• Planning for Climate Change

    The Metcalf Institute at the University of Rhode Island recently held the second in series of seminars on climate change. Here are a few noteworthy points that were offered Nov. 30 by 15 scientists, engineers, planners and other experts: Snowpack in the Northeast has decreased its annual volume by 11 percent since 1900. Sea level is projected to rise between 2.5 and 6 feet by 2100. "If you want to see what 5 feet of sea level rise will look like, you look at Hurricane Sandy," said Bryan Oakley, a URI researcher and professor of earth sciences at Eastern Connecticut State University. >> Read the Full Article
  • At UN Climate Talks, Researchers Insert Facts on How Food is Driving-and is Driven by-Climate Change

    Applying scientific answers to the consumer question, "What do our food choices have to do with heat, hurricanes, floods, and droughts?", the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) is launching today a set of "Big Facts" that highlight the complex relationship between agriculture and climate change. This effort illustrates not only the profound and diverse impacts of the changing climate on marine fisheries, livestock, forests, biodiversity and food crops but also the effects of agricultural activities, including emissions from biofuel production, on climate change. >> Read the Full Article
  • New Climate Model Reveals "Discernible Human Influence"

    The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is a federally funded research and development center located in Livermore, California. Their mission, in part, is to respond with vision, quality, integrity, and technical excellence to scientific issues of national importance. One such issue, which is tough to dispute, is the changing climate. The top-rate researchers at LLNL created a new climate model by comparing 20 different computer models to satellite observations. They found that tropospheric and stratospheric temperature changes are clearly related to human activities. >> Read the Full Article
  • Antarctic Melting and Sea Level

    Due to its location at the South Pole, Antarctica receives relatively little solar radiation. This means that it is a very cold continent where water is mostly in the form of ice or snow. This accumulates and forms a giant ice sheet which covers the land. New data which more accurately measures the rate of ice-melt could help us better understand how Antarctica is changing in the light of global warming. The rate of global sea level change is reasonably well-established but understanding the different sources of this rise is more challenging. Using re-calibrated scales that are able to weigh ice sheets from space to a greater degree of accuracy than ever before, the international team led by Newcastle University has discovered that Antarctica overall is contributing much less to the substantial sea-level rise than originally thought. >> Read the Full Article
  • How to Protect Your Family from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

    As the temperature drops, we are more likely to fire up our gas furnaces and wood-burning stoves to get extra cozy this winter. However, when we use our furnaces and stoves, and spend more time indoors, we are at increased risk of exposure to carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, invisible gas produced when gasoline, natural gas, propane, kerosene, and other fuels are not completely burned during use. According to the EPA, this gas is one of the leading causes of poisoning death, with more than 400 victims in the United States each year. >> Read the Full Article
  • Permafrost Carbon

    Permafrost is defined as subsurface material that remains below 0o C (32o F) for at least two consecutive years. Because permafrost soils remain frozen for long periods of time, they store large amounts of carbon and other nutrients within their frozen framework during that time. Permafrost represents a large carbon reservoir that is seldom considered when determining global terrestrial carbon reservoirs. Carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane emissions from thawing permafrost could amplify warming due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. This amplification is called the permafrost carbon feedback. Permafrost contains about 1700 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon in the form of frozen organic matter, almost twice as much carbon as currently in the atmosphere. If the permafrost thaws, the organic matter will thaw and decay, potentially releasing large amounts of CO2 and methane into the atmosphere. This organic material was buried and frozen thousands of years ago and its release into the atmosphere is irreversible on human time scales. Thawing permafrost could emit 43 to 135 Gt of CO2 equivalent by 2100 and 246 to 415 Gt of CO2 equivalent by 2200. Uncertainties are large, but emissions from thawing permafrost could start within the next few decades and continue for several centuries, influencing both short-term climate (before 2100) and long-term climate (after 2100). >> Read the Full Article
  • Sea-level Rise Outpaces Expert Predictions

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected an annual sea level rise last year in 2011 of 2 millimeters per year. According to new satellite data, there appears to be a stark difference between their projections and reality. Sea-levels are rising 60 percent faster than predicted, at a rate of 3.2 millimeters per year. Global temperatures, on the other hand, are continuing to rise at the consistent pace which IPCC predicted. The study shows that the increased rate in sea-level rise is not significantly affected by internal variability in Earth's climate system, but is rather reflective of a general trend. >> Read the Full Article
  • Green Building Designs Can Help Protect Homes During Natural Disasters

    One of the best antidotes to climate change is rarely discussed. Buildings in the U.S. generate 40 percent of the global warming gases and use 70 percent of the electricity. If we do things right, we can cut energy use 90 percent in new buildings and 70 percent in retrofits while improving comfort and health. In new buildings, this may be done at no cost if integrated resilient design strategies are adopted. We can improve comfort, productivity, how students learn, health and security, often at no added cost. >> Read the Full Article
  • Administration says no to EU Carbon Tax on Airline Flights to Europe

    President Barack Obama signed a bill on Tuesday shielding US airlines from paying for the carbon their planes flying into and out of Europe emit, despite a recent move by Europe to suspend its proposed measure for one year. The carbon fee bill was the first piece of legislation debated on the House floor after Congress returned from recess on November 13, and had been cleared by the Senate in September in a rare unanimous vote. It directs the US transportation secretary to shield US airlines from Europe's carbon emissions trading scheme (ETS) if he or she deems it necessary. >> Read the Full Article
  • Forecasting Flu Outbreaks with Weather Technology

    Flu season often coincides with winter months as it has been found that the influenza virus lasts longer in cold, dry air. Knowing this, researchers have developed a framework for initializing real-time forecasts of seasonal influenza outbreaks using a technique used for weather prediction. The availability of real-time, web-based estimates of local influenza infection rates can make quantitative forecasting possible. Scientists at Columbia University and the National Center for Atmospheric Research have announced a new system that adapts techniques used in modern weather prediction to generate local forecasts of seasonal influenza outbreaks. By predicting the timing and severity of the outbreaks, the system can eventually help health officials and the general public better prepare for them. Each year, flu season peaks at various times from region to region. Pinpointing the outbreaks with the new forecast system can provide "a window into what can happen week to week as flu prevalence rises and falls," says lead author Jeffrey Shaman, an assistant professor of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health. Shaman and co-author Alicia Karspeck, an NCAR scientist, used web-based estimates of flu-related sickness from the winters of 2003–04 to 2008–09 in New York City to generate weekly flu forecasts. Consequently, researchers found that the technique could predict the peak timing of the outbreak more than seven weeks in advance of the actual peak. >> Read the Full Article