• Emerging threatsBetter Greenland, Antarctica sheet modeling helps predict sea-level rise

    The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets will make a dominant contribution to twenty-first century sea-level rise if current climate trends continue. However, predicting the expected loss of ice sheet mass is difficult due to the complexity of modeling ice sheet behavior. Better to understand this loss, a team of Sandia National Laboratories researchers has been improving the reliability and efficiency of computational models that describe ice sheet behavior and dynamics.

  • AviationPassengers on trans-Atlantic flights will spend more time in the air as a result of climate change

    Planes flying between Europe and North America will be spending more time in the air due to the effects of climate change, a new study has shown. By accelerating the jet stream — a high-altitude wind blowing from west to east across the Atlantic — climate change will speed up eastbound flights but slow down westbound flights, the study found. The findings could have implications for airlines, passengers, and airports.

  • Emerging threatsSevere drought no longer caused just by nature

    Scientists are calling on drought researchers and managers around the world to consider both human activity and natural phenomena in their battle to preserve increasingly scarce global water supplies. The experts say that severe droughts experienced recently in countries such as China, Brazil and the United States can no longer be seen as purely natural hazards. Changes to the way people use the water and the landscape contribute to extreme water shortages.

  • FloodsTools to help communities predict, cope with floods

    Anticipation and preparedness of large-scale flood events play a key role in mitigating their impacts and optimizing the strategic planning of water resources. Although many countries have well-established systems for river monitoring and early flood warning, an increasing number of inhabitants are affected by floods every year. The Global Flood Awareness System (GloFAS) has been set up providing an overview on upcoming flooding in large world river basins.

  • FloodsHuman-induced climate change helped cause south of England floods: Scientists

    Human-induced climate change increased the risk of severe storms like those that hit the south of England in the winter of 2013-14, causing devastating flooding and costing several people their lives. This is according to new analysis from an international team of climate scientists led by researchers at Oxford University.

  • Emerging threatRecent summer temperatures in Europe likely the warmest of the last 2 millennia

    Most of Europe has experienced strong summer warming over the course of the past several decades, accompanied by severe heat waves in 2003, 2010, and 2015. New research now puts the current warmth in a 2,100-year historical context. The evidence suggests that past variability has been associated with large volcanic eruptions and changes in the amount of energy received from the sun, but that temperatures over the past thirty years lie outside the range of these natural variations, supporting the conclusion that recent warming is mainly caused by anthropogenic activity.

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  • DoomIt is 3 minutes to midnight -- still

    The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists yesterday announced that the minute hand of the Bulletin’s closely watched Doomsday Clock will remain at three minutes to midnight, since recent progress in the Iran nuclear agreement and the Paris climate accord “constitute only small bright spots in a darker world situation full of potential for catastrophe.” The Bulletin’s panel of security experts said that “Three minutes (to midnight) is too close. Far too close…” – but that this reflects “world leaders continue to fail to focus their efforts and the world’s attention on reducing the extreme danger posed by nuclear weapons and climate change. When we call these dangers existential, that is exactly what we mean: They threaten the very existence of civilization and therefore should be the first order of business for leaders who care about their constituents and their countries.”

  • EnergyRapid, affordable energy transformation in U.S. possible

    The United States could slash greenhouse gas emissions from power production by up to 78 percent below 1990 levels within fifteen years while meeting increased demand, according to a new study. The study used a sophisticated mathematical model to evaluate future cost, demand, generation, and transmission scenarios. It found that with improvements in transmission infrastructure, weather-driven renewable resources could supply most of the nation’s electricity at costs similar to today’s.

  • Emerging threatRecord warm years almost certainly the result of human-made climate change

    Recent record warm years are with extremely high likelihood caused by human-made climate change. Without greenhouse-gas emissions from burning coal and oil, the odds are vanishingly small that 13 out of the 15 warmest years ever measured would all have happened in the current, still young century. These odds are between 1 in 5,000 and 1 in 170,000, a new study by an international team of scientists now shows. Including the data for 2015, which came in after the study was completed, makes the odds even slimmer.

  • Water securityGlobal water supply under increasing pressure

    A new study projects that global demand for water could more than double by 2050, increasing pressure on already scarce water resources. “Our current water use habits increase the risk of being unable to maintain sustainable food production and economic development for the future generation,” says one researcher. Water efficiency and water saving measures could stabilize demand.

  • Carbon captureBreakthrough in continuous monitoring of CO2 leaks from carbon storage sites

    Underground storage of CO2 produced from fossil fuel burning, rather than releasing it into the atmosphere, could play an important role in suppressing climate change. Ensuring that the CO2 does not leak from the storage site is key – but the high number of surveys necessary to make sure there is no CO2 leak  makes this a costly endeavor. A team of Japanese researchers may have found a means of achieving easier and lower-cost monitoring for leaks of CO2 stored in underground reservoirs.

  • Extreme weather eventsNortheast braces for “snowpocalypse”

    Around seventy-five million Americans are preparing for potentially life-threatening blizzard conditions as the season’s first major Atlantic Coast storm is about to sweep across the East Coast. Forecasters say the storm taking aim at Washington could rank among the biggest snowfalls on record, eclipsing the “Snowmageddon” storm of 2010 that dropped 45.2 cm. At least five states have declared emergencies as the potentially historic blizzard, which is expected to begin today (Friday), will likely dump up to 75 cm of snow in some regions.

  • Emerging threatsWarmer oceans could produce more powerful, destructive superstorms

    Hurricane Sandy became the second costliest hurricane to hit the United States when it blew ashore in October 2012, killing 159 people and inflicting $71 billion in damage. Informally known as a “superstorm” after it made landfall, Sandy was so destructive largely because of its unusual size and track. After moving north from the tropical waters where it spawned, Sandy turned out to sea before hooking back west, growing in size and crashing head-on into the East Coast, gaining strength when it merged with an eastbound mid-latitude storm. A new study led by the University of Maryland’s Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC) suggests that a warmer Atlantic Ocean could substantially boost the destructive power of a future superstorm like Sandy.

  • Emerging threatsGlobal ocean warming has doubled in recent decades

    Changes in ocean heat storage are important because the ocean absorbs more than 90 percent of the Earth’s excess heat increase associated with global warming. Lawrence Livermore (LLNL) scientists, working with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and university colleagues, have found that half of the global ocean heat content increase since 1865 has occurred over the past two decades. The observed ocean and atmosphere warming is a result of continuing greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Planetary safetyDead ETs: Aliens are silent because they are all extinct

    Life on other planets would likely be brief and become extinct very quickly, say astrobiologists. In research aiming to understand how life might develop, the scientists realized new life would commonly die out due to runaway heating or cooling on their fledgling planets.