• Energy securityClimate change threatens European electricity production

    The vulnerability of the European electricity sector to changes in water resources is set to worsen by 2030 as a consequence of climate change. Thermoelectric power stations—including coal, gas, and nuclear plants—use significant amounts of fresh water for cooling purposes. A large gas power station can use an Olympic-sized swimming pool of water per minute. If water is not available, or if it is too warm, power stations have to reduce electricity production, or cease production completely.

  • FloodsTroubled flood insurance program traps homeowners in flood-prone areas

    The U.S. flood insurance program has repeatedly rebuilt some of the most flood-prone properties in the country, unintentionally setting a trap for owners of modest homes who would prefer to move out of harm’s way, according to a new national report. Today it is thousands of properties, but climate change and rising sea levels threaten to flood millions of properties in the coming decades. For every $100 the nation spends to rebuild homes with national flood insurance funds, FEMA spends just $1.72 to better protect people by moving them to safer, less flood-prone land.

  • Coastal perilShifting storms threaten once placid areas with extreme waves, extensive damage

    The world’s most extensive study of the impacts of coastal storm fronts in a changing climate has found that rising seas are no longer the only threat. The study of a major storm front striking the coast has revealed a previously unrecognized danger from climate change: as storm patterns fluctuate, waterfront areas once thought safe are likely to be hammered and damaged as never before.

  • Planetary securityA “cocktail” of geoengineering approaches to combat climate change

    Geoengineering is a catch-all term that refers to various theoretical ideas for altering Earth’s energy balance to combat climate change. New research from an international team of atmospheric scientists investigates for the first time the possibility of using a “cocktail” of geoengineering tools to reduce changes in both temperature and precipitation caused by atmospheric greenhouse gases.

  • Safer buildingsBuilding to better weather the storm

    By Anne Wilson Yu

    The Atlantic hurricane season has officially begun and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting “above normal” storm activity this year. That could mean significant damage to coastal communities — some of which are still recovering from last year’s hurricane season. New dashboard developed by the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub helps builders calculate the breakeven cost of hazard mitigation in hurricane-prone areas.

  • Dust stormsDust Bowl redux: Increase in dust storms in the U.S.

    Could the storms that once engulfed the Great Plains in clouds of black dust in the 1930s once again wreak havoc in the United States? A new statistical model developed by researchers predicts that climate change will amplify dust activity in parts of the United States in the latter half of the 21st century, which may lead to the increased frequency of spectacular dust storms that have far-reaching impacts on public health and infrastructure.

  • AviationRising temperatures may limit aircraft takeoffs globally

    Global temperatures have gone up nearly 1 degree Centigrade (1.8 Fahrenheit) since about 1980, and this may already be having an effect. In late June, American Airlines canceled more than 40 flights out of Phoenix, Ariz., when daytime highs of nearly 120 degrees made it too hot for smaller regional jets to take off. Rising temperatures due to global warming will make it harder for many aircraft around the world to take off in coming decades, says a new study. During the hottest parts of the day, 10 to 30 percent of fully loaded planes may have to remove some fuel, cargo or passengers, or else wait for cooler hours to fly, a new study shows.

  • Food securityClimate change to deplete some U.S. water basins, reduce irrigated crop yields

    By Jennifer Chu

    A new study by MIT climate scientists, economists, and agriculture experts finds that certain hotspots in the country will experience severe reductions in crop yields by 2050, due to climate change’s impact on irrigation. The most adversely affected region, according to the researchers, will be the Southwest. Already a water-stressed part of the country, this region is projected to experience reduced precipitation by midcentury. Less rainfall to the area will mean reduced runoff into water basins that feed irrigated fields.

  • Coastal perilExtreme coastal sea levels more likely

    Extreme sea levels are typically caused by a combination of high tides, storm surges, and in many cases waves, Wahl said. When an extreme event collides with continually rising seas, it takes a less intense storm, such as a Category I hurricane, to inflict as much coastal damage as a Category II or III storm would have had when the seas were lower. Because of the rising sea levels, which research has confirmed has occurred steadily during the past century and is expected to accelerate in the future, extreme events that are now expected to happen, on average, only once every hundred years, could occur every decade or even every year, in many places by 2050, the study said.

  • Extreme weather eventsHuman fingerprints on Europe’s recent heat

    This June, Europe experienced some remarkable heat. Temperature records were smashed across the west of the continent with extremely hot days followed by warm uncomfortable nights for many. Research has found that excess deaths during recent European heatwaves can be attributed to the human influence on the climate. These extreme heat events are becoming more common in Europe and around the world. Researchers say that in order to be prepared for future severe heatwaves, we need to understand how and why they are changing.

  • Emerging threatsResolving conflict in estimates of climate change

    Researchers have resolved a conflict in estimates of how much the Earth will warm in response to a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. That conflict — between temperature ranges based on global climate models and paleoclimate records and ranges generated from historical observations — prevented the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) from providing a best estimate in its most recent report for how much doubled CO2 emissions will warm the Earth.

  • Emerging threatsGlobal warming damages U.S. economy, increases inequality

    Unmitigated climate change will make the United States poorer and more unequal, according to a new study. The pioneering study is the first of its kind to price warming using data and evidence accumulated by the research community over decades. From this data, the researchers estimate that for each 1 degree Fahrenheit (0.55 degrees Celsius) increase in global temperatures, the U.S. economy loses about 0.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product, with each degree of warming costing more than the last.

  • Rising seasAs melting of Greenland ice sheet intensifies, sea level rise accelerates

    A new study says that the pace of sea level rise has increased significantly over the past quarter-century, with the thawing of Greenland’s ice sheet playing a major role in the steady rise of the oceans. The study said that Greenland’s ice sheet accounted for more than 25 percent of sea level rise in 2014, compared to just 5 percent in 1993.

  • Rising seasRising seas could create 2 billion refugees by 2100

    In the year 2100, 2 billion people – about one-fifth of the world’s population – could become climate change refugees due to rising ocean levels. Those who once lived on coastlines will face displacement and resettlement bottlenecks as they seek habitable places inland, according to new research. Feeding that population will require more arable land even as swelling oceans consume fertile coastal zones and river deltas, driving people to seek new places to dwell.

  • Coastal perilNew subsidence map highlights sinking Louisiana coast

    Researchers at Tulane University have developed a subsidence map of coastal Louisiana, putting the rate at which this region is sinking at just over one third of an inch per year. The map, published in GSA Today, has long been considered the “holy grail” by researchers and policy makers as they look for solutions to the coastal wetland loss crisis, the researchers said.