Climate

Rising seas expected to wash out key California beaches
September 15, 2011 07:03 AM - Emmett Berg, Reuters, SAN FRANCISCO

Rising seas forecast from climate change will likely wash away some of California's most iconic beaches by century's end, along with hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate, roads and tax revenues, a new study found on Wednesday. "If beaches disappear, shrink and erode, we are going to have less tourism," said Phillip King, associate professor of economics at San Francisco State University. "We took the best available science, and it's possible the (estimated) costs are still too low." With a grant from the state Department of Boating and Waterways, university economists spent two years projecting economic losses several coastal California communities could expect from climate change linked to growing concentrations of heat-trapping "greenhouse" gases in the atmosphere. The five stretches of coastline under scrutiny were San Francisco's Ocean Beach, as well as the Southern California beach communities of Carpinteria, Malibu, Venice and Torrey Pines State Reserve near San Diego.

Summer Arctic sea ice melt at or near record
September 14, 2011 07:03 AM - Gerard Wynn, Reuters, LONDON

Arctic sea ice this summer melted to a record low extent or will come a close second, two different research institutes said on Tuesday, confirming a trend which could yield an ice-free summer within a decade. The five biggest melts in a 32-year satellite record have all happened in the past five years, likely a result of both manmade climate change and natural weather patterns. One impact of an ice-free summer may be disrupted world weather, with hints already as some scientists blame recent chill winters in Europe and North America on warmer, open Arctic seas diverting polar winds south. Researchers at the University of Bremen in Germany say that this year has already toppled 2007 after sea ice retreated to a record low on September 8. The U.S.-based National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) says this year is number two with the melt season all but over before winter returns to the high Arctic.

How Predictable is Climate Change?
September 12, 2011 03:27 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Is it possible to make valid climate predictions that go beyond weeks, months, even a year? As most know weather is not easily predictable. UCLA atmospheric scientists report they have now made long-term climate forecasts that are among the best ever — predicting climate up to 16 months in advance, nearly twice the length of time previously achieved by climate scientists. Forecasts of climate are much more general than short-term weather forecasts; they do not predict precise temperatures in specific cities, but they still may have major implications for agriculture, industry and the economy. The study is currently available online in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and will be published in an upcoming print edition of the journal.

U.S. Experiences Second Warmest Summer On Record: Texas Has Warmest Summer On Record of Any State
September 12, 2011 09:11 AM - Editor, Science Daily

ScienceDaily (Sep. 10, 2011) — The blistering heat experienced by the United States during August, as well as the June through August months, marks the second warmest summer on record, according to scientists at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) in Asheville, N.C. The persistent heat, combined with below-average precipitation across the southern U.S. during August and the three summer months, continued a record-breaking drought across the region.

Study: Switching from coal to natural gas would not significantly help climate!
September 10, 2011 07:42 AM - Deborah Zabarenko,Reuters Environment Correspondent WASHINGTON

Relying more on natural gas than on coal would not significantly slow down the effects of climate change, even though direct carbon dioxide emissions would be less, a new study has found. Burning coal emits far more climate-warming carbon dioxide than natural gas does, but it also releases lots of sulfates and other particles that block incoming sunlight and help cool the Earth, according to a study to be published in the peer-reviewed journal Climate Change Letters in October. Using more natural gas for fuel could also produce leaks of methane, a heat-trapping greenhouse gas more than 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, study author Tom Wigley said in a statement. "Relying more on natural gas would reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, but it would do little to help solve the climate problem," said Wigley, of the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University of Adelaide in Australia. "It would be many decades before it would slow down global warming at all, and even then it would just be making a difference around the edges," he said.

800,000 Years of Abrupt Climate Variability: Earth's Climate Is Capable of Very Rapid Transitions
September 9, 2011 08:16 AM - Editor, Science Daily

ScienceDaily (Sep. 8, 2011) — An international team of scientists, led by Dr Stephen Barker of Cardiff University, has produced a prediction of what climate records from Greenland might look like over the last 800,000 years.

Coal or Natural Gas, Climate Effects
September 8, 2011 12:26 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Although the burning of natural gas emits far less carbon dioxide than coal, a new study concludes that a greater reliance on natural gas would fail to significantly slow down climate change. The study by Tom Wigley, who is a senior research associate at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), underscores the complex and sometimes conflicting ways in which fossil fuel burning affects Earth’s climate. While coal use causes warming through emission of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, it also releases comparatively large amounts of sulfates and other particles that, although detrimental to the environment, cool the planet by blocking incoming sunlight. As always the final picture of climate effect is very complicated to put together.

Clouds Don't Cause Climate Change, Study Shows
September 7, 2011 08:54 AM - Editor, Science Daily

ScienceDaily (Sep. 6, 2011) — Clouds only amplify climate change, says a Texas A&M University professor in a study that rebuts recent claims that clouds are actually the root cause of climate change.

How Salty the Ocean
September 6, 2011 12:18 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

On average, seawater in the world's oceans has a salinity of about 3.5%. This means that every kilogram (roughly one liter by volume) of seawater has approximately 35 grams of dissolved salts (predominantly sodium chloride. The average density of seawater at the ocean surface is 1.025 g/ml. Seawater is denser than both fresh water and pure water because the dissolved salts add mass without contributing significantly to the volume. The freezing point of seawater decreases as salt concentration increases. NASA's Aquarius satellite has successfully completed its commissioning phase and is now tasting the saltiness of Earth's ocean surface, making measurements from its perch in near-polar orbit. Aquarius will make NASA's first space observations of the salinity, or concentration of salt, at the ocean surface, a key variable in satellite studies of Earth. Variations in salinity influence the ocean's deep circulation, outline the path freshwater takes around our planet and help drive Earth's climate.

Hotel Chains Standardize Carbon Accounting
September 6, 2011 08:57 AM - Akhila Vijayaraghavan, Triple Pundit

Everybody travels and everybody stays at hotels one time or another but travelling comes with a steep carbon as well as water footprint. For example, every day you stay at a hotel, you might burn enough fossil fuels to release more than 33 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The good news is that many hotels and holiday resorts have become aware of the issue and are introducing plans that makes your stay more eco-friendly.

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