Climate Letter #1069

Year-to-date comparison of global temperatures for 2017 and all previous years since 1880.  This year ranks as the third highest through November and is almost sure to hold that position for the full year.  The latest four years will all be included in the four highest of all-time.
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An interview with Patrick Brown, the lead author of an important new study about the ability of climate models to predict future warming (see the lead story in CL#1061).  Patrick was paired with the older and much-renowned Ken Caldeira and their story already has traction.  I predict that he will have a bright future as a climate scientist.
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Thunderstorms are likely to become more intense as the climate gets warmer.  Some new research has found a way to demonstrate why this will be so by using higher-resolution details about the cloud processes that are responsible.  “In Rasmussen’s study, cloud behavior was more realistically defined using data resolved in 4-kilometer blocks. That meant she could resolve topographical features like the Rocky Mountains and allow the thunderstorms to develop naturally in their environment. Her study accounted for propagation of organized storms, and also included correct daily precipitation cycles across the U.S., neither of which are accurately represented in current climate models.”
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The loss of polar sea ice can have a devastating effect on food resources needed by all kinds of animal life in the region.  What may be the most important source of food, at the very bottom of the chain, depends on this ice for its existence.  “New research has shown algae that grow on the underside of the ice are the ultimate food source and can be traced through animals all the way up to the polar bear.”
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The real meaning of the Arctic Report Card for 2017 (see CL#1065).  This post has commentaries from a number of individuals closely associated with the work.  There is an air of desperation about everything they say, especially including the observation that the process is accelerating.  Note that the thawing of permafrost is just years away from reaching a tipping point for heavy release of greenhouse gases.
Carl
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