Category: climate and weather

Sunday set: Global change

Travel a little, learn a lot

This set includes illustrations for some of my most recent stories in various environmental and climate news publications and if you’re a regular Summit Voice reader who is not on Twitter or Instagram, I’m providing a few links here.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how some of Greenlands coastal glaciers already passed passed a climate change tipping point about 20 years ago. Because of the physical processes of snowmelt and runoff, these glaciers are going to disappear even if global greenhouse gas emissions are cut to zero immediately. You can read the story here.

For Pacific Standard, I put together an environmental photo essay on bumblebees, some of the most important pollinators of wildflowers, especially in mountain regions and also in the far north. Bumblebees are important because they are cold-tolerant, so they’re out and about visiting early blooms while other pollinators are dormant. They’ll also fly long distances to visit a single flower. Without them, some species would go extinct. Check out the photo essay here.

You might have seen the recent Summit Voice story on beach erosion and how it’s going to wash away some world famous surf spots along the California coast, and in other areas where coastal strands are ringed by mountains, but if you missed it, you can see it here.

I also wrote about the annual Austrian glacier report for Deutsche Welle, a great global news organization that really does in-depth environmental and climate reporting. You can visit the DW website here, or follow them on Twitter for a daily feed. And my story on the dwindling glaciers is here.

Finally, in a critical story for Colorado and the rest of the West, I reported on how we are losing the war on wildfires and how we need to change our way of thinking about forests and fires in an era of rapid climate change. The story is online at Pacific Standard.

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Sea level rise overwhelming some coral reefs

A sea turtle swims lazily along a coral reef in Hawaii, trailed by tropical fish. (Photo by Kosta Stamoulis, courtesy Oregon State University via Flickr.)

Seafloor erosion outpacing expectations

Staff Report

Coral reefs aren’t just threatened by pollution, ocean acidification and over-heated ocean temperatures. In some places they are being undermined by erosion of the seafloor, U.S. Geological Survey scientists said in a new study that looked at reefs in Florida, the Caribbean and Hawaii.

In the five study sites, the reefs can’t keep pace with sea level rise. As a result, coastal communities protected by the reefs are facing increased risks from storms, waves and erosion.

The degradation of reefs and the subsiding seafloor go hand-in-hand, as sand and other sea floor materials have eroded over the past few decades. In the waters around Maui, the sea floor losses amounted to 81 million cubic meters of sand, rock and other material – about what it would take to fill up the Empire State Building 81 times, the researchers calculated.  Continue reading “Sea level rise overwhelming some coral reefs”

Rising sea level threatens Southern California beaches

Without expensive measures, some strands will vanish by 2100

Dusk surfing sessions at many Southern California beaches are at risk from sea level rise. @bberwyn photo.
Surfing El Granada in central California. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Scientists are warily watching the impacts of rising sea levels along the world’s coastlines, where a high percentage of the global population lives and works. In some areas — especially narrow strands are pinned between the open ocean and coastal mountains, beaches may vanish by 2100 as higher waves and bigger storm surges wash away the precious sand.

Even with efforts to bolster them, between 31 percent and 67 percent of Southern California beaches may be completely eroded, scientists said this month after using a new climate model to calculate the effects of 3 to 6 feet of sea level rise. Continue reading “Rising sea level threatens Southern California beaches”

Survey shows very little climate skepticism in Europe

Widespread support for climate action in 4 major European countries

The average global temperature spiked to yet another record in March 2016.

Planet Earth experienced its second-warmest March on record. Map via NASA.

Staff Report

More than eight out of 10 people in the UK, France, Germany and Norway believe that the world’s climate is changing, and a similar proportion think that it is at least partly caused by human activity, according to a recent scientific survey conducted by European researchers.

The survey of more than 4,000 members of the public explored opinions on climate change, climate policy and future energy options. It showed that a wide majority also  support a range of different measures to combat climate change. Continue reading “Survey shows very little climate skepticism in Europe”

Alaska’s senators want more offshore drilling in Arctic waters

GOP assault on the environment continues

Alaska’s GOP senators say drill, baby drill in waters off their state’s north coast.

Staff Report

Environmental protections are under attack on every front and the far North is no exception. Alaska’s senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, both Republicans, appear willing to risk fragile ocean environments for a few more petrodollars, so they’ve opportunistically introduced a bill that would expand oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Ocean and Cook Inlet, where a recent gas leak persisted for several months, according to InsideClimate News.

Senate Bill 883 seeks to reverse protections established by President Obama in Dec. 2016 and force the Department of the Interior to quickly approve new oil and gas leasing.

“It’s not possible to drill safely in the Arctic, as we just saw from the leaking oil and gas well on the North Slope,” said Miyoko Sakashita, ocean programs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This legislation’s nothing more than a giveaway to oil companies. It’ll hurt Alaska’s healthy habitat and endangered wildlife.” Continue reading “Alaska’s senators want more offshore drilling in Arctic waters”

EPA chief sued for ‘spouting deceptive climate pseudo-science’

EPA staff concerned about possible data purge

The EPA website clearly discloses how greenhouse gases affect the climate.

Staff Report

EPA administrator Scott Pruitt may have to back up his false claims on greenhouse gases and climate change in court. A lawsuit filed April 13 by the watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility wants the agency head to show studies backing up his statements that call into question the role of CO2 emissions in global warming. The lawsuit also seeks to determine whether EPA possesses a single study that supports Mr. Pruitt’s stance.  Continue reading “EPA chief sued for ‘spouting deceptive climate pseudo-science’”

Atlantic Ocean warmth melts sea ice from below

Mixing waters may hasten arrival of ice-free Arctic Ocean summers

Arctic sea ice
Arctic sea ice is being melted by intrusions of warmer Atlantic Ocean water. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

In yet another sign that the balance of Earth’s climate system is being perturbed by global warming, scientists are documenting how a steady intrusion of water from the Atlantic is undermining sea ice in the Arctic Ocean.

The research, led by Igor Polyakov, a professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks International Arctic Research Center, shows that the relatively warm  Atlantic Ocean water is a surprisingly powerful contributor to Arctic sea ice decline. Continue reading “Atlantic Ocean warmth melts sea ice from below”