Climate

2010 hottest year on record for Canada
January 12, 2011 07:02 AM - Reuters, OTTAWA

Canada had its warmest year on record in 2010, according to the country's environmental agency, with the biggest impact seen in the Arctic region. The national average temperature for the year was 3 degrees Celsius above normal, based on preliminary data, according to a report put on Environment Canada's website on Monday. That made it the warmest year since nationwide records began in 1948. Most areas of the northern territory of Nunavut and of northern Quebec were at least 4 degrees above normal, while the Arctic tundra region was 4.3 degrees above normal. Along with the Arctic tundra, the Arctic mountains and fiords, the northeastern forest and Atlantic regions also had the warmest year on record.

Snowball Earth Was Dotted With Puddles
January 11, 2011 08:41 AM - Sid Perkins, Science AAAS

About 2 decades ago, scientists coined the term "snowball Earth" to describe a period about 700 million years ago when glaciers apparently smothered the planet even at latitudes near the equator. However, new evidence from ancient rocks bolsters the notion that some of the world's seas remained unfrozen during this global deep freeze, striking a blow against the controversial idea that the planet was completely swaddled in ice at the time.

Climate 3000
January 10, 2011 02:45 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

What if this and that... The art of prediction is one that often fails and only the test of time will show who is right and who is wrong. Climate models use quantitative methods to simulate the interactions of the atmosphere, oceans, land surface, and ice. There is a new paper in Nature Geoscience that examines the inertia of carbon dioxide emissions. New research indicates the impact of rising CO2 levels in the Earth's atmosphere will cause effects to the climate for at least the next 1,000 years, causing these researchers to estimate a collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet by the year 3000, and an eventual rise in the global sea level of at least four meters. The study is the first full climate model simulation to make predictions out to 1000 years from now. It is based on a best-case, zero-emissions scenarios constructed by a team of researchers from the Canadian Center for Climate Modeling and Analysis and the University of Calgary.

Dust levels in Earth's atmosphere contribute to climate change
January 10, 2011 07:50 AM - Science Daily, adapted from materials from Cornell University

The amount of dust in the Earth's atmosphere has doubled over the last century, according to a new study; and the dramatic increase is influencing climate and ecology around the world. The study, led by Natalie Mahowald, associate professor of earth and atmospheric sciences, used available data and computer modeling to estimate the amount of desert dust, or soil particles in the atmosphere, throughout the 20th century. It's the first study to trace the fluctuation of a natural (not human-caused) aerosol around the globe over the course of a century.

Flash floods in Brisbane, Australia
January 10, 2011 07:07 AM - Michael Perry, Reuters SYDNEY

Residents in Australia's third largest city, Brisbane, sandbagged their homes against rising waters on Monday as torrential rain worsened floods that have paralysed the coal industry in the northeast and now threaten tourism. Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the cost of the floods would not delay a return to budget surplus in 2012-13, but J.P. Morgan predicted the disaster would crimp growth this year and could delay another increase in interest rates. The worst floods in 50 years have at times covered an area the size of France and Germany combined in Queensland state. Six people have been killed while dozens of towns have been isolated or partially submerged. More monsoon rains are expected all week.

Europe and Renewable Energy
January 6, 2011 11:24 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

The European Union (EU)27 will exceed its target of meeting 20 % of its gross final energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020. Today the European Wind Energy Association published its analysis of the 27 National Renewable Energy Action Plans, submitted by the EU Member States to the European Commission. "Taken together the Action Plans show that the EU-27 will meet 20.7 % of its 2020 energy consumption from renewables", said Justin Wilkes, Policy Director of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). The countries of the European Union are currently the global leaders in the development and application of renewable energy. Promoting the use of renewable energy sources is important both to the reduction of the EU's dependence on foreign energy imports, and in meeting targets to combat global warming.

December was the coldest in 100 years in UK
January 6, 2011 06:37 AM - Reuters, LONDON

Britain has just gone through its coldest December since nationwide records began 100 years ago, the Met Office said on Wednesday. The country shivered as temperatures averaged minus 1 degree Celsius, well below the long-term average of 4.2 degrees, and colder than the previous record for the month of 0.1 degrees hit in 1981. Provisional figures released by the forecaster showed that December saw exceptionally cold and snowy weather across the country, with temperatures regularly falling to between minus 10 and minus 20 overnight. The Arctic blast caused havoc with the country's transport sector, closing roads, airports and railways and hitting retail sales during the traditionally busy Christmas period as shoppers struggled to get to stores.

Gulf of Mexico Coral
January 5, 2011 04:23 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

A team of U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and academic scientists are analyzing samples of coral and surrounding sediments from an area damaged near the Deepwater Horizon site in the Gulf of Mexico. These samples, collected in December, are being used to investigate how and why the corals on these reefs died. There are many potential causes of coral death. This particular case may be related to the oil release from Deepwater. Coral colonies may live for decades or centuries. Some causes are predation by other sea creatures such as Sea Stars. Global warming is a potential cause as well as other human related activities.

On Eve of New Climate Regs, A Primer, Part II: Lawsuits
January 3, 2011 12:13 PM - Eli Kintisch, Science AAAS

Yesterday ScienceInsider went through the implications of new federal rules on greenhouse gases for industries which pollute the air with these pollutants. But legal challenges could complicate an already complex landscape for the rules.

Texas files again to block EPA carbon rules
January 1, 2011 09:51 AM - Jim Forsyth, Reuters, SAN ANTONIO

Texas on Thursday filed a fresh motion in federal appeals court to block the Obama Administration's attempts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions in the state, one day after another federal court rejected the state's petitions. At issue is the state's lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to prevent the agency from forcing it to issue greenhouse gas permits for its biggest polluters when national carbon rules take effect in January. Until there is a ruling on the case, Texas asked the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to block the EPA's mandate that the state expand its pollution regulations to include greenhouse gases. The Fifth Circuit court denied that request on Wednesday. On Thursday, EPA published in the Federal Register details of its proposed permit rules for Texas to go into effect on Sunday, January 2.

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