Posted on October 30, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A diverse coral reef in the U.S. Virgin Islands. PHOTO BY CAROLINE ROGERS/USGS.
Genetic adaptations may enable some species to persist in warmer oceans
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Some coral reefs may be able to adapt to warming seas through genetic adaptation — but only if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced dramatically, according to scientists who took a hard look at the rate of coral bleaching.
The study projects that some corals could reduce the currently projected rate of temperature-induced bleaching by 20 to 80 percent of levels expected by the year 2100, giving hope that some corals can survive through the end of the century.
“The hope this work brings is only achieved if there is significant reduction of human-related emissions of heat-trapping gases,” said Mark Eakin, Ph.D., who serves as director of the NOAA Coral Reef Watch monitoring program, which tracks bleaching events worldwide. “Adaptation provides no significant slowing in the loss of coral reefs if we continue to increase our rate of fossil fuel use.” (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, coral reefs, Environment, global warming | Tagged: climate change adaptation, coral reefs, global warming, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, oceans | Leave a Comment »
Posted on October 18, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Cooler Pacific Ocean temps may drive tornado activity into southern U.S.
A tornado near Lakeview, Texas. Photo courtesy NOAA.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — After studying more than 56,000 tornados, researchers at the University of Missouri say they’ve found a clear link between Pacific Ocean sea surface temperatures and the patterns of storms that spawn the violent twisters. The findings could help scientists predict the type and location of tornado activity in the U.S.
When surface sea temperatures were warmer than average, the U.S. experienced 20.3 percent more tornadoes that were rated EF-2 to EF-5 on the Enhanced Fuijta (EF) scale. (The EF scale rates the strength of tornados based on the damage they cause. The scale has six category rankings from zero to five.)
“Differences in sea temperatures influence the route of the jet stream as it passes over the Pacific and, eventually, to the United States,” said Laurel McCoy, an atmospheric science graduate student at the MU School of Natural Resources. “Tornado-producing storms usually are triggered by, and will follow, the jet stream. This helps explain why we found a rise in the number of tornadoes and a change in their location when sea temperatures fluctuated.” (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, La Niña | Tagged: climate, extreme weather, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Pacific Decadal Oscillation, Sea surface temperature, tornadoes | Leave a Comment »
Posted on September 5, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Penguins could be a species prone to an ecological tipping point. bberwyn photo.
Ecosystem collapses could also have serious economic and social consequences
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — One of the biggest concerns raised by the rapid rise in global temperatures the past few decades is that some ecosystems may reach an environmental tipping point, from beyond which there is no recovery.
It’s hard to predict where those tipping points are and when they might be reached, but a team of scientists with NOAA Fisheries, University of California at Santa Barbara, Stanford University, and Environmental Defense Fund wants to know if it’s at least possible to detect early warning signs in the world’s oceans.
The Ocean Tipping Points Project includes scientists and other experts from NOAA Fisheries, University of California at Santa Barbara, Stanford University, and Environmental Defense Fund. The Project is just getting off the ground with a recent $3.1 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, Environment, global warming, ocean acidification | Tagged: climate change, ecological tipping points, ecosystems, Environmental Defense Fund, global warming, Haida Gwaii, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Stanford University | Leave a Comment »
Posted on August 17, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Climate experts outline weather extremes across the U.S.
By Bob Berwyn
After years of persistent drought across big swaths of contiguous 48 states, the weather picture changed dramatically in 2012. Instead of dealing with parched ground, farmers in the Southeast weren’t able to harvest crops this summer because of standing water in the fields.
Mold and fungal diseases were reported across the region, particularly on crops such as corn, tomatoes and peanuts. The excess moisture has degraded the quality and flavor of many crops, including watermelons, tobacco, and peaches. Flooded soil has hampered the growth of cotton and corn, with damage from excess moisture expected to cost billions, The National Climatic Data Center reported this week in its July update. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought, flooding, seasons | Tagged: climate, drought, extreme weather, flooding, National Climatic Data Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | 1 Comment »
Posted on July 19, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Many northern hemisphere land areas reported near-record warmth
Most areas of the globe reported temperatures running well above the 20th century average during June 2013.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — The Globally averaged land and sea surface temperature was 1.15 degrees above the 20th century average, tying with 2006 as the fifth-warmest on record, according to the National Climatic Data Center monthly summary report released this week.
The average land-surface temperature was even warmer. At 1.89 degrees above average, it was the third-warmest June on record over the world’s land areas. Record-setting warmth was reported from many locations in northern Canada, far northwestern Russia, southern Japan, the Philippines, part of southwestern China, and central southern Africa.
The year to-date is also running hot, tied with 2003 as the seventh-warmest January to June period on record, with a combined global land and ocean average surface temperature that was 1.06 degrees above the 20th century average. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, El Niño, Environment, global warming, La Niña | Tagged: climate change, global climate, global warming, Instrumental temperature record, June 2013 global temperatures, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Sea surface temperature | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 23, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Hurricane Sandy near peak strength on Oct. 25, 2012. Photo courtesy NOAA.
Feds say now is the time to get ready
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Federal weather experts said they are expected an above-average to active Atlantic Hurricane season this summer, urging residents of coastal and near-coastal areas in the southeastern U.S. to start preparing now.
Based on a combination of climate factors, NOAA predicted as many as 13 to 20 named storms, with seven to 11 of them developing into full-fledged hurricanes and potentially three to six major hurricanes with winds of more than 100 mph.
Factors involved in the forecast include a continuation of overall climate conditions that have resulted in an active pattern since the mid-1990s: Above average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic and ENSO-neutral conditions in the Pacific which leads to less windshear, lower air pressure and overall atmospheric circulation that’s more conducive to hurricane formation. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment | Tagged: 2013 hurricane forecast, Atlantic hurricanes, Climate Prediction Center, hurricanes, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, Tropical cyclone | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 22, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
New study measures effects of entanglement
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Stray fishing gear has long been a problem in the ocean, and a new collaborative study shows exactly how whales struggle when they get wrapped up in abandoned lines. By carefully tracking tangled whales, the scientists documented how the predicament hinders whales’ ability to eat and migrate, depletes their energy as they drag gear for months or years, and can result in a slow death. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: endangered species, marine conservation, Marine mammal, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, North Atlantic right whales, oceans | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 17, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Wet, cool spring brings relief to Midwest
The most severe areas of drought encompass parts of the central-southern plains, spreading southwest into parts of Colorado and New Mexico.
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Drought woes have eased in the Midwest after a wet spring, but the far West, California in particular, are facing continued dry conditions. California has reported its driest year to-date on record, with only 27 percent of normal precipitation for January through April. That doesn’t bode well for the state’s water supplies, although at least reservoir storage is close to normal in California.
New Mexico and Nevada are in bad shape when it comes to reservoir storage and there’s little relief in sight at the end of the snow season. Forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said dry soil conditions in the southwest could contribute to higher than average temperatures this summer. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought, La Niña, Uncategorized | Tagged: California, climate, drought, ENSO, La Niña, National Climatic Data Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, New Mexico | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 15, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Cirrus cloud study helps inform climate predictions.
Composition of seed material suggests human activity could be a significant factor
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Mineral dust and metallic aerosols are the key seeding agents for the formation of high-altitude cirrus clouds, which cover nearly a third of the globe at any given time. Often forming more than 10 miles up, cirrus clouds can cool the planet by reflecting solar radiation, and warm it, by trapping heat like a blanket.
A nine-year study of cirrus clouds using using instruments aboard high-altitude research aircraft is helping scientists get a better handle on the mechanisms driving cirrus cloud formation, and that, in turn, could help scientists predict future climate patterns. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: airborne dust, cirrus clouds, climate, cloud formation, Earth System Research Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mineral dust, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | 2 Comments »
Posted on May 1, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Humpback whales breaching in the Northwest Atlantic. Photo courtesy NEFSC/NOAA.
Acoustic research breakthroughs could help inform conservation efforts
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Breakthrough software is enabling scientists to better analyze humpback whale songs. For the first time, researchers have provided the a detailed description linking humpback whale movements to acoustic behavior on a feeding ground in the Northwest Atlantic.
“We have monitored and acoustically recorded whale sounds for years, and are now able to ‘mine’ these data using new computer software applications and methods, “ said Sofie Van Parijs, who heads the passive acoustics group at the Woods Hole Laboratory of NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: Gulf of Maine, humpback whales, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, ocean conservation, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, whale songs | Leave a Comment »