The Hot Zone

Spotlight on Venice: Climate change a wash in the City of Water

Photo: Ian Britton Ahh, Venice – the City of Water. Built on a lagoon along the Adriatic Sea, there must be a looming disaster in store for this lovely, sinking city in the face of climate change. Right? That was the harsh verdict of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). But new research is questioning that conclusion. The frequency of storm surges– known by Venetians as “Acqua Alta”– is expected to drop 30 percent by the end of this century. That’s... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on July 24, 2011 No Comments »
Category : Spotlight

Impacts of climate change felt way into future

The delay, or lag time, in the Earth’s climate system means that the full impacts of global warming will be felt long into the future. Well past our lifetimes, even. Atmospheric warming is followed by ocean warming is followed by a melting of polar ice sheets is followed by sea level rise. Scientists are trying to predict this new, warmer state by looking into the record of past eras of climate change. In a study out of the University of Arizona, researchers found that melting ice sheets had... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on July 18, 2011 No Comments »
Category : The Oceans

Gray whales a model in climate adaptation

In the time since California gray whales existed, the Earth has gone through more than 40 cycles of warming and cooling. Many species have been impacted and have even died out, but the gray whale has persisted for 250 million years. How did the gray whale survive? The gray whales, it turns out, may be a model in how a species can adapt and change during dramatic swings in the Earth’s climate. In the modern era, whaling has been the biggest threat to the gray whale survival, and in fact the... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on July 14, 2011 1 Comment »
Category : Climates of the Past

Could farmers be a solution to climate change?

Here’s a bit of hope amongst the doom and gloom of climate change. Set aside for a moment the massive engineering feat that would be required of pumping CO2 into underground storage tanks. That idea is going who knows where. A potentially viable solution to restoring carbon back into the earth resides with simple changes in the way we farm. An aerial view of farms in Tansmania. Photo: A piece in Discover magazine, Could Dirt Help Health the Climate?, outlines the way agriculture... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on July 7, 2011 No Comments »
Category : The Oceans

California premium wines a victim of climate change

The cost of averting climate change is often argued as a reason to do nothing. But climate change also has severe economic consequences. Among them: a nice, cool glass of premium California chardonnay. A new Stanford University study reports that by 2040 the amount of land suitable for growing high value wines in Northern California could shrink by half as a result of higher temperatures. That would take a severe blow to the country’s wine industry. California produces 90 percent of the nation’s... [Read more]

Posted by Alison Hawkes on July 1, 2011 No Comments »
Category : The man made climate

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

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