Tag: climate science

Can climate change affect volcanic activity?

Vesuvius is part of a volcanic region that became more active when the Mediterranean Sea dried up about 5 million years ago. A study of the era suggests climate change can influence volcanic activity. @bberwyn photo.

Study suggests link between sea level and eruptions

Staff Report

European researchers say they’ve found more evidence supporting links between climate change and volcanic activity.

Geologists from Switzerland, France and Spain studied compared data on eruptions and climate from about 5 million years ago, finding that volcanic activity in southern Europe doubled during a time when the Mediterranean Sea dried up. They suspect that the changes on the surface contributed to the way magma behaves deep in the Earth.

The era they studied is known as the Messinian salinity crisis, when the Strait of Gibraltar was blocked and the Mediterranean temporarily isolated from the Atlantic, according to the study published in Nature Geoscience.

The geological record shows a sharp increase in volcanic activity, and the scientists concluded the spike can best be explained by the almost total drying out of the Mediterranean.

The trait of Gibraltar was shut on a temporary basis during the Messinian Era (from 5.96 to 5.33 million years ago) and that the Mediterranean Sea was isolated from the Atlantic. Thick layers of salt on the seabed, as well as river canyons carved through land that is now submerged, suggest the Mediterranean Sea’s level was much lower.

The study acknowledges that this hypothesis continues to be a source of debate, while exploring the potential links.

In a statement, University of Geneva geologist Pietro Sternai said it’s clear that changes at the surface of the Earth, like a sudden lowering of sea level, can change the pressure deep down around pockets of molten magma. Based on that, the researchers studied the changes in volcanic activity during the period. Tracing the age of crystals in volcanic deposits, they counted 13 eruptions around the Mediterranean between 5.9 and 5.3 million years ago — more than double the average over comparable time periods.

Why is the figure so high?

“The single logical explanation is the hypothesis that the sea dried out, since this is the only event powerful enough to alter the Earth’s pressure and magmatic production over the entire Mediterranean,” Sternai said.

The team used computer models to simulate the effect of the Mediterranean’s desiccation on pressure at depth and the impact on magma production. According to Sternai, the models show the only way to account for the increased vulcanism was that the level of the Mediterranean Sea dropped by about two kilometres.

Related research has suggested that melting ice sheets in the polar regions, as well as melting glaciers, could also contribute in various ways to increased volcanic activity.

 

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EPA removes web pages with climate change information

Will updates reflect real science, or ideology?

Many of the previously existing pages on climate science, greenhouse gases and global warming impacts are no longer available at the current EPA website.

By Bob Berwyn

Continuing its Orwellian policies of trying to create an alternative, fact-free reality, the Trump administration has started to remove climate-related information from the EPA website. As of Friday, April 28, a Google search for EPA climate information leads to a page-update notice, including a statement from a politically appointed spokesperson saying,” “We want to eliminate confusion by removing outdated language first and making room to discuss how we’re protecting the environment and human health by partnering with states and working within the law.” Continue reading “EPA removes web pages with climate change information”

Arapahoe Basin to host après-ski climate panel talk

April 8 session to focus on ‘nuts & bolts’ of global warming impacts

Dylan Berwyn carves fresh powder in the Alleys at Arapahoe Basin several years ago. @bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

In an era marked by political attacks on science and deliberate lies about climate change from the highest levels of the U.S. government, including the president and the head of the EPA, it’s more important than ever for Americans to inform themselves with the best possible information about the impacts of global warming.

Skiers have as much to lose as anyone. Glaciers are shrinking everywhere, overall there is less  snow and winters are getting shorter at both ends, but especially in the spring. In a groundbreaking 2013 study, the U.S. Geological study found a 20 percent decline in Rocky Mountain snow cover since 1980.

Another research paper published just this year in meticulous Swiss fashion documented that the snow season has shortened by 37 days since 1970, with a 25 percent decline in the average maximum snow depth across the entire Swiss Alps, at all elevations. The researchers were surprised to find the decline even at the higher mountain weather stations close to famous resorts like Zermatt and Davos.

Skiers need to be part of the solution, not the problem, and the first step is having science-based information to inform your actions. To that end, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area is hosting an April 8 climate science apres ski session featuring researchers who focus on snow, water and climate. The idea is to  address some of the common questions people have about climate change from a nuts and bolts science perspective. The panel will be moderated by ski area chief Alan Henceroth and Lindsay Bourgoine from Protect Our Winters. Continue reading “Arapahoe Basin to host après-ski climate panel talk”

Climate roundup: The ill winds of global warming

Snow, ice, reindeers and forests …

Sunlit icebergs gleam on the horizon in the Antarctic Sound.
Sunlit icebergs gleam on the horizon in the Antarctic Sound. @bberwyn photo

By Bob Berwyn

2016 ended the way it began, with record warm temperatures and record-low sea ice in the Arctic. Federal scientists tracking the changes released a report detailing how the Arctic is unraveling. I covered it for InsideClimate News: The Arctic Is Unraveling,’ Scientists Conclude After Latest Climate Report.

Just before Christmas I wrote an enterprise piece on how the odds for a white Christmas have changed in different parts of the world. In many regions, the chances of seeing flakes on the holiday have decreased due to climate change, but a little counter-intuitively, they’ve also increased in other places: What Are Your Chances of a White Christmas? Probably Less Than They Used to Be.

In another Christmas-themed story, I reported on a Norwegian study that showed how widespread grazing by reindeer affects the reflectivity in northern tundra regions. It turns out that when the ungulates munch shrubs and brush, they make the world cooler: Save the Reindeer, Save the Arctic.

And with much of the West getting crushed by snowfall thanks to a subtropical weather connection, I explored a new study showing that such Pineapple Express storms are likely to become more frequent as the world warms: Global Warming Will Increase ‘Pineapple Express’ Storms in California.

Another sign that we may be near a climate tipping point is research from California showing that some severely burned forests just aren’t regenerating at all. The fires have become so big and so intense that all the seed stock trees are destroyed, leaving big cleared areas where there is no source for new growth — except for shrubs and brush that quickly grow to dominate the landscape and prevent new seedlings from taking root: California Forests Failing to Regrow After Intense Wildfires.

And some people think that they don’t have to worry about climate change because they heard global warming slowed down between 1998 and 2012. Not so, according to scientists who recalculated the rate of warming in the world’s oceans to show there was no hiatus: Already Debunked Global Warming ‘Hiatus’ Gets Another Dunking.

Here’s how the climate-denial sausage is made

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There’s no question global temperatures have been climbing steadily for decades, yet a small cadre of radical organizations has been working to deceive the public about the realities of climate change.

New Yale study shows funding behind the effort to mislead Americans on climate science

By Bob Berwyn

Organizations funded by ExxonMobil and the Koch brothers form the core of a disinformation network that has spawned a vast body of literature that deliberately tries to deceive the public about global warming, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

The research by Yale University researcher Dr. Justin Farrell closely scoured more than 40,000 texts produced by the climate change counter-movement (164 organizations), finding that  organizations with corporate funding were more likely to have written and disseminated texts meant to polarize the climate change issue. Continue reading “Here’s how the climate-denial sausage is made”

Global warming consensus extends beyond climate scientists

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A new survey shows most scientists in all fields are convinced that human-caused climate change is real.

‘When it comes to climate change, scientists are people, too …’

Staff Report

The consensus on the reality of climate change extends beyond the field of climate science to other disciplines, according to a new study out of Purdue University, where researchers surveyed 700 scientists.

The results show that more than 90 percent believe that average global temperatures are higher than pre-1800s levels and that human activity has significantly contributed to the rise. Continue reading “Global warming consensus extends beyond climate scientists”

Study confirms global warming high the atmosphere

‘We should no longer accept the claim that there is warming missing higher in the atmosphere’

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All of South America, nearly all of North America, as well as Eurasia, were much warmer than average in April 2015.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Decades of readings from thousands of measuring stations around the world show in excruciating detail how the Earth is warming under its thickening blanket of greenhouse gases, but tracking the temperature rise in the upper levels of the atmosphere has been more elusive.

But new research by Australian climate scientists,  published in Environmental Research Letters, confirms strong warming in the upper troposphere, crushing yet another argument used by science-denying global warming skeptics who try to cast doubt on the overwhelming evidence of dangerous climate change.

The findings are based on a new analysis of data from the global weather balloon network. The evaluation found “clear indications of warming in the upper troposphere,” according to professor Steve Sherwood, with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science. Continue reading “Study confirms global warming high the atmosphere”