• FloodsRecent history of U.S. floods shows regional trends, but no national pattern

    A new study examined the recent history of floods in the United States for the time period 1940-2013. The scientists found some regional trends, but no widespread national pattern of flood change. “An important prerequisite for effective flood risk management is to have an accurate assessment of how flooding is changing over time,” said one researcher. “Of course, changes in climate as well as land- and water-use management are each potential sources of change in flooding frequency or magnitude. But the relative influence of these factors across broad areas has been difficult to discern.”

  • Water securityCalifornia's almond boom ramped up water use, consumed wetlands

    Converting land in California to grow water-hungry almonds between 2007 and 2014 has led to a 27 percent annual increase in irrigation demands — despite the state’s historic drought. The expansion of almonds has also consumed 16,000 acres of wetlands and will likely put additional pressure on already stressed honeybee populations.

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  • Coastal resilienceDetecting sea-level rise acceleration to improve U.K. coastal flood defenses

    Accelerations in the rate of sea-level rise and the time required to upgrade coastal flood defense infrastructure, such as the Thames Barrier, will be investigated as part of a new research initiative. The E-Rise project will aim to better understand the likely lead times for upgrading or replacing coastal defense infrastructure around the United Kingdom during the twenty-first century. It will also assess whether we could detect sea-level accelerations earlier to provide sufficient lead time for action.

  • Emerging threatsDamaging, costly extreme-weather winters are becoming more common in U.S.

    The simultaneous occurrence of warm winters in the West and cold winters in the East has significantly increased in recent decades. The damaging and costly phenomenon is very likely attributable to human-caused climate change, according to a new study. In the past three years alone the combination of heat-related drought in the West and Arctic conditions in the East have pinched the national economy, costing several billion dollars in insured losses, government aid and lost productivity. When such weather extremes occur at the same time, they threaten to stretch emergency responders’ disaster assistance abilities, strain resources such as interregional transportation, and burden taxpayer-funded disaster relief.

  • Oil spillsInsights on Deepwater Horizon disaster

    The soon-to-be-released thriller “Deepwater Horizon,” which opens in theaters 30 September, promises moviegoers a chilling reenactment of one of history’s worst oil rig disasters. One scholar of societal collapse will enter the theater with a big-picture view of the perfect storm of factors that led to the explosion and oil spill that killed eleven people and sent more than 200 million gallons of crude oil spewing toward the nation’s southern coastline for eighty-seven days.

  • Food securityClimate change means land use will need to change to keep up with global food demand

    Researchers warn that without significant improvements in technology, global crop yields are likely to fall in the areas currently used for production of the world’s three major cereal crops — wheat, maize, and rice — forcing production to move to new areas. This could lead to a major drop in productivity of these areas by 2050, along with a corresponding increase in potential productivity of many previously unused areas, pointing to a major shift in the map of global food production.

  • Rising seasLevel of northern Indian Ocean rose twice as fast as global average since 2003

    Many of the world’s most vulnerable populations to sea level rise live in areas along the northern Indian Ocean. New study shows that sea level rise in the northern Indian Ocean rose twice as fast as the global average since 2003. The reason for the rapid rise in sea level is that winds blowing over the ocean amplify sea level rise by increasing the amount of ocean heat brought into the region.

  • Emerging threatsAugust marks ongoing trend of record-breaking heat for the globe

    August marks a 16-months of record warmth for the globe, the longest such streak in 137 years. August 2016 was 1.66 degrees F above the twentieth-century average, breaking last years’ record for the warmest August on record by 0.09 degrees F. The June–August seasonal temperature was 1.6 degrees F above average, surpassing the heat record for this period set in 2015 by 0.07 degrees.

  • Emerging threatsIntegrating climate change into U.S. national security planning

    On Wednesday, President Barack Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum to address climate change and national security. The Department of Defense calls it a “threat multiplier.” The Department of Homeland Security considers it a major homeland security risk. As President Obama said in to the G-20 Summit in Hangzhou, China, “the growing threat of climate change could define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other challenge.”

  • Food securityUN’s Sustainable Development Goals: Wicked trade-offs between environmental, food security goals

    As world leaders gather in New York for the UN General Assembly, one year after the formal adoption of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a new study finds that policies focused solely on the environment tend to increase food prices. However, the study goes on to identify sustainable consumption and production practices as key to achieving both environmental and food security targets simultaneously.

  • Emerging threatsExtraordinary global heat continues

    Although the seasonal temperature cycle typically peaks in July, August 2016 wound up tied with July 2016 for the warmest month ever recorded. August 2016’s temperature was 0.16 degrees Celsius warmer than the previous warmest August (2014). The month also was 0.98 degrees Celsius warmer than the mean August temperature from 1951-1980, according to NASA. The increasing warming is driven by carbon dioxide concentrations – which have passed the symbolic milestone of 400 parts per million in the atmosphere so far this year. Levels vary according to the season, but the underlying trend is upward. According to NOAA, the global monthly mean CO2 in July 2016 was 401.72 parts per million, up from 393.13 parts per million in July 2015.

  • Emerging threatsClimate change poses “strategically significant risk” to U.S. national security

    Twenty-five national security and military leaders the other day released a statement declaring that: “the effects of climate change present a strategically-significant risk to U.S. national security,” and urging a “comprehensive policy” in response. The authors of the statement say that stresses resulting from climate change can increase the likelihood of intra or international conflict, state failure, mass migration, and the creation of additional ungoverned spaces, across a range of strategically-significant regions. They add that the impacts of climate change will place significant strains on international financial stability through contributing to supply line disruptions for major global industries in the manufacturing, energy, agriculture, and water sectors, disrupting the viability of the insurance industry, and generally increasing the political and financial risks of doing business in an increasingly unstable global environment.

  • Emerging threatsDo teachers’ climate change beliefs influence students? The answer is yes and no

    A study of middle school science classes explored whether teachers’ beliefs about climate change influenced students’ perceptions. “The answer is yes and no,” says the study’s author. “While students generally mirror a teacher’s belief that global warming is happening, when it comes to the cause of climate change, students reason for themselves and reach different conclusions than their teachers do.”

  • Emerging threatsClimate change already playing major roles

    While the effects of future climate change will be significant, the social and economic impacts of our current climate today are often just as severe. A new study looked at current climate impacts on areas such as economy, agriculture, trade, energy, violence, migration, and more. The authors calculate, for example, that high temperatures currently drive up rates of civil conflict in sub-Saharan Africa by 29 percent and slow the growth rate of the global economy by 0.25 percentage points per year.

  • FloodsClimate change increased chances of record rains in Louisiana by at least 40 percent

    Human-caused climate warming increased the chances of the torrential rains that unleashed devastating floods in south Louisiana in mid-August by at least 40 percent, according to a team of NOAA and partner scientists. “We found human-caused, heat-trapping greenhouse gases can play a measurable role in events such as the August rains that resulted in such devastating floods, affecting so many people,” says the lead author of a new study.