July 2015 was the hottest month on record for Earth

All signs point toward more record-breaking heat ahead

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Only a few small parts of the planet saw anywhere near average or below average temperatures in July 2015.

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There is little question that average global temperatures have been soaring since the 1970s.

Staff Report

FRISCO — July 2015 was the hottest month on record for planet Earth by any measure, federal climate scientists said this week during their monthly global climate update. What’s more, the researchers are 99 percent sure that 2015 will end up as the hottest year since humankind has been tracking the climate, going back to about 1880.

That would break the record set just last year and is sure sign that greenhouse gases are inexorably heating the planet, despite year-to-year variations in the rate of warming. Continue reading

Climate: West may be in permanent drought by 2060s

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Is western drought the new climate normal?

New study quantifies global warming effect on California drought

Staff Report

FRISCO — Researchers say there’s new evidence that global warming will push the western U.S. into the driest conditions in at least the past 1,000 years, as higher temperatures exacerbate drought condition in the region.

The new study by scientists with Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Cornell University focused on the current California drought, showing that warmer temps drive moisture from plants and soil into the air. Warmer temps likely worsened the California drought by 25 percent, the scientists concluded in their paper, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Continue reading

Arctic sea ice dwindles to second-lowest extent ever

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Arctic sea ice now at it’s second-lowest extent on record. @bberwyn photo.

Antarctic sea ice extent below average for the first time in four years

Staff Report

FRISCO — In a mid-month update, researchers with the National Snow and Ice Data Center said that Arctic sea ice has dwindled to the second-lowest extent on record, with an above-average melt rate during the first half of August. The only time there was less sea ice was in 2012, which set the record for the lowest extent.

The NSIDC also reported that Antarctic sea ice extent is below the 1981 to 2010 average for the first time in nearly four years. Antarctic sea ice expanded by just 96,500 square miles between August 1 and August 17, and retreated around the Antarctic Peninsula, in the Ross Sea, and around the coast of Wilkes Land. Continue reading

Rally in Breckenridge to support climate action

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Rally for climate action in Breckenridge on Aug. 20.

‘Beat the Heat’ event aimed at showing public support for Clean Power Plan

Staff Report

FRISCO — Summit County residents have a chance to show their support for meaningful action to reduce heat-trapping greenhouse gas pollution at an Aug. 20 rally in Breckenridge organized by Environment Colorado. The rally will start 11 a.m. near Riverwalk Center, with Environment Colorado organizers doing one-on-one outreach to passers-by.

The Beat the Heat event is aimed at showing support for President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, the single biggest step the U.S. has taken to address global warming. Activists want to make it clear that Coloradans want state leaders like Senator Michael Bennet and Senator Cory Gardner, as well as Governor Hickenlooper to lead on climate action. Continue reading

Climate: EPA seeks to cut landfill methane emissions

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Cutting methane emissions is a key piece of the Obama administration’s climate strategy.

Cost of new regs estimated at $55 billion

Staff Report

FRISCO — Oil and gas drilling aren’t the only sources of methane. Landfills generate a significant amount of the heat-trapping gas as waste materials decompose in the ground. Now, the EPA wants to reduce those emissions amount by a third with a rule that would require landfills to collect and control methane.

According to the agency, municipal landfills are the third-largest source of methane, accounting for 18 percent of methane emissions in 2013 – the equivalent of approximately 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution. Continue reading

Global warming: Central Asian glaciers dwindling fast

Ice loss has huge implications for regional water resources

North facing slope of the Jetim-Bel range, Kyrgyzstan. Glacier melt is an essential water resource in an otherwise dry environment.

North facing slope of the Jetim-Bel range, Kyrgyzstan. Glacier melt is an essential water resource in an otherwise dry environment. Photo courtesy Daniel Farinotti.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Glaciers in the Tien Shan, Central Asia’s largest mountain range, have lost 27 percent of their mass and 18 percent of their area during the last 50 years, shedding an average of 5.4 gigatons of ice per year.

By 2050 about half of Tien Shan’s glacier volume could be depleted, a team of scientists estimated in a new paper published in the current online issue of Nature Geoscience.

The study was led by scientists with the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences and the institute of the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique at Rennes University. Continue reading

Study eyes global warming health threats to Gulf Coast

‘Unfortunately, we are now at a point where simply slowing climate change, while critical, is not enough.’

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Sea level rise will swallow parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast. @bberwyn photo.

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Tidal flooding near Venice, Louisiana. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Global warming is likely to make the U.S. Gulf Coast less hospitable and more dangerous for residents, public health experts warned in a new study that focused on the region.

More extreme heat events, rising sea levels and the potential for intense tropical storms threaten the region’s population and infrastructure, and could spur large scale migration, scientists said in a new paper published this week in in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

“The science of climate change and the threat to human and population health is irrefutable, and the threat is evolving quickly,” said to Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. “Unfortunately, we are now at a point where simply slowing climate change, while critical, is not enough. We need to simultaneously develop and deploy ways of mitigating the impact and adapting to the consequences of this environmental disaster.” Continue reading

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