Bundles: Climate Change

“A Climate Dance on the Prairie” by Ken Lassman: For years, Ken has been researching climate change, particularly what it means for those in the prairie bioregion. He writes,

In a time when the changing atmospheric chemistry is putting unprecedented pressures on our landscapes, the opportunities to witness and to respond to changes in ways that will help our other-specied kin to get through this bottleneck of change are practically boundless. To take advantage of those opportunities, all we have to do to start is to show up. Reports from the field will be more important than ever, and I can think of no more exciting and gratifying occupation than helping the rest of humanity to meet the challenges of climate change by providing those reports from the field as to what is happening.

He also looks at how climate is a human construct in concert with “long live climate!” Read his expansive and in-depth, yet very readable, discussion of what climate change means and can mean for those of us in the heartland. Climate Change Essay

Climate Change Online Resources by Ken Lassman, www.kawvalleyalmanac.com

Weather and Climate Basics
Weather is what happens in the atmosphere every day: clouds, rain, droughts, hurricanes, fair weather—all of it. Climate is weather over time: an abstraction created out of all of those weather events that occur in a given place, a region or over the entire earth. By collecting and analyzing statistically valid and physically relevant weather data collected over time, we are able to detect patterns that allow us to understand the dynamics and causes of the weather we experience. Measurable weather data include temperature, humidity, wind, precipitation, cloud cover, chemical composition and other atmospheric characteristics. 30 year averages are the most common climate averages used; by comparing 3-5 year weather averages against the previous 100 year averages, changing probabilities or “anomalies” can be detected, such as the increasing probability of more frequent and severe extreme events. Here are a couple of useful video overviews that help set the stage for the other resources: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrPS2HiYVp8 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHgyOa70Q7Y

Evidence for Climate Change
There are many, many reliable web resources that review this information in a comprehensive, up-to-date matter. Here are some of my favorites:

A convenient birdseye view of both the evidence for and consequent changes occurring (see below) at the EPA website: https://www.epa.gov/climate-indicators

Human and Natural Forcings of Climate
The answer is very clear that humanity has changed the chemistry of the atmosphere and those changes are driving the current climate changes we are seeing, but that doesn’t mean that the sun, volcanoes, our orbit around the sun, cosmic rays and other factors don’t play a part. Here are some of my favorite resources to explain both human and more than human contributions to the climate.

And here’s the unequivocal “No” answer as to whether volcanoes emit more greenhouse gases than human activity does: http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/vhp/gas_climate.html

Human Emissions of Carbon

CO2 and Greenhouse Gas Amounts in the Atmosphere
Fascinating time lapse showing carbon composition over the past 800,000 years: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/history.html

Visualization of carbon emissions showing seasonal variations


3D visualization of carbon emissions


Here are the physical consequences for changing the chemical composition of the atmosphere and oceans

Arctic Sea Ice Levels

Combined Global Land and Sea Surface Temps
There are many graphs, datasets and animations available here; I usually look at the LOTI (land, ocean temperature index) graph, which shows the anomalies from the 1951-1980 averages. This is available here: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs_v3/

Ocean Heat Content

Polar Ice Mass
WAY more complicated than you might think, with some parts of antarctica shrinking, other parts expanding for a whole bunch of reasons. To get a flavor of how all these pieces fit together, check out: https://nsidc.org/cryosphere/sotc/ice_sheets.html Toward the end, they provde cumulative data that indicates the extent of ice mass loss and how much they have contributed to the sea level rise–see the Merging Methods section for details.

Glacier Ice Mass

Sea Level Rise

Ocean Acidification

Extreme Weather Events
The IPCC overview of the issue: http://www.ipcc.ch/report/srex/
Famous James Hansen study that uses weighted dice analogy to increasing probability of extreme weather events: http://www.pnas.org/content/109/37/E2415.full.pdf
A discussion of the nuances of Hanson’s paper as discussed by climatologists and denialists: http://www.skepticalscience.com/hansens-new-climate-dice-loaded-misunderstood.html

Here are some of the ecological consequences of climate changes: This seminal article is a good one to look at; over 5200 journal articles use it as a citation. If you copy the title and paste into Google Scholar search, you get a link to those 5200+ articles and can sort them by date: Parmesan, C. (2006). “Ecological and Evolutionary Responses to Recent Climate Change.”


1.5 degree Celsius: 2/3 of the planet’s coral reefs are spared; 2 degrees Celsius: most of the planet’s coral reefs are lost: http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v3/n2/full/nclimate1674

Global Efforts to Adapt and Good Sources for Initiative Updates
Humans are part of the planet’s ecosystem and here’s how different countries are being affected:
http://www.cgdev.org/page/mapping-impacts-climate-change and other news sources to keep current: http://www.climatecentral.org/

Possible changes in Central Great Plains area


Mitigation Efforts to Minimize Climate Dhange
IPCC efforts/Paris

With the executive move by Donald Trump to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, the federal initiative to reduce greenhouse emissions, the Clean Power Plan, has been suspended. However, initiatives to continue to reduce emissions to meet the Paris Agreement target in the US continues on many other fronts. Here are a few resources:




For Kansas, we have the privilege of having an excellent grassroots organization devoted to educating the public on a wide range of climate issues as they affect Kansans as well as the opportunities to make a difference: check out these folks and support them: http://climateandenergy.org/index.php

Carbon Tax/Fee and Dividend

A grassroots, citizens’ based effort to pass legislation that will implement a carbon fee, refunded to taxpayers as the most efficient, market-driven method to reduce carbon emissions:


Energy efficiency is always the cheapest, most effective way to increase our energy supply: this is a great resource that evaluates state policies, initiatives and keeps track: http://aceee.org/

Renewable energy production: a good news source on all things concerning renewable energy

Adaptation to Climate Change

Changing insurance industry
http://www.climatewise.org.uk/global-insurer-statement/ and

Efforts to protect biodiversity, ecosystems, which is threatened worldwide by the changes in our climate:

Agricultural adaptation: some initiatives of note, including the newly created USDA regional Climate Hubs


Local impacts and efforts to adapt/mitigate–In addition to the Climate and Energy Project (see link above), keep track of what’s happening locally by visiting these sites (for the Lawrence, KS area): https://www.facebook.com/sustainabilityactionnetwork/




Free courses to go into more in-depth understanding of our climate, climate change, and the science behind it:

last update: 9/27/2017