degree F, resulting in the highest one-week death toll on record. This heat wave came in the context of a long-term warming trend in Asia in general. India, including southern India, has experienced a warming trend at a rate of 1 degree F (0.6 degree C) per century.


Nepal - High rate of temperature rise. Since the mid-1970s the average air temperature measured at 49 stations has risen by 1.8 degree F (1 degree C), with high elevation sites warming the most. This is twice as fast as the 1 degree F (0.6 degree C) average warming for the mid-latitudinal Northern Hemisphere (24 to 40 degree N) over the same time period, and illustrates the high sensitivity of mountain regions to climate change.


Taiwan - Average temperature increase. The average temperature for the island has risen 1.8-2.5 degree F (1-1.4 degree C) in the last 100 years. The average temperature for 2000 was the warmest on record.


Afghanistan - 2001 - Warmest winter on record. Arid Central Asia, which includes Afghanistan, experienced a warming of 0.8-3.6 degree F (1-2 degree C) during the 20th century.


Tibet - Warmest decade in 1,000 years. Ice core records from the Dasuopu Glacier indicate that the last decade and last 50 years have been the warmest in 1,000 years. Meteorological records for the Tibetan Plateau show that annual temperatures increased 0.4 degree F (0.16 degree C) per decade and winter temperatures increased 0.6 degree F (0.32 degree C) per decade from 1955 to 1996.


Mongolia - Warmest century of the past millennium. A 1,738-year tree-ring record from remote alpine forests in the Tarvagatay Mountains indicates that 20th century temperatures in this region are the warmest of the last millennium. Tree growth during 1980-1999 was the highest of any 20-year period on record, and 8 of the 10 highest growth years occurred since 1950. The 20th century warming has been observed in tree-ring reconstructions of temperature from widespread regions of Eurasia, including sites in the Polar Urals, Yakutia, and the Taymir Peninsula, Russia. The average annual temperature in Mongolia has increased by about 1.3 degree F (0.7 degree C) over the past 50 years.


Chokoria Sundarbans, Bangladesh - Flooded mangroves. Rising ocean levels have flooded about 18,500 acres (7,500 hectares) of mangrove forest during the past three decades. Global sea-level rise is aggravated by substantial deltaic subsidence in the area with rates as high as 5.5 mm/year.


China - Rising waters and temperature. The average rate of sea-level rise was 0.09 +/- 0.04 inches (2.3 +/- 0.9 mm) per year over the last 30 years. Global sea-level rise was aggravated locally by subsidence of up to 2 inches (5 cm) per year for some regions due to earthquakes and groundwater withdrawal. Also, ocean temperatures off the China coast have risen in the last 100 years, especially since the 1960s.


Bhutan - Melting glaciers swelling lakes. As Himalayan glaciers melt glacial lakes are swelling and in danger of catastrophic flooding. Average glacial retreat in Bhutan is 100-130 feet (30-40 m) per year. Temperatures in the high Himalayas have risen 1.8 degree F (1 degree C) since the mid 1970s.


India - Himalayan glaciers retreating. Glaciers in the Himalayas are retreating at an average rate of 50 feet (15 m) per year, consistent with the rapid warming recorded at Himalayan climate stations since the 1970s. Winter stream flow for the Baspa glacier basin has increased 75% since 1966 and local winter temperatures have warmed, suggesting increased glacier melting in winter.


Mt. Everest - Retreating glacier.The Khumbu Glacier, popular climbing route to the summit of Mt. Everest, has retreated over 3 miles (5 km) since 1953. The Himalayan region overall has warmed by about 1.8 degree F (1 degree C) since the 1970s.


Kyrgyzstan - Disappearing glaciers. During 1959-1988, 1,081 glaciers in the Pamir-Altai disappeared. Temperatures in the mountains of Kyrgyztan have increased by 0.9-2.7 degree F (0.5-1.5 degree C) since the 1950s.


Siberia - Melting permafrost. Large expanses of tundra permafrost are melting. In some regions the rate of thawing of the upper ground is nearly 8 inches (20 cm) per year. Thawing permafrost has already damaged 300 buildings in the cities of Norilsk and Yakutsk. In Yakutsk, the average temperature of the permanently frozen ground has warmed by 2.7  degree F (1.5 degree C) during the past 30 years.


Indonesia - Malaria spreads to high elevations. Malaria was detected for the first time as high as 6,900 feet (2103 m) in the highlands of Irian Jaya in 1997.


Philippines - Coral reef bleaching.


Indian Ocean - Coral reef bleaching (inclues Seychelles; Kenya; Reunion; Mauritius; Somalia; Madagascar; Maldives; Indonesia; Sri Lanka; Gulf of Thailand [Siam]; Andaman Islands; Malaysia; Oman; India; and Cambodia).


Persian Gulf - Coral reef bleaching.


Korea - Heavy rains and flooding. Severe flooding struck during July and August, 1998, with daily rainfall totals exceeding 10 inches (25.4 cm).


Indonesia - Burning rainforest, 1998. Fires burned up to 2 million acres (809,371 hectares) of land, including almost 250,000 acres (101,172 hectares) of primary forest and parts of the already severely reduced habitat of the Kalimantan orangutan.


Khabarovsk, Russia - Wildfires threaten tiger habitat, 1998. Drought and high winds fueled fires that destroyed 3.7 million acres (1,497,337 hectares) of taiga and threatened two important nature reserves that are habitat for the only remaining Amur tigers.


Bangladesh - Link between stronger El Nino vents and cholera prevalence. Researchers found a robust relationship between progressively stronger El Nino vents and cholera prevalence, spanning a 70-year period from 1893-1940 and 1980-2001. There has been a marked intensification of the El Nino Southern Oscillation phenomenon since the 1980s, which is not fully explained by the known shifts in the Pacific basin temperature regime that began in the mid-1970s. Findings by Rodo et al. are consistent with model projections of El Nino intensification under global warming conditions. The authors make a strong case for the climate-health link by providing evidence for biological sensitivity to climate, meteorological evidence of climate change, and evidence of epidemiological change with global warming. The study likely represents the first piece of evidence that warming trends over the last century are affecting human disease.


Lake Baikal, Russia - Shorter freezing period. Winter freezing is about 11 days later and spring ice breakup is about 5 days earlier compared to a century ago. Some regions of Siberia have warmed by as much as 2.5 degree F (1.4 degree C) in just 25 years.


Iran - Desiccated wetlands, 2001 Ninety percent of wetlands have dried up after 2 years of extreme drought. Much of South West Asia has experienced a prolonged three-year drought that is unusual in its magnitude. Out of 102 years of record, 1999, 2000, and 2001 rank as the fifth, third, and seventh driest on record. 1999-2000 was the driest winter on record.


Pakistan - Longest drought on record, 1999-2001. The prolonged three-year drought, which covers much of South West Asia, has affected 2.2 million people and 16 million livestock in Pakistan.


Tajikistan - Lowest rainfall in 75 years, 2001. 2001 marked the third consecutive year of drought, which has destroyed half the wheat crop.


Korea - Worst drought in 100 years of record, 2001. It coincided with an average annual temperature increase in Asia degree s temperate region, which includes Korea, by more than 1.8 degree F (1 degree C) over the past century. The warming has been most pronounced since 1970.


China - Disappearing Lakes, 2001. More than half of the 4,000 lakes in the Qinghai province are disappearing due to drought. The severity of the impact is exacerbated by overpumping of aquifers. Annual average temperature in China has increased during the past century, with pronounced warming since 1980. Most of the warming has been in northern areas, including Qinghai Province, and in the winter.


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