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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

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Climate: February 2014 cooler than average in U.S.

Dry conditions persist in far West

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February 2014 emperatures varied widely across the country.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The average February temperature across contiguous United States was well below the 20th century average. With an average reading of 32.2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.6 degrees below average), last month will go down in the books at the 37th-coldest February on record, the National Climatic Data Center reported in its regular monthly update.

The winter season overall (December to February) was 1.0 degrees Fahrenheit below average, making it the coldest winter since 2009-2010. This winter stood in sharp contrast to the last two winters, and most winters of the past two decades, when temperatures were predominately warmer than the 20th century average, the climate data center said. Read the full report here. 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

Climate: Is there a link between this winter’s extreme weather and global warming?

No certainty yet, but new climate models may shed some light

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A NASA map based on satellite temperature readings shows plenty of global hotspots during January, 2014. Visit this NASA website to create your own map.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Climate scientists and weather experts are edging ever-closer to linking between more frequent extreme weather events and global warming. In a mid-month bulletin, the World Meteorological Organization focused on persistent flooding in the UK and extreme cold weather in the Eastern U.S.The organization also pointed out that some southern hemisphere land areas were near record warm during the first several weeks of 2014. Continue reading

Climate: World’s hottest areas getting even warmer

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A 2013 heat wave in Australia set all-time records.

‘The hottest extremes got hotter and the events happened more often’

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — While the rate of increase in average global surface temperature varies, there’s a more steady upward trend in extreme heat events over land, according to scientists with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science.

The international research team published their findings after studying the rise of temperatures at the extreme end of the spectrum where impacts are felt the most.

“It quickly became clear, the so-called “hiatus” in global average temperatures did not stop the rise in the number, intensity and area of extremely hot days” said one of the paper’s authors Dr Lisa Alexander. Continue reading

Will global warming drive more extreme Arctic storms?

Study links warming climate and Arctic cyclone frequency

A cyclonic storm spins over the center of the Arctic Ocean. Photo courtesy NASA Earth Observatory

A cyclonic storm spins over the center of the Arctic Ocean. Photo courtesy NASA/Goddard/MODIS Rapid Response Team. Visit this NASA website for more information.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A changing air pressure regime over the Arctic resulting from warmer temperatures may be driving an increase in extreme storms in the region. The hurricane-like cyclones that traverse the northern waters from Iceland to Alaska may foreshadow even more intense weather ahead, according to Dr. Stephen Vavrus, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“This research shows that the Arctic appears to be expressing symptoms expected from ongoing climate change,” Vavrus said, explaining the findings of the study published in Geophysical Research Letters.

“The long-term decline in atmospheric pressure over most of the Arctic is consistent with the response typically simulated by climate models to greenhouse warming, and this study finds a general corresponding increase in the frequency of extreme Arctic cyclones since the middle 19th century,” he said. Continue reading

Colorado: Sen. Bennet calls for climate change action

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Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.)

Senator from Colorado says massive switch in energy policy needed to address climate impacts to Colorado

By Summit Voice

FRISCO —U.S.  Sen. Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, is calling on state residents to support a far-reaching renewable energy plan as a way to tackle global warming.

According to Bennet, Colorado’s economy is already feeling the effects of extreme weather, including shorter ski seasons, the constant threat of wildfire, and multi-year droughts that threaten Colorado’s $40 billion agriculture economy.

Bennet says the nation must take action to address a changing climate.

“One big step we can take is to create an energy plan that is relevant to our needs and interests in the in the 21st century and not stuck deep in the 1900s. It means investing in new energy technologies — and the jobs that come with it — that will actually allow us the luxury of not importing oil from the Persian Gulf anymore,” Bennet said in an email aimed at getting people to sign a petition in support of a forward-looking energy plan. Continue reading

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