• Water securityArid American West is Moving East as Groundwater Depletes

    Loss of groundwater may accelerate drying trends in the eastern United States, according to research that applied supercomputing to create an in-depth model of how groundwater will respond to warming. Even under modest climate warming scenarios, the continental United States faces a significant loss of groundwater – about 119 million cubic meters, or roughly enough to fill Lake Powell four times or one quarter of Lake Erie.

  • Coastal challengesSea Level Rise to Cause Major Economic Impact If No Climate Action Is Taken

    Rising sea levels, a direct impact of the Earth’s warming climate, is intensifying coastal flooding. The findings of a new study show that the projected negative economy-wide effects of coastal flooding are already significant until 2050, but are then predicted to increase substantially towards the end of the century if no further climate action on mitigation and adaptation is taken.

  • Climate & healthChildren to Bear the Burden of Negative Health Effects from Climate Change

    Climate change will have grim effects on pediatric health, researchers say. The effects of climate change increase mortality and morbidity due to heat waves and fires, increased risk of food- and water-borne illnesses, and malnutrition due to food scarcity. These negative experiences bring with them psychological trauma and mental health issues that can affect both children and their caretakers.

  • Climate crisisJanuary 2020 was Earth’s Hottest January on Record

    The long-term trend of above-average temperatures continues: In the span of 141 years of climate records, there has never been a warmer January than last month, according to scientists at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. What is more, the temperature departure from average was the highest monthly departure ever recorded without an El Niño present in the tropical Pacific Ocean.

  • Coastal challengeCoastal Risks, Land Use Policy in the Face of Sea Level Rise

    An Oregon land use policy creates a large economic value for some private homeowners who are allowed to protect their shoreline against erosion, according to a new study. The study highlights the tradeoff between a homeowner’s ability to protect their private property and public access to Oregon’s beaches. The study comes at a time when the future of coastal management in Oregon is up for discussion given the threats of sea-level rise due to climate change.

  • Climate & terrorismFraming the Climate Crisis as a Terrorism Issue Could Galvanize Action

    By Jennifer Zhang

    In many vulnerable regions of the world, the climate crisis has exacerbated loss of farmable land and increased water scarcity, fueling rural-urban migration, civil unrest, and violence. As a result, worsening geopolitical instability has aided the rise of terrorism and violence in the Middle East, Guatemala, and the Lake Chad Basin of Africa. Yet when people hear the words, “global warming,” they typically don’t think of terrorism. If they did, politicians would be far more likely to undertake drastic action to address the climate crisis.

  • Climate adaptationAdapting to Climate Change: Policymakers Are Thinking Too Small

    When it comes to adapting to the effects of climate change, scientists and policymakers are thinking too small, according to a new research review. The authors argue that society should focus less on how individuals respond to such climate issues as flooding and wildfires and instead figure out what it takes to inspire collective action that will protect humans from climate catastrophes on a much grander scale.

  • FloodsMore Rain and Less Snow Means Increased Flood Risk

    By analyzing more than two decades of data in the western U.S., scientists have shown that flood sizes increase exponentially as a higher fraction of precipitation falls as rain, offering insight into how flood risks may change in a warming world with less snow.

  • FloodsBuilding a Flood-Resilient Future

    By Tom Almeroth-Williams

    Seven of the U.K. ten wettest years on record have occurred since 1998. Its wettest winter in history came in 2013, and the next wettest in 2015. In a single week in November 2019, 400 homes were flooded and 1,200 properties evacuated in northern England. The frequency and severity of these events is expected to increase as a result of climate change, meaning that many more communities will suffer their devastating effects. A new book shows how we can adapt the built and natural environment to be more flood resilient in the face of climate change.

  • FloodsWildfires Increase Winter Snowpack — but That Isn’t Necessarily a Good Thing

    Fires burns trees, and more burnt trees mean more snow into the system initially because of reduced trees that usually block and hold the snow temporarily on branches. This is a good outcome for north-facing slopes where the snowpack will hold in the shade, but If the snow falls on a south-facing, sun-exposed aspect with a deep snowpack and a rapid spring melt, there is a higher chance of erosion, loss of nutrients, and potential of flooding for downstream communities. “The larger and more severe the wildfire, the increased flood potential for valleys,” says an expert.

  • Coastal challengesWarming Oceans Could Drive Antarctic Ice Sheet Collapse, Sea Level Rise

    In the U.S., four out of ten people live in populous coastal areas, making them vulnerable to the effects of rising seas. Seventy percent of the world’s largest cities are located near a coast. Globally, by 2010, seas had already risen about 10 inches above their average levels in pre-industrial times. A new study suggests the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet is less stable than researchers once thought, and that its collapse would accelerate sea level rise.

  • PerspectiveAcross the U.S., States Are Bracing for More Climate-Related Disasters

    Officials in states across the United States are calling for huge investments to mitigate the effects of wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, droughts, and other natural disasters made more devastating and frequent by climate change. Alex Brown writes that “Even states whose leaders don’t publicly acknowledge the existence of climate change, such as Texas and South Carolina, have applied for federal dollars citing ‘changing coastal conditions’ or ‘unpredictability’.”

  • ResilienceReducing Risk, Empowering Resilience to Disruptive Global Change

    By Mark Dwortzan

    Five-hundred-year floods. Persistent droughts and heat waves. More devastating wildfires. As these and other planetary perils become more commonplace, they pose serious risks to natural, managed, and built environments around the world. Assessing the magnitude of these risks over multiple decades and identifying strategies to prepare for them at local, regional, and national scales will be essential to making societies and economies more resilient and sustainable. A workshop highlights how MIT research can guide adaptation at local, regional, and national scales.

  • Climate costsSea Level Rise: Major Economic Impact in the Absence of Further Climate Action

    Rising sea levels, a direct impact of the Earth’s warming climate, is intensifying coastal flooding. The findings of a new study show that the projected negative economy-wide effects of coastal flooding are already significant until 2050, but are then predicted to increase substantially towards the end of the century if no further climate action on mitigation and adaptation is taken.

  • Climate costsClimate Costs Smallest If Warming Is Limited to 2°C

    Climate costs are likely smallest if global warming is limited to 2 degrees Celsius. The politically negotiated Paris Agreement is thus also the economically sensible one, Potsdam researchers find in a new study. Using computer simulations of a model by U.S. Nobel Laureate William Nordhaus, they weight climate damages from, for instance, increasing weather extremes or decreasing labor productivity against the costs of cutting greenhouse gas emission by phasing out coal and oil. Interestingly, the economically most cost-efficient level of global warming turns out to be the one more than 190 nations signed as the Paris Climate Agreement. So far however, CO2 reductions promised by nations worldwide are insufficient to reach this goal.