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By Ernest Stewart
"Anybody who's ever studied any geology knows that over periods of time, long periods of time, that the climate changes, mmkay? I'm not sure anybody exactly knows why." ~~~ Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) ~ $129,305 from oil and gas industry in his career.
In a study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, climate scientists confirmed that the upper troposphere is exhibiting strong warming. Colloquially referred to as the "tropospheric hotspot," the warming has long been expected as part of the theory on global warming, as such appearing in a lot of climate models. However, as the hotspot has not been detected before, deniers used that to challenge the reality of global warming and climate change.
Steve Sherwood, chief investigator for the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science and lead author for the study, explained that he and his colleague Nidhi Nishant, "Used improved methods of analysis and more recent data to reexamine radiosondes, or the global weather balloon network. Doing so showed that there are clear indications that the upper troposphere is warming."
Sherwood and Nishant used publicly-available wind and temperature data on the upper troposphere collected between 1958 and 2012. The climate scientists didn't use climate models for the study, but instead turned to observations, combining two techniques: Kriging and linear regression. They used available data to deduce what climate and weather variations would naturally look like, discovering anomalies. Removing the anomalies resulted in more accurate data, which paved the way for discovering the tropospheric hotspot.
Aside from confirming the presence of the tropospheric hotspot, Sherwood and Nishant also discovered that there was a 10 percent increase in wind speed over the Southern Ocean, a finding that is suggestive of ozone depletion. The researchers are interested in exploring these increases in wind speed to determine if they have a role in slowing down warming in ocean surfaces.
"One thing this improved data set shows us is that we should no longer accept the claim that there is warming missing higher in the atmosphere. That warming is now clearly seen," said Sherwood.
In practical terms, what does this mean for global warming? Well, one of things that this means, from a recreational standpoint, is lack of snow for skiing in the Western United States. After another dreadful ski season for many resorts in North America, scientists warn that the future of skiing and snowboarding could be in jeopardy as a result of global warming.
Resorts across California and Oregon were forced to close early this year due to lack of snow. At California's Lake Tahoe resorts, they've had barely any snow, demonstrating just how much these ski areas were suffering, as California experienced a fourth year of crippling drought. In Utah, which boasts the tag-line "Greatest snow on earth," even emblazoning it across its license plates, Park City endured a fifth-consecutive season of below-average snowfall.
In Washington State, lack of snowmelt is now affecting the rivers and surrounding wildlife. The snow level is much lower than normal for this time of year, and Mount Baker, which holds the record as the world's snowiest resort, was forced to shut down at the beginning of March!
"Worst snow drought we've ever seen," said Scott Pattee, the water supply specialist with the National Resource Conservation Service, part of the US Department of Agriculture. In addition to having a profound ecological impact, this dearth of snow also threatens people's livelihoods; many mountain towns' economies are almost entirely dependant on snowsports. Without them, their future is uncertain.
You could put this snow drought down to an unlucky few years, but not according to Diana Madson, executive director of The Mountain Pact, a non-profit organization aiming to empower and advocate for North American mountain communities.
"Leading studies have shown there's definitely a strong link between climate change and droughts. Climate change increases temperature, and that means more evaporation and transpiration, less snowmelt - all factors associated with drought. There's certainly a connection."
A new study from Stanford University has also found a clear link between global warming and the persistent drought in California for the last four years.
"Global warming is happening, and not only is it happening, we're observing many changes happening," said Noah Diffenbaugh, lead author of the study and a climate scientist at Stanford University. "What we're seeing this year is really exactly what both our theoretical understanding and our climate model projections show for a warmer world."
However, there is some happy news associated with these global warming trends; Lewis Ziska, a plant physiologist with the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service who led the research, said:
"A warming climate could significantly boost medicinal and psychoactive properties of cannabis grown in California, according to the latest research. Marijuana planted outdoors is likely to become stronger and need less water to grow.
"Hotter temperatures combined with relaxed marijuana laws could also put a strain on the fragile local ecosystem, as more people would start growing cannabis on their lands," the study published by The Daily Climate outlet added.
"The increase in strength of cannabis could be due to the rising levels of carbon in the atmosphere, as plants evolved thousands of years ago in an atmosphere with much higher levels of carbon than these days," Ziska continued.
"If you go back to the times plants evolved on land, the average CO2 (carbon dioxide) levels were 1,000 parts per million; today it's about 400," he said.
Only about 4 percent of plants on Earth have adapted to lower CO2 levels, most of them subtropical grasses such as sorghum, corn and millet. Cannabis is not among them.
Another scientist, retired USDA ethno-botanist James Duke confirmed the findings, saying that, "When faced with harsh conditions like drought, cannabis tends to show more of their medicinal properties.
"Something we learned in the garden ... is that the more stress a plant gets - heat or cold or disease or just plain beating it - the more medicinal and less edible it becomes," Duke said.
Still, the bad outweighs the good by a country mile; but, at least we'll all have a smile on our faces when we go!
08-09-1923 ~ 05-15-2015
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(c) 2015 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for 13 years was the managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter.