Riscaldamento globale, primo semestre 2016 il più caldo della storia

di Michele Costanzo 46

I dati della NASA sul riscaldamento globale mostrano numeri preoccupanti nel primo semestre 2016. Ciascuno sei mesi esaminati è stato il più caldo mai registrato dal 1880.

Riscaldamento globale IIQ2014
Continuano ad arrivare segnali preoccupanti sul riscaldamento globale e sui complessi fenomeni innescati dal cambiamento climatico in corso. Un nuovo allarme è arrivato nelle scorse ore dai ricercatori Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) della NASA che ha esaminato alcuni i dati climatici di questa prima metà del 2016. Nei primi sei mesi dell’anno molti record sono stati battuti in negativo sia per quanto riguarda la temperatura del pianeta che in merito all’estensione dei ghiacciai artici.

Riscaldamento globale, 6 mesi a passo di record

La temperatura è probabilmente il parametro climatico che più efficacemente può rappresentare lo staso di salute della Terra. I dati pubblicati dalla NASA fanno in questo senso del primo semestre del 2016 un vero e proprio caso statistico in tema di riscaldamento globale. Ciascuno dei sei mesi trascorsi è infatti risultato il più caldo nella rispettiva sequenza dei dati storici che partono dal 1880. Ne avevamo già parlato nelle scorse settimane in riferimento ai dati di febbraio 2016, ma situazioni simili si sono ripetute per tutto il periodo.

Nel semestre la temperatura media registrata è stata infatti di 1,3°C più elevata rispetto ai valori di riferimento della fine del XIX secolo. Se, ragionando per assurdo, questi valori di temperatura dovessero stabilizzarsi anche nei prossimi anni ci si ritroverebbe nella paradossale situazione di aver già eroso gran parte dei margini fissati alla conferenza COP21 di Parigi. In quella occasione infatti l’accordo generale raggiunto prevedeva l’impegno a limitare il riscaldamento globale a 2°C rispetto ai livelli pre-industriali.

Le temperature tra gennaio e giugno 2016

Riscaldamento globale IQ2014
Il database dei GISS permette di analizzare questi mesi di anomalia termica da molti punti di vista. Assunti come riferimento i dati del periodo 1951 – 1980, nel primo trimestre (gennaio – marzo) dell’anno la temperatura media del pianeta ha registrato una anomalia termica di 1,25°C (v. grafico sopra). Particolarmente vistosa risulta la deviazione delle temperature all’interno del circolo polare artico dove sono stati registrati valori anche di 8,7°C più elevati rispetto ai livelli di riferimento.

La situazione è solo parzialmente diversa nel secondo trimestre (aprile – giugno). Rispetto ai dati di riferimento il riscaldamento globale si è manifestato con un’anomalia termica della temperatura di 0,94°C (v. grafico in apertura) con una distribuzione più uniforme alle varie latitudini ed un picco di 4,9°C.

Ricordiamo che già il 2015 era stato considerato dalla NASA con ogni probabilità l’anno più caldo in assoluto dal 1880. I nuovi record segnati in questa prima parte del 2016 potrebbero però facilmente aggiornare a fine anno questo poco ambito primato.

Ghiacci artici ai minimi

Come abbiamo visto soprattutto nella prima parte dell’anno la combinazione tra effetti del riscaldamento globale e anomalie stagionali si è particolarmente concentrata nella regione artica. Anche in questo senso i dati della NASA sono preoccupanti. In cinque dei primi sei mesi del 2016 l’estensione della calotta polare sopra il mare Artico ha registrato i rispettivi minimi nella sequenza di dati che parte dal 1979. Unica eccezione si è registrata a marzo quando tuttavia l’estensione della calotta ha registrato il secondo valore più basso in quel mese da quando sono state avviate le rilevazioni.

IL GISS monitora l’espansione e la contrazione della calotta artica attraverso una serie di foto satellitari. Comparando i dati recenti con quelli di fine anni ’70 ed inizio anni ’80 appaiono evidenti gli effetti del riscaldamento globale sull’estensione dei ghiacci artici. I dati mostrano in particolare come nel momento di minima espansione stagionale, la calotta artica sia oggi estesa il 40% in meno. Ogni dieci anni l’estensione dei ghiacci attorno al Polo Nord è diminuita in media del 13,4%.

Solo alcuni giorni fa anche l’associazione ambientalista Greenpeace ha pubblicato un rapporto sullo stato di salute dell’artico che seppure per altre vie sembra confermare i dati sperimentali del GISS. Fenomeni climatici e riscaldamento globale appaiono amplificare i propri effetti proprio attorno alla regione artica che di per se è anche una delle più delicate del pianeta.

L’effetto di El Niño

Nell’illustrare i dati sul clima, la NASA ha anche fornito alcune delle possibili spiegazioni attorno alle alte temperature che hanno caratterizzato il 2015 e la parte iniziale del 2016. La corrente de El Niño sembra aver favorito l’innalzamento termico a partire già dallo scorso ottobre.

Un effetto simile si era registro anche nel 1988 quando la comparsa della corrente de El Niño aveva contribuito a modificare il clima di quell’anno. Tuttavia sottolineano i ricercatori gli effetti registrati 18 anni fa furono molto più limitati di quelli misurati oggi. Appare verosimile quindi che i fenomeni attuali siano più complessi e che dipendano in maniera rilevante anche da altri fattori, primo fra tutti l’aumento di gas serra nell’atmosfera.

Gli studi NASA sui melt ponds

L’attenzione della NASA ai problemi dell’Artico si ritrova anche in uno dei più recenti progetti di monitoraggio dell’agenzia. Con l’operazione IceBridge si sta cominciando a costruire un database sui così detti melt ponds, area della superficie glaciale dove si raccolgono la acque frutto dello scioglimento degli strati superficiali di ghiaccio.

Rispetto alla superficie circostante i melt ponds appaiono come chiazze più scure e in quindi in grado di trattenere una maggiore quantità di calore. Proprio per questo i melt ponds possono funzionare da punti di accelerazione per lo scioglimento e sono quindi un indicatore da analizzare con attenzione.

Photo Credits | GISS/NASA

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