Swallowed by rising seas

Sea level rise is very real in western Louisiana

Coastal forests in Louisiana are being drowned as the ground sinks and sea level rises. @bberwyn photo.
Coastal flooding is nearly a daily reality in parts of Louisiana. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Big chunks of Louisiana’s coast will be swallowed by the sea within decades unless there’s a major effort to rebuild wetlands. Over the last six to 10 years, sea level has been rising about .5 inches per year on average in the region, according to Tulane University researchers, who recently published a new study in the journal Nature Communications .

“In the Mississippi Delta, about 65 percent of study sites are probably still keeping pace, but in the westernmost part of coastal Louisiana, more than 60 percent of sites are on track to drown,” said Tulane geology professor Torbjörn E. Törnqvist, a co-author of the study. Continue reading “Swallowed by rising seas”

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Sunday set: Riverside

Donau scenes

The Danube is one of the world’s great rivers, carrying much of the northern Alps snowmelt to the sea and weaving a thread of culture and history from southern Germany through Austria and the Balkans to the Black Sea. These pics show just a short slice of the stream, between Linz and Vienna, but you can find more travel pics in the Summit Voice archives, as well as landscape and nature prints for sale at our online gallery.

Is global warming changing the Southwest monsoon?

Study shows more intense but less frequent storms

Monsoon precipitation is an important part of the water cycle in the dry western half of the U.S. so climate scientists are trying to figure out global warming will affect the pattern. @bberwyn photo.

An international research team says monsoon storms in the Southwest have become less frequent but more intense, bringing more extreme wind and rain to central and southwestern Arizona than just a few decades ago.

The study, led by scientists with the University of Arizona, compared precipitation records from 1950 to 1970 with data from the 1991-2010 period to verify their climate model, scaled down to capture changes at a resolution of 1.5 square miles. At that level of detail the changes over time became apparent, while models using a 10 square mile grid aren’t able to accurately recreate the precipitation trends. Continue reading “Is global warming changing the Southwest monsoon?”

Glacial retreat affects river flows and aquifers

Study tracks underground flows of water from melting ice

Alaska’s Susitna Glacier revealed some of its long, grinding journey when the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite passed overhead on Aug. 27, 2009. Photo via NASA Earth Observatory.

Staff Report

Glaciers are not only important sources of surface water, they also help recharge  aquifers as they melt. That role in replenishing underground water reservoirs has been quantified in a new study published recently in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

The research was done in Alaska, where both scientists and residents are reporting increased river discharges in summer and winter. The changes in flowes have implications on river travel throughout the year and impact sea ice growth and nutrient exports to Arctic Ocean coastal waters. Continue reading “Glacial retreat affects river flows and aquifers”

Europe needs to balance renewable energy development

More windpower needed in southern Europe

More windpower is needed in central and eastern Europe to balance the grid. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

The best renewable energy strategy for Europe would include coordinated planning for development of wind power. Currently, many countries are pursuing unilateral national strategies that neglect the benefits of regional planning. Continue reading “Europe needs to balance renewable energy development”

Sunday set: Out in the fields

Nature respite

There’s a perception that Austria is a densely populated country, especially if your main impression comes from visiting tourist centers like Vienna or Salzburg. But in reality, the country ranks about in the middle of EU countries in terms of density, at 97 people per square kilometer. That’s a little higher than Greece (81) but lower than, for example, Italy (192). That means there are some wide open spaces outside the population centers, including the sparsely populated Waldviertel region, north and west of Vienna, extending toward the border with Czechia. We captured a few landscape images in the region during a visit to the famed poppy fields, highlighted in last week’s photo essay.

Mercury pollution worsens in remote Arctic realms

A USGS study will try to determine how global warming will affect polar bear populations.

Coal power plants still to blame for emitting most of the toxic mercury pollution

Staff Report

Mercury continues to build up in Arctic ecosystems at levels that threaten the health and well-being of people, wildlife and waterways in the region.

A new study that looks at the sources of the toxic metal shows that airborne mercury is gathering in the Arctic tundra, where it gets deposited in the soil and ultimately runs off into waters. Scientists have long reported high levels of mercury pollution in the Arctic. The new research identifies gaseous mercury as its major source and sheds light on how the element gets there. Continue reading “Mercury pollution worsens in remote Arctic realms”