Studies: modern glacier retreat unprecedented. May 19, 2013.
Nearly 70% of the world’s freshwater – over 24 million cubic kilometers - is frozen, locked within ice caps, permanent snow, or glaciers. That ice holds less than 2% of Earth’s total reservoir of water, yet sea levels would rise by hundreds of feet if it all melted. A complete thaw is not on the horizon, but even sea level rises of several feet would render many coastal cities uninhabitable. Hence, although glaciers only constitute 1% of the world’s total land ice, we desperately need studies that measure their response to global warming. More
New methods link atmospheric CO2 to climate change. April 27, 2013.
When researchers study past climates to better understand modern warming, they often seek “climate analogues,” times when climatic variables resembled those we face today. According to celebrated climatologist André Berger, problems emerge when we start asking which variables render climates analogous. Is it temperature? Sea level? Patterns of vegetation? Forcing influences? More
New studies explore social context of natural disasters. April 9, 2013.
The journal Environment and History has recently published a special issue devoted to historic floods in medieval and early modern Europe. In an editorial introduction, historian James Galloway explains that studies examining environmental disasters have multiplied since the 1980s in the kind of history that seeks connections between the human and non-human worlds. Increasingly, natural disasters are not perceived as unavoidable transgressions on society – “acts of God” - but, instead, as a product of a particular society. Natural catastrophes are, in fact, “social phenomena” located at the intersection of a society’s unique pattern of vulnerability and resilience in its relationship with the nonhuman world. More