Category: global warming

Sunday set: Meltdown

Global sea ice at record low

@bberwyn photos
It’s hard to really get your head around what it means that the Arctic ice cap is literally melting away, and perhaps even harder to imagine that massive tracts of Antarctic ice are also giving way to global warming. But the science is pretty clear: During other epochs of Earth’s geological history, at times when there were similar global temperatures and about the same amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, so much ice melted that sea level was at least 20 feet higher than today. Today’s Earth — our Earth — seems to be responding the same way. For all of December, the extent of global sea ice has set record lows every single day.  The Arctic meltdown is well documented by more than 100 years of data. Around the South Pole, more and more studies are showing warm layers of water melting large coastal slabs of ice that hold back the almost unimaginable masses of ice on the Antarctic continent. The images in this set are just snapshots, but what’s happening out there is very real. Take #climateaction now.

Northeastern U.S. warming much faster than global average

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Some parts of the U.S. are warming much faster than the global average.

Study highlights regional climate change hotpsots

By Bob Berwyn

Not all global warming is equal, according to scientists who just published new research on how some areas will warm much faster than others. The study, published in PLOS ONE, shows that the northeastern U.S. is already heating up much faster than the global average and will hit the 2 degree Celsius mark about 20 years before the global average climbs to that level.

“Our study shows that the northeast United States is one of those regions where warming will proceed very rapidly, so that if and when the global target is reached, we will already be experiencing much higher temperatures, with all of the related ecological, hydrological and agricultural consequences,” said Raymond Bradley, a geoscientist at the Northeast Climate Science Center (NECSC) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “With the signing of the Paris Agreement to try and limit greenhouse gas emissions, many people have been lulled into a false sense of security, thinking that the 2-degrees C target is somehow a ‘safe’ limit for climate change.” Continue reading “Northeastern U.S. warming much faster than global average”

Feds finalize polar bear conservation plan

Outlook not good as sea ice dwindles

 Eric Regehr, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Can polar bears survive global warming? Photo courtesy Eric Regehr, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Staff Report

A federal recovery plan for endangered polar bears won’t halt the threat of climate change, but it could help dwindling populations of the great Arctic predators persist in the small patches of habitat that will remain after global warming melts most of the polar sea ice.

The plan, released Jan. 9, calls for reducing human-bear conflicts, collaboratively managing subsistence harvest, protecting denning habitat, and minimizing the risk of contamination from oil spills. Most of these actions are already underway, in partnership with Alaska Native communities, nonprofit groups, and industry representatives who participated in the plan’s creation. The plan also calls for increased monitoring and research. Continue reading “Feds finalize polar bear conservation plan”

Climate roundup: The ill winds of global warming

Snow, ice, reindeers and forests …

Sunlit icebergs gleam on the horizon in the Antarctic Sound.
Sunlit icebergs gleam on the horizon in the Antarctic Sound. @bberwyn photo

By Bob Berwyn

2016 ended the way it began, with record warm temperatures and record-low sea ice in the Arctic. Federal scientists tracking the changes released a report detailing how the Arctic is unraveling. I covered it for InsideClimate News: The Arctic Is Unraveling,’ Scientists Conclude After Latest Climate Report.

Just before Christmas I wrote an enterprise piece on how the odds for a white Christmas have changed in different parts of the world. In many regions, the chances of seeing flakes on the holiday have decreased due to climate change, but a little counter-intuitively, they’ve also increased in other places: What Are Your Chances of a White Christmas? Probably Less Than They Used to Be.

In another Christmas-themed story, I reported on a Norwegian study that showed how widespread grazing by reindeer affects the reflectivity in northern tundra regions. It turns out that when the ungulates munch shrubs and brush, they make the world cooler: Save the Reindeer, Save the Arctic.

And with much of the West getting crushed by snowfall thanks to a subtropical weather connection, I explored a new study showing that such Pineapple Express storms are likely to become more frequent as the world warms: Global Warming Will Increase ‘Pineapple Express’ Storms in California.

Another sign that we may be near a climate tipping point is research from California showing that some severely burned forests just aren’t regenerating at all. The fires have become so big and so intense that all the seed stock trees are destroyed, leaving big cleared areas where there is no source for new growth — except for shrubs and brush that quickly grow to dominate the landscape and prevent new seedlings from taking root: California Forests Failing to Regrow After Intense Wildfires.

And some people think that they don’t have to worry about climate change because they heard global warming slowed down between 1998 and 2012. Not so, according to scientists who recalculated the rate of warming in the world’s oceans to show there was no hiatus: Already Debunked Global Warming ‘Hiatus’ Gets Another Dunking.

Ocean layering around Antarctica could signal major meltdown

Study warns of 10-foot sea level rise

Sunlit icebergs gleam on the horizon in the Antarctic Sound.
Antarctica could be closer to a meltdown than previously thought. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

As scientists learn more about the dynamics of the ocean around Antarctica, they’ve discovered a climate warming signal. Distinct layers of water, marked by temperature boundaries, are forming right now, leading to conditions similar to about 14,000 years ago, when Antarctic ice sheets melted rapidly, raising global sea level by more than 10 feet. Continue reading “Ocean layering around Antarctica could signal major meltdown”

Droughts and fires affecting Western U.S. air quality

New study tracks increase in summertime haze in Colorado wilderness

Summit County firefighters extinguish a small wildfire between Keystone and Montezuma late March, 2012.
Summit County, Colorado, firefighters extinguish a small wildfire between Keystone and Montezuma late March, 2012. A new University of Utah study suggests that more drought and wildfires will worsen air pollution in the high country of the West, even spreading to pristine wilderness areas. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Longer and hotter droughts and wildfires are polluting the once clear blue skies of the high country in the West, according to new research from the University of Utah.

The study, published this week in the journal Environmental Research Letters, found a link between the severity of drought in the Intermountain West and summertime air quality. Climate projections suggest that drought and wildfire risk will continue to increase in coming decades.

“If you take that into the future, we’re going to see significant hazing of the West,” said University of Utah atmospheric scientist Gannet Hallar. Continue reading “Droughts and fires affecting Western U.S. air quality”

EU science agency says 2016 was record-warm

Global temperature ratchets up another notch

copernicus_graphics_press-release_en-1Staff Report

Just a few days into the new year, European climate experts confirmed that 2016 is the warmest year on record since humans started tracking the climate. The analysis from  C3S, part of the EU’s Copernicus earth observation program, show that 2016’s global temperature was about 1.3 degrees Celsius higher than typical for the middle years of the 18th century. 2016 was close to 0.2 degrees Celsius warmer than 2015, which was previously the warmest year on record. Continue reading “EU science agency says 2016 was record-warm”