Global March temps 4th-warmest on record

Parts of Europe, central Asia were record warm

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Hot and cold in March 2014. Map courtesy NOAA.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The average global temperature in March 2014 soared to the fourth-highest reading on record, mainly due to warmer temperature readings over land surfaces, which averaged 2.39 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century norm, according to the monthly report from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.

Climate analysts said it was the warmest March since 2010 — the last time that an El Niño cycle influenced global temperatures. The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces was 1.30 degrees Fahrenheit above the long-term historic average. For the year to-date, the global temperature is running 1.08 degrees above average, making it the seventh-warmest January-March period on record. Continue reading

Climate: Is the jet stream getting curvier?

A warming Arctic is changing the configuration of the jet stream, which affects mid-latitude weather. GRAPHIC COURTESY NOAA.

A warming Arctic is changing the configuration of the jet stream, which affects mid-latitude weather. GRAPHIC COURTESY NOAA.

New study traces historic changes in North American weather patterns

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — A new University of Utah-led study suggests that this past winter’s persistent weather pattern across North America is linked with changes in the jet stream that may become even more pronounced as the Earth’s climate warms.

“If this trend continues, it could contribute to more extreme winter weather events in North America, as experienced this year with warm conditions in California and Alaska and intrusion of cold Arctic air across the eastern USA,” said geochemist Gabe Bowen, senior author of the study. Continue reading

Greenland’s ice sheet, past, present and future

A new study of the Greenland snowpack reached surprising conclusions about concentrations of carbon monoxide.

A new study of Greenland ice cores suggests parts of the ice sheet persisted through previous global warming spells.

Will there be a meltdown?

Staff Report

FRISCO — At least some parts of the Greenland ice sheet likely survived some of the warmest interludes in the Earth’s geologic climate history, researchers said last week as they announced findings of a study that discovered an ancient tundra landscape preserved under the Greenland Ice Sheet, below two miles of ice.

“We found organic soil that has been frozen to the bottom of the ice sheet for 2.7 million years,” said University of Vermont geologist and lead author Paul Bierman. The finding provides strong evidence that the Greenland Ice Sheet has persisted much longer than previously known, enduring through many past periods of global warming. Continue reading

Mediterranean fossils offer new climate clues

Findings shed new light in links between temperatures, CO2 and glaciation

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How will Antarctic ice sheets and glaciers respond to global warming? bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The relationship between global temperatures and the massive glaciation of historic ice ages may be a bit more complex than previously believed.

By studying the chemical composition of Mediterranean Sea fossils as old as 5.3 million years, scientists found a new way to assess sea-level changes and deep-sea temperature variability over the past 5.3 million years. The findings will result in a better understanding of ice age climate, and could offer new insight into the relationship between carbon dioxide levels, global temperatures and sea levels. Continue reading

Western wildfires burning bigger and more often

Global warming seen as key factor in trend

wildfire acreage graph

Study documents significant trend in size and frequency of western wildfires.

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Western wildfires: How much bigger will they get?

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The size and frequency of western wildfires have been increasing at a startling rate the past few decades, researchers said this week after scrutinizing satellite data to measure burned areas.

The number of wildfires larger than 1,000 acres increased by a rate of seven fires a year from 1984 to 2011 and the total areas burned grew by about 90,000 acres per year — an area the size of Las Vegas, according to the new study accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal published by the American Geophysical Union.

“We looked at the probability that increases of this magnitude could be random, and in each case it was less than one percent,” said Philip Dennison, an associate professor of geography at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and lead author of the paper. Continue reading

Climate: U.S. sees coldest winter since 1985

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Climate story sponsored by the CRWCD. Click the banner for more info on the 2014 State of the River meetings.

In March, record cold readings outnumbered record highs by five to one

A tale of two winters, east and west. Map courtesy NOAA.

A tale of two winters, east and west. Map courtesy NOAA.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Federal climate experts this week confirmed what a lot of people already knew instinctively — a long, cold winter stretched well into March in many parts of the country, with the average monthly temperature for the month coming in at 1 degree Fahrenheit below the 20th century average.

Across the country, there were five times as many record cold daily maximum and minimum temperatures (5822) as record warm daily maximum and minimum temperatures (1149) — an anomaly in an era when warm temperature records have consistently outnumbered cold records for months and years at a time. Continue reading

Environment: Is the Amazon rainforest near a tipping point?

A NASA photo taken from the International Space Station shows sunlight glinting off the Amazon River.

A NASA photo taken from the International Space Station shows sunlight glinting off the Amazon River.

Drought the main driver of destructive fires

By Staff Report

FRISCO — Longer droughts, land-use changes and wildfires may  be pushing parts of the Amazon rainforest toward an ecological tipping point, a team of scientists said after analyzing the effects of fire in a series of study plots.

The changes may abruptly increase tree mortality and change vegetation over large areas, the researchers said, pointing out that current Amazon forest models don’t include the impacts of wildfires. As a result, projections of future forest health tend to underestimate the amount of tree death and overestimate overall forest health, said Dr. Michael Coe, of the Woods Hole Research Center. Continue reading

Climate: ‘We need to move away from business as usual’

Curbing global warming will require big cuts in greenhouse gases

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March 2014 temperatures were above average across most of the globe.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO —Greenhouse gas emissions continue to climb despite international attempts to curb heat-trapping gases, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in its latest climate report.

Issued Sunday in Berlin, the report shows that greenhouse gas emissions grew more quickly between 2000 and 2010 than in each of the three previous decades. Only with significant institutional, social and technological changes will humankind be able to meet its stated target of limiting warming to two degrees Celsius, the scientists wrote. Continue reading

Study: Little chance that global warming is natural

Statistical analysis of temperature data affirms climate models

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Warmer than average temperatures prevailed across most of the globe in March 2014.

Staff Report

FRISCO — A new statistical analysis of temperature records dating back to 1500 suggests it’s more than 99 percent certain that the past century of global warming is caused by the emission of heat-trapping, industrial-age greenhouse gases. The study was published online April 6 in the journal Climate Dynamics.

In a press release, the McGill University researchers said the study doesn’t use complex computer models to estimate the effects of greenhouse-gas emissions. Instead, it examines historical data to assess the competing hypothesis that warming over the past century is due to natural long-term variations in temperature. The results all but rule out  the possibility that global warming in the industrial era is just a natural fluctuation in the earth’s climate. Continue reading

Study: CO2 buildup could affect food quality

Wheat field in Upper Austria

A wheat field in Upper Austria ripens under a summer sun. bberwyn photo.

Protein levels in key grains could decline by 3 percent

Staff Report

FRISCO — Along with cutting yields of some key crops, increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide is also expected to affect the nutritional quality of food crops. Field tests by UC Davis scientists show that elevated levels of carbon dioxide make it harder for some plants to convert nitrogen into proteins.

“Food quality is declining under the rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide that we are experiencing,” said lead author Arnold Bloom, a professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis. “Several explanations for this decline have been put forward, but this is the first study to demonstrate that elevated carbon dioxide inhibits the conversion of nitrate into protein in a field-grown crop,” Bloom said. Continue reading

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