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Climate: Study sheds new light on Antarctic sea ice expansion

Growth in sea ice may be slower than reported

The water in the Antarctic Sound can be smooth as glass, and sometimes look thick and oily, probably because it's so cold. Click on the photo to learn about some of the environmental issues in Antarctica.

Scientists are puzzling over the expansion of Antarctic sea ice. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Global warming deniers have long been using the observed expansion of Antarctic sea ice as a way to try and confuse the public about the reality of global warming, but some new research by scientists with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California San Diego suggests the rate of expansion is not as dramatic as reported.

The findings, published in The Cryosphere (European Geosciences Union) acknowledge that there has been some expansion recently, but that some of the reported ice gain may be due to inconsistencies in computer models used to measure Antarctic sea ice. Continue reading

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Climate: ‘We need to move away from business as usual’

Curbing global warming will require big cuts in greenhouse gases

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March 2014 temperatures were above average across most of the globe.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO —Greenhouse gas emissions continue to climb despite international attempts to curb heat-trapping gases, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in its latest climate report.

Issued Sunday in Berlin, the report shows that greenhouse gas emissions grew more quickly between 2000 and 2010 than in each of the three previous decades. Only with significant institutional, social and technological changes will humankind be able to meet its stated target of limiting warming to two degrees Celsius, the scientists wrote. Continue reading

Climate: Upcoming IPCC reports highlights need for a global carbon tax

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Can we slow our greenhouse gas emissions? A global carbon tax could help.

Ending subsidies for fossil fuel companies also high on the list

Staff Report

FRISCO — A modest carbon tax of just $0.15 per kilo could lead the world down the path of meaningful action on global warming, says a Swedish researcher who was one of the coordinating lead authors of a new report that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will present next week.

“What we need to avoid dangerous climate change is the application of strong policy instruments,” said Thomas Sterner, professor of environmental economics at the University of Gothenburg. Continue reading

Global warming: New maps show temperature and precipitation projections down to the county level

How warm will your town be at the end of the century?

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November 2013 was the warmest on record for Planet Earth.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The jury may still be out on exactly how hot the Earth will be by the end of the century, but as climate models improve, scientists are narrowing the range.

In a recent effort to show changes on a regional scale, researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey and Oregon State University created a set of maps and summaries of historical and projected temperature and precipitation changes for the 21st century, down to a county level. Find your local global warming forecast here.

The maps and summaries are based on NASA downscaling of the 33 climate models used in the fifth annual Climate Model Intercomparison Project and the current Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Report. The resulting NASA dataset is on an 800-meter grid with national coverage.  Continue reading

Report: IPCC sea level rise projection may be too low

Many experts think seas could rise 2 meters by 2100

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Sea level rise is already inundating parts of the Mississippi Delta. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Keeping sea level rise below 1 meter will require significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, a team of German and American researchers said this week after compiling the best available and most recent science.

Even with big cuts, sea level is expected to rise 40-60 centimeters by 2100 and 60-100 centimeters by 2300, according to the survey.

“While the results for the scenario with climate mitigation suggest a good chance of limiting future sea-level rise to one meter, the high emissions scenario would threaten the survival of some coastal cities and low-lying islands,” said Stefan Rahmstorf from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. 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: No slowdown in CO2 emissions in 2012

Capping temperature increase at 2 degrees is almost unattainable

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Global temperatures were well above average in Nov. 2012. Map courtesy NASA.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO —With 2012 winding down, climate scientists are taking stock of progress on controlling heat-trapping greenhouse gases, and the general conclusion is that it’s just about too late to stop the plunge off the climate cliff.

Researchers with the Global Carbon Project said in a report earlier this month that reductions required to limit global warming to the targeted 2 degrees Celsius are becoming a receding goal.

“A shift to a 2-degree Celsius pathway requires an immediate, large, and sustained global mitigation effort” said Global Carbon Project director Dr. Pep Canadell. Continue reading

Global warming: Eastern U.S. to see more heatwaves, rain

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University of Tennessee researchers say the eastern U.S. can expect more heatwaves and increased precipitation in a warming world. Image courtesy NASA.

New climate model pinpoints predictions down to the city level

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — As climate models become more sophisticated, researchers have started to fine-tune global warming impacts to the regional level, including more drought and water shortages expected in the Southwest, seasonal ice-free conditions in the Arctic, and hotter, wetter conditions in the Eastern U.S., according to a new University of Tennessee study.

The researchers, Joshua Fu, a civil and environmental engineering professor, and Yang Gao, a graduate research assistant, say heat waves will become more severe in most regions of the eastern United States and, that both the Northeast and Southeast will see a drastic increase in precipitation. Continue reading

Study confirms heating effects of greenhouse gas buildup

Doubling of CO2 likely to result in 2.2 to 4.8 degrees Celsius warming

New research helps pinpoint the amount of heating caused by greenhouse gases.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Climate scientists know that greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane trap heat in the atmosphere, but there’s still some uncertainty about how the overall system responds to varying levels of those gases.

By studying the paleoclimatic record, researchers have been able to measure relationships between past greenhouse gas increases and temperatures to some degree, and new research is helping them evaluate past climate sensitivity data to help improve comparison with estimates of long-term climate projections developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The scientists found that the likely range of climate sensitivity consistently has been of the order of 2.2 to 4.8 degrees Celsius per doubling of CO2, which closely agrees with the IPCC estimates. Continue reading

Global warming: Sea level rising much faster than forecast

Observational data is piling up and showing that sea level rise is exceeding the rate predicted by the IPCC

Glaciers and ice caps are melting, and sea level is rising even faster than forecast by the IPCC. Photos courtesy NASA. (Click the image for more information.)

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Sea levels during the past two decades are rising 60 percent faster than the general estimates made by the IPCC, according to new research published this week in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

The scientists with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Tempo Analytics and Laboratoire d’Etudes en Géophysique et Océanographie Spatiales said that, while temperature rises appear to be consistent with the projections made in the IPCC’s fourth assessment report , satellite measurements show that sea-levels are rising at a rate of 3.2 mm a year compared to the best estimate of 2 mm a year in the report.

“This study shows once again that the IPCC is far from alarmist, but in fact has under-estimated the problem of climate change,” said lead author Stefan Rahmstorf. “That applies not just for sea-level rise, but also to extreme events and the Arctic sea-ice loss.” Continue reading

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