Climate: Southern Amazon at risk of drying out

New study says IPCC projections are too conservative


Studies show that fires are on the increase in the Amazon. Visit this NASA Earth Observatory web page for more information.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — In a classic case of climate disruption, research shows that the dry season in southern Amazonia has lengthened by about one week per decade since 1979. Parts of the region may not be able to support rainforest vegetation much longer. A big forest die-back could trigger the release of large volumes of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, a team of scientists warned this week.

The changes could disrupt plant and animal communities in one of the regions of highest biodiversity in the world, said University of Texas professor Rong Fu, who led the team of scientists. Continue reading

Climate: Parts of the Arctic getting greener

Researchers are trying to identify the consequences of dwindling sea ice. Photo courtesy University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Researchers are trying to identify the consequences of dwindling sea ice. Photo courtesy University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Study shows fundamental ecosystem changes under way

By Summit Voice

Sea ice decline is already changing some Arctic ecosystems in fundamental ways, according to University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists. As part of review team, the two researchers showed, for example, that disappearing sea ice leads to a loss of sea-ice algae, at the very base of the Arctic marine food web. Larger plankton is thriving, replacing smaller, but more nutrient dense plankton. What that means exactly is not yet understood.

“Our thought was to see if sea ice decline contributed to greening of the tundra along the coastal areas,” said Uma Bhatt, an associate professor with UAF’s Geophysical Institute. “It’s a relatively new idea.” Continue reading

Migrating songbirds feeling global warming impacts

New evidence that a changing climate is disrupting feeding and breeding cycles of migrating birds

Purple martins and other songbirds may not be able to keep up with a changing climate. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Purple martins and other migrating songbirds may not be able to keep up with a changing climate. Photo courtesy USFWS.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — In another sign that climate disruption will have cascading effect on ecosystems, researchers with York University have shown how migrating songbirds are affected by warmer spring temperatures in the northern hemisphere.

In a five-year study, biologists used tiny geolocator ‘backpacks” to track purple martins from their winter habitat in South America to breeding sites in eastern North America. The birds consistently left South America at the same time each year, not having any idea that warmer spring temperatures at their breeding sites was affecting the availability of food. Continue reading

European researchers want to forecast climate variability

Effort aims to help communities prepare for potential disruption

New European forecast model aims to help address climate disruption.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO —While the U.S. is still generally mired in a nonproductive debate about whether global warming is real, a new European climate initiative will try to blend seasonal to decadal forecasting to take advantage of recent advances in the ability to forecast climate variability and change.

The initiative will work to develop new and improved tools to provide specific information for stakeholders like the energy, health, water resources, food security, forestry and transport sectors.

The project is based on the concept that Monthly-to-decadal forecasts hold  potential to be of great value to a wide range of relevant decision making, wherever the outcomes are heavily influenced by climate variability. Despite its potential value in informing European business and adaptation strategy, such forecast information is currently under-used. Continue reading

Global warming: ‘Half a billion atom bombs per year’

Extra atmospheric energy likely to manifest in intensification of global water cycle

*Editor’s note: Under a content-sharing agreement, Summit Voice will occasionally be offering stories from Climate Progress.

By Stephen Lacey

How much extra energy are we putting in the atmosphere through emission of greenhouse gases? One Australian researcher put it into context: “The radiative forcing of the CO2 we have already put in the atmosphere in the last century is … the equivalent in energy terms to almost half a billion Hiroshima bombs each year.”

With more energy radiating down on the planet rather than back up into space, the planet continues to heat up. As the atmosphere warms, it is able to hold more water vapor — thus strengthening the global hydrological cycle.

With all that extra energy, more water is pulled out of the subtropic regions and moved toward higher-precipitation areas in the subpolar regions, resulting in stronger droughts and stronger storms. Or, as the video above explains, how the wet gets wetter and the dry gets drier.

Visit Climate Progress for more.


Global warming deniers new tactic: Shoot the messenger

Temperatures are off the charts this year. NASA graphic.

Handful of below-average temps spurs frantic activity on denier website

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Global warming deniers have always been good at cherry picking data to try and prove that that Earth isn’t warming inexorably, and to the likely detriment of most species on the planet.

This week, the denier website Watts Up With That took the schtick to a whole new level with a post highlighting a handful of low temperature records in recent days. The post carefully avoided making the claim that those readings somehow disprove global warming — that would, of course, demolish any last shred of credibility that might still linger with the increasingly outlandish denier arguments.

Instead, the post took issue with media coverage of climate issues, charging that the mainstream media would ignore the localized low temperature records after having played up the long string of record highs spanning several months and covering much of the country. Continue reading

New IPCC report links climate change and extreme weather

Extreme weather events are likely to become more frequent, according to a new IPCC report.

Threat of floods, drought expected to grow

By Summit Voice

A new report by some of the world’s top researchers suggests that a steadily warming planet will probably contribute to more frequent and intense extreme weather events during the coming decades.

“We’ve all been experiencing these extreme weather events, and this report provides the strongest evidence of the links between impacts dangerous weather and climate change,” said Steve Hamburg, chief scientist for Environmental Defense Fund. “Now we need to start using this data to find ways to protect ourselves and our communities.”

The November 18 report is from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It synthesizes two years work from 100 experts who analyze data from all over the world. Their conclusion: climate change is bringing us more extreme weather, and it’s likely to get worse and have greater negative impacts over the next century.

Impacts in the United States include:

  • Higher temperatures and more hot days through the next century (Record-breaking heat that would have been a once-in-20-year high are likely to become a one-in-two-year event)
  • More frequent and heavier rains, especially in winter
  • Stronger hurricanes that will do more damage
  • Increased droughts, especially in the center of the country
  • Higher sea levels, which means more coastal erosion and other damage

All these changes will affect  agriculture, water supplies, health, and tourism, the report concludes, advocating for more proactive planning to manage the risks associated with more extreme weather. Another recent report shows that extreme weather events are taking a huge economic toll.

Researchers expect drought to become frequent and last longer. MAP COURTESY IPCC.

Continue reading


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