Climate

Ski Resorts Blow Fake Snow For A 'Brown' Winter
January 16, 2012 08:58 AM - NPR Staff, NPR Topics: Environment

Across the Midwest and northeast this weekend, ski resort towns are celebrating the arrival of winter for the first time this season. Terry Hill has been renting out cabins near Baxter State Park in Maine in 30 years, where she says they only received about four to five inches of snow on Saturday. She usually rents her cabins to those who like to snowmobile, but those cabins are empty right now. She says Maine needs a couple more big storms to make up lost ground for what's been a brown winter.

Atmospheric Particles causing more rain
January 16, 2012 07:09 AM - Reuters, London

A rise in the atmosphere of aerosols - miniscule particles which include soot, dust and sulphates - has led to more rainfall in certain parts of the world and could provide vital clues for future climate predictions, a scientific study shows. A deeper understanding of rainfall patterns would aid scientists' ability to predict changing trends in the climate. Aerosols can be produced from burning coal or gas, industrial and agricultural processes or by the burning of forests. As well as being harmful for human health, they are blamed for causing air pollution such as smog and smoke. "For a range of conditions, increases in aerosol abundance are associated with the local intensification of rain rates," said the study published in Nature Geoscience by scientists from Israel's Weizmann Institute, NASA, and other institutions.

Include trees in climate modelling, say scientists
January 13, 2012 05:56 PM - Dyna Rochmyaningsih, SciDevNet

Current climate models and projections may be inaccurate because measurements are based on guidelines that do not include the effects of trees on the local climate, according to agroforestry experts. This in turn may be hindering effective adaptation by local farming communities, as the true effect of climate change on their crops is not accurately captured.

Small efforts to reduce methane, soot could have big effect
January 13, 2012 08:36 AM - Devin Powell, Science News

Carbon dioxide may be public enemy number one in the fight against global warming. But taking aim at methane and soot has a better chance of keeping the planet cooler in the short run, a new study finds.

Warmer summers causing colder winters
January 13, 2012 07:08 AM - David Fogarty, Reuters, SINGAPORE

Warmer summers in the far Northern Hemisphere are disrupting weather patterns and triggering more severe winter weather in the United States and Europe, a team of scientists say, in a finding that could improve long-range weather forecasts. Blizzards and extreme cold temperatures in the winters of 2009/10 and 2010/11 caused widespread travel chaos in parts of Europe and the United States, leading some to question whether global warming was real. Judah Cohen, lead author of a study published on Friday in the journal Environmental Research Letters, and his team found there was a clear trend of strong warming in the Arctic from July to September. Existing predictions would also expect a warming trend during winter as well. But Cohen and his team found this was not the case for some regions, in a counter-intuitive finding that reveals more about the complexity of the world's climate system than any flaws in the science of global warming. "For the last two decades, large-scale cooling trends have existed instead across large stretches of eastern North America and northern Eurasia. We argue that this unforeseen trend is probably not due to internal variability alone," the scientists say in the study.

US EPA issuing new Air Quality rules
January 12, 2012 07:10 AM - Timothy Gardner,David Gregorio, Reuters

The Environmental Protection Agency is introducing its most ambitious clean air rules in decades, though it is making some concessions to election-minded Republicans who oppose them. The EPA, facing backlash from heavy industry, has delayed several of the rules and made adjustments in others. Some industry groups say the rules will cost companies billions of dollars and increase power bills for consumers. The EPA says money saved on healthcare costs will be greater than the amount polluters will need to invest in retooling plants to meet the new standards. So far, the major delay in the rules has been President Barack Obama's backtracking in September on smog pollution, which came as a disappointment to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. Below are important dates for the clean air rules: 2011: CROSS STATE AIR POLLUTION RULE Finalized by the EPA in July, this rule aims to slash air pollution that blows downwind from coal-fired power plants in the eastern United States. Two days before it was to take effect, a U.S. federal appeals court delayed the implementation, pending further review, after power generators complained about the deadline. The first phase of regulation had been set to begin on January 1, 2012, and the second two years later.

List of natural disasters and extreme weather makes 2011 the worst on record
January 11, 2012 02:27 PM - Click Green Staff, ClickGreen

A sequence of devastating earthquakes and a large number of weather-related catastrophes made 2011 the costliest year ever in terms of natural catastrophe losses. Estimates of around US$380 billion in global economic losses were nearly two-thirds higher than in 2005, the previous record year with losses of $220 billion. The earthquakes in Japan in March and New Zealand in February alone caused almost two-thirds of these losses. Insured losses of $105 billion also exceeded the 2005 record of $101 billion.

How Elks are Destroying Song Birds
January 10, 2012 09:32 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

The link between the two very different species may seem strange, but taken in the context of climate change, it makes perfect sense. Elks are highly prevalent in the American West and are known to be prolific eaters of local flora. One of climate change's most noticeable effects in this region is the decrease in amount of winter snowfall. This allows the elks to continue consuming plants and at higher elevations. As a result, deciduous trees and their associated song birds have been in continuous decline.

Europe's mountains show clear and rapid change to a warming climate
January 10, 2012 08:47 AM - ClickGreen staff, ClickGreen

The decade from 2000 to 2009 was the warmest since global climate has been measured, and while localized studies have shown evidence of changes in mountain plant communities that reflect this warming trend, no study has yet taken a continental-scale view of the situation – until now. With the publication of "Continent-wide response of mountain vegetation to climate change," scheduled for Advance Online Publication (AOP) in Nature Climate Change on 8 January, researchers from 13 countries report clear and statistically significant evidence of a continent-wide warming effect on mountain plant communities.

2011 was the driest year on record in Texas
January 8, 2012 07:45 AM - Marice Richter, Reuters, FORT WORTH, Texas

It's official: 2011 was the driest year on record in Texas, according to the National Weather Service. It was also the second-hottest ever. That won't surprise Texans who lived through a year in which wildfires roared through the Lone Star State, cattle went thirsty and many Fourth of July fireworks shows were canceled. The weather service said the average rainfall in Texas in 2011 was 14.89 inches. The previous record of 14.99 inches of average rainfall was set in 1917. The average temperature in 2011 was 67.2 degrees. The warmest year on record was 1921, when the average temperature was 67.5 degrees, the weather service said. The prolonged Texas drought is to blame for devastating agriculture and livestock losses, estimated in the billions of dollars. The historic drought has killed as many as half a billion trees, not including those that died in wildfires that scorched some 4 million acres in 2011, the Texas Forest Service has reported. While some parts of Texas received substantial rainfall during December, 97.83 percent of the state remained in severe drought this week, according to a Thursday report by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

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