Global CO2 emissions rising unchecked

CO2 graph

Co2 emissions are set to reach a record level this year.

New record level expected in 2013, with U.S. still by far the largest per capita source of greenhouse gases

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Just in time for the Warsaw climate talks, climate trackers with the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia said global carbon dioxide emissions are set to soar to a new record high of 36 billion tons in 2013 — 61 percent above the 1990 baseline levels set for the Kyoto Protocol.

“Governments meeting in Warsaw this week need to agree on how to reverse this trend. Emissions must fall substantially and rapidly if we are to limit global climate change to below two degrees. Additional emissions every year cause further warming and climate change,” said the Tyndall Centre’s Professor Corinne Le Quére, who led the global carbon budget report.

“Alongside the latest Carbon Budget is the launch of the Carbon Atlas, a new online platform showing the world’s biggest carbon emitters more clearly than ever before,” Le Quére said, explaining that China’s growing economy is driving the growth in greenhouse gas emissions. Continue reading

Climate study shows heat building up in the ocean

‘We may have underestimated the efficiency of the oceans as a storehouse for heat and energy … ‘

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The heat trapped by greenhouse gases isn’t missing — it’s in the ocean. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — There’s more evidence that the world’s ocean are taking up the heat trapped by greenhouse gases at an increasing rate, according to a new study published in Science this week.

After reconstructing Pacific Ocean temperatures from the last 10,000 years, the researchers found that the middle depths have warmed 15 times faster in the last 60 years than they did during apparent natural warming cycles in the previous 10,000 years.

“We’re experimenting by putting all this heat in the ocean without quite knowing how it’s going to come back out and affect climate,” said study coauthor Braddock Linsley, a climate scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “It’s not so much the magnitude of the change, but the rate of change.” Continue reading

Climate: Southern Amazon at risk of drying out

New study says IPCC projections are too conservative

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Studies show that fires are on the increase in the Amazon. Visit this NASA Earth Observatory web page for more information.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — In a classic case of climate disruption, research shows that the dry season in southern Amazonia has lengthened by about one week per decade since 1979. Parts of the region may not be able to support rainforest vegetation much longer. A big forest die-back could trigger the release of large volumes of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, a team of scientists warned this week.

The changes could disrupt plant and animal communities in one of the regions of highest biodiversity in the world, said University of Texas professor Rong Fu, who led the team of scientists. Continue reading

‘Climate change … requires urgent action, not tomorrow but today’

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Sea level rise caused by global warming will affect millions of people by the end of the century.

World needs action on global warming

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — For many people, the concept of global climate change remains abstract until they feel the impacts of global warming first-hand — just ask the residents of Sandy Hook, New Jersey or Boulder, Colorado.

That’s completely understandable, and ultimately, the impacts of global warming will mostly play out in the arena of day to day, month to month and year to year weather.

Some areas, like the Southwest, are already starting to see longer and more intense heatwaves and droughts, while other areas, like the coast of Alaska, see rising sees encroach on the land.

Here is how the World Meteorological Organization reacted to this week’s release of the IPCC‘s latest global climate change assessment: Continue reading

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

EPA proposes cap on power plant carbon emissions

Common-sense standards easily met with current technology

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Global warming trends since 1950 are unmistakeable.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Dovetailing with the upcoming new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, the EPA this week issues sweeping new rules that could help cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions significantly.

Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA proposed setting standards that would cap carbon pollution from new gas and coal-fired plants. At the same time, the agency is seeking stakeholder input to set carbon pollution standards for existing plants. Continue reading

Oceans showing strong response to global warming

‘An overwhelming response of species shifting where and when they live in an attempt to track a shifting climate’

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Marine environments are experiencing big changes due to global warming. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Some key ocean indicator species, including phytoplankton, zooplankton and bony fish, are moving towards the poles at the average rate of about 45 miles per decade in response to warming oceans — 10 times faster than the average movement of land species.

The findings are part of a new study, funded by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in California, providing more evidence that global warming will have substantial impacts on ocean ecosystems, including changes in the timing of breeding, feeding and migration of some species. Continue reading

Climate: Last summer’s Greenland ice sheet surface meltdown linked with an unusual kink in the jet stream

July 2012 melt event far surpassed previous record

In the images above, areas classified as “probable melt” (light pink) correspond to sites where at least one satellite detected surface melting. Areas classified as “melt” (dark pink) correspond to sites where two or three satellites detected melting.

In the images above, areas classified as “probable melt” (light pink) correspond to sites where at least one satellite detected surface melting. Areas classified as “melt” (dark pink) correspond to sites where two or three satellites detected melting.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Along with an unusual constellation of low clouds, changes the jet stream were also a factor in last summer’s exceptional surface melt of the Greenland Ice Sheet, according to a research team led by the University of Sheffield’s geography professor Edward Hanna.

A NOAA study published in March indicated that a lingering layer of thin, low clouds helped intensify atmospheric conditions leading to the meltdown.

Hanna and his colleagues used a computer model simulation (called SnowModel) and satellite data to confirm that last summer’s meltdown was unprecedented in the past 50 years. About 90 percent of the ice-sheet surface melted July 11, far surpassing the previous known surface melt extent record of 52 percent in 2010. Continue reading

Can air pollution shift rain bands and cause drought?

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Lake Chad in 2001 is just a fraction of its normal size, surround by the drylands of the Sahel region in this NASA Earth Observatory image acquired by the MODIS satellite.

Research suggests far-reaching link between industrial emissions and climate

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A decades-long drought in central Africa may have been caused by air pollution from industrial sources in the northern hemisphere. The drought peaked in the mid-1980s, as Lake Chad nearly dried up and researchers initially pointed to over-grazing and poor agricultural practices as the main cause.

But new research from the University of Washington suggests that aerosols emanating from coal-burning factories in the United States and Europe during the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s cooled the entire Northern Hemisphere, shifting tropical rain bands south of their average position. Continue reading

Global warming: Study helps quantify how much Alaska’s melting glaciers contribute to sea level rise

Research aims to fine-tune sea-level rise projections

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The Columbia Glacier in Alaska is one of the most rapidly changing glaciers in the world. Visit this NASA Earth Observatory web page for more information.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — As part of a global study of melting glaciers and rising sea level, two University of Alaska Fairbanks geophysicists helped compile a global inventory of glaciers, with a focus on Alaska.

Before the study, only about 40 percent of Alaska’s glaciers were inventoried. The two researchers, Anthony Arendt and Regine Hock, concluded that Alaska remains one of the top contributors to global sea level. Continue reading

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