Decades-Long “Megadrought” Looms For Entire US As Lake Powell Runs Dry, NASA Warns

September 18, 2015

With the number of people living in the U.S. Southwest and Central Plains, and the volume of water they need, having increased rapidly over recent decades – and, with NASA scientists expecting these trends to continue for years to come – the current severe drought combined with the tapping of the Lake Powell’s water at what many consider to be an unsustainable level, has reduced its levels to only about 42% of its capacity. Forecasting that there is an 80 percent chance of an extended drought in the area between 2050 and 2099 unless aggressive steps are taken to mitigate the impacts of climate change, the researchers said their results point to a challenging – and remarkably drier – future. As Reuters reports, scientists from NASA and Cornell and Columbia universities warned earlier this year that the U.S. Southwest and Central Plains regions are likely to be scorched by a decades-long “megadrought” during the second half of this century if climate change continues unabated. Read

Cole Mellino – Arctic Warming Produces Mosquito Swarms Large Enough to Kill Baby Caribou

September 17, 2015

Some Alaskans joke that mosquitoes are “Alaska’s state bird,” but the pesky insects are becoming no joke. Warming Arctic temperatures have caused their numbers to swell immensely in the region in recent years. Lauren Culler has been studying insects in Greenland for the last several years. Culler, a postdoctoral researcher for Dartmouth College’s Institute of Arctic Studies, along with a team of researchers published a study yesterday in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Their findings are not good for the humans, caribou and other mammals that call the Arctic home. The study answers why this is happening. With the Arctic warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, the Arctics waterways (mosquito breeding grounds) are melting up to several weeks sooner. Thus, mosquitoes are hatching earlier and earlier. Read

The Fingerprints of Sea Level Rise

August 31, 2015

When you fill a sink, the water rises at the same rate to the same height in every corner. That’s not the way it works with our rising seas. According to the 23-year record of satellite data from NASA and its partners, the sea level is rising a few millimeters a year – a fraction of an inch. If you live on the U.S. East Coast, though, your sea level is rising two or three times faster than average. If you live in Scandinavia, it’s falling. Residents of China’s Yellow River delta are swamped by sea level rise of more than nine inches (25 centimeters) a year. These regional differences in sea level change will become even more apparent in the future, as ice sheets melt. For instance, when the Amundsen Sea sector of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is totally gone, the average global sea level will rise four feet. But the East Coast of the United States will see an additional 14 to 15 inches above that average. Read

Andrea Germanos – NASA: World ‘Locked Into’ at Least 3 Feet of Sea Level Rise

August 28, 2015

New research underway indicates that at least three feet of global sea level rise is near certain, NASA scientists warned Wednesday. That’s the higher range of the 1 to 3 feet level of rise the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) gave in its 2013 assessment. Sea levels have already risen 3 inches on average since 1992, with some areas experiencing as much as a 9-inch rise. “Given what we know now about how the ocean expands as it warms and how ice sheets and glaciers are adding water to the seas, it’s pretty certain we are locked into at least 3 feet of sea level rise, and probably more,” said Steve Nerem of the University of Colorado, Read

July Was Warmest Month On Record NOAA Reports, Lists All “Signifiicant Climate Anomalies And Events”

August 21, 2015

While some, perhaps not California farmers, will disagree with NOAA’s assessment of the world’s atmospheric conditions, earlier today the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared that July was the warmest month ever recorded for the globe and was also the record warmest for global oceans, putting a full stop to a year that has been characterized by numerous perplexing atmospheric outliers around the globe but perhaps none other more so than NOAA’s earlier assessment that the winter of 2015 was also the warmest on record despite the much discussed US winter, where for the second year in a row the economic slowdown was blamed on a colder than usual winter. Go figure: perhaps here too we need double seasonal adjustments. Read

Brian Merchant – By 2100, Earth Will Have an Entirely Different Ocean

August 14, 2015

The ocean is in the midst of a radical, manmade change. It can seem kind of crazy that one of the most immense properties on Earth—the ocean washes over 71 percent of the planet—could be completely transformed by a swarm of comparatively tiny, fleshy mammals. But humans are indeed remaking the ocean, in almost every conceivable way. The ocean we know today—that billions swim, fish, float, and surf in—that vast planetary body of water will be of an entirely different character by the end of the century. “There is only one global ocean,” as NOAA likes to say. While it’s changing in different ways and to different degrees in different places, it’s a single, huge, interconnected system. Trash dumped in Oregon can end up in the great Pacific Garbage Patch. Pollution from China drifts overseas into North America. All of our carbon emissions end up partially absorbed by oceans everywhere—your actions in Sheboygan, USA have affected, in some minute way, the future of the seas in Bangladesh. That’s the thing about climate change. Read

Eric Holthaus – The Point of No Return: Climate Change Nightmares Are Already Here

August 6, 2015

Historians may look to 2015 as the year when shit really started hitting the fan. Some snapshots: In just the past few months, record-setting heat waves in Pakistan and India each killed more than 1,000 people. In Washington state’s Olympic National Park, the rainforest caught fire for the first time in living memory. London reached 98 degrees Fahrenheit during the hottest July day ever recorded in the U.K.; The Guardian briefly had to pause its live blog of the heat wave because its computer servers overheated. In California, suffering from its worst drought in a millennium, a 50-acre brush fire swelled seventyfold in a matter of hours, jumping across the I-15 freeway during rush-hour traffic. Then, a few days later, the region was pounded by intense, virtually unheard-of summer rains. Puerto Rico is under its strictest water rationing in history as a monster El Niño forms in the tropical Pacific Ocean, shifting weather patterns worldwide. On July 20th, James Hansen, the former NASA climatologist who brought climate change to the public’s attention in the summer of 1988, issued a bombshell: He and a team of climate scientists had identified a newly important feedback mechanism off the coast of Antarctica that

Leading climate scientist: Future is bleaker than we thought

July 30, 2015

Highly speculative. Full of conjecture. Based on flimsy evidence. Not supported by mainstream science. Not peer reviewed. Not suitable for basing policy on. It sounds like climate scientists are talking about the claims of climate deniers. But this time they are talking about a 23 July discussion paper by James Hansen, the most famous and respected climate scientist on the planet. In it, Hansen starts by arguing that the ice melting on and around Greenland and Antarctica will cause rises in sea level that are much faster than mainstream predictions, meaning that we are likely to see several metres of sea level rise this century. It is an argument he has been making for a long time: for instance in his 2007 feature for New Scientist. Read

Alex Hutchinson – How Trees Calm Us Down

July 29, 2015

In 1984, a researcher named Roger Ulrich noticed a curious pattern among patients who were recovering from gallbladder surgery at a suburban hospital in Pennsylvania. Those who had been given rooms overlooking a small stand of deciduous trees were being discharged almost a day sooner, on average, than those in otherwise identical rooms whose windows faced a wall. The results seemed at once obvious—of course a leafy tableau is more therapeutic than a drab brick wall—and puzzling. Whatever curative property the trees possessed, how were they casting it through a pane of glass? That is the riddle that underlies a new study in the journal Scientific Reports by a team of researchers in the United States, Canada, and Australia, led by the University of Chicago psychology professor Marc Berman. The study compares two large data sets from the city of Toronto, both gathered on a block-by-block level; the first measures the distribution of green space, as determined from satellite imagery and a comprehensive list of all five hundred and thirty thousand trees planted on public land, and the second measures health, as assessed by a detailed survey of ninety-four thousand respondents. Read

Smashing All Previous Records, 2015 on Track to Be Hottest Year Yet – Lauren McCauley

July 22, 2015

The planet Earth, with mankind’s help, is leap-frogging into sweltering new territory. With the monthly update from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) out Monday, three of the world’s official climate reporting agencies agree that June 2015 was the hottest on record, and that this year is shaping up to be the hottest year yet. What’s more, scientists say this trend is likely to continue and that 2016 could very well surpass 2015’s record-breaking temperatures. According to NOAA, “The June globally-averaged land surface temperature was 2.27°F (1.26°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest for June in the 1880–2015 record, surpassing the previous record set in 2012 by 0.11°F (0.06°C).” This followed reports from NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency last week which found similar results. According to both NASA and NOAA, the year-to-date period (January-June) was also the warmest such period on record, with four of the six warmest months in recorded history occurring so far in 2015, putting us on the path to breaking 2014’s record as the hottest documented year. As journalist Andrew Freeman notes, “the heat in 2015 isn’t just breaking records, it’s smashing them.” Scientists attribute this heat to human-induced global warming
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