Climate change's most iconic research project is in danger--a victim of budget cuts in an era of increased government belt-tightening. The Keeling Curve is a measurement of the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere made atop Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, begun in 1958 by Dr. Charles Keeling. It is the longest-running such measurement in the world. The curve was instrumental in showing how human emissions of carbon dioxide were steadily accumulating in Earth's atmosphere, and raised awareness that human-caused climate change was an ever-increasing threat to the stability of our climate. After Keeling's death in 2005, the measurements were continued by his son, Ralph F. Keeling. Support from NSF, NOAA and NASA is being diminished or withdrawn, and Keeling has turned to crowd-funding to help raise funds to continue these important measurements. I hope you can join me in making a donation.
Figure 1. The Keeling Curve: climate change's most iconic image. The curve's steady year-by-year increase in CO2 due to burning of coal, oil, and natural gas has wriggles on top of it, due to the natural seasonal cycle in CO2--plants suck in CO2 during the Northern Hemisphere growing season, then release it during the winter. Image credit: Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USCD.
Figure 2. Dr. Charles Keeling posing at the entrance to the Charles Keeling Building at Mauna Loa, Hawaii. Image credit: NOAA/ESRL.
CO2 Levels Hit 401 ppm
The latest data from the Keeling curve website shows that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are surging upwards in their usual late winter push, as plants return CO2 to the atmosphere before the Northern Hemisphere spring growing season hits. CO2 levels reached 401 ppm (parts per million) last week on top of Mauna Loa, setting a new record. CO2 levels were at 280 ppm in 1870, increased less than 1 ppm per year in the 1960s, then accelerated to 2 ppm per year during the 2000s. Less than 1% of the increase since 1870 has been due to natural sources, such as volcanoes. The last time carbon dioxide levels reached 400 ppm—between 2.5 and 5 million years ago during the Pliocene Era—the Earth was 3.5 to 9° F warmer (2 to 5° C), and sea levels were 65 to 80 feet higher.
There is a hashtag #savetheKeelingCurve
Eli Rabett's post, Shaking the Cup for Science
What Does 400 ppm Look Like? December 2013 blog post by Robert Monroe of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Senate holds all-nighter on climate change
A group of 31 U.S. Senators pulled an all-nighter last night on the floor of the U.S. Senate, taking turns from 9 pm Monday night until 9 am Tuesday morning to promote policy actions on climate change. Many of the Senators involved issued tweets using the hashtag #Up4Climate. The all-nighter was another indication that politicians are becoming increasingly bold about speaking up on climate change.
Latest Version of our WunderMap App Now Includes WunderPhotos
Weather Underground has released today a new version of our WunderMap app for iPhone and iPad. The main new feature that we'd like to highlight is the WunderPhotos layer--now users can view, share, and submit photos all from within the app. Here are a few of the features of the new version of the WunderMap app:
◦ Improved Weather Station display, and both station size and station spacing are now adjustable (Weather Stations Layer ⇒ Settings).
◦ New WunderPhotos layer! View, share, and submit beautiful weather photos.
◦ Fixed incorrect elevation for some Personal Weather Stations.
◦ Swipe-to-delete search history items.
◦ "Terrain/Satellite” and other map options made more prominent.
◦ Bug fixes (crashes, visual glitches, and usability enhancements).
◦ Optimized performance across all devices.
The latest version is available to download for iPhone and iPad at https://itunes.apple.com/app/wundermap/id364884105?mt=8.
Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
Great Lakes Ice Cover Peaks at 2nd Highest Level on Record
This winter's severe cold over the Great Lakes--Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario--froze a near-record amount of ice this year. Ice coverage peaked at 92.2% on March 6, the 2nd highest ice cover on record, according to NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL). Dating back to 1977, only February 1979 (94.7% peak) had a greater ice coverage. Warmer temperatures this past weekend caused Great Lakes ice cover to dip to 91% as of Sunday, ...
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NOAA Issues El Niño Watch
NOAA has issued an El Niño Watch for the summer and fall of 2014, giving a 50% chance that an El Niño event will occur. The March 6 El Niño discussion from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center noted that "While all models predict warming in the tropical Pacific, there is considerable uncertainty as to whether El Niño will develop during the summer or fall. If westerly winds continue to emerge in the western equatorial Pacific, the development of El Niño would becom...
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Record Cold in a Warming World
An impressive blast of Arctic air has toppled more records for all-time March cold over the Eastern U.S., in the wake of the major snowstorm that brought 4 - 8" of snow from Missouri to Maryland. Fresh snow is very efficient at radiating heat to space, and the 3.8" of snow that fell in Baltimore on Monday helped drive the temperature down to 5°F on Monday night, tying the city's all-time March low temperature record set on March 4, 1873. The temperature eventually ...
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March Like a Lion: Record Cold in Midwest, Heavy Snow in Mid-Atlantic
March is roaring in like a lion over most of the U.S., where a sprawling winter storm has brought significant snows and freezing rain to over 100 million people over past two days, from Texas to New Jersey. Snows of 4 - 8" are expected Monday along a swath from Washington DC through Baltimore and into Southern New Jersey, with a few 8+" totals likely just south of DC. Behind the storm is a renewed blast of Arctic air, which on Monday morning brought the coldest temp...
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