• 2012 Weather in Review

    From tropical storms and hurricanes like Sandy, to extended heat waves and detrimental summer droughts, to unprecedented wildfire outbreaks in the American West, 2012 marked a historic year for extreme weather events in the United States. In fact, 2012 takes the prize for the warmest and second most extreme year on record for the contiguous US thus allowing the year to break some other climate and weather related records. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center reports the State of the Climate and offers some of last year’s highlights. - 2012 marked the warmest year on record for the contiguous United States with the year consisting of a record warm spring, second warmest summer, fourth warmest winter and a warmer-than-average autumn. The average temperature for 2012 was 55.3°F, 3.2°F above the 20th century average, and 1.0°F above 1998, the previous warmest year. Every state in the contiguous U.S. had an above-average annual temperature for 2012. - The average precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. for 2012 was 26.57 inches, 2.57 inches below average, making it the 15th driest year on record for the nation. This was also the driest year for the nation since 1988. - Each season of 2012 had precipitation totals below the 20th century average. >> Read the Full Article
  • Severe Weather in the Middle East - Another Result of a Changing Climate?

    Severe weather is pummeling the Middle East. Latest reports puts the death toll at dozens. I'm fresh back from a trip to my family's two homesteads: the USA, where we toured New Jersey's hurricane-battered shoreline, and the UK, where new lakes of rainwater cover Cotswolds' fields and the British Meteorological Office declared the highest annual precipitation since they began keeping records. An exceptional spate of extreme weather events? Or is this climate change? (I'll duck under my keyboard so comment-hurling can commence). Bad weather's no stranger to those places, but the Mid East dressed up in alpine weather? Surreal. Early this week, the Greater Amman Municipality announced a moderate state of emergency in the capital to deal with predicted severe weather conditions. Yesterday, the Prime Minister issued a directive closing all government and public offices; most schools had already issued pre-emptive shut-downs. >> Read the Full Article
  • Australia reels from record heatwave, fires

    Yesterday Australia recorded its highest average temperature yet: 40.33 degrees Celsius (104.59 Fahrenheit). The nation has been sweltering under an unprecedented summer heatwave that has spawned wildfires across the nation, including on the island of Tasmania where over 100 houses were engulfed over the weekend. Temperatures are finally falling slightly today, providing a short reprieve before they are expected to rise again this weekend. >> Read the Full Article
  • Drought Still Threatens Mississippi River

    A new year has started, but last year's drought is still afflicting the United States. The latest map from the U.S. Drought Monitor shows nearly 73 percent of the contiguous U.S. is still in drought. Rain has slaked the thirst of parts of the Northeast and Southeast, but dry conditions expanded in other regions. >> Read the Full Article
  • Coral Fighting Back

    Corals are marine animals typically living in compact colonies of many identical individual polyps. The group includes the important reef builders that inhabit tropical oceans and secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton. Coral reefs are under stress around the world often due to climate change issues. Researchers have uncovered a pattern of gene activity that enables some corals to survive in higher temperatures. The finding suggests a way to predict how different corals will fare in the warmer waters expected to result from climate change over the coming decades. Such information could help to focus future conservation efforts, the researchers say. >> Read the Full Article
  • New Doubt Cast on Link Between Global Warming and Increased Drought

    There have been devastating droughts in the past few years in places like Africa, Australia, and the United States. Last summer, the drought in the central US caused the loss of massive crops and a major economic hit for the country. The seemingly increasing prevalence of droughts has some announcing the effects of climate change coming to fruition. However, a new study from researchers at Princeton University in New Jersey and the Australian National University in Canberra has cast doubt on this premise. Their work indicates that the development of drought is much more complex than formerly believed and that recent droughts were more an aberration than an overall drying trend. >> Read the Full Article
  • Sea Level Rise

    How fast will the seas rise due to global warming? We may never know until after the fact for sure. Future sea level rise due to the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets could be substantially larger than estimated in Climate Change 2007 according to new research from the University of Bristol. The study, published today in Nature Climate Change, is the first of its kind on ice sheet melting to use structured expert elicitation (EE) together with an approach which mathematically pools experts' opinions. EE is already used in a number of other scientific fields such as forecasting volcanic eruptions. >> Read the Full Article
  • Sea level rise of more than 3 feet plausible by 2100

    Melting glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland may push up global sea levels more than 3 feet by the end of this century, according to a scientific poll of experts that brings a degree of clarity to a murky and controversial slice of climate science. Such a rise in the seas would displace millions of people from low-lying countries such as Bangladesh, swamp atolls in the Pacific Ocean, cause dikes in Holland to fail, and cost coastal mega-cities from New York to Tokyo billions of dollars for construction of sea walls and other infrastructure to combat the tides. >> Read the Full Article
  • Carbon Dioxide Concentrations and Sea Level

    By comparing reconstructions of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations and sea level over the past 40 million years, researchers based at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton have found that greenhouse gas concentrations similar to the present (almost 400 parts per million) were systematically associated with sea levels at least nine metres above current levels. The study determined the 'natural equilibrium' sea level for CO2 concentrations ranging between ice-age values of 180 parts per million and ice-free values of more than 1,000 parts per million. >> Read the Full Article
  • Oil is Still World's Largest Energy Source, But Coal and Natural Gas are Gaining

    Oil remains the world's leading energy source - for now. In recent years, coal and natural gas have proven themselves increasingly important resources across the globe. Global consumption of coal increased 5.4 percent in 2011, to 3.72 billion tons of oil equivalent, while natural gas use grew 2.2 percent, to 2.91 billion tons of oil equivalent. Both are primary fuels for the world’s electricity market, and because they are often used as substitutes for one other, their trends need to be examined together. The bulk of coal use is for power generation, with smaller amounts being used in steelmaking. Spurred mainly by rising demand in China and India, coal's share in the global primary energy mix reached 28 percent in 2011—its highest point since the International Energy Agency began keeping statistics in 1971. Although the United States remains one of the world's largest coal users, just over 70 percent of global demand in 2011 was in countries outside of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), including China and India. Consumption in non-OECD countries grew 8 percent in 2011 to 2.63 billion tons of oil equivalent. >> Read the Full Article