2019-12-27. What Do You Get When You Cross a Thunderstorm with a Wildfire? By Jenessa Duncombe, Eos/AGU. [https://eos.org/articles/what-do-you-get-when-you-cross-a-thunderstorm-with-a-wildfire] Excerpt: There are few things more ominous than a looming thundercloud. Add a wildfire to the mix, and the result can be a towering tempest of thick smoke, smoldering embers, and superheated air. Fire-fueled thunderstorms are naturally occurring weather systems that sometimes spin up as a result of smoke and heat billowing from intense wildfires. These extreme storms, called pyrocumulonimbus (pyroCb), occur infrequently, but when they do they can lead to tragic results. The Making of a Fire Storm [:] Wildfires give off intense heat, forcing large amounts of smoke and hot air to rise. As the mixture moves higher into the troposphere—the lowest layer of Earth’s atmosphere—it cools and expands as the air pressure drops. Moisture in the air soon condenses, forming big puffy clouds called pyrocumulus clouds. When conditions in the atmosphere are just right—including a hot, dry layer of air near the ground and a cooler, wetter layer above it—the atmosphere can become convectively unstable. Increasingly turbulent air sets water droplets and ice crystals in pyrocumulus clouds on a collision course, building up an electrical charge and turning the system into a towering thunderhead. The soaring pyroCbs, which rarely produce rain on the ground even though they are thunderstorms, can even rise out of the troposphere and extend into the stratosphere tens of kilometers above the surface. …A pyroCb that formed during the Carr Fire near Redding, Calif., in 2018 had such strong winds that it created a tornado-strength fire vortex, and a pyroCb in Canberra, Australia, in 2003 was so extreme that it released a torrent of black hail and turned the daytime sky as dark as night. Fortunately, these events are still relatively rare, although recent research from Australia suggests that climate change may cause conditions there to become more favorable for the formation of pyroCbs in the future….
2019-12-09. Biologists think they know why this stunning Hawaiian plant is vanishing. By Elizabeth Pennisi, Science Magazine. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/12/biologists-think-they-know-why-stunning-hawaiian-plant-vanishing] Excerpt: Maui’s silverswords (Argyroxiphium sandwicense subsp. macrocephalum) had been declining for centuries, victims of feral goats and tourists eager to uproot living souvenirs. Even before the silversword was declared a federally threatened species in 1992, conservationists had fenced the barren slopes of their habitat, rid the area of goats, and planted silversword seeds. The efforts seemed to be working until the 1990s, after which the Maui species declined by 60%. Plants that sit farther down the volcano have suffered the most, even though they live in wetter conditions. In 2016, Paul Krushelnycky, an ecologist at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, noted that this recent drop coincided with more frequent changes in the trade winds, east-to-west winds that flow up the volcano. Increasingly, the trade winds’ cool, moist air has been trapped midslope by warmer air, creating hotter, drier conditions for the uphill plants. Such inversions have always been common, Krushelnycky notes, but now they are even more frequent, likely because of climate change….
2019-12-05. Florida Keys Deliver a Hard Message: As Seas Rise, Some Places Can’t Be Saved. By Christopher Flavelle and Patricia Mazzei, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/04/climate/florida-keys-climate-change.html] Excerpt: KEY WEST, Fla. — Officials in the Florida Keys announced what many coastal governments nationwide have long feared, but few have been willing to admit: As seas rise and flooding gets worse, not everyone can be saved. And in some places, it doesn’t even make sense to try. …The results released Wednesday focus on a single three-mile stretch of road at the southern tip of Sugarloaf Key, a small island 15 miles up Highway 1 from Key West. To keep those three miles of road dry year-round in 2025 would require raising it by 1.3 feet, at a cost of $75 million, or $25 million per mile. Keeping the road dry in 2045 would mean elevating it 2.2 feet, at a cost of $128 million. To protect against expected flooding levels in 2060, the cost would jump to $181 million….
2019-12-07. World’s Oceans Are Losing Oxygen Rapidly, Study Finds. By Kendra Pierre-Louis, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/07/climate/ocean-acidification-climate-change.html] Excerpt: The world’s oceans are gasping for breath, a report issued Saturday at the annual global climate talks in Madrid has concluded. The report represents the combined efforts of 67 scientists from 17 countries and was released by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It found that oxygen levels in the world’s oceans declined by roughly 2 percent between 1960 and 2010. The decline, called deoxygenation, is largely attributed to climate change, although other human activities are contributing to the problem. One example is so-called nutrient runoff, when too many nutrients from fertilizers used on farms and lawns wash into waterways. The decline might not seem significant because, “we’re sort of sitting surrounded by plenty of oxygen and we don’t think small losses of oxygen affect us,” said Dan Laffoley, the principal adviser in the conservation union’s global marine and polar program and an editor of the report. “But if we were to try and go up Mount Everest without oxygen, there would come a point where a 2 percent loss of oxygen in our surroundings would become very significant.” “The ocean is not uniformly populated with oxygen,” he added. One study in the journal Science, for example, found that water in some parts of the tropics had experienced a 40 to 50 percent reduction in oxygen…. See also: Waters Off California Acidifying Faster Than Rest of Oceans, Study Shows – https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/16/climate/california-ocean-acidifying.html
2019-12-04. Climate Change Is Accelerating, Bringing World ‘Dangerously Close’ to Irreversible Change. By Henry Fountain, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/04/climate/climate-change-acceleration.html] Excerpt: More devastating fires in California. Persistent drought in the Southwest. Record flooding in Europe and Africa. A heat wave, of all things, in Greenland. Climate change and its effects are accelerating, with climate related disasters piling up, season after season. “Things are getting worse,” said Petteri Taalas, Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization, which on Tuesday issued its annual state of the global climate report, concluding a decade of what it called exceptional global heat. “It’s more urgent than ever to proceed with mitigation.” …Seas are warming and rising faster, putting more cities at risk of tidal flooding or worse. Glaciers are melting at a pace many researchers did not expect for decades. The amount of Arctic sea ice has declined so rapidly that the region may see ice-free summers by the 2030s. Even the ground itself is warming faster. Permanently frozen ground, or permafrost, is thawing more rapidly, threatening the release of large amounts of long-stored carbon that could in turn make warming even worse, in what scientists call a climate feedback loop….
2019-11-29. Warming Waters, Moving Fish: How Climate Change Is Reshaping Iceland. By Kendra Pierre-Louis, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/29/climate/climate-change-ocean-fish-iceland.html] Excerpt: ISAFJORDUR, Iceland … warming waters associated with climate change are causing some fish to seek cooler waters elsewhere, beyond the reach of Icelandic fishermen. Ocean temperatures around Iceland have increased between 1.8 and 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 20 years. For the past two seasons, Icelanders have not been able to harvest capelin, a type of smelt, as their numbers plummeted. The warmer waters mean that as some fish leave, causing financial disruption, other fish species arrive, triggering geopolitical conflicts. …Different species of fish evolved to live in specific water temperatures, with some fish like sea bass requiring the temperate ocean climates like those found off the mid-Atlantic region of the United States, and tropical fish like the Spanish hogfish preferring warmer waters such as those in the Caribbean. But these days, fishermen are finding sea bass in Maine and the Spanish hog fish in North Carolina. And as the fish flee they are leaving some areas, like parts of the tropics, stripped of fish entirely. What’s more, fish “need more oxygen when the temperature is higher,” said Daniel Pauly, a professor of aquatic systems at the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries at the University of British Columbia, but warmer water holds less oxygen than colder water. The fish are swimming for their lives, according to Jennifer Jacquet, an associate professor of environmental studies at N.Y.U. “They are moving in order to breathe,” she said….
2019-11-25. Dire and Drier Future for Lake Victoria. By Kimberly M. S. Cartier, Eos/AGU. [https://eos.org/articles/dire-and-drier-future-for-lake-victoria] Excerpt: Lake Victoria in eastern central Africa supports over 40 million people, the industrial sectors of three large nations, and the largest freshwater tropical ecosystem in the world. New research, however, suggests that the lake might not be around to do all of this in the not-so-distant future. …“Historically, the level of Lake Victoria has dropped pretty drastically,” and past research has shown that the lake twice dried out completely, 15,000 and 17,000 years ago. The team’s research showed that the lake also dried out at least once more in the past 100,000 years. … Under the driest projected conditions—less than half the current amount of rainfall—Lake Victoria would stop supplying a major tributary of the Nile in about a decade. All major lakeside cities in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania could lose access to the lake in as little as 100 years, and the shoreline would retreat from Kenya altogether in 400 years. … what might happen to Lake Victoria in a future warmer climate. Under the driest projected conditions—less than half the current amount of rainfall—Lake Victoria would stop supplying a major tributary of the Nile in about a decade. All major lakeside cities in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania could lose access to the lake in as little as 100 years, and the shoreline would retreat from Kenya altogether in 400 years. …“The predicted imminent changes in the lake levels as proposed foreshadow catastrophic impacts on the human population and [on] animals that depend on this lake for sustenance and might adversely affect much of eastern Africa,” said Emma Mbua, principal research scientist for paleontology and paleoanthropology at the National Museums of Kenya….
2019-11-24. 82 Days Underwater: The Tide Is High, but They’re Holding On. By Patricia Mazzei, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/24/us/florida-keys-flooding-king-tide.html] Excerpt: A brutal “king tides” season made worse by climate change has flooded the streets of a Florida Keys community for nearly three months. … For nearly three months, the residents of Stillwright Point’s 215 homes have been forced to carefully plan their outings and find temporary workarounds to deal with the smelly, stagnant water — a result not of rain, but a rising sea — that makes their mangrove-lined streets look more like canals. Another Key Largo neighborhood, Twin Lakes, is similarly inundated. Scientists say a combination of factors, including disruptive hurricanes, have contributed to this year’s exceptionally high tides. “King tides” take place predictably each fall, when the alignment of the moon, sun and Earth creates a stronger gravitational pull on the warm oceans. Rising sea levels caused by climate change make the flooding worse. … George Smyth, 62, who attributes a skin rash on his arm to exposure to the brackish water, decided that it was worth driving through the muck to keep his doctor’s appointment. “We’re on the front line of what is happening with sea-level rise,” Mr. Smyth said. “It has now changed how we live life down here. We haven’t come to grips with where we are and where we’re headed. It’s not an isolated problem — it’s happening more and more.”….
2019-11-22. Brazil’s deforestation is exploding—and 2020 will be worse. By Herton Escobar, Science Magazine. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/11/brazil-s-deforestation-exploding-and-2020-will-be-worse] Excerpt: Development, most of it illegal, destroyed more than 9700 square kilometers of Brazilian Amazon rainforest in the year ending in July, according to a government estimate released on Monday—an increase of 30% from the previous year and the highest rate of deforestation since 2007–08…. See also “Massive Australian blazes will ‘reframe our understanding of bushfire’ [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/11/massive-australian-blazes-will-reframe-our-understanding-bushfire]
2019-11-21. A Wet Year Causes Farm Woes Far Beyond the Floodplains. By John Schwartz, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/21/climate/farms-climate-change-crops.html] Excerpt: The damage from the destructive spring flooding in the Midwest has been followed in parts of the country by a miserable autumn that is making a bad farming year worse, with effects that could be felt into next spring. … many farmers couldn’t get crops in the ground or had to delay planting until perilously late in the season. “Farmers told me in Eastern Illinois it felt like they were in a monsoon from April til May.” It was the wettest year on record for the lower 48 states, with the kind of extreme rainfall events that are increasingly associated with climate change. And then fall came in with unseasonably heavy rains and snow….
2019-11-21. The World Burns All Year. Are There Enough Planes to Douse the Flames? By Damien Cave, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/21/world/australia/fires-water-tankers-climate-change.html] Excerpt: As climate change pushes California’s fire season into Australia’s, an intricate system of resource sharing struggles with the load. SYDNEY, Australia — Sharing the giant air tankers that fight fires 5,000 gallons of water at a time used to be simpler. California’s wildfires faded before Australia’s bush fires surged, leaving time to prepare, move and deploy planes from one continent to another. But climate change is subverting the system. Fire seasons are running longer, stronger, hotter. The major fires now blanketing Sydney in smoke started early, within days of the last California blazes. And the strain is global. Countries that used to manage without extra help, like Chile, Bolivia and Cyprus, have started competing for plane and helicopter contracts as their own fires intensify. That is stretching capacity for the companies that provide most of the globe’s largest firefighting aircraft, and increasing anxiety for fire officials worldwide….
2019-11-20. Massive Australian blazes will ‘reframe our understanding of bushfire’. By John Pickrell, Science Magazine. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/11/massive-australian-blazes-will-reframe-our-understanding-bushfire] Excerpt: SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA—Australia is on fire like never before—and this year’s “bushfire” season, which typically peaks in January and February, has barely begun. Driven in part by a severe drought, fires have burned 1.65 million hectares in the state of New South Wales, more than the state’s total in the previous 3 years combined. Six people have died and more than 500 homes have been destroyed. As Science went to press, some 70 uncontrolled fires were burning in adjacent Queensland, and South Australia was bracing for potentially “catastrophic” burns. David Bowman, a fire ecologist and geographer and director of the Fire Centre at the University of Tasmania in Hobart, spoke with Science about the crisis. The flames have charred even moist ecosystems once thought safe, he says. And the fires have become “white-hot politically,” with Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Liberal government drawing criticism for refusing to acknowledge any link to climate change. …Q: What is the role of climate change? A: You have to ask: Has there ever been a fire event of 1.65 million hectares that’s burnt a large area of what is generally considered fire-proof vegetation, and also occurred simultaneously with fires in other regions of Australia and California? What is happening is extraordinary. It would be difficult to say there wasn’t a climate change dimension. We couldn’t have imagined the scale of the current event before it happened. We would have been told it was hyperbole….
2019-11-18. Climate Change Will Make Us Sicker and Lose Work Hours. By Jenessa Duncombe, Eos/AGU. [https://eos.org/articles/climate-change-will-make-us-sicker-and-lose-work-hours] Excerpt: Climate change has medical experts worried about our health, according to a recent report from the Lancet Countdown, an interdisciplinary group of 34 academic institutions and United Nations agencies. Authors include climate scientists, doctors, economists, and other experts. Heat and air pollution are some of the worst offenders, according to the report. Rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be the only way to lower health risks in the long run. Here are four major takeaways from the report for public health in the United States: 1. Worker productivity is dropping because of soaring temperatures. 2. Older adults are more and more at risk from heat waves. 3. Soot and small particles from burning coal and oil are killing people. 4. Children will face a lifetime of health risks from climate change….
2019-11-14. Peatlands Are Drying Out Across Europe. By Michael Allen, Eos/AGU. [https://eos.org/articles/peatlands-are-drying-out-across-europe] Excerpt: Peatlands are some of the world’s largest reservoirs of soil carbon, but new research finds that in Europe they are drying out, putting them at risk of turning from carbon sinks to carbon sources. These wetlands are vitally important for carbon storage, holding roughly 30% of global soil carbon, despite covering only around 3% of Earth’s surface. It is their saturated surface conditions that make peatlands such effective carbon stores. When peat mosses die, they sink into this wet environment, and the low-oxygen, often acidic conditions prevent microbes that decompose plant litter elsewhere from working effectively. Instead of breaking down, the dead mosses slowly build up, trapping the carbon dioxide that they sucked out of the atmosphere during photosynthesis underground. But a new study suggests that in Europe peatland water tables are falling. In the journal Nature Geoscience [https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-019-0462-z], researchers from almost 30 institutions report that 60% of the 31 peatlands they studied were drier between 1800 and 2000 than at any point in the past 600 years. And 40% were drier than they have been for 1,000 years, whereas 24% were drier than they have been for 2,000 years….
2019-11-13. Toxic Algal Blooms Are Worsening with Climate Change. By Kate Wheeling, Eos/AGU. [https://eos.org/articles/toxic-algal-blooms-are-worsening-with-climate-change] Excerpt: Every summer, vast blooms of harmful algae erupt in freshwater lakes across the United States. This year, blue-green mats of algae blanketed more than 1,500 square kilometers of Lake Erie’s surface by August; toxic algae forced officials to close New Jersey’s largest lake to recreational activities, and officials in North Carolina and Georgia warned dog owners to keep their pets out of the water after at least four dogs died after swimming in contaminated water. Although these harmful algal blooms are not new to freshwater lakes, they do appear to be getting worse. But researchers weren’t certain whether freshwater blooms are actually intensifying or scientists are just paying closer attention. …A new study that looked back at 3 decades of satellite data finds that these summertime algal blooms are indeed worsening in large freshwater lakes around the world—and that climate change may be undercutting efforts to combat the problem….
2019-11-09. Scandinavian Wine? A Warming Climate Tempts Entrepreneurs. By Liz Alderman, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/09/business/wine-scandinavia-climate-change.html] Excerpt: Hotter weather is fueling efforts to create a commercial wine industry in Denmark, Norway and Sweden…..
2019-11-09. How Did a Virus From the Atlantic Infect Mammals in the Pacific? By Karen Weintraub, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/09/science/seals-distemper.html] Excerpt: Thawing sea ice may have opened the door, allowing the infection to cross oceans, a new study suggests…..
2019-11-08. Drones Capture Iceland’s Shrinking Glaciers. By Jenessa Duncombe, Eos/AGU. [https://eos.org/articles/drones-capture-icelands-shrinking-glaciers] Excerpt: Photographs of Iceland’s southern glaciers show pools of water where walls of ice once stood….
2019-11-08. Manure Happens: The Environmental Toll of Livestock Antibiotics. By Laura Poppick, Eos/AGU. [https://eos.org/articles/manure-happens-the-environmental-toll-of-livestock-antibiotics] Excerpt: The widespread, routine use of antibiotics in livestock farming has generated fears of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” that could threaten human health. Now, a new study suggests that threats of agricultural antibiotics extend beyond the realm of human health and into the environment, where they can alter microbial activity as they enter the soil through animal manure. “The fact that there are so many ecosystem processes mediated by microbes makes this pretty interesting,” said Carl Wepking, a biologist at Colorado State University and lead author on the new paper. Wepking and colleagues found that soil microbes consumed carbon less efficiently and released carbon dioxide more readily into the atmosphere when stressed by certain antibiotics. …As the use of agricultural antibiotics continues to swell with human population growth, potentially increasing 70% from 2010 to 2070, the new findings could have implications when assessing long-term soil fertility and greenhouse gas emissions in agricultural fields. In the United States alone, livestock already receive an estimated 13 million kilograms of antibiotics every year….
2019-11-07. Where Does the Carbon Go When Permafrost Coasts Erode? By Kate Wheeling, Eos/AGU. [https://eos.org/research-spotlights/where-does-the-carbon-go-when-permafrost-coasts-erode] Excerpt: Arctic coastlines have not been considered carefully in carbon cycles for long, but new research suggests that eroding permafrost may emit more greenhouse gases than previously thought. The Arctic is warming faster than almost anywhere else on Earth. As a result, the region is changing rapidly: Glaciers are melting, sea ice is disappearing, and permafrost is thawing, which could accelerate climate change. The northern permafrost region covers roughly a quarter of the land in the Northern Hemisphere and stores vast amounts of carbon—more than double the amount in the atmosphere today—much of it still locked away, frozen. Researchers have known for some time that permafrost could become a major source of greenhouse gases as the soil thaws and once-dormant microbes wake up and break down organic matter. This thaw is accelerated in places along Arctic coasts, where permafrost is eroding into the sea. As sea ice–free conditions in the Arctic expand, cliffs and shorelines are exposed to storms and wave action for longer periods, accelerating erosion. The Arctic’s permafrost coastlines, which make up more than a third of Earth’s coasts, are eroding at an average rate of roughly half a meter per year, though in some spots the rate tops 20 meters per year. Little is known, however, about the fate of the organic carbon in eroded permafrost as it enters the ocean. Climate models assume that it is consumed in primary production or buried offshore. But a new study by Tanski et al. [https://doi.org/10.1029/2019GL084303] suggests that a substantial portion is vented back into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases….
2019-10-29. Rising Seas Will Erase More Cities by 2050, New Research Shows. By Denise Lu and Christopher Flavelle, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/10/29/climate/coastal-cities-underwater.html] Excerpt: Rising seas could affect three times more people by 2050 than previously thought, according to new research, threatening to all but erase some of the world’s great coastal cities. The authors of a paper published Tuesday [https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-12808-z] developed a more accurate way of calculating land elevation based on satellite readings, a standard way of estimating the effects of sea level rise over large areas, and found that the previous numbers were far too optimistic. The new research shows that some 150 million people are now living on land that will be below the high-tide line by midcentury….
2019-10-21. Europe’s Mightiest Glaciers Are Melting. By Jenessa Duncombe, Eos/AGU. [https://eos.org/articles/europes-mightiest-glaciers-are-melting] Excerpt: When the photographer Walter Mittelholzer snapped pictures of Mont Blanc from his plane in 1919, he pointed his lens at the landscape’s rugged beauty. One century later, his images reveal the rapid loss of ice on the Alps’ highest peak. This summer, researchers re-created Mittelholzer’s images of three Mont Blanc glaciers by photographing the glaciers 100 years later. The scientists triangulated Mittelholzer’s original location on the basis of nearby peaks and flew a helicopter to an elevation of 4,700 meters at the same spot near the Mont Blanc summit, which straddles the border of Italy and France. Viewed side by side, the images show the drastic effect of climate change on the region. The scientists chose three of the mountain’s largest glaciers: Argentière, Bossons, and Mer de Glace. In the photographs taken at Mer de Glace, the black-and-white image from 1919 shows a channel of ice nearly 2 kilometers wide in places flowing down a deep valley. In 2019, the glacier is sunken, covered in brown sediment, and peters out into a melt pond at what used to be the glacier’s far end. …“The ice loss visible in these pictures is representative of the type of melt that is happening to the vast majority of glaciers across the Alps and in other glaciated regions around the world,” Baxter told Eos…. [Dramatic photos in article]
2019-10-14. How Climate Change Impacts Wine. By Eric Asimov, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/10/14/dining/drinks/climate-change-wine.html] Excerpt: Wine, which is among the most sensitive and nuanced of agricultural products, demonstrates how climate change is transforming traditions and practices that may be centuries old. Around the wine-growing world, smart producers have contemplated and experimented with adaptations, not only to hotter summers, but also to warmer winters, droughts and the sort of unexpected, sometimes violent events that stem from climate change: freak hailstorms, spring frosts, flooding and forest fires, just to name a few. Farmers have been on the front line, and grape growers especially have been noting profound changes in weather patterns since the 1990s. In the short term, some of these changes have actually benefited certain regions. Places, like England, that were historically unsuited for producing fine wine have been given the opportunity to join the global wine world, transforming local economies in the process. In areas like Burgundy, Barolo, Champagne and the Mosel and Rhine Valleys of Germany, where great vintages were once rare, warmer growing seasons have made it far easier to produce consistently exceptional wines. …The accelerating effects of climate change are forcing the wine industry, especially those who see wine as an agricultural product rather than an industrial beverage, to take decisive steps to counter or adapt to the shifts….
2019-10-10. Greenland’s Dying Ice. By Paul Voosen, Science Magazine [in Sermilik Fjord, Greenland]. [https://vis.sciencemag.org/greenlands-dying-ice/] Excerpt: This summer, as meltwater streamed off the Greenland Ice Sheet in record amounts, a ramshackle research ship, the Adolf Jensen, sat idling in this fjord, icebergs near its bow and a mystery below it. Two years earlier, oceanographers had moored a sensor in the fjord’s depths to decipher how warm Atlantic Ocean waters are eroding Helheim Glacier, one of the ice sheet’s largest tongues. But now they couldn’t retrieve the 500-meter-deep mooring—or its crucial data. …Some two-thirds of Greenland’s ice loss comes not as meltwater, but as chunks of ice that detach, or calve, from its 300 outlet glaciers—fast-moving rivers of ice that end in long fjords. … warm Atlantic water is penetrating Sermilik Fjord, which researchers once thought was dominated by Arctic waters. Here, it meets cold meltwater draining through channels beneath the ice. Straneo believes the emerging freshwater, buoyant because of its low salinity, mixes with the warm water and forms a plume that wells up against the glacier’s front, causing more melting and fracturing. It’s like the ice in your glass of whiskey, she says. “If you just put it in and don’t stir, it lasts a long time. If you stir it, it melts really quickly.”….
2019-10-10. These State Birds May Be Forced Out of Their States as the World Warms. By Brad Plumer, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/10/climate/state-birds-climate-change.html] Excerpt: Each state in America has an official state bird, usually an iconic species that helps define the landscape. Minnesota chose the common loon, whose haunting wails echo across the state’s northern lakes each summer. Georgia picked the brown thrasher, a fiercely territorial bird with a repertoire of more than 1,000 song types. But as the planet warms and birds across the country relocate to escape the heat, at least eight states could see their state birds largely or entirely disappear from within their borders during the summer, according to a new study [https://climate.audubon.org/]….
2019-10-08. As Sea Levels Rise, So Do Ghost Forests. By Moises Velasquez-Manoff and Gabriella Demczuk (photographer), New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/10/08/climate/ghost-forests.html] Excerpt: Saltwater is killing woodlands along the East Coast, sometimes surprisingly far from the sea. … Up and down the mid-Atlantic coast, sea levels are rising rapidly, creating stands of dead trees — often bleached, sometimes blackened — known as ghost forests. The water is gaining as much as 5 millimeters per year in some places, well above the global average of 3.1 millimeters, driven by profound environmental shifts that include climate change. Increasingly powerful storms, a consequence of a warming world, push seawater inland. More intense dry spells reduce freshwater flowing outward. Adding to the peril, in some places the land is naturally sinking. All of this allows seawater to claim new territory, killing trees from the roots up….
2019-10-08. So what are marine heat waves? NOAA. [https://research.noaa.gov/article/ArtMID/587/ArticleID/2559/So-what-are-marine-heat-waves] Excerpt: …in recent years, marine scientists have been turning their sights on another kind of heat wave — one that occurs in the ocean. From 2014 to 2016, the ocean waters off the West Coast were hit with hotter-than-usual temperatures in a marine heat wave that came to be known as “the Blob.” This stretch of warm water had big impacts on the West Coast marine environment and economy, and stands as the largest marine heat wave since NOAA satellites started keeping track in 1981. Now, three years after the last Blob, another marine heat wave has surfaced off the West Coast, and scientists say it’s the second-largest one they’ve seen….
2019-10-07. Heat waves could increase substantially in size by mid-century, says new study. By Alison Stevens – NOAA Affiliate. [https://cpo.noaa.gov/News/News-Article/ArtMID/6226/ArticleID/1772/Heat-waves-could-increase-substantially-in-size-by-mid-century-says-new-study] Excerpt: …in a new study, scientists funded in part by the NOAA Climate Program Office’s Climate Observations and Monitoring Program …found that by mid-century, in a middle greenhouse emissions scenario, the average size of heat waves could increase by 50%. Under high greenhouse gas concentrations, the average size could increase by 80% and the more extreme heat waves could more than double in size. “As the physical size of these affected regions increases, more people will be exposed to heat stress,” said Brad Lyon, Associate Research Professor at the University of Maine and lead author of the new paper published in Environmental Research Letters. [https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ab4b41] “Larger heat waves would also increase electrical loads and peak energy demand on the grid as more people and businesses turn on air conditioning in response.”….
2019-09-30. Collapse of desert birds due to heat stress from climate change. By Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley News. [https://news.berkeley.edu/2019/09/30/collapse-of-desert-birds-due-to-heat-stress-from-climate-change/] Excerpt: As temperatures rise, desert birds need more water to cool off at the same time as deserts are becoming drier, setting some species up for a severe crash, if not extinction, according to a new study from the University of California, Berkeley. The team that last year documented a collapse of bird communities in Mojave Desert over the last century — 29% of the 135 bird species that were present 100 years ago are less common and less widespread today — has now identified a likely cause: heat stress associated with climate change. The researchers’ latest findings, part of UC Berkeley’s Grinnell Resurvey Project [http://mvz.berkeley.edu/Grinnell/], come from comparing levels of species declines to computer simulations of how “virtual birds” must deal with heat on an average hot day in Death Valley, which can be in the 30s Celsius — 90s Fahrenheit — with low humidity. These temperatures are, on average, 2 C (3.6 F) hotter than 100 years ago. The birds that the model predicted would require the most extra water today, compared to a 100 years ago, were the species that had declined the most in the Mojave Desert over the past century. The desert straddles the border between California and Nevada. The most threatened turn out to be larger birds, and those that have an insect or animal diet….
2019-09-27. 600 Years of Grape Harvests Document 20th Century Climate Change. By Katherine Kornei, Eos/AGU. [https://eos.org/articles/600-years-of-grape-harvests-document-20th-century-climate-change] Excerpt: Climate change isn’t just captured by thermometers—grapes can also do the trick. By mining archival records of grape harvest dates going back to 1354, scientists have reconstructed a 664-year record of temperature traced by fruit ripening. The records, from the Burgundy region of France, represent the longest series of grape harvest dates assembled up until now and reveal strong evidence of climate change in the past few decades. …“Wine harvest is a really great proxy for summer warmth,” said Benjamin Cook, a climate scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York not involved in the research. “The warmer the summer is, the faster the grapes develop, so the earlier the harvest happens.”….
2019-09-25. The World’s Oceans Are in Danger, Major Climate Change Report Warns. By Brad Plumer, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/25/climate/climate-change-oceans-united-nations.html] . Excerpt: Climate change is heating the oceans and altering their chemistry so dramatically that it is threatening seafood supplies, fueling cyclones and floods and posing profound risks to the hundreds of millions of people living along the coasts, according to a sweeping United Nations report issued Wednesday. The report concludes that the world’s oceans and ice sheets are under such severe stress that the fallout could prove difficult for humans to contain without steep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Fish populations are already declining in many regions as warming waters throw marine ecosystems into disarray, according to the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of scientists convened by the United Nations to guide world leaders in policymaking….
2019-09-21. In a Race Against the Sun, Growers Try to Outsmart Climate Change. By Marla Cone, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/21/climate/agriculture-climate-change.html] Excerpt: …With their deep roots and tough, gnarly branches, pistachio trees are hardy, tolerant of salty soils and brutal heat waves. Some can live for centuries. But while sweltering summers are the norm in this part of central California, there’s a new, existential threat to these trees, one that scientists warn could spell the end of the pistachio harvest: warmer winters. Many crops are facing similar threats as agricultural regions across the world experience previously unseen extremes in heat, rain and drought. Chilly winters are critical to nut and fruit trees, particularly pistachios. To break their slumber and spread their pollen, pistachios need to spend about 850 hours, or five weeks, at temperatures below 45 degrees. …So as the San Joaquin Valley warms and its cooling fogs retreat, growers have found their orchards out of sync: Many male trees are no longer producing pollen when the females need it. …After growing coffee for generations, farmers in parts of Costa Rica are switching to oranges. Kenyan herders, facing intense droughts, are raising camels instead of cattle. Farmers in the Midwestern United States are planting corn several weeks early so their crops can pollinate before the hotter summers. In China’s drought-prone Fujian province, farmers who grew wheat and corn have switched to apples. In India, some farmers have replaced rice with millet, an ancient grain that thrives in parched, infertile soils. And as seawater swamps Bangladesh, some rice fields have been transformed into shrimp farms. Yet adaptation is a gradual, decades-long process….
2019-09-17. Is ‘The Blob’ back? New marine heat wave threatens Pacific. By Warren Cornwall, Science Magazine. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/09/blob-back-new-marine-heat-wave-threatens-pacific] Excerpt: In the fall of 2014, marine ecologist Jennifer Fisher was stunned when jellyfish and tiny crustaceans typically found in warmer waters filled her nets off the coast of Oregon. The odd catch was just one sign of the arrival of a vast patch of warm water that came to be known as “The Blob”—a massive marine heat wave that lasted 3 years and dramatically disrupted ecosystems and fisheries along North America’s Pacific coast. Now, with oceanographers warning that a new Blob could be forming in the Pacific Ocean, Fisher is again preparing for strange encounters when she heads out on a research cruise later this month. …When The Blob arrived 5 years ago, “we didn’t realize the impact” it would have, recalls Toby Garfield, a physical oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) Southwest Fisheries Science Center in San Diego, California. …NOAA scientists first noticed the growth of an eerily familiar patch of warm water in the north Pacific in August. It now covers an area the size of Australia, stretching from the Hawaiian islands to the Gulf of Alaska. Farther north, the Bering Sea between Alaska and Russia is also experiencing a record-setting marine heat wave, triggered by a sweltering summer in 2018 and a lack of winter sea ice. There are already some signs of potential impacts. Unusual toxic algae blooms recently hit beaches stretching from California to Washington. In Hawaii, some coral reefs are starting to bleach, turning pale as the corals expel their colorful symbiotic algae in response to heat stress. NOAA is forecasting widespread coral bleaching and deaths in Hawaii over the next 12 weeks….
2019-09-17. Climate Change Is Coming for Our Fish Dinners. By Jenessa Duncombe, Eos/AGU. [https://eos.org/articles/climate-change-is-coming-for-our-fish-dinners] Excerpt: Your fish fillet may have less omega-3 fatty acids, an important nutrient for brain health, by the end of the century. Omega-3 fatty acids could be one reason that human brains evolved to be so powerful, but changing water conditions associated with climate change may reduce the amount of omega-3 available for human consumption. A new global tally of the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) found it will drop in availability by 10%–58% depending on how aggressively humans curb greenhouse gas emissions over the next century….
2019-09-16. How Long Before These Salmon Are Gone? ‘Maybe 20 Years’. By Jim Robbins, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/16/science/chinook-salmon-columbia.html] Excerpt: Warming waters and a series of dams are making the grueling migration of the Chinook salmon even more deadly — and threatening dozens of other species. …NORTH FORK, Idaho …Some 45,000 to 50,000 spring-summer Chinook spawned here in the 1950s. These days, the average is about 1,500 fish, and declining. And not just here: Native fish are in free-fall throughout the Columbia River basin, a situation so dire that many groups are urging the removal of four large dams to keep the fish from being lost. …Before the 20th century, some 10 million to 16 million adult salmon and steelhead trout are thought to have returned annually to the Columbia River system. The current return of wild fish is 2 percent of that, by some estimates. While farming, logging and especially the commercial harvest of salmon in the early 20th century all took a toll, the single greatest impact on wild fish comes from eight large dams — four on the Columbia and four on the Snake River, a major tributary….
2019-09-11. The Great Flood of 2019: A Complete Picture of a Slow-Motion Disaster. By Sarah Almukhtar, Blacki Migliozzi, John Schwartz and Josh Williams, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/09/11/us/midwest-flooding.html] Excerpt: This year’s flooding across the Midwest and the Southg affected nearly 14 million people, …To measure the scope of the spring floods, The New York Times analyzed satellite data from the Joint Polar Satellite System using software, developed by government and academic researchers for flood detection, that is frequently used in disaster response. The data covers the period from Jan. 15 to June 30 and shows an interconnected catastrophe along the Missouri, Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers, a system that drains more than 40 percent of the landmass of the continental United States. …The causes of flooding are complicated, but climate change is increasingly an exacerbating factor. Warmer air can hold more moisture, and that moisture can fall back out of the sky, whether as rain or snow, in greater amounts. The year through May 2019 was the wettest 12-month period on record in the United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Nearly 38 inches of water fell, almost eight inches above average. …Back in March, Edward Clark, director of NOAA’s National Water Center, said that what lay ahead was a “potentially unprecedented” flood season, even worse than the Great Flood of 1993. In a recent interview, Mr. Clark said, with no satisfaction, “Yes, we got it right.”….
2019-09-11. Global warming has made iconic Andean peak unrecognizable. By Tim Appenzeller, Science Magazine. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/09/global-warming-has-made-iconic-andean-peak-unrecognizable] Excerpt: On 23 June 1802, German geographer Alexander von Humboldt and his companions could climb no higher. …they faced a final obstacle in their quest to climb Chimborazo, a 6268-meter-high volcano in Ecuador then thought to be the world’s highest mountain. …But they had to turn back, some 400 vertical meters short of their goal. …Not long after his descent from the mountain, he sketched a spectacular diagram that used the slopes of Chimborazo to depict a concept that had crystallized during his climb: that climate is an organizing principle of life, shaping the distinct communities of plants and animals found at different altitudes and latitudes. The diagram—Humboldt called it his Tableau Physique—has become what one recent paper described as “an iconic milestone, almost a foundation myth, in the history of ecology.”…Tropical mountains are ideal stages for watching climate change unfold. They compress many climates into a small space, as Humboldt wrote in his Essay on the Geography of Plants: “On this steep surface climbing from the ocean level to the perpetual snows, various climates follow one another and are superimposed, so to speak.” Now, global warming is quickly reshuffling those montane climates. And few peaks record the impact of human-driven climate change more vividly than Chimborazo itself….
2019-08-28. The Amazon, Siberia, Indonesia: A World of Fire. By Kendra Pierre-Louis, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/28/climate/fire-amazon-africa-siberia-worldwide.html] Excerpt: In South America, the Amazon basin is ablaze. Halfway around the world in central Africa, vast stretches of savanna are going up in flame. Arctic regions in Siberia are burning at a historic pace. …Hotter, drier temperatures “are going to continue promoting the potential for fire,” said John Abatzoglou, an associate professor in the department of geography at the University of Idaho, describing the risk of “large, uncontainable fires globally” if warming trends continue. Wildfires contribute to climate change because not only do they release carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere but they can also kill trees and vegetation that remove climate-warming emissions from the air. …And though the Amazon is widely described as the world’s lungs, a reference to the forest’s ability to produce oxygen while storing carbon dioxide, forests like those in Siberia are as important to the global climate system as tropical rainforests. One reason that arctic wildfires are particularly concerning is that in addition to trees and grassland burning, peat also burns, a dirt-like material in the ground itself that releases much more carbon dioxide when it burns than do trees per acre of fire…. See also Where is the Amazon Rainforest Vanishing? Not Just in Brazil [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/30/world/americas/amazon-rainforest.html]
2019-08-26. Devastating Floods Hit India for the Second Year in a Row. By Jenessa Duncombe, Eos/AGU. [https://eos.org/articles/devastating-floods-hit-india-for-the-second-year-in-a-row] Excerpt: Extreme monsoon rains have come to India for the second year in a row, causing millions to flee their homes and leading to more than a thousand deaths since May. Several Indian states experienced extreme precipitation in early August, causing rivers to flood their banks and hillsides to give way. In the state of Kerala, on India’s southwest coast, 121 people have died, and more than 83,000 have taken refuge in relief camps, according to the Times of India. The most casualties have occurred in the state of Maharashtra, where 245 people have died, reported AccuWeather. The flooding comes on the heels of disastrous flooding last year that left nearly 500 dead in Kerala and over 1,200 causalities across India. Both 2018 and 2019 brought flooding that would be expected only once every hundred years….
2019-08-26. Heat Deaths Jump in Southwest United States, Puzzling Officials. By Christopher Flavelle and Nadja Popovich, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/26/climate/heat-deaths-southwest.html] Excerpt: WASHINGTON — Heat-related deaths have increased sharply since 2014 in Nevada and Arizona, raising concerns that the hottest parts of the country are struggling to protect their most vulnerable residents from global warming. In Arizona, the annual number of deaths attributed to heat exposure more than tripled, from 76 deaths in 2014 to 235 in 2017, according to figures obtained from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heat-related deaths in Nevada rose almost fivefold during the same period, from 29 to 139. …The long-term health effects of rising temperatures and heat waves are expected to be one of the most dangerous consequences of climate change, causing “tens of thousands of additional premature deaths per year across the United States by the end of this century,” according to the federal government’s Global Change Research Program. The effect could be even more severe in other parts of the world, potentially making parts of North Africa and the Middle East “uninhabitable.” …Afternoon highs in Phoenix last summer averaged 106 degrees Fahrenheit, almost 3 degrees hotter than the average for the second half of the 20th century, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Las Vegas recorded its hottest summer to date, with average daily highs reaching 105 degrees, more than 5 degrees above the 1950-2000 mean. Nighttime lows have warmed up, too, giving residents less chance to recover from the heat….
2019-08-19. As Phoenix Heats Up, the Night Comes Alive. Photographs by George Etheredge | Written by Marguerite Holloway, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/climate/phoenix-heat.html] Excerpt: …“You definitely feel the heat, but the nights are better,” Mr. Plautz said. “A lot of people hike right now instead of during the day because it is a lot cooler.” Phoenix, which had 128 days at or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit last year, is one of the hottest and fastest-warming cities in the United States. Although it is on the leading edge, it is not alone: Most American cities are expected to drastically heat up in the next decades [https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-08540-3]. Many may have summers with heat waves and triple-digit days — summers that resemble Phoenix today. Here in the Valley of the Sun, that means work and play shift into the cooler hours. Neighborhoods thrum with activity at dawn and dusk when residents hike, jog and paddleboard. In the hottest months, the zoo opens at 6 a.m., for the benefit of both animals and visitors. And across the city, certain construction work starts in the middle of the night — not only for the safety of workers, but also because even some building materials can be affected by intense heat….
2019-08-08. Oysters in peril as warming climate alters the water in their habitats. By Peter Fimrite, San Francisco Chronicle. [https://www.sfchronicle.com/environment/article/Oysters-in-peril-as-warming-climate-alters-the-14288818.php] Excerpt: Human-caused climate change is increasingly harming oysters in Tomales and San Francisco bays and could soon devastate shellfish across California, as the chemistry of the water in estuaries morphs and livable habitat shrinks, a UC Davis study has found. Even moderate changes in water temperature, acidity and dissolved oxygen make it harder for native and commercial oysters to grow their calcium-based shells, a situation that does not bode well for the future, concluded the paper published this week in the journal Limnology and Oceanography. It means the severe climatic changes predicted as the Earth warms over the next few decades could dramatically shrink the habitat for both farmed oysters and the native species that scientists have been trying desperately to restore, said Ted Grosholz, a professor of environmental science who led the study with funding from a California Sea Grant….
2019-08-06. A Quarter of Humanity Faces Looming Water Crises. By Somini Sengupta and Weiyi Cai, New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/06/climate/world-water-stress.html] Excerpt: Countries that are home to one-fourth of Earth’s population face an increasingly urgent risk: The prospect of running out of water. From India to Iran to Botswana, 17 countries around the world are currently under extremely high water stress, meaning they are using almost all the water they have, according to new World Resources Institute data published Tuesday….
2019-08-05. Europe’s record heat melted Swiss glaciers. By Chelsea Harvey, E&E News. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/08/europes-record-heat-melted-swiss-glaciers] Excerpt: The sweltering heat wave that roasted much of Europe last month has since moved north, where it’s wreaking havoc on the Greenland ice sheet. But while all eyes are currently trained on the Arctic ice, scientists are finding that Europe’s coldest places have also suffered. According to initial findings from the Swiss Glacier Monitoring Network (GLAMOS), Swiss glaciers experienced unusually high melt rates during the last heat wave, which occurred in late July, and an earlier heat wave that struck the continent in late June. Matthias Huss, a glaciologist with Swiss University ETH Zurich and head of GLAMOS, tweeted last week that the nation’s glaciers lost about 800 million metric tons of ice during the two heat waves alone….
2019-08-04. Russian Land of Permafrost and Mammoths Is Thawing. By Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/04/world/europe/russia-siberia-yakutia-permafrost-global-warming.html] F Excerpt: …As the Arctic, including much of Siberia, warms at least twice as fast as the rest of the world, the permafrost — permanently frozen ground — is thawing. …The thawing of the permafrost — along with other changes triggered by global warming — is reshaping this incredibly remote region sometimes called the Kingdom of Winter. It is one of the coldest inhabited places on earth, and huge; Yakutia, if independent, would be the world’s eighth largest country. …The loss of permafrost deforms the landscape itself, knocking down houses and barns. The migration patterns of animals hunted for centuries are shifting, and severe floods wreak havoc almost every spring. The water, washing out already limited dirt roads and rolling corpses from their graves, threatens entire villages with permanent inundation. Waves chew away the less frozen Arctic coastline. …Climate change is a global phenomenon, but the shifts are especially pronounced in Russia, where permafrost covers some two-thirds of the country at depths ranging up to almost a mile. “People don’t comprehend the scale of this change, and our government is not even thinking about it,” said Aleksandr N. Fedorov, deputy director of the Melnikov Permafrost Institute, a research body in Yakutsk, the regional capital. …The thawing permafrost, and increased precipitation, have made the land wetter. The snow and rain create a vicious circle, forming an insulating layer that speeds defrosting underground. Water backing up behind ice floes now causes ravaging floods virtually every May. In Srednekolymsk last year, floods swamped the dirt airstrip, with its separate outhouses for men and women. Often battered Soviet turboprops are the lifeline to the world, but the airstrip had to close for a week. Nalimsk, 11 miles north of Srednekolymsk, has flooded five years in a row. Mosquitoes grown fat in the expanding bogs swarm like kamikaze pilots. “Free acupuncture!” joked Vasily P. Okoneshnikov, 54, the village headman….
2019-08-02. Greenland Ice Sheet Beats All-Time 1-Day Melt Record. By Jenessa Duncombe, Eos/AGU. [https://eos.org/articles/greenland-ice-sheet-beats-all-time-1-day-melt-record] Excerpt: The Greenland ice sheet broke records on 1 August 2019 by losing more water volume in 1 day than on than any other day since records began in 1950, shedding 12.5 billion tons of water into the sea. The record-breaking day came during a weeklong extreme melt event hitting Greenland due to soaring temperatures and low snow accumulation over the winter. The warmer temperatures are part of a heat wave that scorched Europe in late July, setting records in several countries including Germany, France, and the Netherlands. Air temperatures rose to 10°C above average in places in Greenland this week and peaked above the freezing point for hours at a time at the ice sheet’s summit more than 3,200 meters above sea level. The months of April, May, June, and July also had higher than average temperatures in Greenland….
2019-07-23. Ocean acidification could boost shell growth in snails and sea urchins. By Katie Camero, Science Magazine. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/07/ocean-acidification-could-boost-shell-growth-marine-life-snails-and-sea-urchins] Excerpt: The world’s oceans are acidifying rapidly as they soak up massive amounts of the carbon dioxide (CO2) released from burning fossil fuels. That’s bad news for tiny marine critters like coral and sea urchins that make up the base of the ocean food chain: Acidic water not only destroys their shells, but it also makes it harder for them to build new ones. Now, scientists studying sea snails have discovered an unexpected side effect of this acid brew—it can help some of them build thicker, stronger shells by making their food more nutritious. Often called climate change’s “evil twin,” acidification happens when the ocean absorbs atmospheric CO2 As CO2 dissolves, the process releases hydrogen ions, lowering the water’s pH and increasing its acidity. That acidic water also removes many floating carbonate ions that organisms like mussels and clams use to build their sturdy shells. Under these conditions, it takes more energy for these creatures to make shells thick enough to withstand the added stress. … sea snails at the CO2 vents built shells that were twice as thick and more durable than the shells of snails at the control site, Connell and colleagues report this month in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. In addition, the algae were four times as abundant and had 11% more protein and carbohydrates than at the control location, meaning the snails had a bigger and more nutritious supply of food. …“Even if some organisms benefit from warming and acidification, there are still losers,” Riebesell says, “and evolutionary adaptation is not fast enough to compensate for the loss of these losers.”…
2019-07-16. Killer Heat in the United States: Climate Choices and the Future of Dangerously Hot Days. By Union of Concerned Scientists. [https://www.ucsusa.org/global-warming/global-warming-impacts/killer-heat-in-united-states] Excerpt: The United States is facing a potentially staggering expansion of dangerous heat over the coming decades. …Explore interactive maps of the analysis. County-specific results are available for each of the 3,109 counties in the contiguous United States for all extreme heat thresholds and scenarios included in the analysis. City/county-specific predictions [https://www.ucsusa.org/global-warming/global-warming-impacts/extreme-heat-interactive-tool] Full report [https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/attach/2019/07/killer-heat-analysis-full-report.pdf]….
2019-07-11. Climate Change Fills Hurricanes With More Rain, Analysis Shows. By Kendra Pierre-Louis, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/11/climate/hurricane-tropical-storms.html] Excerpt: as Tropical Storm Barry bears down on the Gulf Coast in the coming days, it’s the water that the storm will bring with it that has weather watchers worried. The National Weather Service is calling for roughly 10 to 20 inches of rain to fall from late Thursday night through Saturday. The average rainfall for July in New Orleans, which is in the path of the storm, is just under six inches. And Tropical Storm Barry, which may become a Category 1 hurricane before making landfall, will drop rain on already saturated land. On Wednesday, the region was hit by severe thunderstorms, which dropped as much as seven inches of rain according to preliminary National Weather Service data. “Climate change is in general increasing the frequency and intensity of heavy rainfall storms,” said Andreas Prein, a project scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research. …In recent years, researchers have found that hurricanes have lingered longer, as Barry is expected to do, and dumped more rainfall — a sign of climate change, said Christina Patricola, a research scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and a co-author of a study that found that climate change is making tropical cyclones wetter. (Tropical cyclones include both hurricanes and tropical storms, which are hurricanes’ less speedier kin.)….
2019-07-10. U.S. ties record for number of high tide flooding days in 2018. By NOAA. [https://www.noaa.gov/media-release/us-ties-record-for-number-of-high-tide-flooding-days-in-2018] Excerpt: New report cites El Nino and sea level rise as factors for expected increase in 2019. Coastal communities across the U.S. continued to see increased high tide flooding last year, forcing their residents and visitors to deal with flooded shorelines, streets and basements — a trend that is expected to continue this year. The elevated water levels affected coastal economies, tourism and crucial infrastructure like septic systems and stormwater systems, according to a new NOAA report [https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/publications/Techrpt_090_2018_State_of_US_HighTideFlooding_with_a_2019_Outlook_Final.pdf]. …According to the report, nationally, five days of high tide flooding occurred within coastal communities, tying the record set in 2015. Flood days broke records in the Northeast, with a median of 10 days, and the Eastern Gulf of Mexico at five days, due to a combination of active nor’easter and hurricane seasons combined with sea level rise. NOAA has identified more than 40 locations whose annual rates of high tide flooding are rapidly increasing. Annual rates at 25 other locations are also trending upwards but more gradually. These increases suggest a much wetter future for many coastal areas….
2019-07-08. ‘We Cannot Save Everything’: A Historic Neighborhood Confronts Rising Seas. By Cornelia Dean, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/08/science/historic-preservation-climate-newport.html] Excerpt: NEWPORT, R.I. — The Point, a waterfront neighborhood here, is one of the largest, best preserved and most important Colonial-era communities in the United States. Its grid of 18th-century streets contains scores of houses built before the American Revolution, and dozens more that are almost as old. …Today, the neighborhood faces a new threat. The Point sits only a few feet above sea level, and because of climate change, the ocean is rising. So people have been thinking again about how to preserve the neighborhood. Similar efforts are underway in many communities on the East Coast, where European colonists settled centuries ago. The task is complicated, and success is far from assured. According to a 2014 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, sea level rise threatens sites ranging from Faneuil Hall, where the Sons of Liberty planned the Boston Tea Party, to the launchpads of Cape Canaveral….
2019-07-01. Mexico Hailstorm Blankets Western Areas Under 3 Feet of Ice. By Iliana Magra, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/01/world/americas/mexico-hail-storm-guadalajara.html] Excerpt: The photographs that emerged from western Mexico on Sunday looked more like scenes from a post-apocalyptic movie than an image of the last day of June: hills of white hailstones piled up on the streets, swallowing cars and blanketing the city in a jarring layer of ice. The hail, which accumulated up to three feet high in some parts of Jalisco State on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, baffled the authorities who tried to find a way to clean up the icy mess. Enrique Alfaro, the governor of Jalisco, wrote on Twitter that he had never seen anything like it. “I witnessed scenes that I had never seen before: hail more than a meter high,” he tweeted, “and then we ask ourselves if climate change exists.” …Chris Westbrook, a meteorologist at the University of Reading in Britain, said the hail was a result of warm, moist air rising into the atmosphere and rapidly cooling to form heavy balls of ice before plunging back to earth. And mountainous regions like Guadalajara are ripe for this phenomenon. “Fundamentally, hailstorms are not unusual in this part of the world,” he said in an email. “What is unusual is that the conditions were just right to get an awful lot in one go.”….
2019-07-01. Melting Greenland Is Awash in Sand. By Henry Fountain and Ben C. Solomon, New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/07/01/climate/greenland-glacier-melting-sand.html] Excerpt: A few miles up the Sermilik Fjord in southwestern Greenland, the water has abruptly turned milky, a sign that it is loaded with suspended silt, sand and other sediment. … Could this island, population 57,000, become a provider of sand to billions of people? …because of the erosive power of ice, there is a lot of sand in Greenland. And with climate change accelerating the melting of Greenland’s mile-thick ice sheet — a recent study found that melting has increased sixfold since the 1980s — there is going to be a lot more. …Greenlanders’ contribution to global warming was very slight — their emissions are a tiny fraction of the global total. “They have a long list of negative consequences they have to deal with,” she said, including rising sea levels and thawing permafrost. “If one of the consequences is actually positive, who are we to say that they cannot benefit from it?”….
2019-07-01. A Heat Wave Tests Europe’s Defenses. Expect More. By Somini Sengupta, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/01/climate/europe-heat-wave.html] Excerpt: Across Europe in June, from the Czech Republic to Switzerland to Spain, new heat records tested the Continent’s defenses. Schools were shuttered. Villages were evacuated. Soldiers battled wildfires. And social workers raced to the homes of older people to prevent mass deaths. …The hottest summers in Europe in the last 500 years have all come in the last 17 years. Several of those heat waves bear the fingerprints of human-caused climate change. In years to come, scientists say, many more are likely to batter what is naturally one of the world’s temperate zones. …As rising greenhouse gas emissions warm the planet (average global temperatures have gone up by around 1 degree Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, since the dawn of the industrial age) more and more heat records are broken all over the world. …“It is premature to attribute the heat wave to climate change, but this is consistent with climate scenarios which predict more frequent, drawn out and intense heat events…” the World Meteorological Organization said Monday in a statement. …The number of heat waves in France has doubled in the past 34 years and is expected to double again by 2050, while their intensity is also expected to increase, according to the national weather service, Météo-France. …In Germany, speed limits were imposed on parts of the autobahn because extreme heat can cause roads to buckle. More than 100 runners collapsed during a half-marathon in Hamburg on Sunday….
2019-06-19. Rising Temperatures Ravage the Himalayas, Rapidly Shrinking Its Glaciers. By Somini Sengupta, The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/19/climate/global-warming-himalayas-glaciers.html] Excerpt: Climate change is “eating” the glaciers of the Himalayas, posing a grave threat to hundreds of millions of people who live downstream, a study based on 40 years of satellite data has shown [https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/6/eaav7266]. The study, published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, concluded that the glaciers have lost a foot and a half of ice every year since 2000, melting at a far faster pace than in the previous 25-year period. In recent years, the glaciers have lost about eight billion tons of water a year. The study’s authors described it as equivalent to the amount of water held by 3.2 million Olympic-size swimming pools. The study adds to a growing and grim body of work that points to the dangers of global warming for the Himalayas, which are considered the water towers of Asia and an insurance policy against drought….
2019-06-10. How Dengue, a Deadly Mosquito-Borne Disease, Could Spread in a Warming World. By Kendra Pierre-Louis and Nadja Popovich, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/06/10/climate/dengue-mosquito-spread-map.html] Excerpt: Climate change is poised to increase the spread of dengue fever, which is common in parts of the world with warmer climates like Brazil and India, a new study warns. Worldwide each year, there are 100 million cases of dengue infections severe enough to cause symptoms, which may include fever, debilitating joint pain and internal bleeding. There are an estimated 10,000 deaths from dengue — also nicknamed breakbone fever — which is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes that also spread Zika and chikungunya. The study, published Monday in the journal Nature Microbiology [https://www.nature.com/articles/s41564-019-0476-8], found a likelihood for significant expansion of dengue in the southeastern United States, coastal areas of China and Japan, as well as to inland regions of Australia….
2019-06-08. Even as Floods Worsen With Climate Change, Fewer People Insure Against Disaster. By Christopher Flavelle, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/08/climate/climate-flood-insurance.html] Excerpt: WASHINGTON — Despite years of devastating flooding and hurricanes, the number of Americans with flood insurance remains well below its level a decade ago, undermining the nation’s ability to cope with disasters just as climate change makes them more frequent and severe….
2019-06-04. Sea Level Rise May Reactivate Growth of Some Reef Islands. By Sarah Stanley, Eos/AGU. [https://eos.org/research-spotlights/sea-level-rise-may-reactivate-growth-of-some-reef-islands] Excerpt: Reconstruction of reef island formation in the Maldives suggests the possibility that not all islands will shrink as climate change progresses. …Rising seas pose serious threats for low-lying coral reef island nations. Widespread assumptions hold that encroaching waters will affect all reef islands in the same way, with many disappearing beneath the waves. However, emerging evidence, including new research by East et al., suggests that reef islands form differently in different settings, and some might actually grow as waters rise….
2019-06-04. Companies See Climate Change Hitting Their Bottom Lines in the Next 5 Years. By Brad Plumer, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/04/climate/companies-climate-change-financial-impact.html] Excerpt: WASHINGTON — Many of the world’s biggest companies, from Silicon Valley tech firms to large European banks, are bracing for the prospect that climate change could substantially affect their bottom lines within the next five years, according to a new analysis of corporate disclosures [https://www.cdp.net/en/research/global-reports/global-climate-change-report-2018-tcfd]. Under pressure from shareholders and regulators, companies are increasingly disclosing the specific financial impacts they could face as the planet warms, such as extreme weather that could disrupt their supply chains or stricter climate regulations that could hurt the value of coal, oil and gas investments. Early estimates suggest that trillions of dollars may ultimately be at stake. …“The numbers that we’re seeing are already huge, but it’s clear that this is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Bruno Sarda, the North America president for CDP…. In 2018, more than 7,000 companies [https://www.cdp.net/en/responses?utf8=✓&queries%5Bname%5D=] submitted such reports to CDP, formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project. And, for the first time, CDP explicitly asked firms to try to calculate how a warming planet might affect them financially….
2019-05-28. Kansas City-Area Tornadoes Add to 12 Straight Days of Destruction. By Kevin Williams and Alan Blinder, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/28/us/tornadoes-usa.html] Excerpt: …Now the severe weather had come to Celina, a city of about 10,000 people about 60 miles northwest of Dayton, causing the kind of devastation that has left state after state with ruined buildings and grieving families this spring. In the last week alone, the authorities have linked tornadoes to at least seven deaths and scores of injuries. Federal government weather forecasters logged preliminary reports of more than 500 tornadoes in a 30-day period — a rare figure, if the reports are ultimately verified…. The barrage continued Tuesday night, as people across the Midwest took shelter from powerful storms. A particularly destructive storm splintered homes, ripped up trees and downed power lines southwest of Kansas City. One tornado hit the outskirts of Lawrence, Kan., home to the University of Kansas. The worst damage was reported in nearby Linwood. Twelve people were taken to Lawrence Memorial Hospital with injuries, including broken bones and lacerations from glass…. On the East Coast, tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings were issued in parts of northern New Jersey and on Staten Island in New York. …Tuesday was the 12th consecutive day with at least eight tornado reports, breaking the record, according to Dr. Marsh. The storms have drawn their fuel from two sources: a high-pressure area that pulled the Gulf of Mexico’s warm, moist air into the central United States, where it combined with the effects of a trough trapped over the Rockies, which included strong winds. …Climate change is increasingly linked to extreme weather, but limited historical information, especially when compared with temperature data that goes back more than a century, has made it difficult for researchers to determine whether rising temperatures are making tornadoes more common and severe. …researchers have found that tornadoes are increasingly clustered in short periods of time….
2019-05-22. A 500-million-year survey of Earth’s climate reveals dire warning for humanity. By Paul Voosen, Science Magazine. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/05/500-million-year-survey-earths-climate-reveals-dire-warning-humanity] Excerpt: When it opens next month, the revamped fossil hallof the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., will be more than a vault of dinosaur bones. It will show how Earth’s climate has shifted over the eons, driving radical changes in life, and how, in the modern age, one form of life—humans—is, in turn, transforming the climate. To tell that story, Scott Wing and Brian Huber, a paleobotanist and paleontologist, respectively, at the museum, wanted to chart swings in Earth’s average surface temperature over the past 500 million years or so. The two researchers also thought a temperature curve could counter climate contrarians’ claim that global warming is no concern because Earth was much hotter millions of years ago. Wing and Huber wanted to show the reality of ancient temperature extremes—and how rapid shifts between them have led to mass extinctions. Abrupt climate changes, Wing says, “have catastrophic side effects that are really hard to adapt to.” But actually making the chart was unexpectedly challenging—and triggered a major effort to reconstruct the record. Although far from complete, the research is already showing that some ancient climates were even more extreme than was thought….
2019-05-20. ‘Earthworm Dilemma’ Has Climate Scientists Racing to Keep Up. By Alanna Mitchell, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/20/science/earthworms-soil-climate.html] Excerpt: Cindy Shaw, …while conducting a study in northern Alberta to see how the forest floor was recovering after oil and gas activity, …saw something she had never seen there before: earthworms. “I was amazed,” she said. “At the very first plot, there was a lot of evidence of earthworm activity.” Native earthworms disappeared from most of northern North America 10,000 years ago, during the ice age. Now invasive earthworm species from southern Europe — survivors of that frozen epoch, and introduced to this continent by European settlers centuries ago — are making their way through northern forests, their spread hastened by roads, timber and petroleum activity, tire treads, boats, anglers and even gardeners. As the worms feed, they release into the atmosphere much of the carbon stored in the forest floor. Climate scientists are worried. “Earthworms are yet another factor that can affect the carbon balance,” Werner Kurz, a researcher with the Canadian Forest Service in Victoria, British Columbia, wrote in an email. His fear is that the growing incursion of earthworms — not just in North America, but also in northern Europe and Russia — could convert the boreal forest, now a powerful global carbon sponge, into a carbon spout….
2019-05-15. Vanishing Bering Sea ice threatens one of the richest U.S. seafood sources. By Warren Cornwall, Science Magazine. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/05/vanishing-bering-sea-ice-threatens-one-richest-us-seafood-sources] Excerpt: When ice failed to cover much of the eastern Bering Sea between Alaska and Russia in early 2018, oceanographer James Overland chalked it up to a freak chance. Then, it happened again this year, with late-winter sea ice falling to some of the lowest levels seen in at least 4 decades. Now, scientists are studying whether this is the meteorological equivalent of drawing the ace of spades twice in a row, or another sign of the systemic changes sweeping the Arctic as a result of climate change. “I’m not ruling out that we really have a new regime over the Bering Sea,” says Overland, who works at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) in Seattle, Washington. A lasting shift could dramatically transform a region with some of the nation’s most valuable fisheries and indigenous communities whose way of life relies on ice. Already scientists have documented changes in algae as well as zooplankton, fish, and seabird populations. The shifts are “a bit of a warning sign that these things can happen rather quickly,” says Robert Foy, the Juneau-based science and research director for NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center, which is headquartered in Seattle…. See also 2019-05-17 – Q&A: On a Bering Sea island, disappearing ice threatens a way of life. By Warren Cornwall, Science Magazine. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/05/qa-bering-sea-island-disappearing-ice-threatens-way-life]
2019-05-09. Strong Winds Leave Arctic Regions on Thin Ice. By Ty Burke, Eos/AGU. [https://eos.org/articles/strong-winds-leave-arctic-regions-on-thin-ice] Excerpt: As an Arctic heat wave pushed the mercury as much as 25°C above normal in late February 2018, a large polynya, a patch of open water surrounded by sea ice, opened in the Wandel Sea. No polynyas had previously been observed in this ice-bound area north of Greenland, and it seemed likely that this anomaly would be linked to thinner sea ice. But when researchers Kent Moore and Axel Schweiger ran the numbers, they found that wasn’t the case. In February 2018, a sudden stratospheric warming event occurred over Siberia. The west-to-east flow of the stratospheric polar vortex reversed, and cold air from the stratosphere plunged to Earth. This shift pushed Siberian air to Europe, bringing frigid temperatures in a weather system nicknamed the “Beast from the East.” In turn, Europe’s warmer air was pushed toward Greenland, and winds surged across the island at speeds approaching hurricane force. Winds were so powerful they shifted enough ice to open an area of water roughly the size of Scotland. …Climate Change and Stratospheric Warming-Could thinner ice make the area more susceptible to future melting and lead to more open water in the Arctic? That pattern could contribute to a climate feedback loop that contributes to sudden stratospheric warmings.“If you lose a bunch of sea ice, you’re basically creating a pattern in the waves in the troposphere that encourages a weaker stratospheric polar vortex,” says Amy Butler, a research scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Laboratory….
2019-05-06. Bengal Tigers May Not Survive Climate Change. By Kai Schultz and Hari Kumar, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/06/science/tigers-climate-change-sundarbans.html] Excerpt: NEW DELHI — Climate change and rising sea levels eventually may wipe out one of the world’s last and largest tiger strongholds, scientists warned in a new study. The cats are among nearly 500,000 land species whose survival is now in question because of threats to their natural habitats, according to a report on Monday by the United Nations. The Sundarbans, 4,000 square miles of marshy land in Bangladesh and India, hosts the world’s largest mangrove forest and a rich ecosystem supporting several hundred animal species, including the endangered Bengal tiger. But 70 percent of the land is just a few feet above sea level, and grave changes are in store for the region, Australian and Bangladeshi researchers reported in the journal Science of The Total Environment. Changes wrought by a warming planet will be “enough to decimate” the few hundred or so Bengal tigers remaining there. “By 2070, there will be no suitable tiger habitats remaining in the Bangladesh Sundarbans,” concluded the study by 10 researchers. The paper, which relies on climate scenarios developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for its simulation models, adds to existing studies that offered similarly grim predictions for wildlife in the Sundarbans….
2019-05-03. As Sea Levels Rise, Expect More Floods. By Aaron Sidder, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: The global mean sea level currently measures 77 millimeters higher than in 1993 when the satellite sea level record began. According to the Fifth Assessment Report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the global mean sea level is expected to continue rising throughout the 21st century. With 126 million Americans—40% of the total population of the United States—living along the coasts, rising seas could cause widespread property and socioeconomic damage in the coming century. Coastal communities require adaptation and mitigation strategies for both frequent, minor flooding and extreme, high-water events (i.e., major flooding). …One challenge of strategic planning is that many statistical models struggle to simultaneously characterize both minor and major flood events resulting from rising sea levels. To address this challenge, Ghanbari et al. [https://doi.org/10.1029/2018EF001089] developed a new model to facilitate a nonstationary analysis of coastal flood frequency. …The study incorporated data from 68 tidal monitoring locations around the country to estimate the type and frequency of flooding throughout the contiguous United States…. The study also reports on flood exposure for 20 coastal cities. The authors found that, generally, flood return periods shorten as sea level rises. For example, if sea levels climb by 15.24 centimeters, a 500-year flood will become a 10-year flood along the Pacific coasts. …If sea levels rise by approximately 61 centimeters, the authors report that the majority of coastal communities will experience major floods multiple times (2–6 days) and more than 150 days of minor flooding per year…. [https://eos.org/research-spotlights/as-sea-levels-rise-expect-more-floods]
2019-05-01. Burning Fossil Fuels Worsens Drought. By Jenessa Duncombe, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Tree rings help scientists trace the influence of greenhouse gas emissions on 20th-century drought conditions. California’s governor declared the end of the state’s 5-year drought emergency in April 2017, and the dry spell that at times covered more than half the state left many wondering whether climate change was to blame. But scientists looking to answer that question often face a troubling conundrum: The earliest measurements of drought conditions were taken long after climate change had already begun reshaping the landscape. “In order to know if something is unusual [in the present day], you generally have to rely on climate models to estimate preindustrial variability,” said climate scientist Kate Marvel at NASA and Columbia University. “I was interested in finding a way around that.” A study released 1 May in the journal Nature uses historical tree ring data to track the influence of fossil fuel emissions on drought conditions around the globe over the past century. According to the new research, fossil fuel emissions had a detectable effect on the global hydroclimate as early as 1900, forcing some areas to grow drier and others to grow wetter over time. The study is the first to test the variations of global droughts in the past and attribute them to human actions…. [https://eos.org/articles/burning-fossil-fuels-worsens-drought]
2019-05-01. In a Warming World, Evidence of a Human ‘Fingerprint’ on Drought. By John Schwartz, The New York Times. Excerpt: Human activity was changing the Earth’s drought and rainfall patterns as far back as the early 20th century, new research shows. Drying in many regions, the researchers suggested, will get worse, with sobering implications for feeding the planet’s billions of people. The new paper tracks long-term patterns of moisture levels in soil across regions of the world, including North America, Central America, Eurasia and the Mediterranean. The researchers found a “fingerprint” of human effects from producing greenhouse gases, as distinct from natural variability, as far back as 1900. Scientists have long known that the planet has shown an overall pattern of warmer temperatures since that time — the phenomenon is the subject of a famous cartoon [https://xkcd.com/1732/] by Randall Munroe — but the new research shows the effects of that warming correlate with drier soil in some parts of the world and wetter soil in others. Climate scientists have long suggested that in a warming world, dry parts of the planet will become drier and wet parts of the planet will become wetter…. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/01/climate/global-warming-drought-human-influence.html]
2019-04-30. From Apples to Popcorn, Climate Change Is Altering the Foods America Grows. By Kim Severson, The New York Times. Excerpt: The impact may not yet be obvious in grocery stores and greenmarkets, but behind the organic apples and bags of rice and cans of cherry pie filling are hundreds of thousands of farmers, plant breeders and others in agriculture who are scrambling to keep up with climate change. Drop a pin anywhere on a map of the United States and you’ll find disruption in the fields. Warmer temperatures are extending growing seasons in some areas and sending a host of new pests into others. Some fields are parched with drought, others so flooded that they swallow tractors. Decades-long patterns of frost, heat and rain — never entirely predictable but once reliable enough — have broken down. In regions where the term climate change still meets with skepticism, some simply call the weather extreme or erratic. But most agree that something unusual is happening…. [Examples given: cherries in Michigan, raspberries in New York, watermelons in florida, chickpeas in Montana, blueberries in Maine, organic heirloom popcorn in Iowa, peaches in Georgia and South Carolina, apples in Washington, kiwi in Texas, artichokes in California, rice in Arkansas] [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/30/dining/farming-climate-change.html]
2019-04-25. The ocean’s tallest waves are getting taller. By Colin Barras, Science Magazine. Excerpt: The frigid Southern Ocean is well known for its brutal storms, which can sink ships and trigger coastal flooding on distant tropical islands. Now, a new study suggests the biggest waves there—already the world’s largest—are getting bigger, thanks to faster winds attributed to climate change. Peter Ruggiero, a geophysicist at Oregon State University in Corvallis who was not involved in the study, calls the increase “substantial,” and says he is particularly concerned by evidence that the tallest waves are gaining height at the fastest rate. “If [those waves hit] at high tide, it could be potentially catastrophic.” For the past 33 years, global satellites have been collecting data on ocean waves—and the winds that drive them. …although average wind speeds there have increased by 2 centimeters per second each year, the speed of the top 10% fastest winds has increased by 5 centimeters per second per year. And although average wave heights there have increased by just 0.3 centimeters per year, the top 10% highest has grown by an average of 1 centimeter per year—a growth of 30 centimeters since 1985, they report today in Science…. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/04/ocean-s-tallest-waves-are-getting-taller]
2019-04-24. Emperor penguins flee unsteady ice after ‘unprecedented’ failure to breed. By Erik Stokstad, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Antarctica’s charismatic emperor penguins are thought to be particularly vulnerable to climate change, because warming waters are melting the sea ice where they live and breed. Now, the penguins have abandoned one of their biggest colonies after breeding pairs there failed to raise almost any new chicks in 3 years. Although the move cannot directly be attributed to climate change, researchers say it is an ominous sign of things to come for the largest of penguin species. Emperor penguins need sea ice that remains solid for most of the year while they find mates, breed, and raise their chicks. This requirement has become a critical problem for their second-largest colony, in Halley Bay in the Weddell Sea. Starting in 2015, sea ice there has been disrupted by powerful storms driven a particularly intense El Nino, the periodic warming of the Pacific Ocean that alters global weather patterns. …from 2009 to 2018…the colony hosted between 14,000 and 25,000 adults and chicks. Since 2016, however, that population has dropped to nearly zero, …almost no chicks, an “unprecedented” period of reproductive failure for emperor penguins…. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/04/emperor-penguins-flee-unsteady-ice-after-unprecedented-failure-breed]
See also New York Times article An Emperor Penguin Colony in Antarctica Vanishes [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/25/science/emperor-penguins-antarctica.html].
2019-04-22. Global warming may boost economic inequality. By Warren Cornwall, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Over the past half-century, climate change has been blamed for heat waves, flooding, and rising seas. Now, researchers say warmer temperatures are widening the chasm separating richer and poorer countries, effectively boosting the economies of many wealthy polluters while dampening growth in much of the developing world. As a result, inequality between the haves and have-nots is already 25% greater than it would be in a cooler world, the paper asserts. …The new work builds on previous research that found economic activity peaks at an average temperature of 13°C. …Lower temperatures can hamper weather-dependent sectors like agriculture, but hotter temperatures can wither crops, sap workers’ energy, and exacerbate social conflicts. …In the new study, …climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh and economist Marshall Burke…used climate and economic models to tease out the economic impacts of climate change country by country, starting in 1961. …between 1961 and 2010, many countries near the equator, which are generally poorer, lost an average of more than 25% of potential growth in gross domestic product (GDP) because of global warming, the researchers report today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Many cooler, mostly wealthier countries, in contrast, enjoyed an economic bump of 20% or more, thanks to warmer weather. Since 1961, for example, Norway’s per capita GDP grew an extra 34%, while India lost almost the same amount…. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/04/global-warming-may-boost-economic-inequality]
2019-04-13. Central American Farmers Head to the U.S., Fleeing Climate Change. By Kirk Semple, The New York Times. Excerpt: CORQUÍN, Honduras — The farmer stood in his patch of forlorn coffee plants, their leaves sick and wilted, the next harvest in doubt. Last year, two of his brothers and a sister, desperate to find a better way to survive, abandoned their small coffee farms in this mountainous part of Honduras and migrated north, eventually sneaking into the United States. Then in February, the farmer’s 16-year-old son also headed north, ignoring the family’s pleas to stay. The challenges of agricultural life in Honduras have always been mighty, from poverty and a neglectful government to the swings of international commodity prices. But farmers, agricultural scientists and industry officials say a new threat has been ruining harvests, upending lives and adding to the surge of families migrating to the United States: climate change. …Central America is among the regions most vulnerable to climate change, scientists say. And because agriculture employs much of the labor force — about 28 percent in Honduras alone, according to the World Bank — the livelihoods of millions of people are at stake. Last year, the bank reported that climate change could lead at least 1.4 million people to flee their homes in Mexico and Central America and migrate during the next three decades…. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/13/world/americas/coffee-climate-change-migration.html]
2019-04-11. The Ice Nurseries of the Arctic Are Melting. By Jenessa Duncombe, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Each winter, a cold, relentless wind blows over the northeastern Russian coast toward the sea. The wind pushes sea ice away from land, opening up pockets for new ice to form. The process repeats endlessly, bringing fresh crops of sea ice out to the Arctic Ocean and feeding a slow migration of ice westward toward Greenland. But a study published in Scientific Reports [https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-41456-y] on 2 April reveals that warming temperatures are melting Russia’s coastal “ice nurseries” faster than before. Some 80% of nursery ice melts before it joins the open ocean, compared to 50% before 2000…. [https://eos.org/articles/the-ice-nurseries-of-the-arctic-are-melting]
2019-04-11. How Big Business Is Hedging Against the Apocalypse. By Jesse Barron, The New York Times. Excerpt: Rex Tillerson …explaining how the world worked…May 2015, in the middle of an oil-price crash, and Exxon Mobil’s earnings had fallen 46 percent compared with the same quarter the year before. But Tillerson, then Exxon’s chief executive, told his shareholders to be confident in the future. Oil and gas furnished billions of people, including the very poor, with cheap, reliable fuel — a fact not easily negated by a weak fiscal quarter. …Later that morning, a Capuchin Franciscan friar rose to speak. …Michael Crosby belonged to a tight circle of religious leaders who bought stock in public companies in the hope of exerting a moral influence on them. …He submitted a motion to appoint a climate-change expert to Exxon’s board, …he laid into Tillerson for having uttered “not one word or syllable” about climate change. …Three years later, an Irishman named Declan Flanagan, chief executive of the renewables company Lincoln Clean Energy, was addressing his own shareholders in Copenhagen when he delivered a cryptic announcement. Lincoln, he said, was going to build a solar farm in the Permian Basin — the heart of West Texas oil country — with funding put up by a “blue-chip counterparty.” …“That,” he said in his strong Irish accent, “is Exxon Mobil.” …An unsettling fact of Wall Street today is that some of the same people who accurately predicted the housing bubble are now describing another bubble, whose collapse will make the financial crisis of 2008 look mild. …Because the global economy depends on hydrocarbons, practically every asset in the world relates in some way to oil and gas. …not only oil companies’ stock but practically everything else on the market looks falsely inflated…. [https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/04/11/magazine/climate-change-exxon-renewable-energy.html]
2019-04-11. What Survival Looks Like After the Oceans Rise. By Andrea Frazzetta and Jacopo Pasotti, The New York Times. Excerpt: Standing sometimes waist-deep in seawater on the shores of the Bay of Bengal in Bangladesh, they work to find bricks, dig them out of the sludge and cart them to the side of the road to sell. The job is new, a result of devastating storm surges a little more than a decade ago. In 2007, and then again in 2009, cyclones battered the coastline just south of Kuakata, destroying homes and structures and drowning entire villages. The storms submerged forests of mangroves and left 99 local residents dead. …Despite being responsible for only 0.3 percent of the emissions that cause global warming, Bangladesh is near the top of the Global Climate Risk Index, a ranking of 183 countries and territories most vulnerable to climate change. When scientists and researchers predict how global warming will affect populations, they usually use 20- and 50-year trajectories. For Bangladesh, the effects of climate change are happening now. Cyclones are growing stronger as temperatures rise and are occurring with more frequency. Researchers warn that within a few decades, Bangladesh may lose more than 10 percent of its land to sea-level rise, displacing as many as 18 million people. Decisions to leave coastal communities aren’t really decisions at all. Families leave because there are no other options. There is no work. There are no homes. Over the past decade, an average of 700,000 Bangladeshis a year migrated because of natural disasters, moving to Dhaka to live in sprawling slums as climate refugees…. [https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/04/11/magazine/climate-change-bangladesh-scavenging.html]
2019-04-10. Climate Chaos Is Coming — and the Pinkertons Are Ready. By Noah Gallagher Shannon, The New York Times. Excerpt: …According to the World Bank, by 2050 some 140 million people may be displaced by sea-level rise and extreme weather, driving escalations in crime, political unrest and resource conflict. Even if the most conservative predictions about our climate future prove overstated, a 1.5-degree Celsius rise in temperature during the next century will almost certainly provoke chaos, in what experts call climate change’s “threat multiplier”: Displacement begets desperation begets disorder. …it wasn’t difficult to see why a company might consider enhancing its security protocols. …Allan Pinkerton organized his agency in response to the lawlessness of the frontier. …in the early 1850s, a majority of the territories west of the Mississippi remained ungoverned; few towns offered policing, and fewer still had the means to investigate crimes after the fact. Overnight, Pinkerton’s novel methods of “crime detection,” which included infiltrating gangs and developing networks of informants, became the standards of investigation, and his company became a sort of de facto national police force. …for Pinkerton …there’s no real material difference between climate change and any other conflict — as the world grows more predictably dangerous, tactical know-how will simply be more in demand than ever…. [https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/04/10/magazine/climate-change-pinkertons.html]
2019-04-09. The Problem With Putting a Price on the End of the World. By David Leonhardt, The New York Times. Excerpt: On a Saturday afternoon in early December, inside a soaring auditorium on the campus of Stockholm University, William Nordhaus gave the crowning lecture of his half-century career as an economist. The occasion was his acceptance of the Nobel Prize in economics, …. The title of the lecture was “Climate Change: The Ultimate Challenge for Economics.” …The Nobel was a tribute to the originality and influence of his work developing economic models that help people think about how to slow climate change. …Climate change is a threat like no other. Fatal heat waves, droughts, wildfires and severe hurricanes are all becoming more common, and they are almost certain to accelerate. Avoiding horrific damage, as a United Nations panel of scientists recently concluded, will require changes in human behavior that have “no documented historic precedent.” In his speech, Nordhaus explained that people use too much dirty energy because they don’t have to pay the true costs it imposes on the world: pollution-related health problems in the short term and climate change in the long term. Economists refer to these costs as externalities, because they are not naturally part of the market system. “We have a climate problem,” Nordhaus said, “because markets fail, and fail badly, in the energy sector.” The only solution, he argued, was for governments to raise the price of emissions. Economists and other policy experts have long focused on this idea of carbon pricing. …But if the idea’s straightforwardness is its great economic advantage, it has also proved to be its political flaw. …across the industrialized world, the middle class and the poor have been struggling with slow income growth. As Nordhaus acknowledged in his speech, curbing dirty energy by raising its price “may be good for nature, but it’s not actually all that attractive to voters to reduce their income.”…. [https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/04/09/magazine/climate-change-politics-economics.html]
2019-04-02. North Atlantic Circulation Patterns Reveal Seas of Change. By Mary Caperton Morton, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), involving the deep-ocean mixing of warm, salty waters with colder, fresher waters in the North Atlantic, is a major influencer of Earth’s climate. As warm tropical currents journey north, pushed by prevailing winds, they cool, become denser, and sink in a process known as overturning. Historically, most models have shown that the bulk of this overturning occurs in the Labrador Sea, west of Greenland. But a new study indicates that the eastern North Atlantic between Greenland and Scotland may actually be the dominant overturning venue. … As the overturning of seawater in the North Atlantic changes, so does the ocean’s ability to absorb and store atmospheric carbon, Lozier says. “Since the Industrial Revolution, the oceans have taken up about a third of the anthropogenic carbon dioxide humans have produced.” Half of that carbon dioxide is now sequestered in the deep ocean, including the North Atlantic. “If the overturning slows down, the ocean will take up less anthropogenic carbon, which would leave more anthropogenic carbon in the atmosphere, which could trigger rapid warming.”… [https://eos.org/articles/north-atlantic-circulation-patterns-reveal-seas-of-change]
2019-03-07. Rain is melting Greenland’s ice, even in winter, raising fears about sea level rise. By Alex Fox, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Rising global temperatures are making Greenland feel a bit more like the United Kingdom—and that’s bad news for the ice sheet that covers the massive arctic island. Rain is becoming more frequent, melting ice and setting the stage for far more melt in the future, according to a new study. Even more disturbing, researchers say, is that raindrops are pockmarking areas of the ice sheet even in the dead of winter and that as the climate warms, those areas will expand. …Each year, the hot knife of climate change excises 270 billion tons of ice from Greenland’s more than 1.7-million-square-kilometer ice sheet. Between 1992 and 2011, all that lost ice raised global sea level roughly 7.5 millimeters. Roughly half of the ice loss in that period occurred at the ice sheet’s edge in the form of icebergs cleaving from glaciers and thundering into the sea. But in recent years, satellite monitoring has revealed that 70% of Greenland’s contributions to sea level rise has come from meltwater, not ice. Since melting on the surface of the ice sheet came to dominate in 2011, Greenland’s annual contribution to global sea level rise has doubled. Warming has driven this acceleration and, over the past 30 years or so, average air temperatures at the ice sheet warmed by as much as 1.8°C in summer, and up to 3°C in winter. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/03/rain-melting-greenland-s-ice-even-winter-raising-fears-about-sea-level-rise]
2019-03-01. The Dangers of Glacial Lake Floods: Pioneering and Capitulation. By Jane Palmer, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: In 1941, an ice avalanche triggered what is known as a glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) from Lake Palcacocha. …The flood killed an estimated 4,000 people in Huaraz, a third of its population at the time. Such GLOFs have plagued glaciated mountain ranges in places such as Canada, Italy, Nepal, and Bhutan, but the world’s most fatal GLOFs have occurred in Peru. …Peruvian geologist Jorge Broggi deduced that the hazards developed after the end of the Little Ice Age, around 1850. The glacial lakes began to form as the climate naturally warmed, and as they grew, the stress on their natural dams of rocks and debris, or moraines, which sometimes have a core of melting ice, also grew. In 1951, when the Peruvian government realized the full extent of the problem, it launched the Control Commission of Cordillera Blanca Lakes to assess the situation and mitigate lakes that posed a threat. Over the next several decades, led by this commission or other official bodies, Peru drained or built dams at almost 40 lakes in the Cordillera Blanca. …In the past few decades, however, the increasingly warming climate has caused the volume of the glacial lakes in Cordillera Blanca to expand rapidly. …Consequently, glacial lake hazard mitigation needs to evolve. “While the early efforts of glacial lake mitigation focused on reducing the dangers posed by erodible moraines and high lake levels, anthropogenic climate change is now challenging researchers to take a broader perspective,” said glaciologist John Reynolds, …. That perspective encompasses another growing hazard caused by melting glaciers: water scarcity…. [https://eos.org/features/the-dangers-of-glacial-lake-floods-pioneering-and-capitulation]
2019-03-00. March 2019 Climate Connection (newsletter). By NOAA. Topics… 2018 was 4th hottest year on record for the globe [https://www.noaa.gov/news/2018-was-4th-hottest-year-on-record-for-globe];
Assessing the U.S. Climate in 2018 [https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/news/national-climate-201812];
2018’s Billion Dollar Disasters in Context [https://www.climate.gov/news-features/blogs/beyond-data/2018s-billion-dollar-disasters-context];
El Niño conditions are here [https://www.climate.gov/news-features/blogs/enso/february-2019-enso-update-el-niño-conditions-are-here];
Intense drought in the U.S. Southwest persisted through 2018 and into 2019 [https://www.climate.gov/USdrought2018];
Ice shelves buckle under the weight of meltwater lakes [https://cires.colorado.edu/news/ice-shelves-buckle-under-weight-meltwater-lakes];
Wild weather on the West Coast in February 2019 [https://www.climate.gov/news-features/event-tracker/wild-weather-west-coast-february-2019];
Warming winters across the U.S. [https://www.climate.gov/news-features/blogs/beyond-data/warming-winters-across-united-states];
National Climate Assessment maps [https://www.climate.gov/news-features/featured-images/national-climate-assessment-map-shows-uneven-impact-future-global ;
Bitterly cold extremes on a warming planet: Putting the Midwest’s late January record cold in perspective [https://www.climate.gov/news-features/blogs/beyond-data/bitterly-cold-extremes-warming-planet-putting-midwest’s-late-january]
2019-02-28. Warming oceans are hurting seafood supply—and things are getting worse. By Erik Stokstad, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Marine fish around the world are already feeling the effects of climate change—and some are reeling, according to the first large analysis of recent trends. Rising sea temperatures have reduced the productivity of some fisheries by 15% to 35% over 8 decades, although in other places fish are thriving because warming waters are becoming more suitable. The net effect is that the world’s oceans can’t yield as much sustainable seafood as before, a situation that is likely to worsen as global warming accelerates in the oceans. A silver lining is that the research suggests well-managed fisheries are more resilient in the face of rising temperature, says Rainer Froese, a marine ecologist with the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany, who was not involved in the work. “We have to stop overfishing to let the gene pool survive, so that [the fish] can adapt to climate change,” he says. “We have to give them a break.”… [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/02/warming-oceans-are-hurting-seafood-supply-and-things-are-getting-worse]
See also 2019 March 4 New York Times article Ocean Heat Waves Are Threatening Marine Life [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/04/climate/marine-heat-waves.html].
2019-02-22. Humming Ice Shelf Changes Its Seismic Tune with the Weather. By Terri Cook, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Antarctica is ringed by ice shelves: vast, glacier-fed slabs of floating ice that can stretch hundreds of kilometers from the coastline into the sea. Because of their exposure to both the air above and the seawater below, ice shelves are considered more susceptible to rising global temperatures than either glaciers or continental ice sheets. Recent dramatic examples of ice shelf disintegration, including the collapse of 3,250 square kilometers of the Larsen B ice shelf in 2002 and the ensuing accelerated ice loss in nearby glaciers, have highlighted the potential for widespread ice loss from the southernmost continent. Understanding how Antarctic ice shelves respond to warming temperatures is thus crucial for calculating future global sea level rise, which could affect hundreds of millions of people or more. To investigate how ice shelves respond to atmospheric, oceanic, and other types of forcing, Chaput et al. conducted seismic observations at 34 stations distributed along two Ross ice shelf transects from November 2014 through February 2017. The resulting data revealed an unexpected discovery: a year-round pattern of high-frequency, wind-generated waves—akin to a steady dissonant hum—that are trapped within the upper layers of the shelf’s partially compacted surface…. [https://eos.org/research-spotlights/humming-ice-shelf-changes-its-seismic-tune-with-the-weather]
2019-02-18. Rising Temperatures Reduce Colorado River Flow. By Sarah Stanley, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: The Colorado River flows through seven U.S. states and northern Mexico. Along the way, it provides drinking water to millions of people and irrigates thousands of square kilometers of cropland. However, although annual precipitation in the region increased by about 1% in the past century, the volume of water flowing down the river has dropped by over 15%. While it’s true that so much of the water is diverted on its route to the Gulf of California that it no longer discharges into the ocean, scientists have recently found an additional cause in the reduction in river flow. New research by Xiao et al. examines the causes behind this 100-year decline in natural flow, teasing out the relative contributions of rising temperatures and changes in precipitation. …Rising temperatures can lower flow by increasing the amount of water lost to evaporation from soil and surface water, boosting the amount of water used by plants, lengthening the growing season, and shrinking snowpacks that contribute to flow via meltwater. …The researchers found that rising temperatures are responsible for 53% of the long-term decline in the river’s flow, with changing precipitation patterns and other factors accounting for the rest. The sizable effects of rising temperatures are largely due to increased evaporation and water uptake by plants, as well as by sublimation of snowpacks…. [https://eos.org/research-spotlights/rising-temperatures-reduce-colorado-river-flow]
2019-02-12. Here’s how your city’s climate will change by 2080, if you’re in Canada or the United States. By Sid Perkins, Science Magazine. Expert: Climate change is a hard thing to imagine, especially 60 years into the future. With that in mind, environmental scientists have developed a web-based app that can tell people living in one of 540 cities in Canada or the continental United States how their homes will transform by the year 2080—and which modern-day city it is most likely to resemble. …In the lower-emissions scenario, about 70% of the cities have a “future climate sister city,” but it’s typically hundreds of kilometers away and farther south, the researchers report today in Nature Communications [https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-08540-3]. For example, residents of Washington, D.C., can expect a climate in the 2080s that resembles the current climate in Paragould, Arkansas, about 132 kilometers northwest of Memphis, Tennessee. …If you want to figure out what the climate in your city will be like in the 2080s, the app is available here. [https://fitzlab.shinyapps.io/cityapp/ 0]…. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/02/here-s-how-your-city-s-climate-will-change-2080-if-you-re-canada-or-united-states]
2019-02-07. This spud’s for you: A breeding revolution could unleash the potential of potato. By Erik Stokstad, Science Magazine. For GSS Climate Change chapter 8 and Losing Biodiversity chapter 4. Excerpt: THE SACRED VALLEY OF THE INCAS IN PERU—On a bleak, brown hill here, David Ellis examines a test plot of potato plants and shakes his head. “They’re dead, dead, dead,” he says. Pests and lack of rain have laid waste to all 17 varieties that researchers had planted. It is a worrying sign for Ellis, the now-retired director of the gene bank at the International Potato Center (CIP) in Lima. People have grown potatoes in this rugged stretch of the Andes for thousands of years. In recent years, that task has gotten tougher, in part because of climate change. Drought and frost are striking more often. The rains come later, shortening the growing season. And warmer temperatures have allowed moths and weevils to encroach from lower elevations. To find potatoes that can cope with those challenges, researchers and Peruvian farmers are testing dozens of the 4350 locally cultivated varieties, or landraces, kept in CIP’s refrigerated storage. The plants in this plot fell short. “Native landraces evolved over time,” Ellis says. But, he says, climate change is happening “too fast for these varieties to adapt.”… [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/02/spud-s-you-breeding-revolution-could-unleash-potential-potato]
2019-02-08. The Deep Blue Sea Is Getting Bluer. By Jenessa Duncombe, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Ocean color will intensify in the next century due to global warming altering phytoplankton communities. The ocean’s aquamarines and seafoam greens are shifting as climate change warms the planet. A study [https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-08457-x] published Monday in Nature Communications predicts that the colors of the world’s oceans will intensify by the end of this century as changes in phytoplankton patterns alter light reflection. Water molecules absorb all visible light except for those at blue wavelengths, making the ocean appear blue. When phytoplankton float near the surface, they change how incoming light reflects. Typically, the greener the ocean water, the more phytoplankton occur there. …“If climate change shifts one community of phytoplankton to another, that will also change the types of food webs they can support.”… [https://eos.org/articles/the-deep-blue-sea-is-getting-bluer]
2019-02-05. Climate Change Could Leave Thousands of Lakes Ice-Free. By Nadja Popovich, The New York Times. Excerpt: Global warming is melting glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica, but for millions of people, ice is vanishing closer to home as lakes lose their winter cover. In a study [https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-018-0393-5.epdf] published last week in the journal Nature Climate Change, scientists for the first time quantified the effects of rising temperatures on ice cover across 1.4 million lakes in the Northern Hemisphere. They found that, from Wisconsin to Japan, thousands of lakes that used to freeze reliably every winter already see some years without ice, and that “an extensive loss of lake ice will occur within the next generation.” The vanishing ice will affect cold-water ecosystems and be felt by millions of people who live near northern lakes, the study said…. [https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/02/05/climate/melting-lake-ice-global-warming.html]
2019-01-31. Ocean heat waves like the Pacific’s deadly ‘Blob’ could become the new normal. By Warren Cornwall, Science Magazine. Excerpt: When marine biologist Steve Barbeaux first saw the data in late 2017, he thought it was the result of a computer glitch. How else could more than 100 million Pacific cod suddenly vanish from the waters off of southern Alaska?mWithin hours, however, Barbeaux’s colleagues at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Seattle, Washington, had confirmed the numbers. No glitch. The data, collected by research trawlers, indicated cod numbers had plunged by 70% in 2 years, essentially erasing a fishery worth $100 million annually. There was no evidence that the fish had simply moved elsewhere. And as the vast scale of the disappearance became clear, a prime suspect emerged: “The Blob.” In late 2013, a huge patch of unusually warm ocean water, roughly one-third the size of the contiguous United States, formed in the Gulf of Alaska and began to spread. …By the summer of 2015, The Blob had more than doubled in size, stretching across more than 4 million square kilometers of ocean, from Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula to Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. Water temperatures reached 2.5°C above normal in many places…. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/01/ocean-heat-waves-pacific-s-deadly-blob-could-become-new-normal]
2019-01-29. U.S. Midwest Freezes, Australia Burns: This Is the Age of Weather Extremes. By Somini Sengupta, The New York Times. Excerpt: In Chicago, officials warned about the risk of almost instant frostbite on what could be the city’s coldest day ever. Warming centers opened around the Midwest. And schools and universities closed throughout the region as rare polar winds streamed down from the Arctic. At the same time, on the other side of the planet, wildfires raged in Australia’s record-breaking heat. Soaring air-conditioner use overloaded electrical grids and caused widespread power failures. The authorities slowed and canceled trams to save power. Labor leaders called for laws that would require businesses to close when temperatures reached hazardous levels: nearly 116 degrees Fahrenheit, or 47 Celsius, as was the case last week in Adelaide, the capital of South Australia. …“When something happens — whether it’s a cold snap, a wildfire, a hurricane, any of those things — we need to think beyond what we have seen in the past and assume there’s a high probability that it will be worse than anything we’ve ever seen,” said Crystal A. Kolden, an associate professor at the University of Idaho, who specializes in wildfires and who is currently working in Tasmania during one of the state’s worst fire seasons. Consider these recent examples: Heat records were toppled from Norway to Algeria last year. In parts of Australia, a drought has gone on so long that a child in kindergarten will hardly have seen rain in her lifetime. And California saw its most ruinous wildfires ever in 2018, triggering a bankruptcy filing this week by the state’s largest utility, Pacific Gas and Electric. …As for the extremely low temperatures this week in parts of the United States, they stand in sharp contrast to the trend toward warmer winters. They may also be a result of warming, strangely enough. Emerging research suggests that a warming Arctic is causing changes in the jet stream and pushing polar air down to latitudes that are unaccustomed to them and often unprepared. Hence this week’s atypical chill over large swaths of the Northeast and Midwest…. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/29/climate/global-warming-extreme-weather.html]
2019-01-21. Greenland’s Melting Ice Nears a ‘Tipping Point,’ Scientists Say. By John Schwartz, The New York Times. Excerpt: Greenland’s enormous ice sheet is melting at such an accelerated rate that it may have reached a “tipping point,” and could become a major factor in sea-level rise around the world within two decades, scientists said in a study published on Monday. The Arctic is warming at twice the average rate of the rest of the planet…. The authors found that ice loss in 2012, more than 400 billion tons per year, was nearly four times the rate in 2003. …The study is the latest in a series of papers published this month suggesting that scientific estimates of the effects of a warming planet have been, if anything, too conservative. Just a week ago, a separate study [https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2019/01/08/18128831] of ice loss in Antarctica found that the continent is contributing more to rising sea levels than previously thought. Another new analysis suggested that the oceans are warming far faster than earlier estimates [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/10/climate/ocean-warming-climate-change.html]. Warming oceans are currently the leading cause of sea-level rise, since water expands as it warms. Researchers said these findings underscored the need for action to curb emissions of planet-warming gases and avoid the worst effects of climate change. …Current projections say that if the planet warms by two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over preindustrial times, average sea levels will rise by more than two feet, and 32 million to 80 million people will be exposed to coastal flooding…. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/21/climate/greenland-ice.html]
2019-01-18. Brace for the Polar Vortex; It May Be Visiting More Often. By Kendra Pierre-Louis, The New York Times. Excerpt: …After a month of relatively mild winter weather, the Midwest and the East Coast are bracing for what is becoming a seasonal rite of passage: the polar vortex. The phrase has become synonymous with frigid temperatures that make snowstorms more likely. A blast of arctic air heralded the vortex’s arrival on Monday. If it seems as if these polar freezes are happening more often, you’re right. “They are definitely becoming more common,” said Jennifer Francis, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center. “There have been a couple of studies [https://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/BAMS-D-16-0259.1] that have documented that.” …Colder temperatures have been arriving later in winter over the past few years, according to Judah Cohen, a climatologist at Atmospheric and Environmental Research, a weather risk assessment firm. But because of changes to the polar vortex, when wintry weather does arrive, it’s often more intense — witness the four back-to-back nor’easters last year. …Some researchers, including Dr. Francis and Dr. Cohen, say they suspect that the more frequent polar vortex breakdowns can be tied to climate change. …not all parts of the earth are warming at the same rate; the Arctic is warming at a rate twice as fast as the world average. That warming has led to historically low levels of sea ice in the region. The melting sea ice, particularly in an area near the Barents and Kara Seas off Siberia, may be linked to the changes in the polar vortex…. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/18/climate/polar-vortex-2019.html]
2019-01-17. Climate Change’s Giant Impact on the Economy: 4 Key Issues. By Neil Irwin, The New York Times.Excerpt: Many of the big economic questions in coming decades will come down to just how extreme the weather will be, and how to value the future versus the present. …A government report in November raised the prospect that a warmer planet could mean a big hit to G.D.P. in the coming decades. …Consider three possible ways that climate change could exact an economic cost:
- A once-fertile agricultural area experiences hotter weather and drought, causing its crop yields to decrease.
- A road destroyed by flooding because of rising seas and more frequent hurricanes must be rebuilt.
- An electrical utility spends hundreds of millions of dollars to build a more efficient power grid because the old one could not withstand extreme weather.
The farmland’s yield decline is a permanent loss of the economy’s productive capacity…
The road rebuilding might be expensive, but at least that money is going to pay people and businesses to do their work. The cost for society over all is that the resources that go to rebuilding the road are not available for something else that might be more valuable. That’s a setback, but it’s not a permanent reduction in economic potential like the less fertile farmland….
By contrast, new investment in the power grid could yield long-term benefits in energy efficiency and greater reliability…. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/17/upshot/how-to-think-about-the-costs-of-climate-change.html]
2019-01-16. Glaciers Are Retreating. Millions Rely on Their Water. By Henry Fountain, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Glaciers represent the snows of centuries, compressed over time into slowly flowing rivers of ice, up to about a thousand feet thick here in the Tien Shan range and even thicker in other parts of the world. They are never static, accumulating snow in winter and losing ice to melting in summer. But in a warming climate melting outstrips accumulation, resulting in a net loss of ice. The Tuyuksu, which is about a mile and a half long, is getting shorter as well as thinner. When the research station was built in 1957 it was just a few hundred yards from the Tuyuksu’s leading edge, or tongue. Now, reaching the ice requires scrambling on foot for the better part of an hour over piles of boulders and till left as the glacier retreated. In six decades, it has lost more than half a mile. What’s happening in the mountains of southeastern Kazakhstan is occurring all over the globe. …Across the Tibetan Plateau and in the Himalayan and Karakoram ranges, the glaciers number in the thousands and the people who rely on them in the hundreds of millions, along rivers like the Indus in Pakistan, the Ganges and Brahmaputra in India, the Yellow and Yangtze in China and the Mekong in Southeast Asia. Eventually these rivers will be affected by glacial retreat, said Arthur Lutz, a hydrologist with FutureWater, a Dutch water-resources consulting firm…. [https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/01/15/climate/melting-glaciers-globally.html]
2019-01-14. East Antarctica’s ice is melting at an unexpectedly rapid clip, new study suggests. By Alex Fox, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Antarctica’s melting ice, which has caused global sea levels to rise by at least 13.8 millimeters over the past 40 years, was long thought to come from primarily one place: the unstable West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Now, scientists studying 40 years of satellite images have found that the East Antarctic Ice Sheet—considered largely insulated from the ravages of climate change—may also be melting at an accelerating rate. Those results, at odds with a large 2018 study, could dramatically reshape projections of sea level rise if confirmed. … East Antarctica’s ice sheet holds 10 times the ice of its rapidly melting neighbor to the west. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet, whose base is below sea level, has long been considered the most vulnerable to collapse. With an assist from gravity, a deep current of warm water slips beneath the sheet, melting it from below until it becomes a floating shelf at risk of breaking away. In contrast, frigid temperatures and a base mostly above sea level are thought to keep the East Antarctic Ice Sheet relatively safe from warm water intrusion. A collaboration of more than 60 scientists last year, published in Nature, estimated that the East Antarctic Ice Sheet actually added about 5 billion tons of ice each year from 1992 to 2017…. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/01/east-antarctica-s-ice-melting-unexpectedly-rapid-clip-new-study-suggests]
2019-01-10. Ocean Warming Is Accelerating Faster Than Thought, New Research Finds. By Kendra Pierre-Louis, The New York Times. Excerpt: Scientists say the world’s oceans are warming far more quickly than previously thought, a finding with dire implications for climate change because almost all the excess heat absorbed by the planet ends up stored in their waters. A new analysis, published Thursday in the journal Science [http://science.sciencemag.org/content/363/6423/128.summary], found that the oceans are heating up 40 percent faster on average than a United Nations panel estimated five years ago. The researchers also concluded that ocean temperatures have broken records for several straight years. “2018 is going to be the warmest year on record for the Earth’s oceans,” said Zeke Hausfather, an energy systems analyst at the independent climate research group Berkeley Earth and an author of the study. “As 2017 was the warmest year, and 2016 was the warmest year.” As the planet has warmed, the oceans have provided a critical buffer. They have slowed the effects of climate change by absorbing 93 percent of the heat trapped by the greenhouse gases humans pump into the atmosphere. …surging water temperatures are already killing off marine ecosystems, raising sea levels and making hurricanes more destructive. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/10/climate/ocean-warming-climate-change.html]
2018-12-18. Discovery of recent Antarctic ice sheet collapse raises fears of a new global flood. By Paul Voosen, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Some 125,000 years ago, during the last brief warm period between ice ages, Earth was awash. Temperatures during this time, called the Eemian, were barely higher than in today’s greenhouse-warmed world. Yet proxy records show sea levels were 6 to 9 meters higher than they are today, drowning huge swaths of what is now dry land. Scientists have now identified the source of all that water: a collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Glaciologists worry about the present-day stability of this formidable ice mass. Its base lies below sea level, at risk of being undermined by warming ocean waters, and glaciers fringing it are retreating fast. The discovery, teased out of a sediment core and reported last week at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Washington, D.C. [https://agu.confex.com/agu/fm18/meetingapp.cgi/Paper/421418], validates those concerns, providing evidence that the ice sheet disappeared in the recent geological past under climate conditions similar to today’s…. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/12/discovery-recent-antarctic-ice-sheet-collapse-raises-fears-new-global-flood]
2018-12-12. Arctic Undergoing Most Unprecedented Transition in Human History. By Randy Showstack, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: The Arctic continues to undergo dramatic change due to atmospheric and ocean warming, and the region “is no longer returning to the extensively frozen region of recent past decades,” according to the 2018 Arctic Report Card issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at AGU’s Fall Meeting 2018 on Tuesday. …Here are some of the main findings in the report: In 2018, surface air temperatures in the Arctic continued to warm at more than twice the rate relative to the rest of the globe. The year 2018 was the second warmest year on record in the Arctic …second only to 2016. …Arctic sea ice cover, which reached a winter maximum value extent of 14.48 million square kilometers on 17 March 2018, was the second lowest maximum extent in the 39-year record, following 2017. …Older sea ice, which tends to be thicker and more resilient to changes in atmospheric and oceanic heat content compared to younger and thinner ice, declined by 95% between March 1985 and March 2018. …The warming Arctic Ocean may be experiencing an increase in the extent and magnitude of toxic harmful algal blooms, which poses threats to human and ecosystem health. …The abundance of migratory herds of caribou and wild reindeer in circum-Arctic tundra areas has declined 56% in the past 2 decades, dropping from 4.7 million to 2.1 million animals. Five herds in the Alaska-Canada region have declined by more than 90% and show no sign of recovery…. [https://eos.org/articles/arctic-undergoing-most-unprecedented-transition-in-human-history]
2018-11-23. U.S. Climate Report Warns of Damaged Environment and Shrinking Economy. By Coral Davenport and Kendra Pierre-Louis, The New York Times. Excerpt: WASHINGTON — A major scientific report issued by 13 federal agencies on Friday presents the starkest warnings to date of the consequences of climate change for the United States, predicting that if significant steps are not taken to rein in global warming, the damage will knock as much as 10 percent off the size of the American economy by century’s end. The report, which was mandated by Congress and made public by the White House, is notable not only for the precision of its calculations and bluntness of its conclusions, but also because its findings are directly at odds with President Trump’s agenda of environmental deregulation, which he asserts will spur economic growth. …But in direct language, the 1,656-page assessment [https://nca2018.globalchange.gov] lays out the devastating effects of a changing climate on the economy, health and environment, including record wildfires in California, crop failures in the Midwest and crumbling infrastructure in the South. Going forward, American exports and supply chains could be disrupted, agricultural yields could fall to 1980s levels by midcentury and fire season could spread to the Southeast, the report finds. …The report puts the most precise price tags to date on the cost to the United States economy of projected climate impacts: $141 billion from heat-related deaths, $118 billion from sea level rise and $32 billion from infrastructure damage by the end of the century, among others. The findings come a month after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of scientists convened by the United Nations, issued its most alarming and specific report to date about the severe economic and humanitarian crises expected to hit the world by 2040…. See also Eos/AGU article What Specific Costs and Risks Do We Face from Climate Change? [https://eos.org/features/what-specific-costs-and-risks-do-we-face-from-climate-change] …and Science magazine article Climate change poses major threat to United States, new government report concludes [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/11/climate-change-poses-major-threat-us-new-government-report-concludes https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/23/climate/us-climate-report.html
2018-11-13. Warmer Winter Temperatures Linked to Increased Crime. AGU Press Release. Excerpt: Milder winter weather increased regional crime rates in the United States over the past several decades, according to new research that suggests crime is related to temperature’s effect on daily activities. A new study published in GeoHealth, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, finds U.S. crime rates are linked to warmer temperatures, and this relationship follows a seasonal pattern. The findings support the theory that three major ingredients come together to bring about crime: a motivated offender, a suitable target, and the absence of a guardian to prevent a violation of the law. During certain seasons, namely winter, milder weather conditions increase the likelihood these three elements come together, and that violent and property crimes will take place, according to the new study. Unexpectedly, warmer summer temperatures were not linked with higher crime rates…. https://eos.org/scientific-press/warmer-winter-temperatures-linked-to-increased-crime
2018-11-12. Why Is the Gulf of Maine Warming Faster Than 99% of the Ocean? By Laura Poppick, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Late last month, four endangered sea turtles washed ashore in northern Cape Cod, marking an early onset to what has now become a yearly event: the sea turtle stranding season. These turtles—in last month’s case, Kemp’s ridley sea turtles—venture into the Gulf of Maine during warm months, but they can become hypothermic and slow moving when colder winter waters abruptly arrive, making it hard to escape. “They are enjoying the warm water, and then all of a sudden the cold comes, and they can’t get out fast enough,” said Andrew Pershing, an oceanographer at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland, Maine. Thanks to record-breaking summer water temperatures that quickly transition to cooler conditions, an expanded sea turtle stranding season is just one facet of a new normal for the Gulf of Maine, Pershing explained. And this new normal is a striking contrast to prior conditions. This year, the Gulf of Maine has experienced only 45 days with what have not been considered heat wave temperatures. Such persistent warmth, scientists warn, can set off a series of other cascading effects on the marine life and fisheries that have historically defined the culture and economy of this region’s coastline…. https://eos.org/features/why-is-the-gulf-of-maine-warming-faster-than-99-of-the-ocean
2018-11-04. The Rhine, a Lifeline of Germany, Is Crippled by Drought. ByChristopher F. Schuetze, The New York Times. Excerpt: …One of the longest dry spells on record has left parts of the Rhine at record-low levels for months, forcing freighters to reduce their cargo or stop plying the river altogether. …Parts of the Danube and the Elbe — Germany’s other major rivers for transport — are also drying up. Some inland ports are idle, and it is estimated that millions of tons of goods are having to be transported by rail or road. …With castles and vineyards dominating the river banks near Kaub, just five miles from the Lorelei rock, named for a siren who was said to lure sailors to their deaths, it would be easy to forget how important the area is to German commerce. It is roughly halfway between the inland ports of Koblenz and Mainz, and virtually all freight shipped from seaports in the Netherlands and Belgium to the industrial southwest of Germany passes through here. …Gas stations in the region that rely on tankers to deliver fuel from refineries in the Netherlands have run out. …Thousands of fish in the Swiss section of the river died because of the heat and low oxygen levels. …A shipping company, Kübler Spedition, specializes in heavy and oversize freight that cannot be carried for more than a couple of miles on roads. Because ships carrying the heavy components of a wind farm can no longer reach the company’s terminal in Mannheim, Kübler’s storage area lies empty. “It’s effectively stopped the building of the wind farm entirely,” said Robert Mutlu, who runs the terminal. …The Rhine’s flow relies not just on annual rainfall, but also on enormous long-term reserves of water in the Alps. Melting snow and glaciers, as well as Lake Constance, feed the upper parts of the river, but with climate change, those reserves are lower, Dr. Koch said…. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/04/world/europe/rhine-drought-water-level.html
2018-10-16. We’re Covering Heritage Sites Threatened by Climate Change. The List Just Got Longer. By Kendra Pierre-Louis, The New York Times. Excerpt: …some of the most important ancient sites in the Mediterranean region — the Greek city of Ephesus, Istanbul’s historic districts, Venice’s canals — might not survive the era of climate change. Those places joined a list of others that we’ve covered extensively here at The Times. Our series on cultural heritage has looked at the Cedars of Lebanon, the Stone Age villages of Scotland and the statues of Easter Island, all of which are threatened by climate change. In the case of Scotland and Easter Island, the menace is from rising seas. Many civilizations of the past, much like many present-day cities, were centered on coastal areas. As sea levels rise — both because warmer water takes up more space than cooler water, and because of melting glaciers — these heritage sites face sharply increased risks from both coastal erosion and flooding…. See also 2018-10-16 Science Magazine article, Sea-level rise could drown dozens of Mediterranean heritage sites. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/16/climate/climate-change-historic-sites.html
2018-10-15. Heat and Drought Could Threaten World Beer Supply. By James Gorman, The New York Times. Excerpt: If horrific hurricanes and a new, scarier-than-ever United Nations report don’t change attitudes on climate change, perhaps a new report on barley will. A small international team of scientists considered what the effect of climate change would be for this crop in the next 80 years, and they are raising an alarm they hope will pierce the din of political posturing. They are predicting a beer shortage…. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/15/science/drought-beer-climate.html
2018-09-19. Millions More Americans Face Flood Risks Than Previously Thought. By Oliver Wing, Paul Bates, Christopher Sampson, Andrew Smith, Joseph Fargione, and Kris Johnson, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Over the past week, the United States saw floodwaters rise near the coast of North Carolina in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. Swollen rivers have effectively cut off Wilmington, a city of some 119,000 residents, and residents in surrounding regions are being ordered to evacuate as rivers continue to rise and test the strength of dams. Thus far, the storm has claimed 36 lives. The cost in lives and property damage from Florence will take years to assess; initial estimates suggest that Florence’s damage could reach $30 billion. Add this to last year’s triumvirate of devastating U.S. hurricanes—Harvey, Irma, and Maria—which saw a combined death toll of 3,100 and damages estimated to be $275 billion. Not surprisingly given these events, decision-makers and the American public are focusing on issues related to flooding from hurricanes and other sources. …An understanding of flood risk across the nation, rather than in patches, could lead to fewer surprises akin to Hurricanes Harvey in Texas and Irma in Florida. Such a comprehensive understanding could also assist opponents of continued development in risky areas and ensure that the culture of preparedness FEMA wishes to build becomes a reality across the country…. See also New York Times articles Submerged by Florence, North Carolina’s Rural Towns Fight for Attention and Florence’s Floodwaters Breach Defenses at Duke Energy Plant, Sending Toxic Coal Ash Into River as well as Science Magazine articles Testing and cleaning North Carolina’s water supply post-Florence could prove tricky. A microbiologist explains why, and Florence, Mangkhut bring data and destruction to coastal scientists.
2018-09-11. Puerto Rico’s catastrophic hurricane gave scientists a rare chance to study how tropical forests will fare in a stormier future. By Sarah Amandolare, Science Magazine. Excerpt: PUERTO RICO’S EL YUNQUE NATIONAL FOREST—A year after Hurricane Maria raked Puerto Rico with winds of 250 kilometers per hour and a meter of rain, the island is still struggling to recover. Estimated deaths have risen to shocking levels—nearly 3000—and although power has been almost completely restored, blackouts occur regularly. The wind and flooding also devastated ecosystems as diverse as mangrove swamps and rainforest. As they mend, scientists are watching closely. …Maria and Irma—a hurricane that struck the island a glancing blow just 2 weeks earlier—were the strongest in a century, turning lush forest into ranks of skeletal trees and piles of sticks. Maria also destroyed research infrastructure and blocked access to some experiments for weeks. As scientists get back to work, the devastated forest presents a rare opportunity to explore how tropical forests—and their ability to store carbon—recover from the extreme weather that is becoming more common as the world warms. …Already the researchers have seen hints that as temperatures warm, forests may be slower to recover from damage. Other findings, from a long-term effort here to simulate hurricane damage, suggest more frequent major disturbances could also make forest ecosystems less resilient, in part by causing the downed trees and branches to release their carbon into the air rather than the soil. That could fuel further climate change and extreme weather…. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/09/puerto-rico-s-catastrophic-hurricane-gave-scientists-rare-chance-study-how-tropical
2018-08-29. Algae Bloom in Lake Superior Raises Worries on Climate Change and Tourism. By Christine Hauser, The New York Times. Excerpt: In 19 years of piloting his boat around Lake Superior, Jody Estain had never observed the water change as it has this summer. The lake has been unusually balmy and cloudy, with thick mats of algae blanketing the shoreline. “I have never seen it that warm,” said Mr. Estain, a former Coast Guard member who guides fishing, cave and kayak tours year-round. “Everybody was talking about it.” …Scientists generally agree that algae blooms are getting worse and more widespread, and are exacerbated by the warmer water, heat waves and extreme weather associated with climate change. They are also intensified by human activity, such as from farm and phosphorus runoff, leakage from sewer systems, and other pollution. The problems that algae blooms pose to fresh and marine waters have been propelled to the forefront in recent years by high-profile events like the shutdown of the water supply in Toledo, Ohio, in 2014 after toxic algae formed over the city’s water-intake pipe in Lake Erie, as well as the production of a toxin by a species of algae off the West Coast in 2015…. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/29/science/lake-superior-algae-toxic.html
2018-08-29. Why Are Puffins Vanishing? The Hunt for Clues Goes Deep (Into Their Burrows). By John Schwartz, The New York Times. Excerpt: Overfishing, hunting and pollution are putting pressure on the birds, but climate change may prove to be the biggest challenge. … The birds have been in precipitous decline, especially since the 2000s, both in Iceland and across many of their Atlantic habitats. The potential culprits are many: fickle prey, overfishing, pollution. Scientists say that climate change is another underlying factor that is diminishing food supplies and is likely to become more important over time. And the fact that puffins are tasty, and thus hunted as game here, hardly helps. … Around Iceland, the puffins have suffered because of the decline of their favorite food, silvery sand eels, which dangle from the parents’ beaks as they bring them to their young. That collapse correlates to a rise in sea surface temperatures that Dr. Hansen has been monitoring for years. …Between the 1965-1995 cold cycle and the current warm cycle, Dr. Hansen said, winter temperature records show about one degree Celsius of additional warming — a seemingly small amount, but disastrous for the sand eels. His theory, he said, is this: “If you increase temperatures one degree, you’re changing their growth rates and their ability to survive the winter”… https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/08/29/climate/puffins-dwindling-iceland.html
2018-08-23. The Looming Coastal Real Estate Bust. By Pamela Worth, Catalyst, Union of Concerned Scientists. Excerpt: A new UCS analysis calculates the threat rising seas pose to the US housing market. …climate change is causing sea levels to rise at an accelerating rate, which means many coastal properties are at risk of chronic high-tide flooding in the near future. Flooded properties will lose value and, given how widespread the problem is, likely trigger significant deflation in real estate values in many coastal communities, creating problems not just for homeowners but also for mortgage lenders, insurers, real estate developers and investors, and even for communities’ tax bases. Furthermore, while past crashes in the housing market have tended to be temporary, sea level rise is only getting worse under current conditions. For a better sense of what to expect, the UCS team examined information on coastal homes and commercial properties provided by the real estate company Zillow,* and overlaid these data with previous UCS analysis of time frames for chronic flooding in US coastal communities. The results are published in the new UCS report Underwater: Rising Seas, Chronic Floods, and the Implications for US Coastal Real Estate…. https://www.ucsusa.org/sm18-looming-coastal-real-estate-bust#.W4DatZNKiIY]
2018-08-22. Climate change is making trees bigger, but weaker. By Lakshmi Supriya, Science Magazine. Excerpt: As global temperatures rise, trees around the world are experiencing longer growing seasons, sometimes as much as three extra weeks a year. All that time helps trees grow faster. But a study of the forests of Central Europe suggests the higher temperatures—combined with pollution from auto exhaust and farms—are making wood weaker, resulting in trees that break more easily and lumber that is less durable. …For the past 100 years, trees have been experiencing growth spurts in temperate regions from Maryland to Finland, to Central Europe, where the growth rate of beech and spruce has sped up nearly 77% since 1870. Assuming wood is just as dense today, those gains would mean more timber for building, burning, and storing carbon captured from the atmosphere. …But Hans Pretzsch, a forest scientist at the Technical University of Munich in Germany, and his colleagues wondered whether the quality of the wood has changed. …They found that in all four species, wood density has decreased by 8% to 12%, they report online in Forest Ecology and Management. …As the density of the samples dropped, so did their carbon content, by about 50%. …But Pekka Kauppi, an environmental scientist at the University of Helsinki, says another factor more than makes up for the climate impact: the faster-growing forests. “The negative change of wood density is by far less important than the positive change” of a global turnaround from shrinking to expanding forests, he says…. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/08/climate-change-making-trees-bigger-weaker
2018-08-08. Dinosaur-Killing Asteroid Impact Made Huge Dead Zones in Oceans. By Lucas Joel, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: About 66 million years ago, an asteroid roughly 10 kilometers wide hit Earth in what is today the Gulf of Mexico. It brought annihilation: All the dinosaurs except for the birds went extinct; forests around the planet vanished temporarily, killing off all bird species that lived in trees; dust and other aerosols blocked the Sun, and global temperatures took a nosedive. The world plunged into a state analogous to nuclear winter. Another fallout effect of the impact, according to new work, was a depletion of oxygen in the oceans triggered by rapid global warming following the impact and nuclear winter. Such anoxia, the researchers behind the work report, devastated marine life. What’s more, this episode of anoxia may have parallels to the rapid global warming and resulting ocean anoxia being wrought by human-driven climate change today. “The global warming following the impact is one of the most rapid warmings in Earth’s history,” said Johan Vellekoop, a geologist at KU Leuven in Belgium who led the new research. “It’s on a human timescale.” He described that the postimpact warming happened over the course of only a few hundred to a few thousand years….https://eos.org/articles/dinosaur-killing-asteroid-impact-made-huge-dead-zones-in-oceans
2018-08-06. Mojave birds crashed over last century due to climate change. By Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley News. Excerpt: Bird communities in the Mojave Desert straddling the California/Nevada border have collapsed over the past 100 years, most likely because of lower rainfall due to climate change, according to a new University of California, Berkeley, study. A three-year survey of the area, which is larger than the state of New York, concludes that 30 percent, or 39 of the 135 bird species that were there 100 years ago, are less common and less widespread today. The 61 sites surveyed lost, on average, 43 percent of the species that were there a century ago. “Deserts are harsh environments, and while some species might have adaptations that allow them to persist in a desert spot, they are also at their physiological limits,” said Kelly Iknayan, who conducted the survey for her doctoral thesis at UC Berkeley. “California deserts have already experienced quite a bit of drying and warming because of climate change, and this might be enough to push birds over the edge. It seems like we are losing part of the desert ecosystem.” …The loss of bird species has happened even though much of the Mojave Desert is protected national park or preserve, including Death Valley National Park, one of the nation’s largest. “This is a shot across the bow of our nation’s national jewels, telling us that climate change is already having an adverse impact even in our largest national parks and wilderness areas, and that we have got to reduce dependence on fossil fuels by smartly employing green energy,” said Steven Beissinger, senior author of the study and a UC Berkeley professor of environmental science, policy and management…. http://news.berkeley.edu/2018/08/06/mojave-birds-crashed-over-last-century-due-to-climate-change/]
2018-08-04. Scorching Summer in Europe Signals Long-Term Climate Changes. By Alissa J. Rubin, The New York Times. Excerpt: In Northern Europe, this summer feels like a modern-day version of the biblical plagues. Cows are practically dying of thirst in Switzerland, fires are gobbling up timber in Sweden, the majestic Dachstein glacier is melting in Austria. In London, stores are running out of fans and air-conditioners. In Greenland, an iceberg may break off a piece so large that it could trigger a tsunami that destroys settlements on shore. Last week, Sweden’s highest peak, Kebnekaise mountain, no longer was in first place after its glacier tip melted. [See “Sweden’s Tallest Peak Shrinks in Record Heat“] Southern Europe is even hotter. Temperatures in Spain and Portugal are expected to reach 105-110 degrees Fahrenheit this weekend. On Saturday, several places in Portugal experienced record highs, and over the past week, two people have died in Spain from the high temperatures, and a third in Portugal. But in the northernmost latitudes, where the climate is warming faster than the global average, temperatures have been the most extreme, according to a study by researchers at Oxford University and the World Weather Attribution network…. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/04/world/europe/europe-heat-wave.html
2018-07-30. ‘Global Greening’ Sounds Good. In the Long Run, It’s Terrible. By Carl Zimmer, The New York Times. Excerpt: “Global greening” sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Plants need carbon dioxide to grow, and we are now emitting 40 billion tons of it into the atmosphere each year. A number of small studies have suggested that humans actually are contributing to an increase in photosynthesis across the globe. Elliott Campbell, an environmental scientist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and his colleagues last year published a study that put a number to it. Their conclusion: plants are now converting 31 percent more carbon dioxide into organic matter than they were before the Industrial Revolution. Climate change denialists were quick to jump on Dr. Campbell’s research as proof that increased carbon dioxide is making the world a better place. …Dr. Campbell …feels [they] are drawing the wrong lessons from his research. Here are four reasons he believes nobody should be celebrating “global greening.” More Photosynthesis Doesn’t Mean More Food …Extra Carbon Dioxide Can Make Plants Less Nutritious …More Plants Won’t Prevent Climate Change …Global Greening Won’t Last Forever …As temperatures rise and rainfall patterns change, plants may stop soaking up extra carbon dioxide…. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/30/science/climate-change-plants-global-greening.html
2018-07-30. How Record Heat Wreaked Havoc on Four Continents. By Somini Sengupta, Tiffany May and Zia ur-Rehman, The New York Times. Excerpt: Expect more. That’s the verdict of climate scientists to the record-high temperatures this spring and summer in vastly different climate zones. The contiguous United States had its hottest month of May and the third-hottest month of June. Japan was walloped by record triple-digit temperatures, killing at least 86 people in what its meteorological agency bluntly called a “disaster.” And weather stations logged record-high temperatures on the edge of the Sahara and above the Arctic Circle. Is it because of climate change? Scientists with the World Weather Attribution project concluded in a study released Friday that the likelihood of the heat wave currently baking Northern Europe is “more than two times higher today than if human activities had not altered climate.”… https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/30/climate/record-heat-waves.html
2018-07-27. ‘Furnace Friday:’ Ill-Equipped for Heat, Britain Has a Meltdown. By Ceylan Yeginsu, The New York Times. Excerpt: LONDON — To the casual observer, it may seem as if Britain is completely unprepared to deal with long spells of scorching-hot weather. The casual observer would be mostly right. The monthlong heat wave has broken records, spawned wildfires in Wales and England, spurred delays in the transportation system and given birth to names like “Furnace Friday,” as Britons tried to find ways to describe this puzzling pain. “Shops are out of fans, ice, sun cream, ice cream, and there’s a water shortage that has left our beautiful, lush parks all parched and yellow,” said Lucy Thornton…. Summer started out with unusually good weather: The rain stopped, the skies cleared, and the sun came out. Some Britons were so delighted that they canceled vacations abroad. …Then came the heat. Unlike other European countries that are accustomed to coping with hot weather, Britain had what others saw as a meltdown because it generally lacks the infrastructure and resources to deal with the effects of long spells of high temperatures. Air-conditioning is a luxury here. Not only do most homes not have it, but they are built to keep the heat in, experts say. As a result, the demand for fans has skyrocketed, leaving most stores in London out of stock. …On Thursday, a high temperature of 35.1 degrees Celsius, or 95.2 degrees Fahrenheit, was recorded in Surrey, in southern England — the highest in Britain this year. …The heat has also exacerbated London’s toxic air-pollution levels, prompting the mayor, Sadiq Khan, to issue a warning on Thursday….https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/27/world/europe/uk-hot-weather.html
2018-07-25. Heat Waves, More Than Coral Death, May Cause Fish to Flee Reefs. By Ilima Loomis, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: It’s no secret that global warming is bringing dramatic changes to coral reef ecosystems. Scientists have widely believed that habitat loss caused by coral death has the biggest effect on reef fish and invertebrates. …Changes caused by warm water are actually faster and more widespread than the effects of habitat loss. Now new research has found that reef fish populations shift in direct response to the temperature itself and that changes caused by warm water are actually faster and more widespread than the effects of habitat loss. The findings are significant for coral reef protection because a loss of biodiversity, especially of fish that eat harmful algae, could make it harder for reefs to recover from heat waves. “I was surprised by how dramatic the response was over such a short time period,” said Chris Brown, a marine ecologist with the Australian Rivers Institute at Griffith University in Queensland who coauthored the paper…published online on 25 July in Nature….https://eos.org/articles/heat-waves-more-than-coral-death-may-cause-fish-to-flee-reefs
2018-07-24. 5 Ways to Keep Cities Cooler During Heat Waves. By Brad Plumer, The New York Times. Excerpt: Cities can be miserable during heat waves. …the urban heat island effect: A large city’s built-up environment can make it 2 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the surrounding countryside during the day and up to 22 degrees warmer at night. That extra heat is becoming a serious public health problem. On average, 650 Americans die each year from heat-related causes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates, and global warming is only expected to make things worse. …Here’s a look at a few of the more promising ideas that cities around the world have been pursuing to try to beat the heat. (1) Bring Back the Trees, (2) Let the Wind Blow, (3) Paint Roofs White, (4) Get People to Cooling Centers, (5) Prepare for Deadly Blackouts…. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/24/climate/heat-waves-cities.html
2018-07-23. Global warming will increase suicides, researchers say. By Kurtis Alexander, San Francisco Chronicle. Excerpt: More people are likely to take their own lives as the planet warms, say researchers at Stanford University and UC Berkeley in a study published Monday that suggests yet another worrisome impact of climate change. The multidisciplinary research team looked at nearly 1 million suicides in North America and found that hotter temperatures correlate with higher suicide rates. The warming projected through 2050, the group figures, could increase suicide rates by 1.4 percent in the U.S. and 2.3 percent in Mexico over that time, resulting in 21,000 additional deaths in the two nations. The role of heat, the authors said, may be just as significant as other, more well-known drivers of suicide, like economic hardship, which also pushes rates up, and suicide prevention programs and gun control legislation, which tend to push rates down…. https://www.sfchronicle.com/science/article/Global-warming-will-increase-suicides-Stanford-13097245.php
2018-07-20. White Clover Can Be an Annoying Weed. It May Also Hold Secrets to Urban Evolution. By Karen Weintraub, The New York Times. Excerpt: It’s considered a nuisance or a weed when it pops up in luscious suburban lawns, long the bane of gardeners and homeowners…. But …white clover …is one of the most rapidly evolving species of flora, learning quickly how to survive in the toughest of urban environments. Some green thumbs would not be surprised at its stubborn spread, while others might welcome a haven for bee recovery…. According to a study published Tuesday in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, white clover (Trifolium repens) adapts equally well to cities of all sizes — with 20 studied in Ontario, Canada, from London, with a population near 400,000 to tiny Everett, population 1,670. …Cities work as great natural test cases for evolution, said Marc Johnson, the director of the Centre for Urban Environments at the University of Toronto, Mississauga, who led the research. …With climate change advancing and more than half the world’s population living in cities — a figure expected to jump to 70 percent by 2050 — Dr. Johnson said it would be crucial for scientists to figure out how human encroachment and activity affect the plants and animals that surround us…. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/20/science/white-clover-evolution.html
2018-07-18. Climate Change Is Killing the Cedars of Lebanon. By Anne Barnard, the New York Times Beirut bureau chief for the past six years, and Josh Haner, a Times photographer. Excerpt: The ancient cedars of Lebanon have outlived empires and survived modern wars. Clinging to shrinking patches of territory, these trees stand for Lebanon’s resilience. Now, global warming could finish them off. …As temperatures rise, the cedars’ ecological comfort zone is moving up the mountains to higher altitudes, chasing the cold winters they need to reproduce. But here in the Barouk forest, part of the Shouf Biosphere Reserve, south of Beirut, there isn’t much farther up to go. If the climate warms at the rates expected because of the continued rise of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere, some scholars say that by 2100 cedars will be able to thrive only at the northern tip of the country, where the mountains are higher. In the north, though, there are different problems. Lebanon’s densest cedar forest, the Tannourine Cedars Forest Nature Reserve, has lost more than 7 percent of its trees to insect infestations unknown before 1997. They are directly tied to a warming, drying climate….https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/07/18/climate/lebanon-climate-change-environment-cedars.html
2018-07-17. In India, Summer Heat May Soon Be Literally Unbearable. By Somini Sengupta, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Extreme heat can kill, as it did by the dozens in Pakistan in May. But as many of South Asia’s already-scorching cities get even hotter, scientists and economists are warning of a quieter, more far-reaching danger: Extreme heat is devastating the health and livelihoods of tens of millions more. If global greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current pace, they say, heat and humidity levels could become unbearable, especially for the poor. It is already making them poorer and sicker. Like the Kolkata street vendor who squats on his haunches from fatigue and nausea. Like the woman who sells water to tourists in Delhi and passes out from heatstroke at least once each summer. Like the women and men with fever and headaches who fill emergency rooms. Like the outdoor workers who become so weak or so sick that they routinely miss days of work, and their daily wages. …a recent analysis of climate trends in several of South Asia’s biggest cities found that if current warming trends continued, by the end of the century, wet bulb temperatures — a measure of heat and humidity that can indicate the point when the body can no longer cool itself — would be so high that people directly exposed for six hours or more would not survive. …For the country’s National Disaster Management Agency, alarm bells rang after a heat wave struck the normally hot city of Ahmedabad, in western India, in May, 2010, and temperatures soared to 118 degrees Fahrenheit, or 48 Celsius: It resulted in a 43 percent increase in mortality, compared to the same period in previous years, a study by public health researchers found…. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/17/climate/india-heat-wave-summer.html
2018-07-03. Narwhals, walruses are most at risk from booming Arctic ship traffic. By Frankie Schembri, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Melting sea ice means more for whales and polar bears than simply habitat loss. A new study suggests that a dramatic jump in Arctic shipping traffic, thanks to longer open-water seasons, could put a host of Arctic-dwelling marine mammals at risk. As summer sea ice coverage retreats, shipping routes such as the Northwest Passage have become ice-free during warmer months, boosting the number of seagoing vessels by three-fold in some regions. With some projections suggesting the Arctic’s summer sea ice could vanish by 2040, such traffic is only expected to balloon further. The more ships that pass through, the more likely mammals are to be struck, stressed by underwater noise, or have their daily activities interrupted. To determine which animals are most vulnerable, researchers looked at 80 populations of seven species, including belugas, narwhals, bearded seals, and polar bears. For each population, they computed what they called a “vulnerability score,” based on two factors: how major shipping routes will likely overlap with each group’s habitat and how sensitive each population is to vessel traffic. Sensitivity scores were based on data about animal-ship collisions, noise disruptions, and how current ship traffic interferes with daily activities like mating, migrating, and foraging for food. Narwhal populations had the highest average vulnerability scores, followed by walruses, bowhead whales, and belugas, …. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/07/narwhals-walruses-are-most-risk-booming-arctic-ship-traffic
2018-06-21. How the snowshoe hare is losing its white winter coat. By Elizabeth Pennisi, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Like the iconic arctic fox, the snowshoe hare dons white fur for the winter—a good camouflage in the snow. But as the climate warms, the hares are increasingly ditching their winter wardrobes and keeping the brown fur they sport during the rest of the year. Now, a new study shows how: by borrowing a gene from a jackrabbit, one of their long-eared cousins. To find out how snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus) maintain their summertime pelage, scientists sequenced the genomes of “winter white” and “winter brown” hares and compared them with the genomes of several relatives, including the black-tailed jackrabbit (L. californicus). They quickly realized that the black-tailed jackrabbit, which doesn’t undergo a winter wardrobe switch, must have mated multiple times with the winter browns. One key souvenir from that mating: a jackrabbit version of agouti, the gene that normally revs up its activity and turns snowshoe fur white in the winter, the researchers report today in Science. Hares carrying this borrowed gene are unable to turn white…. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/06/how-snowshoe-hare-losing-its-white-winter-coat
2018-06-18. Underwater: Rising Seas, Chronic Floods, and the Implications for US Coastal Real Estate (2018). By Union of Concerned Scientists. Excerpt: … hundreds of US coastal communities will soon face chronic, disruptive flooding that directly affects people’s homes, lives, and properties. Yet property values in most coastal real estate markets do not currently reflect this risk. And most homeowners, communities, and investors are not aware of the financial losses they may soon face. This analysis looks at what’s at risk for US coastal real estate from sea level rise—and the challenges and choices we face now and in the decades to come…. https://www.ucsusa.org/global-warming/global-warming-impacts/sea-level-rise-chronic-floods-and-us-coastal-real-estate-implications#.WyfCZhJKiIY
2018-06-13. Antarctica Is Melting Three Times as Fast as a Decade Ago. By Kendra Pierre-Louis, The New York Times. Excerpt: Between 60 and 90 percent of the world’s fresh water is frozen in the ice sheets of Antarctica, a continent roughly the size of the United States and Mexico combined. If all that ice melted, it would be enough to raise the world’s sea levels by roughly 200 feet. While that won’t happen overnight, Antarctica is indeed melting, and a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature shows that the melting is speeding up. …The rate at which Antarctica is losing ice has tripled since 2007, according to the latest available data. The continent is now melting so fast, scientists say, that it will contribute six inches (15 centimeters) to sea-level rise by 2100. …“Around Brooklyn you get flooding once a year or so, but if you raise sea level by 15 centimeters then that’s going to happen 20 times a year,” said Andrew Shepherd, a professor of earth observation at the University of Leeds and the lead author of the study…. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/13/climate/antarctica-ice-melting-faster.html
2018-06-06. Hurricanes Are Lingering Longer. That Makes Them More Dangerous. By Kendra Pierre-Louis, The New York Times. Excerpt: With wind speeds that can top 180 miles per hour, hurricanes are not usually thought of as slow. Yet tropical cyclones, which include hurricanes, have grown more sluggish since the mid-20th century, researchers say. That may mean bad news for people residing in their path. A study published Wednesday in the journal Nature focuses on what is known as translation speed, which measures how quickly a storm is moving over an area, say, from Miami to the Florida Panhandle. Between 1949 and 2016, tropical cyclone translation speeds declined 10 percent worldwide, the study says. The storms, in effect, are sticking around places for a longer period of time. Lingering hurricanes can be a problem, as Texans learned last year when Hurricane Harvey stalled over the state, causing devastating flooding and billions of dollars of damage. The storm dropped more than 30 inches of rain in two days and nearly 50 inches over four days in some places. A report released this month by Harris County, which includes Houston, found that Harvey’s rainfall exceeded every known flooding event in American history since 1899. The really, really high rainfall totals were because the storm moved so slowly,” said Deanna Hence, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign…. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/06/climate/slow-hurricanes.html
2018-05-23. How More Carbon Dioxide Can Make Food Less Nutritious. By Brad Plumer, The New York Times. Excerpt: WASHINGTON — When scientists want to figure out how climate change might disrupt the world’s food supplies, they often explore how rising temperatures could shift growing seasons or how more frequent droughts could damage harvests. In recent years, though, researchers have begun to realize that the extra carbon dioxide that humanity is pumping into the atmosphere isn’t just warming the planet, it’s also making some of our most important crops less nutritious by changing their chemical makeup and diluting vitamins and minerals. Now, a new study has found that rice exposed to elevated levels of carbon dioxide contains lower amounts of several important nutrients. The potential health consequences are large, given that there are already billions of people around the world who don’t get enough protein, vitamins or other nutrients in their daily diet…. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/23/climate/rice-global-warming.html
2018-05-15. The World Wants Air-Conditioning. That Could Warm the World. By Kendra Pierre-Louis, The New York Times. Excerpt: …as climate change leads to warmer winters, later falls and earlier springs — which can disrupt both food supplies and biological rhythms — American black bears are changing their hibernation routines, scientists say. In some cases, bears are not hibernating at all, staying awake all winter. In others, bears are waking from their slumber too early. For every one degree Celsius that minimum temperatures increase in winter, bears hibernate for six fewer days, a study found last fall. As global temperatures continue to rise, by the middle of the century black bears may stay awake between 15 and 39 more days per year, the study said. …“Over the years we’ve had reports of bears hibernating under people’s decks and in their garages and stuff, so we would have to wake them up in order to get them out,” Dr. Wynn-Grant said. “But until this year, I had never known about awake bears.” …Warmer winters deprive bears of a key signal they need to hibernate: cold weather. …But higher temperatures are not the only reason they may fail to fall asleep. Dr. Johnson’s study, in the Journal of Applied Ecology, found that both higher temperatures and increased food supplies decreased the amount of time bears spent hibernating…. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/04/climate/bears-not-hibernating.html
2018-05-04. As Winter Warms, Bears Can’t Sleep. And They’re Getting Into Trouble. By Kendra Pierre-Louis, The New York Times.
2018-04-26. For Dorothea Lange Fellowship winner, photography begins with trust. By Anne Brice, UC Berkeley News. Excerpt: Rosa Furneaux, a student in UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, is the 2018 winner of the Dorothea Lange Fellowship, an award given to a graduate student or faculty member who has demonstrated outstanding work in documentary photography and a creative plan for future work. Berkeley News spoke with Furneaux, who discussed how the fellowship will allow her to photograph girls and young women in Kenya who have been pushed into sex work by climate change. The project will be a follow-up to her master’s thesis…. http://news.berkeley.edu/2018/04/26/dorothea-lange-fellowship-winner-rosa-furneaux/
2018-04-10. The Benefits and Vulnerabilities of a Warming Europe. By Alexandra Branscombe, AGU-Eos. Excerpt: Europe is a continent with a wide range of ecosystems, climates, attractions, and different countries that draws tourists in both winter and summer seasons. Skiers enjoy winter sports in the Alps, and summer vacationers make their way to the Mediterranean coast. These tourist attractions are just some of the economic sectors that could be threatened in a warming and changing climate, prompting scientists around Europe to band together to evaluate the continent’s environmental vulnerabilities. Scientists from seven research institutions collaborated to investigate how Europe would change with a rise in global surface temperatures of between 1.5°C and 2°C. Their results show a range of impacts that will influence human health, energy demands, and travel in the coming decades. In a new paper, Jacob et al. used a greenhouse gas concentration trajectory from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to complete impact studies on the effects of climate change. Impact studies were done in the areas of electricity demand, summer and winter tourism, and ecosystem production to help guide policy makers to set goals for mitigating climate change. …Overall, the results show that the United Kingdom, Ireland, western Europe, and the Mediterranean region will experience an increased number of heat waves. …warmer summers could deter tourists in the southernmost regions of Spain, Greece, and Italy. …Summer tourism in parts of Western Europe may be favored by climate change…. https://eos.org/research-spotlights/the-benefits-and-vulnerabilities-of-a-warming-europe
2018-03-20. Canada’s Outdoor Rinks Are Melting. So Is a Way of Life. By John Schwartz, The New York Times. Excerpt: WATERLOO, Ontario — Jack Williams and his sister, Cara, sat in their kitchen watching their backyard rink melt. …A rink like the Williamses’ used to offer good skating in this part of Canada from early December into March. But on this late February afternoon, the temperature outside was 55 degrees and rain had fallen steadily all day. …Mr. Williams is finding it hard to maintain the ice in a warming world. “There’s a huge difference between when I grew up and was skating outside, and the last five years of skating out here,” he said. …Climate change is warming the Northern Hemisphere rapidly, largely because of the greenhouse gases that humans have put into the atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial age. …Mr. McLeman, with Colin Robertson, both associate professors of geography at Wilfrid Laurier, created Rink Watch, a citizen science project that has enlisted more than 1,500 backyard rink owners like Mr. Williams — about 80 percent of them in Canada — to report skating conditions on a daily basis. …Climate change does not mean the immediate end of cold weather, as recent nor’easters have shown, but it is putting a squeeze on outdoor skating, a deep part of this country’s cultural identity. Irregular freezing weather is not enough for a good outdoor rink; consistency is key. At least five days of hard freezing, 14 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, is essential to start a rink, Mr. McLeman said. And 23 degrees or lower is required from then on to maintain a good surface. “Any warmer than that and the rink is no longer skateable,” he said. “And that’s sort of on the horizon for us in the second half of the 21st century,” with warmer temperatures and more frequent thaws shrinking the season for outdoor skating. “Is anyone going to put in the effort for just a few, or just a couple, of weeks?”… https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/20/climate/canada-outdoor-rinks.html
2018-03-12. Hotter, Drier, Hungrier: How Global Warming Punishes the World’s Poorest. By Somini Sengupta, The New York Times. Excerpt: KAKUMA, Kenya — These barren plains of sand and stone have always known lean times: times when the rivers run dry and the cows wither day by day, until their bones are scattered under the acacia trees. But the lean times have always been followed by normal times, when it rains enough to rebuild herds, repay debts, give milk to the children and eat meat a few times each week. …Times are changing, though. Northern Kenya …has become measurably drier and hotter, and scientists are finding the fingerprints of global warming. According to recent research, the region dried faster in the 20th century than at any time over the last 2,000 years. Four severe droughts have walloped the area in the last two decades, a rapid succession that has pushed millions of the world’s poorest to the edge of survival. Amid this new normal, a people long hounded by poverty and strife has found itself on the frontline of a new crisis: climate change. More than 650,000 children under age 5 across vast stretches of Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia are severely malnourished. The risk of famine stalks people in all three countries; at least 12 million people rely on food aid, according to the United Nations…. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/12/climate/kenya-drought.html
2018-03-07. Forests Protect the Climate. A Future With More Storms Would Mean Trouble. By Henry Fountain, The New York Times. Excerpt: RIO GRANDE, P.R. — When Hurricane Maria walloped Puerto Rico in September, it ripped off roofs, flooded neighborhoods and all but destroyed the island’s power grid, leaving a humanitarian catastrophe that Puerto Ricans are still recovering from months later. But Maria took its toll on nature as well. Its winds of up to 155 miles an hour wrecked thousands of acres of trees, including much of El Yunque National Forest, 28,000 acres of lush tropical rain forest east of the capital, San Juan. To a group of researchers hiking down a steep, slick mountain trail in El Yunque recently, the destruction was readily apparent. Led by María Uriarte, an ecologist at Columbia University, they were here to study the damage and better understand how an expected increase in extreme weather may undermine the ability of forests to aid the climate….https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/07/climate/forests-storms-climate-change.html
2018-02-26. King Penguins Are Endangered by Warmer Seas. By Karen Weintraub, The New York Times. Excerpt: Their little chicks fast for more than a week while they forage for fish and krill in the waters of the Antarctic polar front, an upwelling where cold, deep seas mix with more temperate seas. And while king penguins, the second largest penguin species, can swim a 400-mile round trip during that time, they are traveling farther and farther from their nests on the islands near Antarctica, endangering their hungry offspring. As with so many other species, warmer temperatures are threatening this population, and a new study published today in Nature Climate Change warns that 70 percent of the 1.6 million estimated breeding pairs of king penguins could be affected in this century…. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/26/science/king-penguins-antarctica-climate-change.html
2018-02-24. Left to Lousiana’s Tides, A Village Fights for Time. By Kevin Sack and John Schwartz, The New York Times. Excerpt: JEAN LAFITTE, LA. — From a Cessna flying 4,000 feet above Louisiana’s coast, what strikes you first is how much is already lost. Northward from the Gulf, slivers of barrier island give way to the open water of Barataria Bay as it billows toward an inevitable merger with Little Lake, its name now a lie. Ever-widening bayous course through what were once dense wetlands, and a cross-stitch of oil field canals stamp the marsh like Chinese characters. Saltwater intrusion, the result of subsidence, sea-level rise and erosion, has killed off the live oaks and bald cypress. …In all, more than 2,000 square miles, an expanse larger than the state of Delaware, have disappeared since 1932. …Jean Lafitte may be just a pinprick on the map, but it is also a harbinger of an uncertain future. As climate change contributes to rising sea levels, threatening to submerge land from Miami to Bangladesh, the question for Lafitte, as for many coastal areas across the globe, is less whether it will succumb than when — and to what degree scarce public resources should be invested in artificially extending its life…. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/02/24/us/jean-lafitte-floodwaters.html
2018-02-06. Floods Are Getting Worse, and 2,500 Chemical Sites Lie in the Water’s Path. By Hiroko Tabuchi, Nadja Popovich, Blacki Migliozzi, Andrew W. Lehren, The New York Times. Excerpt: Anchored in flood-prone areas in every American state are more than 2,500 sites that handle toxic chemicals, a New York Times analysis of federal floodplain and industrial data shows. About 1,400 are located in areas at highest risk of flooding. As flood danger grows — the consequence of a warming climate — the risk is that there will be more toxic spills like the one that struck Baytown, Tex., where Hurricane Harvey swamped a chemicals plant, releasing lye. Or like the ones at a Florida fertilizer plant that leaked phosphoric acid and an Ohio refinery that released benzene. Flooding nationwide is likely to worsen because of climate change, an exhaustive scientific report by the federal government warned last year. Heavy rainfall is increasing in intensity and frequency…. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/02/06/climate/flood-toxic-chemicals.html
2018-01-30. Dangerously Low on Water, Cape Town Now Faces ‘Day Zero’. By Norimitsu Onishi and Somini Sengupta, The New York Times. Excerpt: The government cautions that the Day Zero threat will surpass anything a major city has faced since World War II or the Sept. 11 attacks. Talks are underway with South Africa’s police because “normal policing will be entirely inadequate.” Residents, their nerves increasingly frayed, speak in whispers of impending chaos. The reason for the alarm is simple: The city’s water supply is dangerously close to running dry. If water levels keep falling, Cape Town will declare Day Zero in less than three months. Taps in homes and businesses will be turned off until the rains come. The city’s four million residents will have to line up for water rations at 200 collection points. The city is bracing for the impact on public health and social order. …after a three-year drought, considered the worst in over a century, South African officials say Cape Town is now at serious risk of becoming one of the few major cities in the world to lose piped water to homes and most businesses. …Cape Town’s problems embody one of the big dangers of climate change: the growing risk of powerful, recurrent droughts. In Africa, a continent particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, those problems serve as a potent warning to other governments, which typically don’t have this city’s resources and have done little to adapt…. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/30/world/africa/cape-town-day-zero.html
2018-01-18. In the Arctic, More Rain May Mean Fewer Musk Oxen. By Carl Zimmer, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Dr. Berger has studied musk oxen in Alaska for nearly a decade, and on Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports, he and his colleagues reported a disturbing finding: Musk oxen are unexpectedly vulnerable to rapid climate change in the Arctic. In a warming landscape, pregnant female musk oxen may struggle to find enough food for their unborn calves, the researchers found. Their undersized offspring may die young or fail to produce many calves of their own. In places, musk oxen may disappear altogether. The study is the first to suggest a strong link between increasing winter rainfall and the declining health of Arctic mammals, said R. Terry Bowyer, a senior research scientist at the Institute of Arctic Biology in Fairbanks, Alaska, who was not involved in the research. …These findings are more worrisome because of the drastic change humans are bringing to the climate. The Arctic itself is warming at twice the average global rate…. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/18/science/musk-oxen-climate-change.html
2018-01-11. Climate Change Is Altering Lakes and Streams, Study Suggests. By Carl Zimmer, The New York Times. Excerpt: To scientists who study lakes and rivers, it seems humans have embarked on a huge unplanned experiment. By burning fossil fuels, we have already raised the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by 40 percent, …. Some of that gas may mix into the world’s inland waters, and recent studies hint that this may have profound effects on the species that live in them. “We’re monkeying with the very chemical foundation of these ecosystems,” said Emily H. Stanley, a limnologist (freshwater ecologist) at the University of Wisconsin — Madison. …Dr. Weiss and her colleagues used this method to figure out the carbon dioxide levels in four reservoirs in Germany from 1981 to 2015. They reported Thursday in the journal Current Biology that the amounts tripled in that time. …Dr. Weiss hypothesized that carbon dioxide interferes with the nervous system of the water fleas, blunting their ability to look out for predators. Caleb T. Hasler, a biologist at the University of Winnipeg, said that the new research addressed an unanswered question: the amounts of carbon dioxide that might harm freshwater life. …He and his colleagues studied minnows swimming in water rich with carbon dioxide and found that the fish don’t respond as quickly to alarm signals released by other minnows. In another study, the team studied two species of mussels. One species relaxed its muscles in water high in carbon dioxide, so that its shell gaped open. The other species clamped its shell shut, so that it could no longer filter food. These sorts of changes may send ripples out across entire freshwater ecosystems. Mussels are vital for filtering food and keeping water clear, for example…. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/11/science/climate-change-lakes-streams.html
2018-01-04. 2017 Set a Record for Losses From Natural Disasters. It Could Get Worse. By Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times. Excerpt: Insurers are set to pay out a record $135 billion to cover losses from natural disasters in 2017, the world’s largest reinsurer said Thursday, driven by the costliest hurricane season ever in the United States and widespread flooding in South Asia. Overall losses, including uninsured damage, came to $330 billion, according to the reinsurer, Munich Re of Germany. That tally was second only to 2011, when an earthquake and tsunami in Japan contributed to losses of $354 billion at today’s dollars. …“Some of the catastrophic events, such as the series of three extremely damaging hurricanes, or the very severe flooding in South Asia after extraordinarily heavy monsoon rains, are giving us a foretaste of what is to come,” Torsten Jeworrek, a Munich Re board member, said in a statement. While it was still difficult to attribute individual weather events to climate change, he said, “our experts expect such extreme weather to occur more often.” …The devastating wildfire season in California drove insured losses to around $8 billion. And at least five severe thunderstorms across the country, accompanied by tornadoes and hail, caused insured losses of more than $1 billion each. …Similar volatile weather patters are set to become more frequent as the climate changes, Munich Re said in its news release…. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/04/climate/losses-natural-disasters-insurance.html
2018-01-03. Why So Cold? Climate Change May Be Part of the Answer. By Henry Fountain, The New York Times. Excerpt: As bitter cold continues to grip much of North America and helps spawn the fierce storm along the East Coast, the question arises: What’s the influence of climate change? Some scientists studying the connection between climate change and cold spells, which occur when cold Arctic air dips south, say that they may be related. But the importance of the relationship is not fully clear yet. The Arctic is not as cold as it used to be — the region is warming faster than any other — and studies suggest that this warming is weakening the jet stream, which ordinarily acts like a giant lasso, corralling cold air around the pole. …And as with any single weather event, it’s difficult to directly attribute the influence of climate change to a particular cold spell. But scientists have been puzzled by data that at first seems counterintuitive: Despite an undeniable overall year-round warming trend, winters in North America and Europe have trended cooler over the past quarter-century. …the jet stream — usually referred to as the polar vortex this time of year — is weakening more frequently and staying weaker for longer periods of time. That allows cold air to escape the Arctic and move to lower latitudes. …the study focused on Europe and Russia…. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/03/climate/cold-climate-change.html
2017-12-14. How Global Warming Fueled Five Extreme Weather Events. By Brad Plumer and Nadja Popovich, The New York Times. Excerpt: Extreme weather left its mark across the planet in 2016, the hottest year in recorded history. Record heat baked Asia and the Arctic. Droughts gripped Brazil and southern Africa. The Great Barrier Reef suffered its worst bleaching event in memory, killing large swaths of coral. Now climate scientists are starting to tease out which of last year’s calamities can, and can’t, be linked to global warming. In a new collection of papers published Wednesday in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, researchers around the world analyzed 27 extreme weather events from 2016 and found that human-caused climate change was a “significant driver” for 21 of them. …1. Record temperatures around the world. …2. Coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef. …3. Drought in Africa, …4. Wildfires in North America. …5. The warm “blob” in the Pacific Ocean. …But climate attribution remains complex…. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/14/climate/climate-extreme-weather-attribution.html
2017-12-13. Arctic Is Experiencing a Warmer “New Normal,” NOAA Reports. By Randy Showstack, AGU/Eos. Excerpt: Recent observations of declining sea ice, persistent elevated temperatures, and other factors confirm that a new climate era endures in the Arctic, according to the just-released yearly, major assessment of the region by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “This year’s observations confirm that the Arctic shows no signs of returning to the reliably frozen state that it was in just a decade ago,” Jeremy Mathis, director of NOAA’s Arctic Research Program, said yesterday as the agency unveiled its 2017 Arctic Report Card. “Arctic temperatures continue to increase at double the rate of global averages,” he told reporters at a news briefing yesterday at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting in New Orleans, La. The mean Arctic air temperature this year over land exceeded the 1981–2010 average by 1.6°C, making it the second-highest average in the observational record after 2016, according to the NOAA report. The report also found that the thickness of sea ice cover has continued to decline. Ice more than 1 year old composed just 21% of ice cover in 2017, whereas in 1985 it was 45%. Arctic ocean plankton blooms increased, as did overall land vegetation. Record permafrost warming has also occurred at many sites around the Arctic according to 2016 data, the most recent complete set of permafrost observations. In March, maximum winter sea ice shrank to its smallest extent ever observed in the Arctic, the report also noted…. https://eos.org/articles/arctic-is-experiencing-a-warmer-new-normal-noaa-reports
2017-12-02. Melting Arctic Ice Makes High-Speed Internet a Reality in a Remote Town. By Cecilia Kang, The New York Times. Excerpt: POINT HOPE, Alaska — This is one of the most remote towns in the United States, a small gravel spit on the northwest coast of Alaska, more than 3,700 miles from New York City. …Needless to say, this is not the sort of place you expect to be a hub of the high-tech digital world. But in a surprising, and bittersweet, side effect of global warming — and of the global economy — one of the fastest internet connections in America is arriving in Point Hope, giving the 700 or so residents their first taste of broadband speed. The new connection is part of an ambitious effort by Quintillion, a five-year old company based in Anchorage, to take advantage of the melting sea ice to build a faster digital link between London and Tokyo…. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/02/technology/from-the-arctics-melting-ice-an-unexpected-digital-hub.html
2017-11-26. In Peru’s Deserts, Melting Glaciers Are a Godsend (Until They’re Gone). By Nicholas Casey, The New York Times. Excerpt: Accelerating glacial melt in the Andes caused by climate change has set off a gold rush downstream, letting the desert bloom. But as the ice vanishes, the vast farms below may do the same…. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/26/world/americas/peru-climate-change.html
2017-11-11. Lessons From Hurricane Harvey: Houston’s Struggle Is America’s Tale. By Michael Kimmelman, The New York Times. Excerpt: HOUSTON — The mayhem that Hurricane Harvey unleashed on Houston didn’t only come from the sky. On the ground, it came sweeping in from the Katy Prairie some 30 miles west of downtown. …Climate change holds a mirror up to every place its impact is felt. Global warming may not specifically have caused Harvey, any more than a single major league home run can be attributed to steroids. That said, scientists have little doubt that climate change is making storms worse and more frequent. The floods that ravaged Houston on Memorial Day in 2015 and in April of 2016 — now called the Tax Day flood — left behind billions of dollars in damage. Coming right after those events, Harvey has led even some pro-development enthusiasts to rethink the city and its surroundings. …“Three 500-year floods in three years means either we’re free and clear for the next 1,500 years,” as he put it, “or something has seriously changed.” After every natural calamity, American politicians make big promises. They say: We will rebuild. We will not be defeated. Never again will we be caught unprepared. But they rarely tackle the toughest obstacles. The hard truth, scientists say, is that climate change will increasingly require moving — not just rebuilding — entire neighborhoods, reshaping cities, even abandoning coastlines…. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/11/11/climate/houston-flooding-climate.html
2017-11-10. After Irma and Maria: How 3 Spots on the U.S. Virgin Islands Are Faring. By Richard Pérez-Peña, The New York Times. Excerpt: Hurricanes Irma and Maria both hit the United States Virgin Islands in September as rare Category 5 storms, but the devastation there has been largely overshadowed by the damage and death this year’s hurricane season left behind in Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean nations. The United States Virgin Islands were as hard-hit as any place in the country; in a territory with just 103,000 residents, more than 33,000 individuals and families have applied for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and government agencies reported on Thursday that 73 percent of customers still had no power. The storms so denuded the islands’ lush vegetation that where they once showed up in satellite photos as a green jewels in the sea, they were brown after the hurricanes passed…. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/10/us/virgin-islands-hurricanes.html
2017-11-04. Climate Science Special Report—Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), Volume I. By U.S. Global Change Research Program, Wuebbles, D.J., D.W. Fahey, K.A. Hibbard, D.J. Dokken, B.C. Stewart, and T.K. Maycock (eds.). Excerpt: This report is an authoritative assessment of the science of climate change, with a focus on the United States. It represents the first of two volumes of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, mandated by the Global Change Research Act of 1990. [from Executive Summary:]… Global annually averaged surface air temperature has increased by about 1.8°F (1.0°C) over the last 115 years (1901–2016). This period is now the warmest in the history of modern civilization. The last few years have also seen record-breaking, climate-related weather extremes, and the last three years have been the warmest years on record for the globe. These trends are expected to continue over climate timescales. This assessment concludes, based on extensive evidence, that it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence. …global average sea level has risen by about 7–8 inches since 1900, with almost half (about 3 inches) of that rise occurring since 1993. Human-caused climate change has made a substantial contribution to this rise since 1900, contributing to a rate of rise that is greater than during any preceding century in at least 2,800 years. Global sea level rise has already affected the United States; the incidence of daily tidal flooding is accelerating in more than 25 Atlantic and Gulf Coast cities. Global average sea levels are expected to continue to rise—by at least several inches in the next 15 years and by 1–4 feet by 2100. A rise of as much as 8 feet by 2100 cannot be ruled out. Sea level rise will be higher than the global average on the East and Gulf Coasts of the United States. …Heavy rainfall is increasing in intensity and frequency across the United States and globally and is expected to continue to increase. The largest observed changes in the United States have occurred in the Northeast. Heatwaves have become more frequent in the United States since the 1960s, while extreme cold temperatures and cold waves are less frequent. Recent record-setting hot years are projected to become common in the near future for the United States, as annual average temperatures continue to rise. Annual average temperature over the contiguous United States has increased by 1.8°F (1.0°C) for the period 1901–2016; over the next few decades (2021–2050), annual average temperatures are expected to rise by about 2.5°F for the United States, relative to the recent past (average from 1976–2005), under all plausible future climate scenarios. The incidence of large forest fires in the western United States and Alaska has increased since the early 1980s and is projected to further increase in those regions as the climate changes, with profound changes to regional ecosystems. …The magnitude of climate change beyond the next few decades will depend primarily on the amount of greenhouse gases (especially carbon dioxide) emitted globally. Without major reductions in emissions, the increase in annual average global temperature relative to preindustrial times could reach 9°F (5°C) or more by the end of this century. With significant reductions in emissions, the increase in annual average global temperature could be limited to 3.6°F (2°C) or less…. https://science2017.globalchange.gov/
2017-10-24. How Climate Change Is Playing Havoc With Olive Oil (and Farmers). By Somini Sengupta, The New York Times. Excerpt: … Ms. Guidobaldi, an eighth-generation olive grower, bought water by the truckload, nearly every day, for most of the summer. The heat wave that swept across southern Europe this summer, which scientists say bore the fingerprints of human-induced climate change, is only the latest bout of strange weather to befall the makers of olive oil. Some years, like this one, the heat comes early and stays. Other years, it rains so much — as it did in 2014 — that the olive fly breeds like crazy, leaving worms inside the olives. Or there’s an untimely frost when the fruits first form, …Gone are the days when you could count on the mild “mezze stagioni,” or half-seasons, that olives rely on before and after the heat. Gone, too, is the cycle you could count on: one year good, next year not good. …Now, a changing climate is turning olive oil into an increasingly risky business — at least in the Mediterranean, the land of its birth…. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/24/climate/olive-oil.html
2017-10-19. ‘Like a blowtorch’: Powerful winds fueled tornadoes of flame in Tubbs Fire. By Peter Fimrite, San Francisco Chronicle. Excerpt: The Tubbs Fire that raged through Santa Rosa last week unleashed a series of fiery tornadoes powerful enough to flip cars, yank trees out of the ground and rip homes apart, fire scientists said Wednesday. Gusts of up to 73 mph were recorded at the weather stations after the fires broke out Oct. 8, but the extraordinary damage documented during postmortem evaluations indicated that much more powerful forces were at play. “We had trees ripped out of the ground, cars turned over, garage doors ripped off their hinges and wrapped around trees in the front yards,” said Scott Upton, the northern region chief for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and an expert on fire behavior. “It was no different than a hurricane, really, but instead of rain we had a fire event. I’ve been in this business 30 years and it’s the worst I’ve seen.” …“It was a very different kind of fire that happened Sunday night,” said Ken Pimlott, the director of Cal Fire. “The fire was almost horizontal. When it hit those homes it was like a blowtorch. With all those fires burning, it generated so much heat that it created its own circular patterns.” …“I’ve seen fires melt cars and literally reduce them to little more than metal and aluminum pooled on the ground,” he said, but he hadn’t seen destruction like he saw last week. “To flip a car over has to be some significant winds.”… http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Tubbs-Fire-unleashed-fiery-tornadoes-that-12289228.php
2017-09-25. A key Antarctic glacier just lost a huge piece of ice — the latest sign of its worrying retreat. By Chris Mooney, The Washington Post. Excerpt: An enormous Antarctic glacier has given up an iceberg over 100 square miles in size, the second time in two years it has lost such a large piece in a process that has scientists wondering whether its behavior is changing for the worse. The Pine Island Glacier is one of the largest in West Antarctica, …which loses an extraordinary 45 billion tons of ice to the ocean each year — equivalent to 1 millimeter of global sea level rise every eight years — is 25 miles wide where its floating front touches the sea, and rests on the seafloor in waters more than a half-mile deep. The single glacier alone contains 1.7 feet of potential global sea level rise and is thought to be in a process of unstable, ongoing retreat. …on Saturday, Stef Lhermitte, a satellite observation specialist at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, posted a satellite image showing that Pine Island had “calved,” or broken off a piece of ice about 103 square miles in area. (For comparison, Manhattan is 22.83 square miles in size.)…. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/09/25/a-key-antarctic-glacier-just-lost-a-piece-of-ice-four-times-the-size-of-manhattan/
2017-09-22. We Charted Arctic Sea Ice for Nearly Every Day Since 1979. You’ll See a Trend. By Nadja Popovich, Henry Fountain, Adam Pearce, The New York Times. Excerpt: Arctic sea ice has been in steep decline since the late 1970s, when satellite images were first used to study the region. NASA says that the extent of ice covering Arctic waters has fallen by 13 percent per decade. The 10 lowest ice minimums — measured each September, after the summer thaw — have all been recorded since 2007. Scientists say the disappearance of sea ice is largely a result of climate change, with the Arctic warming at a faster rate than any other region…. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/09/22/climate/arctic-sea-ice-shrinking-trend-watch.html
2017-09-15. From Heat Waves to Hurricanes: What We Know About Extreme Weather and Climate Change. By Nadja Popovich, The New York Times. Excerpt: It’s been a hectic end to summer, meteorologically speaking. Back-to-back hurricanes raked Texas, Florida and the Caribbean. A Labor Day heat wave broke temperature records in San Francisco and strained California’s electricity grid. Wildfires continue to rage in the Pacific Northwest. This string of extreme events has brought new focus to a familiar question: Is climate change to blame?… https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/09/15/climate/does-climate-change-cause-hurricanes-drought.html
2017-09-13. Climate Change Threatens the World’s Parasites (That’s Not Good). By Carl Zimmer, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Recently, scientists carried out the first large-scale study of what climate change may do to the world’s much-loathed parasites. The team came to a startling conclusion: as many as one in three parasite species may face extinction in the next century. As global warming raises the planet’s temperature, the researchers found, many species will lose territory in which to survive. Some of their hosts will be lost, too. “It still absolutely blows me away,” said Colin J. Carlson, lead author of the study and a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. …Researchers have begun carefully studying the roles that parasites play. They make up the majority of the biomass in some ecosystems, outweighing predators sharing their environments by a factor of 20 to 1…. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/13/science/parasites-extinction-climate-change.html
2017-09-07. Is climate change wreaking weather havoc? Evolving science seeks answers. By Kurtis Alexander, San Francisco Chronicle. Excerpt: …There’s still no simple answer to the question, “Was that hurricane caused by climate change?” But scientists can now often say whether an event was more likely, and more severe, due to the warming planet. A team of experts at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, among the pioneers of the evolving science of extreme event attribution, estimated that human-caused climate change probably raised temperatures in California by as much as 4 degrees last week. Similar accounting has been done for the California drought and strings of wildfires across the West, as well as the catastrophic hurricanes Harvey and Irma, whose devastation continues to unfold. …While scientists can’t blame climate change for causing any one weather system, studies have found that past heat waves in both the U.S. and abroad were so unlikely in the absence of global warming that there was little other explanation for what drove them. Eventually, the research could find that climate change is the primary engine behind some disasters. …“Around 2000 or so, you mostly would have heard from the scientific community that we can’t draw any connection between global warming and any extreme event,” Diffenbaugh said. “What has happened since, particularly in the past five years, is an explosion of research by multiple groups that are working very hard to pose and test hypotheses of how global warming is possibly influencing individual events.”… http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Did-climate-change-cause-the-heat-wave-The-12181543.php
2017-09-05. Why Are Arctic Rivers Rising in Winter? By Emily Underwood, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Increased glacial melt is boosting winter streamflows by filling aquifers, a new study on an Alaskan river suggests. Alaska’s glacier-fed, braided Tanana River is home to some of the world’s highest-quality salmon fisheries, which have provided sustenance for humans for nearly 12,000 years. Like many Arctic rivers, however, the Tanana and its tributaries are transforming because of rising global temperatures. One prominent change in recent decades is a steady rise in Arctic rivers’ winter flow, which has long puzzled researchers because there is no commensurate increase in precipitation in the Tanana River watershed. Now, a new study suggests that melting glaciers may drive this increased flow by amplifying headwater runoff, the water that drains the mountain region, which is partly lost to the underlying aquifer. In turn, the aquifer feeds the Tanana River year-round. Increased aquifer recharge due to glacier-fed stream corridors may also degrade permafrost from below, further amplifying the seasonal aquifer storage capacity and therefore lowland winter flows…. https://eos.org/research-spotlights/why-are-arctic-rivers-rising-in-winter
2017-09-01. How an ocean climate cycle favored Harvey. By Julia Rosen, Science. Summary: Hurricane Harvey was the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States since 2005, but in some ways, it was long overdue. For decades now, tropical storms have been getting a boost from a powerful but still mysterious long-term cycle in North Atlantic sea surface temperatures, which appears to be holding steady in its warm, storm-spawning phase. This cycle, called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), swings between warm and cool phases every 20 to 60 years, shifting North Atlantic temperatures by a degree or so and setting the backdrop for hurricane season. Since about 1995, the AMO has been in a warm state, but researchers aren’t sure where it’s headed next. The AMO has traditionally been attributed to natural shifts in ocean currents, and some think it’s on the cusp of shifting back toward a cool, quiescent phase. But others propose that human activities—a combination of declining air pollution and greenhouse warming—might prolong the current warm period, keeping hurricane activity high…. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/357/6354/853
2017-08-11. North Korea Aside, Guam Faces Another Threat: Climate Change. By Mike Ives, The New York Times. Excerpt: HONG KONG — The island of Guam made rare headlines this week when North Korea, responding to blustery language from President Trump, threatened to fire four ballistic missiles into waters near the American territory’s shores. …Scientists in Guam, however, say they have at least one other major threat in mind: climate change. “We know that it’s serious,” said Austin J. Shelton III, a marine biologist and the executive director of the Center for Island Sustainability at the University of Guam. “Some of the impacts are here, and a lot more are coming.” Like other Pacific islands, Guam may be affected in the coming decades as climate change prompts shifts in weather, temperature and oceanic acidity, according to the Environmental Protection Agency…. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/11/world/asia/guam-north-korea-climate-change.html
2017-08-09. ‘Unusual’ Greenland wildfires linked to peat. By Matt McGrath, BBC News Environment correspondent. Excerpt: Fires are rare on an island where 80% of the land is covered by ice up to 3km thick in places. However, satellites have observed smoke and flames north-east of a town called Sisimiut since 31 July. Experts believe at least two fires are burning in peat that may have dried out as temperatures have risen. …Prof McCarthy believes that melting permafrost is likely to have contributed to this outbreak. She referred to studies carried out in the region that showed degraded permafrost around the town of Sisimiut. Locals say that what they call “soil fires” have happened before, especially in the last 20-30 years…. http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-40877099
2017-08-01. Climate change before your eyes: Seas rise and trees die. By Wayne Parry, Associated Press. Excerpt: They’re called “ghost forests” — dead trees along vast swaths of coastline invaded by rising seas, something scientists call one of the most visible markers of climate change. The process has happened naturally for thousands of years, but it has accelerated in recent decades as polar ice melts and raises sea levels, scientists say, pushing salt water farther inland and killing trees in what used to be thriving freshwater plains. …”I think ghost forests are the most obvious indicator of climate change anywhere on the Eastern coast of the U.S.,” said Matthew Kirwan, a professor at Virginia Institute of Marine Science who is studying ghost forests in his state and Maryland. “It was dry, usable land 50 years ago; now it’s marshes with dead stumps and dead trees.” It is happening around the world, but researchers say new ghost forests are particularly apparent in North America, with hundreds of thousands of acres of salt-killed trees stretching from Canada down the East Coast, around Florida and over to Texas. The intruding salt water changes coastal ecosystems, creating marshes where forests used to be. This has numerous effects on the environment, though many scientists caution against viewing them in terms of “good” or “bad.” What benefits one species or ecosystem might harm another one, they say…. http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/seas-rise-trees-die-climate-change-eyes-48961148
2017-07-25. Are Humans to Blame for Worsening Heat Waves in China? By Emily Underwood, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: A new study suggests that even hotter events will follow unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced. At least 40 people died during China’s record-breaking 2013 heat wave, when temperatures spiked to more than 105°F. The deadly event was just one of a string of intensifying heat waves that have hit the country over the past 50 years, and a new study finds that these events can be attributed in part to human-made climate change. Under business-as-usual carbon emissions, such extreme temperatures will become the new normal across roughly 50% of China’s landmass, the authors warn…. https://eos.org/research-spotlights/are-humans-to-blame-for-worsening-heat-waves-in-china
2017-07-17. How a Warming Climate Will Trouble Air Travel. By Aneri Pattani, The New York Times. Excerpt: Rising temperatures and more frequent heat waves could force up to 30 percent of airplanes to delay takeoffs in the coming decades, causing cancellations, missed connections and other hassles for passengers, and dealing a financial blow to the industry, a new study finds. As air warms, its density decreases. The wings of a plane moving down the runway on a hot day generate less lift. If it’s hot enough, the plane won’t be able to take off at all, according to the study, published in the journal Climatic Change. The plane can either delay departure or lighten its load by removing fuel, cargo or passengers. The consequences could affect passengers, airlines and airports worldwide, said Radley Horton, co-author and climatologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory…. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/17/climate/global-warming-air-travel.html
2017-07-12. Scientists expect floods in Bay Area from rising seas in coming decades. By Kurtis Alexander, San Francisco Chronicle. Excerpt: Coastal neighborhoods in several [San Francisco] Bay Area cities are likely to face such frequent flooding from rising sea levels over the next century that residents will simply pack up and leave, according to a new study of the effects of climate change. Every local county will be dealing with frequent inundation of its bay shoreline by 2100, according to a report issued Wednesday by the Union of Concerned Scientists. The group said its report and accompanying maps, published in the peer-reviewed journal Elementa, are the first nationwide effort to identify the point at which coastal communities face the no-win decision of having to flee or fight sea level rise…. http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Scientists-expect-floods-in-Bay-Area-from-rising-11284750.php
2017-07-12. Massive iceberg nearly the size of Delaware breaks off Antarctica. By Doyle Rice, USA TODAY. Excerpt: One of the largest icebergs ever recorded broke off from an ice shelf in Antarctica, British scientists announced Wednesday. The 1 trillion ton iceberg, with twice of the volume of Lake Erie, broke off from the Larsen C ice shelf between Monday and Wednesday, according to Project MIDAS, which has been monitoring the shelf. At 2,200 square miles, the chunk of floating ice is nearly the size of Delaware. …The calving reduced the size of the ice shelf by some 12%. “We have been anticipating this event for months, and have been surprised how long it took for the rift to break through the final few kilometers (miles) of ice,” [Adrian Luckman, a professor of Swansea University and the lead investigator of Project MIDAS] said. …Project MIDAS said there is no evidence to directly link the calving of the iceberg to climate change. However, it is widely accepted that warming ocean and atmospheric temperatures have been a factor in earlier disintegrations of ice shelves elsewhere on the Antarctic Peninsula, most notably Larsen A in 1995 and Larsen B in 2002. Global warming has pushed temperatures up to 5 degrees higher in the region since the 1950s and could increase up to 7 degrees more by the end of the century, putting more stress on the ice, according to Climate Central. Regardless of whether climate change is a factor, calving is a natural part of the cycle of ice shelves. Ice flows gradually into the shelf, the shelf expands until stresses become too much, and then icebergs are formed. Whether or not Larsen C will reform is unclear. Scientists think there is a possibility the remaining shelf is now too fragile to grow back to its former size…. https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/sciencefair/2017/07/12/massive-iceberg-breaks-off-antarctica/102637874/ See also Six Points of Perspective on Larsen C’s Huge New Iceberg, by JoAnna Wendel and Mohi Kumar, Eos/AGU.
2017-06-28. Massive Waves of Melting Greenland Ice Warped Earth’s Crust. By Emily Underwood, Earth & Space Science News (EoS, AGU). Excerpt: Greenland’s roughly 1.7 million square kilometer ice sheet has waxed and waned for millennia, with slabs of ice calving into the sea during the summer and snow building the sheet back up in the winter. In recent decades, however, warming temperatures have caused the ice to melt faster than it can refreeze, sending large volumes of freshwater into the ocean. In a new study, Adhikari et al. deduced that the record-setting ice melts of 2010 and 2012 triggered a strange phenomenon: the propagation of an enormous solitary ice wave. This pulse traveled down glacier for many kilometers. The Earth’s crust is elastic, meaning that it changes shape with the redistribution of mass on its surface, much like the deformation of a foam mattress. When a glacier melts, as 95% of the Rink Glacier basin did in 2012, the bulk of the meltwater mass flows into the ocean, shifting gigatons of ice and water away from the glacier’s interior…. https://eos.org/research-spotlights/massive-waves-of-melting-greenland-ice-warped-earths-crust
2017-06-13. The Future of Earth Looks Drier…but Just How Dry? By Sarah Stanley, Earth & Space Science News (EoS, AGU). Excerpt: As global warming progresses, factors that promote drought and aridity will outweigh a gentle rise in precipitation, scientists predict, leading to a net increase in aridity over Earth’s landmasses. However, recent research suggests that the calculations behind these predictions may overestimate future dryness because they rely too much on indirect atmospheric factors. Instead, some scientists have called for predictions based directly on projected changes in the water cycle itself, such as changes in runoff and soil moisture. To help resolve this issue, Berg et al. recently analyzed the future of soil moisture as predicted by 25 climate models from Phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). Although previous studies have focused mostly on soil moisture down to a depth of 10 centimeters, Berg and coauthors note that such analyses may be incomplete because, for example, many plants soak up water at depths of 2–3 meters. For a more comprehensive analysis, they examined previously simulated soil moisture at different depths down to 3 meters. …Overall, the findings support the idea that predictions of extensive drying based on atmospheric variables agree well with projected decreases in surface soil moisture but overestimate total soil moisture losses. The results highlight the importance of considering vertical water transport in soil when predicting the effects of global warming on water resources, agriculture, and ecosystems. (Geophysical Research Letters, https://doi.org/10.1002/2016GL071921, 2017)…. https://eos.org/research-spotlights/the-future-of-earth-looks-drier-but-just-how-dry
2017-05-26. An Effect of Climate Change You Could Really Lose Sleep Over. By Justin Gillis, The New York Times. Excerpt: …In a paper published online Friday by the journal Science Advances, Nick Obradovich and colleagues predicted more restless nights, especially in the summer, as global temperatures rise. They found that the poor, who are less likely to have air-conditioning or be able to run it, as well as the elderly, who have more difficulty regulating their body temperature, would be hit hard. … Researchers have long known that being too hot or too cold at night can disturb anyone’s sleep, but nobody had thought to ask how that might affect people in a world grown hotter because of climate change…. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/26/climate/global-warming-sleep-loss.html
2017-05-26. Your Coffee Is From Where? California? By Stephanie Strom, The New York Times. Excerpt: GOLETA, Calif. — There is a new crop growing in Southern California’s famous avocado groves — coffee. …At the same time, climate change threatens to damage the coffee crop in the tropical highlands that produce nearly all the world’s beans, potentially opening up a lucrative opportunity in the $20 billion export market for beans. Last year, some small Brazilian coffee farmers lost 90 percent of their crop to drought and heat, and similar conditions in Sumatra in western Indonesia made it uneconomical for many farmers there to harvest what little crop they had…. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/26/business/your-coffee-is-from-where-california.html
2017-05-024. Mapping 50 Years of Melting Ice in Glacier National Park. By Nadja Popovich, The New York Times. Excerpt: Glacier National Park is losing its glaciers. The flowing sheets of ice scattered throughout the Montana park shrank by more than a third between 1966 and 2015, according to new data from the United States Geological Survey and Portland State University. Using aerial and satellite imagery, researchers traced the footprints of 39 named glaciers in the park and surrounding national forest. They found that 10 had lost more than half their area over 50 years…. [see maps of glacier ice extent] https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/05/24/climate/mapping-50-years-of-ice-loss-in-glacier-national-park.html
2017-05-08. Tundra May Be Shifting Alaska to Put Out More Carbon Than It Stores, Study Says. By Henry Fountain, The New York Times. Excerpt: As global warming continues, a big unknown is what will happen to the carbon balance between the atmosphere and the land, especially in the far north. …A new study suggests that Alaska, with its huge stretches of tundra and forest, may be shifting from a net sink, or storehouse, of carbon to a net source. The study focused on one possible cause: warmer temperatures that keep the Arctic tundra from freezing until later in the fall, allowing plant respiration and microbial decomposition — processes that release carbon dioxide — to continue longer. Roisin Commane, a researcher at Harvard, and others studied atmospheric carbon dioxide in the state, using measurements from aircraft and a 40-year record from sensors operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Barrow, in the North Slope Borough. They found that carbon emissions from the North Slope tundra in October, November and December had increased by 70 percent since the 1970s. “We were surprised by the magnitude of CO2 coming out in the fall,” Dr. Commane said. …Climate change is having more of an impact in high northern latitudes than in other areas. Warming is occurring about twice as fast in the Arctic as elsewhere, and sea ice in the Arctic Ocean has been declining by about 13 percent per decade since the 1980s. Last fall, the region experienced several bouts of unusual weather, with mean temperatures at the North Pole in November more than 20 degrees above normal…. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/08/climate/alaska-carbon-dioxide-co2-tundra.html
2017-05-03. As Arctic Ice Vanishes, New Shipping Routes Open. By Jugal K. Patel and Henry Fountain, The New York Times. Excerpt: As global warming melts sea ice across the Arctic, shipping routes once thought impossible — including directly over the North Pole — may open up by midcentury. But high costs may keep the new routes from being used right away. The amount of sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean has declined sharply each decade since the 1980s, according to measurements taken each September when the ice is at its minimum. Older, thicker ice is disappearing as well. Scientists say global warming is largely responsible for the changes. Parts of the Arctic are warming twice as fast as elsewhere…. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/05/03/science/earth/arctic-shipping.html
2017-04-28. More Intense Rains in U.S. Midwest Tied to Farm Mechanization. By Bas den Hond, Earth & Space News EoS (AGU). Excerpt: “Rain follows the plow,” or so the pioneers who started farms in the drylands of the American West were told. The 19th-century notion that cultivation will always lead to a beneficial change in the climate turned out to be false. But researchers have previously found that climate does respond to what people do on the ground, like when monsoon patterns have been altered by deforestation. Now a new study has investigated the climate effects of a century-long conversion in the United States, from farmers using animals to do almost all of the plowing and other heavy farmwork to using only machines. An increase in heavy rainfall events in the 20th century in the American Midwest appears to be closely tied to that switch from horsepower to mechanized agriculture, according to Taleena Sines of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, Italy, and Raymond Arritt of Iowa State University in Ames…. https://eos.org/articles/more-intense-rains-in-u-s-midwest-tied-to-farm-mechanization
2017-04-28. Increased Extreme Heat and Heat Waves. By Climate Signals. Excerpt: One of the strongest findings of climate science is that global warming amplifies the intensity, duration and frequency of extreme heat events. These events occur on multiple time scales, from a single day or week, to months or entire seasons. The more extreme the heatwave, the more likely the event can be attributed to global warming. Roughly 75% of extreme heat events globally are attributed to climate change. The signal of climate change is particularly reflected in record-breaking heat waves. …85% of recent record-hot days globally are attributed to climate change…. http://www.climatesignals.org/climate-signals/increased-extreme-heat-and-heat-waves
2017-04-26. As Rising Seas Erode Shorelines, Tasmania Shows What Can Be Lost. By Justin Gillis, The New York Times. Excerpt: ISLE OF THE DEAD, Tasmania — Maybe the hardened convicts who carved the 19th-century gravestones dotting this tiny island were barely literate, or perhaps one of them just had a wicked sense of humor. The schoolmaster Benjamin Horne went to his repose in 1843 with this sentence chiseled above his head: “Sincerely regretted by all who knew him.” …The very island on which he lies is being chewed away by the sea. The roots of trees that have stood for decades now dangle perilously over a fast-eroding shore. A few miles away, a seaside coal mine once worked by the convicts is under similar assault by the waves. …In country after country, managers of national parks and other historic sites are realizing that climate change, with its coastal flooding and erosion, rising temperatures and more intense rainstorms, represents a profound risk to the heritage they are trying to preserve. …Venice, home of architectural and artistic masterpieces, is under such grave threat that $6 billion worth of sea gates are being installed to protect against increased tidal flooding. …Archaeological sites on the Alaska coast are being lost. The very symbol of America, the Statue of Liberty, cannot be considered safe: Flooding from Hurricane Sandy, made worse by a century of sea-level rise, destroyed much of the infrastructure on Liberty Island in 2012 and closed the monument to visitors for months. …Over the long term, the rise of the sea appears to be accelerating because of runaway growth in greenhouse emissions, and scientists fear much bigger effects this century, perhaps so large they could ultimately force the abandonment of entire coastlines…. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/26/climate/tasmania-global-warming-shoreline-erosion.html
2017-04-19. How a Warming Planet Drives Human Migration. By Jessica Benko, The New York Times. Excerpt: Climate displacement is becoming one of the world’s most powerful — and destabilizing — geopolitical forces. Climate change is not equally felt across the globe, and neither are its longer term consequences. This map overlays human turmoil — represented here by United Nations data on nearly 64 million “persons of concern,” whose numbers have tripled since 2005 — with climate turmoil, represented by data from NASA’s Common Sense Climate Index. The correlation is striking. Climate change is a threat multiplier: It contributes to economic and political instability and also worsens the effects. It propels sudden-onset disasters like floods and storms and slow-onset disasters like drought and desertification; those disasters contribute to failed crops, famine and overcrowded urban centers; those crises inflame political unrest and worsen the impac ts of war, which leads to even more displacement. There is no internationally recognized legal definition for “environmental migrants” or “climate refugees,” so there is no formal reckoning of how many have left their homes because climate change has made their lives or livelihoods untenable. In a 2010 Gallup World Poll, though, about 12 percent of respondents — representing a total of 500 million adults — said severe environmental problems would require them to move within the next five years…. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/19/magazine/how-a-warming-planet-drives-human-migration.html
2017-04-18. When Rising Seas Transform Risk Into Certainty. By Brooke Jarvis, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Spend a few days talking about floods and real estate in Norfolk, and you’ll quickly learn the importance of even tiny inclines. Locals know where, on what appears to the uninitiated to be a flat street, to park their cars to keep them from flooding past the axles when the wind pushes the tide up. Landscapers build what are essentially decorative earthen dikes around houses. …In the coming decades, these fine distinctions will mean little, as the risk of flooding becomes the certainty of it. The operative measurement for rising waters in Norfolk is not inches but feet — as many as six of them by the end of the century, according to the Army Corps of Engineers, though estimates vary. City planners are forthright that they’re preparing for a future in which parts of the city do not survive. “We absolutely cannot protect 200 miles of coastline,” George Homewood, Norfolk’s planning director, says. “We have to pick those areas we should armor, and the places where we’re going to let the water be.”… https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/18/magazine/when-rising-seas-transform-risk-into-certainty.html
2017-04-17. Climate Change Reroutes a Yukon River in a Geological Instant. By John Schwartz, The New York Times. Excerpt: In the blink of a geological eye, climate change has helped reverse the flow of water melting from a glacier in Canada’s Yukon, a hijacking that scientists call “river piracy.” This engaging term refers to one river capturing and diverting the flow of another. It occurred last spring at the Kaskawulsh Glacier, one of Canada’s largest, with a suddenness that startled scientists. A process that would ordinarily take thousands of years — or more — happened in just a few months in 2016. Much of the meltwater from the glacier normally flows to the north into the Bering Sea via the Slims and Yukon Rivers. A rapidly retreating and thinning glacier — accelerated by global warming — caused the water to redirect to the south, and into the Pacific Ocean. Last year’s unusually warm spring produced melting waters that cut a canyon through the ice, diverting more water into the Alsek River, which flows to the south and on into Pacific, robbing the headwaters to the north. The scientists concluded that the river theft “is likely to be permanent.” The impacts of climate change, like sea level rise or the shrinkage of a major glacier, are generally measured over decades, not months as in this case. “It’s not something you could see if you were just standing on the beach for a couple of months,” Professor Shugar said…. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/17/science/climate-change-glacier-yukon-river.html
2017-04-05. Antarctic Ice Reveals Earth’s Accelerating Plant Growth. By Carl Zimmer, The New York Times. Excerpt: For decades, scientists have been trying to figure out what all the carbon dioxide we have been putting into the atmosphere has been doing to plants. It turns out that the best place to find an answer is where no plants can survive: the icy wastes of Antarctica. As ice forms in Antarctica, it traps air bubbles. For thousands of years, they have preserved samples of the atmosphere. The levels of one chemical in that mix reveal the global growth of plants at any point in that history. “It’s the whole Earth — it’s every plant,” said J. Elliott Campbell of the University of California, Merced. Analyzing the ice, Dr. Campbell and his colleagues have discovered that in the last century, plants have been growing at a rate far faster than at any other time in the last 54,000 years. Writing in the journal Nature, they report that plants are converting 31 percent more carbon dioxide into organic matter than they were before the Industrial Revolution. The increase is because of the carbon dioxide that humans are putting into the atmosphere, which fertilizes the plants, Dr. Campbell said…. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/05/science/carbon-dioxide-plant-growth-antarctic-ice.html
2017-03-31. What Regions Are Most at Risk for Ice Loss in East Antarctica? By Sarah Witman, Earth & Space News, AGU. Excerpt: …Antarctica is… covered almost entirely by a vast sheet of ice, stretching from the towering plateau of East Antarctica to the chain of mountainous islands (interconnected by ice) that form West Antarctica. This ice sheet comprises about 90% of the ice on Earth…. If Earth’s oceans and atmosphere continue to warm at the rates projected by most climate models, over the next few hundred years, the Antarctic ice sheets could melt enough to cause a sea level rise of several meters. Most likely, the severity of ice loss will vary geographically because of physical differences across the continent, such as ice thickness and bedrock topography. Previous simulations have shown that most of the ice melt will occur in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, yet less is known about how the East Antarctic Ice Sheet would respond to environmental warming. The eastern side of the ice sheet is much larger and has slow-flowing glaciers, and its bedrock is a rocky terrain of deep basins and high mountain ranges buried beneath the ice. Recent studies have already shown warm ocean water flowing southward from areas of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, suggesting that the region could be affected by further warming…. https://eos.org/research-spotlights/what-regions-are-most-at-risk-for-ice-loss-in-east-antarctica
2017-03-15. Himalayan Climate Change Affects Regional, Global Environments. By Meri Joswiak, Daniel Joswiak, and Tandong Yao, Earth & Space Science News, EoS (AGU). Excerpt: The high-elevation region that includes the Tibetan Plateau and its surrounding mountain ranges has been dubbed the “Third Pole.” This region encompasses approximately 5 million square kilometers of unforgiving terrain, with an average elevation of more than 4000 meters above sea level, and it straddles tense geopolitical borders. The Third Pole includes an estimated 100,000 square kilometers of glaciers. Cumulatively, this region holds the planet’s largest concentrated stock of ice outside the Arctic and Antarctic. The annual variability of snow extent affects global atmospheric circulation patterns, monsoon variability, and, more important, drinking and irrigation water that sustains roughly 1.5 billion people in downstream countries, including India, Nepal, China, and Bangladesh. Scientists from around the globe gathered last May at the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center at Ohio State University to address climate issues facing the Tibetan Plateau and surrounding mountain rang es. This Third Pole Environment (TPE) Workshop, the sixth in the series since TPE workshops began in 2009, drew more than 70 attendees from 14 different countries…. https://eos.org/meeting-reports/himalayan-climate-change-affects-regional-global-environments
2017-03-15. Large Sections of Australia’s Great Reef Are Now Dead, Scientists Find. By Damien Cave and Justin Gillis, The New York Times. Excerpt: SYDNEY, Australia — The Great Barrier Reef in Australia has long been one of the world’s most magnificent natural wonders, so enormous it can be seen from space, so beautiful it can move visitors to tears. But the reef, and the profusion of sea creatures living near it, are in profound trouble. Huge sections of the Great Barrier Reef, stretching across hundreds of miles of its most pristine northern sector, were recently found to be dead, killed last year by overheated seawater. More southerly sections around the middle of the reef that barely escaped then are bleaching now, a potential precursor to another die-off that could rob some of the reef’s most visited areas of color and life. “We didn’t expect to see this level of destruction to the Great Barrier Reef for another 30 years,” said Terry P. Hughes, director of a government-funded center for coral reef studies at James Cook University in Australia and the lead author of a paper on the reef that is being published Thursday as the cover article of the journal Nature. “In the north, I saw hundreds of reefs — literally two-thirds of the reefs were dying and are now dead.” The damage to the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s largest living structures, is part of a global calamity that has been unfolding intermittently for nearly two decades and seems to be intensifying. In the paper, dozens of scientists described the recent disaster as the third worldwide mass bleaching of coral reefs since 1998, but by far the most widespread and damaging. The state of coral reefs is a telling sign of the health of the seas. Their distress and death are yet another marker of the ravages of global climate change…. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/15/science/great-barrier-reef-coral-climate-change-dieoff.html
2017-03-15. Arabian Sea algae bloom linked to climate change. By Sam McNeil | AP. Excerpt: BANDAR AL-ROWDAH, Oman — The Gulf of Oman turns green twice a year, when an algae bloom the size of Mexico spreads across the Arabian Sea all the way to India. Scientists who study the algae say the microscopic organisms are thriving in new conditions brought about by climate change, and displacing the zooplankton that underpin the local food chain, threatening the entire marine ecosystem. …Across the planet, blooms have wrecked local ecosystems. Algae can paralyze fish, clog their gills, and absorb enough oxygen to suffocate them. Whales, turtles, dolphins and manatees have died, poisoned by algal toxins, in the Atlantic and Pacific. These toxins have infiltrated whole marine food chains and have, in rare cases, killed people, according to the U.N. science agency. …satellite technology has enabled scientists to link the algae to higher levels of air and water pollution in recent decades, but Bontempi said questions remain. “We know that our Earth is changing,” she said. “It may be in a direction we might not like.” Scientists based at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University trace Oman’s blooms to melting ice in the Himalayas. Less ice has raised temperatures in South Asia and strengthened the Indian Ocean’s southwest monsoon. As this weather front moves across the Arabian Sea every year, it churned up oxygen-poor water thick with nutrients that have fueled the rise of a 1.2-billion-year old algae called noctiluca scintillans…. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/growing-algae-bloom-in-arabian-sea-tied-to-climate-change/2017/03/15/01877bbc-0957-11e7-bd19-fd3afa0f7e2a_story.html
2017-03-14. Glacial Outburst Flood near Mount Everest Caught on Video. By Katherine Kornei, Earth & Space Science News, EoS (AGU). Excerpt: The black water, heavy with debris, came tumbling apparently out of nowhere, gushing over the rocky terrain and pushing boulders around like toys. This torrent is known as a glacial outburst flood, and it forms when water stored deep within a glacier is released without warning. A team of scientists witnessed this rare event firsthand as one spilled down the Lhotse Glacier near Mount Everest on 12 June 2016. Their view, captured on video, affords researchers and the public an up-close look at the mechanics of a glacial outburst flood. …In 2016, a team of American researchers was working in Nepal near Imja Lake, one of the region’s largest glacial lakes. They were collaborating with local communities to improve awareness of glacial lake outburst floods, a perennial danger for those downstream of Imja Lake…. On the morning of 12 June, some of the scientists were doing fieldwork near Lhotse Glacier, an avalanche-fed glacier that originates at the peak of Lhotse, the fourth-highest mountain in the world. Byers remembers hearing what sounded like a rock fall. She then saw a “black tongue of water, boulders, and silt” racing downhill toward the village of Chukhung. She grabbed her camera and shot the video. “I felt powerless to help people…and at the same time experienced utter fascination at the geologic process unfolding before my eyes.” “I have never experienced such adrenaline,” Byers said. “I felt powerless to help people…and at the same time experienced utter fascination at the geologic process unfolding before my eyes.” The glacial outburst flood that Byers and her colleagues witnessed slowly subsided over the next hour. But the trail below the researchers had been washed away, and the only route to Chukhung was over the glacier itself, crossing an ice bridge with water still moving rapidly below it, Byers recalled. The scientists raced over the ice bridge and down into Chukhung. They found that all of the villagers were accounted for and that the community had lost only one outhouse. The large rock wall that the community had built 1 year ago—using donations from the scientists after the 2015 earthquake—had held. “It was twisted in some places but enough to keep the floodwaters from destroying the village,” said Byers. …Within a glacier, water travels in conduits, which can be as large as several meters across. Swiss cheese is “a very good analogy” to explain a glacier’s interior structure, said David Rounce, a glaciologist at the University of Texas at Austin and a member of the research team. Sometimes those conduits can become blocked by ice or debris such as sand and boulders. When sufficient water pressure builds up behind the natural dam to cause it to burst, the torrent that’s released can be substantial…. “These floods are particularly difficult to prepare for because there is often no visual evidence of their threat,” said Duncan Quincey, a glaciologist at the University of Leeds who reviewed the paper…. https://eos.org/articles/glacial-outburst-flood-near-mount-everest-caught-on-video
2017-03-02. Sydney’s Swelter Has a Climate Change Link, Scientists Say. By Henry Fountain, The New York Times. Excerpt: Southeastern Australia has suffered through a series of brutal heat waves over the past two mon ths, with temperatures reaching a scorching 113 degrees Fahrenheit in some parts of the state of New South Wales. “It was nothing short of awful,” said Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, of the Climate Change Research Center at the University of New South Wales, in Sydney. “In Australia, we’re used to a little bit of heat. But this was at another level.” So Dr. Perkins-Kirkpatrick, who studies climate extremes, did what comes naturally: She looked to see whether there was a link between the heat and human-driven climate change. Her analysis, conducted with a loose-knit group of researchers called World Weather Attribution, was made public on Thursday. Their conclusion was that climate change made maximum temperatures like those seen in January and February at least 10 times more likely than a century ago, before significant greenhouse gas emissions from human activity started warming the planet…. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/02/science/australia-heat-climate-change.html
2017-02-27. For Some Arctic Plants, Spring Arrives Almost a Month Earlier. By Steph Yin, The New York Times. Excerpt: Every spring, Arctic plants rely on direct and indirect cues from the environment — like warmer weather, longer days and shrinking sea ice cover — to tell them when they should awaken from winter’s slumber. But as the climate warms, these plants are getting mixed signals about when to rouse. In a new paper published in Biology Letters, researchers detail findings from a 12-year study of when plant species in the low Arctic region of Greenland first green up in the spring. Timing varied from plant to plant, but one speedy sedge species — a flowering, grasslike herb — stirred a full 26 days earlier than it did a decade ago. …Shifting patterns of plant growth may affect the availability of nutritious food for herbivores, for example. Dr. Kerby and his colleagues found in 2013 that more caribou calves died early in years when spring plant growth preceded the animal’s calving season…. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/27/science/arctic-plants-spring-global-warming.html
2017-02-17. Mexico City, Parched and Sinking, Faces a Water Crisis. By Michael Kimmelman, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Always short of water, Mexico City keeps drilling deeper for more, weakening the ancient clay lake beds on which the Aztecs first built much of the city, causing it to crumble even further. It is a cycle made worse by climate change. More heat and drought mean more evaporation and yet more demand for water, adding pressure to tap distant reservoirs at staggering costs or further drain underground aquifers and hasten the city’s collapse. …One study predicts that 10 percent of Mexicans ages 15 to 65 could eventually try to emigrate north as a result of rising temperatures, drought and floods, potentially scattering millions of people and heightening already extreme political tensions over immigration. The effects of climate change are varied and opportunistic, but one thing is consistent: They are like sparks in the tinder. They expose cities’ biggest vulnerabilities, inflaming troubles that politicians and city planners often ignore or try to paper over. And they spread outward, defying borders…. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/02/17/world/americas/mexico-city-sinking.html
2017-02-07. A Crack in an Antarctic Ice Shelf Grew 17 Miles in the Last Two Months. By Jugal K. Patel, The New York Times. Excerpt: A rapidly advancing crack in Antarctica’s fourth-largest ice shelf has scientists concerned that it is getting close to a full break. The rift has accelerated this year in an area already vulnerable to warming temperatures. Since December, the crack has grown by the length of about five football fields each day. The crack in Larsen C now reaches over 100 miles in length, and some parts of it are as wide as two miles. The tip of the rift is currently only about 20 miles from reaching the other end of the ice shelf. Once the crack reaches all the way across the ice shelf, the break will create one of the largest icebergs ever recorded, according to Project Midas, a research team that has been monitoring the rift since 2014. Because of the amount of stress the crack is placing on the remaining 20 miles of the shelf, the team expects the break soon…. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/02/07/science/earth/antarctic-crack.html
2017-01-12. Alaska Seabirds Are Likely Starving to Death. By Dan Joling, Associated Press. Excerpt: ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Seabird biologist David Irons drove recently to the Prince William Sound community of Whittier to check on a friend’s boat and spotted white blobs along the tide line of the rocky Alaska beach. …A closer look revealed that the white patches were emaciated common murres, one of North America’s most abundant seabirds, washed ashore after apparently starving to death. …Murre die-offs have occurred in previous winters but not in the numbers Alaska is seeing. Federal researchers won’t estimate the number, and are trying to gauge the scope and cause of the die-off while acknowledging there’s little they can do. Scientists say the die-offs could be a sign of ecosystem changes that have reduced the numbers of the forage fish that murres depend upon. Warmer water surface temperatures, possibly due to global warming or the El Nino weather pattern, may have affected murre prey, including herring, capelin and juvenile pollock…. http://www.usnews.com/news/science/news/articles/2016-01-12/starvation-suspected-in-massive-die-off-of-alaska-seabirds
2017-01-09. Polar Bear Conservation Plan Calls Climate Change “the Primary Threat” to Their Survival. By John R. Platt, Scientific American. Excerpt: Climate change is “the primary threat” to the survival of polar bears, according to a conservation management plan released today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The plan—which also addresses issues such as human-bear conflict, subsistence hunting by Alaskan Native people, and minimizing the risk of oil spills—says global action on climate change is necessary to save this sea-ice dependent species, which has over the past several years become the conservation icon related to climate change. …The 106-page plan addresses multiple issues facing polar bears, presenting a complex portrait of their threats and what it will take to save them…. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/extinction-countdown/polar-bear-plan-climate-change/
2017-01-03. Climate Change Is Raising Flood Risk in the Northern U.S. By Erika Bolstad, ClimateWire, reprinted by Scientific American. Excerpt: …Scientists who combined an on-the-ground look at stream gauge data and an above-the-ground view from satellites have determined that as the Earth warms, the threat of flooding is growing in the northern half of the United States. The research from the University of Iowa, published recently in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, found that shifting rainfall patterns and the amount of water in the ground are likely causes for the changes. The work fed off research published in 2015 that looked at stream gauges in the ce ntral United States, said Gabriele Villarini, an associate professor in civil and environmental engineering at the university and a co-author of the new paper with Louise Slater. His earlier research showed limited evidence of significant changes in the magnitude of floods, but strong evidence pointing toward an increasing frequency of flooding. …Their research also found that the South and West are experiencing decreasing flood risk, an unsurprising finding, he said, given that those regions have experienced both recent and long-standing drought, and that there is less water stored underground…. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/climate-change-is-raising-flood-risk-in-the-northern-u-s/
2016-12-30. Fish Seek Cooler Waters, Leaving Some Fishermen’s Nets Empty. By Erica Goode, The New York Times. Excerpt: POINT JUDITH, R.I. — There was a time when whiting were plentiful in the waters of Rhode Island Sound, and Christopher Brown pulled the fish into his long stern trawler by the bucketful. “We used to come right here and catch two, three, four thousand pounds a day, sometimes 10,” he said,…. But like many other fish on the Atlantic Coast, whiting have moved north, seeking cooler waters as ocean temperatures have risen, and they are now filling the nets of fishermen farther up the coast. Studies have found that two-thirds of marine species in the Northeast United States have shifted or extended their range as a result of ocean warming, migrating northward or outward into deeper and cooler water. Lobster, once a staple in southern New England, have decamped to Maine. Black sea bass, scup, yellowtail flounder, mackerel, herring and monkfish, to name just a few species, have all moved to accommodate changing temperatures. Yet fishing regulations, which among other things set legal catch limits for fishermen and are often based on where fish have been most abundant in the past, have failed to keep up with these geographical changes. …“Our management system assumes that the ocean has white lines drawn on it, but fish don’t see those lines,” said Malin L. Pinsky, an assistant professor in the department of ecology, evolution and natural resources at Rutgers University, who studies how marine species adapt to climate change. “And our management system is not as nimble as the fish.”… http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/30/science/fish-climate-change-northeast.html
2016-12-29. Using Landsat to Take the Long View on Greenland’s Glaciers. By M. Scheinert, Ralf Rosenau, and Benjamin Ebermann, EoS Earth & Space News, AGU. Excerpt: A new web-based data portal gives scientists access to more than 40 years of satellite imagery, providing seasonal to long-term insights into outflows from Greenland’s ice sheet. …Many of Greenland’s outlet glaciers are retreating substantially; they are flowing more rapidly and their surfaces are lowering…. https://eos.org/project-updates/using-landsat-to-take-the-long-view-on-greenlands-glaciers
2016-11-29. A Wrenching Choice for Alaska Towns in the Path of Climate Change. Text by Erica Goode, Photographs and video by JOSH HANER, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Laid out on a narrow spit of sand between the Tagoomenik River and the Bering Sea, [Shaktoolik] the village of 250 or so people is facing an imminent threat from increased flooding and erosion, signs of a changing climate. With its proximity to the Arctic, Alaska is warming about twice as fast as the rest of the United States and the state is heading for the warmest year on record. The government has identified at least 31 Alaskan towns and cities at imminent risk of destruction, with Shaktoolik ranking among the top four. Some villages, climate change experts predict, will be uninhabitable by 2050, their residents joining a flow of climate refugees around the globe, in Bolivia, China, Niger and other countries…. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/11/29/science/alaska-global-warming.html
2016-11-28. Great Barrier Reef suffered worst bleaching on record in 2016, report finds. By Hywel Griffith, BBC News, Sydney. Excerpt: Higher water temperatures in 2016 caused the worst destruction of corals ever recorded on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, a study has found. Some 67% of corals died in the reef’s worst-hit northern section, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies report said. The situation was better in the central section, where 6% perished, while the southern reef is in good health. …This year’s mass bleaching was the worst-ever recorded on the Great Barrier Reef, following two previous events in 1998 and 2002. Professor Hughes is certain that the increased water temperature is the result of carbon emissions, and warns that climate change could bring annual bleaching within 20 years. “Most of the losses in 2016 have occurred in the northern, most pristine part of the Great Barrier Reef,” he said…. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-38127320
2016-11-24. Perils of Climate Change Could Swamp Coastal Real Estate. By Ian Urbina, The New York Times. Excerpt: MIAMI — Real estate agents looking to sell coastal properties usually focus on one thing: how close the home is to the water’s edge. But buyers are increasingly asking instead how far back it is from the waterline. How many feet above sea level? Is it fortified against storm surges? …Rising sea levels are changing the way people think about waterfront real estate. Though demand remains strong and developers continue to build near the water in many coastal cities, homeowners across the nation are slowly growing wary of buying property in areas most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. A warming planet has already forced a number of industries — coal, oil, agriculture and utilities among them — to account for potential future costs of a changed climate. The real estate industry, particularly along the vulnerable coastlines, is slowly awakening to the need to factor in the risks of catastrophic damage from climate change, including that wrought by rising seas and storm-driven flooding. But many economists say that this reckoning needs to happen much faster and that home buyers urgently need to be better informed. Some analysts say the economic impact of a collapse in the waterfront property market could surpass that of the bursting dot-com and real estate bubbles of 2000 and 2008…. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/24/science/global-warming-coastal-real-estate.html
2016-11-03. The average U.S. family destroys a football field’s worth of Arctic sea ice every 30 years. By By Warren Cornwall, Science. Excerpt: The jet fuel you burned on that flight from New York City to London? Say goodbye to 1 square meter of Arctic sea ice. Since at least the 1960s, the shrinkage of the ice cap over the Arctic Ocean has advanced in lockstep with the amount of greenhouse gases humans have sent into the atmosphere, according to a study published this week in Science. Every additional metric ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) puffed into the atmosphere appears to cost the Arctic another 3 square meters of summer sea ice—a simple and direct observational link that has been sitting in data beneath scientists’ noses. “It’s really basic,” says co-author Dirk Notz, a sea ice expert at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany. “In retrospect, it sounds like something someone should have done 20 years ago.” If both the linear relationship and current emission trends hold into the future, the study suggests the Arctic will be ice free by 2045—far sooner than some climate models predict. …According to the new calculations, for instance, the average annual carbon emissions from a U.S. family of four would claim nearly 200 square meters of sea ice. Over 3 decades, that family would be responsible for destroying more than an American football field’s worth of ice—a tangible threat to ice-dependent creatures such as polar bears…. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/11/average-us-family-destroys-football-fields-worth-arctic-sea-ice-every-30-years
2016-10-24. Living in China’s Expanding Deserts. By Josh Haner, Edward Wong, Derek Watkins, and Jeremy White, The New York Times. Excerpt: People on the edges of the country’s vast seas of sand are being displaced by climate change. In the Tengger Desert, China — This desert, called the Tengger, lies on the southern edge of the massive Gobi Desert, not far from major cities like Beijing. The Tengger is growing. For years, China’s deserts spread at an annual rate of more than 1,300 square miles. Many villages have been lost. Climate change and human activities have accelerated desertification. China says government efforts to relocate residents, plant trees and limit herding have slowed or reversed desert growth in some areas. But the usefulness of those policies is debated by scientists, and deserts are expanding in critical regions. Nearly 20 percent of China is desert, and drought across the northern region is getting worse…. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/10/24/world/asia/living-in-chinas-expanding-deserts.html
2016-10-10. Climate refuges identified for endangered snow leopards. By Brett Israel, UC Berkeley News. Excerpt: A new study of snow leopards’ habitat has found that just one-third of their current range will be a refuge from climate change by 2070, as habitat loss and fragmentation in the Himalaya and Hengduan mountains threaten not just snow leopards, but other species in the region. Snow leopards live in remote, high-elevation area on and surrounding the Tibetan Plateau, known as “the roof of the world.” The region is warming more than twice as fast as the Northern Hemisphere on average, threatening endangered species that call it home. Among these species, snow leopards are critically important to the Tibetan Plateau ecosystem because they are apex predators, which keep the ecosystem in balance. To understand how snow leopards — and the entire ecosystem — will fare as the climate continues to change, researchers from UC Berkeley and Panthera, a wild cat conservation group, used past changes in the region to project future climate scenarios. “Substantial conservation challenges will emerge as vast areas of snow leopard habitat are lost and become increasingly fragmented as a result of climate change. Getting ahead of and addressing these challenges now is imperative for snow leopards, their landscapes and all the unique wildlife those landscapes support,” said Juan Li, a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Steven Beissinger, a professor of conservation biology at UC Berkeley. The research was published in a recent edition of the journal Biological Conservation. …The results suggest that snow leopards have experienced considerable habitat expansion, contraction and fragmentation across their range through these different climatic periods. Based on how snow leopard habitat has changed in the past, the computer modeling identified three large areas that are forecast to be refuges for snow leopards as the climate changes. These refuges are patches of habitat that have remained stable during past climate change events and are expected to remain as good snow leopard habitat through future climate change. …“The results of our study demonstrate some optimism, but only if we can ensure the protection of snow leopard climate refuges from increasing human activities,” Li said…. http://news.berkeley.edu/2016/10/10/climate-refuges-identified-for-endangered-snow-leopards/
2016-10-07. Climate change could be a greater threat to tropical frogs than deforestation. By Brett Israel, UC Berkeley News. Excerpt: Changes in climate and land use are expected to reduce the livable area for tropical frogs because these species will increasingly encounter temperatures hot enough to harm their behavior, reproduction and physiology. Climate change, however, may be the most destructive force, according to a recent study involving a researcher from UC Berkeley. The researchers found that declines in frogs’ thermally suitable habitat area from climate change alone could be up to 4.5 times greater than declines attributable to land-cover change only, such as converting a forest to agriculture. Unlike humans, frogs rely on external sources to regulate their body temperature, so habitats in which frogs are unable to keep their body temperature below their maximum temperature limit are unlikely to support frog populations. For the study, UC Berkeley Ph.D. student David Kurz traveled to Costa Rica and conducted frog surveys in three land-cover types: forest fragments, heart of palm plantations and pasture (a few of the frogs that live in the study area are shown in the slideshow above). After 400 surveys, Kurz and lead author Justin Nowakowski, a postdoctoral researcher at UC Davis, identified frog species restricted to forest as well as species that were able to survive in the agricultural areas. …“Our field data and subsequent modeling show that frogs that are better able to withstand rising temperatures have a better chance of survival in a rapidly changing world,” Kurz said. The researchers found that frog species living exclusively in forests were most sensitive to the high temperatures that come from the combination of climate change and forest conversion. The study was published September 26 in the journal Conservation Biology. Read more on the UC Davis website …. http://news.berkeley.edu/2016/10/07/climate-change-could-be-a-greater-threat-to-tropical-frogs-than-deforestation/
2016-09-19. Arctic Ice Shrinks to Second Lowest Level on Record. By Associated Press. Excerpt: The sea ice reached its summer low point on Saturday, extending 1.6 million square miles — just behind the mark set in 2012, 1.31 million square miles…. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/20/science/shrinking-artic-ice.html
2016-09-15. Above the Arctic Circle, climate change closes in on Barrow. By Adam Popescu, Washington Post. Excerpt: BARROW, Alaska — Here in the northernmost municipality of the United States, 320 miles above the Arctic Circle, people are facing the idea that they may soon be among the world’s first climate-change refugees. Warming air, melting permafrost and rising sea levels are threatening their coastline, and researchers predict that by midcentury, the homes, schools and land around Barrow and its eight surrounding villages will be underwater. This despite decades of erecting barriers, dredging soil and building berms to hold back the water. “The coastline is backing up at rates of [30 to 65 feet] per year,” says Robert Anderson, a University of Boulder geomorphologist who has studied Alaska’s landscape evolution since 1985 and who first noticed in the early 2000s how alarming the erosion was becoming. …When the sea ice melts, the coast becomes exposed to waves, wind and storms that slam into the shore, causing erosion. As ice moves farther from shore, waves can be as high as 20 feet when they reach land, Anderson says. “The only thing we can do, as far as I’m concerned, is move our towns inland,” says Mike Aamodt, the former acting mayor of Barrow and its surrounding villages of the North Slope Borough, which stretches over 89,000 square miles, an area larger than Utah. …The giant bowhead whales native to this part of the Arctic are actually prospering with warming seas here. But it’s a different question for the humans…. http://www.newsminer.com/news/alaska_news/above-the-arctic-circle-climate-change-closes-in-on-barrow/article_1e241b12-7911-11e6-bfe4-233b326bfe57.html
2016-09-12. In an English Village, a Lesson in Climate Change. By Tatiana Schlossberg, The New York Times. Excerpt: CARLISLE, England — After this ancient fortress city was hit by a crippling flood in 2005, its residents could take some comfort in the fact that it was the kind of deluge that was supposed to happen about once every 200 years. But it happened again four years later. And again last winter, when Storm Desmond brought record-breaking downpours that turned roads into rivers, fields into lakes, living rooms into ponds. …In many places, the threat of climate change can still feel distant, even theoretical. But not here, a city of about 74,000 in the far northwest corner of England, where one of its rivers swelled to about 30 times its normal volume last year. About 2,000 houses and 500 businesses were damaged or destroyed in the flooding, and by July, thousands of people still were not able to return to their homes. Some of the city’s schools were flooded, and one of the biggest employers here, a McVitie’s biscuit factory, closed for four months after taking on, by one estimate, about 10 million gallons of water. Residents worry that the factory will close for good if it is flooded again. …Scientists have estimated that climate change has increased the chances of storms like Desmond by 40 percent in this part of Britain, though estimates are somewhat uncertain. “What we had in Carlisle — frequent series of storms and superstorms — are exactly what you would expect in a globally warming climate,” said Colin Thorne, a river scientist at the University of Nottingham. “So we shouldn’t be surprised that it happened.” “Figuring out how to deal with storms and flooding cities is going to have to happen all over the world,” he added…. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/13/science/carlisle-england-climate-change-flooding.html See also these articles: August Ties July for Hottest Month on Record and Oceans Are Absorbing Almost All of the Globe’s Excess Heat.
2016-09-05. Climate change test doesn’t make for greener Earth. By Associated Press. Excerpt: LOS ANGELES — In the course of a 17-year experiment on more than 1 million plants, scientists put future global warming to a real world test — growing California flowers and grasslands with extra heat, carbon dioxide and nitrogen to mimic a not-so-distant, hotter future. The results, simulating a post-2050 world, aren’t pretty. And they contradict those who insist that because plants like carbon dioxide — the main heat-trapping gas spewed by the burning of fossil fuels — climate change isn’t so bad, and will result in a greener Earth. At least in the California ecosystem, the plants that received extra carbon dioxide, as well as those that got extra warmth, didn’t grow more or get greener. They also didn’t remove the pollution and store more of it in the soil, said study author Chris Field, director of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. Plant growth tended to decline with rising temperatures. …It’s not just plants that will suffer in a hotter world. Biologists have warned that about 20 percent of the world’s lizard species could go extinct by 2080 if current warming trends continue…. http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Climate-change-test-doesn-t-make-for-greener-9204104.php
2016-08-19. Reeling From Effects of Climate Change, Alaskan Village Votes to Relocate. By Christopher Mele and Daniel Victor, The New York Times. Excerpt: Residents of a small Alaskan village voted this week to relocate their entire community from a barrier island that has been steadily disappearing because of erosion and flooding attributed to climate change. …Shishmaref is not alone in facing a move because of the effects of climate change. In January, the federal government allocated $48 million to relocate Isle de Jean Charles, La., an island that is sinking into the sea. The effort earned the residents the title of the United States’ first “climate refugees.” As many as 200 million people could be displaced by 2050 because of climate change, according to a study for the British government. In Alaska, 31 villages face “imminent threat of destruction” from erosion and flooding, according to the Arctic Institute, a nonprofit group in Washington that studies issues affecting the Arctic…. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/20/us/shishmaref-alaska-elocate-vote-climate-change.html
2016-08-16. Melting glaciers portend variety of catastrophes. By Associated Press. Excerpt: PASTORURI GLACIER, Peru — The tropical glaciers of South America are dying from soot and rising temperatures, threatening water supplies to communities that have depended on them for centuries. But experts say that the slow process measured in inches of glacial retreat per year also can lead to a sudden, dramatic tragedy. The melting of glaciers like Peru’s Pastoruri has put cities such as Huaraz, located downslope from the glacier about 35 miles away, at risk from what scientists call a “glof” — glacial lake outburst flood. A glof occurs when the weak walls of a mountain valley collapse under the weight of meltwater from a glacier. Recent examples include the rapid draining in 2013 of a lake at Chile’s Ventisquero glacier in the Bernardo O’Higgins National Park, six years after another, nearby lake essentially disappeared there. …“As glaciers disappear around the world, there is less water available for use for hydroelectric power, as a renewable resource for agriculture, for human consumption,” said Benjamin Orlove, a professor of international and public affairs at Colombia University in New York. “The glacier retreat also brings many disasters. Entire slopes are destabilized, creating landslides that travel many miles and have destroyed entire towns.”…. http://www.sfgate.com/world/article/Melting-glaciers-pose-threat-beyond-water-9146303.php
2016-07-07. Climate Change Claims a Lake, and an Identity. Text by Nicholas Casey, Photographs and video by Josh Haner, The New York Times. Excerpt: After surviving decades of water diversion and cyclical El Niño droughts in the Andes, Lake Poopó basically disappeared in December. The ripple effects go beyond the loss of livelihood for the Quispes and hundreds of other fishing families, beyond the migration of people forced to leave homes that are no longer viable. …The vanishing of Lake Poopó threatens the very identity of the Uru-Murato people, the oldest indigenous group in the area. They adapted over generations to the conquests of the Inca and the Spanish, but seem unable to adjust to the abrupt upheaval climate change has caused. Only 636 Uru-Murato are estimated to remain in Llapallapani and two nearby villages. Since the fish died off in 2014, scores have left to work in lead mines or salt flats up to 200 miles away; those who stayed behind scrape by as farmers or otherwise survive on what used to be the shore…. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/07/07/world/americas/bolivia-climate-change-lake-poopo.html
2016-07-04. Slowing Ocean Acidification With Kelp. By The Associated Press. Excerpt: Joth Davis, a senior scientist at the Puget Sound Restoration Fund, recently unspooled 150 feet of line holding thousands of tiny spores of kelp into Hood Canal in Washington State. …The bull kelp seedlings will eventually form thick, slimy ribbons of brown seaweed — and in the process take up carbon dioxide and other nutrients. The researchers hope kelp may provide offer a local strategy for easing the effects of ocean acidification. … http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/05/science/fighting-ocean-acidification-through-kelp.html
2016-06-26. In vitro fertilization may save coral reefs. By David Perlman, San Francisco Chronicle. Excerpt: Marine biologists at the California Academy of Sciences have joined a new international effort to rescue endangered coral reefs from the consequences of widespread human destruction and a warming climate. Teams of research divers from the academy will set off this summer on expeditions to the Caribbean and Mexico, where they will seed two of the region’s major reefs with millions of coral larvae born from the organisms’ sperm and egg cells. …corals are actually colonies of tiny animals that build their limestone homes from the sea, and derive their colors from the algae that live inside them. Their lives are increasingly threatened by global plagues like expanding human development, ocean pollution, and the twin signals of global climate change: rising temperatures and increasing ocean acidification. …The expedition is scheduled for August because the corals spawn only about once a year, releasing their sex cells into the water by the millions, Shepherd explained. The event, he said, occurs only in August at night and only within a few days after a full moon…. http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/In-vitro-fertilization-may-save-coral-reefs-8326086.php
2016-06-14. Australian Rodent Is First Mammal Made Extinct by Human-Driven Climate Change, Scientists Say. By Michelle Innis, The New York Times. Excerpt: SYDNEY, Australia — Australian researchers say rising sea levels have wiped out a rodent that lived on a tiny outcrop in the Great Barrier Reef, in what they say is the first documented extinction of a mammal species due to human-caused climate change. …The long-tailed, whiskered creature, called the Bramble Cay melomys, was considered the only mammal endemic to the Great Barrier Reef. “The key factor responsible for the death of the Bramble Cay melomys is almost certainly high tides and surging seawater, which has traveled inland across the island,” Luke Leung, a scientist from the University of Queensland who was an author of a report on the species’ apparent disappearance, said by telephone. “The seawater has destroyed the animal’s habitat and food source. This is the first documented extinction of a mammal because of climate change,” he said. …Accounts of the melomys’s presence on Bramble Cay date to 1845, when European sailors encountered what they described as large rats (and tried to kill them with bows and arrows). Researchers found hundreds of the creatures on the island during the 1970s. But within a few decades, their numbers had fallen drastically, with just 10 melomys captured during a 2002 survey and 12 in 2004. None at all were caught during a 2011 survey, but that expedition was cut short for fear of damaging green-turtle nests…. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/15/world/australia/climate-change-bramble-cay-rodent.html
2016-06-09. Climate change could trigger tropical evacuations, researchers advise. By Kathleen Maclay, UC Berkeley News. Excerpt: Global warming by just 2 degrees Celsius is likely to force some tropical plant, animal and human populations to relocate hundreds of miles from their current homes this century, according to research published today in the journal Scientific Reports [http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep25697]. Solomon Hsiang, Chancellor’s Associate Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and Adam Sobel, a professor of applied physics and math at Columbia University, foresee dramatic population declines in Mexico, Central America, Africa, India and other tropical locales if ecosystems or humans move due to climate change. In their analysis, the pair used a model to demonstrate how climate dynamics in the tropics can dramatically magnify the consequences of climate change as it is experienced on the ground. This means even small climate changes can have dramatic impacts…. http://news.berkeley.edu/2016/06/09/climate-change-could-trigger-tropical-evacuations-researchers-advise/
2016-06-09. Fact Sheets: Climate Change, Health, and Populations of Concern. By Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Fact Sheets on Climate Change and the Health of Children, Indigenous Populations, Occupational Groups, Older Adults, People with Disabilities, People with Existing Medical Conditions, Pregnant Women. Also Climate Change, Health, and Environmental Justice…. https://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/impacts/health/factsheets/
2016-05. Rising reality. By John King, San Francisco Chronicle. Excerpt: An abundance of scientific studies says the bay’s average tide could climb several feet or more by 2100, with most change coming in the decades after 2050. It’s an inexorable shift that threatens low-lying neighborhoods as well as the fish, birds and wildlife that need tidal flats to survive. If sea levels were to rise 36 inches, the midrange increase through 2100 projected in the most recent study by the National Research Council, water would wash into San Francisco’s Ferry Building twice daily at high tide. With just 16 inches of sea-level rise, the tollbooths of the Bay Bridge could be flooded during storms. $35 billion worth of public property in San Francisco is at risk if sea-level rise by 2100 reaches 66 inches, the upper level forecast by the National Research Council. Already, lanes on the ramps connecting Highway 101 to the Shoreline Highway near Mill Valley are closed regularly — 30 times in 2015 — because of high tides, a small but vivid hint of how profoundly our region will be altered in coming decades unless the Bay Area starts making plans now…. http://projects.sfchronicle.com/2016/sea-level-rise/
2016-04-04. White House FACT SHEET: What Climate Change Means for Your Health and Family. By The White House Office of the Press Secretary. Excerpt: …the Obama Administration released a new final report called The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment, …. Air pollution and airborne allergens will likely increase, …. Extreme heat can be expected to cause an increase in the number of premature deaths, from thousands to tens of thousands, each summer, …. Warmer winter and spring temperatures are projected to lead to earlier annual onset of Lyme disease cases in the eastern United States …. Rising temperature and increases in flooding, runoff events, and drought will likely lead to increases in the occurrence and transport of pathogens in agricultural environments, which will increase the risk of food contamination and human exposure to pathogens and toxins. … Climate change will have the largest health impact on vulnerable populations including those with low incomes, some communities of color, limited English proficiency and immigrant groups, Indigenous peoples, children, pregnant women, older adults, vulnerable occupational groups, persons with disabilities, and persons with preexisting or chronic medical conditions…. Extreme weather and other events related to climate change will impact health by exacerbating underlying medical conditions, increasing exposure to foodborne and waterborne illness risks, and disrupting infrastructure, including power, water, transportation, and communication systems, that are essential to maintaining access to health care and emergency response services and safeguarding human health…. https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/04/04/fact-sheet-what-climate-change-means-your-health-and-family
2016-04-04. NASA Is Facing a Climate Change Countdown. By John Schwartz, The New York Times. Excerpt: Kennedy Space Center and other NASA facilities near coastlines are facing the prospect of continually rising waters. …Like so much of Florida, the Space Coast — a 72-mile stretch along the Atlantic — is feeling the threat of climate change. Some of the erosion is caused by the churning energy of ocean currents along the coastline. Hurricane Sandy, whose power was almost certainly strengthened by climate change, took a big bite in 2012, flattening an already damaged dune line that provided protection from the Atlantic’s battering. …According to a study published last week, warming pressure on the Antarctic ice sheet could help push sea levels higher by as much as five or six feet by the end of this century…. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/05/science/nasa-is-facing-a-climate-change-countdown.html
2016-03-28. Scientists Find a Way to Predict U.S. Heat Waves Weeks in Advance. By Henry Fountain, The New York Times. Excerpt: Deadly summer heat waves in the eastern United States may be predictable nearly two months before they occur, giving emergency planners and farmers more time to prepare, scientists reported on Monday. The key to such an advance forecast, scientists said, is the occurrence of a distinctive pattern of water temperatures across a wide stretch of the North Pacific Ocean. While the existence of the pattern does not guarantee that a heat wave will occur, it significantly increases the odds of one happening as much as 50 days later. …From 1999 to 2010, about 620 people died each year, on average, from heat-related illness in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. …In a study published on Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience, the researchers first identified extremely hot summer days in the eastern half of the country from 1982 to 2015. Then they looked at temperature data for sea surfaces — specifically, the extent to which temperatures were above or below normal — for the same period. “The pattern popped out at us really clearly,” said Karen A. McKinnon, a postdoctoral researcher at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, in Boulder, Colo., and the lead author of the study. Not only did it exist on those hot days — defined as about 12 degrees hotter than normal summer temperatures — “but importantly, up to seven weeks before,” Dr. McKinnon said…. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/29/science/heat-wave-predictions-weather.html
2016-02-22. Seas Are Rising at Fastest Rate in Last 28 Centuries. By Justin Gillis, The New York Times. Excerpt: The worsening of tidal flooding in American coastal communities is largely a consequence of greenhouse gases from human activity, and the problem will grow far worse in coming decades, scientists reported Monday. Those emissions, primarily from the burning of fossil fuels, are causing the ocean to rise at the fastest rate since at least the founding of ancient Rome, the scientists said. They added that in the absence of human emissions, the ocean surface would be rising less rapidly and might even be falling. The increasingly routine tidal flooding is making life miserable in places like Miami Beach; Charleston, S.C.; and Norfolk, Va., even on sunny days. …Though these types of floods often produce only a foot or two of standing saltwater, they are straining life in many towns by killing lawns and trees, blocking neighborhood streets and clogging storm drains, polluting supplies of freshwater and sometimes stranding entire island communities for hours by overtopping the roads that tie them to the mainland. …if emissions were to continue at a high rate over the next few decades, the ocean could rise as much as three or four feet by 2100. …the situation would then grow far worse in the 22nd century and beyond, likely requiring the abandonment of many coastal cities. …roughly three-quarters of the tidal flood days now occurring in towns along the East Coast would not be happening in the absence of the rise in the sea level caused by human emissions. …it has a bigger effect on the nuisance floods that can accompany what are known as king tides. …in the decade from 1955 to 1964 at Annapolis, Md., an instrument called a tide gauge measured 32 days of flooding; in the decade from 2005 to 2014, that jumped to 394 days. Flood days in Charleston jumped from 34 in the earlier decade to 219 in the more recent, and in Key West, Fla., the figure jumped from no flood days in the earlier decade to 32 in the more recent. …“Physics tells us that sea-level change and temperature change should go hand-in-hand,” Dr. Kopp said. “This new geological record confirms it.” …“Ice simply melts faster when the temperatures get higher,” Dr. Rahmstorf said. “That’s just basic physics.”… http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/23/science/sea-level-rise-global-warming-climate-change.html
2016-02-17. Warming oceans are turning sea stars to goo and killing lobsters, scientists say. By Darryl Fears, The Washington Post. Excerpt: Warming waters in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans have increased the prevalence of diseases that are turning sea stars to mush and killing lobsters by burrowing under their shells and causing lesions, two new studies say. The outbreaks are so lethal, according to a biologist involved in both studies, that at least one species of sea star has vanished off the coasts of Washington and British Columbia and the lobster fishery, already decimated in southern New England, will likely be threatened in Maine. …The sea-star study was led by Morgan E. Eisenlord, an evolutionary biologist at Cornell, and published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Both in a laboratory and at 16 sites on the San Juan Islands off Washington’s coast, researchers determined that ochre sea stars gradually became sicker as water temperatures rose slightly. Conditions simulated in the lab confirmed what the scientists observed in the field. As temperatures rose, the disease became more prevalent, and adult ochres died within days. …Warming waters and perhaps genetic change in the virus appear to increase its potency… https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/02/17/warming-oceans-are-turning-sea-stars-to-goo-and-killing-lobsters-scientists-say/
2016-02-16. Australian wine under threat from climate change, as grapes ripen early. By Calla Wahlquist, The Guardian. Excerpt: Wine grapes ripening up to two days earlier each year, as viticultural experts warn some traditional varieties may be abandoned in warmer areas. …A 2011 study by Barlow’s Melbourne University colleague, Leanne Webb, examined the vintage records of 44 vineyards, some of which went back as far as 115 years, and found that grapes had ripened at a rate of 1.7 days a year earlier between 1993 and 2009. .. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/feb/17/australian-wine-under-threat-from-climate-change-as-grapes-ripen-early
2016-02-11. NASA, University Study Shows Rising Seas Slowed by Increasing Water on Land. NASA Release 16-015. Excerpt: New measurements from a NASA satellite have allowed researchers to identify and quantify, for the first time, how climate-driven increases of liquid water storage on land have affected the rate of sea level rise. …while ice sheets and glaciers continue to melt, changes in weather and climate over the past decade have caused Earth’s continents to soak up and store an extra 3.2 trillion tons of water in soils, lakes and underground aquifers, temporarily slowing the rate of sea level rise by about 20 percent. The water gains over land were spread globally, but taken together they equal the volume of Lake Huron, the world’s seventh largest lake. The study is published in the Feb. 12 issue of the journal Science. Each year, a large amount of water evaporates from the oceans, falls over land as rain or snow, and returns to the oceans through runoff and river flows. This is known as the global hydrologic, or water, cycle. …”We always assumed that people’s increased reliance on groundwater for irrigation and consumption was resulting in a net transfer of water from the land to the ocean,” said lead author J.T. Reager of JPL…. “What we didn’t realize until now is that over the past decade, changes in the global water cycle more than offset the losses that occurred from groundwater pumping, causing the land to act like a sponge — at least temporarily. These new data …will be a critical complement to future long-term projections of sea level rise, which depend on melting ice and warming oceans.” The 2002 launch of NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) twin satellites provided the first tool capable of quantifying land liquid water storage trends. By measuring the distance between the two GRACE satellites to within the width of a strand of human hair as they orbit Earth, researchers can detect changes in Earth’s gravitational pull that result from regional changes in the amount of water across Earth’s surface. With careful analysis of these data, JPL scientists were able to measure the change in liquid water storage on the continents, as well as the changes in ice sheets and glaciers. For more on NASA’s sea level rise research: https://sealevel.nasa.gov/…. http://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-university-study-shows-rising-seas-slowed-by-increasing-water-on-land
2016-01-25. Sea level rise from ocean warming underestimated, scientists say. By Agence-France Presse, The Guardian. Excerpt: Thermal expansion of the oceans as they warm is likely to be twice as large as previously thought, according to German researchers. …The findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed US journal, suggest that increasingly severe storm surges could be anticipated as a result. Sea level can mount due to two factors – melting ice and the thermal expansion of water as it warms. Until now, researchers have believed the oceans rose between 0.7 to 1mm per year due to thermal expansion. But a fresh look at the latest satellite data from 2002 to 2014 shows the seas are expanding about 1.4mm a year, said the study. …The overall sea level rise rate is about 2.74mm per year, combining both thermal expansion and melting ice…. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jan/26/sea-level-rise-from-ocean-warming-underestimated-scientists-say
2016-01-21. Disappearance of Bolivia’s No. 2 lake a harbinger. By Carlos Valdez, AP. Excerpt: UNTAVI, Bolivia (AP) — …Lake Poopo was officially declared evaporated last month. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people have lost their livelihoods and gone. …the shallow saline lake has essentially dried up before only to rebound to twice the area of Los Angeles. But recovery may no longer be possible, scientists say. “This is a picture of the future of climate change,” says Dirk Hoffman, a German glaciologist who studies how rising temperatures from the burning of fossil fuels has accelerated glacial melting in Bolivia. As Andean glaciers disappear so do the sources of Poopo’s water. But other factors are in play in the demise of Bolivia’s second-largest body of water behind Lake Titicaca. Drought caused by the recurrent El Nino meteorological phenomenon is considered the main driver. Authorities say another factor is the diversion of water from Poopo’s tributaries, mostly for mining but also for agriculture…. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/867659e34643474988d1bcf3447e60e8/disappearance-bolivias-no-2-lake-harbinger
2016-01-20. How 2 degrees rise means even higher temperatures where we live. By phys.org. Excerpt: …according to various climate models, the temperature will rise more sharply over land than over oceans. The big question is therefore how a maximum of two degrees global warming will affect individual regions of the world. …A team of climate researchers from Switzerland, Australia and the UK led by Seneviratne has … calculated the levels of extreme and average temperatures, as well as of heavy precipitation, that will occur in individual regions if the average global rise in temperature is taken as a reference. Recently published in Nature as a “Perspective”, this study constitutes one of the first quantitative treatments of this issue…. http://phys.org/news/2016-01-degrees.html
2016-01-05. More Frequent Glacial Quakes on Greenland Signal Ice Retreat. By JoAnna Wendel, EoS – Earth & Space Science News, AGU Excerpt: As the Greenland ice sheet creaks and cracks, scientists are listening.Since the 1990s, researchers have seen a rise in the number of glacial earthquakes emanating from Greenland’s glaciers—earthquakes that stem from massive blocks of ice calving from glacier fronts. Nearly half of the glacial earthquakes in the past quarter century occurred between 2011 and 2013, a team of researchers has now found after digging through seismic data. These earthquakes could be a signal of a warming climate’s effect on the stability of the ice sheet itself. “The rise in glacial earthquakes is part of the larger pattern of ice loss that is happening all over the Greenland ice sheet,” said Kira Olsen, a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University in New York, who led the new study. Along with recorded ice loss and melt runoff, more frequent glacial earthquakes are “another piece of evidence that Greenland is rapidly losing ice.”… https://eos.org/articles/more-frequent-glacial-quakes-on-greenland-signal-ice-retreat
2016-01-04. West Antarctic Ice Shelf Breaking Up from the Inside Out. By Lauren Lipuma, EoS – Earth & Space Science News, AGU. Excerpt: Pine Island Glacier and its nearby twin, Thwaites Glacier, sit at the outer edge of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Like corks in a bottle, the two glaciers block ice flow and keep nearly 10% of the ice sheet from draining into the sea. Studies have suggested that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is particularly unstable and could collapse within the next 100 years. The collapse could lead to a sea level rise of nearly 10 feet (3 meters), which would engulf major U.S. cities such as New York and Miami and displace 150 million people living on coasts worldwide. A nearly 225-square-mile (588-square-kilometer) iceberg—nearly the size of Chicago—broke off from Pine Island Glacier in 2015, but it wasn’t until researchers were testing some new image-processing software that they noticed something strange in Landsat 8 satellite images taken before the event. In the images, Jeong et al. saw a rift open in the surface of the ice shelf nearly 20 miles (32 kilometers) inland in 2013. …this particular rift originated in the center of Pine Island Glacier’s ice shelf and propagated out to the margins. This implies that something weakened the center of the ice shelf. The most likely explanation is that a crevasse melted out at the bedrock level, driven by a warming ocean, according to the researchers…. https://eos.org/research-spotlights/west-antarctic-ice-shelf-breaking-up-from-the-inside-out
2015-12-30. Climate Chaos, Across the Map. By Justin Gillis, The New York Times. Excerpt: What is going on with the weather? With tornado outbreaks in the South, Christmas temperatures that sent trees into bloom in Central Park, drought in parts of Africa and historic floods drowning the old industrial cities of England, 2015 is closing with a string of weather anomalies all over the world. The year, expected to be the hottest on record, may be over at midnight Thursday, but the trouble will not be. Rain in the central United States has been so heavy that major floods are beginning along the Mississippi River and are likely to intensify in coming weeks. California may lurch from drought to flood by late winter. Most serious, millions of people could be threatened by a developing food shortage in southern Africa. …Scientists say the most obvious suspect in the turmoil is the climate pattern called El Niño, in which the Pacific Ocean for the last few months has been dumping immense amounts of heat into the atmosphere. Because atmospheric waves can travel thousands of miles, the added heat and accompanying moisture have been playing havoc with the weather in many parts of the world. …But that natural pattern of variability is not the whole story. This El Niño, one of the strongest on record, comes atop a long-term heating of the planet caused by mankind’s emissions of greenhouse gases. A large body of scientific evidence says those emissions are making certain kinds of extremes, such as heavy rainstorms and intense heat waves, more frequent. Coincidence or not, every kind of trouble that the experts have been warning about for years seems to be occurring at once. “As scientists, it’s a little humbling that we’ve kind of been saying this for 20 years now, and it’s not until people notice daffodils coming out in December that they start to say, ‘Maybe they’re right,’ ” said Myles R. Allen, a climate scientist at Oxford University in Britain…. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/31/science/climate-chaos-across-the-map.html
2015-12-24. World’s Smallest Glaciers Risk Vanishing in Warm Climate. By JoAnna Wendel, EoS Earth & Space News (AGU). Excerpt: The next few decades do not bode well for the world’s smallest glaciers. These tiny glaciers, less than half a square kilometer, dot mountains all over the world and account for 80%–90% of the globe’s mountain glacier population. But as temperatures rise, scientists worry that these glaciers will all but disappear. Even if they seem insignificant because of their size, these glaciers “respond very quickly and therefore they can contribute significantly, even on the global level, in terms of sea level rise for the next decade,” said Matthias Huss, senior lecturer at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland and lead scientist in the research…. https://eos.org/articles/worlds-smallest-glaciers-risk-vanishing-in-warm-climate
2015-12-16. Greenland has lost a staggering amount of ice — and it’s only getting worse. By Chris Mooney, Washington Post. Excerpt: A massive new study by 16 authors has calculated just how much ice the Greenland ice sheet has lost since the year 1900. And the number, says the paper just out in the journal Nature, is astounding: 9,103 gigatons (a gigaton is a billion metric tons). …the rate of loss has been increasing, the research finds, with a doubling of annual loss in the period 2003 to 2010 compared with what it was throughout the 20th century. The study was led by Kristian K. Kjeldsen of the Natural History Museum of Denmark at the University of Copenhagen. … “It’s the first observational based study that shows where Greenland has lost its mass over the last 110 years,” said Kurt H. Kjær, the paper’s senior author and also of the Natural History Museum of Denmark at the University of Copenhagen. …Ice loss from Greenland today occurs through two key mechanisms — melting on the surface of the ice sheet followed by runoff into the ocean, and large calving events at marine based glaciers, which are followed by more flow of ice outward from behind them. …The new research also suggests that Greenland was a major player in the global sea level budget throughout the last century, and accounts for much sea level rise that the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had previously not attributed to the Greenland. …Greenland would have contributed about 2.5 centimeters of sea level rise over the period — roughly an inch. That may not sound like much, but it’s enough water to submerge the entire U.S. interstate highway system 98 feet deep — and to do so 63 times over, says Jason Box, a professor with the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland. Taken in total, a melting of the entire Greenland ice sheet would lead to roughly 20 feet of sea level rise. …The world’s recent Paris goal of keeping warming well below 2 degrees Celsius (or even better, 1.5 degrees Celsius), if achieved, may just be enough to prevent a scenario in which a total melt occurs over time. “The ice sheets are doomed in plus 3 Celsius world,” says Box…. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/12/16/greenland-has-lost-a-staggering-amount-of-ice-and-its-only-getting-worse/
2015-12-16. Study Shows Climate Change Rapidly Warming World’s Lakes. NASA Release 15-239. Excerpt: Climate change is rapidly warming lakes around the world, threatening freshwater supplies and ecosystems, according to a new NASA and National Science Foundation-funded study of more than half of the world’s freshwater supply. …Using more than 25 years of satellite temperature data and ground measurements of 235 lakes on six continents, this study — the largest of its kind — found lakes are warming an average of 0.61 degrees Fahrenheit (0.34 degrees Celsius) each decade. The scientists say this is greater than the warming rate of either the ocean or the atmosphere, and it can have profound effects. …As warming rates increase over the next century, algal blooms, which can rob water of oxygen, are projected to increase 20 percent in lakes. Algal blooms that are toxic to fish and animals are expected to increase by 5 percent. Emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide on 100-year time scales, will increase 4 percent over the next decade, if these rates continue. “Society depends on surface water for the vast majority of human uses,” said co-author Stephanie Hampton, director of Washington State University’s Center for Environmental Research, Education and Outreach in Pullman. “Not just for drinking water, but manufacturing, for energy production, for irrigation of our crops. Protein from freshwater fish is especially important in the developing world.” Water temperature influences a host of its other properties critical to the health and viability of ecosystems. When temperatures swing quickly and widely from the norm, life forms in a lake can change dramatically and even disappear. “These results suggest that large changes in our lakes are not only unavoidable, but are probably already happening,” said lead author Catherine O’Reilly, associate professor of geology at Illinois State University, Normal. …In general, the researchers write, “The pervasive and rapid warming observed here signals the urgent need to incorporate climate impacts into vulnerability assessments and adaptation efforts for lakes.”… http://www.nasa.gov/press-release/study-shows-climate-change-rapidly-warming-world-s-lakes
2015-12-02. The Marshall Islands Are Disappearing. By Coral Davenport, The New York Times. Excerpt: EBEYE, Marshall Islands — Linber Anej waded out in low tide to haul concrete chunks and metal scraps to shore and rebuild the makeshift sea wall in front of his home. The temporary barrier is no match for the rising seas that regularly flood the shacks and muddy streets with saltwater and raw sewage, …. Standing near his house at the edge of a densely packed slum of tin shacks, he said, “I feel like we’re living underwater.” Worlds away, in plush hotel conference rooms in Paris, London, New York and Washington, Tony A. deBrum, the foreign minister of the Marshall Islands, tells the stories of men like Mr. Anej to convey to more powerful policy makers the peril facing his island nation in the Pacific as sea levels rise — and to shape the legal and financial terms of a major United Nations climate change accord now being negotiated in Paris. Mr. deBrum’s focus is squarely on the West’s wallets — recouping “loss and damage,” in negotiators’ parlance, for the destruction wrought by the rich nations’ industrial might on the global environment…. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/12/02/world/The-Marshall-Islands-Are-Disappearing.html
2015-11-17. Billions of People Depend on Water From Shrinking Snowpacks. By SIindya N. Bhanoo, the New York Times. Excerpt: Snowpacks are a vital source of water for humans, but they may shrink in some regions as the climate warms. A new study estimates how changes in s[n]owfall will affect water supplies. Justin S. Mankin, an earth scientist at Columbia University, and his colleagues analyzed 421 drainage basins in the Northern Hemisphere that depend on rainfall and snowmelt, and then combined the data with several different climate models. They found that 97 basins, currently serving two billion people, depend heavily on snowmelt. The scientists calculated that the likelihood the basins would receive less snow in the coming century was 67 percent. …“Water managers need to prepare themselves for the worst outcome,” Dr. Mankin said. The public can help mitigate threats to snowpacks by limiting contributions of greenhouse gas emissions, he added…. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/18/science/billions-of-people-depend-on-water-from-shrinking-snowpacks.html
2015-11-12. The Secrets in Greenland’s Ice Sheet. By Jon Gertner, The New York Times. Excerpt: …If the ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica were to collapse and melt entirely, the result would be a sea-level rise of 200 feet or so. This number, though fearsome, is not especially helpful to anyone but Hollywood screenwriters: No scientist believes that all that ice will slide into the oceans soon. During the last year, however, a small contingent of researchers has begun to consider whether sea-level-rise projections, increased by the recent activity of collapsing glaciers on the periphery of the ice sheets, point toward a potential catastrophe. It would not take 200 feet to drown New Orleans. Or New York. A mere five or 10 feet worth of sea-level rise due to icebergs, and a few powerful storm surges, would probably suffice. …When it comes to understanding the implications of ice-sheet collapse, the speed of that breakdown is everything. It could mean sea levels that rise slowly and steadily, perhaps a foot or two per century, which might allow coastal communities to adapt and adjust. Or it could mean levels that rise at an accelerating pace, perhaps five feet or more per century — forcing the evacuation of the earth’s great coastal cities and producing millions of refugees and almost unimaginable financial costs. The difference between slowly and rapidly is a crucial distinction that one scientist recently described to me as ‘‘the trillion-dollar question.’’…. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/15/magazine/the-secrets-in-greenlands-ice-sheets.html
- 2015-11-02. A Rooftop View of Insect Migration in a Warming Climate by Sindya N. Bhanoo, New York Times.
- 2015-11-04. Toxin Taints Crabs and Kills Sea Mammals, Scientists Warn. By Jonah Bromwich, New York Times.
- 2015-11-05. Something’s Hot in the State of Denmark – An 18-year survey hints at how global warming may be changing the face of Danish bugs. By Alisa Opar, OnEarth, NRDC.
2015-10-29. Collapse of New England’s iconic cod tied to climate change. By Marianne Lavelle, Science. Excerpt: The Atlantic cod, a fish that came to symbolize bounty to America’s colonial settlers, is on the brink of disappearing, despite years of fishing limits aimed at rebuilding stocks. A new study reveals why: Cod spawning and survival has been hampered by rapid, extraordinary ocean warming in the Gulf of Maine, where sea surface temperatures rose faster than anywhere else on the planet between 2003 and 2014. …The scientists used satellite data to track the daily sea surface temperature trend in the Gulf of Maine. From 1982 until 2004, they found, temperatures rose by 0.03°C per year, or three times the global mean rate. That warming accelerated sevenfold beginning in 2004, peaking in 2012 with a large “ocean heat wave” that persisted for 18 months, according to the study. …Using recent Gulf of Maine cod stock assessments, the researchers then tested a number of models for predicting the factors that affected cod reproduction. Warming was the best predictor, they reported: When summer temperatures went up, the number of fish reaching maturity went down. “The number of new cod for each year that appear in the population is strongly related to temperature,” Pershing says…. http://news.sciencemag.org/climate/2015/10/collapse-new-england-s-iconic-cod-tied-climate-change
2015-10-27. Greenland Is Melting Away. By Coral Davenport, Josh Haner, Larry Buchanan and Derek Watkins, The New York Times. Excerpt: On the Greenland Ice Sheet — The midnight sun still gleamed at 1 a.m. across the brilliant expanse of the Greenland ice sheet. Brandon Overstreet, a doctoral candidate in hydrology at the University of Wyoming, picked his way across the frozen landscape, clipped his climbing harness to an anchor in the ice and crept toward the edge of a river that rushed downstream toward an enormous sinkhole. If he fell in, “the death rate is 100 percent,” said Mr. Overstreet’s friend and fellow researcher, Lincoln Pitcher. But Mr. Overstreet’s task, to collect critical data from the river, is essential to understanding one of the most consequential impacts of global warming. The scientific data he and a team of six other researchers collect here could yield groundbreaking information on the rate at which the melting of Greenland ice sheet, one of the biggest and fastest-melting chunks of ice on Earth, will drive up sea levels in the coming decades. The full melting of Greenland’s ice sheet could increase sea levels by about 20 feet…. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/10/27/world/greenland-is-melting-away.html
2015-10-26. Extreme heatwaves could push Gulf climate beyond human endurance, study shows. By Damian Carrington, The Guardian. Excerpt: Oil heartlands of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha and Iran’s coast will experience higher temperatures and humidity than ever before on Earth if the world fails to cut carbon emissions. …The Gulf in the Middle East, the heartland of the global oil industry, will suffer heatwaves beyond the limit of human survival if climate change is unchecked, according to a new scientific study [http://nature.com/articles/doi:10.1038/nclimate2833]…. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/oct/26/extreme-heatwaves-could-push-gulf-climate-beyond-human-endurance-study-shows See also 2015-10-27. Report predicts temperatures too hot for humans in Persian Gulf. By Joby Warrick Washington Post. “A scientific study released Monday warns that at least five of the region’s great metropolises could see summer days that surpass the ‘‘human habitability’’ limit by the end of the century. Heat and humidity would be so high that even the healthiest people could not withstand more than a few hours outdoors….” https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2015/10/26/report-says-climate-change-could-push-persian-gulf-temperatures-lethal-extremes/8RvxLlDbgnl0co4PSywagP/story.html
2015-09-14. An Epic, 500-Year Snow Fail in California’s Iconic Mountains. By Cheryl Katz, National Geographic. Excerpt: This year’s snowpack is the driest it’s been in at least 500 years, according to new research published Monday. This stark finding comes from an analysis of more than 1,500 California blue oak tree rings dating back to the early 1500s, when Spanish explorers were just beginning their conquest of the state. …“What happened in 2015 is that very low precipitation co-occurred with record high temperatures. And that’s what made this snowpack low so extremely low,” says Valerie Trouet, a tree-ring research specialist at the University of Arizona in Tucson and co-author of the study published in Nature Climate Change. …The 2015 Sierra snow water equivalent, a measure of water content, was just 5 percent of average over the past half-millennium, the researchers found. The next-closest lows were 2014 and 1977; both years the water content was 25 percent of average. …The researchers had expected the 2015 results to be bad, “but we didn’t expect it to be this bad,” Trouet says. In fact, the water content of the Sierra Nevada snowpack could actually be at its lowest in 3,100 years, she said, based on a different analysis also reported in the study…. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/09/15914-Sierra-California-snowpack-mountains-drought-centuries/
2015-08-26. NASA Science Zeros in on Ocean Rise: How Much? How Soon? NASA Release 15-174. Excerpt: Seas around the world have risen an average of nearly 3 inches since 1992, with some locations rising more than 9 inches due to natural variation, according to the latest satellite measurements from NASA and its partners. An intensive research effort now underway, aided by NASA observations and analysis, points to an unavoidable rise of several feet in the future. …“Given what we know now about how the ocean expands as it warms and how ice sheets and glaciers are adding water to the seas, it’s pretty certain we are locked into at least 3 feet of sea level rise, and probably more,” said Steve Nerem of the University of Colorado, Boulder, and lead of the Sea Level Change Team. “But we don’t know whether it will happen within a century or somewhat longer.” …“Sea level along the west coast of the United States has actually fallen over the past 20 years because long-term natural cycles there are hiding the impact of global warming,” said Josh Willis, an oceanographer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. “However, there are signs this pattern is changing. We can expect accelerated rates of sea level rise along this coast over the next decade as the region recovers from its temporary sea level ‘deficit.’” Scientists estimate that about one-third of sea level rise is caused by expansion of warmer ocean water, one-third is due to ice loss from the massive Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, and the remaining third results from melting mountain glaciers. But, the fate of the polar ice sheets could change that ratio and produce more rapid increases in the coming decades. Images and video supporting the media teleconference today are available at: http://go.nasa.gov/risingseasbriefing …Learn more about NASA’s research into sea level change at: http://www.nasa.gov/risingseas …Full release at http://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-science-zeros-in-on-ocean-rise-how-much-how-soon
2015-08-20. Climate Change Intensifies California Drought, Scientists Say. By Justin Gillis, The New York Times. Excerpt: Global warming caused by human emissions has most likely intensified the drought in California by roughly 15 to 20 percent, scientists said Thursday, warning that future dry spells in the state are almost certain to be worse than this one as the world continues to heat up. Even though the findings suggest that the drought is primarily a consequence of natural climate variability, the scientists added that the likelihood of any drought becoming acute is rising because of climate change. The odds of California suffering droughts at the far end of the scale, like the current one that began in 2012, have roughly doubled over the past century, they said. “This would be a drought no matter what,” said A. Park Williams, a climate scientist at Columbia University and the lead author of a paper published by the journal Geophysical Research Letters. “It would be a fairly bad drought no matter what. But it’s definitely made worse by global warming.” …Rising temperatures dry the soil faster and cause more rapid evaporation from streams and reservoirs, so they did not need any research to tell them that the drought was probably worse because of the warming trend over the past century — the same is true for pretty much any drought in the world. The challenge has been to quantify how worse the California drought has become because of human emissions…. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/21/science/climate-change-intensifies-california-drought-scientists-say.html
2015-08-12. Arctic sea ice has melted so much, National Geographic had to redraw its atlas. By Clara Chaisson, NRDC. Excerpt: Climate change is keeping the mapmakers over at National Geographic busy. As the Arctic warms twice as fast as the rest of the world, …the updates to the region reflect “one of the most striking changes in the publication’s history,” the magazine says. So striking, in fact, that President Obama referred to it while unveiling his Clean Power Plan last week. The redrawn map is based on data from a 30-year NASA study, published in 2012…. http://www.onearth.org/earthwire/melting-arctic-national-geographic-atlas
2015-08-09. Will these Alaska villagers be America’s first climate change refugees? Science Friday, National Public Radio. Excerpt: [hear recording of interview] In 2008, the Inupiat village sued 24 of the world’s biggest fossil fuel companies for damages. In 2013, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case and the village has declared it will not file a new claim in state court. Meanwhile, nature, heedless of humankind’s eternal squabbles, goes about its business: the sea around Kivalina continues to rise, the storms get stronger, the ice gets thinner — and Kivalina’s 400 residents must grapple with how to relocate in the decade they’re estimated to have left. Kivalina is on a very thin barrier reef island between the Chukchi Sea and the Kivalina Lagoon, in the northwest of Alaska, above the Arctic Circle. …In May, June and July, the men of the village go out on the ice hunting bearded seals. They cut up the seals, dry them and store them for the winter. “That provides the winter supply,” Swan says. “That’s what keeps us warm in the Arctic.” About 15 years ago, the villagers noticed the season started two weeks early and the ice began to thin sooner than before. …The village originally voted to relocate as far back as 1992, but it is massively expensive. …Disaster management policies are designed to deal with the aftermath of a disaster, she says. A disaster declaration releases funding aimed at helping a community rebuild or relocate within the place the disaster occurred. But there are no policies in place to relocate an entire community, like Kivalina, prior to an actual disaster…. http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-08-09/will-residents-kivalina-alaska-be-first-climate-change-refugees-us
2015-07-09. Climate Change Is Shrinking Where Bumblebees Range, Research Finds. By Nicholas St. Fleur, The New York Times. Excerpt: Climate change has narrowed the range where bumblebees are found in North America and Europe in recent decades, according to a study published Thursday. The paper, published in the journal Science, suggests that warming temperatures have caused bumblebee populations to retreat from the southern limits of their travels by as much as 190 miles since the 1970s. Logic would suggest that the northern reaches of their home turf would shift to higher latitudes by a corresponding distance. But that has not happened, leading researchers to think that the more northern habitats may be less hospitable to them. “Bumblebee species across Europe and North America are declining at continental scales,” Jeremy T. Kerr a conservation biologist at the University of Ottawa in Canada who was the lead author of the report, said at a news conference. “And our data suggest that climate change plays a leading, or perhaps the leading, role in this trend.” Not all entomologists agree with the findings, saying that the paper offers evidence of a correlation between climate change and waning bumblebee population ranges, but does not make the case that warming temperatures are the main cause. Instead, they say that a multitude of factors contribute to the bumblebees’ shrinking borders, and that a changing climate may be just one factor…. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/10/science/bumblebees-global-warming-shrinking-habitats.html
2015-06-26. Pakistan morgues run out of space as heat wave kills more than 1,000. By Syed Raza Hassan, Reuters. Excerpt: The worst heat wave to hit Pakistan’s southern city of Karachi for nearly 35 years has killed more than 1,000 people, a charity said on Thursday, as morgues ran out of space and residents rushed to supply over-stretched public hospitals…. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/06/25/us-pakistan-heatwave-idUSKBN0P40FV20150625
2015-06-22. Risk of Extreme Weather From Climate Change to Rise Over Next Century, Report Says. By Sabrina Tavernise, The New York Times. Excerpt: WASHINGTON — More people will be exposed to floods, droughts, heat waves and other extreme weather associated with climate change over the next century than previously thought, according to a new report in the British medical journal The Lancet – http://www.thelancet.com/commissions/climate-change…. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/23/science/risk-of-extreme-weather-from-climate-change-to-rise-over-next-century-report-says.html
2015-06-19. Researchers push to prevent a last dance for the lesser prairie chicken. By Marianne Lavelle, Science. Excerpt: …as many as 2 million lesser prairie chickens once lent crimson to the often beige landscape of the midwestern and southwestern United States. But just some 22,000 birds remain today, occupying about 16% of the species’ historic range. The birds are found in five states: Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Kansas—which holds an estimated 60% to 70% of the remaining population. The birds “are facing a tremendous number of threats,” says retired biologist Randy Rodgers, an expert on “lessers” who spent 37 years with the Kansas wildlife department. Lessers can tolerate some human disturbance, he says… “But as with many things,” Rodgers says, “a little is good. A lot is not.” Beginning in the 1950s, modern center-pivot irrigation farming became a major threat, carving crop circles into some of the lesser’s favored vegetation: sand sagebrush and shrublike sand shinnery oak. Oil and natural gas wells further fragmented the bird’s range, as have roads, power lines, wind farms, and housing developments. …It took a climate shift, however, to push the lesser prairie chicken to the brink of disaster. In 2012 and 2013, a punishing drought hit the heart of its territory. Biologists estimate the population plummeted by half, to about 18,000 birds, before rebounding by about 20% in 2014. The crash was a major reason the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) decided in March 2014 to formally list the bird as threatened. …a much bigger looming battle over the fate of another rangeland bird: the greater sage grouse (see “Feature: Sage grouse war tests limits of partnership in West“)…. http://news.sciencemag.org/plants-animals/2015/06/feature-researchers-push-prevent-last-dance-lesser-prairie-chicken
2015-05-30. When It Rains, It Pours. By Clara Chaisson, OnEarth, Natural Resources Defense Council. Excerpt: After years of severe drought, Texas is swamped. The U.S. Drought Monitor reported last Thursday that Texas was finally free of extreme drought. After five debilitating dry years, it was great news. But what the weekend then brought—torrential rainfall and flash flooding that left at least 17 dead and numerous people missing in Texas and Oklahoma—seemed like a very cruel joke (one that still isn’t over). By yesterday, Governor Greg Abbott had declared disasters in 37 counties. El Niño is partially to blame for the soaking, because its warm waters drive rain in the southern United States. But this oscillation between extreme dry and extreme rainfall is also indicative of climate change. As Eric Holthaus of Slate reports, “A steadily escalating whipsaw between drought and flood is one of the most confident predictions of an atmosphere with enhanced evaporation rates—meaning, global warming.”… http://www.onearth.org/earthwire/texas-floods-drought-climate-change
See also: “Hot in Hyderabad” Your questions about the Indian heat wave, answered. By Brian Palmer. Excerpt: A heat wave in India has killed nearly 1,400 people in the past week. …In or around January of every year, India’s prevailing winds change direction. …they draw hotter air across the subcontinent from the south. The heat builds gradually until a few weeks after monsoon rains arrive, usually in early June. In the final weeks of this process, the heat is usually crippling. The highest recorded temperature in India was 123 degrees Fahrenheit, in the state of Rajasthan in 1956. Heat-related deaths are, sadly, a routine part of Indian life. While this year’s death toll is worse than most, it is by no means unheard of. The 2003 heat wave killed 1,600 people; more than 1,300 died in 2010. The 2002 and 1998 editions each took more than 1,000 lives,…. Are the heat waves getting worse? Yes, on average. Between 1901 and 2009, mean temperature across India rose by approximately one degree Fahrenheit. …It’s important not to overinterpret these trends. Some of the country’s most extreme heat occurred decades ago, such as in 1926. Nor are all heat waves in recent years directly attributable to climate change. The disastrous 1998 occurrence, for example, was likely the result of El Niño…. http://www.onearth.org/earthwire/india-heat-wave
2015-05-14. NASA Study Shows Antarctica’s Larsen B Ice Shelf Nearing Its Final Act. NASA Release 15-092. Excerpt: A new NASA study finds the last remaining section of Antarctica’s Larsen B Ice Shelf, which partially collapsed in 2002, is quickly weakening and likely to disintegrate completely before the end of the decade. A team led by Ala Khazendar of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, found the remnant of the Larsen B Ice Shelf is flowing faster, becoming increasingly fragmented and developing large cracks. …”These are warning signs that the remnant is disintegrating,” Khazendar said. “…This ice shelf has existed for at least 10,000 years, and soon it will be gone.” …Ice shelves are the gatekeepers for glaciers flowing from Antarctica toward the ocean. Without them, glacial ice enters the ocean faster and accelerates the pace of global sea level rise. This study, the first to look comprehensively at the health of the Larsen B remnant and the glaciers that flow into it, has been published online in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters. …NASA research has found that the last section of Antarctica’s Larsen B Ice Shelf is likely to disintegrate before the end of the decade…. http://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-study-shows-antarctica-s-larsen-b-ice-shelf-nearing-its-final-act
2015-04-27. Study: Global warming has dramatically upped the odds of extreme heat events. By Chris Mooney, The Washington Post. Excerpt: …scientists have…explained that while global warming doesn’t “cause” any single event, it can make them more likely to occur…. Indeed, published papers have shown that a warming climate had indeed increased the odds of a number of individual extreme events, including the 2003 European heat wave, the 2010 Russian heat wave and the 2013 Australian summer heat. …in a new study in Nature Climate Change, Erich Fischer and Reto Knutti, of the science-focused Swiss university ETH Zurich, perform an analysis not for any individual event but rather for all daily heat and precipitation extremes of a “moderate” magnitude occurring over land in our current climate. And they find, strikingly, that 18 percent of today’s moderate precipitation extremes, and 75 percent of moderate heat extremes, were made more likely to occur by global warming. …a “moderate” extreme was defined as an event that would only occur 1 out of 1,000 days in a climate that has not been tweaked by global warming. …This does not mean that these extreme events are “caused” by climate change; rather, it means they were made more likely to occur in a statistical sense…. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/04/27/study-global-warming-has-already-dramatically-upped-the-odds-of-extreme-heat-events/ See also New York Times “New Study Links Weather Extremes to Global Warming” by Justin Gillis.
2015-04-07. USGCRP Climate & Health Assessment. U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). Excerpt: Climate change threatens human health and well-being in many ways. The draft report, The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment (available for download for public comment only between April 7 and June 8, 2015. ), was developed by USGCRP’s Interagency Group on Climate Change and Human Health as part of the sustained National Climate Assessment and as called for under the President’s Climate Action Plan. This assessment report is intended to present a comprehensive, evidence-based, and, where possible, quantitative estimation of observed and projected public health impacts related to climate change in the United States. Once finalized (expected early 2016), the report will provide needed context for understanding Americans’ changing health risks. …The public comment period is open until 12 pm ET on June 8, 2015…. http://www.globalchange.gov/health-assessment.
2015-04-06. The Lowest of the Snow. By Clara Chaisson, onEarth, NRDC. Excerpt: California’s … snowmelt normally meets about 30 percent of the state’s annual water needs. But this…is not a normal year. Ongoing drought has driven statewide snowpack down to just five percent of the historical average for the date of April 1—obliterating the previous record low of 25 percent. Worse yet, increasing low water levels may be the “new normal.” The downtrend becomes clear in …NASA satellite imagery. [Satellite images interactive] of the Central Valley in March 2010 and March 2015 is basically like using a snow eraser…. http://www.onearth.org/earthwire/california-snowpack-levels-by-satellite.
2015-03-12. Warming Arctic may be causing heat waves elsewhere in world. By Carolyn Gramling, Science. Excerpt: Global warming is increasing temperatures twice as fast in the Arctic as elsewhere on the planet. Some scientists have suggested that this so-called Arctic amplification can alter circulation patterns that affect weather in the United States, Europe, and Asia, potentially helping cause the powerful winter storms and deep freezes that have blasted the midlatitudes over the past decade. A new study suggests Arctic warming could ultimately pack a summertime punch, too, possibly contributing to extreme events such as the deadly 2010 Russian heat wave. Melting sea ice in the Arctic has left vast expanses of dark open water available to absorb the sun’s energy. In the late autumn and early winter, when sea ice is at a minimum and temperatures begin to cool, the ocean releases that extra heat and moisture back into the atmosphere. Those fluxes help drive a positive feedback effect, further intensifying warming in the region. One result of this Arctic amplification is that there’s less of a temperature difference between the Arctic and the lower latitudes. Some scientists have suggested that the lower temperature gradient is weakening the winds that circle the globe, particularly the polar jet stream. In the wintertime, the idea goes, a weaker, wavier jet stream could promote more and longer bouts of frigid air reaching farther south, leading to extreme snowfalls such as those that struck the eastern United States in the past few years. …The jet stream is weaker in summertime, too—and it “has been weakening over the last 36 years…. http://news.sciencemag.org/climate/2015/03/warming-arctic-may-be-causing-heat-waves-elsewhere-world.
2015-02-26. Vanishing ice could wipe out Alaskan village. Science. Excerpt: Say goodbye to the tiny Inupiaq village of Kivalina, one of dozens of villages in Alaska that may soon be abandoned due to climate change. For years, thick fringes of sea ice protected Kivalina, a town of 85 homes perched on a barrier island at the edge of the Chukchi Sea, from being washed away by powerful waves and winter storms—but the ice is vanishing. The village needs to be relocated, and stat, but who’s going to dole out the more than $100 million that it would cost is an open question, …. … Kivalina is becoming a poster child for Alaskan villages in peril…. http://news.sciencemag.org/sifter/2015/02/vanishing-ice-could-wipe-out-alaskan-village.
2015-02-12. Starved for Energy, Pakistan Braces for a Water Crisis. By Salman Masood, The New York Times. Excerpt: ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Energy-starved Pakistanis, their economy battered by chronic fuel and electricity shortages, may soon have to contend with a new resource crisis: major water shortages, the Pakistani government warned this week. A combination of global climate change and local waste and mismanagement have led to an alarmingly rapid depletion of Pakistan’s water supply, said the minister for water and energy, Khawaja Muhammad Asif…. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/13/world/asia/pakistan-braces-for-major-water-shortages.html.
2015-02-12. NASA Study Finds Carbon Emissions Could Dramatically Increase Risk of U.S. Megadroughts. NASA RELEASE 15-020. https://www.nasa.gov/press/2015/february/nasa-study-finds-carbon-emissions-could-dramatically-increase-risk-of-us
2015-01-15. Ocean Life Faces Mass Extinction, Broad Study Says. By Carl Zimmer, The New York Times. Excerpt: A team of scientists, in a groundbreaking analysis of data from hundreds of sources, has concluded that humans are on the verge of causing unprecedented damage to the oceans and the animals living in them. “We may be sitting on a precipice of a major extinction event,” said Douglas J. McCauley, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an author of the new research, which was published on Thursday in the journal Science. …Dr. Pinsky, Dr. McCauley and their colleagues sought a clearer picture of the oceans’ health by pulling together data from an enormous range of sources, from discoveries in the fossil record to statistics on modern container shipping, fish catches and seabed mining. While many of the findings already existed, they had never been juxtaposed in such a way. …Coral reefs, for example, have declined by 40 percent worldwide, partly as a result of climate-change-driven warming. …“If you cranked up the aquarium heater and dumped some acid in the water, your fish would not be very happy,” Dr. Pinsky said. “In effect, that’s what we’re doing to the oceans.” …Mining operations, too, are poised to transform the ocean. Contracts for seabed mining now cover 460,000 square miles underwater, the researchers found, up from zero in 2000. Seabed mining has the potential to tear up unique ecosystems and introduce pollution into the deep sea. …Dr. McCauley and his colleagues argue that limiting the industrialization of the oceans to some regions could allow threatened species to recover in other ones. …Ultimately, Dr. Palumbi warned, slowing extinctions in the oceans will mean cutting back on carbon emissions, not just adapting to them. “If by the end of the century we’re not off the business-as-usual curve we are now, I honestly feel there’s not much hope for normal ecosystems in the ocean,” he said…. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/16/science/earth/study-raises-alarm-for-health-of-ocean-life.html.
2014-12-19. Less tasty shrimp, thanks to climate change. By Puneet Kolli. Excerpt: Climate change won’t just harm marine life—it could also affect how it tastes. A new study finds that as oceans become more acidic—thanks to the carbon dioxide emissions they suck up—they will sour the flavor of shrimp…. http://news.sciencemag.org/climate/2014/12/less-tasty-shrimp-thanks-climate-change.
2014-12-18. Mount Kenya’s Vanishing Glaciers. Jon Mooallem, The New York Times Magazine. Excerpt: In 1941, an Italian civil servant named Felice Benuzzi … captured by Allied forces and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp in East Africa…faced Mount Kenya, 17,000 feet high…did manage to escape the camp and climb to the summit of the mountain’s third-highest peak. …This past October, the English photographer Simon Norfolk spent 18 days on Mount Kenya, camping in an old mountaineering hut at nearly 16,000 feet… to document the gradual disappearance of one of the mountain’s many glaciers, the Lewis, which happens to be one of the most thoroughly surveyed tropical glaciers in the world. …In 2010, scientists found that the Lewis had shrunk by 23 percent in just the previous six years. Worse still, a neighboring glacier — the Gregory — “no longer exists.” …Our glaciers, we’re told, are disappearing freakishly fast, but fast for a glacier can still be too slow for the human imagination to seize on…. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/21/magazine/mount-kenyas-vanishing-glaciers.html.
2014-12-14. Waters Warm, and Cod Catch Ebbs in Maine. By Michael Wines and Jess Bidgood, The New York Times. Excerpt: In the vast gulf that arcs from Massachusetts’s shores to Canada’s Bay of Fundy, cod was once king. It paid for fishermen’s boats, fed their families and put their children through college. In one halcyon year in the mid-1980s, the codfish catch reached 25,000 tons. Today, the cod population has collapsed. …The Gulf of Maine’s waters are warming — faster than almost any ocean waters on earth, scientists say — and fish are voting with their fins for cooler places to live. That is upending an ecosystem and the fishing industry that depends on it. …In decades past, the gulf had warmed on average by about one degree every 21 years. In the last decade, the average has been one degree every two years. “What we’re experiencing is a warming that very few ocean ecosystems have ever experienced,” said Andrew J. Pershing, the chief scientific officer for the Gulf of Maine Research Institute here. …the latest warming is not unprecedented. Weather records document a steady, if slow warming of the region’s waters since the 1850s, and a 50- to-70-year climatic cycle set off unusual ocean warming in the 1950s. A similar cycle is believed to be heating up the northwest Atlantic today. But scientists say those cyclical effects are now being turbocharged by human-caused climate change…. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/15/us/waters-warm-in-gulf-of-maine-and-cod-catch-ebbs.html.
2014-12-04. Antarctic ice shelf being eaten away by sea. By Carolyn Gramling, Science. Excerpt: This year, scientists reported alarming news about the huge continental ice sheet covering the western portion of Antarctica: It’s headed for collapse, due to rapid melting of some of its buttressing ice shelves. When it does, global sea levels will rise by several meters. It has long been suspected that warm ocean waters at the base of those floating ice shelves are responsible for hurrying things along. But with scant data from the waters around Antarctica, that has been difficult to prove. Now, a new study that pieces together 40 years’ worth of data collected in multiple regions around Antarctica suggests that scientists have found the smoking gun: Warming waters are indeed sneaking up under the floating ice in the regions of fastest melting…. http://news.sciencemag.org/climate/2014/12/antarctic-ice-shelf-being-eaten-away-sea *.
2014-11-22. Climate Change Threatens to Strip the Identity of Glacier National Park. By Michael Wines, The New York Times. Excerpt: GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, Mont. — What will they call this place once the glaciers are gone? A century ago, this sweep of mountains on the Canadian border boasted some 150 ice sheets, many of them scores of feet thick, plastered across summits and tucked into rocky fissures high above parabolic valleys. Today, perhaps 25 survive. In 30 years, there may be none. A warming climate is melting Glacier’s glaciers, an icy retreat that promises to change not just tourists’ vistas, but also the mountains and everything around them. Streams fed by snowmelt are reaching peak spring flows weeks earlier than in the past, and low summer flows weeks before they used to. …Many of the mom-and-pop ski areas that once peppered these mountains have closed. …For wildlife, Dr. Fagre said, the implications are almost too great to count. Frigid alpine streams may dry up, and cold-water fish and insects may grow scarce. Snowfall may decline, and fewer avalanches may open up clearings for wildlife or push felled trees into streams, creating trout habitats. …A hummingbird that depends on glacial lilies for nectar may arrive in spring to find that the lilies have already blossomed. Dennis Iverson runs a 140-head cow-and-calf operation on several thousand acres about 25 miles northeast of Missoula, Mont. Five hundred acres are hayfield, irrigated with water from the Blackfoot River about one and a half miles away. Twenty years ago, the water flowed through an open ditch, and from the time the irrigation pumps were started on May 20, “we were able to irrigate the whole ranch,” he said. “There was always enough water, even to do some irrigating in July and August.” Now, Mr. Iverson starts the pumps on May 10, because a hotter spring has already dried out his pasture. The open irrigation ditch has been converted into an 8,000-foot underground pipe to prevent evaporation. “If we hadn’t done that, we wouldn’t even be getting water to the ranch,” he said. “There’s that much less water in the stream than there was 20 years ago.”…. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/23/us/climate-change-threatens-to-strip-the-identity-of-glacier-national-park.html.
2014-10-23. Climate Change Indicators in the United States. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Excerpt: …Temperatures are rising, snow and rainfall patterns are shifting, and more extreme climate events—like heavy rainstorms and record high temperatures—are already taking place. EPA … working with many other organizations to collect and communicate data about climate change… EPA has compiled the third edition of this report, presenting 30 indicators to help readers understand observed long-term trends related to the causes and effects of climate change. …Most indicators focus on the United States, but some include global trends to provide context or a basis for comparison, or because they are intrinsically global in nature…. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/science/indicators.
2014-10-16. U.S. Sees Increase in Days with Multiple Tornadoes. By Meagan Phelan, AAAS. Excerpt: …Since 1954, there has been a decrease in the number of days per year in the U.S. with any tornadoes, but an increase in the number of days with many tornadoes, according to a new study published in the 17 October issue of journal Science. “It was surprising to see,” said the study’s lead author Harold Brooks, senior research scientist at NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory. “I would naively expect these trends to go in the same direction.” …Brooks and colleagues also observed that despite speculation climate change is causing more tornadoes, the overall number of tornadoes each year since 1954 has remained relatively constant. …Although the annual number of EF1 or greater tornadoes remained relatively constant over the period evaluated, the researchers did see that tornadoes have been clustering more since the 1970s. A single day in April 2011, for example, featured 211 tornado events…. Meagan Phelan, AAAS. http://www.aaas.org/news/science-us-sees-increase-days-multiple-tornadoes.
2014-10-10. What’s going on with Antarctic sea ice? Excerpt: …The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) announced this week that the sea ice surrounding Antarctica reached its maximum extent …also set a record for the highest extent of sea ice around the continent since satellite measurements began in the late 1970s. …uptick in Antarctic sea ice is still only a fraction (about a third) of the rapid loss of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. …This enigma has puzzled scientists, and it’s an active area of research; …while the overall climate is warming, it’s a complicated system: The warming climate is also changing weather patterns. Multiple studies have been looking into how these changes might affect sea ice extent: for example, changes in prevailing wind patterns or in the magnitude of ocean waves, both of which can herd the ice toward or away from the coast…. http://news.sciencemag.org/climate/2014/10/whats-going-antarctic-sea-ice. By Carolyn Gramling, Science AAAS.
2014-10-01. 35,000 walrus come ashore in northwest Alaska. Excerpts: ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Pacific walrus that can’t find sea ice for resting in Arctic waters are coming ashore in record numbers on a beach in northwest Alaska. An estimated 35,000 walrus were photographed Saturday about 5 miles north of Point Lay, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. …The enormous gathering was spotted during NOAA’s annual arctic marine mammal aerial survey, spokeswoman Julie Speegle said by email. …The gathering of walrus on shore is a phenomenon that has accompanied the loss of summer sea ice as the climate has warmed. …Unlike seals, walrus cannot swim indefinitely and must rest. They use their tusks to “haul out,” or pull themselves onto ice or rocks. …”It’s another remarkable sign of the dramatic environmental conditions changing as the result of sea ice loss,” said Margaret Williams, managing director of the group’s Arctic program, by phone from Washington, D.C. “The walruses are telling us what the polar bears have told us and what many indigenous people have told us in the high Arctic, and that is that the Arctic environment is changing extremely rapidly and it is time for the rest of the world to take notice and also to take action to address the root causes of climate change.” This summer, the sea ice’s annual low point was the sixth smallest since satellite monitoring began in 1979…. http://www.sfgate.com/news/science/article/35-000-walrus-come-ashore-in-northwest-Alaska-5791705.php. By Dan Joling, Associated Press.
2014-09-29. Scientists Trace Extreme Heat in Australia to Climate Change. Excerpt: The savage heat waves that struck Australia last year were almost certainly a direct consequence of greenhouse gases released by human activity, researchers said Monday. It is perhaps the most definitive statement climate scientists have made tying a specific weather event to global warming. Five groups of researchers, using distinct methods, analyzed the heat that baked Australia for much of 2013 and continued into 2014, briefly shutting down the Australian Open tennis tournament in January when the temperature climbed to 111 degrees Fahrenheit…… http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/30/science/earth/human-related-climate-change-led-to-extreme-heat-scientists-say.html. By Justin Gillis, The New York Times.
2014-09-22. Testing Future Conditions for the Food Chain. Excerpt: …The Illinois researchers are trying to move past just documenting the potential trouble, though. The bigger question is: What can be done to make crops more resilient? That has lately become an urgent topic. For decades, many climate experts were relatively sanguine on the issue, thinking that warming in frigid northern countries would benefit crops, helping to offset likely production losses in the tropics. Moreover, some research suggested potentially huge crop gains from a sort of counterintuitive ace in the hole: the very increase in carbon dioxide that is causing the planet to warm. …The tests so far have confirmed the beneficial “CO2 fertilization effect,” as it is known. But in field conditions, the boon to the crops was not as great as in earlier greenhouse experiments, and probably not enough to offset the heat and other stresses of a warmer planet. “It’s there, it’s real, but the question is, how much is it going to help?” Dr. Leakey said…. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/23/science/testing-future-conditions-for-the-food-chain.html. By Justin Gillis, The New York Times. Also, 2014 Sept 23 New York Times had a flurry of climate change related articles. See
- Flooding Risk From Climate Change, Country by Country
- For Polar Bears, a Climate Change Twist. By JAMES GORMAN
- Portland Will Still Be Cool, but Anchorage May Be the Place to Be. By JENNIFER A. KINGSON
- Too Much of a Good Thing. By NATALIE ANGIER
- A Microscopic Issue of Unknown Consequences. By HENRY FOUNTAIN
- It’s Not Genghis Khan’s Mongolia. By RACHEL NUWER
- A Future as Clouded as Their Past. By GEORGE JOHNSON
- Shining Star Power on a Crucial Subject. By JUSTIN GILLIS
- For Trees Under Threat, Flight May Be Best Response. By CARL ZIMMER
- Global Warming Concerns Grow. By MARJORIE CONNELLY
- Three Divergent Visions of Our Future Under Climate Change. By NATHANIEL RICH
- Warming Temperatures Threaten Fragile Balance in Canadian Arctic. By MICHAEL BECKER
2014-09-08. Climate Change Will Disrupt Half of North America’s Bird Species, Study Says. Excerpt: The Baltimore oriole will probably no longer live in Maryland, the common loon might leave Minnesota, and the trumpeter swan could be entirely gone. Those are some of the grim prospects outlined in a report released on Monday by the National Audubon Society, which found that climate change is likely to so alter the bird population of North America that about half of the approximately 650 species will be driven to smaller spaces or forced to find new places to live, feed and breed over the next 65 years. If they do not — and for several dozen it will be very difficult — they could become extinct. The four Audubon Society scientists who wrote the report projected in it that 21.4 percent of existing bird species studied will lose “more than half of the current climactic range by 2050 without the potential to make up losses by moving to other areas.” An additional 32 percent will be in the same predicament by 2080, they said. Among the most threatened species are the three-toed woodpecker, the northern hawk owl, the northern gannet, Baird’s sparrow, the rufous hummingbird and the trumpeter swan, the report said. They are among the 30 species that, by 2050, will no longer be able to live and breed in more than 90 percent of their current territory. …“Common sense will tell you that with these kinds of findings, it’s hard to believe we won’t lose some species to extinction,” said David Yarnold, the president of the National Audubon Society. “How many? We honestly don’t know. We don’t know which ones are going to prove heroically resilient.” …Drought in Southern California is blamed for a sharp drop in breeding among California raptors, perhaps because a lack of water is killing the insects and small rodents they feed on…. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/09/us/climate-change-will-disrupt-half-of-north-americas-bird-species-study-says.html. By Felicity Barringer, The New York Times.
2014-08-24. What’s Killing the Bay Area’s Oysters? Excerpt: Signifiers of the good life, local bivalves may be harbingers of another phenomenon: species extinction. …roughly 7 million oysters … the five oyster farms on Tomales Bay sell each year to local restaurants and bars. …Though Hog Island’s inventory had restabilized by 2013, …We just couldn’t supply the product. It was painful—and still is because we’re not over it. The culprit? Ocean acidification—climate change’s caustic cousin—caused by rising carbon dioxide emissions. …In 2005, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration began reporting that hatcheries throughout the West Coast were seeing steep declines in production, putting the $84 million industry in jeopardy. Hatchery staff and scientists scrambled to pinpoint the cause, …. It wasn’t until a year later that [Alan] Barton [or Whiskey Creek shellfish hatchery in Tillamook, Oregon] solved the mystery that had stumped scientists. On an ordinary summer day that was marred by a particularly bad die-off, he decided to test the pH levels in the tanks. …Lo and behold, the pH level of the water was drastically lower (read: more corrosive) than usual. …because the acidification is exacerbated by carbon dioxide emissions, every year it gets a little worse. …These days, we release roughly 70 million tons per day—and the oceans soak up nearly a third of that. The result? On average, the sea is 30 percent more acidic than it was 200 years ago. And in the last decade, it began passing the point where young oysters can survive. It’s not necessarily the acidity that causes problems for the oysters, but rather the concomitant lack of carbonate ions in the water. Shellfish use these free-floating ions to build their shells. When seawater absorbs carbon dioxide, the number of carbonate ions available for the shellfish is reduced. “A baby oyster is trying to eat, grow, move around, and make a shell. So if it spends more energy trying to make a shell, then something else in that equation is going to suffer,” says Tessa Hill, a scientist with UC Davis who studies the impacts of rising carbon dioxide levels on native shellfish. “I say it’s like balancing your checkbook—you can’t spend a lot of energy on one thing without cutting back in some other category.” http://modernluxury.com/san-francisco/story/whats-killing-the-bay-areas-oysters. By Jacoba Charles, San Francisco Magazine.
2014-05-19. The Big Melt Accelerates. Excerpt: Centuries from now, a large swath of the West Antarctic ice sheet is likely to be gone, its hundreds of trillions of tons of ice melted, causing a four-foot rise in already swollen seas. Scientists reported last week that the scenario may be inevitable, with new research concluding that some giant glaciers had passed the point of no return, possibly setting off a chain reaction that could doom the rest of the ice sheet. For many, the research signaled that changes in the earth’s climate have already reached a tipping point, even if global warming halted immediately. …A full melt would cause sea level to rise 215 feet. During recent ice ages, glaciers expanded from the poles and covered nearly a third of the continents. And in the distant past there were episodes known as Snowball Earth, when the entire planet froze over. At the other extreme, a warm period near the end of the age of dinosaurs may have left the earth ice-free. Today the amount of ice is modest — 10 percent of land areas, nearly all of that in Greenland and Antarctica. …In an analysis last year of the satellite and ground measurements, a team of scientists led by Alex S. Gardner, an earth scientist at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., who is moving to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, concluded that, on average, glaciers in all regions were withering away, dumping 260 billion metric tons of water into the ocean every year. …Greenland, with 10 percent of the world’s ice, has enough to raise sea level by 23 feet. “I still think Greenland is the most important thing to watch for this century,” Dr. Scambos said. …Researchers from Dartmouth found that another side effect from global warming, forest fires, made the melting even worse. Soot from fires elsewhere in the world landed on Greenland snow, making it darker, causing it to absorb more heat…. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/20/science/the-melting-isnt-glacial.html – By Kenneth Chang, The New York Times.
2014-05-19. Hidden Greenland Canyons Mean More Sea Level Rise. Excerpt: Scientists at NASA and the University of California, Irvine (UCI), have found that canyons under Greenland’s ocean-feeding glaciers are deeper and longer than previously thought, increasing the amount of Greenland’s estimated contribution to future sea level rise. …The results were published Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience. …An animation of the newly mapped bed topography is available at: http://youtu.be/g_6a7SloMsY…. http://www.nasa.gov/press/2014/may/hidden-greenland-canyons-mean-more-sea-level-rise/#.U3rZgy9GLhw – NASA RELEASE 14-141. See also Scientific American article, Deep Valleys Under Greenland Mean Higher Sea-Level Rise.
2014-05-14. Ground-breaking study: Hurricanes reaching peak strength farther north as globe warms, tropics expand. Excerpt: …Identifying a firm connection between hurricane activity and manmade global warming has proven elusive. The 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report stated there was “low confidence” in any link between observed changes in tropical storms and human activity. But this poleward shift in the peak strength of tropical storms could be the smoking gun linking human-induced climate change and hurricane behavior. The study, to be published in the journal Nature Thursday, analyzed where tropical storms around the world reached peak intensity between 1982 and 2012. It finds this location of maximum storm strength leaped poleward about 33 miles per decade in the Northern Hemisphere and 38 miles per decade in the Southern Hemisphere. …The author team of James Kossin of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), MIT’s Emanuel, and Gabriel Vecchi of NOAA links the storm shift to an expansion of the Hadley Cell – a massive atmospheric circulation that transports heat from the tropics to the mid-latitudes and drives the easterly trade winds. In other words, the tropics are occupying a larger area. The expansion “is likely due largely to human influences” or the heating effect of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations, the study says…. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/wp/2014/05/14/ground-breaking-study-hurricanes-reaching-peak-strength-farther-north-as-globe-warms-tropics-expand/. By Jason Samenow, Washington Post.
2014-04-23. NASA Satellites Show Drought May Take Toll on Congo Rainforest. Excerpt: A new analysis of NASA satellite data shows Africa’s Congo rainforest, the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world, has undergone a large-scale decline in greenness over the past decade. …The study found a gradually decreasing trend in Congo rainforest greenness, sometimes referred to as “browning,” suggesting a slow adjustment to the long-term drying trend. This is in contrast to the more immediate response seen in the Amazon, such as large-scale tree mortality, brought about by more episodic drought events…. http://www.nasa.gov/press/2014/april/nasa-satellites-show-drought-may-take-toll-on-congo-rainforest/#.U1yE5sfgWa4. NASA RELEASE 14-117.
2014-03-04. Sydney Opera House and Statue of Liberty ‘will be lost to sea level rise’ Excerpt: …Famous global landmarks including the Statue of Liberty, Tower of London and Sydney Opera House will be lost to rising seas caused by climate change, scientists have warned. Even with just a further 3C of warming – well within the range to which the UN climate science panel expects temperatures to rise by the end of the century – nearly one-fifth of the planet’s 720 world heritage sites will be affected as ice sheets melt and warming oceans expand. …The study, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, looked at how many Unesco sites would be threatened after 2000 years of rising sea levels, but …”It’s relatively safe to say that we will see the first impacts at these sites in the 21st century,” lead author Prof Ben Marzeion, of the University of Innsbruck in Austria, told the Guardian. …particularly vulnerable sites included the leaning tower of Pisa, which is not directly on the coast but would be affected by sea level rises as a result of even a low temperature increase because it is very low-lying. He also cited Venice, … Hamburg… and Bremen in Germany. …Westminster Abbey and Westminster Palace, … city centres of Bruges in Belgium, Naples in Italy and St Petersburg in Russia, …. South-east Asia will have the highest number of people affected by sea level rises, …The threat to cultural sites from the sea is likely to be underestimated, the study admits, as it does not take into account temporary rises in sea levels caused by storm surges such as those that battered the east coast of the UK last December. “Essentially those are uncertainties that we cannot quantify, so we made sure we are on the conservative side of the estimates,” Marzeion said…. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/05/sydney-opera-house-statue-liberty-sea-level-climate-change-unescorl. Adam Vaughan, The Guardian.
2014-02-25. Study Implicates Mankind in a Peruvian Glacier’s Retreat. Excerpt: Sitting on a flat volcanic plain 18,000 feet above sea level, the great Quelccaya ice cap of Peru is the largest piece of ice in the tropics. In recent decades, as scientists have watched it melt at an accelerating pace, it has also become a powerful symbol of global warming. …a paper released on Tuesday by the journal Geology, a group led by Justin S. Stroup and Meredith A. Kelly of Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., …[concludes] that the glacier is sensitive to temperature and that other factors, like the amount of snowfall, are secondary, thus supporting a view long held by Dr. Thompson that the glacier can essentially be viewed as a huge thermometer. …that is a sobering finding, considering … that a part of the glacier that had apparently taken 1,600 years to grow had melted in a mere 25 years. …land ice is melting virtually everywhere on the planet. That has been occurring since a 500-year period called the Little Ice Age that ended in about 1850, but the pace seems to have accelerated substantially in recent decades as human emissions have begun to overwhelm the natural cycles. …The biggest scientific battle has been fought not over Quelccaya but over Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. …Dr. Kelly is now looking for evidence that may shed light on the Kilimanjaro debate. Her method involves dating ridges of rock and debris, known as moraines, that glaciers leave at their far edges…. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/26/science/study-links-melting-peruvian-ice-cap-to-higher-temperatures.html. By Justin Gillis, The New York Times.
2014-02-04. ScienceShot: Hungry Polar Bears Turn to Seabird Eggs. Excerpt: Polar bears are known for dining on whatever they want, from human garbage to reindeer to berries. But in the lower latitudes of the Canadian Arctic, they primarily prey on ringed seals…. Over the past 3 decades, however, the sea ice in this region has progressively broken up earlier than in the past due to climate change. The bears now face 2 months of ice-free habitat. Without seals to eat, the bears have increasingly turned to terrestrial prey, including the eggs of northern common eiders and thick-billed murres. …polar bears are also dining on snow goose eggs and caribou—does …polar bears in areas where the ice breaks up early don’t have enough time to hunt seals and acquire the fat reserves they need to make it through the ice-free season. The vanishing sea ice, the researchers conclude, is causing a cascade of unexpected ecological effects—not just on polar bears but also on seabirds…. http://news.sciencemag.org/climate/2014/02/scienceshot-hungry-polar-bears-turn-seabird-eggs. Virginia Morrill, Science Magazine (AAAS).
2014-01-31. A Bird Flies South, and It’s News. Excerpt: DUXBURY, Mass. — The snowy owl … had been where no bird should safely be — Logan International Airport in Boston…. Not only is the Boston area seeing the largest number of snowy owls ever recorded, they are popping up in territory far from their usual habitat near the Arctic Circle. …No one is sure why so many snowies are showing up in so many places — whether it can be attributed to more food in their Arctic habitats than usual, or climate change at the top of the world. “Think about the canary in the coal mine,” said Henry Tepper, the president of Mass Audubon, “you think about the snowy owl in the Arctic.” …Ornithologists and bird watchers are not sure why the birds have come so far and in such great numbers this year. …Climate change, which has been thawing Arctic ice so actively that new shipping routes are opening in the far north, could have disrupted the habitat, Professor [Kevin J.] McGowan [an ornithologist at Cornell] speculated. “That has to be one of the most vulnerable ecosystems on the planet. That’s going to be one of the first places that falls apart when there is warming in the atmosphere,” he said. This may have driven more of them south instead of north. A big shift in bird movement one year might just be a freakish event, he said, or potentially “it’s the beginning of a pattern.”… http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/01/us/influx-of-snowy-owls-thrills-and-baffles-birders.html. John Schwartz, The New York Times.
2013-12-07. The End of Snow Is Now? Excerpt: A new book, DEEP, digs into the science and emotion swirling around climate change and how it will impact the ski industry. …Porter Fox felt under the gun to research and write “DEEP: The Story of Skiing and the Future of Snow” in just around 18 months. …For those of us who love sliding on snow, climate change may entail losing more than just deep powder and that dreamy, euphoric state it puts us in. …”The snowpack in British Columbia has declined by half overall and the ski season in some regions is four to five months shorter than it was 50 years ago,” he writes in DEEP. “Eastern Canada is even warmer… Computer models show the Northeast ski season shrinking to less than 100 days by 2039. Under other models, the mean snow depth for the Rocky Mountains is predicted to drop to zero by 2100.” But the more dire effects are being felt in the Alps, where “temperatures are rising three times faster than the global average,” he writes…. http://www.outsideonline.com/adventure-travel/adventure-ethics/The-End-of-Snow-Is-Now-.html. Mary Catherine O’Connor, Outside.
2013-12-03. Report warns of climate change ‘tipping points’ within our lifetime. Excerpt: UC Berkeley’s Tony Barnosky joined climate scientists this morning at a press conference at the National Academy of Sciences …to summarize a new report issued today focusing on the short-term effects of climate change and the need to monitor them closely. “Our report focuses on abrupt change, …things that happen within a few years to decades: basically, over short enough time scales that young people living today would see the societal impacts brought on by faster-than-normal planetary changes,” said Barnosky in an email. Barnosky is professor of integrative biology and a member of the Berkeley Initiative in Global Change Biology (BIGCB). The report, “Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises,” [http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=18373] is available from the National Research Council, part of the National Academies. Abrupt changes are already apparent, the authors noted: the number of serious wildfires has increased dramatically over the past decade, farmers are noticing hotter average temperatures that affect their crop yields, animals and plants are moving up mountainsides to reach cooler temperatures, and the Arctic sea ice is melting back more and more each summer. …global change could also lead to economic and social impacts, much of this centered around food and water resources and the likelihood of international conflict to secure them. …Barnosky was the lead author of a 2012 paper [http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2012/06/06/scientists-uncover-evidence-of-impending-tipping-point-for-earth/] that warned of a global tipping point at which Earth’s systems would irreversibly change as a result of changing climate. …“Luckily, there is still time to slow climate change if we start dramatic cutbacks to greenhouse gas emissions now,” Barnosky wrote. “That will allow us to avoid the worst-case tipping point scenarios, but that window of opportunity will only be open for another few years, if we continue to change climate at the rate we have been.” [See also: video “Earth May Reach Tipping Point — http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2012/06/06/scientists-uncover-evidence-of-impending-tipping-point-for-earth/] http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2013/12/03/report-warns-of-climate-change-tipping-points-within-our-lifetime/. Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley News Center.
2013-12-05. Diseases on the move because of climate change. Excerpt: …Valley Fever is one of multiple diseases experts say are spreading in part because of climate change. …The soil …in much of the arid Southwest carries the Coccidioides fungus. In dry months, the dust scatters in the wind and can be breathed into the lungs, infecting humans, dogs and cats and other mammals. …reported cases increased tenfold from 1998 to 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. …Valley Fever is an illness that’s moving. Historically, it has been found in the dry areas of California and the Southwest. But Thompson, along with the CDC, reported three cases of cocci in eastern Washington state in 2012. …Naegleria fowleri, “the brain-eating amoeba”…commonly found in freshwater lakes and rivers, …tend to occur in areas where waters warm in the summer. Minnesota had its first ever infection in 2010, 550 miles farther north than an infection had ever been seen before. [See also http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/12/04/brain-eating-amoeba-annie-bahneman-pam-parasite/3633531/] Elizabeth Weise, USA Today http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/12/04/climate-change-disease/2623863/.
2013-11-18. Midwest Tornadoes: Severe Storms Sweep Across 12 States, Killing 6. Excerpt: …Early Monday, Washington [IL] Mayor Gary Manier estimated that from 250 to 500 homes were either damaged or destroyed in the storm and that it wasn’t clear when residents would be allowed to return. …The unusually powerful late-season wave of thunderstorms brought damaging winds and tornadoes to 12 states: Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and western New York. …Illinois was the hardest struck with at least six people killed and dozens more injured. …Although about 80 reports of tornadoes had come in as of Sunday night, the National Weather Service’s Bunting said the actual number will likely be in the 30 to 40 range…because the same tornado often gets reported multiple times. Weather service meteorologist Matt Friedlein said such weather is rare this late in the year, but that strong winds coupled with temperatures in the 60s and 70s spawned Sunday’s storms…. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/18/midwest-tornadoes_n_4294412.html. David Mercer and Don Babwin, Huffington Post.
2013-11-01. Vanishing Islands (YouTube video). LYON’s first in the video series highlighting the effects of climate change in the Pacific Islands and how people are adapting to sea level rise on the front lines of climate change. Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is a federation of four states (Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Yap) where most of the population lives on high islands, but about 30,000 people live on low islands. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFsZm0ddAL8&feature=youtu.be. By LYON’s.
2013-10-15. Climate change affecting North American forests, researchers find. Excerpt: Climate change is making North American forests more vulnerable to insects and disease but is helping some trees grow faster and increase their resistance to pests, a team of researchers from Dartmouth University said Monday. Researchers reviewed almost 500 scientific studies dating to the 1950s … as part of the National Climate Assessment in 2012. The researchers said that higher temperatures and increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are boosting tree growth, which could have a positive impact on economies that depend on timber and wood pulp, and could help pull carbon out of the ecosystem. ….Some areas devastated by insects or disease may be restored because of continued warming, with insects dying off because temperatures are too high for them, Weed said. But warming also allows insects to flourish and exaggerates their natural role in keeping forests healthy, the researchers found. Various types of bark beetles, for example, are doing more damage than expected, they said. … “Mountain and southern pine beetles are attacking hosts farther north and at higher elevations than historic norms,” in part because warmer winters are allowing insects to survive. …droughts and fires also have been linked to climate change…. http://www.denverpost.com/nationworld/ci_24313791/climate-change-affecting-north-american-forests-researchers-find. By Lenny Bernstein, The Washington Post.
2013-10-15. Moose Die-Off Alarms Scientists. Excerpt: …Across North America — in places as far-flung as Montana and British Columbia, New Hampshire and Minnesota — moose populations are in steep decline. And no one is sure why. …Several factors are clearly at work. But a common thread in most hypotheses is climate change. Winters have grown substantially shorter across much of the moose’s range. In New Hampshire, a longer fall with less snow has greatly increased the number of winter ticks, a devastating parasite. “You can get 100,000 ticks on a moose,” said Kristine Rines, a biologist with the state’s Fish and Game Department. In Minnesota, the leading culprits are brain worms and liver flukes. Both spend part of their life cycles in snails, which thrive in moist environments. Another theory is heat stress. Moose are made for cold weather, and when the temperature rises above 23 degrees Fahrenheit in winter, as has happened more often in recent years, they expend extra energy to stay cool. That can lead to exhaustion and death. …Unregulated hunting may also play a role in moose mortality. So may wolves in Minnesota and the West…. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/15/science/earth/something-is-killing-off-the-moose.html. Jim Robbins, The New York Times.
2013-10-09. By 2047, Coldest Years May Be Warmer Than Hottest in Past, Scientists Say. Excerpt: …Scientists from the University of Hawaii at Manoa calculated that by 2047, plus or minus five years, the average temperatures in each year will be hotter across most parts of the planet than they had been at those locations in any year between 1860 and 2005. … Unprecedented climates will arrive even sooner in the tropics, Dr. Mora’s group predicts, putting increasing stress on human societies there, on the coral reefs that supply millions of people with fish, and on the world’s greatest forests. …models show that unprecedented temperatures could be delayed by 20 to 25 years if there is a vigorous global effort to bring emissions under control. …emissions cuts would buy critical time for nature and for human society to adapt, as well as for development of technologies that might help further reduce emissions. …The Mora paper is a rarity: a class project that turned into a high-profile article in one of the world’s most prestigious scientific journals. Dr. Mora …assigned a class of graduate students to analyze forecasts produced by 39 of the world’s foremost climate models. The models, whose results are publicly available, are operated by 21 research centers in 12 countries, and financed largely by governments. Thousands of scientific papers have been published about the model results, but the students identified one area of analysis that was missing … how the temperature changes in specific places might compare with historical norms. … Many people perceive climate change to be most serious at the poles, and the largest absolute changes in temperature are already occurring in the Arctic and parts of Antarctica. But the Mora paper dovetails with previous research suggesting that the biggest risks to nature and to human society, at least in the near term, may actually be in the tropics…. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/10/science/earth/by-2047-coldest-years-will-be-warmer-than-hottest-in-past.html. Justin Gillis, The New York Times.
2013-09-11. Seachange–The Pacific’s Perilous Turn. Excerpt: Globally, overfishing remains a scourge. But souring seas and ocean warming are expected to reduce even more of the plants and animals we depend on for food and income. …. http://apps.seattletimes.com/reports/sea-change/2013/sep/11/pacific-ocean-perilous-turn-overview/. By Craig Welch, The Seattle Times.
2013-09-05. Explaining Extreme Events of 2012 from a Climate Perspective. Excerpt: New analyses find evidence of human-caused climate change in half of the 12 extreme weather and climate events analyzed from 2012. …according to the report …released today by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. Key findings include: Human-induced climate change had little impact on the lack of precipitation in the central United States in 2012. …however, human-induced climate change was found to be a factor in the magnitude of warmth and was found to have affected the likelihood of such heat waves. High temperatures, such as those experienced in the U.S. in 2012 are now likely to occur four times as frequently due to human-induced climate change. …The record-setting impacts of Sandy were largely attributable to the massive storm surge and resulting inundation from the onshore-directed storm path coincident with high tide. …climate-change related increases in sea level have nearly doubled today’s annual probability of a Sandy-level flood recurrence as compared to 1950. …The extremely low Arctic sea ice extent in summer 2012 … cannot be explained by natural variability alone. Summer Arctic sea ice … is expected to be largely absent by mid-century. …The unusually high amount of summer rainfall in the United Kingdom in 2012 was largely the result of natural variability. …The July 2012 extreme rainfall events in North China and southwestern Japan were mainly due to natural variability…. http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2013/20130905-extremeweatherandclimateevents.html. NOAA.
2013-09-03. NASA-Led Study Reveals Industrial Soot’s Role in 1800s Glacier Retreat. http://www.nasa.gov/press/2013/september/nasa-led-study-reveals-industrial-soots-role-in-1800s-glacier-retreat/ NASA RELEASE 13-273. Excerpt: A NASA-led team of scientists has uncovered strong evidence that soot from a rapidly industrializing Europe caused the abrupt retreat of mountain glaciers in the European Alps that began in the 1860s, a period often thought of as the end of the Little Ice Age….
2013-08-08. Agency finds climate change taking toll on California. Excerpt: California lakes are warming, sea levels are rising, wildfires are spreading, and mountain plants and animals are migrating to higher ground as the impact of climate change takes hold throughout the state, a new report says. The evidence of the effects of the warming trend emerged in an analysis of 36 “indicators” – warning signs of changes – that are detailed in the 240-page report released Wednesday by the state’s Environmental Protection Agency. …”The combined impact described by the indicators is dramatic,” said Matthew Rodriquez, California’s secretary for environmental protection, whose agency specialists prepared the report. “The science is clear that we’re already seeing significant changes in every part of the state,” he said Wednesday. “If you look at these indicators, you can’t really debate that climate change, and its impact, is here.” …”Sea-level rise could lead to flooding of low-lying areas, loss of coastal wetlands, erosion of coastal beaches, saltwater contamination of groundwater aquifers and impacts on roads, sewage treatment plants and other coastal infrastructure,” the report warns. …The annual average acres burned by California wildfires in the dozen years since 2000 (598,000 acres) is more than double the acreage burned in the 50 years between 1950 and 2000 (264,000 acres). …A study on Southern California’s Santa Rosa Mountains shows that dominant plant species have moved upward – by an average of 213 feet over the past 30 years. And in the Sierra Nevada, the lower edge of conifer-dominated forests has been retreating upslope for the past 60 years…. http://www.sfgate.com/science/article/Agency-finds-climate-change-taking-toll-on-4716422.php. David Perlman, San Francisco Chronicle.
2013-07-24. Polar Thaw Opens Shortcut for Russian Natural Gas. Excerpt: …The polar ice cap is melting, and if executives at the Russian energy company Novatek feel guilty about profiting from that, they do not let it be known in public. …Novatek, in partnership with the French energy company Total and the China National Petroleum Corporation, is building a $20 billion liquefied natural gas plant on the central Arctic coast of Russia. It is one of the first major energy projects to take advantage of the summer thawing of the Arctic caused by global warming. The plant, called Yamal LNG, would send gas to Asia along the sea lanes known as the Northeast Passage, which opened for regular international shipping only four years ago. …. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/25/business/energy-environment/polar-thaw-opens-shortcut-for-russian-natural-gas.html. Andrew E. Kramer, New York Times. [Note: this is a “socio-economic-inclusive” positive feedback loop: the more global warming there is, the easier it is to transport fossil fuel, which in turn makes more global warming.]
2013-07-23. Wildfire season getting longer. Excerpt: …Slight temperature increases have extended fire seasons and boosted burned acreage, while housing encroachment into the forest has dramatically increased the cost of fighting fires. Analysts say 16 percent of the West’s so-called wildland-urban interface is now developed, and already fire suppression consumes nearly half of the U.S. Forest Service budget. If that encroachment reaches 50 percent of the area where private lands border federal forests, economist Ray Rasker of non-profit research group Headwaters Economics said, the costs would climb to $6 billion — more than the current Forest Service budget. …The fires that threaten precarious communities are growing more ferocious in part because of climate change, said Dave Cleaves, climate-change adviser for the U.S. Forest Service. “We’re seeing more acres burned and more burned in large fires,” Cleaves said. …Warmer summers exacerbate drought, as do quicker-evaporating winter rains and snowmelt. These trends increase forest diseases and pests, such as bark beetles, which have killed millions of acres of trees in the West, creating vast amounts of fuel to feed fires. “The changing climate is not only accelerating the intensity of these disturbances,” Cleaves said, “but linking them more closely together.” On average, the West’s fire season is now two months longer than it was in the early 1970s, Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said during testimony before a U.S. Senate committee last month. A 2006 study by University of California-Merced geographer Anthony Westerling put the increase at 78 days….. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/07/23/wildfire-season-getting-longer/2581381/. Brandon Loomis, The Arizona Republic [article in USA Today].
2013-07-22. Alaska Looks for Answers in Glacier’s Summer Flood Surges. Excerpt: …glaciers …are melting and retreating rapidly all over the world. But the unpredictable flood surges at the Mendenhall Glacier, about 14 miles from downtown Juneau, Alaska’s capital, are turning a jog into a sprint as global temperatures and climate variability increase. …Starting in July 2011, and each year since, sudden torrents of water shooting out from beneath the glacier have become a new facet of Juneau’s brief, shimmering high summer season. In that first, and so far biggest, measured flood burst, an estimated 10 billion gallons gushed out in three days, threatening homes and property along the Mendenhall River that winds through part of the city. There have been at least two smaller bursts this year. …Glaciologists even have a name for the process, which is happening in many places all over the world as climates change: jokulhlaup, an Icelandic word usually translated as “glacier leap.”…. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/23/us/alaska-looks-for-answers-in-glaciers-summer-flood-surges.html. Kirk Johnson, New York Times.
2013-07-10. Giant Iceberg Breaks Off Antarctic Glacier. Excerpt: A massive iceberg, larger than the city of Chicago, broke off of Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier on Monday (July 8), and is now floating freely in the Amundsen Sea, according to a team of German scientists. The newborn iceberg measures about 278 square miles (720 square kilometers), and was seen by TerraSAR-X, an earth-observing satellite operated by the German Space Agency (DLR). …Humbert and her colleagues did not draw direct connections between this week’s calving event and climate change, …the flow of the Pine Island Glacier may be driven by other factors, Humbert said. …whether the flow speeds up or slows down is based more on changing wind directions in the Amundsen Sea, and less by rising air temperatures. …Still, if the glacier’s flow speeds up, it could have serious consequences, the researchers said. The Pine Island Glacier currently acts as a plug, holding back part of the immense West Antarctic Ice Sheet whose melting ice contributes to rising sea levels…. http://www.livescience.com/38078-pine-island-glacier-iceberg.html. Denise Chow, LiveScience.
2013-06-13 NCDC Releases 2012 Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters Information. Excerpt: 2012 saw 11 weather and climate disaster events each with losses exceeding $1 billion in damages. This makes 2012 the second costliest year since 1980, with a total of more than $110 billion in damages throughout the year. The 2012 total damages rank only behind 2005, which incurred $160 billion in damages due in part to four devastating land-falling hurricanes. The 2012 billion-dollar events included seven severe weather and tornado events, two tropical cyclone events, and the yearlong drought and its associated wildfires. These 11 events killed over 300 people and had devastating economic effects on the areas impacted. Billion-Dollar Weather/Climate Disasters: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/billions/overview. Table: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/billions/events. http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/news/ncdc-releases-2012-billion-dollar-weather-and-climate-disasters-information. NOAA.
2013-03-13. Warm Ocean, Not Icebergs, Causing Most of Antarctic Ice Shelves’ Mass Loss. Excerpt: Ocean waters melting the undersides of Antarctic ice shelves are responsible for most of the continent’s ice shelf mass loss, a new study by NASA and university researchers has found. …the rates of basal melt, or the melting of the ice shelves from underneath, …accounted for 55 percent of all Antarctic ice shelf mass loss from 2003 to 2008, an amount much higher than previously thought. Antarctica holds about 60 percent of the planet’s fresh water locked into its massive ice sheet. …Determining how ice shelves melt will help scientists improve projections of how the Antarctic ice sheet will respond to a warming ocean and contribute to sea level rise. …In some places, basal melt exceeds iceberg calving. In other places, the opposite is true. But in total, Antarctic ice shelves lost 2,921 trillion pounds (1,325 trillion kilograms) of ice per year in 2003-2008 through basal melt, while iceberg formation accounted for 2,400 trillion pounds (1,089 trillion kilograms) of mass loss each year. …For images related to this release, please visit: http://go.nasa.gov/175OAkF …. http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2013/jun/HQ_13-183_Melting_Ice_Shelves.html. NASA Release 13-183.
2013-06-06. 115 U.S. Ski Areas Seek Climate Change Action From Congress. Excerpt: Ski areas from 24 states have signed the Climate Declaration, which calls on U.S. federal policymakers and legislators to seize the economic opportunity of addressing climate change. These 115 ski areas join Climate Declaration founding signatory Aspen Snowmass and 40 other American businesses, including General Motors, Nike and Levi Strauss & Co., as well as Ceres, a coalition of large investors, companies and public interest groups, in declaring that a bold response to the climate challenge is “one of America’s greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century.” Ski areas in the United States employ some 160,000 people and generate roughly $12.2 billion in annual revenue. …ski areas are developing renewable energy on site through the application of wind, solar, geothermal and micro-hydro technology. Ski areas are applying energy-efficient green building techniques, retrofitting existing facilities to save energy, replacing inefficient compressors in snowmaking operations, using alternative fuels in resort vehicle fleets, implementing anti-idling policies and providing or promoting car pooling or mass transit use by guests and employees…. http://ens-newswire.com/2013/06/06/115-u-s-ski-areas-seek-climate-change-action-from-congress/. Environment News Service.
2013-05-24. Russia evacuates ‘drifting’ Arctic research station as ice floe melts Excerpt: MOSCOW As global warming accelerates, the life span of Arctic ice floes is decreasing, shocking Russian scientists who base their ‘drifting’ research stations there. …Russia’s environment ministry has ordered the urgent evacuation of 16 scientists from a research station on an Arctic ice floe near Canada because the ice around it is disintegrating at an alarming rate, giving the station little chance of survival. …The emergency has sparked a wider debate among Russian Arctic researchers over how to continue their work amid rapidly changing climate conditions, and in an atmosphere in which the race for newly uncovered Arctic resources has become one of the most politically charged issues on the international agenda. “It’s getting harder and harder to find a proper block of ice to sustain one of these stations,” says Viktor Boyarsky, a former polar explorer and current director of the Russian State Museum of the Arctic and Antarctic in St. Petersburg. …If current trends continue, Russia will have to start building artificial platforms that can withstand Arctic ice conditions, experts say…. http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2013/0524/Russia-evacuates-drifting-Arctic-research-station-as-ice-floe-melts; Fred Weir, Christian Science Monitor
2013-05-29. As Glaciers Melt, Alpine Mountains Lose Their Glue, Threatening Swiss Village Excerpt: …Grindelwald, population 3,800, lies in the foothills of a wall of Alpine peaks, rising to more than 13,000 feet. It is also home to two of Switzerland’s largest glaciers, the Upper and Lower Grindelwald Glaciers, which for millenniums have snaked their way through Alpine gorges toward the town. With global warming, the glaciers are melting. Once stretching to the edge of town, they now end high in the mountains. Moreover, their greenish glacial water is forming lakes. In summer, when the melting accelerates, floodwaters threaten the area. …the shrinking of the glaciers removes a kind of buttress supporting parts of the mountains, menacing the region with rock slides. Grindelwald stands as a stark example of what is happening these days to Switzerland’s glaciers, and there are more than a hundred, large and small. …the warming reduces the effect of permafrost that once acted as a sort of glue binding together the mass of the mountains. …a chunk of the Eiger amounting to about 900,000 cubic yards fell from the east face, causing the cloud of rock dust…. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/30/world/europe/in-swiss-alps-glacial-melting-unglues-mountains.html; John Tagliabue, New York Times.
2013-05-14. Climate change may be baring Mount Everest Excerpt: A warming climate is melting the glaciers of Mount Everest, shrinking the frozen cloak of Earth’s highest peak by 13% in the last 50 years, researchers have found. Rocks and natural debris previously covered by snow are appearing now as the snow line has retreated 590 feet, according to Sudeep Thakuri, a University of Milan scientist who led the research. …Researchers said they believe the observed changes could be due to human-generated greenhouse gases altering global climate, although their research has not established a firm connection. …Small glaciers of less than a square kilometer (about 247 acres), are vanishing fastest, registering a 43% decline in surface area since the 1960s. …“The Himalayan glaciers and ice caps are considered a water tower for Asia since they store and supply water downstream during the dry season,” said Thakuri. “Downstream populations are dependent on the melt water for agriculture, drinking and power production.” …The plateau is of concern because it is the ultimate source of drinking and irrigation water for more than 1 billion people in Asia. http://www.latimes.com/news/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-everest-climate-20130514,0,7957473.story By Geoffrey Mohan, Los Angeles Times. See also
- Warm Springs Linked to Dwindling Snow in Rockies – http://www.livescience.com/32002-rocky-mountains-snow-cover-declines.html.
- NASA Satellite Data Help Pinpoint Glaciers’ Role in Sea Level Rise – http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2013/may/HQ_13-141_Glaciers_Sea_Level.html
2013-05-13. America’s first climate refugees. Excerpt: Sabrina Warner keeps having the same nightmare: a huge wave rearing up out of the water and crashing over her home, forcing her to swim for her life with her toddler son. …Warner’s vision is not far removed from a reality written by climate change. The people of Newtok, on the west coast of Alaska and about 400 miles south of the Bering Strait that separates the state from Russia, are living a slow-motion disaster that will end, very possibly within the next five years, with the entire village being washed away. The Ninglick River coils around Newtok on three sides before emptying into the Bering Sea. It has steadily been eating away at the land, carrying off 100ft or more some years, in a process moving at unusual speed because of climate change. Eventually all of the villagers will have to leave, becoming America’s first climate change refugees. …A report by the US Army Corps of Engineers predicted that the highest point in the village – the school of Warner’s nightmare – could be underwater by 2017. …more than 180 native communities in Alaska, … are flooding and losing land because of the ice melt that is part of the changing climate. …The proposed new site for Newtok, voted on by the villagers and approved by government planners, lies only nine miles away, …. But the cost of the move could run as high as $130m…. For the villagers of Newtok, finding the cash, and finding their way through the government bureaucracy, is proving the challenge of their lives…. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/interactive/2013/may/13/newtok-alaska-climate-change-refugees Suzanne Goldenberg theguardian
2013-04-05. A Stubborn Drought Tests Texas Ranchers http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/06/business/a-long-drought-tests-texas-cattle-ranchers-patience-and-creativity.html. Stefanie Strom, New York Times. See also video at http://www.nytimes.com/video/2013/04/05/business/100000002112739/drought-on-the-range.html – Excerpt: …The persistence of the drought here has forced ranchers to use all the creative techniques they can muster to survive. For some, it has meant knowing as much about land management and grass as they know about the bloodlines of their herds. …For others, it is knowing the right moment to sell calves or to gamble on something called “rain insurance.” The cattle herd nationwide is at its lowest level in 60 years, and nowhere is that more apparent than in Texas, the nation’s largest cattle-producing state. The Texas inventory of cattle and calves was 11.3 million on Jan. 1, a decline of 5 percent from a year earlier and the lowest level since 1967, according to the Agriculture Department. The state’s beef cattle inventory fell even more, to 4.02 million head, down 12 percent from 2012, when similarly precipitous declines occurred. The sharp contraction, brought on by two years of drought in Texas followed by a year of drought across the Great Plains that drove feed prices sky high, has left some wondering if the state will ever again have herds as large as it once boasted….
2013 Apr 4. In Sign of Warming, 1,600 Years of Ice in Andes Melted in 25 Years. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/05/world/americas/1600-years-of-ice-in-perus-andes-melted-in-25-years-scientists-say.html, by Justin Gillis, New York Times. Excerpt: …Glacial ice in the Peruvian Andes that took at least 1,600 years to form has melted in just 25 years, scientists reported Thursday, the latest indication that the recent spike in global temperatures has thrown the natural world out of balance. The evidence comes from a remarkable find at the margins of the Quelccaya ice cap in Peru, the world’s largest tropical ice sheet. Rapid melting there in the modern era is uncovering plants that were locked in a deep freeze when the glacier advanced many thousands of years ago. Dating of those plants, using a radioactive form of carbon in the plant tissues that decays at a known rate, has given scientists an unusually precise method of determining the history of the ice sheet’s margins….
2013 March 26. New Mexico Farmers Seek ‘Priority Call’ as Drought Persists. By Felicity Barringer, The NY Times. Excerpt: The drought-fueled anger of southeastern New Mexico’s farmers and ranchers is boiling, and there is nowhere near enough water in the desiccated Pecos River to cool it down. Roswell, about 75 miles to the north, has somewhat more water available and so is the focus of intense resentment here…For decades, the regional status quo meant the northerners pumped groundwater and the southerners piped surface water. Now, amid the worst drought on record, some in Carlsbad say they must upend the status quo to survive. They want to make what is known as a priority call on the Pecos River….
2013-03-21. Wichita Falls, Texas, Could Go Dry by Year’s End | Audrey White, The Texas Tribune. Excerpt: The Texas government keeps a list of a communities that could run out of water within 180 days. Most are small, affecting a few hundred or few thousand people. But now there is a big city on the list — Wichita Falls, near the Oklahoma border, home to more than 100,000 people. Wichita Falls was added to the list last month when lake levels dropped to 40 percent and the city entered Stage 3 watering restrictions. Currently, residents can water only once per week, and city officials warn that the restrictions could tighten further sometime this summer. …More than three-quarters of the state is experiencing drought, and weather experts expect little relief in the next few months. …Wichita Falls will almost certainly implement Stage 4 drought restrictions by the end of summer, and perhaps as early as June, …. Most likely, Stage 4 will include no outdoor watering, no filling of pools and additional restrictions on car-wash businesses. Industrial users could also be affected, he said. …“all turf, trees, shrubs, flowers would have to die.” Nix is working with the TCEQ to create and implement a water reuse system that would treat wastewater to return it to the drinking water supply, hopefully by early next year…. …. See full article at http://www.texastribune.org/2013/03/21/wichita-falls-among-cities-could-go-dry-years-end/.
2013 March 10. Amplified Greenhouse Effect Shifts North’s Growing Seasons. By NASA Release 13-069. Excerpt: Vegetation growth at Earth’s northern latitudes increasingly resembles lusher latitudes to the south, according to a NASA-funded study based on a 30-year record of land surface and newly improved satellite data sets…. See full article at http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2013/mar/HQ_13-069_Northern_Growing_Seasons.html.
2013 February 05. Report: Climate change could devastate agriculture. By Christopher Doerning, USA Today. Excerpt: Climate change could have a drastic and harmful effect on U.S. agriculture, forcing farmers and ranchers to alter where they grow crops and costing them millions of dollars in additional costs to tackle weeds, pests and diseases that threaten their operations, a sweeping government report said Tuesday. An analysis released by the Agriculture Department said that although U.S. crops and livestock have been able to adapt to changes in their surroundings for close to 150 years, the accelerating pace and intensity of global warming during the next few decades may soon be too much for the once-resilient sector to overcome. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said 2012 was the hottest year ever in the USA since record-keeping began in 1895, surpassing the previous high by a full degree Fahrenheit. The country was battered by the worst drought in more than 50 years, and crops withered away in bone-dry fields across the Midwest….
2013 January 27. Major climate changes looming. By Carolyn Lochhead, San Francisco Chronicle. Excerpt: …”We are poised right at the edge of some very major changes on Earth,” said Anthony Barnosky, a UC Berkeley professor of biology who studies the interaction of climate change with population growth and land use. …At current trends, the Earth could warm by 4 degrees Celsius in 50 years, according to a November World Bank report. … “The last time Earth was 4 degrees warmer than it is now was about 14 million years ago,” Barnosky said. …it is technically feasible to halt such changes by nearly ending the use of fossil fuels. …Katharine Hayhoe, an evangelical Christian and climatologist at Texas Tech University “… it’s not just about thermometers or satellite instruments,”…”It’s about looking in our own backyards, when the trees are flowering now compared to 30 years ago, what types of birds and butterflies and bugs that … used to be further south.” …The pine bark beetle, held in check by winter freezes, is epidemic over millions of acres of forests from California to South Dakota. Oceans, which absorb CO2, have increased in acidity, damaging coral reefs, shellfish and organisms at the bottom of the food chain. … such changes in ocean chemistry in the geologic past were accompanied by “mass extinctions of ocean or terrestrial life or both.” …wind and solar could power the world many times over. …the world would need to install 1.7 billion solar rooftops and 4 million wind turbines….
2013 January 21. How High Could the Tide Go. By Justin Gillis, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Experts say the emissions that may make a huge increase of sea level inevitable are expected to occur in just the next few decades. They fear that because the world’s coasts are so densely settled, the rising oceans will lead to a humanitarian crisis lasting many hundreds of years. Scientists say it has been difficult to get people to understand or focus on the importance, for future generations, of today’s decisions about greenhouse gases. Their evidence that the gases represent a problem is based not just on computerized forecasts of the future, as is commonly believed, but on what they describe as a growing body of evidence about what occurred in the past. To add to that body of knowledge, Dr. Raymo is studying geologic history going back several million years. The earth has warmed up many times, for purely natural reasons, and those episodes often featured huge shifts of climate, partial collapse of the polar ice sheets and substantial increases in sea level….
2013 January 10. Heat, Flood or Icy Cold, Extreme Weather Rages Worldwide. By Sarah Lyall, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Around the world, extreme has become the new commonplace. China is enduring its coldest winter in nearly 30 years. Brazil is in the grip of a dreadful heat spell. Eastern Russia is so freezing — minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and counting — that the traffic lights recently stopped working in the city of Yakutsk. Bush fires are raging across Australia, fueled by a record-shattering heat wave. Pakistan was inundated by unexpected flooding in September. A vicious storm bringing rain, snow and floods just struck the Middle East. … said Omar Baddour, chief of the data management applications division at the World Meteorological Organization, …Such events are increasing in intensity as well as frequency, … a sign that climate change is not just about rising temperatures, but also about intense, unpleasant, anomalous weather of all kinds. … in Britain … the floods of 2012 followed the floods of 2007 and also the floods of 2009, which all told have resulted in nearly $6.5 billion in insurance payouts. …Britain’s weather service declared 2012 the … the second-wettest in Britain as a whole, since records began more than 100 years ago. …there were also severe snowstorms in Sicily and southern Italy for the first time since World War II… tornadoes and waterspouts struck the Italian coast.) …Meanwhile, China is enduring its worst winter in recent memory, … more than 1,000 houses collapsed under a relentless onslaught of snow, while in Inner Mongolia, 180,000 livestock froze to death. The cold has wreaked havoc with crops, sending the price of vegetables soaring. … in South America, energy analysts say that Brazil may face electricity rationing for the first time since 2002, as a heat wave and a lack of rain deplete the reservoirs for hydroelectric plants. …The temperature in Rio de Janeiro climbed to 109.8 degrees on Dec. 26, the city’s highest temperature since official records began in 1915….
2013 January 02. Commodities fear as mighty Mississippi runs dry in drought. By Tim Walker, The Independent. Excerpt: … the mighty Mississippi is being choked by drought, as historically low water levels threaten to halt the flow of vital commodities … with potentially devastating economic consequences. Last summer saw the country’s worst drought for more than 50 years, damaging crops across the Mid-West and making stretches of the Mississippi perilously shallow and narrow for barge traffic, which typically carries around $7bn of grain, coal, crude oil, cement and other materials and commodities along the river in December and January. … a section of the river may become impassable by Thursday. …Debra Colbert, senior vice-president of the Waterways Council, told The Independent: “We have never had an extended closure on the Mississippi. This is the height of the export shipping season. From now until March, more than 60 per cent of the nation’s grain moves on the inland waterway, bound for export. The impacts are going to be enormous, ….” …Responsibility for keeping the shipping channel open falls to the US Army’s Corps of Engineers, which said the drought-induced crisis was “equal to or worse than any of the past five decades”. …The region’s senators recently wrote to President Obama, pressing for more water to be allowed into the Mississippi from another tributary, the Missouri…. The Corps of Engineers cut the flow of the Missouri by two-thirds in November to stock reservoirs, assuaging drought conditions in more northerly states…