Thursday, August 28, 2014

Climate Change: Are You Cool? (RUCOOL)

One of the most frequent arguments voiced by climate change deniers is, "there's no data that show that." I have to chuckle every time someone says that because what the rest of us hear is, "I'm too stupid to find the data." A plethora of data, analyzed and raw, is out there for you, me everyone, and anyone to examine.

Even better, much of that data has been made available in user-friendly formats. One of my favorite places to visit to see and play with the data is the Rutgers University Coastal Ocean Observing Lab, RUCOOL.

Sea Surface Termperature Data available at RUCOOL

For those who like to get right to the end result, check out COOL Research, where you can download the latest research reports.

If you want to know about the technology used to collect and analyze data, check out the COOL Technology page.

Want to get right to the sea surface temperature data to see it for yourself? You can do that here and here.

Climate change and rising seawater temperatures are complex topics and making sense of the data can be a challenge. Scientists have been studying climate change for over a century, and have spent a good deal of time learning about the chemistry, physics, biology, and geology that go into understanding the Earth, and a lot more time gathering and analyzing data on it. It is true that for as much as we know about the Earth, there's a whole lot we don't know. It's also true that just because we don't know everything doesn't mean that what we do know is wrong.

What we do know, without any doubt, is that the ocean is getting warmer, and at a faster rate than has happened in millennia. Why should that matter? Because the oceans continuously interact with the atmosphere, sea surface temperature has a profound effect on global climate. Increasing sea surface temperature can affect what species of plants, animals, and microbes are present in a location, threaten corals and other sensitive organisms, and change the frequency and intensity of harmful algal blooms HABs (discussed in my previous post).
Bleached coral due to increased water temperatures.
(Photo courtesy of NOAA Photo Library.)

Don't care about any of that? Consider those changes could reduce fish populations, including popular food species, leading to less (and more expensive) seafood, and job losses to the fishing industry.

Commercial fishing fleet, LI, NY.
(Photo courtesy of the NOAA Photo Library)

Don't care about any of that?  Increases in sea surface temperature mean more atmospheric water vapor over the oceans.  This water vapor feeds weather systems that produce rain and snow, meaning more frequent and more severe storm events. Changes in sea surface temperature can also shift storm tracks, potentially contributing to droughts in some areas.

Folly Beach, SC after Hurricane Hugo, 1989
(Photo courtesy of the NOAA Photo Library)

With any luck, climate change deniers and those on the fence will get their heads out of their asses before it's too late, stop listening to politicians who don't know anything except how to get re-elected, and start listening to scientists who have devoted their lives to understanding what's happening in the world around us--the one we live in. Even if it's already too late to reverse the trend, as many scientists believe, it isn't too late to start preparing for and mitigating against the future impacts.

For more information, data, and details on how scientists study global climate change, check out these sites.

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