• U.S. to face five-fold increase in extreme downpours across parts of the country

    At century’s end, the number of summertime storms that produce extreme downpours could increase by more than 400 percent across parts of the United States — including sections of the Gulf Coast, Atlantic Coast, and the Southwest. The intensity of individual extreme rainfall events could increase by as much as 70 percent in some areas. That would mean that a storm that drops about 2 inches of rainfall today would be likely to drop nearly 3.5 inches in the future.

  • Climate change to drive stronger, smaller storms in U.S.

    The effects of climate change will likely cause smaller but stronger storms in the United States, according to a new framework for modeling storm behavior. Though storm intensity is expected to increase over today’s levels, the predicted reduction in storm size may alleviate some fears of widespread severe flooding in the future. The new approach uses new statistical methods to identify and track storm features in both observational weather data and new high-resolution climate modeling simulations.

  • Is climate change responsible for increasing tornado outbreaks?

    Tornadoes and severe thunderstorms kill people and damage property every year. Estimated U.S. insured losses due to severe thunderstorms in the first half of 2016 were $8.5 billion. The largest U.S. impacts of tornadoes result from tornado outbreaks, sequences of tornadoes that occur in close succession. New research shows that the average number of tornadoes during outbreaks—large-scale weather events that can last one to three days and span huge regions—has risen since 1954. But the researchers were not sure why.

  • Better way for coastal communities to prepare for devastating storms

    As of 2010, approximately 52 percent of the United States’ population lived in vulnerable coastal watershed counties, and that number is expected to grow. Globally, almost half of the world’s population lives along or near coastal areas. Coastal communities’ ability to plan for, absorb, recover, and adapt from destructive hurricanes is becoming more urgent.

  • Record-breaking hot days ahead

    If society continues to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at the current rate, Americans later this century will have to endure, on average, about fifteen daily maximum temperature records for every time that the mercury notches a record low, new research indicates. That ratio of record highs to record lows could also turn out to be much higher if the pace of emissions increases and produces even more warming.

  • Hurricane risk to Northeast U.S. coast increasing

    New research suggests the Northeastern coast of the United States could be struck by more frequent and more powerful hurricanes in the future due to shifting weather patterns caused by manmade industrial emissions. The researchers found that hurricanes have gradually moved north from the western Caribbean towards North America over the past several hundred years.

  • At forum, MIT community tackles tough ethical questions of climate change

    An MIT panel discussed The ethical challenges presented by climate change and the question of what individuals — and academic institutions like MIT — can do to affect change. “Science has performed its role adequately,” said Vice President for Research Maria Zuber, “[but] it cannot tell us what our obligations are to future generations. Determining how to respond to climate change is a question for all of us.”

  • Location matters: Sandy’s tides hit some parts of the N.J. coast harder than others

    USGS researchers ground-truthed Hurricane Sandy’s October 2012 storm tides in New Jersey and found northern coastal communities had significantly higher storm tides than southern ones did, though flood damage was widespread in both areas. The findings suggest that some southern New Jersey communities may be underestimating their future flood risks.

  • Climate, not conflict, explains extreme “Middle East Dust Bowl”

    Climate change, not ongoing regional conflict, was the cause of a severe dust storm that enveloped much of the Middle East and the Mediterranean last September, according to new research. The storm, labeled by some media outlets as the “Middle-Eastern Dust Bowl,” affected Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and Cyprus, leading to scores of people being hospitalized, ports being closed, flights being cancelled, and large portions of the affected countries and eastern Mediterranean Sea being covered in an unprecedented haze.

  • 2015 Indonesian fires exposed 69 million to “killer haze”

    More than 69 million people living in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia were exposed to unhealthy air quality conditions during the 2015 wildfires in Equatorial Asia during the autumn of 2015. The wildfires are linked to as many as 17,270 premature deaths. “The wildfires of 2015 were the worst we’ve seen for almost two decades as a result of global climate change, land use changes, and deforestation. The extremely dry conditions in that region mean that these are likely to become more common events in the future, unless concerted action is taken to prevent fires,” said one researcher.

  • Global climate 2011-2015: hot and wild

    The World Meteorological Organization has published a detailed analysis of the global climate 2011-2015 – the hottest five-year period on record — and the increasingly visible human footprint on extreme weather and climate events with dangerous and costly impacts. The record temperatures were accompanied by rising sea levels and declines in Arctic sea-ice extent, continental glaciers, and northern hemisphere snow cover. All these climate change indicators confirmed the long-term warming trend caused by greenhouse gases.

  • Meeting global energy demands with nuclear power

    An international team of scientists suggests that we must ramp up energy production by nuclear power if we are to succeed in warding off the worst effects of greenhouse gas emissions on climate change. The team suggests that beginning in 2020 we could achieve an annual electricity output of 20 terawatts without needing to develop carbon dioxide trapping and storage technology for the tens of billions of tons of emissions that would otherwise drive global warming to catastrophic levels.

  • Addressing the risk of an ecological breakdown

    In Surviving the 21st Century, Julian Cribb says that “Our combined actions may be leading to a gross ecological breakdown that will strike humanity harder than anything in our experience.” He adds: “Today humanity is facing ten huge existential threats, all of our own making. The good news is that we have the brains and the technologies to solve them – and to prosper from their solution. However we currently lack the collective will, the ability to co-operate, and the institutions to save ourselves. That is a worry.” He concludes: “This is absolutely a book about solutions – and opportunities. It is about hope – though a hope that is well-founded, on fact and science, not simply on belief, ignorance, or wishful thinking. It’s about understanding and facing up to the things which imperil out future, so that we can overcome them.”

  • Bangladesh confronting climate change head on

    Three decades ago, Bangladeshi scientists recognized that global warming would produce more destructive cyclones, heavier rain, and rising sea levels. Combined with the fact that 10 percent of the country is less than two meters above sea level, it was evident that something needed to be done to prevent future catastrophes and protect the lives of Bangladeshi citizens. A new book, which demonstrates how Bangladeshis are confronting climate change head on.

  • Increasing cost of natural hazards as climate changes

    A new comprehensive study of Australian natural hazards paints a picture of increasing heatwaves and extreme bushfires as this century progresses, but with much more uncertainty about the future of storms and rainfall. The study documents the historical record and projected change of seven natural hazards in Australia: flood; storms (including wind and hail); coastal extremes; drought; heatwave; bushfire; and frost.