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Aerosols still a big missing piece of climate puzzle

sdfgsdfNew study suggests natural aerosols may be a bigger factor than previously thought

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — In their quest to better understand the role of aerosols in the Earth’s climate, researchers may have to try and find the cleanest parts of the atmosphere.

Knowing to what degree both human-caused and natural aerosols mask the effects of heat-trapping greenhouse gases is crucial to making accurate climate predictions, according to a new study that assessed 28 factors that could affect the uncertainties in cloud brightness.

Natural aerosols, such as emissions from volcanoes or plants, may contribute more uncertainty than previously thought to estimates of how the climate might respond to greenhouse gas emissions. Continue reading

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Climate: U.S. Supreme Court eyes greenhouse gas ruling

aggi_figure1By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The U.S. Supreme Court won’t question the EPA‘s fundamental finding that greenhouse gases are a big environmental threat, but the justices will decide how far the agency’s authority to regulate those gases extends.

At issue is the EPA’s ability to set emission limits on cars, factories and power plants — all key pieces in the Obama administration’s push to get a handle on global warming. Big business, of course, would like to see business-as-usual, and along with several states, legally challenged the EPA’s rule-making authority. Continue reading

Climate: Are you ready for the heat?

U.S. temps expected to climb 9 degrees by 2100

All around the globe, the land areas show a greater increase in temperature than the surrounding ocean waters. Evaporation of the water helps to keep the ocean surface cool and the deep depths of the ocean have a large capacity to absorb energy before heating up.

FRISCO — After last week’s release of a relatively short summary of global warming science, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has now published a full report detailing the science. The report is available at the IPCC website.

It not easy reading, and it’s not easy to swallow the conclusions, but the report makes it clear that this is not the time for denial. The most pronounced warming will be in the northerh hemisphere, and areas like the Rocky Mountains and northern Canada could feel the heat sooner rather than later.

Without drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, the average temperature across the contiguous 48 states is projected to increase by a life-changing 9 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. Globally, temperatures are expected to climb by 7 degrees.

That warmth will cause sea level to rise by anywhere from 10 to 35 inches by 2100 — and that’s a conservative estimate. Some other studies estimate a 40-inch rise in sea level by 2100.

One crucial area that isn’t comprehensively covered by the IPCC involves the carbon locked into the world’s icy permafrost region. The report estimates huge thawing in permafrost region, but downplays the additional warming effects resulting from the release of that carbon, which could amount to another couple of degrees of temperature increases by 2100.

IPCC atlas of projected changes:

New IPCC report highlights increasing certainty on global warming causes and consequences

Future looks grim without drastic greenhouse gas cuts

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Warmer and wetter times ahead.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The news is out and it’s not good. In fact, the latest update of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is full of dire warning signs that the continued buildup of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, if left unchecked, will lead to a climate catastrophe with dire consequences for humanity and the rest of the planet’s species.

The full assessment is being released piecemeal, with this week’s Summary for Policy Makers drawing global attention, as every word and phrase is scrutinized and parsed for meaning. And it’s actually not that hard to figure out what it all means — you don’t even have to be a scientist. Continue reading

Climate: Heatwave impacts to quadruple by 2040

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Australia’s record-breaking 2013 heatwave may become the new norm in just a few decades.

‘A new climatic regime’

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The number of severe heatwaves could double by 2020 and quadruple by 2040, according to a team of German and Spanish scientists who fine-tuned a set of climate models to try and reduce uncertainty. In the second half of the century, even higher frequencies are expected unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced.

“In many regions, the coldest summer months by the end of the century will be hotter than the hottest experienced today. That’s what our calculations show for a scenario of unabated climate change,” said Dim Coumou, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “We would enter a new climatic regime.” Continue reading

Ocean biodiversity at risk in a warming world

‘Gravel parking lots instead of coral reef gardens’

Coral Gardens: A school of surgeonfish cruise coral reefs near Palmyra Atoll.

Coral Gardens: A school of surgeonfish cruise coral reefs near Palmyra Atoll. Photo courtesy UC San Diego.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Global warming is likely to drastically reduce ocean diversity, without a food web that’s able to support an abundance of large sharks and whales. A new study shows that oceans in an ancient greenhouse world had few large reefs,poorly oxygenated water and tropical surface waters warm as a hot tub.

The research by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, paleobiologist Richard Norris and colleagues suggests that aspects of this greenhouse ocean could reappear in the future if greenhouse gases continue to rise at current accelerating rates. Continue reading

Global warming: Study projects dwindling SoCal snow

Mountains around L.A. could see drastic reduction in winter conditions

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California’s mountains are covered with heavy snow after a record October storm in this 2004 file image from the NASA Earth Observatory, but such snowfalls will be the exception by mid-century, according to a new UCLA study.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Skiing in the mountains of Southern California is already a dicey proposition, and by mid-century, L.A. skiers might have to look elsewhere for turns.

A UCLA study released this week shows that snowfall will drop by 30 to 40 percent in the next few decades. Of course, the impacts go far beyond recreation. Changes in seasonal precipitation will have a big impact on water supplies in the region, the researchers said.

The projected snow loss, a result of climate change, could get even worse by the end of the 21st century, said UCLA climate expert Alex Hall.

Sustained action to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions could keep annual average snowfall levels steady after mid-century, but if emissions continue unabated, the study predicts that snowfall in Southern California mountains will be two-thirds less by the year 2100 than it was in the years leading up to 2000. Continue reading

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