Tag: global warming

Increased greening amplifies global warming in boreal zones


New research focuses on biophysical impacts of climate change

Greenhouse gases speed plant growth. How will that affect global temperatures? @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Vegetation plays a key role in the climate change equation, with a recent study showing that vegetation density has substantial climate impacts. According to the research by the European Union’s Joint Research Center, the findings show that vegetation has a warming effect in cold areas and cooling effect in warm areas.

Figuring out the net effect would help develop more integrated and effective climate mitigation and adaptation strategies. The puzzle is complex. Increasing greenhouse gases spur vegetation growth, but the overall effects at the global level are not clear. The new study explores how changes in leaf area (a measure of vegetation density) affect local climate. Continue reading “Increased greening amplifies global warming in boreal zones”

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Is global warming killing bees?

Study finds 15 common bee species suffer as temps rise

A common bumblebee visits a garden in Vienna, Austria. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

The urban heat island effect isn’t just bad for people — it’s also harming bees, according to a new study from North Carolina State University.

“We looked at 15 of the most common bee species in southeastern cities and – through fieldwork and labwork – found that increasing temperatures in urban heat islands will have a negative effect on almost all of them,” said associate entomology professor Steve Frank. Continue reading “Is global warming killing bees?”

Gradual CO2 buildup can trigger sudden climate tipping points

A new study links rising CO2 concentrations with disruptions to key climate-controlling currents during ice age climate shifts.

Ice age ocean current disruptions linked with greenhouse gas changes

Staff Report

Scientists say they’ve discovered another huge climate warning sign in the Arctic. Past increases in CO2 levels in the air drove ocean currents to a tipping point had a big impact on hemispheric weather patterns.

Within the span of just a few decades, rising CO2 concentrations drove temperatures in Greenland up by 10 degrees Celsius, according to a new study led by researchers with the Alfred Wegener Institute and the University of Cardiff. Continue reading “Gradual CO2 buildup can trigger sudden climate tipping points”

Global warming puts sea turtles at risk

As temps warm, most eggs will produce females

If beaches get too warm, sea turtle eggs will hatch mostly as females. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Global warming was first identified as a potential threat to sea turtles in the 1980s because the temperature at which the eggs incubate helps determine the sex of the embryos. A new study now adds weight to those concerns, finding that  warmer temperatures could lead to higher numbers of female sea turtles and increased nest failure, negatively on the turtle population in some areas of the world. Continue reading “Global warming puts sea turtles at risk”

Earth to Pruitt: Paris is still on!

EPA chief continues to alienate important allies

This now seems to be a bit of prescient moment during the COP 21 talks in Paris. @bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

The U.S. government continues to show how out of tune it is with the rest of the world’s leading economic nations with a press release from the EPA claiming that it has “reset” the conversation about climate change to reflect the Trump administration priorities and the “expectation of the American people.”

Apparently, EPA Administrator didn’t get the clear message from scores of American cities and states that responded to Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement by forming a sub-national coalition that is aiming to uphold the goals of that agreement. The We Are Still In Group also includes hundreds of counties, universities and businesses committed to the agreement, so all Pruitt is managing to do is to divide the country. Continue reading “Earth to Pruitt: Paris is still on!”

Sunday set: The Paris climate agreement won’t die

Dont’t despair — act and vote!


The president’s decision to start pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement was bitter disappointment for many, but it’s important to remember that the signing of the accord wasn’t an end. It marked the beginning of a long and difficult path that was sure to be fraught with challenges along the way. It was also designed to withstand major shocks, including the pull-out of a major signatory like the U.S. After all, this isn’t the first time it happened. The U.S. also failed to follow through on the Kyoto climate protocol. Read about how the Paris agreement was designed with this history in mind in one of my recent stories for Pacific Standard.

It’s also worth remembering that it will take several years for the withdrawal. In fact, the process won’t be complete until the day after the next U.S. presidential election, so perhaps his wrong-headed move can galvanize climate activists to focus on what matters — electing a candidate who will not only stay involved in global climate policy, but who will act decisively on the domestic front and fight for the changes needed in energy policy and many other areas so that the U.S. can actually deliver on climate action.

To me, Trump’s Paris speech was dangerous beyond climate policy. The language he used to justify his decision sounded a lot like the language Hitler used in the 1930 to rally support for his nationalist policies, and Trump’s attack on global cooperation could end up going far beyond climate. Read more on this topic here.

There’s a lot at stake, especially for the countries that can least afford to deal with global warming impacts. During the most recent climate talks in Bonn, the group of most vulnerable countries made it clear that it is a matter of survival. I reported on their concerns here.

And yes, there is reason to be hopeful. While Trump pursues unrealistic goals of dialing back U.S. policy to the age of coal, most other countries, especially India and China, are racing ahead. Their investments in renewable energy are very likely to drive the shape of global energy markets in the coming decades. More here.

More coral bleaching forecast this summer

Relentless ocean heat takes toll on reefs worldwide

Parts of the Northern Hemisphere oceans could once again be hit by coral reef bleaching this summer.
Bleaching caused by global warming is overwhelming many coral reefs. Photo via NOAA.

Staff Report

There’s been little let-up in the global wave of coral bleaching that’s been ongoing in various parts of the world since 2014, according to an update from NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch program. To date, the bleaching is the most widespread and damaging on record, including mass bleaching in areas where it’s never been seen before — the northern Great Barrier Reed, Kiribati and Jarvis Island.

And more of the same is expected in in the next few months as the Northern Hemisphere moves toward summer. Based on forecasts for the next two to three months, bleaching is likely in the eastern Pacific. Widespread coral bleaching with significant mortality continues in the Samoas (where bleaching of both shallow and deeper corals has now been confirmed) but is expected to dissipate shortly.

After extensive damage to the Great Barrier Reef, ocean temperatures finally cooled of in April, giving a respite to the corals that survived. Similarly, the corals around Florida also got some relief in the past few months. Get the full update at the NOAA coral reef watch page.