Climate: Northern hemisphere oceans record warm in January

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The average northern hemisphere sea surface temperature reached a record high in January.

Planet Earth continues to over heat …

Staff Report

FRISCO — January 2015 picked up where 2014 left off — with widespread warmth across the globe. On average, it ended up as the second-warmest January on record, with almost all parts of the planet recording temperatures well above the 20th century average, according to the monthly state of the climate report from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.

Specifically, the average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.39 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average. The warmest January occurred in 2007, at 1.55 degrees Fahrenheit above average. Continue reading

Environment: New high-resolution USGS mapping shows changes in Alaska land cover

Map of the northern US Atlantic margin showing the locations of newly-discovered methane seeps mapped by researchers from Mississippi State University, the US Geological Survey, and other partners. (High resolution image)

Map of the northern US Atlantic margin showing the locations of newly-discovered methane seeps mapped by researchers from Mississippi State University, the US Geological Survey, and other partners.

Detailed mapping can help plan climate change adaptation

Staff Report

FRISCO — Huge wildfires have driven the conversion of Alaska forests to grass- and shrublands, and the state’s perennial ice and snow fields, as well as its vast wetlands are also shrinking, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The changing face of Alaska is revealed in a new land-cover data set, which provides detailed information useful to land use planners and decision-makers. Continue reading

Coral reefs to take big global warming hit this year

NOAA scientists say warm oceans pose risk to reefs

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Vast areas of the world’s oceans are so warm that coral reefs may take a big hit this year, according to the latest coral-bleaching outlook from NOAA.

Pink coral at Rose Atoll in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Pink coral at Rose Atoll in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Staff Report

FRISCO — After reporting major coral-bleaching events in 2014, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are warning that continued warm ocean temperatures are setting the stage for a repeat in 2015.

The warning is spelled out in the most recent outlook from NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch, a weekly product that forecasts the potential for coral bleaching up to four months in the future. Just last summer, the federal government put 20 coral types on the Endangered Species List, citing climate change as a major threat. Continue reading

Global warming speeds spread of infectious diseases

Shifting climate brings new exposure risks

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Climate change will shift the world’s disease zones.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Global warming is likely to hasten the spread of infectious diseases to new geographic areas and new host species, scientists warned in a recent study, urging health experts to think ahead as they consider the effects of various pathogens on plants, animals and humans.

“We have to admit we’re not winning the war against emerging diseases,” said Daniel Brooks, a zoologist with the Harold W. Manter Laboratory of Parasitology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “We’re not anticipating them. We’re not paying attention to their basic biology, where they might come from and the potential for new pathogens to be introduced.” Continue reading

Southern Ocean carbon cycle may be key climate driver

‘Changes in ocean carbon storage are important drivers of natural atmospheric CO2 variations …’

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Melting icebergs along the shore of Dundee Island, near the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The Southern Ocean’s carbon cycle may be a huge driver of climatic shifts between ice ages and interglacial periods, according to new research published last week in Nature.

The study shows that carbon stored in an isolated reservoir deep in the Southern Ocean re-connected with the atmosphere, driving a rise in atmospheric CO2 and an increase in global temperatures that may have helped end the global ice ages. Continue reading

Climate study projects brutal Western droughts

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Shrunken reservoirs may become the norm across the West during the second half of the century. bberwyn photo.

All models point to significant drying and warming

Staff Report

FRISCO — By the second half of this century, the relentless increase in global greenhouse gases could push the U.S. Southwest and Great Plains toward persistent drought conditions worse than anything seen in ancient or modern times.

Drought conditions will likely be more severe than during several decades-long megadroughts that are well-documented by paleoclimate records, according to climate scientists with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University’s Earth Institute.

Continue reading

Climate: Warming oceans may increase New England hurricane risk

Hurricanes and global warming

A NOAA satellite image of Hurricane Bob, which raked the New England coast in 1991.

Historic record shows series of intense storms during eras of warmer sea surface temps

Staff Report

FRISCO — Climate researchers say New England’s coastal communities may need to prepare for major hurricane strikes sooner rather than later as the Atlantic Ocean continues to warm.

“We may need to begin planning for a category 3 hurricane landfall every decade or so rather than every 100 or 200 years,” said Jeff Donnelly, a scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, explaining that new research findings show that a string of giant storms pummeled the region during the first millennium, from the peak of the Roman Empire into the height of the Middle Ages. Continue reading

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