Tag: flooding

Sunday set: Catching up …

We’re unraveling the web of life

The last few weeks included a productive stretch of writing some interesting climate change and environmental stories. My favorite was about reef restoration in Florida, where hundreds of scientists and volunteers are gardening corals and transplanting them back out into the ocean. Careful monitoring shows there’s good potential to rebuild some ecosystems, especially where it counts, like offshore Miami, which would benefit from intact reefs to help protect the coast from storm surges. You can read the story at Fusion’s Project Earth.

I also spent quite a bit of time listening to people like the U.S. Coast Guard commander, high-ranking naval officers and scientists speaking about environmental changes in the Arctic, and how well the the U.S. is prepared to respond to those changes in a story for Pacific Standard. In another story for the same publication, I wrote about how fungi, through their symbiosis with plants, play a much larger role in regulating the terrestrial part of the carbon cycle than was thought just a few decades ago.

There is also a clear climate change signal evident in the timing of river floods across Europe, with some regions seeing serious flooding come up to two weeks earlier. This has implications for how communities manage water, as I described in this piece for InsideClimate News. Besides the potential for damage to communities, changes in precipitation and flooding patterns also will affect the concentration of nutrient pollution like nitrogen, which leads to toxic algae blooms and ocean dead zones.

 

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Global warming drives more extreme rainfall

Summer rainstorm in the Rocky Mountains. @bberwyn photo.

New study pinpoints regional patterns in changes

Staff Report

Basic physics tells us a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, and that, at some point, that moisture will condense and fall as rain. That’s why climate scientists are certain that global warming will lead to more extreme rainfall, as has already been documented in various parts of the world the past few decades.

A new study now helps quantify the impact of warming and also reveals regional patterns that will help people prepare. According to the researchers with MIT and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, the most extreme rain events in most regions of the world will increase in intensity by 3 to 15 percent, depending on region, for every degree Celsius that the planet warms. Continue reading “Global warming drives more extreme rainfall”

Melting Andes glaciers pose risk in Bolivia

Research in the Andes challenges some of the conventional wisdom about glaciers and mountains.
Research in the Andes challenges some of the conventional wisdom about glaciers and mountains.

Water shortages, sudden floods on the climate change menu in South America

Staff Report

Researchers already know that the world’s tropical glaciers are melting fast, but a new study published in The Cryosphere, an European Geosciences Union journal, helps pinpoint some of the potential impacts. The research focused on the Bolivian Andes, where glaciers dwindled by 43 percent in the last 30 years. The melting ice has created lakes that could burst and flood downstream towns, according to lead author Simon Cook a lecturer at the Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK.

The glacier meltdown also threatens regional water supplies. The 2.3 million residents of  La Paz and El Alto get about 15 percent of their water supply from glaciers, and double that during the dry season.  One lake in the region has already dried up, according to the authors, who said their study is one of the first to look specifically at recent large-scale glacier change in Bolivia. Continue reading “Melting Andes glaciers pose risk in Bolivia”

El Niño & rising seas bring record nuisance flooding

Southeast, Gulf Coast hit especially hard

Nuisance flooding set new records during the past year, according to a new NOAA report. @bberwyn photo.
Nuisance flooding set new records during the past year, according to a new NOAA report. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

There’s no question that nuisance flooding is increasing along U.S. coasts due to sea level rise, and some coastal residents got their feet frequently during the past year, according to a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In some cities, the days of nuisance flooding during the past meteorological year (May 2015 to April 2016) flooding exceeded trends and broke records, especially in the southeastern U.S and Gulf Coast. For those areas, the strong El Niño may have exacerbated the effects of rising sea level.

Wilmington, North Carolina, saw an all-time high of 90 days of nuisance flooding, nearly one quarter of the year. Other cities with record numbers of flooding days are Charleston, South Carolina; Port Isabel, Texas; Mayport, Virginia Key, Key West, and Fernandina Beach, Florida, the report said. Continue reading “El Niño & rising seas bring record nuisance flooding”

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”

Climate: Study links deadly 2010-2011 Australia floods with long-term ocean warming

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A NASA Earth Observatory satellite image shows swollen rivers in northwestern Australia during record-setting floods in 2010-2011. Visit this NASA page for more info.

‘Take action to forestall global warming …’

Staff Report

Deadly floods that swept across Australia in 2010 and 2011 were at least partly fueled by long-term warming in the Indian and Pacific oceans, according to a new study that highlights some of threats posed by human-caused climate change.

The research, published in Geophysical Research Letters, shows that ocean warming can have profound effects on atmospheric circulation, delivering huge amounts of moisture to land areas under certain conditions. Continue reading “Climate: Study links deadly 2010-2011 Australia floods with long-term ocean warming”