Proof of the Disintegrating Antarctic Ice Shelf; China's Weird Weather

Discovered: A GIF that proves the Antarctic* Ice shelf's super fast disintegration, rising CO2 levels did cause global warming millions of years ago, a climate change fighting plant and China gets rain in all the wrong places. 

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  • Photo proof of the disintegrating Antarctic* ice shelf. Perhaps you're a visual learner? Or maybe you just can't believe  stories without photo evidence. Well, now you have some! From a European Space Agency Satellite, we get these images of the ice shelf over the last 10 years in GIF form. Over the last decade, the ice shelf has disintegrated by 1790 sq km, which is about as big as the biggest island of the Galapagos. Granted, this shelf has seen it worse than most other areas of the world. "The northern Antarctic Peninsula has been subject to atmospheric warming of about 2.5°C over the last 50 years -- a much stronger warming trend than on global average, causing retreat and disintegration of ice shelves," said researcher Helmut Rott. But, geez, that's a lot of ice meltage. [ESA]

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    Actually, rising CO2 levels had something to do with the global warming of yesteryear. Climate change skeptics have just lost one of their talking points. A new study now confirms rising CO2 levels had to do with the rise in temperature millions of years ago, not the other way around. We're certain that it will do nothing to silence the skeptics, who continue to believe this phenomenon is not man made. Especially because of this addendum, from researcher Andrew Watson. "The paper shows that the increase in atmospheric CO2 was very important and drove the global temperature rise, but it also suggests that the initial trigger for the deglaciation was something different – a slight warming and associated slow-down of the Atlantic Ocean circulation," he explains. Perhaps that's what's going on now, they'll say. [Guardian]

  • A climate change fighting plant. Or rather, a plant that will survive once our Earth dries up for good. Farmers already use the Sorghum, or durra, because it produces more biomass and better withstands long periods sans rain. Sounds ideal! Just one problem: The fact that the sorghum plant produces large amounts of the natural cyanogenic glycoside dhurrin when exposed to drought is a serious problem for farmers in many parts of the world," explains researcher Birger Lindberg Møller. "Dhurrin breaks down to form toxic cyanide or Prussic acid when an animal eats the plant. So when there is a drought and most need for forage, the farmer can no longer use the crop and it goes to waste," he says. However! Science has now discovered a toxic-free strain of the plant. "This is a breakthrough which, globally, can be very important for agriculture, especially in warmer climes where climate change is expected to cause longer and more frequent periods of drought in future," he continues. Oh how prepared we'll be. [Plant Biotechnology Journal]

  • There's both too much and not enough rain in China. China's weather has gotten all out of whack over the last 50 years. "China has experienced significant climate change over the last century", said researcher Tianyi Zhang. "The annual mean air temperature increased by 1.1 °C from 1951 to 2001, rainfall in Western China increased by up to 15% per decade and decreased in the North." The decrease is the big issues, though. "Of the three cereal crops, further analysis suggested that reduction in yields with higher temperature is accompanied by lower rainfall, which mainly occurred in northern parts of China," said Zhang. "This suggests it was potentially droughts, relative to warming, that more affected harvest yields in the current climate." [Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture]

This post originally referenced the Arctic ice shelf.