Climate: Is this the Antarctic tipping point?

Study shows widespread, simultaneous ice shelf melting

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Satellite data shows sudden shift in ice shelf dynamics along the southern Antarctic Peninsula. @berwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Along with studies showing dramatic changes in individual ice shelves in Antarctica, new research shows widespread changes in the region since 2009. Up until then, the Southern Antarctic Peninsula showed no signs of change.

But suddenly, multiple glaciers along a vast coastal expanse, measuring some 750km in length, suddenly started to shed ice into the ocean at a nearly constant rate of 60 cubic kilometers, or about 55 trillion liters of water, each year. This makes the region the second largest contributor to sea level rise in Antarctica and the ice loss shows no sign of waning. Continue reading

Global warming: New NOAA study eyes link between Arctic meltdown and extreme weather in mid-latitudes

A warming Arctic is changing the configuration of the jet stream, which affects mid-latitude weather. GRAPHIC COURTESY NOAA.

A warming Arctic is changing the configuration of the jet stream, which affects mid-latitude weather. GRAPHIC COURTESY NOAA.

‘Too soon to tell …’

Staff Report

*More Summit Voice stories on this subject are here

FRISCO — There’s been lots of speculation and some early research on a possible link between soaring temperatures in the Arctic and extreme weather in North America and Europe, but the jury is still out, according to scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

NOAA’s James Overland was part of an international team that took a close look at possible connections and concluded that more research is needed.

“We are in the pre-consensus stage of a theory that there are links between the rapid warming of the Arctic and some severe weather events since 2007,” said Overland, lead author of the new study, “The melting Arctic and Mid-latitude weather patterns: Are they connected?” Continue reading

Global warming: Risk of exposure to extreme heat waves is growing dramatically

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Warm enough!

Population growth in warm zones is a big part of the equation

Staff Report

FRISCO — Extreme heat kills more people than any other type of extreme weather, and that mortality could increase significantly in coming decades as the Earth warms under a blanket of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

Americans’ exposure to extreme heat could increase  four- to six-fold by 2050, a new study concludes, explaining that it’s not just the heat — the country’s population is  growing especially fast in the hottest regions of the country. Continue reading

April 2015 ranks as 4th-warmest on record for Earth

Year to-date is record warm

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Only a few small areas of the globe were cooler than average in April 2015.

Staff Report

FRISCO — April’s globally averaged temperature was the fourth-warmest on record, at 1.33 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average, according to federal climate trackers releasing the monthly Global State of the Climate update. Continue reading

Is the West’s power grid vulnerable to climate change?

‘In their development plans, power providers are not taking into account climate change impacts …’

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Renewable energy sources may be less susceptible to climate change impacts.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The Western power grid is vulnerable to projected global warming impacts, and should be climate-proofed to minimize the risk of future power shortages, according to a new study by  two Arizona State University engineers.

Their findings show that extreme heat waves and droughts and related changes in precipitation, air and water temperatures, air density and humidity, are all factors in the energy equation, and that those changes could significantly constrain the energy generation capacity of power plants. Continue reading

Of water fleas and global warming

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A new study shows how water fleas can adapt genetically to climate change. Photo courtesy USGS.

Study shows rapid genetic adaptation to warming ponds

Staff Report

FRISCO — Questions abound about the ability of plants and animals to adapt to global warming, but a new study by Belgian biologists shows that one species — the humble water flea — had already done just that.

The tiny aquatic organism lives in shallow lakes and usually reproduce asexually by cloning themselves. But when food is short or the water gets too hot, they mate and lay long-lasting eggs meant to survive for a better day.

Biologists with KU Leuven said that, when compared ‘resurrected’ water fleas — hatched from 40-year-old eggs — with more recent specimens, they found that the offspring hatched from the newer eggs were more tolerant of warm water. Continue reading

USGS study says global warming threatens genetic diversity in Columbia River Basin bull trout

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Bull trout in the Columbia River Basin. USGS photo.

Warming water, more winter flooding not a good combination for fish

Staff Report

FRISCO — A native western trout species that’s been listed as endangered since 1998 will likely be further threatened by global warming, according to biologists, who found that genetic diversity in bull trout is lowest where stream temperatures are warmest and winter flooding is highest.

With these trends predicted to continue, a new U.S. Geological Survey-led study suggests that the species is more susceptible to climate change than previously thought. Continue reading

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