Watchdogs say voluntary methane cuts aren’t enough

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‘To fight global warming, we need real methane rules …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — A slew of recent studies showing how heat-trapping methane emissions have been consistently underestimated apparently didn’t have a big impact on the EPA, which has proposed a voluntary program to try and cut atmospheric methane buildup, with some mandatory regulations still in the works.

The Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program (“Methane Challenge”) (PDF) (18 pp, 512K, About PDF) would provide a new mechanism enabling oil and gas companies cto track ambitious commitments to reduce methane emissions. According to the EPA, the program is based on extensive stakeholder outreach and reflects a revision of EPA’s previously proposed Gas STAR Gold framework. Continue reading

Loss of coral reefs could make some islands uninhabitable

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Some reef-ringed atolls will see their drinking water supplies wiped out due to global warming.

Island flooding likely to increase dramatically as coral reefs die

Staff Report

FRISCO —Besides losing critical marine nurseries, the decline of coral reefs will put some island communities at direct risk of flooding and even threaten freshwater drinking supplies, according to a new study that tries to project how climate change will affect the ability of coral reefs to mitigate coastal hazards.

About 30 million people living on low-lying coral islands and atolls are dependent on ecosystem services provided by reefs. Right now, some of those islands see flooding from large waves a few times each decade, but that number is expected to increase dramatically. Continue reading

Shell gets federal greenlight for exploratory Arctic drilling

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Shell gets OK for exploratory drilling in the Arctic Sea.

Conditional permits limit operations and set protections for marine mammals

Staff Report

FRISCO — Shell’s Arctic drill plans got a green light from federal regulators today, as the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement issued a pair of conditions permits for limited exploratory drilling in the Chukchi Sea, off the coast of Alaska.

The permits limit Shell to drilling in the top sections of wells. The company won’t be allowed to probe deep in into the oil-bearing zones until well-capping equipment is on hand and deployable within 24 hours — which still leaves enough time for thousands of gallons of crude to leak into the sensitive and pristine Arctic Ocean. Continue reading

Climate change contributes to longer fire seasons worldwide

In late June, smoke from wildfires in Canada streamed down over North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa. Photo courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

In late June, smoke from wildfires in Canada streamed down over North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa. Photo courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

New study tracks regional nuances, global trends

Staff Report

FRISCO — U.S. Forest Service scientists and other researchers say there has been a significant increase in the length of wildfire seasons on nearly every continent, with the exception of Australia. Fire weather seasons around the globe have increased by nearly 20 percent and the global burnable area doubled over the past 35 years.

Most vegetation types, except boreal forests, showed significant increases in the fire weather season length, the new study found. Some areas, such as the Western and Southeastern United States, Alaska, tropical and sub-tropical South America and Eastern Africa and large parts of Eurasia show a steady lengthening of the fire season from 1979-2013. Continue reading

June 2015 is another record-warm month for the planet

Year to date also the warmest ever, new NOAA report says

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Most of the world’s land and ocean areas were much warmer than average in June.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Global temperatures soared to another record high in June, reaching 1.58 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average and breaking the mark set just last year by 0.22 degrees Fahrenheit — which may not sound like much, but it’s a pretty big increment in the world of temperature records.

The first six months of 2015 were also record warm, NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center said in its monthly State of the Climate report released today. For the first six months of the year, the global land and ocean surface average temperaure was 1.53 degrees above the 20th century average, beating the 2010 record by 0.16 degrees Fahrenheit. Read the full report here.Both land and sea surface temperatures were record warm in June, with the  globally-averaged land surface temperature running 2.27 degrees Fahrenheit above average, and global sea surface temps at 1.33 degrees above the 20th century average.

Continue reading

Climate: Not a lot of options for polar bears

 Eric Regehr, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Polar bear photo courtesy Eric Regehr, USFWS.

New study shows food shortages will catch up to the Arctic predators

Staff Report

FRISCO — When it comes to finding food as Arctic sea ice melts, polar bears don’t exactly have a lot of options.

That’s one of the main reasons the Arctic predators are under the global warming gun, and a new study of how the bears respond metabolically during lean times underscores the existing science. Continue reading

Climate: Shift in Pacific Ocean pattern likely to drive global temperatures to new record highs

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Global temperatures could surge in the next few years as the Pacific Ocean shifts to a warm phase.

‘In the long term, there is robust evidence of unabated global warming ..’

Staff Report

FRISCO — A shift in a decadal-scale cycle of Pacific Ocean temperatures could lead to a spike in global warming the next few years, climate researchers said after tracking a subsurface layer of unusually warm water in the Pacific and Indian oceans.

The layer, between 300 and 1,000 feet below the surface, has been accumulating more heat than previously recognized, according to climate researchers from UCLA and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who published their finding in the journal Science.

“Given the fact the Pacific Decadal Oscillation seems to be shifting to a warm phase, ocean heating in the Pacific will definitely drive a major surge in global surface warming,” said Veronica Nieves, lead author of the study and a UCLA researcher with the UCLA Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineering. Continue reading

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