The Global View

Climate Change Index for week ending 20 Dec. 2009

global-warmingGreenbang’s weekly Climate Change Index tracks research findings and events directly attributable to global warming. Our aim is to provide a numerical, week-to-week indicator of climate change developments.

Items that qualify for listing in each week’s index include new climate data published in peer-reviewed academic journals and extreme weather incidents or other natural events that are likely directly linked to the global warming trend.

The Climate Change Index for this week, ending 20 Dec. 2009 (details below): 7

18 December: New research presented at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union points to rising concentrations of greenhouse gases as the cause for increasingly numerous and bright noctilucent clouds — high-latitude and icy clouds that appear to glow at night.

16 December: Global warming is giving a boost to Sonoran Desert plants that have an edge during cold weather, according to new research from the University of Arizona in Tucson. Although the overall numbers of winter annuals has declined since 1982, species that germinate and grow better at low temperatures are becoming more common. Researchers believe that’s due to the fact that climate change is shifting the winter storm track so the Sonoran Desert’s winter rains now generally begin in late November or early December, rather than during the balmy days of late October.

16 December: As spring has started arriving earlier due to climate change, all insect-eating migratory birds who winter in Africa and breed in the Dutch woods have decreased in numbers since 1984, new research has found.

15 December: Heavy snowfall on the East Coast of the US broke multiple weather records, in an increased precipitation pattern that’s consistent with climate change models.

14 December: Tiny air pollution particles commonly called soot, but also known as black carbon, are in the air and on the move throughout our planet. The Indo-Gangetic plain, one of the most fertile and densely populated areas on Earth, has become a hotspot for emissions of black carbon, according to new research from NASA. Winds push thick clouds of black carbon and dust, which absorb heat from sunlight, toward the base of the Himalayas where they accumulate, rise, and drive a “heat pump” that affects the region’s climate.

14 December: The Arctic fox, leatherback turtle and koala are among the species destined to be hardest hit by climate change, according to a new review from the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

14 December: New space observations reveal that since October 2003, the aquifers for California’s primary agricultural region — the Central Valley — and its major mountain water source — the Sierra Nevadas — have lost nearly enough water combined to fill Lake Mead, America’s largest reservoir. The findings, based on data from the NASA/German Aerospace Center Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (Grace), reflect California’s extended drought and increased rates of groundwater being pumped for human uses, such as irrigation.