Civic groups brainstorm green policies at Vienna meeting
By Bob Berwyn
European environmental leaders this week called on the EU adopt an innovative mindset for dealing with climate and energy issues. Europe stands to gain from adopting progressive policies that create economic opportunities for businesses and improve life for citizens.
What’s left of the glaciers around the Grossglockner, Austria’s highest peak.
Mondsee, one of the Salzkammergut lakes, from the highway.
Grosses Wiesbachhorn (3,564 M) from the Grossglocknerstrasse.
Austrian high country.
Our reporting for the global warming in the Alps project took us to the high country around Austria’s highest peak, the Grossglockner, late last week, where we saw firsthand how the once mighty glaciers have dwindled to remnant shards of ice in the past few decades, with uncertain consequences for ecosystems below. The mountain valleys are still lush green in the Austrian high country, but there are great concerns that the meltdown could affect aquatic life in the streams below the glaciers, not to mention hydropower production, one of Austria’s main sources of renewable energy.
Every state was warmer than average for the summer
This year’s meteorological summer in the contiguous U.S. (June-August) will go down in the climate annals as the fifth-warmest on record, at 2.8 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average.
The year-to-date is the third-warmest on record, with Alaska on pace for a record-warm year after eight months, according to NOAA’s monthly State of the Climate summary, available here. August was the 17-warmest on record, with record warmth in the Northeast, and below average temperatures in the Southwest.
After record rain storms in parts of the Midwest and along the Gulf Coast, August ended up as the second wettest on record.
For the summer, according to NOAA, every state across the contiguous U.S., had a statewide temperature that was above average. Twenty-nine states across the West and in the East were much warmer than average for the summer. California, Connecticut and Rhode Island each had their warmest summer on record.
Alaska observed its second warmest summer in its 92-year record at 53.6°F, 3.0°F above average. Only the summer of 2004 was warmer with a statewide temperature value of 55.9°F. Several locations across the state were record warm including Anchorage, Kenai, King Salmon and Yakutat.
Commercially valuable tree stands take hit in Pacific Northwest
Global warming may be a factor in the spread of a fungus affecting valuable Douglas fir forests in the Pacific Northwest. Needle cast disease has recently spread across 590,000 acres in Oregon, quadrupling since the start of surveys in 1996. The annual economic loss has been estimated at $128 million.
“The correlation between disease severity and climate factors, such as spring moisture and warm winter temperatures, raises the question of a link between disease expansion and climate change,” said researcher Gabriela Ritokova. “Those factors, in combination with lots of Douglas fir and with large springtime fungal spore production, have us where we are now.” Continue reading “Climate change may be factor in spread of tree fungus”→
New study documents population declines in Great Basin
U.S. Geological Survey scientists have filled in another piece in the pika puzzle, finding that changes in distribution of populations of the tiny mammals are mainly influenced by climatic factors. The new study, published in The Journal of Mammalogy, helps show how global warming will affect the species.
Several previous research efforts have been inconclusive, and one study from Colorado suggests that pikas are holding their own in the highest reaches of the central and southern Rocky Mountains. But the new study, conducted in 2014 and 2015 at 910 sites, showed widespread reduction in pika range in three mountainous regions including the Great Basin, southern Utah and northeastern California.
New study offers climate clues from most recent interglacial warm period
By Bob Berwyn
The last time the Earth was as warm as today was about 128,000 years ago — and Antarctic sea ice extent was 65 percent smaller than it is now, according to British scientists who tracked past climate change in the region by studying ice core samples from that era.
That means Antarctic sea ice is on course to shrink dramatically in the decades and centuries ahead, said British Antarctic Survey scientist Max Holloway, who with a team of researchers analyzed oxygen isotopes in ice and air bubbles trapped for 128,000 years in the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. Continue reading “Antarctic sea ice meltdown likely in a warming world”→
Draft document highlights global warming threats to state
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper says a “shifting climate” threatens many of the state’s vital industries, including skiing and agriculture, and he wants the state’s power plants to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent in the next 15 years from 2012 levels. The goals are outlined in a draft version of an executive order on mitigating and adapting to climate change, which spells out some specific threats of global warming that are already well-known, including:
Greater air pollution will lead to a more hospital admissions and increased cases of respiratory illness;
Changes in precipitation can adversely impact the amount and quality of Colorado’s water resources;
Changes in runoff patterns, intense precipitation, and rising temperatures can negatively affect food production and result in greater risk of food contamination and waterborne illness.