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Climate: Researchers track disruptive Arctic rain events

Warm spells affect permafrost and wildlife

Caption: Arctic foxes in Svalbard will have more than enough food during rainy and icy winters because there will be many reindeer carcasses for them to eat. The next winter, however, the fox population size will be reduced because a robust and small reindeer population will mean many few deaths and hence, very little carrion. Credit: Brage B. Hansen, NTNU Centre for Conservation Biology

Caption: Arctic foxes in Svalbard will have more than enough food during rainy and icy winters because there will be many reindeer carcasses for them to eat. The next winter, however, the fox population size will be reduced because a robust and small reindeer population will mean many few deaths and hence, very little carrion.
Credit: Brage B. Hansen, NTNU Centre for Conservation Biology.

Staff Report

FRISCO — A closely studied 2012 rain-on-snow event in Svalbard, Norway gave researchers a chance to take a close look at how global warming may play out on the fringes of the Arctic, where humans eke out a delicate existence in balance with the elements.

The extreme weather event in January brought record warmth to the cluster of islands inside the Arctic Circle, with high temperatures climbing well above freezing at a time of year when average readings are well below freezing. Continue reading

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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

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

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

Study show drop in Beaufort Sea polar bear numbers

A polar bear in the Arctic. PHOTO COURTESY USGS/SUSANNE MILLER.

A polar bear in the Arctic. PHOTO COURTESY USGS/SUSANNE MILLER.

Is dwindling sea ice a factor?

Staff report

FRISCO — Polar bear populations in the southern Beaufort Sea  dropped 40 percent between 2000 and 2010, biologists say in a new study. The research suggests that survival of adult bears and cubs was especially low from 2004 to 2006, when most of the decline occurred.

“Of the 80 cubs observed in Alaska from 2004 to 2007, only 2 are known to have survived,” said Jeff Bromaghin, a U.S. Geological Survey research statistician and lead author of the study. Continue reading

Global warming: Oceans at all-time record high temps

Pacific Ocean is cooking, even without El Niño

NOAA Sea Surface Temperature anomaly (with respect to period 1854-2013) averaged over global oceans (red) and over North Pacific (0-60oN, 110oE-100oW) (cyan). September 2014 temperatures broke the record for both global and North Pacific Sea Surface Temperatures. b) Sea Surface Temperature anomaly of September 2014 from NOAA's ERSST dataset. Credit: Axel Timmermann

NOAA Sea Surface Temperature anomaly (with respect to period 1854-2013) averaged over global oceans (red) and over North Pacific (0-60oN, 110oE-100oW) (cyan). September 2014 temperatures broke the record for both global and North Pacific Sea Surface Temperatures. b) Sea Surface Temperature anomaly of September 2014 from NOAA’s ERSST dataset.
Credit: Axel Timmermann.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Global ocean temperatures have soared to the highest level in recorded history this year, and the rate of warming has accelerated since April, according to scientists with the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

“This summer has seen the highest global mean sea surface temperatures ever recorded since their systematic measuring started,” said Axel Timmermann, a climate scientist at the university’s International Pacific Research Center. “Temperatures even exceed those of the record-breaking 1998 El Niño year,” Timmermann said, adding that the new data analysis shows that the global warming pause, if there was one, is over.

“The 2014 global ocean warming is mostly due to the North Pacific, which has warmed far beyond any recorded value,” he said, adding that the temperature trend in the Pacific has shifted hurricane tracks, weakened trade winds, and bleached corals around the Hawaiian Islands. Continue reading

Climate: 4th-warmest October on record for U.S.

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East-west split not as dramatic in autumn

Staff Report

FRISCO — October 2014 ended up as the fourth-warmest on record, at 3 degrees Fahrenheit above the long-term average, federal weather watchers said today in the monthly climate update from the National Climatic Data Center.

Autumn continued showing the persistent east-west split that is part of an ongoing drought pattern in the Far West. From Texas and Oklahoma to California, most states reported average October temperatures running near record levels, along with a slice of New England. Average temps reigned across the Midwest, with another belt of warmer-than-average readings in the Southeast. Continue reading

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