Friday, February 24, 2017

UW-M expert & others tracked spring climate change for decade

A day before Wisconsin officials cancelled a world-class cross-country skiing festival because of snow-free warm temperatures, and just weeks after other Wisconsin officials had scrubbed climate change materials from state websites because they claimed the reality of climate change was still being debated, the US Geological Survey, (USGS), with the assistance of a UW-Milwaukee expert, had coincidentally noted on Thursday an early spring in many states was further evidence of a decade's worth of changed climate reality:
On Thursday, the USGS shared a new analysis just released by the USA-National Phenology Network, which the agency helps to fund, showing that an early spring has already swept through the Southeast and is continuing to work its way across the country. As the agency points out, the new analysis reaffirms a fact scientists have known for at least a decade now — that “climate change is variably advancing the onset of spring across the United States.”
The analysis relies on a special “spring index,” which defines the start of spring as the point when temperatures allow for certain early-season events in plants, such as the emergence of leaves and blooms.  
The index was created using data that has been collected for a citizen science project over the past few decades...Since the 1950s, volunteers have been collecting information about the leafing and blooming of certain plants, such as lilacs and honeysuckle, Weltzin said. 
More recently, climatologist Mark Schwartz of the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee used this information to develop an algorithm that can be used with national temperature data to determine where and when “spring” has arrived across the country.  
For the record, experts have been sounding the alarm about climate change and a warming climate since at least 1988:
Exactly 20 years ago, on June 23, 1988, James Hansen of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies testified before a Senate committee that he could state with "99 percent confidence" that a recent, persistent rise in global temperature was occurring, and had long been expected. That landmark statement, and the dawn of the global warming discussion, was covered by Andy Revkin, then a DISCOVER senior editor and now an environmental reporter for The New York Times.
The award-winning Revkin now writes for Pro Publica.

How long we will hear from the USGS on climate change is what's debatable.

The USGS is a science arm of the US Department of Interior. Climate change denier Donald Trump has nominated a Montana congressman and climate change waffler to serve as Interior Department Secretary. His confirmation vote is pending.

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