Study finds 2013-2014 winter was stormiest since 1940s
Fierce Atlantic storms that surged toward Europe’s western coastlines during the winter of 2013-2014 were the strongest in nearly 70 years — and such storms may become more frequent and even more powerful due to global warming.
The trend toward more storminess has implications for land-use planners and emergency management agencies in Europe, with the potential to dramatically change the equilibrium state of beaches, including permanent changes in beach gradient, coastal alignment and nearshore bar position.
“The extreme winter of 2013-2014 is in line with historical trends in wave conditions and is also predicted to increasingly occur due to climate change according to some of the climate models,” said Tim Scott, a lecturer in ocean exploration at Plymouth University and a co-author of the study. “Whether due to more intense and … or more frequent storms, it should undoubtedly be considered in future coastal and sea defense planning along the Atlantic coast of Europe.” Continue reading “Are West European beaches under a global warming siege?”→
Proposal would protect some breeding areas and migration routes
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Along with proposed critical habitat protection for nesting areas, loggerhead sea turtles may also get some open-ocean sanctuaries, including nearshore reproductive habitat, breeding areas, and migratory corridors.
New study helps track seasonal shifts in North Atlantic storm track
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Just as weather forecasters in the western U.S. look at El Niño and La Niña to help get a handle on season outlooks, European meteorologists are carefully analyzing the North Atlantic Oscillation for climate clues. The job is easier in some years, according to a new study carried out by the National Oceanography Centre.
The research shwoed that the relationship between our winter weather and the strength of the airflow coming in from the Atlantic – one of the factors used by forecasters to predict the weather – is stronger in some years than others. The results were recently published in the Royal Meteorological Society publication Weather.
NOAA documenting shift in marine species as water warms
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — With sea surface temperatures at a 150-year high off off the mid-Atlantic and New England coastlines, scientists are document significant shifts in the distribution of commercially important marine species, with as-yet uncertain consequences for the entire ecosystem.
Climate scientists advocate for more study of mesoscale Arctic weather systems
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Intense, hurricane-like Arctic storms may play a bigger role in driving climate than previously thought, and most climate models have not included those effects in long-term projections, according to a new study from he University of East Anglia and the University of Massachusetts.
Adding the storms into the mix could change the long-term outlook, as the models currently may underestimate the amount of heat being transported toward Europe.
“By simulating polar lows, we find that the area of the ocean that becomes denser and sinks each year increases and causes the amount of heat being transported towards Europe to intensify,” Condron explained.
“Before polar lows were first seen by satellites, sailors frequently returned from the Arctic seas with stories of encounters with fierce storms that seemed to appear out of nowhere,” said Alan Condron, a physical oceanographer at UMass Amherst Condron,. “Because of their small size, these storms were often missing from their weather charts, but they are still capable of producing hurricane-force winds and waves over 11 meters high (36 feet).”
“The fact that climate models are not simulating these storms is a real problem … Because these models will wrongly predict how much heat is being moving northward towards the poles. This will make it very difficult to reliably predict how the climate of Europe and North America will change in the near future.”
“These polar lows are typically under 500 km in diameter and over within 24-36 hours,” said Prof. Ian Renfrew, with the Univerity of East Anglia School of Environmental Sciences. said. “They’re difficult to predict, but we have shown they play an important role in driving large-scale ocean circulation.
“There are hundreds of them a year in the North Atlantic, and dozens of strong ones. They create a lot of stormy weather, strong winds and snowfall – particularly over Norway, Iceland, and Canada, and occasionally over Britain, such as in 2003 when a massive dump of snow brought the M11 to a standstill for 24 hours.
“We have shown that adding polar storms into computer-generated models of the ocean results in significant changes in ocean circulation – including an increase in heat traveling north in the Atlantic Ocean and more overturning in the Sub-polar seas,” he said. “At present, climate models don’t have a high enough resolution to account for these small-scale polar lows.
“As Arctic Sea ice continues to retreat, polar lows are likely to migrate further north, which could have consequences for the ‘thermohaline’ or northward ocean circulation – potentially leading to it weakening.”
“Climate models are always improving, and there is a trade-off between the resolution of the model, the complexity of the model, and the number of simulations you can carry out. Our work suggests we should put some more effort into resolving such storms,” Renfrew concluded.
Record-breaking storm spurs more public awareness about the potential for more frequent extreme weather events
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — With several all-time weather records shattered and early estimates that Hurricane Sandy may cost the U.S. economy some $20 to $25 billion, it’s clear that the storm lived up to its billing. Along with the cleanup, there’s also a raging debate about whether global warming was a factor in the storm’s development and path.
On the one side, environmental activists seeking to limit heat-trapping greenhouse gases have jumped on the so-called super storm as an opportunity to tout their cause. On the other side, global warming deniers and others have pulled out timeworn statistics about past hurricanes that supposedly were equally as strong.
Rate of increase is highest along the northeast coast
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Calculating sea level rise has been vexing for climate and ocean scientists. Melting ice and thermal expansion both contribute, but the water doesn’t just go up evenly like a bathtub that’s filling up.
Pinpointing the rate and location of sea level rise is critical for planners tasked with adapting their communities to coastal flooding, said John Boon, emeritus professsor at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.
“Localized projections of sea-level rise are needed to guide the regional planning and adaptation measures that are being pursued with increasing urgency in many coastal localities,” said Boon, who recently completed a new study showing that the rate of sea level rise is increasing at tidal stations along the Atlantic coast of North America, including those in Norfolk, Baltimore, New York, and Boston. Continue reading “Study helps pinpoint East Coast sea level rise”→