Climate: September temps shatter records

Hot, hotter, hottest …

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Staff Report

Global temperatures once again soared to record highs in September, across both land and sea surfaces, spiking to 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average. Continue reading

Study: Ecosystem tipping points likely before 2-degree Celsius global warming threshold is reached

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Massive tree-killing beetle outbreaks are a clear sign that some ecosystems could reach tipping points much sooner than expected. @bberwyn photo.

Abrupt changes likely, scientists warn

Staff Report

Many of Earth’s natural systems could be radically changed by global warming, even below the 2 degree Celsius limit eyed as a “safe” threshold by climate experts.

Abrupt shifts in sea ice and ocean patterns, as well as vegetation and marine productivity are identified as some of the most likely climate tipping points in a new study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The research is based on climate model simulations developed for the 5th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. The findings suggest that the tipping points could play out in unexpected ways. Continue reading

Study: Horn of Africa droughts linked with global warming

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Will global warming drive more drought in the Horn of Africa?

‘The rate of the recent drying in the Horn of Africa is unprecedented in the last 2,000 years …’

Staff Report

The Horn of Africa, encompassing Somalia, Djibouti and Ethiopia, has been drying in sync with increases in global greenhouse gas emissions and could experience for frequent and intense droughts as global warming continues, scientists said after studying layers of sediments from the Gulf of Aden.

The detailed core samples enabled the scientists to create a highly accurate temperature record going back 2,000 years. The Horn of Africa has suffered deadly droughts every few years in recent decades and the study findings suggest the region will get progressively less rain during the crucial “long rains” season of March, April and May. Continue reading

Feds track record Central Valley groundwater depletion

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California’s Central Valley, as seen from the International Space Station. Photo courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

‘The Central Valley has many areas where recent groundwater levels are more than 100 feet below previous historical low …’

Staff Report

Farmers in California’s Central Valley pumped more groundwater than ever during the state’s ongoing drought, causing aquifers to drop to new record low levels, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The agency recently launched a website to help track Central Valley groundwater depletion and land subsidence. A new paper released about the same time shows geographical nuances in the decline. The biggest changes are in the southern Central Valley, where farmers have shifted from planting annual and seasonal crops to perennial plants. Continue reading

Study eyes link between climate change and infant health

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Does climate change have an effect on pregnancy and infant health?

Research in Africa suggests drought and heatwaves results in lower birth weight

Staff Report

A complex statistical analysis of health and climate data suggests there may be a link between climate change and birth weight, at least in parts of the developing world. The findings show that a pregnant woman’s exposure to reduced precipitation and an increased number of very hot days results in lower birth weight.

The two-year research project was led by University of Utah geography professor Kathryn Grace, who said the results are a clear warning that climate change may have a direct affect on public health. Continue reading

Colorado finalizes climate plan

Colorado recorded the greatest increase in average maximum temperatures — between .7 and .9 degrees — from the old normals, compiled between 1971 and 2000, and the new normals, which are based on temperature readings between 1981 and 2010. On average across the U.S., the new average temperatures are about .5 degrees warmer.

Colorado recorded the greatest increase in average maximum temperatures — between .7 and .9 degrees — from the old normals, compiled between 1971 and 2000, and the new normals, which are based on temperature readings between 1981 and 2010. On average across the U.S., the new average temperatures are about .5 degrees warmer.

Multiple state agencies will eye adaptation, mitigation strategies

Staff Report

Colorado’s new climate plan calls for an all-hands-on-deck approach, with various state agencies working together, and with the public, to address the potential impacts of rising temperatures.

Acknowledging that average temperatures in the state could rise by as much as 2.5 to 5 degrees Celsius in the next few decades, Gov. John Hickenlooper called on Colorado make preparations now.

“Colorado is facing a potential increase in both the number and severity of extreme weather events,” Hickenlooper said in a prepared statement. “We’ve seen what Mother Nature can do, and additional risks present a considerable set of challenges for the state, our residents, and our way of life. This comprehensive plan puts forth our commitment from the state and sets the groundwork for the collaboration needed to make sure Colorado is prepared.”

Continue reading

Will this year’s El Niño be a climate wildcard?

‘This is a new planet’

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El Niño still strengthening in the Pacific.

Staff Report

LINZ — This year’s strong El Niño may be a climate wildcard, according to experts with the World Meteorological Organization, who said changes in the northern hemisphere’s climate may interact with El Niño in as-yet unknown ways.

“The last big El Niño was 1997-1998. The planet has changed a lot in 15 years,” said David Carlson, director of the WMO co-sponsored World Climate Research Programme. “We have had years of record Arctic sea ice minimum. We have lost a massive area of northern hemisphere snow cover, probably by more than 1 million square kilometers in the past 15 years. We are working on a different planet and we fully do not understand the new patterns emerging.”

He said the 2015 El Niño is unique because of the unprecedented combination of the Equatorial influence of El Niño, and the Arctic influence of low sea ice and snow cover in place at the same time.

“This is a new planet,” said David Carlson, director of the WMO co-sponsored World Climate Research Programme. The 2015 El Niño is the first to take place since the rapid melting of Arctic sea ice and snow cover, Carlson said. Continue reading

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