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Study: 1934 Dust Bowl still the Godzilla of North American droughts

A dust storm engulfs Stratford, Texas in April of 1935. The drought of 1934 was likely made worse by dust storms triggered by the poor agricultural practices of the time. Credit: NOAA/George E. Marsh Album.

A dust storm engulfs Stratford, Texas in April of 1935. The drought of 1934 was likely made worse by dust storms triggered by the poor agricultural practices of the time.
Credit: NOAA/George E. Marsh Album.

Severe dust storms spawned even more widespread drought, research shows

Staff Report

FRISCO — With all the recent talk of looming megadroughts, the 1934 peak of the Dust Bowl era still remains the most severe and widespread drought in North America during the past 1,000 years, climate scientists say.

Based on tree-ring studies and other physical records, the only other comparable event was way back in the 1500s.

The extent of the 1934 drought was approximately seven times larger than droughts of comparable intensity that struck North America between 1000 A.D. and 2005, and was caused in part by an atmospheric phenomenon that may have also led to the current drought in California, according to a new study. Continue reading

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Climate: U.S. sees precipitation extremes in September

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A couple of cool spots, and big hot pocket out West in Sept. 2014.

NCDC says it was the 26th-warmest September on record

Staff Report

FRISCO — While 2014 is likely to end up as one of the warmest years on record for the planet, the U.S. hasn’t been quite so warm. A tongue of cool weather has persisted down the center of the country for months, while the farther west you go, the hotter it gets, culminating with the record heat in California.

September fit that trend, with the average temperature well above, but not near record levels in the Lower 48 states. According to the National Climatic Data Center’s latest monthly update, the average temperature  was 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average, ranking it as the 26th warmest September. Precipitation for the month across the country was 0.09 inch above average, ranking near the middle. Continue reading

Climate: UK weather trends toward extremes

An extratropical cyclone

An extratropical cyclone

North Atlantic pressure variations driving variable pattern

Staff Report

FRISCO — Weather patterns affecting the UK are  becoming more volatile, climate researchers concluded in a new study, concluding that the trend is being driven by extreme variations in pressure over the North Atlantic.

The month of December is showing the biggest variation, but contrasting conditions, from very mild, wet and stormy to extremely cold and snowy are a clear sign of less stable weather, University of Sheffield scientists reported in a study published last month in the Journal of Climatology.

Winter weather conditions are commonly defined using the North Atlantic Oscillation, a south-north seesaw of barometric pressure variations over the North Atlantic which determine the strength of the westerly winds that shape North Atlantic weather systems. Continue reading

Climate study eyes changes in daily temperature cycles

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How will daily and seasonal temperatures respond to the buildup of greenhouse gases?

‘No no place is immune from effects of climate change

Staff Report

FRISCO — Along with rising average global temperatures, climate scientists are also starting to document how heat-trapping greenhouse gas pollution is affecting seasonal, and even daily temperature variations.

For example, researchers in Alaska have documented a huge increase in autumn temperatures on the North Slope of Alaska linked with the loss of Arctic sea ice, but the changes are becoming apparent even far from the oceans.

After doing some serious number crunching, a pair of scientists from Germany and Wyoming say that the daily and nightly differences in temperatures worldwide are fast approaching yearly differences between summer and winter temperatures.

“We describe, for the first time, changes in temperature variability across the globe,” said George Wang, a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology. “We’ve had a long discussion about changes in the mean temperature. It has been ongoing for over 30 years. “It’s very clear mean temperatures have shifted across the globe. It’s less clear if the variation in temperature has changed,” Wang said.

Continue reading

Climate: Pollution causing drop in monsoon rains

A classic monsoonal flow of moisture, moving clockwise around a

A classic North American monsoonal flow of moisture, moving clockwise around an area of high pressure.

‘Human activity has played a significant role in altering the seasonal monsoon rainfall on which billions of people depend’

Staff Report

FRISCO — A 10 percent drop in overall monsoon rainfall in the northern hemisphere during past 50 years is outside the range of natural climate variability, Scottish researchers said after a detailed analysis of weather data.

After accounting for all the variables, the scientists said that emissions produced by human activity caused the drop. Tiny air particles from man-made sources — known as anthropogenic aerosols — were the cause. Continue reading

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

Is Austria a climate change hotspot?

Alpine country warming faster than global average

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A map showing the changing climate suitability  for different varieties of grapes suggests how the country’s climate is going to warm in coming decades.

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Austria’s glaciers are dwindling fast. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Austria is one of Europe’s climate change hotspots, scientists said last week as they released a comprehensive climate assessment showing that temperatures in the alpine country are climbing much faster than the global average.

“Already by now, Austria has warmed by 2 degrees Celsius in contrast to the rest of the world, with 0.85 degrees Celsius,” said project leader Nebojsa Nakicenovic, deputy director of the Vienna-based International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

Not surprisingly, the warming has also lead to a big jump in the average temperatures of Austria’s lakes and rivers, which since the 1980s, warmed by 1.5 degrees in summer and 0.7 degrees Celsius in winter, according to the assessment. Continue reading

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