Study says global warming will bring drought to western U.S. sooner rather than later

Historical water data not a good basis for planning; strategic planning and prompt action needed

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Many parts of the world could experience serious drought by mid-century.

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The western U.S. may already be in a new drought regime driven by global warming.

Staff Report

FRISCO —The western U.S. will likely be one of the first places to experience unprecedented drought driven by climate change, according to new research by scientists with the Vienna-based International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. Continue reading

Study eyes Pacific warm water ‘blob’ as drought driver

‘This is a taste of what the ocean will be like in future decades’

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Exceedingly high water temperatures in the eastern Pacific have persisted for several years, influencing weather across western North America and beyond.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Climate scientists have long known that the West has experienced significant long-term droughts during past millennia, but they don’t know exactly why. Understanding the cause may be more important now, given the huge impacts of the current drought in California, so researchers have been focusing on a huge mass of warm water hugging the West Coast.

Those conditions may be linked with a relatively unknown decadal weather pattern called the North Pacific Mode, which may be a significant weather driver, along with the El Niño-La Niño oscillation, and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, according to the University of Washington’s Dennis Hartmann. Continue reading

Major water woes looming in the West

Record low streamflows expected in many areas this summer

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Precipitation for the 2015 water year- to-date is now below normal over most of the West except for some northwestern areas. The dry March has significantly affected this picture since a month ago, when far more of the West was near normal.

Staff Report

FRISCO —Federal water watchers say their April 1 readings show that precipitation thus far in the 2015 water year (beginning October 1, 2014) is now below normal over most of the West except for some northwestern areas and coastal Alaska.

Snowpack has declined significantly since last month throughout the West due to the warm and dry March. Only high- elevation areas in the Rocky Mountains and Interior Alaska retain somewhat near normal snowpack.

Streamflow forecasts have dropped since last month due to a lack of snow accumulation during March and an early snowmelt, with most regions now expecting below normal streamflow. Reservoir storage is currently below normal in the Southwest and Nevada, with near to above normal storage elsewhere. Continue reading

U.S. steps up with robust climate pledge

Can we transcend carbon?

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FRISCO — Acknowledging the need to switch to a low-carbon economy to avoid disastrous climate change, the United States today pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26-28 percent in the next 10 years. All the climate pledges are updated and indexed at this UN website.

It’s all over the news:

And you can read it for yourself here:

Less covered in the U.S. media was Russia’s climate pledge.

One of the biggest challenges in getting people to see the path toward a low-carbon economy as a path of innovation and economic opportunity.

Capping global warming at 2 degrees Celsius not enough to protect at-risk populations and vulnerable ecosystems

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Is there a ‘safe’ limit for global warming?

‘No safe limit’

Staff Report

FRISCO — While the world haltingly stumbles down a path aimed at limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, some experts say that target isn’t enough to protect at-risk ecosystems and the world’s most vulnerable populations.

In a commentary for the open access journal Climate Change Responses, Penn State geographer Petra Tschakert said the goal is “utterly inadequate,” leaving millions of people vulnerable to devastating flooding, heatwaves and other impacts they are ill-equipped to deal with. Continue reading

Study: Global warming not to blame for fierce winter

Findings from Swiss-American team present nuanced view of how climate change affects weather extremes

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One of this past winter’s northeastern snowstorms swirls off the coast of New England in the satellite image via NASA Earth Observatory.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Adding more fuel to the debate over climate change and extreme weather, Swiss and American scientists this week said their new study shows that global warming tends to reduce temperature variability.

The cold and snowy weather that gripped much of the eastern U.S. this winter was probably not linked to Arctic amplification and increased waviness of the jet stream, according to the scientists with ETH Zurich and the California Institute of Technology.

Changes in the north-south difference in temperatures play a greater role in modifying temperature variability than changes in the jet stream, the researchers said. Continue reading

Climate Voices project connects scientists with communities looking to learn more about global warming

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Real science, from real scientists.

Expert speakers available in all 50 states

Staff Report

FRISCO — Debates about global warming can quickly descend into murky territory, especially if they take place in a political context. But communities looking for straightforward and nonpartisan scientific information can find from a science speakers network that includes climate experts from all 50 states.

The Climate Voices Initiative was launched last year by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and the United Nations Foundation, aiming to bring  together scientists with members of local communities to discuss climate science and regional effects of climate change. Continue reading

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