Tag: extreme weather

Abrupt climate change linked with ocean current shutdown

‘Rollercoaster’ temps prevailed as iceberg flotillas invaded North Atlantic

iceberg
Can Arctic icemelt shut down crucial ocean currents? @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

By studying chemical tracers in seafloor sediments, scientists have been able to show that periods of abrupt climate change during the last ice age are somehow linked with dramatic changes in key ocean currents, especially the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, which carries heat from the tropics to the northern latitudes.

Specifically, the study looked at series of abrupt climate changes that occurred between 60,000 and 25,000 years ago, ending as the last ice age peaked. A press release on the study describes it as an era when “temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere went on a rollercoaster ride, plummeting and then rising again every 1,500 years or so.”

“People have long supposed this link between overturning circulation and these abrupt climate events. This evidence implicates the ocean,” said L. Gene Henry, the lead author of the study and a graduate student at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. The findings, published in the journal Science, show for the first time that the ocean’s overturning circulation slowed during every one of those temperature plunges — at times almost stopping. Continue reading “Abrupt climate change linked with ocean current shutdown”

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Australian researchers call for more coastal monitoring in the face of expected climate change impacts

Damaged homes along the foreshore of Sydney's Collaroy Beach, hit by powerful storms in early June. Mitchell Harley/UNSW
Damaged homes along the foreshore of Sydney’s Collaroy Beach, hit by powerful storms in early June. Mitchell Harley/UNSW.

June storms highlight impacts of rising seas, shifting storm patterns

Staff Report

Just after the Australian government announced massive cuts to the country’s science agency, researchers are warning that there’s more of a need then ever to track climate change impacts.

A series of recent storms that lashed Australia’s east coast are reminder that rising sea level presents a growing threat to coastal communities, according scientists with the University of New South Wales.

“The damage we’ve seen is a harbinger of what’s to come,” said Ian Turner, director of the Water Research Laboratory at the University of New South Wales. “Climate change is not only raising the oceans and threatening foreshores, but making our coastlines much more vulnerable to storm damage. What are king high tides today will be the norm within decades.” Continue reading “Australian researchers call for more coastal monitoring in the face of expected climate change impacts”

More evidence that melting Arctic ice drives widespread changes in northern hemisphere weather patterns

‘Blocking highs’ becoming more common over Greenland

greenland aerial view
What happens in Greenland doesn’t stay in Greenland. Climate shifts in the Arctic affect the rest of the northern hemisphere. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Just a few weeks after scientists reported record early melting on parts of the Greenland Ice Sheet, a new study helps explain some of the recent dramatic climate shifts in the high latitudes of the northern hemisphere.

Stationary high pressure systems over Greenland have become more frequent since the 1980s, said University of Sheffield geographer Prof. Edward Hanna, adding that the pattern is also linked with extreme weather over northwest Europe, including unusually wet conditions in the UK in the summers of 2007 and 2012.

The study, published in the International Journal of Climatology, looked at large-scale weather patterns over Greenland going back to 1851 using a measure called the Greenland Blocking Index, which marks the how strong the high pressure systems are, how long they last and how often they occur. Continue reading “More evidence that melting Arctic ice drives widespread changes in northern hemisphere weather patterns”

Michigan eyes climate-related public health threats

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Along with many other states across the northern tier, Michigan just experienced one of its warmest winters on record.

Officials prep for impacts to vulnerable populations

Staff Report

Michigan residents are likely to face a growing range of climate-related threats in coming decades, including respiratory diseases, heat-related illnesses and water- and vector-borne diseases, according to a new report from university researchers and state health officials.

Overall, the experts said that changing climate conditions like warmer temperatures and more frequent big rainstorms are an emerging public health threat in the state, where the average temperature has increased by anywhere from 0.6 to 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit since 1951. Average annual precipitation has increased by 4.5 percent during that period. Continue reading “Michigan eyes climate-related public health threats”

SW Europe faces greatest multi-hazard climate risks

Europe drought and climate change
In early December 2015 the European Alps were mostly free of snow during a lengthy dry period. @bberwyn photo.

Flooding, droughts and wildfires all expected to increase

Staff Report

New European climate modeling doesn’t paint a pretty picture for the decades ahead. With global warming, Europe is facing a progressively stronger increase in multiple climate hazards, according to the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre.

Early in the 21st century, reported losses from extreme weather are already at historically high levels, and climate change is likely to increase the risk, the researchers concluded in a new paper presented late April at the European Geosciences Union annual assembly in Vienna. Continue reading “SW Europe faces greatest multi-hazard climate risks”

Extreme 2014 Balkan flooding linked to airstream slowdown

Extreme rainfall events increasing globally

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Flooding along the Sava River in May 2014, photographed from a NASA Earth-observing satellite. Visit NASA Earth observatory for more info.

Staff Report

Destructive floods that raged through parts of the Balkan region in 2014 are part of a global trend toward more extreme rainfall events — a pattern increasingly linked with changes in atmospheric circulation.

In new findings published this week, scientists found that disastrous floods in the Balkans two years ago are likely linked to the temporary slowdown of giant airstreams. Several other climate studies have explored whether climate change is causing the slowdown of giant atmospheric waves that carry storm systems from west the east across the northern hemisphere. The decline of Arctic sea ice has been eyed as a factor. Decreasing temperature and pressure gradients between high- and mid-latitudes may be causing more weather systems to get stuck, some scientists say.

UK scientists explored similar links between changes in the Jet Stream and extreme rain across the British Isles in 2013. Around the same time, University of Utah scientists looked at similar patterns across North America. Researchers have also explored if jet stream shifts are linked with extreme meltdown events across Greenland. Continue reading “Extreme 2014 Balkan flooding linked to airstream slowdown”

Climate: EU study says flood protection should focus on adaptation rather than avoidance

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Catastrophic floods along Elbe River in 2002 swamped huge sections of land in northern Germany, as shown by a NASA Earth Observatory image from Landsat 7.

Local flood protection efforts inadequate to meet growing climate change threat

Staff Report

As extreme rain events become more frequent, European efforts to address the threat of river flooding should focus on adapting to impacts rather than trying to avoid them, according to a new study published in the journal Climatic Change.

The ressearch, led by scientists with European Commission Joint Research Centre, studied the benefits of four adaptation measures based on the increasing flood risk projected by climate models, including reduction of the peak flows through water retention, reduction of vulnerability and relocation to safer areas. Continue reading “Climate: EU study says flood protection should focus on adaptation rather than avoidance”