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Report eyes links between global warming and extreme weather events in 2013

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Scientists fine-tuning attribution studies

Staff Report

FRISCO — Australia’s 2013 heatwave was almost certainly fueled by building concentrations of heat-trapping pollution, a global team of researchers said this week, announcing the results of several studies exploring the link between climate change and regional weather patterns.

The new report, published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, looked at several extreme 2013 weather events in the context of climate, finding a connection to human-caused global warming in some events, but not in others. Continue reading

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Climate: Are greenhouse gases causing the California drought?

‘This is an event that is more extreme than any in the observed record, and our research suggests that global warming is playing a role right now’

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Exceptionally dry conditions along parts of the West Coast that usually see copious moisture are highlighted in the NOAA soil moisture map taken from satellite data.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The California drought that will go down as the worst in the state’s recorded history may well be linked with increasing concentrations of heat-trapping pollutants — or not, depending who you ask.

In one new study, Stanford researchers said their analysis shows that formation of a persistent ridge of storm-blocking high pressure over the Pacific Ocean is three times more likely in presence of modern greenhouse gas concentrations.

But almost simultaneously, researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said their survey of recent studies showed no link between global warming and lack of rainfall in California, though they did acknowledge the results of the Stanford led study, which focused on air pressure and the path of storms. Continue reading

Morning photo: Sunday snaps

Amazing aspen show

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Alpenglow on the distant summit of Peak 1; aspen glow in the foreground and luminous clouds.

FRISCO — It doesn’t really get much better than the sunrises and sunsets of the past few days, as rainbows competed with luminous clouds and golden aspens in a — pardon the cliche — riot of color.It’s almost as if Mother Nature is trying to overcompensate in advance for the relatively drab days of November, just ahead. With more rain and clouds in the forecast for the next few days, we’ll probably lose most of the leaves by the end of the week and, who knows, maybe we’ll see our first valley snow! Continue reading

Should scientists offer more than just practical solutions on climate change?

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The debate over global warming should be broadened to consider a full range of human values.

What are the boundaries between science and politics?

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientific advice alone isn’t enough to shape the public debate about climate change. Instead, the discussion needs to include consideration of the full range of human values.

“Global environmental change raises profound questions … such as whether humans lack humility and wisdom,” said University of Manchester professor  Noel Castree, lead author of a new Nature Climate Change paper that explores the role of scientists in the global warming debate. Continue reading

Climate study shows sea level can rise by 30 feet per century during ice cap meltdowns

If sea levels rose to where they were during the Last Interglacial Period, large parts of the Gulf of Mexico would be under water (red areas), including half of Florida and several Caribbean islands. Credit: Jeremy Weiss, Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona.

If sea levels rose to where they were during the last Interglacial Period, large parts of the Gulf of Mexico would be under water (red areas), including half of Florida and several Caribbean islands. Credit: Jeremy Weiss, Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona.

‘Once under way, this response may be irreversible for many centuries to come’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Melting ice caps caused global sea level to rise by up to 30 feet per century during the ending phases of the last five ice ages, researchers said, announcing results of a study that traces sea level fluctuations across a span of half a million years.

The record shows that sea level changes can happen quickly on a geological time scale, and that there were hundreds of smaller pulses in sea level in between the five major events. But the biggest changes in sea level happened after periods when ice sheets were much larger than today’s. Continue reading

Morning photo: Fall vibes

New season …

Autumn rainclouds breaking up over Frisco, Colorado.

Autumn rainclouds lifting over Frisco, Colorado.

FRISCO — A spell of rainy days in the Colorado high country made for some spectacular morning and evening scenes, with pendulous gray clouds providing a great backdrop for the spectacle of changing leaves. It’s actually pretty hard to take a bad picture of fall colors, although when you’re pushing the envelope in low-light or high contrast situations, there’s always room for improvement. Continue reading

CU-led study urges grassroots approach to CO2 cuts

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Study says state plans are key to cutting concentrations of atmospheric heat-trapping pollution.

State energy policies key to reaching EPA greenhouse gas targets

Staff Report

FRISCO — State energy policies could be crucial to achieving the deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions needed to prevent runaway global warming. Mandatory emissions caps and indirect steps like encouraging production of renewable energy can be equally effective, according to a new study led by the University of Colorado, Boulder.

State policies are important because the EPA’s Clean Power Plan gives states a key role in reaching overall national goals. The plan would require each state to cut CO2 pollution from power plants by 30 percent from their 2005 levels by 2030.

“In addition to suggesting that the EPA’s Clean Power Plan can work, our results have important implications for the U.N. Climate Summit,” said Professor Don Grant, chair of the CU-Boulder sociology department and lead author of the study. “They indicate that while the world’s nations have struggled to agree on how to reduce emissions, sub-national governments have been developing several effective mitigation measures. Leaders at the United Nations, therefore, would be wise to shift from a top-down strategy that focuses on forging international treaties to a more bottom-up approach that builds upon established policy successes.”

The study was published online this week in Nature Climate Change. The study was co-authored by Kelly Bergstrand of the University of Arizona and Katrina Running of Idaho State University, and was funded by the National Science Foundation.

Researchers had previously found it difficult to determine which state policies, if any, reduced power plants’ CO2 emissions because plant-specific data were largely unavailable, Grant said. That changed when the EPA began requiring plants to submit CO2 pollution information as part of its Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.

Some states have policies that directly limit power plants’ carbon emissions and others have addressed carbon emissions indirectly by encouraging energy efficiency and renewable energy.

The study used 2005 and 2010 data to examine the impacts of strategies that are explicitly climate-focused such as carbon emission caps, greenhouse gas reduction goals, climate action plans (comprehensive strategies for reducing a state’s carbon emissions) and greenhouse gas registry/reporting system that require plants to register and record their emissions and emissions reductions.

Likewise, the researchers examined indirect policies with climate implications such as efficiency targets, renewable portfolio standards that require utilities to deliver a certain amount of electricity from renewable or alternative energy sources, public benefit funds that provide financial assistance for energy efficiency and renewable energy, and “electric decoupling” that eases the pressure on utilities to sell as much energy as possible by eliminating the relationship between revenues and sales volume.

The study found that emission caps, greenhouse gas targets, efficiency targets, public benefit funds and electric decoupling were the most effective policies for reducing power plants’ carbon emissions.

 

 

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