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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

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Study: Long-term sea level rise is inevitable

‘Continuous sea-level rise is something we cannot avoid …’

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Long-term sea level rise is inevitable

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Sea level rise is here to stay, according to researchers with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, who recently published a study combining evidence from early Earth’s climate history with comprehensive computer simulations using physical models of all four major contributors to long-term global sea-level rise.

The results show a slow but inexorable rise — less than six feet by the end of this century — but the rate will increase as melting Antarctic and Greenland ice become bigger factors. Based on the Earth’s climate history, the long-term outlook is pretty clear. When CO2 levels were comparable to current values, the Earth was much warmer and sea levels were much higher. Continue reading

Climate: Better El Niño forecasting ahead?

Early warning could help regional preparedness efforts

A new climate model could help project El Niño conditions a year in advance.

A new climate model could help project El Niño conditions a year in advance.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Forecasting the emergence of El Niño well in advance has long been a goal of climate scientists and a team of German researchers say they may have devised a model that extends the lead time to a year.

Published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, their paper describes how the model uses high-quality data of air temperatures as the basis for making long-term projections about El Niño, a warm phase of a periodic Pacific Ocean cycle that affects climate and weather around the world.

“Enhancing the preparedness of people in the affected regions by providing more early-warning time is key to avoiding some of the worst effects of El Niño,” said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, who co-authored the paper with Josef Ludescher, of Justus-Liebig Universität Giessen. Continue reading

Climate: Study focuses on Asian monsoon impacts

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Unusually heavy monsoon rains inundated parts of the Indian subcontinent in Aug. 2010, documented in the NASA Earth Observatory map.

Increased variability could increase impacts to vulnerable regions

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Regions affected by the Asian monsoon are heavily dependent on the seasonal rains for crop production, and are also extremely susceptible to impacts from the torrential downpours, so climate scientists have looked hard at how global warming will affect the pattern.

According to new research from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the daily variability of the Indian monsoon may very well increase. Continue reading

UN Security Council eyes climate change challenges

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Rising temperatures raise a host of global security issues.

Global security threatened by rising sea levels, shifts in weather patterns

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — For only the third time, the UN Security Council will discuss climate change risks this week (Feb. 15) at a special meeting convened at the request of the UK and Pakistan.

The high-level meeting will include a briefing from Hans Joachim Schellhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Other speakers include Tony DeBrum, Minister-in-assistance to the President of the Marshall Islands, Rachel Kyte, Vice President of Sustainable Development at the World Bank, and Gyan Acharya, Under-Secretary General and High Representative of the least developed countries.

Some of the issues to be debated are climate change impacts on food security, sustaining cooperative management of freshwater supply in the face of glacial melting and reduced runoff, and possible large-scale displacements of people across borders. The meeting could help to firmly establish climate change as a security issue on the Council’s agenda. Continue reading

Climate: Study shows systematic increase in heat waves

‘Most monthly heat records are due to climate change. The science is clear that only a small fraction would have occurred naturally’

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By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Monthly temperature extremes have become five to 10 times more frequent as a result of global warming, according to a new statistical study from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the Complutense University of Madrid.

On average, there are now five times as many record-breaking hot months worldwide than could be expected without long-term global warming,and in parts of Europe, Africa and southern Asia the number of monthly records has increased even by a factor of 10.

“The last decade brought unprecedented heat waves; for instance in the US in 2012, in Russia in 2010, in Australia in 2009, and in Europe in 2003,” said lead-author Dim Coumou, describing the paper that was published in the journal Climatic Change. “Heat extremes are causing many deaths, major forest fires, and harvest losses – societies and ecosystems are not adapted to ever new record-breaking temperatures.” 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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