Climate: How will Europe cope with growing flood risks?

New study outlines adaptation options

Central Europe 72h rain fall at 2.6.2013 en

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: From drought to deluge

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Climate experts outline weather extremes across the U.S.

By Bob Berwyn

After years of persistent drought across big swaths of contiguous 48 states, the weather picture changed dramatically in 2012. Instead of dealing with parched ground, farmers in the Southeast weren’t able to harvest crops this summer because of standing water in the fields.

Mold and fungal diseases were reported across the region, particularly on crops such as corn, tomatoes and peanuts. The excess moisture has degraded the quality and flavor of many crops, including watermelons, tobacco, and peaches. Flooded soil  has hampered the growth of cotton and corn, with damage from excess moisture expected to cost billions, The National Climatic Data Center reported this week in its July update. Continue reading

Global warming: Feds say threat of sea level rise is very real

New report recommends bolstering natural defenses, better long-range planning for coastal communities

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Rising sea levels are already eating away at Florida beaches, requiring expensive augmentation projects. Bob Berwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Along with obvious threats like flooding, rising sea level is likely to affect the U.S. in more unexpected ways, including a decline in seafood quality and shifts in disease patterns, according to a new technical report released this week by the U.S. Geological Survey and NOAA.

The report emphasizes the need for increased coordination and planning to ensure U.S. coastal communities are resilient against the effects of climate change. Sea level rise and  increases in extreme weather threaten the the sustainability of many existing coastal communities and natural resources, according to USGS researcher  Virginia Burkett.

“An increase in the intensity of extreme weather events such as storms like Sandy and Katrina, coupled with sea-level rise and the effects of increased human development along the coasts, could affect the sustainability of many existing coastal communities and natural resources,” said Virginia Burkett of the U.S. Geological Survey and co-lead author of the report. Continue reading

Climate: The jet stream blues

Melting Arctic ice altering mid-latitude weather patterns

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A huge and persistent ridge of high pressure in the eastern Pacific has been shunting the jet stream northward, preventing storms from reaching Colorado. The pattern has been in place much of the winter, sustaining serious drought conditions across parts of the Southwest. Graphic courtesy San Francisco State University.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — If it feels like the weather has been stuck in a rut, that may not be too far from the truth. The jet stream is slowing down and meandering farther north and south, with more blocking patterns setting up across the northern hemisphere.

That leads to more extreme weather, both on the wet and dry side of the scale, said Rutgers University research professor Dr. Jennifer Francis, speaking at last week’s Glen Gerberg Weather and Climate Summit in Breckenridge.

Francis has been studying the connection between vanishing Arctic sea ice and weather in the mid-latitudes of the northern hemisphere, and evidence is piling up that the intense warming at high latitudes has serious implications for North America, Europe and Asia. Continue reading

Global warming: More flooding likely in UK

A NASA satellite image shows a snow-covered UK in January 2010.

Modeling study suggests significant seasonal shifts in rainfall patterns

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Shifts in large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns driven by global warming could lead to an increased risk of damaging floods in parts of the UK, according to a modeling study by German researchers.

The research suggests a season shift in rainfall trends, with heavier precipitation in late autumn in the south-eastern regions of the country. In the the northwest, the heaviest rainfalls will be a little earlier — in November, rather than December.

These shifts will coincide with times of the year when river catchments in those regions are at their maximum water capacity, meaning there would be an increased risk of flooding. Continue reading

Climate: Some regions see more flooding during cooling regimes

Study in Alpine lakes traces 1,600-year of history climate change

Sediments in Austria’s Mondsee show more evidence of flooding during transitions to cooler climate phases.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — While many recent research projects have highlighted the potential for more extreme weather as the planet warms up, a new study from the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences indicates that parts of the Alps saw more extreme flooding during periods of transition to cooler climatic conditions.

By studying sediment layers in the Mondsee, an Alpine lake near Salzburg, Austria, the researchers found evidence of flooding during the time of the Great Migration and the Early Middle Ages (AD 450-750), as well as the transition to the Little Ice Age (AD 1140-1520). In contrast, there was less flooding during the medieval warm phase (AD 1000-1140) and the coldest period of the Little Ice Age (AD 1600-1700). Continue reading

Colorado: Snow, baby!

An incoming storm system is bringing rain and snow to Colorado. Graphic courtesy NWS.

Fall storm brings much-needed moisture to state, but flooding possible in burned areas

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Rain may change over to snow above 10,000 feet in the Colorado high country today, as a strong cold front, associated with a tightly wound low pressure system over Utah, sweeps through the area.

According to the National Weather Service, 1 to 3 inches of the white stuff is not out of the question at the higher elevations, with scattered precipitation expected to continue through Wednesday and more showers possible Thursday before conditions start to dry out.

The weather system will also bring some of the coolest temperature readings to the area since last April, with highs barely climbing into the 50s, and nighttime lows dropping below freezing the next few nights, seasonable readings for this time of year. The daytime highs the next few days will actually be below average.

With the low pressure system stalling over northwest Colorado, the northeastern plains, and potentially other parts of the state, will see some much-needed moisture. That’s a mixed blessing in the Colorado Springs area, where radar is showing heavy showers over the Waldo Canyon burn area, leading to a flood advisory.

 

 

Global warming will shift South Pacific rain band

A 2004 NASA satellite image shows a volcano erupting on Vanuatu, in the South Pacific.

Island nations can expect to see more drought and flooding

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Already under the gun from rising sea levels, some South Pacific island nations could also be swamped by more extreme floods and hit by drought as global temperatures rise in response to more heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The international study, led by CSIRO oceanographer Dr. Wenju Cai, examines how the South Pacific rain band will respond to greenhouse warming.

The South Pacific rain band is largest and most persistent of the Southern Hemisphere, spanning the Pacific from south of the Equator, south-eastward to French Polynesia. Occasionally, the rain band moves northwards towards the Equator by ip to 1,000 kilometers, inducing extreme climate events. Continue reading

Watchdog group says border wall plans are flawed

Flooding a concern along the Rio Grande

Along the Rio Grande …

By Summit Voice

It appears that the U.S. has not learned from recent Eastern European history that walls and fences just don’t work when it comes to trying to keep people in or out of a country.

Pushed mostly by politicians with a xenophobic agenda and pandering to a xenophobic constituency, plans for a massive border wall along the Rio Grande continue, and now, it appears as though the new 14-mile section of wall could  block flood water from draining into the Rio Grande, bottling it up in towns and farm land and significantly worsening damage inflicted, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

The three border wall sections will consist of concrete bollards spaced four inches apart and topped by as much as 15 feet of steel fencing. If the bollards become choked with storm debris, the structures will function as dams, deflecting water out of the river channel and perhaps even changing the channel of the River itself (and thus our border).  The wall sections are slated to be placed in the Rio Grande floodplain adjacent to the communities of Roma, Rio Grande City and Los Ebanos. Continue reading

Global warming: Severe Midwest storms increasing

Rains, flooding threaten water infrastructure

Climate researchers say they’ve documented an increasing number of severe storms in the Midwest most likely linked with global warming.

SUMMIT COUNTY — A startling increase in severe storms is straining water infrastructure and threatening public health and safety, according to a report from the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The number of those big storms has doubled in the last 50 years, with greatest increase in Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan.

“Global studies already show that human-caused climate change is driving more extreme precipitation, and now we’ve documented how great the increase has been in the Midwest and linked the extreme storms to flooding in the region,” said Rocky Mountain Climate Organization president Stephen Saunders,” suggesting that it might not be accurate to simply characterize the storms as natural disasters. “And if emissions keep going up, the forecast is for more extreme storms in the region,” he said. Continue reading

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