Rising sea level to take big bite from Hawaii beaches

Study projects increasing rate of coastal erosion

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The Hawaiian Islands via NASA Earth Observatory.

Staff Report

FRISCO — As sea level rises, Hawaii’s beaches are on track to shrink by 20 to 40 feet during the next few decades, scientists announced in a new study.

“When we modeled future shoreline change with the increased rates of sea level rise projected under the IPCC’s “business as usual” scenario, we found that increased SLR causes an average 16 – 20 feet of additional shoreline retreat by 2050,” said lead author Tiffany Anderson, a post-doctoral researcher at the UHM School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. Continue reading

One more time: Beetle-killed forests are NOT more likely to burn, according to new CU-Boulder study

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Beetle-killed lodgepole pines in Colorado. bberwyn photo.

New CU-Boulder study has implications for forest managers and Red Zone communities

Staff Report

*More Summit Voice stories on beetle-kill and forests here.

FRISCO — Communities and resource managers looking to address the threat of wildfires should focus less on tree-killing beetles and more on the underlying forces driving the trend toward larger fires.

Warmer temperatures and increased drought are the key factors, said Colorado-based researchers who took a close look at patterns of beetle-kill and wildfires in recent years.

Their study found that western forests killed by mountain pine beetles are no more at risk to burn than healthy forests. Those findings  fly in the face of both public perception and policy, the scientists acknowledged.

“What we are seeing in this study is that at broad scales, fire does not necessarily follow mountain pine beetles,” said CU-Boulder Research Scientist Tania Schoennagel, of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. “It’s well known, however, that fire does follow drought.” 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

Global warming: in the realm of 400 ppm atmospheric CO2

Scientists: ‘Climate change is a threat to life on Earth and we can no longer afford to be spectators’

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A rising tide of CO2 …

Staff Report

FRISCO — When atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations hit 400 parts per million about a year ago, there was widespread media coverage, explaining how the mark wasn’t all that significant in and of itself, but that it represented a psychological threshold to measure human impact on the climate.

Well guess what? CO2 emissions continue unabated, although there are some hopeful signs (global energy production increased in 2014, but CO2 emissions leveled off), and once again this spring, the atmospheric observatory atop Mauna Loa is once again measuring CO2 above the 400 ppm level — 401.77, to be exact, as of March 22, and as high as 403.10 ppm back on March 15. Continue reading

Climate study raises questions about ice age triggers

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New questions about ice age triggers, based on research from New Zealand.

Ice sheet behavior doesn’t match up in northern, southern hemispheres

Staff Report

FRISCO — A close study of glaciers in New Zealand has given scientists some startling insights into the global cycle of ice ages, suggesting that the path of the Earth’s orbit around the sun may not be the main driver of glacial epochs.

Instead, the new study concluded that glacier movement in the Southern Hemisphere is influenced primarily by sea surface temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide rather than changes in the Earth’s orbit, which are thought to drive the advance and retreat of ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere. The findings appear in the journal Geology. Continue reading

Morning photo: Welcome, spring

Celebrate the season!


FRISCO —We’re stepping into spring here in the Colorado high country, and right on schedule, the first western bluebirds appeared on the fringes of local forests. There are other signs as well — reflective meltwater ponds along the edge of Dillon Reservoir and budding willow shrubs. Stop whatever you’re doing today for at least a few minutes to get outside and celebrate the changing of the seasons!

Climate: Another geoengineering scheme bites the dust

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What to do about a warming planet?

Ocean heat-exchange pipes would drive more warming in the long run

Staff Report

FRISCO — Trying to mitigate global warming by piping cool water from the depths of the ocean to the surface is probably not the best idea in the long run, a group of Carnegie Institution scientists said this week. In the long run, such a geoengineering scheme would actually lead to more, not less, global warming.

The researchers studied the issue because there have been a variety of proposals that involve using vertical ocean pipes to move seawater to the surface from the depths in order to reap different potential climate benefits. Along with directly mitigating climate change, engineers and scientists have also eyed thermal conversion — using the temperature difference between deeper and shallower water to power a heat engine and produce clean electricity. Continue reading

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