Is the West’s power grid vulnerable to climate change?

‘In their development plans, power providers are not taking into account climate change impacts …’

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Renewable energy sources may be less susceptible to climate change impacts.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The Western power grid is vulnerable to projected global warming impacts, and should be climate-proofed to minimize the risk of future power shortages, according to a new study by  two Arizona State University engineers.

Their findings show that extreme heat waves and droughts and related changes in precipitation, air and water temperatures, air density and humidity, are all factors in the energy equation, and that those changes could significantly constrain the energy generation capacity of power plants. Continue reading

Climate: Is this year’s El Niño here to stay?

Forecasters nearly certain pattern will persist at least through the end of summer and probably to the end of the year

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Warm sea surface temperatures along the equatorial Pacific show the shape of El Niño.

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A classic El Niño sea surface temperature pattern is projected in this map from NOAA.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — A developing Pacific El Niño is already affecting weather patterns across the western U.S. by bringing abundant spring moisture to the region, including late season snow and rain to parts of parched California.

And last week meteorologists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said El Niño is likely to stick around for the summer and probably even through the end of the year, perhaps even gaining strength. More on the forecast in this NOAA El Niño blog.
Continue reading

Of water fleas and global warming

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A new study shows how water fleas can adapt genetically to climate change. Photo courtesy USGS.

Study shows rapid genetic adaptation to warming ponds

Staff Report

FRISCO — Questions abound about the ability of plants and animals to adapt to global warming, but a new study by Belgian biologists shows that one species — the humble water flea — had already done just that.

The tiny aquatic organism lives in shallow lakes and usually reproduce asexually by cloning themselves. But when food is short or the water gets too hot, they mate and lay long-lasting eggs meant to survive for a better day.

Biologists with KU Leuven said that, when compared ‘resurrected’ water fleas — hatched from 40-year-old eggs — with more recent specimens, they found that the offspring hatched from the newer eggs were more tolerant of warm water. Continue reading

NASA study tracks crumbling Antarctic ice shelf

Scientists say disintegration of Larsen B remnant will speed glaciers, raise sea level

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 Icebergs floating along the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — There’s more meltdown news from Antarctica. Despite a trend of expanding sea ice in the past few years, the all-important coastal ice shelves, which regulate the flow of continental ice to the sea, are in trouble.

Last week, researchers with the British Antarctic Survey said they measured incredibly fast thinning of the Larsen C Ice Shelf, warning that the massive sheet of floating ice could crumble suddenly and without much warning. Those findings reflect the more widespread trend of ice shelf thinning around the continent, tracked in another comprehensive NASA-led study.

And in the same region, along the eastern coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, a new NASA study suggests that remnants of the previously collapsed Larsen B Ice Shelf probably won’t last much longer. Continue reading

Study confirms global warming high the atmosphere

‘We should no longer accept the claim that there is warming missing higher in the atmosphere’

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All of South America, nearly all of North America, as well as Eurasia, were much warmer than average in April 2015.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Decades of readings from thousands of measuring stations around the world show in excruciating detail how the Earth is warming under its thickening blanket of greenhouse gases, but tracking the temperature rise in the upper levels of the atmosphere has been more elusive.

But new research by Australian climate scientists,  published in Environmental Research Letters, confirms strong warming in the upper troposphere, crushing yet another argument used by science-denying global warming skeptics who try to cast doubt on the overwhelming evidence of dangerous climate change.

The findings are based on a new analysis of data from the global weather balloon network. The evaluation found “clear indications of warming in the upper troposphere,” according to professor Steve Sherwood, with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science. Continue reading

Study helps pinpoint Antarctic ice-shelf thinning

Larsen C Ice Shelf has dwindled by 4 meters in 15 years

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Melting ice shelves in Antarctica will speed the rate of sea level rise. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — One of Antarctica’s giant ice shelves has thinned by more than 12 feet in the past 15 years and could collapse within the next 100 years — or possibly sooner and without much warning, according to scientists with the British Antarctic Survey.

The new study was focused on trying to determine why the Larsen C Ice Shelf is melting away. The ice shelf is along the east coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, one of the fastest warming regions on Earth, with a temperature rise of 2.5 degrees Celsius during the last 50 years. Continue reading

Eco groups push for sustainable diet guidelines

A classic Greek salad in Corfu.

Less meat, more vegetables!

Feds eye update to key food guidelines

Staff Report

FRISCO — Conservation activists say that a recent round of comments and petitioning by the public show growing support for a more sustainable federal dietary guidelines, with a shift toward more plant-based food

At issue is a proposal by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to update those guidelines based on the recommendations of a science committee that recommended the changes. Continue reading

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