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• CLIMATE CHANGE SCIENCE: Risks, Impacts and Solutions
Climate change is the most serious existential threat to the health of our planet. Tom has been actively involved in climate change issues since 1997. While at UC Davis, he served as the Western Director of the U.S. Department of Energy's National Institute for Global Environmental Change (NIGEC). He evaluated proposals and directed funding to scientists in the western U.S. for diverse research projects addressing critical global change issues, including climate. As Lead Scientist, Research Manager and Climate Change Science Coordinator at the US Geological Survey in Sacramento, he was actively engaged in developing research opportunities for Western Ecological Research Center scientists in the areas of climate change impacts, conservation and adaptive natural resource management. In that capacity, he served as the USGS liaison to the US Fish & Wildlife Service led California Landscape Conservation Cooperative (CA-LCC) program, which is addressing climate change impacts on the California landscape. He also served for several years on the Action Coordination Team of the West Coast Governors’ Council on Ocean Health which deals with, among other issues, impacts from climate change.
See Climate Change Publications from Primary Literature
#s: 69, 67, 49, 48, 44
See Climate Change Publications from Secondary Literature
#s: 81, 79, 73, 72
ARCTIC / ANTARCTIC STATUS & BLOG
• THE POLAR ICE CAPS ARE MELTING:
The Arctic and Antarctic regions are experiencing some of the most dramatic environmental changes on Earth. The Arctic region is warming the fastest; its ice sheets and near-by Greenland's glacier coverage are disintegrating at an unprecedented rate. Not only will this influence biological/ecological systems, but will forever alter how we do business with new trade routes opening up, and new strategies for military operations.
The Antarctic is also experiencing tremendous warming and alterations of the physical and biological/ecological systems. In the Southern Hemisphere summer of 2002, scientists monitoring daily satellite images of the Antarctic Peninsula watched in amazement as almost the entire Larsen B Ice Shelf splintered and collapsed in just over one month. They had never witnessed such a large area — 3,250 square kilometers (1,250 square miles) — disintegrate so rapidly.
While the collapse of the Larsen B was unprecedented in terms of scale, it was not the first ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula to experience an abrupt break up. The northernmost section of the Larsen Ice Shelf Complex, called Larsen A, lost about 1,500 square kilometers (579 square miles) of ice in an abrupt event in January 1995. Following the even more spectacular collapse in 2002 (above), the Larsen A and B glaciers experienced an abrupt acceleration, about 300% on average, and their mass loss went from 2–4 gigatonnes per year in 1996 and 2000 (a gigatonne is one billion metric tonnes), to between 22 and 40 gigatonnes per year in 2006.
Now the Larsen ice shelf is experiencing the same fate. In the physical/geological realm, researchers have been monitoring a 120+ mile long crack in the Larsen C ice shelf for the past decade. As of June 2017 it had only about 7 miles left before the entire section encompassed by the crack (about 10-12% of the entire Larsen C ice shelf) would separate from the Antarctic continental ice mass, resulting in the second largest iceberg ever recorded. On July 12, 2017, that enormous section of the Larsen C ice shelf completely separated from the continent, creating an iceberg (technically dubbed iceberg A68) roughly the size of Delaware. While this event in and of itself will only minimally affect sea level rise, the separation of this connection to the remainder of the Larsen C ice shelf will dramatically increase the probability that glaciers above the crack zone will no longer have any barrier to support them and will start to advance to the sea much more quickly, which will then increase sea level as that ice adds its mass to the ocean.
On July 12, 2017, that enormous section of the Larsen C ice shelf completely separated from the continent. This event in and of itself will not significantly affect sea level rise. However, the separation of this connection to the remainder of the Larsen C ice shelf will dramatically increase the probability that glaciers above the crack zone will no longer have any barrier to support them and will start to advance to the sea, which will then increase sea level as that ice adds its mass to the ocean. In addition to the physical/geological impacts of global warming, one example (of many ecological changes that are taking place) is that some species of penguins that are cold-adapted are being out-competed and displaced by other species that are more warm-adapted.
Tom was fortunate enough to be able to witness the current physical and biological/ecological conditions that exist in Antarctica before further deterioration occurs. He and a colleague, Dr. Roger Helm (formerly with the US Fish & Wildlife Service), participated in an expedition to the Southern Sea region and the Antarctic Peninsula for three weeks in January 2017.
Tom and Roger also developed a Blog of that expedition, and compared it with the experiences that faced the famed Sir Ernest Shackleton on his ill-fated voyage aboard the ship Endurance in 1912-1915. You are welcome to view their blog at the link provided below on TravelArk.
Larsen C ice shelf crack: As of January 2017
Collapse of the Larsen C Ice Shelf: July 12, 2017