Category: extreme weather

Study projects huge increase in hurricane damage

Warming oceans will lead to bigger, stronger storms

Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the East Coast in 2012. Satellite image courtesy NOAA.

Staff Report

As if to underscore a new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office on the costs of global warming, researchers at the University of Vermont this week released a study showing that financial losses from hurricanes could increase more than 70 percent by 2100. Continue reading “Study projects huge increase in hurricane damage”

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Global warming intensified Colorado’s deadly 2013 floods

A NOAA map shows the area around Boulder with more than 15 inches of rain during the deadly Sept. 2013 rainstorm.

Detailed modeling helps project how climate change will alter extreme weather

Staff Report

Global warming likely boosted rainfall during Colorado’s deadly 2013 floods by 30 percent, according to new research. The September storms killed nine people and destroyed or damaged about 900 homes. Altogether, some spots saw more than 17 inches of rain, sending the South Platte River to a record high level. Continue reading “Global warming intensified Colorado’s deadly 2013 floods”

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?”

Global warming will devastate marginal farming areas

Southwest will be hit especially hard

Climate scientists have a pretty good understanding of how global warming will affect agriculture in different parts of the world. Is anybody listening? @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Most agriculture in the southwestern U.S. is already marginal, possible only because U.S. taxpayers support cheap water for questionable crops. And because of global warming, the outlook is grim as the region continues to warm and dry.

By 2050, Arizona cotton production will drop to less than 10 percent of the crop yield under optimal irrigation conditions, a new MIT study projects. Similarly, maize grown in Utah, now only yielding 40 percent of the optimal expected yield, will decrease to 10 percent with further climate-driven water deficits. Continue reading “Global warming will devastate marginal farming areas”

Climate extremes have big effect on wheat yields

New index helps project changes

Grain crops are very vulnerable to climate change impacts. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Farmers have known it for generations that heatwaves, drought and extreme rain are a bad recipe for growing wheat, and now scientists have quantified those impacts. Heat stress, combined with drought or excessive rain is responsible for about 40 percent of the changes in wheat yields from one year to another.

That’s bad news in a world that’s expecting extreme weather to intensify in the coming decades, but at least the stress index developed scientists with the European Joint Research Centre will help communities plan ahead and ameliorate at least some climate change impacts. Continue reading “Climate extremes have big effect on wheat yields”

Southern Colorado Plateau has dried 17 percent since 1985

New study projects impacts for world’s drylands

Hikers enjoying the view at Colorado National Monument, near Grand Junction. Researchers say recreation economies in the world’s drier zones are likely to take a big hit from global warming in the next few decades. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Global warming is bad enough on its own for the world’s drylands, but when you add in the impacts of population growth, development and the increasing demand for water, the future looks downright grim.

The end result will be conditions that are detrimental to the recreation economy, wildlife habitat, water availability and other resources in hyper-arid landscapes, according to a recent paper published in Ecosphere. Drylands are of concern because broad-scale changes in these systems have the potential to affect 36 percent of the world’s human population. Continue reading “Southern Colorado Plateau has dried 17 percent since 1985”

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”