“Traditionally, in the whole area of climate change, almost 99 per cent of the discussion has focused on mitigating. But climate change is a done deal. There’s nothing we can do to turn it off. … How do we adapt to that new reality?” - Blair Feltmate, Associate Professor, School of Environment, Enterprise and Development, U Waterloo. He runs Canada’s Climate Change Adaptation Project
Potential climate engineering effectiveness and side effects during a high carbon dioxide-emission scenario
by David P. Keller, Ellias Y. Feng & Andreas Oschlies, Nature Communications, Feb. 25 2014
The realization that mitigation efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions have, until now, been relatively ineffective has led to an increasing interest in climate engineering as a possible means of preventing the potentially catastrophic consequences of climate change. While many studies have addressed the potential effectiveness of individual methods there have been few attempts to compare them. Here we use an Earth system model to compare the effectiveness and side effects of afforestation, artificial ocean upwelling, ocean iron fertilization, ocean alkalinization and solar radiation management during a high carbon dioxide-emission scenario. We find that even when applied continuously and at scales as large as currently deemed possible, all methods are, individually, either relatively ineffective with limited (< 8%) warming reductions, or they have potentially severe side effects and cannot be stopped without causing rapid climate change. Our simulations suggest that the potential for these types of climate engineering to make up for failed mitigation may be very limited. Link to study. Full report free with sign-in.
A Game Plan for Climate Change
Newswise, Feb. 27, 2013 - Researchers have successfully piloted a process that enables natural resource managers to take action to conserve particular wildlife, plants and ecosystems as climate changes. The Adaptation for Conservation Targets (ACT) framework is a practical approach to assessing how future changes in air and water temperatures, precipitation, stream flows, snowpack, and other environmental conditions might affect natural resources. The ACT framework was tested during a series of workshops at four southwestern United States landscapes. “The ACT process helps workshop participants move beyond the paralysis many feel when tackling what is a new or even intimidating topic by creating a step-by-step process for considering climate change that draws on familiar conservation planning tools,” conservation scientist Molly Cross said. “By combining traditional conservation planning with an assessment of climate change impacts that considers multiple future scenarios, ACT helps practitioners lay out how conservation goals and actions may need to be modified to account for climate change.” Link to story.
New Simulations Question the Gulf Stream’s Role in Tempering Europe’s Winters
Scientific American, Feb. 11, 2013 - The explosion of interest in global climate has prompted scientists to closely study the climatic effects of the Gulf Stream only to discover that those effects are not as clear as conventional wisdom might suggest. Based on modeling work and ocean data, new explanations have emerged for why winter in northern Europe is generally less bitter than winter at the same latitudes in the northeastern U.S. and Canada—and the models differ on the Gulf Stream's role. One of the explanations also provides insight into why winter in the U.S. Northwest is warmer than it is across the Pacific in eastern Russia. Full story.
Point of No Return
Greenpeace, Jan. 23, 2013 - "In 2020, the emissions from the 14 projects in this report –if they were all to go ahead – would raise global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels by 20% and keep the world on a path towards 5 to 6°C of warming.” Link to report.
With overall warming trends across Canada, is 'extreme weather' the new normal?
The Canadian Press, Jan. 22, 2013 - Bob Robichaud, a warning preparedness meteorologist, says 2012 was the 16th year in a row that saw higher than normal temperatures across Canada. "The climate change experts are saying that we're going to get heavier rainfall events and more frequent non-tropical type storms. So in that respect, we have to be ready for it." Link. More climate news on this site.
Where There's Smoke or Smog, There's Climate Change
Newswise, Jan. 16, 2013 - In addition to causing smoggy skies and chronic coughs, soot – or black carbon – turns out to be the number two contributor to global warming. It's second only to carbon dioxide, according to a four-year assessment by an international panel. The new study concludes that black carbon, the soot particles in smoke and smog, contributes about twice as much to global warming as previously estimated, even by the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
"We were surprised at its potential contribution to climate," said Sarah Doherty, a University of Washington atmospheric scientist and one of four coordinating lead authors. The silver lining may be that controlling these emissions can deliver more immediate climate benefits than trying to control carbon dioxide, she said. The paper is freely available from the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. Go to the study. Go to the release. More climate news on this site. Read Scientific American's coverage here.
Record-Breaking Weather At Walden Pond Testing Limits Of Spring-Blooming Plants
Newswise, Jan. 15, 2013 — With record-breaking warm spring weather in 2010 and 2012 resulting in the earliest known flowering times in 161 years of recorded history in two U.S. locations, according to a new Boston University-initiated study published today, scientists now are pondering if at some point plants will be unable to successfully keep adapting to a changing climate. Many plants need a long winter to undergo the physiological changes needed to bloom in the spring. While the researchers said there is no sign plants have hit the limit of their ability to respond to record-breaking warm temperatures, the consequences of earlier flowering for plant productivity, pollinators like bees, and ecosystems in general remain unknown and could be harmful. Research Article | published 16 Jan 2013 | PLOS ONE; 4,026 views as of Jan. 21, 2013. Link to release.
2012 Sets a New Record High Temperature
Newswise, Jan. 15, 2013 - Globally, 2012 was the ninth warmest year among the past 34, with an annual global average temperature that was 0.161 C (about 0.29 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the 30-year baseline average, according to Dr. John Christy, a professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. 2012 was about three one-hundredths of a degree C warmer than 2011, but was 0.23 C cooler than 2010. Link to release.
Adapting to a warmer world: No going back
Nature, Nov. 28, 2012 - With nations doing little to slow climate change, many people are ramping up plans to adapt to the inevitable. Increasingly, it is local people who are deciding how to make their communities more resilient — and that is increasing the chances of success. “A solely top-down approach to adaptation — focusing on heavy investment in engineering and infrastructure — will not work as it is expensive and impractical,” says Robert Lempert, who researches decision-making at the RAND corporation, a think tank in Santa Monica, California. More here.
U.S. Ranchers Struggle to Adapt to Climate Change
Scientific American, Nov. 14, 2012 - This year's record drought has made his operation untenable. "This is probably the worst it's been since 1977," Currier says. "We just can't grow enough to feed the cattle ourselves." Link to story.
Sandy May Leave Toxic Legacy
Discovery News * Nov. 5, 2012 - The aftermath of Sandy may be around long after the rubble has been cleared and power has returned. The storm’s torrents may have washed high levels of hazardous pollutants from cities and farms into waterways. The U.S. Geological Survey is currently sampling the waters in areas affected by the massive storm to measure pesticide pollution, E. coli contamination, nutrient levels, and sediment. USGS crews are gathering samples from the Delaware and Raritan Rivers in New Jersey, near the Chesapeake Bay in Pennsylvania, the Potomac River in Maryland and various sites in Washington, D.C. Parts of northern Virginia are also being studied. Link to story.
New storm may add to Sandy victims’ misery
AP * Nov. 5, 2012 - “Well, the first storm flooded me out, and my landlord tells me there’s a big crack in the ceiling, so I guess there’s a chance this storm could do more damage,” John Lewis said at a shelter in New Rochelle, New York. “I was hoping to get back in there sooner rather than later, but it doesn’t look good.”
“Nights are the worst because you feel like you’re outside when you’re inside,” said Josey, who sleeps under three blankets and wears longjohns under her pajamas. “You shiver yourself to sleep.” She added: “It’s like we’re going back to barbaric times where we had to go find food and clothing and shelter.” Link.
Spring snow pack in the Arctic disappearing fast, agency warns
Canadian Press * Nov. 4, 2012 - The spring snow pack in the Arctic is disappearing at a much faster rate than anticipated even by climate change models, says a new study by Environment Canada researchers. That has implications for wildlife, vegetation and ground temperatures, say the scientists, who looked at four decades of snow data for the Canadian Arctic and beyond. Combined with recent news that the Arctic sea ice retreated to an all-time low this summer, it suggests climate change may be happening much faster than expected, said Dr. Chris Derksen, a research scientist for Environment Canada and one of the study's authors.
"It's important for a number of reasons." Not only does snow provide a pulse of fresh water when it melts, but it has a cooling effect that is felt throughout the Earth, he said. "White snow is very bright. It reflects a high proportion of the incident solar energy back out to space and when you melt that snow and you expose the darker ground underneath it, then you begin to absorb a much higher fraction of that incident energy. And when you absorb that energy at the land surface, that contributes to further heating and warming." Link to story.
Superstorm Sandy a ‘wake-up call,’ says former climate change skeptic James Balog
The Star * Nov. 1, 2012 - “Nature isn’t natural anymore,” says photographer James Balog, whose dramatic work chronicling the devastating impact of climate change on the world’s glaciers is profiled in director Jeff Orlowski’s award-winning documentary Chasing Ice. The film, which won the audience award at Hot Docs in May, opens in theatres (including Toronto at the TIFF Bell Lightbox) Nov. 8. But the New York premiere is in doubt. The theatre is south of the blackout line in lower Manhattan, one of the areas slammed by super-storm Sandy earlier this week, a weather event directly related to climate change. Link.
Establishing a climate change information source addressing local aspects of a global issue. A case study in New York State
Journal of Science Communication, September 2012 -
This case study describes the development of a climate change information system for New York State, one of the physically largest states in the United States. Agriculture (including dairy production and vineyards) and water-related tourism are large parts of the state economy, and both are expected to be affected dramatically by climate change. The highly politicized nature of the climate change debate in America makes the delivery of science-based information even more urgent and challenging. The United States does not have top-down science communication policies, as many countries do; this case will describe how diverse local and state agencies, corporations, NGOs, and other actors collaborated with university researchers to create a suite of products and online tools with stable, science-based information carefully crafted and targeted to avoid politicization and facilitate education and planning for community, agricultural and business planners and state policy makers who are making decisions now with 20 to 50 year time frames. Download the pdf.
Weather Siren Will Warn University of Western Ontario Students
Toronto Star, Sept. 6, 2012 - An emergency omnidirectional weather siren, which weighs about 680 kilos and is about 2 ½ metres high, has been installed on the roof of Alumni Hall at a cost of $100,000. When it was tested this week, the sound was heard eight kilometres away, according to campus community police service director Elgin Austen, who initiated the project. There are four components to the UWO system: test, tornado warning, severe weather and finally the all-clear. Queen’s University in Kingston and Hamilton’s McMaster University have similar systems. More.
Depends on What We Call It
Newswise, Sept. 5, 2012 - When Jonathon Schuldt, assistant professor of communication at Cornell University, asked 2,267 Americans to report their belief in ‘global warming,’ he found a sizable partisan divide: 86.9% of Democrats believed global warming is occurring, but only 44% of Republicans believed it was real. When asked about their belief in ‘climate change’ the opinion gap was reduced: 86.4% of Democrats and 60.2% of Republicans believed climate change is real. “It seems that a person's political orientation and what the issue is called affect whether they endorse that it is a real and concerning issue,“ says Schuldt. “There is an optimistic message to take away from our findings: given the partisan gulf that exists on many contemporary political issues, it seems that Democrats and Republicans may be closer on this issue than previously thought.” More. Study abstract here.
Ambulances Called More in Heat
Queensland University of Technology * Aug. 22, 2012\
If the temperature hits 30 degrees Celsius, Brisbane ambos can expect approximately 10% more call-outs that day for people with chronic conditions, research from QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation has found. More.
Accepting Climate Change
ScienceAlert * Aug. 10, 2012 - Research from Griffith University and Cardiff University in Wales has found that Australians are accepting climate change and are taking adaptive action. The two-year project involving nearly 7,500 Australians and 1,800 Britons found 90% of Australian and 89% of British respondents accepted human causal impact on climate change. 71% of Australians reported an increasing concern about climate change over the two year period prior to the surveys, citing increased awareness, media coverage, perceived lack of government action, and increasing frequency of natural disasters and extreme weather events. Only 6.5% of Australian respondents could be characterised as "climate change sceptics". More.
Discovery News * Jun 22, 2012 - NOAA reports that the globally averaged land surface temperature for May 2012 was the all-time warmest May on record, at 2.18°F above average. Link.
Region issues ‘excessive heat alert’ as temperatures soar
Bullet News Niagara * June 19, 2012 - An Excessive Heat Alert has been issued today by Niagara Region Public Health as the humidex is expected to reach 40 C. Niagara residents are advised to take extra precautions during episodes of extreme heat and humidity. Link to story.
Arctic Methane May Be Threat to Florida
HispanicBusiness.com * June 19, 2012 - As permafrost in arctic regions thaws there is a release of the powerful greenhouse gas through vents from deep sites, Florida State University oceanographer Jeff Chanton said. Until recently, he said, frozen soil and ice have served to plug or block these vents, but thawing has allowed the conduits to open, and deep geologic methane that causes climate warming is now escaping. The seeping methane causes more melting ice, Chanton said, which causes sea levels to rise and could affect Florida coastal real estate values.
Link to the story.
Worst 21st-Century Fires: Models Say Expect More
Discovery News * Jun 14, 2012 - A University of California at Berkeley study couldn't have been published at a more apt time. The research concluded that climate change is likely to increase the frequency of wildfires in most of Europe and North America within the next 30 years. Sixteen different climate change models were considered in creating the fiery forecasts. The models didn't all agree on every area that may see more flames in the next few decades. But one area the models largely agreed was likely to get roasted was the American west.
Link to story.
“I’m a soldier. Why should I be concerned about climate change? Climate change brings about global instability. That makes the world more vulnerable and it’s more likely that soldiers like myself will have to fight and die somewhere.” Retired Brig. Gen. Steven Anderson. Link to article.
"Think of the atmosphere like a loose membrane. If you push one part up, something else has to come down somewhere else. If you produce a high in one region, you produce a corresponding low in another." William Lau, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Link to context.
Research says the number of days with extreme heat keeps growing even when the average doesn’t. And Wednesday’s report in the journal Nature Climate Change says these extremes — not the average day-to-day temperatures — are what matter most to farming, wildlife, and humans. Ottawa Citizen, Feb. 26, 2014
There is still hope for the climate: Regional cures for planetary fever - Science Daily, May 22, 2014
Water bonus flows from climate change measures - Monash University, July 4, 2014
European farmers: Importance of adapting to climate change - Science Daily, May 22, 2014
Public interest in climate change unshaken by scandal, but unstirred by science - Science Daily, May 20, 2014
State-of-the-art bike centre for commuters opens at Vancouver General Hospital - Vancouver Sun, May 26, 2014
Scientists still waiting for clear signs of ozone hole healing... Reuters Dec 16 2013
Newly Discovered Greenhouse Gas More Harmful Than Carbon Dioxide...Mashable, Dec 16 2013
Pets During Hurricanes:
Hurricane-savvy animal experts share their pet safety tips. More.
Nature Climate Change, March 2014