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Climate

Arctic sea ice continues to shrink
March 19, 2015 02:20 PM - World Wildlife Foundation

Arctic sea ice shrank to the lowest winter extent ever recorded, according to data released today by the US-based National Snow and Ice Data Center. The record-low ice level follows earlier news that 2014 was the warmest year since record keeping began.
 
An unusually warm February in parts of Alaska and Russia contributed to the record ice low. The winter reach of Arctic ice decreased 1.1 million square kilometres compared to the average maximum from 1981 to 2010. This represents an area more than twice the size of Sweden.
 
"This is not a record to be proud of. Low sea ice can create a series of reactions that further threaten the Arctic and the rest of the globe," said Alexander Shestakov, Director, WWF Global Arctic Programme.

Electric Vehicles are Cool, Literally.
March 19, 2015 02:02 PM - Michigan State University

A study in this week’s Scientific Report by researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) and in China add more fuel to the already hot debate about whether electric vehicles are more environmentally friendly than conventional vehicles by uncovering two hidden benefits.

They show that the cool factor is real – in that electric vehicles emit significantly less heat.  That difference could mitigate the urban heat island effect, the phenomenon that helps turn big cities like Beijing into pressure cookers in warm months.

Amazon forest trees dying younger, reducing carbon uptake
March 18, 2015 05:54 PM - University of Leeds

From a peak of two billion tonnes of carbon dioxide each year in the 1990s, the net uptake by the forest has halved and is now for the first time being overtaken by fossil fuel emissions in Latin America.  

The results of this monumental 30-year survey of the South American rainforest, which involved an international team of almost 100 researchers and was led by the University of Leeds, are published today in the journal Nature.

Oregon State University study provides new insight into forest life cycles and carbon storage
March 18, 2015 07:50 AM - Oregon State University

A century-long study in the Oregon Cascades may cause scientists to revise the textbook on how forests grow and die, accumulate biomass and store carbon.

In a new analysis of forest succession in three Douglas-fir stands in the Willamette National Forest, two Oregon State University scientists report that biomass – a measure of tree volume – has been steadily accumulating for 150 years. In the long term, such a trend is not sustainable, they said, and if these stands behave in a manner similar to others in the Cascades, trees will begin to die from causes such as insect outbreaks, windstorms or fire.

“Mortality will occur in the future,” said Mark Harmon, professor and Richardson Chair in Forest Science at OSU. “It just hasn’t arrived.”

The impact of increasing snowfall in Antarctica on sea level rise
March 17, 2015 07:12 AM - Oregon State University

A new study confirms that snowfall in Antarctica will increase significantly as the planet warms, offsetting future sea level rise from other sources – but the effect will not be nearly as strong as many scientists previously anticipated because of other, physical processes.

That means that many computer models may be underestimating the amount and rate of sea level rise if they had projected more significant impact from Antarctic snow.

Results of the study, which was funded by the National Science Foundation, were reported this week in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Renewable energy sources really making a difference!
March 15, 2015 07:12 AM - Click Green staff, ClickGreen

Global emissions of carbon dioxide from the energy sector stalled in 2014, marking the first time in 40 years in which there was a halt or reduction in emissions of the greenhouse gas that was not tied to an economic downturn, according to new data from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

"This gives me even more hope that humankind will be able to work together to combat climate change, the most important threat facing us today," said IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol, recently named to take over from Maria van der Hoeven as the next IEA Executive Director.
 

What Lake Tahoe tells us about a changing climate
March 13, 2015 07:37 AM - University of Hawaii.

A recently published study on how natural and man-made sources of nitrogen are recycled through the Lake Tahoe ecosystem provides new information on how global change may affect the iconic blue lake.

“High-elevation lakes, such as Lake Tahoe, are sentinels of climate change,” said Lihini Aluwihare, associate professor of geosciences at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) at UC San Diego and co-author of the study. “Small changes in the lake's chemistry can have big impacts on the entire ecosystem.”

Lake Tahoe's nitrogen concentration is one of several factors that helps maintain its crystal clear waters. To keep Tahoe blue in the future, the researchers say it's important to keep a close eye on the nitrogen balance in the ecosystem over time.

Could China & India's Air Pollution be behind our Cold, Snowy Winters?
March 11, 2015 02:02 PM - Michaeleen Doucleff, NPR

It's March. It's freezing. And there's half a foot of snow on the ground. When is this winter going to end?

Many scientists think that climate change might be one cause of this year's "snowpocalypse" in Boston and bitter cold snaps in New York and Washington.

But physicists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory have been looking into another culprit: air pollution in China and India.

Warm Winter in Pacific Northwest means less snowpack and water worries
March 11, 2015 07:42 AM - Oregon State University

If it seemed like Oregon has had a lot of unseasonably warm days this winter, well, it’s because we have. Now the focus is on a very low snowpack – and the implications that may have later this year.

The meteorological winter – which is comprised of December, January and February – recently wrapped up and depending on where you live in Oregon, it was one of the warmest – if not the warmest – winters on record.

Wetland restoration can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions
March 10, 2015 03:31 PM - University of Gothenburg

Restoration of wetlands can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is shown in a report that has been written in part by researchers from the University of Gothenburg. Former wetlands that have been drained and which are currently used for forestry and agriculture give off 11.4 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalents. That can be compared with Sweden's total emissions of 57.6 million tons (when the land use sector is not included). But in Sweden's report to the Climate Convention, emissions from drained peatland are not visible since they are included with forest growth.

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