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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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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

Climate: Summer temps average across U.S.

Northern Rockies see near record August rains

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Montana was all-time record wet in August.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Cooler than average temperatures across central and eastern states balanced the blistering drought raging across parts of the West, leading to a summer that was remarkably near average in terms of temperature.

According to the National Climatic Data Center’s monthly update, the average June-August temperature across the lower 48 states was 71.7 degrees, just 0.3 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average.

Similar conditions prevailed in August, which ended near average across the U.S., with near-record readings along the West Coast, and warmer than average conditions in Florida and parts of New England. A persistent monsoon kept temperatures below average in the Southwest. Cooler than average readings were also reported from the Mid-Atlantic to the Northeast. Continue reading

Global warming: New NASA aerial mission to explore impacts of Arctic sea ice loss

Arctic cloud formation still a climate wild card

Sun glint off a sea ice lead in an otherwise heavily ridged ice pack, Canada Basin (Arctic Ocean). Credit: NASA/Sinead Farrell

Sun glints off a sea ice lead in an otherwise heavily ridged ice pack, Canada Basin (Arctic Ocean). Credit: NASA/Sinead Farrell

STAFF REPORT

FRISCO — The ongoing loss of Arctic sea ice is probably already affecting weather and climate in the mid-latitudes of the northern hemisphere. Researchers aren’t exactly sure of how, but there’s been plenty of speculation, mostly focused around changes in the jet stream.

Climate scientists may know a bit more in a few years after they study the results of a new NASA field campaign studying the effect of sea ice retreat on Arctic climate. The Arctic Radiation IceBridge Sea and Ice Experiment (ARISE) will conduct research flights Aug. 28 through Oct. 1, covering the peak of summer sea ice melt. Continue reading

Federal funds boost Native American climate resilience efforts

‘Impacts of climate change are increasingly evident for American Indian and Alaska Native communities and, in some cases, threaten the ability of tribal nations to carry on their cultural traditions and beliefs’

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Global warming poses a serious threat to Native American communities.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Climate change poses a serious threat not only to Native American natural resources, but to cultural traditions and spiritual beliefs, top Obama administration officials said last month, announcing $10 million in funding to boost adaptation and mitigation efforts on Native American lands.

The funding is part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which includes White House State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, aimed addressing the impacts of climate change already affecting tribal communities.

“From the Everglades to the Great Lakes to Alaska and everywhere in between, climate change is a leading threat to natural and cultural resources across America, and tribal communities are often the hardest hit by severe weather events such as droughts, floods and wildfires,” said Secretary Jewell, chair of the White House Council on Native American Affairs.

“Impacts of climate change are increasingly evident for American Indian and Alaska Native communities and, in some cases, threaten the ability of tribal nations to carry on their cultural traditions and beliefs,” said Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn. Continue reading

Climate study explores link between El Niño, the polar vortex and extreme cold outbreaks in Europe

Cold snaps more likely during El Niño winters

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How does El Niño affect weather in Europe?

Staff Report

FRISCO —El Niños don’t just affect anchovy fishermen in Peru and the ski resorts of the Sierra Nevada. The somewhat cyclical variation in equatorial Pacific sea surface temps can shift weather patterns worldwide, including in Europe, which may be more susceptible to extreme cold outbreaks in El Niño years, according to a new study led by a University of Colorado, Boulder researcher.

Other research has hinted at the connection, but the new paper is the first to show that El Niños might be linked with Sudden Stratospheric Warming events, when temperatures high in the atmosphere change radically, affect the polar vortex, a belt of winds that form a boundary between the cold Arctic and the temperate mid-latitudes. Sudden Stratospheric Warming weakens those winds, often leading to outbreaks of bitter cold Arctic air across Europe and possibly the eastern U.S. Continue reading

Climate: Greenhouse gas buildup ‘loads the dice’ for Southwest megadroughts

Odds of 30-year dry spells increase dramatically as global temps rise

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Green bars indicate wet periods, the larger the bar the more unusually wet. In a similar way, yellow indicates dry and droughty periods. The graph stretches from January 1895 on the left to last month on the right, showing how the cycle of droughts alternating with wet years has changed, with dry years becoming more prevalent.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Tree ring records clearly show that the southwestern U.S. experienced megadroughts long before the anthropogenic global warming era. One such decades-long dry spell may have been a factor in the collapse of the Anasazi civilization at Mesa Verde.

But the steady buildup of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere is loading the dice in favor of another megadrought sooner, rather later, according to scientists with Cornell University, the University of Arizona and U.S. Geological Survey. The chances of a decade-long drought is now at least 50 percent, and there’s a 20 percent to 50 percent chance of a 30-year megadrought.

“For the southwestern U.S., I’m not optimistic about avoiding real megadroughts,” said Toby Ault, Cornell assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences and lead author of the paper. “As we add greenhouse gases into the atmosphere – and we haven’t put the brakes on stopping this – we are weighting the dice for megadrought conditions.” Continue reading

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