• Climate Extreme Prediction

    It seems that there is always another opinion on how the climate is or will be changing. A new study led by Oxford University concludes that the latest observations of the climate system's response to rising greenhouse gas levels are consistent with conventional estimates of the long-term climate sensitivity, despite a warming pause over the past decade. However, the most extreme rates of warming simulated by the current generation of climate models over 50- to 100-year timescales are looking less likely, according to the paper published online by Nature Geoscience. >> Read the Full Article
  • Melting Glaciers

    Most of the world's frozen water is locked up at the poles. 99 percent of Earth’s land ice is located in the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Yet the remaining ice in the world’s glaciers contributed just as much to sea rise as the two major ice sheets combined from 2003 to 2009, says a new study led by Clark University and involving the University Colorado Boulder. The new research found that all glacial regions lost significant mass from 2003 to 2009, with the biggest ice losses occurring in Arctic Canada, Alaska, coastal Greenland, the southern Andes and the Himalayas. The glaciers outside of the Greenland and Antarctic sheets lost an average of roughly 260 billion metric tons of ice annually during the study period, causing the oceans to rise 0.03 inches, or about 0.7 millimeters per year. >> Read the Full Article
  • Fishing the Gulf of Maine: Tradition at a Crossroads

    Lobster fishing remains big business off the coast of Maine but even with new regulations and new gadgets can it ever be sustainable? Michael Sanders investigates the real costs of the crustacean on your plate... When most of us go down to the coast, whether to walk or swim or fish or sail, we take for granted what we see before us. We see the lobster boats and the colorful buoys marking the strings of traps, the bobbing green and red cans marking safe passage, the gulls and other seabirds. In the larger working harbors like Portland and Stonington and Port Clyde, there might be draggers tied up, unloading fish they've caught far out in the Gulf of Maine and on Georges Bank. What we don't realize is that this seemingly unchanging marine world is in fact always changing in ways both large and small. What we think of as "the coast of Maine" - those 3,000 vaunted miles of rocky shoreline punctuated by seaside villages and docks and lobster pounds and fishing fleets - was largely built on the backs of the fishermen and lobstermen who are there, however picturesque or authentic to the eye, for a single purpose: to harvest the sea in order to feed us. >> Read the Full Article
  • Drought and Desertification - Global Response

    Land degradation – more specifically drought and desertification – have become increasingly pressing problems for a growing number of countries around the world, threatening efforts to alleviate poverty, improve basic health and sanitation and address socioeconomic inequality, as well as spur agricultural and sustainable economic development. The only multilateral, international agreement linking development and environment to sustainable land management (SLM), high-level representatives from 195 nations will be gathering in Windhoek, Namibia from September 16-27 for the 11th bi-annual Conference of Parties (COP) to review implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Meeting for the first time in southern Africa, UNCCD delegates will review implementation of the convention to date and plan for the ensuing two years of programs and actions. >> Read the Full Article
  • Effects of a Warming Planet on Tropical Lizards May Not be Significant

    A new Dartmouth College study finds human-caused climate change may have little impact on many species of tropical lizards, contradicting a host of recent studies that predict their widespread extinction in a rapidly warming planet. Most predictions that tropical cold-blooded animals, especially forest lizards, will be hard hit by climate change are based on global-scale measurements of environmental temperatures, which miss much of the fine-scale variation in temperature that individual animals experience on the ground, said the article's lead author, Michael Logan, a Ph.D. student in ecology and evolutionary biology. >> Read the Full Article
  • Methane Across the Country

    Methane is created naturally near the Earth's surface, primarily by microorganisms by the process of methanogenesis. It is carried into the stratosphere by rising air in the tropics. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, stronger than carbon dioxide on a 20-year timescale, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, though on a century timescale, carbon dioxide is far stronger. "This research suggests significant benefits to slowing climate change could result from reducing industrial methane emissions in parallel with efforts on carbon dioxide," said Ira Leifer, a researcher with UC Santa Barbara's Marine Science Institute. Doing a a cross-continent drive, a UC Santa Barbara scientist has found that methane emissions across large parts of the U.S. are higher than is currently known, confirming what other more local studies have found. Their research is published in the journal Atmospheric Environment. >> Read the Full Article
  • Ice Age Climate Changed Quickly

    Short, sharp fluctuations in the Earth's climate throughout the last ice age may have stopped trees from getting a foothold in Europe and northern Asia, scientists say. According to a new study, warm spells were so brief that trees were unable to establish themselves before the temperature shot back down again. 'The warm events were so short-lived that ecosystems weren't able to respond in full,' says Professor Brian Huntley, of Durham University, who led the study. >> Read the Full Article
  • Tundra Carbon Impact?

    There is a concern with the carbon stored in the form of frozen partially decomposed vegetation in the vast tundra of the north. When the permafrost melts, it may releases carbon in the form of carbon dioxide and methane, both of which are greenhouse gases. The amount of greenhouse gases which will be released from the Arctic’s stockpile of carbon may be more secure than scientists thought. In a 20-year experiment that warmed patches of chilly ground, tundra soil kept its stored carbon, researchers report. Almost half of the world’s soil carbon is stored at high latitude, in the form of dead and decaying organisms. >> Read the Full Article
  • April Showers

    They say "April showers bring May flowers" and this year, April really did live up to its expectations of bringing down the rain. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the average precipitation for April in the contiguous US was 2.9 inches! This is 0.27 inches above average tying April 1953 as the 19th wettest April on record. Not all of the country experienced a wetter than normal average, but the northwest, Midwest, and southeast definitely saw the effects of this heavy precipitation. >> Read the Full Article
  • EarthTalk: Climate Change and Hawaii’s Coral Reefs

    Despite sweeping protections put in place near the end of George W. Bush's presidency for large swaths of marine ecosystems around the Hawaiian Islands, things are not looking good for Hawaii’s coral reefs. Poisonous run-off, rising ocean levels, increasingly acidic waters and overfishing are taking their toll on the reefs and the marine life they support. Biologists are trying to remain optimistic that there is still time to turn things around, but new threats to Hawaii's corals are only aggravating the situation... >> Read the Full Article