Category: climate and weather

EPA stops work on airline emissions standards

Air travel accounts for one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas pollution. @bberwyn photo.

Agency’s move could violate federal environmental laws

Staff Report

A little more than a year after determining that greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft are a threat to public health, the EPA has stopped working on developing new standards for the air industry.

That’s not surprising, given that the Trump administration has sought to undermine nearly every rule set to limit heat-trapping pollution, but environmental advocates with the Center for Biological Diversity want to know more about the latest step backward by the EPA. Continue reading “EPA stops work on airline emissions standards”

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Western fires take toll on water supplies

Erosion a huge factor as burned areas grow

A wildfire burns in Texas. Photo via U.S. Forest Service.

Staff Report

The growth of wildfires in the West could double the amount of sediment moving through the region’s rivers, U.S. Geological researchers found in a new study. Increased sediments can affect both water quality and the amount of water available for communities.

The USGS scientists analyzed a collection of climate, fire and erosion models for 471 large watersheds throughout the western U.S. They found that by 2050, the amount of sediment in more than one-third of watersheds could at least double. In nearly nine-tenths of the watersheds, sedimentation is projected to increase by more than 10 percent.

Continue reading “Western fires take toll on water supplies”

Sunday set: Saving lakes

Acting now could help protect lakes from global warming

Had a chance to explore some of Austria’s most beautiful lakes this summer, and spent time talking to scientists about how they will be affected by global warming. As it turns out, there are a few thing we can do to try protect them from climate change impacts, but we have to act now, and in the hope that we can tackle the larger problem in the near future by drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But in the short-term, protecting lakes from pollution, making sure their source waters are clean and cool and trying to protect groundwater that feeds into lakes can help make them more resilient to climate change. In some cases, fisheries managers should probably be thinking about trying to create climate sanctuaries for some species, and regular monitoring, linked with adaptive management, can also help control impacts. Read my story for Deutsche Welle to learn more.

Can volcanoes overheat the Earth?

A geyser in Iceland is part of the Central Atlantic rift system where volcanic activity may have caused an extreme global warmup about 56 million years ago. @bberwyn photo.

Study says ancient extreme global warming event was caused by C02 buildup from massive eruptions

Staff Report

The role of volcanoes on Earth’s climate is complex. It’s well known that aerosol particles from eruptions like Mt. St. Helens can cool temperatures by blocking a small part of the sun’s energy, but a new study suggests that an extreme global warming event about 56 million years ago was caused by massive volcanic C02 emissions.

The research, led by the University of Southampton found evidence that atmospheric C02 doubled within a relatively short period of time, on the geological scale, resulting in a global temperature spike that drove mass extinctions. The eruptions happened during formation of the Atlantic Ocean, according to the study published in the journal Nature. Continue reading “Can volcanoes overheat the Earth?”

How will global warming affect wood frogs?

Study documents nuanced response

Scientists took a close look at how wood frogs are trying to survive global warming. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

A far-ranging study of wood frogs have found that the bog-breeding amphibians could be vulnerable to global warming at the southern edge of their range, and that the population could shift northward, similar to many other species.

But the research, covering more than 740 wood frog populations in 27 different areas, also showed some nuance in the response to climate change. That makes it hard to determine which species and which populations are in danger of declining or disappearing, according to researcher David Miller, assistant professor of wildlife population ecology at Penn State.Local and regional precipitation trends are nearly as important as temperature in determining the fate of many animals, he explained, and that’s especially true with moisture-sensitive creatures such as amphibians. Continue reading “How will global warming affect wood frogs?”

Eastern U.S. most vulnerable to future harmful algal blooms

New modeling shows where global warming will increase cyanobacteria

Blue-green algae that sometimes produce toxins thrive as global warming heats up lakes, ponds and reservoirs. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Scientists say it’s all but certain that global warming will increase potentially threatening outbreaks of freshwater algae that can produce toxins dangerous to people and animals.

A team lead by Tufts University researcher Steven C. Chapra has developed a modeling framework showing harmful algal blooms will increase the most in the northeastern region of the U.S. but that the biggest economic impact will be felt in the Southeast, where waters important for recreation will probably take a big hit.

The research, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, is part of larger, ongoing efforts among scientists to quantify and monetize the degree to which climate change will impact and damage various U.S. sectors. Continue reading “Eastern U.S. most vulnerable to future harmful algal blooms”

We’re losing the global warming poker game

Greenhouse gases tilt odds toward record warmth

June 2017 was another near-record warm month around the globe.

Staff Report

It’s highly unlikely Earth would have seen a three-year run of record global temperatures without its blanket of human-caused greenhouse gases, scientists concluded in a new study that tried to pin down the relationship between record warmth and human-caused global warming.

Without the warming effect of carbon dioxide, methane and other heat-trapping pollutants, there’s only a 0.03 percent chance that there would be three consecutive years of record temperatures; when the warming effects of greenhouse gases are added into the equatio, the odds of three consecutive record-breaking years happening any time since 2000 rises to as high as 50 percent, according to the new study. Continue reading “We’re losing the global warming poker game”