Category: Uncategorized

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

Climate data show steady pace of global warming

amaps
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”

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Ocean acidification to hit key fisheries

Study projects 55 percent increase in acidity in next 50 years

ocean
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”

Morning photo: Spring set

Bloomin’


For the first time in many years I spent early spring in the lowlands and as the plantscapes around me came to life, I marveled at the variety of deciduous trees, from old-growth beech forests to city parks and riverside orchards. The seasonal transition proceeds at a completely different pace and with a dizzying burst of efflorescence. This set of spring pics was taken in and around Vienna, Austria. More Summit Voice photography posts here, and visit our online gallery for fine art landscape and nature images.

Sage grouse and drilling just don’t mix

greater sage-grouse
Greater sage-grouse. Photo via USGS.

Well density seen as key factor in decline of birds in Wyoming

Staff Report

Limiting the density of new oil and gas drilling rigs in Wyoming may not be enough to stem the decline of greater sage-grouse, according to scientists tracking populations of the imperiled bird.

Berween 1984 and 2008, populations declined by 2.5 percent annually, and the drop is clearly linked with oil and gas development, the new study from the USGS and Colorado State University found. The researchers used annual counts of males at breeding sites for their estimates, comparing those tallies to the the density of oil and gas wells and the area of disturbance associated with these wells. Continue reading “Sage grouse and drilling just don’t mix”

Sunday set: National Parks in Austria

Mountains, rivers wetlands …


During the past few months I’ve been able to visit several of Austria’s national parks, including the Donau Auen, a spectacular bosque river landscape that starts practically in downtown Vienna and extends all the way to the border with Slovakia. The Donau Auen is one of the biggest remaining natural river landscapes in central Europe and stands as testament to the power of grassroots activism. When plans for a giant hydropower plant were revealed in the early 1980s, students, teachers, artists and others banded together to occupy the area, eventually winning the public relations battle and leading to preservation of the area.

While Austria is best known for its mountain landscapes, the Neusiedler See is located on the eastern border of Austria, where the mountains tilt away to the great steppes of the northernmost Balkan region. The other two parks in shown in this set are in the heart of Austria’s Alps, featuring classic mountain landscapes. Most Austrian parks are just a few decades old and were inspired by national parks in the U.S. Indeed, the concept of public places as showcases of ecological diversity and preservation is probably one of America’s best exports.

Public support for fracking drops in UK

fracking 3‘The government will increasingly have its work cut out selling fracking to the UK public’

Staff Report

Support for fracking is at an all-time low in the UK, with nearly half the respondents in an annual poll expressing concerns about water quality.

The September 2016 survey found that there has been a significant drop in the level of support for shale gas extraction in the UK over the last 12 months, with levels of support now standing at just 37.3 percent whereas opposition to fracking in the UK now stands at 41 percent.

The University of Nottingham ‘Survey of Public Attitudes to Shale Gas Extraction in the UK’ has been running since March 2012. The survey has tracked changes in awareness of shale gas, and what the UK public believes to be the environmental impacts of its extraction and use, as well as its acceptability as an energy source. Continue reading “Public support for fracking drops in UK”

Climate connections

Fish die-offs spread, winter retreats and ocean currents are changing

sdf
The meltdown of glaciers and ice shelves around both poles is starting to affect the circulation of the oceans. @bbberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

My recent reporting for InsideClimate News includes coverage of the massive Yellowstone fish kill, something that anglers and fisheries managers in Colorado also should probably be prepared for as rivers warm to a level that is conducive to the spread of parasites. Read the details here: Fish Deaths in Montana’s Yellowstone River Tied to Warming Waters.

I also explored how Austria is preparing for climate change. The mountainous country has seen its average temperature increase at nearly twice the global average in the past century, with huge implications for water supplies, agriculture, urban heatwaves and tourism. But rather than argue about the causes, Austrians are actively trying to figure out how to make their society and ecosystems more resilient to the changes ahead. Read here: Austria Braces for Winter’s Retreat.

There’s other research showing a significant shift in most key ocean currents that run along the edges of continents. Those currents are key drivers of weather systems and the changes documented by scientists suggest that the currents are strengthening and transporting more heat, which is affecting weather in densely populated areas. China and Japan, in particular, can expect more devastating storms and typhoons in the future: In Warming Oceans, Stronger Currents Releasing Heat in Bigger Storms.

It seems pretty clear that we have to try and prevent runaway climate change and the way to do that is to stop spewing heat-trapping pollution into the sky. We need to bite the bullet and figure out how to decarbonize our energy systems and economy in the most rational way, which means making plans and decisions now, not in 20 years. Every additional dollar used to subsidize fossil fuels, or to build fossil fuel infrastructure, is another nail in our own coffin. Offshore wind power is still grossly under-utilized in the U.S. but that is starting to change.

Offshore wind makes so much sense because the power sources can developed near the large coastal cities that are the largest consumers of power from the grid. Here’s how Hawaii is approaching the issue: Hawaii Eyes Offshore Wind to Reach its Clean Energy Goal.