30 Global Warming News Articles
for February of 2016
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2-27-16 Is the Pacific too warm for Galapagos sea lions?
Is the Pacific too warm for Galapagos sea lions?
Warmer sea temperatures around the Galapagos Islands could threaten the lives of baby sea lions - and the El Nino weather pattern, which has affected pups in the past, is to blame, writes Sally Kettle on a visit to Isla Espanola. El Ninos occur every two to seven years, but the effect of the phenomenon is amplified by global climate change. In the Galapagos, a stronger El Nino generates significantly higher than average sea surface and air temperatures - these can be exacerbated by the arrival of the annual hot season around December. The ocean warms up, leading to increased rainfall as the hotter air holds more evaporated moisture. In a particularly intense El Nino year, the islands can expect 15 times as much rain as in a regular season. This is great for terrestrial animal populations, such as the land iguanas and land birds, because plant growth explodes. But for sea life the effect is likely to be catastrophic.
2-26-16 California methane leak 'largest in US history'
California methane leak 'largest in US history'
A scientific analysis of a natural gas leak near Los Angeles says that it was the biggest in US history. The Aliso Canyon blowout vented almost 100,000 tonnes of methane into the atmosphere before it was plugged. The impact on the climate is said to be the equivalent of the annual emissions of half a million cars. Researchers say it had a far bigger warming effect than the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
2-25-16 How Northern European waters soak up carbon dioxide
How Northern European waters soak up carbon dioxide
The seas around the UK and the rest of northern Europe take up a staggering 24 million tonnes of carbon each year. It is a mass equivalent to two million double-decker buses or 72,000 747 jets. The number was produced by scientists studying the movement of carbon dioxide into and out of the oceans.
2-23-16 Climate stirring change beneath the waves
Climate stirring change beneath the waves
Human-induced climate change is triggering changes beneath the waves that could have a long-term effect on marine food webs, a study suggests. An assessment of phytoplankton in the North Atlantic found the microscopic organisms' pole-ward shift was faster than previously reported. It observed that the ocean's tiny plant community was "poised for marked shift and shuffle".
2-22-16 Record global temperatures bring strongest ever cyclone to Fiji
Record global temperatures bring strongest ever cyclone to Fiji
Fiji has been battered by the strongest tropical storm ever recorded in the southern hemisphere – cyclone Winston — as the world warms faster than ever. The records just keep tumbling. This year is predicted to be the warmest ever recorded, and with global temperatures in January shooting up by the largest margin on record, we’re certainly on track. This record warmth is a result of global warming with an added boost from a strong El Niño, which spreads warm waters across the surface of the Pacific. These extra warm waters fuelled tropical cyclone Winston, which struck Fiji at the weekend as a category five storm – the highest classification. With wind speeds of nearly 300 kilometres per hour, Winston is the strongest cyclone ever recorded in the southern hemisphere. Winston is also the second strongest cyclone ever to strike land anywhere in the world in terms of wind speed, according to hurricane expert Jeff Masters of Weather Underground. The strongest was Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, which caused a devastating storm surge in the Philippines.
2-22-16 Carbon emission cuts could save 300,000 US lives by 2030
Carbon emission cuts could save 300,000 US lives by 2030
Acting on climate is worth it solely in terms of the numbers of lives that will be saved by reducing air pollution — 36,000 a year in the US alone. Forget our children’s future. Cutting carbon emissions is worth doing just for the immediate health benefits of lower air pollution. The value of the lives saved would vastly outstrip the implementation costs. That’s what Drew Shindell of Duke University in North Carolina and his team found when they looked what impact it would have if the US cut emissions by 40 per cent by 2030 – much larger than anything planned. By 2030, this would prevent nearly 300,000 premature deaths and more than 30,000 a year thereafter — which is worth around $250 billion a year, according to the valuation the US Environmental Protection Agency places on saving lives. This does not mean there will be real savings of $250 billion – rather, the figure reflects what people are prepared to pay to reduce their risk of dying. “It’s a really quite large health benefit that’s realised pretty much immediately,” Shindell says. Most analyses assume it will be decades before any benefits of cutting carbon emissions become apparent. Shindell’s calculations do not take into account the other potential benefits of lower air pollution, such as 29,000 fewer children per year being taken to hospital because of asthma attacks.
2-19-16 El Niño passes its peak while La Niña is possible this year
El Niño passes its peak while La Niña is possible this year
The El Niño weather phenomenon has reached its peak according to scientists and is set to decline over the next few months. Researchers say there is a 50:50 chance that it will be replaced by a La Niña event before the end of this summer. La Niña which involves a cooling of the Pacific Ocean, usually brings wetter conditions to Asia, Africa and Latin America. These events can typically last twice as long as an El Niño. Warmest January on record While the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) reports that the El Niño event has reached its apex, it is still having a significant influence on the global climate. In combination with human induced warming, global temperatures in January were the hottest for the month since records began in 1880. The data also showed the biggest divergence yet seen from the long term record.
2-19-16 Many Teachers Lie About Global Warming
Teachers Lie About Global Warming
Most science teachers in high schools across the country are teaching their students about climate change, but 30 percent told students that warming temperatures are “likely due to natural causes,” according to a new study. Another 31 percent are teaching both the “natural causes” theory and the overwhelming scientific consensus—that climate change is fueled by human activity.
2-19-16 California methane leak 'permanently sealed'
California methane leak 'permanently sealed'
A leaking gas well near the US city of Los Angeles which has been polluting the air for four months has been "permanently sealed," officials say. The Southern California Gas Company (SoCal Gas) had been pumping in heavy fluids and cement to seal the well. The leak began in October in a vast underground storage field in Porter Ranch, on the outskirts of Los Angeles. The natural gas leak, one of the largest in US history, has caused thousands to relocate. The escaping gas at the Aliso Canyon storage field accounted for a fifth of all methane emissions - an extremely potent greenhouse gas - across the entire state of California.
2-19-16 Fungi from goats' guts could lead to better biofuels
Fungi from goats' guts could lead to better biofuels
The legendary abilities of goats and sheep to digest a wide range of inedible materials could help scientists produce cheaper biofuels. Researchers say fungi from the stomachs of these animals produce flexible enzymes that can break down a wide variety of plant materials. The scientists say that in tests, the fungi performed as well as the best engineered attempts from industry.
2-19-16 UN climate chief Christiana Figueres to step down
UN climate chief Christiana Figueres to step down
The UN's top climate diplomat, Christiana Figueres, has said she will leave her post in July. Ms Figueres said she would not accept an extension of her appointment which finishes this summer. As executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, she played a key role in the talks that lead to the Paris Climate Agreement. Her contribution to the negotiation process was praised as "really extraordinary". Ms Figueres became executive secretary in the wake of the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009, widely perceived to have been a failure.
2-18-16 'Consequences' for the US if it quits Paris climate deal
'Consequences' for the US if it quits Paris climate deal
The US faces "diplomatic consequences" if a new President decides to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement. American climate envoy Todd Stern said the reaction would be far greater than when the US left the Kyoto Protocol under President Bush. Many countries are worried that a Republican victory in November's presidential election would see the US walk away from the landmark Paris deal. But Mr Stern said he thinks this is unlikely given the global reaction. The recent decision by the US Supreme Court to stall President Obama's Clean Power Plan has raised concerns in many parts of the world that the US might not be able to live up to the carbon cutting commitments it made in the French capital in December.
2-18-16 Scientists are floored by what’s happening in the Arctic right now
Scientists are floored by what’s happening in the Arctic right now
Temperature anomalies for January, 2016. NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies New data from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration suggest that January of 2016 was, for the globe, a truly extraordinary month. Coming off the hottest year ever recorded (2015), January saw the greatest departure from average of any month on record, according to data provided by NASA. (January was the ninth straight month of record breaking global warmth) But as you can see in the NASA figure above, the record breaking heat wasn’t uniformly distributed — it was particularly pronounced at the top of the world, showing temperature anomalies above 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the 1951 to 1980 average in this region.
2-15-16 Death of Justice Antonin Scalia may shift US climate change laws
Death of Justice Antonin Scalia may shift US climate change laws
The unexpected death of the conservative and controversial Justice could signal a sea change in US climate change, gun and abortion laws. The death of Justice Antonin Scalia on 13 February could have international ramifications for climate change, abortion law and other contentious issues, as the balance of power in the US Supreme Court shifts. When the court recently voted to suspend the Clean Power Plan – the centrepiece of President Obama’s climate change efforts – many worried the bill was in peril. The plan to curb emissions from power plants, which helped to secure the better-than-expected UN climate deal in Paris in December, was bounced to a court of appeals. If it survived there, it would return to face the very court that voted 5-4 to stall its enforcement. Yet just a few days after that vote, the US legal landscape has shifted. Scalia, a conservative justice and 30-year-veteran of the court, was known for his acerbic dissents and opposition to abortion and homosexuality. He was in the majority that voted to suspend Obama’s climate bill. Now, though, if it is upheld by the court of appeals, as many expect it to be, it will return to a changed Supreme Court.
2-13-16 21st Century US 'dustbowl' risk assessed
21st Century US 'dustbowl' risk assessed
US scientists have modelled how a 1930s-like "dustbowl" drought might impact American agriculture today, and found it to be just as damaging. But the research shows the effects to be very sensitive to temperature, meaning the potential losses would be far worse later this century if Earth's climate heats up as expected. A repeat of 1930s weather today would lead to a 40% loss in maize production. In a 2-degree warmer world, it becomes a 65% reduction, the team projects.
2-11-16 The solution to climate change that has nothing to do with cars or coal
The solution to climate change that has nothing to do with cars or coal
Of all the components of the recent Paris accord on climate change, the one that probably got the least attention but could have the most immediate potential involves the world’s forests. In a section some hailed as historic, the document endorsed a United Nations mechanism for wealthier nations to pay developing countries like Brazil for reducing deforestation. Trees are good at keeping carbon out of the air, and simply preserving the planet’s vast forests is a straightforward way to get a huge head start on the business of slowing climate change. But that effort grows tougher every day. After years of progress, deforestation rates have increased recently in Brazil, and deforestation continues apace across much of the global tropics. The economic forces of agriculture and trade remain too strong to resist.
2-11-16 Climate change 'to make transatlantic flights longer'
Climate change 'to make transatlantic flights longer'
Flights from the UK to the US could take longer due to the changes in the climate, according to a new study. Global warming is likely to speed up the jet stream, say researchers, and slow down aeroplanes heading for the US. While eastbound flights from the US will be quicker, roundtrip journeys will "significantly lengthen". The University of Reading scientists believe the changes will increase carbon emissions and fuel consumption and potentially raise ticket prices.
2-10-16 Obama climate initiative: Supreme Court calls halt
Obama climate initiative: Supreme Court calls halt
President Barack Obama's plans to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide from US power plants have been stalled by the US Supreme Court. The court ruled that the president's Clean Power Plan could not go forward until all legal challenges were heard. Designed to cut US emissions by 32% by 2030, the scheme put huge emphasis on a shift to renewable energy. It formed the key element of the US pledge at UN climate negotiations held in Paris in December last year. (Webmaster's comment: The enemies of stopping global warming are everywhere!)
2-9-16 Planets with too much carbon dioxide could lose oceans to space
Planets with too much carbon dioxide could lose oceans to space
Adding vast amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere could heat a planet to the point where it leaks so much water that its oceans eventually disappear. We already knew one way to dry out Earth or a similar planet: just wait. As the sun ages, it will get about 9 per cent brighter every billion years. The increase in solar radiation will warm the Earth, making water vapour mix into the upper atmosphere. That fate comes from a warming sun, but CO2 may offer another path to the same destination, argues Max Popp of Princeton University. He and his team modelled Earth’s climate, and found that adding large quantities of CO2 to the atmosphere – far more even than what we’re doing now – could also heat the planet until it leaks water.
2-8-16 125-year mini ice age linked to the plague and fall of empires
125-year mini ice age linked to the plague and fall of empires
The Game of Thrones-like cold spell that started in AD 536 went on much longer than thought, and may help explain historical events in Europe and Asia. Winter was coming. In AD 536, the first of three massive volcanic eruptions ushered in a mini ice age. It coincided with an epidemic of the plague, the decline of the eastern Roman Empire, and sweeping upheavals across Eurasia. Now we have the first evidence that the disruption to climate continued a lot longer than a decade, as was previously thought. The extended cold period lasted until around 660, affecting Europe and Central Asia, and perhaps the rest of the world too.
2-7-16 This tiny state agency is at war with climate change — and lobbyists
This tiny state agency is at war with climate change — and lobbyists
Welcome to politics in the other Washington. Washington state's plan to fight climate change relies heavily on a little-known state agency with a handful of employees that is under attack in the 2016 legislative session by development industry lobbyists. It's a fight that could ultimately affect consumers because the agency, the Washington State Building Code Council, also develops standards that protect residents through codes governing fire safety, plumbing, and much more. Already the agency has halved its staff since the late 1990s and now says it will have to cut again this summer unless the legislature changes something. The agency is funded by a construction fee of $4.50 per building that hasn't increased for decades. Every building permit provides the same inflation-ravaged $4.50 to the council, whether it's for a deck addition or a skyscraper. Advocates working on climate and energy issues are concerned about the industry attack. "The Building Code Council is vital to getting us to the energy-efficient future the Legislature has demanded," said JJ McCoy, lobbyist for the NW Energy Coalition, which represents local and state governments, green groups, businesses, utilities, and nonprofit and tribal organizations.
2-5-16 El Niño seems to have smashed 1997 record in past three months
El Niño seems to have smashed 1997 record in past three months
A key index used to rank anomalies in sea surface temperatures suggests the El Niño we are now experiencing is truly a record-breaker. The evidence is in: we seem to be living though the most extreme of extreme weather events. Last year, New Scientist reported early indications that the present El Niño event is probably the strongest ever recorded. A new analysis backs that view. El Niño is a periodic phenomenon that occurs when ocean temperatures warm in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean. Even before this current event began, forecasters warned that it was likely to wreak havoc with the world’s weather. But just how strong? At the end of last year, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) revealed that water temperature in the central Pacific had reached 3.1 °C above average. That shattered the previous all-time high from 1997, when the water at the same time of year measured 2.8 °C above average.
2-5-16 'Wrong type of trees' in Europe increased global warming
'Wrong type of trees' in Europe increased global warming
The assumption that planting new forests helps limit climate change has been challenged by a new study. Researchers found that in Europe, trees grown since 1750 have actually increased global warming. The scientists believe that replacing broadleaved species with conifers is a key reason for the negative climate impact. Conifers like pines and spruce are generally darker and absorb more heat than species such as oak and birch. The authors believe the work has implications for current efforts to limit rising temperatures through mass tree planting.
2-4-16 Rainforest regrowth boosts carbon capture, study shows
Rainforest regrowth boosts carbon capture, study shows
Newly grown rainforests can absorb 11 times as much carbon from the atmosphere as old-growth forests, a study has shown. The researchers have produced a map showing regions in Latin America where regrowing rainforests would deliver the greatest benefits. However, they added that old-growth forests still needed to be protected as they locked away vast amount of carbon.
2-4-16 The Moroccan city of Ouarzazate is powered by salt
The Moroccan city of Ouarzazate is powered by salt.
A Moroccan city is being powered at night by solar energy, thanks to salt. The newly-opened plant at Ouarzazate harnesses the Sun's warmth to melt salt to 500C. The salt holds its heat and powers a steam turbine in the evening.
2-4-16 Paris climate deal could 'displace millions of forest dwellers'
Paris climate deal could 'displace millions of forest dwellers'
The Paris climate agreement could make millions of forest dwellers homeless, according to a new analysis. Many developing countries will try to curb carbon emissions by setting aside forested areas as reserves. But experts are worried that creating national parks often involves removing the people who live in these areas.
2-2-16 UK greenhouse gas emissions' 8% drop
UK greenhouse gas emissions' 8% drop
Greenhouse gas output in the UK fell almost 8% in 2014, although emissions from transport and agriculture rose slightly, official figures show. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions fell 8.9% in 2014 on the previous year, while emissions of all the greenhouse gases were 7.7% below 2013 levels.
2-1-16 Carbon emissions boosted 2014 January storm risk 'by 43%'
Carbon emissions boosted 2014 January storm risk 'by 43%'
Severe storms in the south of England in 2013/14 were made more likely by human emissions of carbon dioxide. new study says that climate change increased the chances of a once-in-a-century wet January in 2014 by 43%. Researchers were also able to estimate the climate impact on rainfall, river flow and properties at risk.
2-1-16 South England’s 2014 floods made more likely by climate change
South England’s 2014 floods made more likely by climate change
The rains behind the devastating floods of 2013/14 were one of a number of weather events in the UK made more likely by climate change. Recently there have been several studies showing how extreme rainfall is made more likely by climate change. The latest one finds that the extreme rains that flooded southern England in January 2014 were made 43 per cent more likely by global warming.
2-1-16 Floods in Europe will cause five times more damage by 2050
Floods in Europe will cause five times more damage by 2050
Climate change combined with building on floodplains has set Europe on the path to more flood damage in the coming decades. Europe’s flood problem is about to get much worse. The good news is there is a solution, says a new report from the European Environment Agency – the first assessment to cover the whole of Europe. The floods just keep coming and Europe’s citizens are suffering. There have been more than 3500 floods since 1980, says the report, and the trend is upwards. In 2010, no fewer than 27 countries were affected by 321 floods.