Category: global warming

Coastal wetlands seen as key piece of global carbon cycle

Long-term carbon storage in soil crucial to climate mitigation

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Mangrove forests store huge amounts of carbon. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Coastal wetlands like mangrove forests, seagrass meadows and tidal marshes play a key role in the global carbon cycle, serving as effective long-term reservoirs for so-called blue carbon. Their role is so important they should be considered in global climate change mitigation strategies, according to a new study published last week n the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

According to the researchers, coastal wetland areas are easier for governments to manage compared with ecosystems in international waters, further adding to the strategic value of coastal wetlands in the fight against climate change. Continue reading “Coastal wetlands seen as key piece of global carbon cycle”

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Spruce beetles still on the march in Colorado

Global warming taking a toll on forests worldwide

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Aerial surveys help track the health of Colorado forests. @bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

Spruce beetles continued to expand in Colorado in 2016, at least in part due to global warming and drought, as well as the density of old-growth spruce forests.

In all, spruce beetles were active across 350,000 acres of higher-elevation stands of Engelmann spruce statewide, including about 136,000 acres of new activity, causing widespread tree mortality, according to the results of the latest aerial surveys conducted by the U.S. Forest Service and the Colorado State Forest Service. Since 1996, spruce beetle outbreaks have caused tree mortality on more than 1.7 million acres in Colorado. Continue reading “Spruce beetles still on the march in Colorado”

What’s driving the collapse of Antarctic ice shelves?

New CSU study eyes regional climate cycle as one factor

Disintegration of ice shelves in East Antarctica could result in a spiraling increase in sea levels. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.
Disintegration of ice shelves in East Antarctica has been linked with a regional climate pattern and could result in a spiraling increase in sea levels. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

This year’s rapid loss of sea ice around Antarctica may make the floating ice shelves along the coast of the continent even more vulnerable to collapse, and a  Hemisphere climate cycle known as the Southern Annular Mode is probably a factor in the equation.

Just during the past 50 years, more than 28,000 square kilometers of ice shelves have crumbled along the Antarctic Peninsula, and one of the last remaining large ice shelves looks set to shed another piece about as large as Delaware. A new study led by Colorado State University scientists offers some new information on climate processes in the region. Continue reading “What’s driving the collapse of Antarctic ice shelves?”

It’s official — 2016 is the warmest year on record

Climate data show steady pace of global warming

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A NASA map shows the pattern of global warming in 2016.

Staff Report

For the third year in a row, the average global temperature climbed to a new record in 2016, reaching 1.69 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average, according to the most recent state of the climate report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

During a conference announcing the new data, federal scientists said they can confidently  determine that Earth is now in its warmest era since about 125,000 years ago, during a break between ice ages, and there’s no sign that the warmup will stop anytime soon. Continue reading “It’s official — 2016 is the warmest year on record”

Ocean acidification to hit key fisheries

Study projects 55 percent increase in acidity in next 50 years

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The world’s oceans are in big trouble. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

There’s no stopping ocean acidification without stopping CO2 emissions, and that’s bad news for many marine species, including Dungeness crabs, according to new new research published in the journal Global Change Biology.

Tiny shell-forming organisms like pteropods and copepods are vulnerable to acidification, but will likely experience only a slight overall decline because they are prolific enough to offset much of the impact, the study found. But those impacts will cascade through ocean ecosystems to affect larger animals like crabs, that will suffer as their food sources decline. Dungeness crab fisheries are valued at about $220 million annually, and may face a strong downturn over the next 50 years. Continue reading “Ocean acidification to hit key fisheries”

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”