Global warming: What we know

A potential for abrupt, unpredictable, and potentially irreversible changes with highly damaging impacts

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February 2014 marked the 29th consecutive year with global temperatures running above the 20th century average. Map courtesy NASA.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Making informed choices about climate change and greenhouse gas emissions will help reduce risks for present and future generations and help communities adapt to climate change, scientists said last week, announcing a new initiative to inform the public about climate change. Continue reading

Moss springs back to life after 1,500 years in deep freeze

New study offers snapshot of changing world

It may look like grass, but it's not — it's moss.

It may look like grass, but it’s not — it’s moss. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Some hardy species of moss may be able to regenerate after surviving for thousands of years buried deep beneath polar ice. Researchers from the British Antarctic Survey and Reading University said their study for the first time shows that some plants have the ability to survive century to millennial scale ice ages.

The research may help scientists better project how polar regions will change in coming decades as ice sheets retreat. The study is the first to show that mosses can survive century to millennial scale ice ages. Continue reading

Climate: Ready for more intense rainstorms?

Western Colorado expected to see increase in heavy rainfall events

The map at right shows predicted changes in the annual number of days of extreme rainfall (defined as rainfall totals in excess of the historic 98th percentile) across the United States by 2041-2070 as compared to 1971-2000 if greenhouse gases continue to increase at a high rate (A2 scenario).

This map shows predicted changes in the annual number of days of extreme rainfall (defined as rainfall totals in excess of the historic 98th percentile) across the United States by 2041-2070 as compared to 1971-2000 if greenhouse gases continue to increase at a high rate.

Staff Report

FRISCO — There may not be an observed trend of more frequent, intense rainstorms in Colorado yet, but that could change in coming decades, according to a national climate assessment.

The 2009 federal climate study shows that heavy downpours have increased in frequency and intensity during the last 50 years and models predict that downpours will intensify even more as greenhouse gas emissions and the planet’s temperature continue to rise. By mid-century, some places could experience two or more additional days per year on which the rainfall totals exceed the heaviest rains historically experienced in the area. Continue reading

Climate: New study shows regional variations in European warming

Biggest changes coming to Scandinavia

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How will global warming play out at the regional level?

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Even if global warming limited to the 2 degree Celsius target level, parts of Europe will warm much more than the global average, with the biggest increases in Scandinavia and Russia, where temperatures are likely to climb up to 6 degrees Celsius in the next few decades.

A new study, published in the IOP Publishing’s journal Environmental Research Letters, shows robust precipitation increases over Central and Northern Europe in the winter and Northern Europe in the summer, with a more extreme precipitation events, increasing the flood risks which are already having significant economic consequences. Southern Europe is an exception, and will experience a general decline in mean precipitation. Continue reading

Global warming: Winter at risk?

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Global warming means fewer powder days and shorter ski seasons. bberwyn photo.

Snow sports enthusiasts want limits on power plant greenhouse gas emissions

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Watching the snow in the Caucasus Mountains around Sochi melt away at an alarming rate during the middle of the Winter Olympics was a sobering reminder of what global warming could mean for the future of winter sports.

Already, winters in some parts of the world are several weeks shorter, with much higher average temperatures, than just a few decades ago. some ski areas in the lower elevations of the European Alps have already shut down, and in Scandinavia, where skiing is not just recreation but part of the cultural fabric, winters have warmed significantly.

“When it comes to the future of winter sports, global warming has us skating on thin ice,” said Anneli Berube, a field organizer with Environment Colorado, which teamed up with Snowriders International to release a summary of how climate change will affect winter, including increased rate of snow melt, shorter winters, drought, and a shrinking map of reliable sites for future winter Olympics. Continue reading

Maps show how climate change may affect global biodiversity

‘We need to act fast to make sure as much of the world’s living resources survive that change …’

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Shifting global temperatures are drive a climate-induced migration.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — An international team of researchers have published new global maps showing how fast and in which direction local climates are shifting, and how those changes could affect global biodiversity.

As climate change unfolds over the next century, plants and animals will need to adapt or shift locations to track their ideal climate.

“The maps show areas where plants and animals may struggle to find a new home in a changing climate and provide crucial information for targeting conservation efforts,” said Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) researcher Dr. Elvira Poloczanska. Continue reading

Olympic athletes call for climate action

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Olympic athletes say inaction on climate change affect the culture and economies of winter sports communities.

Meaningful climate treaty needed, Olympians say

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The U.S. government may not exactly be leading the world in addressing global warming, but U.S. Olympic athletes are. Many of the skiers, skaters and snowboarders competing at the Sochi games have already seen climate change affect their communities, and using the spotlight of the quadrennial event, they’ve sent a letter to world leaders asking for effective action to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Altogether, 105 Olympic athletes signed the letter, and 85 of them were Americans, with the rest hailing from Norway, Estonia, Switzerland and Germany. In their letter, the athletes asked world leaders to: “Recognize climate change by reducing emissions, embracing clean energy and preparing a commitment to a global agreement at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris 2015.” Continue reading

Climate: Storm surge damage costs forecast to soar

‘If we ignore this problem, the consequences will be dramatic’

Winter storm surge eats away a beach on the west coast of Florida.

Winter storm surge eats away a beach on the west coast of Florida. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Watching damage from individual megastorms like Hurricane Sandy and Typhoon Haiyan is bad enough, but the outlook for coming decades is downright scary.

According to new research, global average storm surge damages could increase from about $10-$40 billion per year today to up to $100,000 billion per year by the end of century without significant adaptation measures.

“If we ignore this problem, the consequences will be dramatic,” said Jochen Hinkel, a researcher with the Berlin-based think-tank Global Climate Forum. Continue reading

Climate: Are Greenland’s glaciers speeding up?

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New data shows at least one glacier moving at a record pace of 50 feet per day

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Arctic ice researchers say detailed measurements show that one Greenland’s glaciers has been moving at a record speed the past few years.

The scientists with the University of Washington and the German Space Agency measured the movement of the Jakobshavn Isbræ (Jakobshavn Glacier) in 2012 and 2013, concluding that the glacier is moving four times as fast as during the 1990s.

“We are now seeing summer speeds more than 4 times what they were in the 1990s on a glacier which at that time was believed to be one of the fastest, if not the fastest, glacier in Greenland,” said Ian Joughin, a researcher at the Polar Science Center, University of Washington and lead-author of the study. Continue reading

Climate: Loss of snow cover may be key factor in disintegration of Antarctic ice shelves

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A study shows loss of snow cover leads to the disintegration of ice shelves around Antarctica. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Shrinking snow cover in Antarctica could result in the collapse of giant floating ice shelves, which would increase the discharge of ice into the oceans and increase the rate of sea-level rises.

But a rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions could slow global warming and save at least some of the ice shelves, researchers at Utrecht University and the British Antarctic Survey said in a new paper published today in the Journal of Glaciology.

Scientists have been tracking the fate of the ice shelves closely at least since 1995, when part of the Larsen ice shelf collapsed. Continue reading

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