IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - September/October 2014 - 4

from the editor

Mel Olken

a changing climate
data show warming trends ahead

T

Image lIcensed by Ingram PublIshIng

the earth's climate has
changed throughout history. Just in the
last 650,000 years, seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat have occurred,
with the abrupt end of the last ice age
about 7,000 years ago, marking the
beginning of the modern climate era-
and of human civilization. most of
these climate changes are attributed to
very small variations in earth's orbit
that change the amount of solar energy
our planet receives.
the current warming trend is of
particular significance because most
of it may very likely be human induced
and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented in the past 1,300 years.

The Data Is in
earth-orbiting satellites and other
technological advances have enabled
scientists to see the big picture, collecting many different types of information about our planet and its climate on
a global scale. studying these climate
data collected over many years reveal
the signals of a changing climate.
among the evidence that leads to
this conclusions are as follows:
✔ the global sea level rose about
17 cm (6.7 in) in the last century.
the rate in the last decade, however, is nearly double that of the
last century.
✔ all three major global surface
temperature reconstructions show
that earth has warmed since
1880. most of this warming has
Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/MPE.2014.2330513
Date of publication: 18 August 2014

4

ieee power & energy magazine

occurred since the 1970s, with the
20 warmest years having occurred
since 1981 and with all ten of the
warmest years occurring in the
past 12 years. even though the
decade of the 2000s witnessed a
solar output decline resulting in an
unusually deep solar minimum in
2007-2009, surface temperatures
continue to increase.
✔ the oceans have absorbed much
of this increased heat, with the top
700 m (about 2,300 ft) of ocean
showing a warming of 0.302 °F
since 1969.
✔ the Greenland and antarctic ice
sheets have decreased in mass.
Data from Nasa's Gravity recovery and climate experiment show
that Greenland lost 150-250 km3

(36-60 mi3) of ice per year between 2002 and 2006, while
antarctica lost about 152 km3
(36 mi3) of ice between 2002 and
2005. Both the extent and thickness of arctic sea ice has declined
rapidly over the last several decades. also, glaciers are retreating almost everywhere around the
world, including in the alps, himalayas, andes, rockies, alaska,
and africa.
✔ since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the acidity of surface ocean waters has increased
by about 30%. this increase is the
result of more carbon dioxide in
the atmosphere and hence more
being absorbed into the oceans.
the amount of carbon dioxide
september/october 2014



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - September/October 2014

IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - September/October 2014 - Cover1
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - September/October 2014 - Cover2
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - September/October 2014 - 1
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - September/October 2014 - 2
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - September/October 2014 - 3
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - September/October 2014 - 4
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - September/October 2014 - 5
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IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - September/October 2014 - Cover3
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - September/October 2014 - Cover4
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