Category: climate and weather

Bonn climate talks end on a hopeful note

We’ll always have Paris … @bberwyn photo.

Despite Trump, world moves toward renewable energy

By Bob Berwyn

The world committed to taking action on climate change in Paris, and now, all the countries that signed on to the agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius are figuring exactly how that will happen, and how they will hold each other accountable.

U.S. climate policy is in question now, and the political changes definitely featured in the Bonn discussions, but didn’t dominate the proceedings. Some of the international climate negotiators recognized that the world is a dynamic place and that some national policies will come and go. But that won’t stop the world from moving ahead with ambitious climate plans. other experts discussed how the U.S. could hamper the global effort, while others said the U.S. should remain in the agreement, but not at any cost. For the sake of the rest of the world, the agreement should not be weakened. Read more in this report from Bonn.

Some of the most hopeful news from Bonn was that China and India are quickly shifting to a renewable energy economy. That will not only help those countries reduce their significant emissions, but will also drive a global shift by reducing the price for renewable energy to the point where it will quickly become the cheapest option. Even the U.S. reported a drop in greenhouse gas emissions the past few years, primarily because of the switch from coal to natural gas. American envoy Trigg Talley faced polite but insistent and pointed questioning during a disclosure session. Read the details in this story.

It all matters because for the less-developed countries in the global south, climate change is an existential question. There was concern about the Trump administration’s climate stance, but also optimism. Nobody wanted to make a final judgment on U.S. policy, which seems to still be in question, but nevertheless, some of the negotiators from the world’s most vulnerable countries seemed to be responding to Trump’s statements on the Paris climate agreement and on climate policies in general:

“Without increased climate action, no country can ever be great again. We fought hard for the Paris Agreement and the 1.5-degree threshold, the threshold for our survival…. Greatness is most apparent with climate action. Failure is not an option.”

Read more in this Pacific Standard story.

Advertisements

Global warming drives more extreme rainfall

Summer rainstorm in the Rocky Mountains. @bberwyn photo.

New study pinpoints regional patterns in changes

Staff Report

Basic physics tells us a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, and that, at some point, that moisture will condense and fall as rain. That’s why climate scientists are certain that global warming will lead to more extreme rainfall, as has already been documented in various parts of the world the past few decades.

A new study now helps quantify the impact of warming and also reveals regional patterns that will help people prepare. According to the researchers with MIT and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, the most extreme rain events in most regions of the world will increase in intensity by 3 to 15 percent, depending on region, for every degree Celsius that the planet warms. Continue reading “Global warming drives more extreme rainfall”

Sunday set: Spring greens

Verdant …


While most people picture majestic, glacier-clad crags when they think of the Alps, the great European mountain range has a softer side at its far eastern edge, where the mountains gradually taper off toward the Danube Valley, just west of Vienna. The temperate climate in these foothills is perfect for apple and pear trees, growing so prolifically that there’s and entire district dedicated to the production of tasty cider. And in the famed Wienerwald (Vienna Woods), thick silver-barked beech trees dominate the forests. Just a bit farther south and west, the first high peaks of the Alps rise up to the summit of the Ötscher, a landmark peak surrounded by deeply carved valleys where crystal-clear aquamarine streams flow through protected landscapes like the Ötscher-Tormäuer Nature Park. In the last few weeks, the soft greens of spring burst forth in abundance in these landscapes near Austria’s first city, and we’re looking forward to more explorations this summer.

Can grizzlies survive global warming?

New study shows many bears still rely on dwindling whitebark pine seeds

An adult grizzly bear in the brush. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Staff Report

The long-term survival of grizzles in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem may depend on whether they’re willing to switch from eating whitebark pine seeds to other types food.

Some of the bears have already started responding to reductions in whitebark trees by consuming more plants and berries, while others are still focused on finding stashes of the nutritious pine nuts, scientists said in a new study based on analyzing the chemical composition of what the grizzlies eat. Continue reading “Can grizzlies survive global warming?”

How does global warming affect flows in the Rio Grande?

New study to help water planners in changing climate

A 2016 Landsat 8 image of the Lower Rio Grande canyons courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

Staff Report

There are more and more signs that global warming triggered a step-change in many natural systems in the 1980s. A new study, led by scientists with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, tracked a big change in flows in the Rio Grande watershed, a key source of water in New Mexico and Texas.

According to the study, the percentage of precipitation that becomes streamflow in the Upper Rio Grande watershed has fallen more steeply than at any point in at least 445 years.

In another recent study, European researchers showed how major lakes across Central Europe warmed dramatically starting about that same time, and the meltdown of Arctic ice has also accelerated rapidly since then. Continue reading “How does global warming affect flows in the Rio Grande?”

Antarctica is melting all over

No ice build-up in East Antarctica, new study says

Antarctica permafrost
Antarctica is melting all over. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Despite some suggestions that increased has bolstered the vast East Antarctic ice sheet, it appears the frozen continent is still shedding ice and has been a net contributor to sea level rise since at least 2003.

There’s been little doubt during the last decade that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has been losing mass, but the picture has been much less clear to the east, where there’s enough ice to raise global sea level by some 50 meters. One study led by NASA researchers in 2015 suggested that this part of Antarctica was gaining so much mass that it compensated for the losses in the west. Continue reading “Antarctica is melting all over”

April ends up as second-warmest on record for Earth

Will El Niño re-emerge?

The Copernicus Climate Change Service says April 2017 was the second-warmest April on record.

Staff Report
European climate trackers say that April extended a stretch of exceptionally warm global weather going back to mid-2015. The warmth peaked in February 2016 at the height of Pacific Ocean El Niño, then gradually dropped off through June. But in July and August 2016 global temperatures surged upward once again and have stayed high since, according to the latest update from the Copernicus Climate Change Service.

February and March 2017 were the most anomalous months since April 2016. April 2017 was less extreme, but the average global temperature was still 0.51 degrees Celsius warmer than the average between 1981 and 2010 and the second-warmest April on record for the planet. Continue reading “April ends up as second-warmest on record for Earth”