This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

May 9, 2012

Ocean Changes Will Affect Food Supplies

Warm water holds more salt than cold water. Therefore, changes in ocean temperatures will affect ocean salinity. In turn, these changes will influence the water cycle, including the evaporation of water and the resulting precipitation onto the land, affecting food supplies worldwide.

Scientists continue to monitor climate change effects on the environment. A new study from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory looks at the global water cycle and describes changing salinity patterns in the world’s oceans. The findings suggest changes are occurring faster than previously predicted; results reflect the redistribution of rainfall will affect the availability and distribution of agricultural resources.

The new study reports that a significant change in salinity has been detected in the world’s oceans. This situation signals shifts and acceleration in global rainfall patterns and evaporation cycles because of climate change.

The paper, published recently in the journal “Science”, is titled “Ocean Salinities Reveal Strong Global Water Cycle Intensification during 1950 to 2000”. In it, Australian scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory reported changing patterns of salinity in the global oceans during the past 50 years. These are clear symptoms of climate change activity.

The scientists studied actual ocean salinity changes and their relationship to salinity, rainfall, and evaporation in climate models. They determined that the water cycle has become four percent stronger from 1950 to 2000. This is twice the variation that was projected by current generation global climate models.

With a projected temperature rise of 3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, researchers estimate that a 24 percent acceleration of the water cycle is possible. “The ocean stores 97 percent of the world’s water; receives 80 percent of all surface rainfall, and it has absorbed 90 percent of the Earth’s energy increase associated with past atmospheric warming.”

Warming of the Earth’s surface and lower atmosphere is expected to modify the water cycle. These changes will affect agricultural zones, as wet regions become wetter and dry regions become more arid. Clearly, humanity is going to face new challenges, adapting to potentially stressful conditions.

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