The Hot Zone

If routine weather ravages U.S. economy, what about climate change?

Most people well know the effects of weather. During a thunderstorm, you curl up in bed rather than shop. Flights get cancelled when a snowstorm hits. A long dry spell ruins a summer’s cucumber crop. The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) estimates that routine weather events cost the U.S. economy $485 billion a year, as much as 3.5 percent of the country’s GDP.  In a study that will be published in this month’s issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on June 28, 2011 No Comments »
Category : The man made climate

Early warning of climate ‘tipping points’ is possible

A climate ‘tipping point’ occurs when a small change triggers a cascading set of catastrophes that upsets the entire climate system for a long time.  Examples? The melting of the Greenland ice sheet trigger accelerated sea level rise, a die back of the Amazon rainforest removes a crucial atmospheric carbon sink, and an alteration of the ocean conveyor belt shuts down the Atlantic Gulf stream. What if you could predict a ‘tipping point’? Almost like the arrival of a hurricane... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on June 23, 2011 No Comments »
Category : The Oceans

Atlantic waters rising at fastest rate in 2,000 years

Photo: Milan Boers on Flickr. The sea level rise off the U.S. Atlantic shoreline is rising faster than any time in the past 2,000 years, according to a new study published this week. Since the 19th century, sea level has shot up more than 2 millimeters per year on average, far faster than other periods of global temperature change. Yale University-led scientists came to that conclusion by reconstructing the first continuous sea-level rise rates for the past two millennia and then comparing it to... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on June 20, 2011 No Comments »
Category : The Oceans, The man made climate

Can species adapt to climate change within decades?

Do organisms have the ability to adapt to climate change on a timescale of decades? A study published in the recent online journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B set out to test that question with the little West Coast tidepool copepod, Tigriopus californicus, which normally shows an ability to tolerate wide ranges in temperatures. Photo: Ron Burton University of California at Davis lead author Morgan Kelly brought the little critters into a lab, selecting eight populations native within a range... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on June 14, 2011 No Comments »
Category : The Oceans, The man made climate

Summer heat hitting new “normal” under climate change

Climate change may  take some of the joy out of summertime. Imagine sunbathing, picnic-ing, or camping in an extreme heat wave. Such temperatures may become the new “normal” in the coming decades, particularly in the tropics and the Northern Hemisphere. That’s according to research out of Stanford University, which analyzed more than 50 climate model simulations of 21st century temperatures under elevated greenhouse gas levels. “According to our projections, large areas... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on June 8, 2011 No Comments »
Category : The man made climate

Past warming one-tenth rate of modern day climate change

Climate scientists find it useful to use analogs to put modern day change into historical perspective. No analog is more useful than the Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum, a period of rapid warming that occurred 56 million years ago when the continents were virtually in the same location as today. During the PETM, temperatures shot up 9 to 16 degrees Fahrenheit over a period of 20,000 years, a result of a massive release of carbon into the ocean and atmosphere. A new study out of Penn State... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on June 6, 2011 No Comments »
Category : Climates of the Past

Western weed offers glimpse into climate change

Invasive species are fending very well under higher temperatures and carbon dioxide conditions. And the yellow starthistle in the American West offers a glimpse of why. A native to the Mediterranean, this thorny yellow-blossomed plant has become a bane to ranchers in the West as it outcompetes native grasses and degrades pasture quality. Cattle don’t want to eat it and it’s toxic to horses. Photo: Patrick Berry A Purdue University study found that yellow star thistle has some of the greatest... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on June 2, 2011 No Comments »
Category : The man made climate

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