Climate

The Complex Business of Measuring Climate Change
January 31, 2011 09:03 AM - Nick Engelfried, Justmeans, Clean Techies

Have you ever wondered exactly how scientists track climate change and the warming of the world at a global level? Estimating the overall surface temperature of the Earth isn't easy when you have to account for seasonal variations across six continents and four oceans. It requires compiling data from satellites positioned high up in the atmosphere and from hundreds of meteorological stations scattered across the globe. However being able to compare average global temperatures from year to year is incredibly important, and allows scientists to track the progress of climate change.

Warm summers shown to slow down glaciers
January 28, 2011 03:04 PM - Tamera Jones, Planet Earth Online

Hotter summers may not be such a disaster for the Greenland ice sheet after all, if the latest research is anything to go by. Scientists have found that Greenland glaciers flow slower in warmer summers than they do during cooler ones. Although this seems counter-intuitive, the researchers explain that during cooler summers, a small amount of melted water from glaciers' surfaces seeps down to their bases, lubricating them so they move more easily.

Arctic current warmest in 2,000 years
January 28, 2011 06:59 AM - Alister Doyle, Retuers Environment Correspondent OSLO

A North Atlantic current flowing into the Arctic Ocean is warmer than for at least 2,000 years in a sign that global warming is likely to bring ice-free seas around the North Pole in summers, a study showed. Scientists said that waters at the northern end of the Gulf Stream, between Greenland and the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, averaged 6 degrees Celsius (42.80F) in recent summers, warmer than at natural peaks during Roman or Medieval times. "The temperature is unprecedented in the past 2,000 years," lead author Robert Spielhagen of the Academy of Sciences, Humanities and Literature in Mainz, Germany, told Reuters of the study in Friday's edition of the journal Science.

Plants Go Down and Not Up
January 27, 2011 09:43 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

When it gets warmer vegetation and animal life adapt and change. Different populations move in from warmer climes to former colder climes. One widely held assumption is that it gets colder as the elevation gets higher so that as the climate gets warmer life that has adapted to a warmer environment will go higher pushing the colder based life forms out. In a paper published January 20th in the journal Science, a University of California researcher and his co-authors challenge a widely held assumption that plants will move uphill in response to warmer temperatures. Between 1930 and 2000, instead of colonizing higher elevations to maintain a constant temperature, many California plant species instead moved downhill an average of 260 feet.

New melt record for Greenland ice sheet
January 27, 2011 08:51 AM - Editor, World Wildlife Fund

New York: New research shows that 2010 set new records for the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet, expected to be a major contributor to projected sea level rises in coming decades.

Glaciers largely stable in one range of Himalayas
January 26, 2011 09:34 AM - Janet Raloff, Science News

An important portion of the Himalaya's glacier cover is currently stable and, thanks to an insulating layer of debris, may be even growing, a new study finds. The study's conclusion contradicts a portion of the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that had to be retracted last year because it could not be substantiated.

Dwindling Rain in the Southern US
January 25, 2011 04:42 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

A drought is an extended period of months or years when a region notes a deficiency in its water supply. Generally, this occurs when a region receives consistently below average precipitation. It can have a substantial impact on the ecosystem and agriculture of the affected region. Although droughts can persist for several years, even a short, intense drought can cause significant damage and harm the local economy. While wet and snowy weather has dominated the western U.S., persistent drought conditions are likely to linger in the Southern Plains and Southeast through mid to late spring, according to NOAA’s National Weather Service. La Niña has kept storms and most of their precipitation in the north, leaving the South drier than normal.

Obama climate adviser to depart in latest staff change
January 25, 2011 05:50 AM - Alister Bull and JoAnne Allen, Reuters, WASHINGTON

A key climate change adviser to President Barack Obama will step down soon, administration officials said on Monday, in the latest staff departure as the White House adapts to a shift in power in Congress. Carol Browner, White House coordinator of energy and climate policy, "will stay on as long as necessary to ensure an orderly transition," a senior administration official said. As his presidency enters its third year, Obama has unveiled a number of staff changes following Republican gains in the November congressional elections in which they won control of the House of Representatives.

While some Himalayan glaciers retreat, others are growing
January 24, 2011 07:05 AM - Alister Doyle, Retuers Environment Correspondent OSLO

Some Himalayan glaciers are advancing despite an overall retreat, according to a study on Sunday that is a step toward understanding how climate change affects vital river flows from China to India. A blanket of dust and rock debris was apparently shielding some glaciers in the world's highest mountain range from a thaw, a factor omitted from past global warming reports. And varying wind patterns might explain why some were defying a melt. "Our study shows there is no uniform response of Himalayan glaciers to climate change and highlights the importance of debris cover," scientists at universities in Germany and the United States wrote in the study of 286 glaciers.

Stratospheric Warming linked to our weather
January 22, 2011 09:50 AM - ScienceDaily

Meteorologists at Freie Universität have found a correlation between warming in the stratosphere and cold or warm winter periods. They observed that there is an increased number of stratospheric warmings, when the heat flow from the North Atlantic into the atmosphere is increased. Trends for winter temperatures can be derived from these new findings. "This could mean that in Europe there will increasingly be periods lasting several decades with predominantly colder winters alternating with periods of warmer winters," says Semjon Schimanke, who led the research, reported in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The meteorologists expect that in the long term their research will help weather forecasters make more accurate predictions.

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