• Helping banking industry address climate-related risks, opportunities

    Sixteen leading banks from four continents, convened by the UN Environment Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), have published a jointly developed methodology to increase banks’ understanding of how climate change and climate action could impact their business.

  • Many low-lying atoll islands uninhabitable by mid-21st century

    Sea-level rise and wave-driven flooding will negatively impact freshwater resources on many low-lying atoll islands in such a way that many could be uninhabitable in just a few decades. Scientists found that such flooding not only will impact terrestrial infrastructure and habitats, but, more importantly, it will also make the limited freshwater resources non-potable and, therefore, directly threaten the sustainability of human populations.

  • Resilience vs. retreat in the face of climate change

    More than 250 million people will be displaced by climate change by 2050. No nation will be able to escape the consequences of climate change, but Small Island Developing States (SIDS)—such as the Maldives, the Marshall Islands, and the Bahamas—will be some of the hardest hit. “Retreat” is a word that frequently comes up in this context: the idea being that people will need to move out of the lands that are most at risk.

  • Exploring Arctic clues to secure future

    The Arctic is undergoing rapid change, with sea ice melting and temperatures rising at a faster pace than anywhere else in the world. Its changing environment affects global security, politics, the economy and the climate. Understanding these changes is crucial for shaping and safeguarding U.S. security in the future, Sandia scientists say.

  • California suffering: Severe climate future for the state

    California is headed for a future of precipitation extremes. Researchers say that the state will experience a much greater number of extremely wet and extremely dry weather seasons — especially wet — by the end of the century. The authors also predict that there will be a major increase in the likelihood of severe flooding events, and that there will be many more quick changes from one weather extreme to the other.

  • Lawmakers question Pruitt’s proposal to limit EPA’s use of science

    The EPA has announced new policy-making rules which, critics say, are aimed to reduce the role of science in the agency’s decisions. EPA’s proposal would limit the scientific information used in rulemaking, allow the agency to ignore scientific studies where the underlying data has not been made public, and force the agency to only use scientific data that can be reproduced. Lawmakers yesterday sent a detailed letter to EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, requesting more information on his proposal.

  • The 100th meridian, where the Great Plains begin, shifting eastward

    In 1878, the American geologist and explorer John Wesley Powell drew an invisible line in the dirt—the 100th meridian west, the longitude he identified as the boundary between the humid eastern United States and the arid Western plains. Now, 140 years later, scientists that the line appears to be slowly moving eastward, due to climate change. They say it will almost certainly continue shifting in coming decades, expanding the arid climate of the western plains into what we think of as the Midwest. The implications for farming and other pursuits could be huge.

  • New technology removes phosphorus from manure

    Excess phosphorus, primarily in runoff from land application of manure, accounts for about 66 percent of impaired conditions of U.S. rivers and has created large areas of eutrophication — dead zones — in the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, where aquatic life cannot survive. Nutrient pollution is one of America’s most widespread, costly and challenging environmental problems. Researchers have developed an innovation that could have a huge impact on water quality problems in the United States, a system capable of removing almost all phosphorus from stored livestock manure.

  • Carbon taxes could make significant dent in climate change, study finds

    Putting a price on carbon, in the form of a fee or tax on the use of fossil fuels, coupled with returning the generated revenue to the public in one form or another, can be an effective way to curb emissions of greenhouse gases. That’s one of the conclusions of an extensive analysis of several versions of such proposals, carried out by researchers at MIT and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

  • Predicting East Coast hurricane flooding risks

    A model developed at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory will soon make its debut in the real world, helping to characterize and predict the paths and impacts of hurricanes on the East Coast.

  • Space weather threatens high-tech life

    In September 1859, parts of the United States were crippled by a fierce space weather storm. Today’s even more sensitive electronics and satellites would be devastated should an event of that magnitude occur again. In 2008, a panel of experts commissioned by the National Academy of Sciences issued a detailed report with a sobering conclusion: The world would be thrown back to the life of the early 1800s, and it would take years – or even a decade – to recover from an event that large.

  • Comprehensive strategy required to tackle Houston flooding problems

    A new report by leading Texas researchers analyzes in detail a variety of shortcomings with the Houston area’s current — and proposed — approach to flood control. The report calls on civil leaders to pursue a multifaceted and regional strategy which ensures that all communities receive better protection regardless of socioeconomic status.

  • Artificial levees on Mississippi River dramatically increased extreme floods

    A new study has revealed for the first time the last 500-year flood history of the Mississippi River. It shows a dramatic rise in the size and frequency of extreme floods in the past century—mostly due to projects to straighten, channelize, and bound the river with artificial levees. The new research also uncovered a clear pattern over the centuries linking flooding on the Mississippi with natural fluctuations of Pacific and Atlantic Ocean water temperatures.

  • First direct observations of methane's increasing greenhouse effect

    Scientists have directly measured the increasing greenhouse effect of methane at the Earth’s surface for the first time. A research team from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) tracked a rise in the warming effect of methane — one of the most important greenhouse gases for the Earth’s atmosphere — over a 10-year period at a DOE field observation site in northern Oklahoma.

  • Flood risk denial in U.S. coastal communities

    Rising sea levels have worsened the destruction that routine tidal flooding causes in the nation’s coastal communities. On the U.S. mainland, communities in Louisiana, Florida and Maryland are most at risk. Stemming the loss of life and property is a complex problem. Elected officials can enact policies to try to lessen the damage of future flooding. Engineers can retrofit vulnerable buildings. But, in the face of a rising tide, changing hearts and minds might be the most formidable obstacle to decreasing the damage done by flooding.