Climate Change News - ENN
Updated: 7 min 59 sec ago
More extreme droughts, floods and wildfires – these are just some of the impacts of climate change that won't just occur in the distant future to our great-great grandchildren, but are happening now. To address the changing climate's current effects on communities in the U.S., President Barack Obama announced a plan to strengthen national infrastructure and help cities, states and tribal communities better prepare for and recover from natural disasters.
You have probably heard that melting permafrost is a big contributor to increasing the levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, and that melting permafrost may even cause an unstoppable acceleration of global warming. New research, however, supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), counters this widely-held scientific view that thawing permafrost uniformly accelerates atmospheric warming, indicating instead that certain arctic lakes store more greenhouse gases than they emit into the atmosphere. The study, published this week in the journal Nature, focuses on thermokarst lakes, which occur as permafrost thaws and creates surface depressions that fill with melted fresh water, converting what was previously frozen land into lakes.
This week, on July 15, NASA's Aura satellite celebrated its 10th anniversary. Happy belated, Aura! The mission of Aura, which is Latin for breeze, centers on obtaining measurements of ozone, aerosols and key gases throughout the atmosphere. And after one decade in space, the satellite has provided vital data about the cause, concentrations and impact of major air pollutants.
When it rains, where does the water go? Well for one, a lot of rainwater will funnel its way off roads and impermeable surfaces and will make its way into storm sewers. Another path might be directly into rivers and lakes. Or, rainwater might get soaked up by soil where it will then infiltrate into the ground and replenish aquifers. But just how deep does this rainwater infiltrate? According to new research, rainwater can penetrate below the Earth's fractured upper crust - which is at least eight miles below the Earth's surface!
US Government scientists have developed a new high-resolution climate model that shows southwestern Australia's long-term decline in fall and winter rainfall is caused by increases in manmade greenhouse gas emissions and ozone depletion. "This new high-resolution climate model is able to simulate regional-scale precipitation with considerably improved accuracy compared to previous generation models," said Tom Delworth, a research scientist at NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, N.J., who helped develop the new model and is co-author of the research.
London's urban heat island effect, which keeps night-time temperatures in the capital warmer than in surrounding rural areas, may have been underestimated by up to 45 per cent. The heat can pose serious health risks, particularly for the elderly and very young.
In a study that may both reflect and foretell a warming planet's impact on human health, a research team found a link between hot days and kidney stones in 60,000 patients in several US cities with varying climates. "We found that as daily temperatures rise, there is a rapid increase in the probability of patients presenting over the next 20 days with kidney stones," said study leader Gregory E. Tasian, MD, MSc, MSCE, a pediatric urologist and epidemiologist at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), who is on the staff of the Hospital's Kidney Stone Center as well as the Hospital's Center for Pediatric Clinical Effectiveness (CPCE).
Log books from British whaling ships more than 200 years ago have given new insights into the history of the Arctic sea ice, reports Tim Radford. A new study reveals that the scale of ice melt in the Arctic over the last few decades is new and unprecedented. The retreat of the ice in the last 30 years is part of a more recent and new pattern of climate change. British whaling ships from Tyneside in the north-east of England made 458 trips to the edge of the Arctic ice between 1750 and 1850.
Astrobiologists from the United States and Germany recorded the highest known level of solar UV radiation to reach Earth's surface. This was around 10 years ago. On December 29, 2003, the UV Index (UVI) peaked, reaching the blistering number of 43.3 over the Andes Mountains in Bolivia. To put this in context, a beachgoer in the United States would expect a UVI of 8 or 9 on a summer day. Even with an 8 or a 9, one may not escape the day without sunburn. Nonetheless, it has taken scientists 10 years to detail a report of this data while taking into account all of the variables and anomalies monitored from an international network of dosimeters – or Eldonets (European Light Dosimeter Network) – that measure UV radiation worldwide. This system is comprised of more than 100 stations across 5 continents to account for variation in the atmosphere above each station.
Extreme weather events and other natural disasters claimed the lives of more than 2,700 people and caused around US $42 billion in damage worldwide in the first half of 2014, but this was well below the first half of last year and a 10-year average, according to new research from reinsurer Munich Re. However, the briefing report warns that towards the end of the year the natural climate phenomenon El Niño may impact regions differently in terms of the number and intensity of weather extremes.
A new Yale-led study quantifies for the first time the primary causes of the "urban heat island" (UHI) effect, a common phenomenon that makes the world's urban areas significantly warmer than surrounding countryside and may increase health risks for city residents. In an analysis of 65 cities across North America, researchers found that variation in how efficiently urban areas release heat back into the lower atmosphere — through the process of convection — is the dominant factor in the daytime UHI effect. This finding challenges a long-held belief that the phenomenon is driven principally by diminished evaporative cooling through the loss of vegetation.
Professors Jesse Thé and Roydon Fraser from the University of Waterloo are initiating a study on the potential cause of the decade long pause on global warming. This is an interview with Prof. Thé, as a disclosure is also ENN’s Editor-in-Chief. . ENN: What is causing this decade long pause on the average global temperature increase? Prof. Thé: First of all, note that the last decade was the warmest on record. While the maximum temperatures are not increasing as fast, we are not seen a real pause on temperature increase, just a significant reduction on its growth rate. Second, researchers are not certain and our work at this stage can only be placed in the scientific method as a hypothesis. Until we develop the full analysis, all my views in this interview are based on our hypothesis that the pause in the temperature increase is cause by the aerosol formation form the massive burning of coal in China (50% of global consumption of coal) and India.
With the focus on reducing carbon emissions, we often forget about methane – another greenhouse gas that is way more powerful as an atmospheric pollutant than carbon dioxide. Methane emissions can come from industry, agriculture, and waste management activities, but can also be emitted from a number of natural sources. One newly discovered natural source: SAR11.
A long-term study of the links between climate and marine life along the rapidly warming West Antarctic Peninsula reveals how changes in physical factors such as wind speed and sea-ice cover send ripples up the food chain, with impacts on everything from single-celled algae to penguins.
There's more to trying to slow down climate change than just cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Technology, policies or plans that aim to do so should also take environmental factors such as water usage into account. A more integrated approach might make some options considerably more attractive than others, especially when implemented in arid countries such as Australia, advise Philip Wallis of Monash University in Australia and colleagues, in an article in Springer's journal Climatic Change. The researchers considered the example of Australia to show how water usage influences the appeal of certain preferred mitigation options. They analyzed 74 options that were ranked in the influential "Low Carbon Growth Plan for Australia" in 2010, and together could help Australia cut its 2000 emission levels by 25 percent by 2020.
A federally funded scientific study on regional seagrass health recently released by The Nature Conservancy points to nitrogen pollution — from sewage and fertilizers — and warmer water temperatures as the killer threats to seagrasses throughout the coastal waters of southern New England. Seagrass is vital habitat for fish and shellfish and is important for water quality.
As part of the President's Climate Action Plan – Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing updates to its air standards for new municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills. These updates would require certain landfills to capture additional landfill gas, which would reduce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and help further reduce pollution that harms public health.
For decades, climate scientists have tried to explain why ice-age cycles became longer and more intense about 900,000 years ago, switching from 41,000-year cycles to 100,000-year cycles. In a new study in the journal Science, researchers found that the deep ocean currents that move heat around the globe stalled or even stopped, possibly due to expanding ice cover in the north. The slowing currents increased carbon dioxide storage in the ocean, leaving less in the atmosphere, which kept temperatures cold and kicked the climate system into a new phase of colder but less frequent ice ages, they hypothesize.
In support of President Obama's Climate Action Plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to increase the options for refrigerants in the United States that offer better climate protection without harming the ozone layer. This is the agency's first action that addresses refrigerants under the Climate Action Plan, which calls on EPA's Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program to identify and approve additional climate-friendly chemicals.
It has been well documented that one negative of air travel – besides the food – is the emission of CO2 from jet engines. But what about contrails? Dr. Emma Irvine, Professor Keith Shine, and Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, at the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading have linked contrails to global climate change in a study published in IOP Publishing’s journal Environmental Research Letters. According to their report, contrails may have a greater radiative forcing (the capacity for an agent to enact climate change via warming) than CO2.