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Does solar activity affect regional climate?

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A composite image assembled from NASA satellite images shows the UK covered with snow during a spell of cold winter weather in January 2010.

Yes, but effects are small compared to changes driven by greenhouse gases

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — After carefully studying cycles of solar activities and matching them against seafloor sediments that offer clues about ocean temperatures, Cardiff University scientists say low sunspot activity may be linked with phases of cold weather in Europe.

The study found that changes in the Sun’s activity can have a considerable impact on the ocean-atmospheric dynamics in the North Atlantic, with potential effects on regional climate.

While the effects of variations in solar energy are small compared to the impacts of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations, the effects of solar output on the ocean and atmosphere should be taken into account when making future climate projections, the researchers said. Continue reading

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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

Climate: How will Europe cope with growing flood risks?

New study outlines adaptation options

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Widespread heavy rainfall led to historic flooding across Central Europe in June, 2013. Map via Wikipedia, under a Creative Commons license.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO —Europe needs to update its risk management strategy to adapt to the growing threat of floods, an international team of experts said this week, projecting that flood costs will climb dramatically during the next few decades.

By 2050, average annual flood-related costs could soar to €23.5 billion, up from the €4.9 billion in average annual losses for the 2000 to 2012 period, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change by researchers from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and other European institutions.

Eying the widespread transnational threat, the team of economists and hydrologists advocated for restructuring pan-European funding mechanisms to better manage flood risks. Continue reading

Morning photo: Alleys

Come for a stroll …

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An inviting alleyway in the old town of Corfu, designated as a world heritage district.

FRISCO — While yesterday’s photo essay offered a bird’s eye view of city rooftops, today’s edition is at ground level, taking a look at some alleys around the world. By definition, an alley, or alleyway, is a narrow lane, path, or passage way, often for pedestrians only, which usually runs between or behind buildings, often in the older parts of towns and cities. For a traveler or explorer, that’s a pretty prosaic point of view. We prefer to see alleys as a pathway to adventures in unknown destinations. After all, what could be more inviting than a narrow, winding cobblestone path, beckoning to the unknown. Continue reading

Climate: Big greenhouse gas cuts possible in Europe

The U.S. is the second-largest producer of coal in the world, thanks in part to massive surface mines like this one in Wyoming. Photo courtesy BLM.

Continued use of coal will make it tough for Europe to meet emissions targets.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Europe could cuts it greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent at a moderate cost, using existing technologies, according to an international multi-model analysis by the Stanford Energy Modeling Forum.

The researchers shared their findings just as the European Commission prepares to announce whether it will scale up its efforts on emissions reduction in the next decade. Continue reading

Global tourism grows 5% over last year through August

Emerging economies lead the way

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Europe reported strong tourism growth during the first eight months of 2013.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Global tourism continued to grow steadily during the first eight months of 2013, according to the World Tourism Organization, which tallied an increase of 5 percent from January to August 2013 compared to the same period last year.

The best-performing regions were Europe, Asia and the Pacific and the Middle East. For the year to-date, tourist arrivals totaled 747 million worldwide, up 38 million from last year, when global tourist arrivals topped 1 billion for the first time ever.

International arrivals topped 125 million in both July and August, while in June the 100 million arrivals mark was exceeded for the first time. Continue reading

Morning photo: Fields

Pastoral beauty

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Fallow fields in Grand Junction, Colorado, with the Grand Mesa as a backdrop.

FRISCO — I haven’t joined in the #FriFotos Twitter chat for a few months, but when I saw this week’s topic, I did a quick scan of the Summit Voice archives to find some of my favorite pictures of fields around the world, starting right here at home in Colorado and ranging as far as Iceland and Antarctica. On a recent trip, Leigh and I had a chance to visit Iceland, and amidst the wondrous ice fields and stunning coastline, we were fascinated by the lava fields, some of which are carpeted with a squishy, thick layer of moss. Upload your field photos via Flickr, Twitter or Instagram, tag them with #FriFotos and then enjoy the global slide show! Continue reading

Study pinpoints regional warming in Europe

Some areas warming four times faster than global average

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Study detects patterns of spiking hot temperatures in parts of Europe.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — In some parts of Europe the hottest days and coldest nights are warming more than four times faster than the global average, according to new research published in Environmental Research Letters.

The warming is most pronounced in a band from southern England and northern France, across the low countries to northern Germany and Denmark, where temperatures on the hottest days have spiked by more than 2 degrees Celsius in many places. Continue reading

Morning photo: Glass!

Now you see it …

The glass-covered Kogod Courtyard at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

The glass roof of the Kogod Courtyard at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. casts pleasing shadows on afternoon museum visitors.

FRISCO —It took me just a little longer than normal to scrounge up a set of pics for this week’s #FriFotos Twitter chat. The Summit Voice photo archives are extensive, but so many of the images are nature-themed that I had to dig deep. In the end, I came up with a nice set that highlights glass at its best, in architecture, especially, to bring natural light to public spaces like galleries, airports and train station — or to hold a few ounces of a tasty brew.

Continue reading

European forecasters look to NAO for climate clues

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Seasonal shifts in the North Atlantic Oscillation have a strong effect on European weather.

New study helps track seasonal shifts in North Atlantic storm track

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Just as weather forecasters in the western U.S. look at El Niño and La Niña to help get a handle on season outlooks, European meteorologists are carefully analyzing the North Atlantic Oscillation for climate clues. The job is easier in some years, according to a new study carried out by the National Oceanography Centre.

The research shwoed that the relationship between our winter weather and the strength of the airflow coming in from the Atlantic – one of the factors used by forecasters to predict the weather – is stronger in some years than others. The results were recently published in the Royal Meteorological Society publication Weather.

“There are two major atmospheric pressure systems centred around Iceland and the Azores that are very influential for the weather in Europe. Air flows between these two systems, bringing mild air from the North Atlantic to Europe,” said co-authors Joël Hirschi and Bablu Sinha from the National Oceanography Centre. Continue reading

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