Coastal Flooding

Anthropogenic sources for climate change are frequently publicized through the media; they advocate ways to mitigate the effects of our warming planet. More often than not, factors like recycling, buying local, and being more sustainable overall are the most advertised ways to do so.

A great deal of the effects of climate change do not come about so often, however. Aspects like extreme temperatures, drought, sea level rise, and more intense weather occurrences are only thrown in our faces when they happen. There are no warnings that state if we continue this pattern of destroying our planet, these occurrences will keep happening.

One effect of climate change that I believe is vastly underrepresented is coastal flooding. The evidence for coastal flooding is here, and it is alarming. There are certain areas along the United States coastline that have already seen increases in their sea level. Charleston, SC and Annapolis, MD are just two of many.

The human effects on coastal sea level rise are astonishing. Through my many classes pertaining to climatology and climate change, I can say that this quantitative data is very intimidating. Located on this article, The Human Fingerprints on Coastal Floods, an interactive analysis is shown.

I really like the way this data is portrayed. It demonstrates a clear and insightful title that grabs the readers attention. As for the data, it is easy to follow and make inferences from.

The featured image shown for this blog post is a snap of the coastal flooding which occurred in Charleston, SC in October 2015. Having family living in Charleston, I have been to the place where this photo was taken. Here’s the rest of the page that shows other pictures of just how bad it got in Charleston last October.

It is so frightening to me that more than half of this coastal flooding is due to us humans. We have become so reliable on our fossil fuels and unsustainable habits that the natural world around us is changing. Are these effects reversible, or have we damaged our Earth in a way that it can never go back?

 

El Niño

In lieu of my post from two weeks ago, I figured that I would talk a little bit more about El Niño and its current state. This climate phenomenon occurs in the equatorial region of the Pacific. Its effects can be observed globally and tend to follow certain patterns.

Here’s an in depth description of El Niño courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

NASA’s Global Climate Change branch released an article on February 10, 2016 that compares the El Niño of 1998 to the El Niño of 2016. This article can be found here.

I like how the people quoted in the passage talk about the apparent shape of the colored anomalies, stating “Jason 2 satellite’s image of the 2016 El Niño looks a lot like a crocodile, complete with an eye and a tapered snout.” This statement embodies both the physical shape of the surface area covered, but also how El Niño impacts the global climate.

Although  El Niño is a natural climate forcing mechanism, the anthropogenic inputs to the global climate are working to alter these aspects.

 

Art and Science

First, a little background; this non-profit organization, Climate Centralworks to provide the public with up to date information regarding climate. Research scientists from multiple backgrounds work with scientific journalists to create articles and inform the public about their findings. The article I will be discussing and referencing for the duration of my blog post comes from this site.

The way people perceive and evaluate data shown quantitatively varies a great amount. We all have different techniques of observing graphs that demonstrate a certain aspect through numbers.

An article released from Climate Central on February 2, 2016 discussed an astonishing twist on climate change data. Artist and scientist Jill Pelto was featured for her work/art concerning “Glaciogenic Art” – the communication of scientific research through art. Her website, linked above, explains her background and why she chose to convey her messages in the way she did.

As I was scrolling through the article, my eyes skimmed over the text and I found myself examining the creative, subtle, and thought-provoking pieces of art. The way Ms. Pelto incorporated science and art into her projects just amazed me.

I completely agree with this quote by Ms. Pelto that was displayed in the article, ‘“Most of the population doesn’t pay attention to the scientific community and research,” Pelto said. “That’s the group I want to target.”’ I think the tactic of tying art and science together to create one message enables a larger audience to be drawn to the work. In this way, more people could really view how climate is changing.

I encourage you to view Jill Pelto’s website, and see how talented she is in conveying how our climate is changing.

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Zika Virus – How much damage has been done?

As I was scrolling through my Twitter feed yesterday morning, I found an article posted by ClimateCentral. I clicked the link and was directed to an article titled What You Need to Know About Zika And Climate Change. Before reading the article, I was aware of the Zika virus and how it had advanced over much of South America. Besides this fact, I was unsure of how much climate change has effected the spread of the virus.

This mosquito-borne illness has thrived due to the increased precipitation and higher temperatures in South America. In the area of the initial outbreak, there were drier conditions. This, however, can be linked to how people store their water in times of decreased rainfall. El Niño, a change in the equatorial pattern in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Peru and Chile, has had a great deal to do with the spread of this virus. During El Niño, there is a greater deal of warm air that stays over the western part of South America. This is because the Trade winds stray from their average speed of 10-15MPH to a weak 0-5MPH. El Niño conditions are also favorable for dengue fever – another mosquito-borne virus that affects the subtropics.

The end of the article goes on to talk about how La Niña will effect the spread of the destructive virus. (La Niña is simply the opposite of El Niño – stronger Trade winds). Instead of spreading across more of South America, the virus could make its way around parts of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared yesterday, February 1, 2016, that the Zika virus was a public health emergency. There is still a lot of research to be done in order to understand the Zika virus, but knowing that a majority of the impacts are due to climate change is evidence that our world is changing.

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