Study links dengue fever outbreaks with El Niño

New study can help tropical countries prepare


El Niño cycles can have public health impacts.

Staff Report

This year’s El Niño could bring a widespread dengue fever outbreak across Southeast Asia, scientists said after tracking a link between the disease and warmer temperatures.

The warning came after a team of international scientists found that an increase in dengue incidence swept through eight countries of Southeast Asia in 1997 and 1998 during a historically intense El Niño weather event.

“Dengue infects large numbers of people across the tropics each year, but incidence can vary dramatically from year to year in any setting,” said University of Florida biology professor Derek Cummings, senior author of the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Continue reading

NOAA says coral reefs worldwide hit by bleaching

Extensive stand of severely bleached coral at Lisianski Island in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in Hawaii, documented during an August 2014 NOAA research mission. (Credit: NOAA).

Extensive stand of severely bleached coral at Lisianski Island in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in Hawaii, documented during an August 2014 NOAA research mission. (Credit: NOAA).

Up to 95 percent of U.S. coral reefs may be affected

Staff Report

Global warming is causing global coral bleaching, ocean scientists said today, confirming that rising ocean temperatures are resulting in massive and widespread impacts to reefs around the world.

“The coral bleaching and disease, brought on by climate change and coupled with events like the current El Niño, are the largest and most pervasive threats to coral reefs around the world,” NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch coordinator, Mark Eakin, said in a statement. Continue reading

Pacific islands face extreme sea level changes

Study tracks El Niño shifts


How will climate change affect Pacific atolls? Photo via NASA.

Staff Report

Climate change will likely subject many low-lying Pacific island nations to more extreme fluctuations in sea level from year to year, in synch with more intense El Niño cycles. Some years, high sea level will lead to bigger floods, while in other years, big drops in sea level will leave coral reefs exposed, according to researchers based in Hawaii and Australia. Continue reading

Study eyes coastal impacts of El Niño cycles


If climate change intensifies El Niño and La Niña, it could have big impacts on coastal erosion. @bberwyn photo.

Coastal Pacific areas seen as vulnerable to intensifying storms

Staff Report

If global warming strengthens the cycle of El Niño and La Niña events — as projected by some studies — it could lead to an increase in storm events bringing extreme coastal flooding and erosion in populated regions across the Pacific Ocean, according to a multi-agency study published today in Nature Geoscience.

“This study significantly advances the scientific knowledge of the impacts of El Niño and La Niña,” said Patrick Barnard, USGS coastal geologist and the lead author of the study. “Understanding the effects of severe storms fueled by El Niño or La Niña helps coastal managers prepare communities for the expected erosion and flooding associated with this climate cycle.” Continue reading

Climate: Planet Earth was baking in August 2015

Global temps once again shatter monthly records


Above-average temperatures spanned the globe in August 2015.

Staff Report

Most of the Earth’s surface was much warmer than average during August, which ended up as the warmest on record, according to the latest monthly State of the Climate Report from NOAA.

The average land and sea surface temperature for the month was 1.58 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average, beating the monthly record — set just last year — by 0.16 degrees Fahrenheit.

More statistics from the National Climatic Data Center’s report reinforces the recent El Niño-fueled surge in global temperatures. August was the sixth record-breaking month in 2015, and five of the ten largest monthly temperature departures from average all happened this year. Continue reading

Will this year’s El Niño be a climate wildcard?

‘This is a new planet’


El Niño still strengthening in the Pacific.

Staff Report

LINZ — This year’s strong El Niño may be a climate wildcard, according to experts with the World Meteorological Organization, who said changes in the northern hemisphere’s climate may interact with El Niño in as-yet unknown ways.

“The last big El Niño was 1997-1998. The planet has changed a lot in 15 years,” said David Carlson, director of the WMO co-sponsored World Climate Research Programme. “We have had years of record Arctic sea ice minimum. We have lost a massive area of northern hemisphere snow cover, probably by more than 1 million square kilometers in the past 15 years. We are working on a different planet and we fully do not understand the new patterns emerging.”

He said the 2015 El Niño is unique because of the unprecedented combination of the Equatorial influence of El Niño, and the Arctic influence of low sea ice and snow cover in place at the same time.

“This is a new planet,” said David Carlson, director of the WMO co-sponsored World Climate Research Programme. The 2015 El Niño is the first to take place since the rapid melting of Arctic sea ice and snow cover, Carlson said. Continue reading

Climate: NOAA report says rising sea level and El Niño could combine to up coastal flood threats

Inundation ‘tipping points’ are near


This year’s strong El Niño could increase the risk of nuisance flooding in many coastal communities.

Staff Report

FRISCO — When you take steadily rising sea levels and add in a strong El Niño, it’s a perfect recipe for nuisance flooding, federal climate researchers said in a new report that aims to quantify high water risks for coastal communities.

According to the NOAA report, many mid-Atlantic and West Coast communities could see the highest number of nuisance flooding days on record through April, with some locations seeing a 33 to 125 percent increase in the number of nuisance flooding days. Continue reading


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