The Climate Show #29: if the sun don’t come, you get a tan from standing in the English rain

This week The Climate Show brings you an all news special. We have wet summers for Europe, permafrost warming delivering a methane kick, La Niña driving floods that make sea level fall, a glacier calving in Antarctica, mammoths and sabre tooth tigers — all delivered with Glenn and Gareth’s inimitable panache (!).

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The Fate of Greenland

The Fate of Greenland: Lessons from Abrupt Climate ChangeGary Comer was a wealthy retired American who found on a private voyage in 2001 that he was able to easily navigate the normally ice-bound Northwest Passage in northern Canada. It perturbed him that he could do so and resulted in his substantial funding of scientific research into the global extent of abrupt climate change. Glaciologist Richard Alley, oceanographer Wallace Broecker and geologist George Denton were leading scientists in the research he funded, and are co-authors with editor Philip Conkling of a newly published book which draws on the past decade of their and others’ work. The Fate of Greenland: Lessons from Abrupt Climate Change is a handsomely produced volume, lavishly illustrated with stunning photographs, many of them taken by Comer himself.  It’s written for a general audience, albeit at times requiring close attention from readers when the complexities of some of the scientific detective work are explained.

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Wake of the flood

About 15,000 years ago the world began to warm out of the last ice age. The huge ice sheets that covered North America and Northwest Europe began to melt, and sea level began to rise. But 12,900 years before present, the climate of much of the northern hemisphere made a rapid return to full ice age conditions — cooling by as much as 10ºC. The Big Freeze, as it’s sometimes called, could have started in as little as one season. The cold snap lasted 1,300 years before warming resumed and the current interglacial began. This cooling episode is known as the Younger Dryas, because it was associated with an increase in pollen of the Arctic plant Dryas octopetala in Norwegian lake sediments.

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