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Climate Science

November 4, 2012

Recent data continue to support climate change

(Continued)

Another aspect of the science is that it takes an enormous amount of energy to melt this much ice. This phase change, from solid ice to liquid water, requires a lot of energy. Some of the energy for this process is coming from the extra heat in our atmosphere as a result of the enormous amount of greenhouse gases we have emitted.

Thus, in a real sense, the melting of Arctic ice is helping to hold down the atmospheric temperature increase.

Locally, some data was recently published by the Lake Champlain Basin Program. The program is managed by Vermont and New York with technical input from many local organizations including those in Quebec. Basin Program Manager Dr. Bill Howland presented the 2012 Report at the Lake Champlain Committee annual meeting in October.

This report, page 32, (www.lcbp.org) states, “Average August surface water temperatures have increased in Lake Champlain as much as 6.80F (3.80C) since monitoring began in 1964. Additionally, the average air temperature in the region increased by 2.20F (1.20C) from 1976 to 2005.”

Let’s move from the physical sciences to the business side and see what decisions and data are coming from here. Munich Re is a major re-insurer of other smaller insurance companies. It has just completed a 274-page report, “Severe weather in North America.” It draws on “the most comprehensive natural catastrophe database worldwide.”

“For the first time, it links the rapid rise in North American extreme weather catastrophes to man-made climate change” according to “ThinkProgress.”

Note the bar chart from that report, “Figure 2: Natural catastrophes in North America 1980 – 2011: Number of events”. There are four segments to each of the annual vertical bars as indicated: the small and fairly consistent contribution at the bottom of each bar is from Geophysical events (volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis). This makes sense since one might expect these events to be largely random and similar from year to year.

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