Category: global warming

Global warming means major changes for U.S. fisheries

Warming ocean will drive many commercially important species to new habitats; detailed projections can help  coastal communities adapt

Shrimp boats in the Gulf of Mexico. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Climate change isn’t just heating the surface of the Earth. It’s also warming deep ocean water, and along the coast of the northeastern U.S. bottom-water temperatures are expected to increase by 6.6 to 9 degrees Celsius by 2100.

That means that commercially important marine species will also continue to shift northward, which is important information for fishermen trying to make living in the region. Just how much and when they will move is the subject of new research published this week in the journal Progress in Oceanography. Continue reading “Global warming means major changes for U.S. fisheries”

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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.

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”

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?”

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”

U.S. Supreme Court rejects fossil fuel industry effort to remove protection for threatened polar bears

Polar bears will keep their endangered species status. Photo by Eric Regehr, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Global warming seen as main threat to Arctic predators

Staff Report

Endangered Species Act protection for polar bears will remain in place following a U.S. Supreme Court decision late last week to reject an attempt by the fossil fuel industry to overturn the 2010 listing.

At issue was a decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s to designate more than 120 million acres as critical habitat in Alaska for imperiled polar bears. The Supreme Court decision came just days after President Trump issued an executive order that attempts to rescind a ban on new offshore oil drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. Continue reading “U.S. Supreme Court rejects fossil fuel industry effort to remove protection for threatened polar bears”