Due to global warming, many lakes in the Northeast and Midwest may freeze later than usual this year. This is also due to a particularly strong El Nino.
Kenton Stewart, an expert on inland lakes, says, "The initial predictions for this fall and early winter were for a relatively mild El Nino, but it's looking like a very strong El Nino year, similar to the winter of 1997-98." The El Nino phenomenon is unusual warming in the waters of the Pacific Ocean that occurs every three to seven years. Stewart says, "?Strong El Ninos?such as the one that moderated the winter of 1997-98?may have a significant influence on many regions of the US."
Global warming may be a threat today, but it's nothing new. In an article in the journal Science, University of California researchers say, "Early global warming caused unexpectedly severe and erratic temperature swings as rising levels of greenhouse gases helped transform Earth"?and they're talking about 300 million years ago!
In the January 5 edition of the Los Angeles Times, Robert Lee Hotz writes, "The global transition from ice age to greenhouse 300 million years ago was marked by repeated dips and rises in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and wild swings in temperature, with drastic effects on forests and vegetation." He backs this up by quoting researcher Isabel Montanez as saying, "It was a real yo-yo. Should we expect similar but faster climate change in the future? One has to question whether that is where we are headed."
This new research contradicts the current view that global warming is a gradual process. Instead, it gives us a view of climate change that is sudden and hard to anticipate.
Hotz says, "Over several million years, carbon dioxide in the ancient atmosphere increased from about 280 parts per million to 2,000 ppm, the same increase that experts expect by the end of this century as remaining reserves of fossil fuels are burned. No one knows the reason for so much variation in CO2 levels 300 million years ago, but as modern industrial activity continues to pump greenhouse gases into the air at rapid rates, the unpredictable climate changes that took millions of years to unfold naturally could be compressed into a few centuries or less today?"
He quotes Montanez as describing earth as a planet "whose landscape was buried in ice miles thick" but then suddenly "convulsed into an ice-free world covered in drifts of wind-blown dust and sparse vegetation, in spasm after spasm of temperature shifts that rose and fell 7 to 18 degrees at a time." She concludes, "?The normal behavior in major climate transitions is instability, erratic temperature behavior and carbon dioxide changes."
It's another example of the ripple effect. Or as Stewart says, "General overall temperatures are rising and so there may come a time when these little lakes do not freeze at all." Art credit: gimp-savvy.com
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