• Coastal perilRising seas threaten 1.9 million U.S. homes with current value of $882 billion

    Typically when we talk about “underwater” homes, we are referring to negative equity. But there is a more literal way a home can be underwater: Rising sea levels, and the flooding likely to come with them, could inundate millions of U.S. homes worth hundreds of billions of dollars. If sea levels rise as much as climate scientists predict by the year 2100, almost 300 U.S. cities would lose at least half their homes, and 36 U.S. cities would be completely lost. The total combined current value of all homes at risk of being underwater with a 6-feet rise in sea levels is $882 billion.

  • Emerging threatsGlobal warming would make most cities too hot, humid to host summer Olympics

    The future of the summer Olympics may be in jeopardy because of rising heat and humidity due to climate change. By 2085, only eight Northern Hemisphere cities outside of Western Europe are likely to be cool enough to host the summer games. The authors considered only cities with at least 600,000 residents, the size considered necessary for hosting the games. Cities with elevations over a mile above sea level were omitted as such an altitude (for example, Mexico City in 1968) faced challenges of their own.

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  • Emerging threatsEconomic growth will not counterbalance increasing climate change-related damage

    More than 50 percent of all weather-related economic losses on the globe are caused by damages due to tropical cyclones. New research finds that financial losses per hurricane could triple by the end of the century in unmitigated climate change, while annual losses could on average rise by a factor of eight. The researchers also concluded that economic growth will not be able to counterbalance the increase in damage.

  • Water securityHow a new source of water is helping reduce conflict in the Middle East

    By Rowan Jacobsen

    Just a few years ago, in the depths of its worst drought in at least 900 years, Israel was running out of water. Now it has a surplus. This remarkable turnaround was helped by increasing conservation and re-use – but the biggest impact came from a new wave of desalination plants. Israel now gets 55 percent of its domestic water from desalination. Moreover, scientists and others look to desalination as a way to unite longtime enemies in a common cause.

  • Emerging threatsJuly 2016 was the warmest month since modern record-keeping began in 1880

    July 2016 was the warmest July in 136 years of modern record-keeping, which began in 1880. The record warm July continued a streak of ten consecutive months dating back to October 2015 that have set new monthly high-temperature records.

  • Public health Climate change to increase health risks from wildfires in U.S. West

    A surge in major wildfire events in the western United States as a consequence of climate change will expose tens of millions of Americans to high levels of air pollution in the coming decades. The researchers estimated air pollution from past and projected future wildfires in 561 western counties, and found that by mid-century more than eighty-two million people will experience “smoke waves,” or consecutive days with high air pollution related to fires.

  • Food securityAssessing crop damage after extreme weather

    By Mark Dwortzan

    The Philippines is host to six to nine tropical cyclones per year since 1970, and a citizenry that consumes more rice than it produces. The Philippines has for many years augmented its homegrown supply of rice with imports based on seasonal climate forecasts and agricultural production surveys. But import orders must be modified on the fly when extreme weather events exact a heavier toll on production than expected. New method to track the impact of typhoons and other natural disasters could enable more precise, timely delivery of food aid.

  • Planetary securityAliens may be building megastructures around a star to harvest energy: Astrophysicists

    There is something strange happening with a star named KIC 8462852, leading astronomers to suggest that perhaps what we are witnessing is a huge alien megastructure being built around the star. Scientists last year said that KIC 8462852 appeared to be getting darker with no clear or obvious explanation. Some went on to suggest that the flickering and dimming of the star were the result of an alien megastructure being built around it. The purpose of the megastructure? Energy harvesting.

  • DisastersWorst flooding since 1998 leaves $33 billion economic toll in China

    The new Global Catastrophe Recap report, covering July 2016 disasters, reveals that much of China endured substantial seasonal “Mei-Yu” rainfall that led to a dramatic worsening of flooding along the Yangtze River Basin and in the country’s northeast. Total combined economic losses were estimated at $33 billion. Meanwhile, the United States recorded six separate outbreaks of severe convective storms and flash flooding from the Rockies to the East Coast. Total combined economic losses were minimally estimated at $1.5 billion. Only 2 percent of China damage is covered by insurance, compared to nearly 70 percent for U.S. storms.

  • Nuclear wasteMelting ice sheet could release frozen cold war-era radioactive waste

    Camp Century, a U.S. military base built within the Greenland Ice Sheet in 1959, was decommissioned in 1967, and its infrastructure and waste were abandoned under the assumption they would be entombed forever by perpetual snowfall. But climate change has warmed the Arctic more than any other region on Earth, and as portion of the ice sheet covering Camp Century melt, the camp’s infrastructure will become exposed, and any remaining biological, chemical, and radioactive waste could re-enter the environment.

  • Emerging threats Making climate change summaries suitable for “grownups,” but accessible to policymakers

    Researchers examined the writing and editing procedures by which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change creates summaries of their findings for policymakers. Despite recent critiques that these summaries are too difficult for non-experts, the researchers found them comparable to reference texts in terms of reading comprehension level. Nevertheless, the researchers also suggest ways that the summary reports could be improved by using less jargon and more cohesive language to link the ideas they contain.

  • Emerging threatsAdaptation to climate risks: Political affiliation matters

    A new study reveals that those who affiliate with the Democratic Party have different views than those who vote Republican on the following issues: the likelihood of floods occurring, adopting protection measures, and expectations of disaster relief from the government.

  • Emerging threats2015 surpassed 2014 as the warmest year since at least the mid-to-late nineteenth century

    A new State of the Climate report confirmed that 2015 surpassed 2014 as the warmest year since at least the mid-to-late nineteenth century. Last year’s record heat resulted from the combined influence of long-term global warming and one of the strongest El Niño events the globe has experienced since at least 1950. The report found that most indicators of climate change continued to reflect trends consistent with a warming planet. Several markers such as land and ocean temperatures, sea levels, and greenhouse gases broke records set just one year prior.

  • EnergyClimate risk and the fossil fuel industry

    Burning coal, oil, and natural gas is responsible for two-thirds of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Yet these same fuels are also the economic mainstay of resource-rich countries and the world’s largest companies. According to a new study, this means that climate-change relief actions represent danger for the fossil fuel business.

  • GridElectric grid vulnerabilities in extreme weather areas

    Climate and energy scientists at the DoE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a new method to pinpoint which electrical service areas will be most vulnerable as populations grow and temperatures rise. The scientists’ integrated approach – combining ORNL’s unique infrastructure and population datasets with high-resolution climate simulations run on the lab’s Titan supercomputer —  identifies substations at the neighborhood level and determines their ability to handle additional demand based on predicted changes in climate and population.