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Climate: October ends up as warmest on record

2014 on track to be warmest year ever

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Widespread warmth prevailed globally in October 2014.

Staff Report

FRISCO — October 2014 will go into the record books as the warmest on record for Earth, and it’s very likely that the year as a whole will end up record warm, according to climate experts with the National Climatic Data Center releasing their monthly state of the climate analysis.

For October, the average global temperature (land and sea surface combined) was 1.33 degrees Fahrenheit above average, and for the year to-date, the average global temperature is 1.22 degrees Fahrenheit above average, also a record for the 10-month January to October span. Continue reading

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Toxic legacy of acid rain lingers in Canadian lakes

Calcium loss turning lakes to ‘jelly’

Even high mountain lakes are feeling the sting of nitrogen pollution.

Acid rain has fundamentally changed the chemistry and biology of some lakes.

Michael Arts, Canada Centre for Inland Waters

Tiny jelly covered plankton are displacing other organisms in some Canadian lakes to the detriment of fisheries and public water supplies. Photo courtesy Michael Arts, Canada Centre for Inland Waters.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The toxic legacy of acid rain lives on in lakes in Canada, and possibly other places around the world, according scientists who say they’ve traced a trend of reduced calcium levels leading to a “jellification” of some lakes.

Specifically, the changes in water chemistry have reduced populations of  calcium-rich plankton such as Daphnia — water fleas that dominate these ecosystems. Falling calcium levels mean Daphnia cannot get the nutrients they need to survive and reproduce, leading to a rise in other plankton species, including small jelly-clad organisms.

According to the new research, populations of those organisms has exploded in lakes across eastern Canada in the past 30 years. The average  population of these small invertebrate jellies in many Ontario lakes doubled between the mid-1980s and the mid-2000s. Continue reading

Climate: Closing the emissions gap

Carbon neutral by 2050?

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Can the globe be carbon-neutral by 2050?

Staff Report

FRISCO — Limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius will require reaching carbon neutrality by mid-century, UN officials said this week as they released a new emissions gap report that clearly outlines the global carbon budget.

“Don’t believe it if you hear politicians saying it can’t be done. It can,” said Achim Steiner, director of the UN Environmental Program. Steiner and other top officials said increased energy efficiency and smart growth are the keys to reaching global climate targets.

“If this was prohibitively costly we’d have to make some calculations, but it’s not,” Steiner said, explaining that switching to a low carbon economy offers opportunity for expanded economic development and a path toward minimizing future climate change impacts. Continue reading

Climate: New book details global glacier losses

Most of the world’s ice rivers are shrinking into oblivion

The Dachstein Glacier in Austria has visibly and dramatically decreased in size in just a couple of decades. bberwyn photo.

The Dachstein Glacier in Austria has visibly and dramatically decreased in size in just a couple of decades. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — For mountain dwellers around the world, shrinking glaciers are one of the most vivid symptoms of Earth’s rising fever. Those gleaming mantles of ice have already disappeared from iconic landscapes like Glacier National Park.

Globally, millions of people rely on glacier-regulated stream flows for water supplies, so communities need to prepare for disruptions in the hydrological cycle because it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the meltdown is not going to stop. Continue reading

Morning photo: Winter glow

Snow!

Fresh snow on Tenmile Creek in Summit County, Colorado.

November snow on Tenmile Creek in Summit County, Colorado.

FRISCO — Usually in mid-November I’m waiting for snow, photographing ice formations on local creeks. But this year, the snow came before the ice, which means that some familiar spots look quite different. It’ll be interesting to see how the ice forms this year, as the snow is sure to be a factor in shaping the process. In some cases, the snow appears to insulate the streams from the cold air, inhibiting ice, but in other places, the spray from the creeks will saturate the snow and gradually turn it into ice … stay tuned for more! Continue reading

Do small volcanoes have a big climate impact?

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New research may help explain the overall effect of volcanoes on global climate. Photo courtesy USGS.

New research tracks aerosols from volcanic eruptions

Staff Report

FRISCO — Sunlight-reflecting particles from relatively small volcanic eruptions may add up to have a significant effect on global temperatures, according to a new climate study that tries to quantify the cumulative impact of aerosols from volcanoes.

According to the research, based on a combination of measurements taken on the ground, in the air and from satellites, small volcanic eruptions that occurred between 2000 and 2013 deflected almost double the amount of solar radiation previously estimated.

That’s enough to lower global temperatures by about  0.05 to 0.12 degrees Celsius, the scientists concluded in their study, which appears in Geophysical Research Letters. Continue reading

Psst! Wanna see some carbon dioxide?

New NASA visual helps trace path of greenhouse gases

Staff Report

FRISCO — In a way, addressing global warming is like fighting a ghost. How do you tackle odorless and colorless heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide and methane?

NASA, the government agency that literally has the best global perspective on climate change, has just released a new computer generated animation that help show the source of greenhouse gases and how they disperse around the planet. Continue reading

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