• Globe had third warmest year to date and fifth warmest November on record

    With a warm start to the year and only one month remaining, the globe remains on track to go down as the third warmest year in the 138-year climate record. Arctic and Antarctic sea ice coverage remain at near-record lows.

  • After Harvey, some South Texans more wary than ever about plan to build landfill near floodplain

    Nearly four months ago, Hurricane Harvey’s rainfall inundated ultra-polluted Superfund sites in and around Houston, triggering the leak of hazardous waste. Now, 300 miles south near Laredo, a company’s efforts to develop a landfill in close proximity to a 100-year floodplain is drawing fresh concerns in light of the environmental problems that emerged in Harvey’s wake.

  • Northeast farmers face warming climate, drenched fields

    For the past two decades, the Northeast has been getting warmer for longer periods of time. It also has seen a 71 percent increase in the frequency of extreme precipitation events – more than any other region in the United States. Farmers in the Northeast are adapting to longer growing seasons and warming climate conditions – but they may face spring-planting whiplash as they confront fields increasingly saturated with rain.

  • MIT conference seeks solutions for reconstruction in devastated Caribbean

    This fall’s record-breaking hurricanes Maria and Irma left a swath of devastation across the Caribbean islands of Puerto Rico, Granada, Dominica, and others. Photos of severely damaged or demolished houses, and statistics about the scale of the destruction and the slow pace of recovery efforts, reveal a tragic level of suffering in an already economically ravaged region. Two-day workshop featuring island leaders explores ways to rebuilt better, more resilient infrastructure.

  • Geologists report new findings about Kansas, Oklahoma earthquakes

    In the more than three decades between 1977 and 2012, only 15 earthquakes with a magnitude of 3.0 or greater were recorded in the entire state of Kansas. Since 2012 more than 100 earthquakes of 3.0 or greater have been recorded in only two counties in the state, Sumner and Harper. These include the largest earthquake ever monitored in Kansas in November 2014, a magnitude 4.9 event near the Sumner County town of Milan. The frequency of earthquakes has continued to increase. Between May 2015 and July 2017, sensors detected more than 2,400 earthquakes in Sumner County alone, ranging in magnitude from 0.4 to 3.6. As concern rises about earthquakes induced by human activity like oil exploration, geologists report a new understanding about recent earthquakes in Kansas and Oklahoma.

  • Effects of climate change could accelerate by mid-century

    Environmental models used in a new study are showing that the effects of climate change could be much stronger by the middle of the twenty-first century, and a number of ecosystem and weather conditions could consistently decline even more in the future. If carbon dioxide emissions continue at the current rate, they report that scenarios of future conditions could not only lead to a significant decrease in snow days, but also an increase in the number of summer days over 90 degrees and a drastic decline in stream habitat with 40 percent not suitable for cold water fish.

  • The odds of a megadrought in western, southwestern U.S.

    In the southwestern United States, water management is a top concern. If a megadrought occurs, large-scale water management decisions affecting millions of Americans must be made to protect agriculture, the ecosystem and potable water systems. Understanding the odds of a widespread megadrought becomes important for planning purposes. To help untangle fact from speculation, climate scientists have developed a “robust null hypothesis” to assess the odds of a megadrought – one that lasts more than thirty years – occurring in the western and southwestern United States.

  • High-resolution climate models offer alarming new projections for U.S.

    Approaching the second half of the century, the United States is likely to experience increases in the number of days with extreme heat, the frequency and duration of heat waves, and the length of the growing season. In response, it is anticipated that societal, agricultural and ecological needs will increase the demand on already-strained natural resources like water and energy.

  • California needs to rethink urban fire risk, starting with where it builds houses

    With widespread damage to structures, the wildfires raging across southern California highlight the importance of where and how we build our communities and, in particular, how land use planning and better building codes can reduce our exposure to such events. Despite an aversion by some to land use planning, this strategy is simply common sense. It will also save lives and massive amounts of public resources over the long term. Where we do choose to develop and inhabit hazard-prone environments, it may be necessary to design communities with “passive survivability” in mind, or the ability to withstand the event and have water and power for a few days. This provides both the built environment and the people within some basic protection for a limited time. Strategies exist to lower the risk of fire in the current housing stock and to more carefully design and site future development where wildfires are possible. With increasing extremes expected as climate continues to change, officially recognizing this link and creating a safer built environment will only become more urgent.

  • Gulf Coast universities team up to address hurricane resilience

    A new multi-institution research center will focus on helping the Gulf coast do better at preparing for and mitigating the damage and loss of lives from hurricanes and other severe storms. The Hurricane Resilience Research Institute (HuRRI) draws upon the strengths of its seven participating universities, from flood mitigation and hurricane modeling to public policy.

  • 2016 extreme weather events tied to climate change

    According to a new research report, the 2016 global average temperature and extreme heat wave over Asia occurred due to continued long-term climate change. Additionally, climate change was found to have influenced other heat events in 2016, including the extreme heat in the Arctic, development of marine heat waves off Alaska and Australia, as well as the severity of the 2015-2016 El Nino, and the duration of coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef.

  • Climate change made Hurricane Harvey's rainfall three times more likely

    Climate change did not cause Hurricane Harvey, but two independent studies have concluded that global warming dramatically increased the probability of a storm of its magnitude occurring ahead of its appearance, and intensified the severity of its impact when it arrived.

  • Controlled burning of forest land limits severity of wildfires

    Controlled burning of forestland helped limit the severity of one of California’s largest wildfires, geographers say. The researchers studying the Rim Fire, which in 2013 burned nearly 400 square miles of forest in the Sierra Nevadas, found the blaze was less severe in areas recently treated with controlled burns. “You can fight fire with fire. You can fight severe fires using these more controlled fires under conditions that are suitable,” says one expert.

  • Explaining differences in climate change views among college graduates

    The average American college student has just a 17 percent chance of learning about climate change before graduation through required core courses. The finding may help explain why having a bachelor’s degree doesn’t always lead to increased acceptance of human-caused global warming, according to new research.

  • Smaller branches drive the fastest, biggest wildfires

    As the West tallies the damages from the 2017 wildfire season, researchers are trying to learn more about how embers form and about the blaze-starting potential they carry. Preliminary findings indicate the diameter of the branches that are burning is the biggest single factor behind which ones will form embers the most quickly and how much energy they’ll pack.