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Climate: July global temps 6th-warmest on record

Year-to-date readings also rank as 6th-warmest

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A NASA global temperature map for July shows the widespread pattern of above-average land and sea surface temperatures.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The global temperature for July 2013 was 1.10 degrees (all temperatures in Fahrenheit) above the 20th century average, making it the sixth-warmest July on record, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

Nearly every part of Earth reported temperatures well above average with the exception of a few pockets, notably the southeastern and central U.S. and parts of India.

The year to date (January-July) is also ranked as the sixth-warmest on record, with the global land surface temperatures running 1.73 degrees above the 20th century average. Continue reading

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Global warming: Study finds greenhouse gas fingerprints all over Australia’s record-breaking summer heatwave

Heat-trapping gases increase likelihood of extreme weather

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Australian researchers say there’s a 90 percent chance that unprecedented summer heat was linked with human-caused changes in the atmosphere.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Australia’s January heatwave pushed “the limits of previous temperature extremes,” and now, climate scientists are saying they’re more than 90 percent sure that human influences on the atmosphere dramatically increased the likelihood of the extreme summer heat.

Climate scientists have long been saying that global warming loads the climate dice to increase the odds of extreme weather, particularly extreme heat, but they’ve been reluctant to attribute any single event to human-caused climate change.

The findings were announced just as the southwestern U.S. was starting to experience a persistent heatwave that is expected to result in some all-time record temperatures in the region.

The research led by the University of Melbourne shows that global warming caused by heat-trapping greenhouse gases  increases the odds of more record-hot temperatures at least fivefold. The research also suggests that the greenhouse gas fingerprint overpowers, at least in some cases, the influence of the Pacific El Niño-La Niña cycle. Continue reading

Study tracks global persistence of flame retardant chemicals

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The Global Atmosphere Passive Sampling Network helps trace patterns of pollution around the Earth.

Traces of toxins found in remote locations around the planet

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The persistence of certain pollutants has long been well-known and was perhaps most poignantly described in Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Now it turns out that some pollutants not only linger for a long time in the environment; they can be incredibly widespread.

Researchers with the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs say they’ve tracked chemicals used in flame retardants around the globe, including remote sites in Indonesia, Nepal and Tasmania.

Exposure to the compounds has been associated with thyroid and other endocrine system disruption and with adverse neurological development. As a result, the production and use of certain flame retardants has been restricted in North America and the European Union.

“These findings illustrate further that flame retardants are ubiquitous pollutants and are found all around the world, not only in biota and humans but also in plants,” said researcher Amina Salamova, who co-authored  the study with Ronald A. Hites. Continue reading

Climate: All-time record temps, wildfires in Australia

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Summer heatwave sets records in Australia.

100 homes destroyed in Tasmania

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Parts of southern Australia have recorded all-time high temperatures readings in the past few days, and the heat wave has led to numerous wildfires, including blazes in Tasmania that have destroyed about 100 homes.

Hobart, Tasmania reported a high temperature of 108 degrees Friday, the warmest reading ever on the island south of Australia, with records going back to 1880.

Temperatures across much of Australia were in the 90s and 100s during the first part of the weekend, and wildfires are also burning in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. Two wet years in a row, followed by this summer’s heatwave, have combined for dangerous fire conditions, officials said. Continue reading

Global warming drives dramatic changes in ocean currents

Changes in global wind patterns have pushed the East Australian Current southward and warmed temperatures in the ocean off Tasmania by several degrees in the past few decades. (NASA SATELLITE IMAGE)

Researchers see a global pattern of emerging  hotspots as currents migrate toward poles

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — An ever-expanding network of sensitive measuring devices, including ocean buoys is enabling researchers to get a better handle on the magnitude and scale of global climate change, including a patterned emergence of ocean hotspots alongside currents that wash the east coast of the major continents.

The warming in those areas far exceeds the average rate of ocean warming, according to research published the journal Nature Climate Change this week.

“We would expect natural change in the oceans over decades or centuries but change with such elevated sea surface temperatures in a growing number of locations and in a synchronised manner was definitely not expected,” said  Dr. Wenju Cai, of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Continue reading

Global warming displacing Australian fish

Australian researchers say they've documented global warming impacts on 43 fish species. Photo from the Wikimedia Commons.

Southeastern Australia a climate change hot spot, with shifting currents and significant increases in water temps

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Warm-water fish around Australia are moving southward to colonize the cool, temperate waters of the Tasman Sea, according to Australian researchers who recently concluded that as many as 43 species are showing shifts thought to be related to global warming. The changes are affecting about 30 percent of the inshore fish families in the region.

The scientists with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) scoured published accounts, scientific surveys, records from spearfishing and angling competitions, as well as tallies of commercial catches and underwater photographic records from the late 1800s to the present.

“Increased water temperatures in the Tasman Sea are likely to have a cascading effect through local marine ecosystems.” said Dr. Peter Last, curator of the Australian National Fish Collection. “Furthermore, up to 19 species, or 5 per cent, of Tasmanian coastal fish fauna have undergone serious declines or are possibly extinct locally,” Last said. Continue reading

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