UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII AT MANOA
A new study led by University of Hawai’i at Mānoa researchers, published in the journal Nature Communications this week, revealed that correctly simulating ocean current variations hundreds of feet below the ocean surface – the so-called Pacific Equatorial Undercurrent – during El Niño events is key in reducing the uncertainty of predictions of future warming in the eastern tropical Pacific.
Trade winds and the temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean experience large changes from year to year due to the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), affecting weather patterns across the globe. For instance, if the tropical Pacific is warmer and trade winds are weaker than usual – an El Niño event -flooding in California typically occurs and monsoon failures in India and East Asia are detrimental to local rice production. In contrast, during a La Niña the global weather patterns reverse with cooler temperatures and stronger trade winds in the tropical Pacific. These natural climate swings affect ecosystems, fisheries, agriculture, and many other aspects of human society.
Computer models that are used for projecting future climate correctly predict global warming due to increasing greenhouse gas emissions as well as short-term year-to-year natural climate variations associated with El Niño and La Niña.
“There is, however, some model discrepancy on how much the tropical Pacific will warm,” said Malte Stuecker, co-author and assistant professor in the Department of Oceanography and International Pacific Research Center at UH Mānoa. “The largest differences are seen in the eastern part of the tropical Pacific, a region that is home to sensitive ecosystems such as the Galapagos Islands. How much the eastern tropical Pacific warms in the future will not only affect fish and wildlife locally but also future weather patterns in other parts of the world.”
Researchers have been working for decades to reduce the persistent model uncertainties in tropical Pacific warming projections.
Many climate models simulate El Niño and La Niña events of similar intensity. In nature, however, the warming associated with El Niño events tends to be stronger than the cooling associated with La Niña. In other words, while in most models El Niño and La Niña are symmetric, they are asymmetric in nature.
In this new study, the scientists analyzed observational data and numerous climate model simulations and found that when the models simulate the subsurface ocean current variations more accurately, the simulated asymmetry between El Niño and La Niña increases–becoming more like what is seen in nature.
“Identifying the models that simulate these processes associated with El Niño and La Niña correctly in the current climate can help us reduce the uncertainty of future climate projections,” said corresponding lead author Michiya Hayashi, a research associate at the National Institute for Environmental Studies, Japan, and a former postdoctoral researcher at UH Mānoa supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Overseas Research Fellowships. “Only one-third of all climate models can reproduce the strength of the subsurface current and associated ocean temperature variations realistically.”
“Remarkably, in these models we see a very close relationship between the change of future El Niño and La Niña intensity and the projected tropical warming pattern due to greenhouse warming,” noted Stuecker.
That is, the models within the group that simulate a future increase of El Niño and La Niña intensity show also an enhanced warming trend in the eastern tropical Pacific due to greenhouse warming. In contrast, the models that simulate a future decrease of El Niño and La Niña intensity show less greenhouse gas-induced warming in the eastern part of the basin. The presence of that relationship indicates that those models are capturing a mechanism known to impact climate–signifying that those models are more reliable. This relationship totally disappears in the two-thirds of climate models that cannot simulate the subsurface ocean current variations correctly.
“Correctly simulating El Niño and La Niña is crucial for projecting climate change in the tropics and beyond. More research needs to be conducted to reduce the biases in the interactions between wind and ocean so that climate models can generate El Niño – La Niña asymmetry realistically,” added Fei-Fei Jin, co-author and professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at UH Mānoa.
“The high uncertainty in the intensity change of El Niño and La Niña in response to greenhouse warming is another remaining issue,” said Stuecker. “A better understanding of Earth’s natural climate swings such as El Niño and La Niña will result in reducing uncertainty in future climate change in the tropics and beyond.”
[Editor’s note: This story originally was published by Real Clear Energy.]
By James Taylor
Real Clear Energy
Imagine an America where mountaintop ridges, coastal seashores, open plains, and most of our undeveloped lands are developed with wind turbines from coast to coast. Imagine an America where we are forced to transform two-thirds of the nation’s land mass into fields for industrial wind turbines, leaving little land left over for forests, open spaces, animal habitat, or anything else. That is exactly what Joe Biden’s climate plan would require. Under a Biden presidency, we must prepare for an environmental apocalypse.
According to Biden’s climate plan, America must run on 100 percent emissions-free power by 2050, with enforceable milestones as early as 2025. But the problem with this is there is much more to environmental protection than merely carbon dioxide emissions.
A recent Harvard University study found that in order to meet America’s current electricity needs, it would require covering one-third of the nation’s land mass with wind turbines. Furthermore, the Green New Deal, which Biden pledges to enact, would require an all-electric vehicle fleet as well.
The transportation sector produces more emissions than electricity, so that would require covering another third of America with wind turbines. The wind turbines to replace current electricity plus the wind turbines to cover transportation needs would ultimately cover two-thirds of America’s land.
Of course, people will continue to exist. People require housing, roads, commercial buildings, and land devoted to other human use.
Currently, because the footprint of land required for generating conventional energy is so small, there is plenty of room for people, undeveloped lands, and energy generation. Biden’s climate plan would change that.
Wind turbines require 360 times more land to generate the same amount of power as nuclear power. The same discrepancy applies to coal and natural gas, as coal and natural gas land requirements are just as low as nuclear power.
Even worse, the mining of rare earth minerals that are necessary components of wind and solar equipment is perhaps the most environmentally destructive activity on the planet. The environmental destruction caused by rare earth mining is so devastating that only a select few nations freely allow it. China is one of them, which why they dominate global rare earth production.
Under Biden’s climate plan, either America will have to introduce rampant and environmentally devastating rare earth mining here in our country, or, we will deliberately make ourselves almost completely dependent on China for the materials needed to build and maintain our energy infrastructure. The choice is frightening and even dangerous.
Even if Biden breaks his promise and we only partially impose new wind and solar power, the environmental consequences will be devastating. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates wind turbines already kill between 140,000 and 500,000 birds each year, including many protected and endangered species.
Other studies put the number much higher. Moreover, wind turbines kill even more bats than birds. Increasing wind power from its current 7% share of U.S. electricity production to 35% would presumably increase bird and bat deaths five-fold; up to a million-plus bird kills and a million-plus bat kills each year.
Compounding the environmental harm, this would also require developing additional hundreds of thousands of square miles of land with wind turbines, devastating pristine lands and the plants and animals that live there.
Adding Kamala Harris to the ticket makes the Biden climate plan worse. Harris decommissioned her climate plan website last week after Biden picked her as his running mate. Nevertheless, her plan called for 100-percent emissions-free power by 2030, rather than Biden’s 2050.
That calls for destroying just as much land, habitat, and wildlife three times more quickly than Biden. We can only hope that Harris doesn’t make Biden’s already devastating climate plan even more extremist.
At the end of the day, Joe Biden would either devastate America’s environment or pull a bait-and-switch on the American people and admit his climate plan is unworkable. Perhaps it is unreasonable to think this, but can’t Biden speak honestly about his plans, not try to deceive the American people, and then keep his promises?
James Taylor (JTaylor@heartland.org) is President of the Heartland Institute.
[Editor’s note: This story originally was published by Real Clear Energy.]
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