Category: climate and weather

Arctic warmup speeds Canada glacier meltdown

Between 2005 to 2015, surface melt off ice caps and glaciers of the Queen Elizabeth Islands grew from an average of three gigatons to 30 gigatons

The Canadian Rockies near Kelowna, partially shrouded by pop-up clouds and haze.
Canadian glaciers are melting and have become a significant factor in global sea level rise. @bberwyn photo

Staff Report

The Greenland Ice Sheet isn’t the only place melting under a thickening blanket of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. A new study shows that Canada’s Arctic glaciers are also shedding ice at a rapidly increasing rate, making them a big factor in global sea level rise.

In a new study, glaciologists with the University of California, Irvine  said that, between 2005 to 2015, surface melt off ice caps and glaciers of the Queen Elizabeth Islands grew by 900 percent, from an average of three gigatons to 30 gigatons per year, according to findings published last week in the journal Environmental Research Letters. Continue reading “Arctic warmup speeds Canada glacier meltdown”

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Study says ice sheets can crumble quickly

Slight ocean warming enough to tip the system

Scientists working in Greenland have been stunned by the speed at which ice is retreating.
Retreating ice shows dramatic climate change is under way in the Anthropocene. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Just small increases in ocean temperatures during past geological epochs may have been enough to tip Northern Hemisphere ice sheets toward disintegration, even as air temperatures remained cold. That could spell trouble in the current era of climate warming, according to a new study led by University of Michigan researchers, who said their finding suggest that climate change could cause sea level to rise higher than most models predict. Continue reading “Study says ice sheets can crumble quickly”

Global warming hampers post-fire forest regrowth in Colorado

‘We are seeing the initiation of a retreat of forests to higher elevations’

A June, 2011 wildfire in Keystone Gulch burned within a few hundred feet of vacation homes and full-time residences at the Colorado resort.
A June, 2011 wildfire in Keystone Gulch burned within a few hundred feet of vacation homes and full-time residences at the Colorado resort. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Global warming is likely one of the main factors that’s preventing some Colorado forests from regenerating after wildfires.

When they started studying eight wildfire sites that burned across 162,000 acres of low-elevation forests along the Front Range, University of Colorado Boulder researchers said they expected to see young trees popping up all over the place, but that’s not what they found.

There were no seedlings at all in 59 percent of the study plots and 83 percent showed a very low density of seedlings. Future warming and associated drought may hinder significant further recovery, the researchers concluded. Only 2 to 38 percent of plots surveyed, depending on the fire site, were considered stocked, or on their way to recovery. Continue reading “Global warming hampers post-fire forest regrowth in Colorado”

Bye bye Bluebells?

Bluebell with raindrops throug
Bluebell with raindrops. @bberwyn photo.

Global warming affects spring wildflower blooms

Staff Report

Data gathered by citizen scientists suggests that bluebells and some other spring wildflowers are slipping out of synch with seasonal temperature cycles.  A study published this week in Global Change Biology looked at 22 species of plants; all of them were found to be responding to warming temperatures in spring, by changing when their leaves or flowers emerged.

The data come from  hundreds of thousands of observations by amateur enthusiasts submitted to the Woodland Trust’s Nature’s Calendar project. The findings show some are liable to adapt less well than others to rising temperatures, which can impact on their chances to grow and reproduce. Continue reading “Bye bye Bluebells?”

Climate trackers say Jan. 2017 was the 2d-warmest on record

European Climate Change Service report highlights unusually warm Arctic

month_1_2017_plot_2_brandedWarmer than average temperatures prevailed around the globe in January 2017.

Staff Report

January 2017 will go down in the books as Earth’s second-warmest January on record, just 0.17 degrees cooler than last year, according to the monthly update from the European Climate Change Service. According to the bulletin, January was 0.55 degrees warmer than the 1981-2010 average, with hotspots especially across Southern Hemisphere continents, as well as the southeastern U.S.

In the Northern Hemisphere, Europe was about 1 degree Celsius cooler the 1981-2010 January average, similar to 2016. Other cooler-than-average areas included parts of the western USA and Canada, northern Greenland, North Africa, parts of Siberia, southern Africa, north-western Australia and much of the Antarctic plateau. Continue reading “Climate trackers say Jan. 2017 was the 2d-warmest on record”

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”

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”