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Climate: Greenhouse gases drive Australia drying trend

Since the 1970s, southern Australia has been experiencing declining rainfall in the fall and winter, creating scenes like this one in a 2007 photograph at Lake Hume. (Creative Commons/ Suburbanbloke)

Since the 1970s, southern Australia has been experiencing declining rainfall in the fall and winter, creating scenes like this one in a 2007 photograph at Lake Hume. (Creative Commons/ Suburbanbloke).

New model can resolve some climate impacts on a regional scale

STAFF REPORT

FRISCO — Increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases and ozone depletion over Antarctica are the main drivers of the long-term decline in rainfall over southwestern Australia, federal scientists said in a weekend press release.

The findings, published in Nature Geoscience, are derived from a new  high-resolution climate model that may help researchers identify more links between heat-trapping gases and regional climate trends, including here in the U.S. Continue reading

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EU Study shows huge costs of global warming inaction

‘No action is clearly the most expensive solution of all’

You have to look pretty hard for the tiny cool spots.

Global warming ramped up in May with a record-high average temperature worldwide.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Inaction on climate change is probably the costliest option for the European Union, which could not only see direct costs of €190 billion, but also a net loss of 1.8 percent of its current GDP. Premature mortality accounts for more than half of the overall welfare losses (€120 billion), followed by impacts on coasts (€42 billion) and agriculture (€18 billion).

“No action is clearly the most expensive solution of all. Why pay for the damages when we can invest in reducing our climate impacts and becoming a competitive low-carbon economy?” said Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action. “Taking action and taking a decision on the 2030 climate and energy framework in October, will bring us just there and make Europe ready for the fight against climate change,” she said. Continue reading

Climate: Cut carbon, stream your movies online

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Study finds that online movie viewing is more energy efficient

Staff Report

FRISCO —All those trips to the video store and Red Box, and all the fossil fuel used to manufacture and transport DVDs and CDs added up to more than 4 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions that could have been avoided (in 2011) if all media were simply streamed online, scientists concluded after taking a close look at the carbon budget of the entertainment business.

The study, published May 29 in the journal Environmental Research Letters, says more energy efficient electronic devices have tipped the balance toward online consumption of movies and music. A significant proportion of the energy consumption and carbon emissions for streaming comes from the transmission of data, which increases drastically when more complex, high-definition content is streamed. Continue reading

Colorado: Spring flood cuts off road to Montezuma

High runoff taking a toll on roads

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Flood waters caused a major washout of Montezuma Road in Summit County, Colorado. Photo courtesy Summit County Road and Bridge.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Spring runoff is starting to take a toll on high country roads, with a major washout reported along Montezuma Road and minor flooding in other areas, including a partial washout on the Meadow Creek trailhead road in Frisco.

East of Keystone, Summit County officials reported a 45-washout of Montezuma Road, leaving Montezuma residents withouth vehicular access. According to the county, the road is washed out 15-feet deep near the Peru Creek trailhead. Continue reading

Study shows precedent for fast Antarctica meltdown

The water in the Antarctic Sound can be smooth as glass, and sometimes look thick and oily, probably because it's so cold. Click on the photo to learn about some of the environmental issues in Antarctica.

The water in the Antarctic Sound can be smooth as glass, and sometimes look thick and oily, probably because it’s so cold. Click on the photo to learn about some of the environmental issues in Antarctica.

“During that time, the sea level on a global basis rose about 50 feet in just 350 years…”

FRISCO — There’s precedent for  rapid meltdown of the Antarctic ice sheets, scientists said this week announcing findings from a new study that tracked the history of the ice sheets back to the last ice age.

The scientists said the Antarctic Ice Sheet began melting about 5,000 years earlier than previously thought coming out of the last ice age — and that shrinkage of the vast ice sheet accelerated during eight distinct episodes, causing rapid sea level rise.

Results of this latest study are being published this week in the journal Nature. It was conducted by researchers at University of Cologne, Oregon State University, the Alfred-Wegener-Institute, University of Hawaii at Manoa, University of Lapland, University of New South Wales, and University of Bonn. Continue reading

Climate: Are tropical storms migrating north?

Along with affecting the marine food chain, declining concentrations of phytoplankton in the oceans could impact global weather patterns.

Tropical cyclones appear to be migrating north.

Study finds that point of maximum intensity has moved poleward by 35 miles per decade

Staff Report

FRISCO — Tropical storm trackers say that the location where cyclones reach their maximum intensity is shifting north by about 35 miles each decade. The changes could put more coastal infrastructure at risk, while other areas that rely on tropical storms for water could be left high and dry, researchers said.

The amount of poleward migration varies by region. The greatest migration is found in the northern and southern Pacific and South Indian Oceans, but there is no evidence that the peak intensity of Atlantic hurricanes has migrated poleward in the past 30 years. Continue reading

Climate: New York flood risk higher than thought

Manhattan’s seawall could be breached every 4-5 years

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Local factors and global warming combined have increased the flooding risk in New York. Photo courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Parts of New York are even more susceptible to dangerous flooding than previously thought, researcher said this week, explaining that the chances of water overtopping the Manhattan seawall now at least 20 times greater than they were 170 years ago.

According to the research, maximum water levels in New York harbor during major storms have risen by nearly two and a half feet since the mid-1800s. Sea-level rise has raised water levels along New York harbor by nearly a foot and a half since the mid-19th century, and the research shows that the maximum height of the city’s “once-in-10-years” storm tide has grown additionally by almost a foot in that same period. 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

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

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