Environment: EPA reports steady gains in auto fuel efficiency

Red ... white & blue.

U.S. automakers make progress on cutting emissions, the EPA says. bberwyn photo.

Overall average fleet efficiency at 24.1 miles per gallon

Staff Report

FRISCO — Automakers are stepping up the pace on reducing emissions, according to the EPA, which this week released a report showing that the industry overall outperformed the national greenhouse gas emissions standards by a wide margin for the second year in a row.

Compliance for model year 2013 was 1.4 miles per gallon better than required by the 2013 standard. The report presents detailed information about how individual firms are complying with GHG emissions standards for cars and light trucks.  Continue reading

Climate: Rapid Iceland uplift linked with ice cap meltdown

Some research suggests vanishing ice could trigger volcanoes

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Could the meltdown of Iceland’s glaciers result in more volcanic activity? bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Like a baking cake, Iceland is rising up as global warming melts the island’s ice caps and glaciers.

Using detailed data from a network of 62 GPS monitoring sites, scientists showed, for example, that parts of south-central Iceland are moving upward as much as 1.4 inches (35 mm) per year — a speed that surprised the researchers, who linked the changes with global warming.

“What we’re observing is a climatically induced change in the Earth’s surface,” said University of Arizona geosciences professor Richard Bennett. “Iceland is the first place we can say accelerated uplift means accelerated ice mass loss,” Bennett said. Continue reading

BLM hits solar energy milestone

Going solar ...

Going solar …

Public lands energy projects could generate 14,ooo megawatts when completed

Staff Report

FRISCO — Republicans in Congress may be scheming to try and block the EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas emission rules, but there’s no stopping the renewable energy train.

Last month, the Department of Interior released environmental studies for three proposed utility-scale solar energy projects in the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone in Clark County, Nevada that could generate 480 megawatts of electricity on 3,083 acres within the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone. Continue reading

Climate: Are greenhouse gases causing the California drought?

‘This is an event that is more extreme than any in the observed record, and our research suggests that global warming is playing a role right now’

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Exceptionally dry conditions along parts of the West Coast that usually see copious moisture are highlighted in the NOAA soil moisture map taken from satellite data.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The California drought that will go down as the worst in the state’s recorded history may well be linked with increasing concentrations of heat-trapping pollutants — or not, depending who you ask.

In one new study, Stanford researchers said their analysis shows that formation of a persistent ridge of storm-blocking high pressure over the Pacific Ocean is three times more likely in presence of modern greenhouse gas concentrations.

But almost simultaneously, researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said their survey of recent studies showed no link between global warming and lack of rainfall in California, though they did acknowledge the results of the Stanford led study, which focused on air pressure and the path of storms. Continue reading

Climate: Scientists call for cuts in methane emissions

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Cutting methane could slow global temperature surge.

Action could help avert climate tipping points

Staff Report

FRISCO — Leading scientists say the U.S. must do more to cut methane emissions from fossil fuel exploitation and other sectors to try and avoid reaching climate tipping points that could have disastrous implications.

Methane is a much more potent heat-trapping gas than carbon dioxide, but it only stays in the atmosphere for about 12 years, which means that big cuts could have a tangible short-term benefit in the race to cap global warming. Continue reading

Study tracks historic Antarctica meltdowns

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Reading the history of Antarctica’s ice sheets is helping climate scientists project the future.

Transition from glacial periods punctuated by sudden surges of ice melt and sea level rise

Staff Report

FRISCO — Even without the addition of heat-trapping greenhouse gases from fossil fuel combustion, the Antarctica ice sheets may be vulnerable to sudden collapse and melting. One such episode, about 14,600 years ago, is thought to have caused sea level to rise by more than 12 feet in just 100 years.

Scientists are racing to understand the dynamics of the Antarctic ice sheets because of the potentially significant consequences of rapid changes, and in one of the newest studies, they’ve traced some of the big iceberg calving events between about 19,000 and 9,000 years ago by analyzing deep sea sediment cores extracted from the region between the Falkland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. Continue reading

Will ozone pollution spike with global warming?

A computer-generated split-screen image a split-image simulates the average 20 percent best (left) and 20 percent worst 20 percent (right) visibility at the Long’s Peak vista based on an average of monitored data for years 2000-2004.

A computer-generated split-screen image a split-image simulates the average 20 percent best (left) and 20 percent worst 20 percent (right) visibility at the Long’s Peak vista based on an average of monitored data for years 2000-2004.

Very likely without cuts in pollutants, study says

Staff Report

FRISCO — By 2050, many Americans will see their chances of experiencing unhealthy summertime ozone levels increase by 70 percent, according to scientists with the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Warmer temperatures will make the toxic brew of air pollutants even more volatile unless emissions of specific pollutants that are associated with the formation of ozone are sharply cut, the researchers said in a new study published this week.

Almost all of the continental United States will experience at least a few days with unhealthy air during the summers, the research shows. Heavily polluted locations in parts of the East, Midwest, and West Coast where ozone already frequently exceeds recommended levels could face unhealthy air during most of the summer. Continue reading

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