Notes on climate and energy legislation, climate science, media, and a briefing on NOAA’s 2009 State of the Climate report. A brief update on what we’re keeping track of and writing about this week. 

Post by Alexa Jay


Wednesday, August 4

•  Briefing on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 2009 State of the Climate report
U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, Room SVC 201/200 (Senate side), Washington DC
3:00 – 4:00 PM EDT

Thomas Karl, Director of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, and Transition Director for the proposed NOAA Climate Service will present an overview of NOAA’s comprehensive appraisal of Earth’s climate. 

A NOAA press release describes the findings:

“Based on comprehensive data from multiple sources, the report defines 10 measurable planet-wide features used to gauge global temperature changes. The relative movement of each of these indicators proves consistent with a warming world. Seven indicators are rising: air temperature over land, sea-surface temperature, air temperature over oceans, sea level, ocean heat, humidity and tropospheric temperature in the ‘active-weather’ layer of the atmosphere closest to the Earth’s surface. Three indicators are declining: Arctic sea ice, glaciers and spring snow cover in the Northern hemisphere.”

Climate and Energy Legislation

•  On Friday, August 30, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3534, its version of an oil spill response and energy bill.  The bill includes provisions to lift the $75 million cap on liability for economic damages from oil spills, reorganize the scandal-ridden Minerals Management Service (the federal agency that oversees offshore oil and gas drilling), strengthen offshore worker and environmental safety standards, and create a program to coordinate efforts to rehabilitate the Gulf of Mexico.

•  The House also passed the Offshore Oil and Gas Worker Whistleblower Protection Act, which would extend whistleblower rights to protect corporate employees who report violations of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.  The Government Accountability Project praised the passage of this landmark measure.

Climate Science

•  A study published in the journal Nature reported that the amount of phytoplankton in the top layers of the oceans decreased dramatically over the last century.  Researchers say that the long-term declining trends are related to increasing sea surface temperatures caused by climatic forcing.  Study abstract here. Full text of article here.   

•  A new Stanford University study found that carbon particles in soot are a more significant driver of global warming than previously thought, and the major reason for rapidly melting sea ice in the Arctic.  Researchers say that reducing soot from fossil fuel burning in industry and transportation and from raw fuel burned for heating and cooking in the developing world may be our only option for slowing Arctic warming over the next two decades.  Study abstract here.

•  A new book from climate scientist Heidi Cullen connects climate change with weather patterns in the here and now, offering a relatable picture of what the warming climate means for our ways of life in the foreseeable future.  Nick Sundt at WWF has more info.

•  The latest edition of Chris Mooney’s “Point of Inquiry” podcast series features an interview with Francesca Grifo, director of the Scientific Integrity Project at the Union of Concerned Scientists.  Grifo gives a progress report on President Obama’s scientific integrity agenda.