Climate Change News
By Tom Henry – The Blade – May 25, 2014
Thirty-six years after catching flak for one of the most bold and dire predictions about global warming, former Ohio State University glaciologist John H. Mercer is being hailed as a visionary. Mr. Mercer was hardly the first to sound an alarm about greenhouse gases: Scientists were well on their way by the late 1950s toward connecting mankind’s burning of fossil fuels to Earth’s changing climate. But Mr. Mercer made a groundbreaking contribution with a peer-reviewed research paper about West Antarctica’s instability he got published on Jan. 26, 1978, in the scientific journal Nature. In it, he warned the world that West Antarctica’s massive ice sheet — one of Earth’s largest and most important — would eventually melt from beneath, become dislodged, and cause global sea levels to rise 5 meters, the equivalent of nearly 16.5 feet. For full story, click here.
By Jenny Staltovich – Miami Herald – May 24, 2014
For the past three decades, University of Miami geology professor Harold Wanless has tracked the tides as they crept higher, watched oysters head for drier ground and repeatedly warned that the ocean is swelling in ways that could one day put coastal cities like Miami under water. His predictions — punctuated with dire conclusions like “this is going to test the very fibers of civilization” — often drew skepticism or, worse, silence. But earlier this month, two new studies reported findings that, if they hold up, would confirm what he and other scientists have long suspected: Global warming has triggered an unstoppable melting of polar ice in Antarctica that could raise sea level by 10 feet or more over the next several centuries. For full story, click here.
By Brian Bender – The Boston Globe – May 25, 2014
Its famed research vessels and scientists are arrayed across the globe, installing weather instruments off the Cape, tracking water currents in the Labrador Sea, monitoring monsoons in India, and measuring melting ice in Antarctica. In these and other ways, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is playing a leading role in raising the alarm — and scientific understanding — of the perils of climate change. But now the nonprofit institution, facing a severe budget crunch as federal research funding is slashed, has a very different sort of venture in the offing: helping oil and gas companies identify new sources of the very fossil fuels believed to be damaging the environment. For full story, click here.
By Rowan Jacobsen – MotherJones – May/June 2014
The New Poster Child for climate change had his coming-out party in June 2012, when Petey the puffin chick first went live into thousands of homes and schools all over the world. The "Puffin Cam" capturing baby Petey's every chirp had been set up on Maine's Seal Island by Stephen Kress, "The Puffin Man," who founded the Audubon Society's Project Puffin in 1973. Puffins, whose orange bills and furrowed eyes make them look like penguins dressed as sad clowns, used to nest on many islands off the Maine coast, but 300 years of hunting for their meat, eggs, and feathers nearly wiped them out. Project Puffin transplanted young puffins from Newfoundland to several islands in Maine, and after years of effort the colonies were reestablished and the project became one of Audubon's great success stories. By 2013, about 1,000 puffin pairs were nesting in Maine. But Kress soon noticed that something was wrong. For full story, click here.
By Jordan M. West and Susan H. Julius – It All Starts with Science – May 21, 2014
If you’ve ever been to Rocky Mountain National Park, you know that it is a land of majestic peaks, clear blue lakes, and green forested slopes. But these days, huge swaths of dead, reddish-brown trees mar the view. As a result of climate change, ongoing drought and rising temperatures have weakened the trees and triggered more extensive and severe infestations of bark beetles. Whole stands of trees have died as a result. For full blog post, click here.
By Ken Ward, Jr. – West Virginia Gazette – May 9, 2014
Another study has found that global warming pollution from natural gas drilling and production is likely far greater than estimated by current government emissions inventories. During two days of intensive airborne measurements, oil and gas operations in Colorado’s Front Range leaked nearly three times as much heat-trapping methane as predicted by current inventory estimates, according to the new study from the University of Colorado-Boulder. The measurements also found that benzene emissions were seven times higher than existing inventories, and that emissions of other chemicals that contribute to smog were twice as high as estimates. For full story, click here.
Contact: Catherine Puckett – USGS – May 8, 2014
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today unveiled the National Climate Change Viewer, a climate-visualization website tool from the Interior Department’s U.S. Geological Survey. The new tool gives citizens and resource managers the opportunity to look at climate-driven impacts on watersheds and map projected changes at the local, regional, state and watershed levels.
Jewell’s announcement follows on the heels of the release of the Third National Climate Assessment, the most comprehensive scientific assessment ever generated of climate change and its impacts across every region of America and major sectors of the U.S. economy. The assessment found that multiple stresses on water supplies are becoming serious challenges in many regions, with the impacts cascading across sectors including agriculture and energy.
“The new USGS National Climate Change Viewer shows projected climate-driven challenges to watersheds and future water supplies across the United States,” said Secretary Jewell. “This information will be valuable to the work of scientists, water and land managers, farmers and ranchers — as well as all interested citizens. As we carry out the President’s Climate Action Plan, this will be a useful tool for planning how to manage, adapt to and mitigate climate change.” For full press release, click here. To go to the National Climate Change Viewer, click here.
EPA Climate Change and Water News – May 9, 2014
On May 6th, the U.S. Global Change Research Program released the Third National Climate Assessment. The report summarizes the impacts of climate change on the United States, now and in the future. A team of more than 300 experts guided by a 60-member Federal Advisory Committee produced the report, which was extensively reviewed by the public and experts, including federal agencies and a panel of the National Academy of Sciences. The Third National Climate Assessment describes the impacts of climate change across ten geographic regions of the United States, and in economic sectors such as agriculture, energy, and health. The descriptions translate scientific insights into practical information that can help decision-makers and citizens anticipate and prepare for climate-change impacts.
The report is available for download and can be explored in an interactive format through the new U.S. Global Climate Change Research Program website. An important feature of this interactivity is the traceability of the data and other information in the report, giving users the means to refer back to this data for analysis and decision support.
By Evan Lehmann – E & E Publishing – May 14, 2014
Illinois Farmers Insurance Co. is suing Chicago for failing to prevent flooding related to climate change in what experts say could be a landmark case that accelerates local efforts to grapple with the impacts of climbing temperatures. The insurance company filed nine class-action lawsuits last month alleging that dozens of Chicago-area municipalities are responsible for the damage caused by a two-day downpour last year in April. The company claims that local officials are aware that climate change is causing heavier rainfalls but failed to prevent sewage backups in more than 600 homes by draining water from the region's system of tunnels and retention basins before the storm. For full story, click here.