• Declining snow packs put many nations' water supplies at risk

    Gradual melting of winter snow helps feed water to farms, cities, and ecosystems across much of the world, but this resource may soon be critically imperiled. Scientists have identified snow-dependent drainage basins across the northern hemisphere currently serving two billion people that run the risk of declining supplies as a result of global warming. “Water managers in a lot of places may need to prepare for a world where the snow reservoir no longer exists,” one scientist says.

  • Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere hit another record

    The amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached yet another new record high in 2014, continuing a relentless rise which is fueling climate change and will make the planet more dangerous and inhospitable for future generations, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The pre-industrial level of CO2 — of about 278 ppm — represented a balance between the atmosphere, the oceans, and the biosphere. Human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels has altered the natural balance, and in spring 2015, the global average concentration of CO2 crossed the 400 ppm barrier. The global annual average is likely to pass 400 ppm in 2016.

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  • Climate change adaptation – from local initiatives to national policies

    We all know that the climate is changing, but how can we best prepare for some of the changes that lie ahead? Should coastal cities change their building codes to accommodate rising sea levels? Should we allocate more resources to tree-planting to reduce urban heat islands? These are examples of local initiatives that can make a difference to climate change adaptation. Indeed, climate adaptation is a rapidly growing concern for the international community.

  • Human-caused climate change increased severity of many extreme events in 2014

    Human activities, such as greenhouse gas emissions and land use, influenced specific extreme weather and climate events in 2014, including tropical cyclones in the central Pacific, heavy rainfall in Europe, drought in East Africa, and stifling heat waves in Australia, Asia, and South America, according to a new report released the other day. The report, Explaining Extreme Events of 2014 from a Climate Perspective, published by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, addresses the natural and human causes of individual extreme events from around the world in 2014, including Antarctica.

  • Global temperatures set to reach 1 °C marker for first time

    Met Office, the U.K. official weather service, says that data for 2015 so far shows that, for the first time, global mean temperature at the Earth’s surface is set to reach 1 °C above pre-industrial levels. This represents an important marker as the world continues to warm due to human influence. It is estimated that up to 2,900 Gigatonnes of CO2 (GtCO2) can be emitted to have a likely (more than 66 percent) chance of limiting warming to below 2 °C. The Met Office notes that as of 2014, about 2,000 GtCO2 had already been emitted, meaning society has used about two thirds of the 2 °C budget. This gives an indication that we are already committed to some level of further warming.

  • Game for climate adaptation

    An MIT-led project takes the adage “think globally, act locally” to heart by demonstrated a new method for getting local citizens and leaders to agree on the best ways of managing the immediate and long-term effects of climate change. The project got local citizens and officials in four coastal towns to engage in role-playing games about climate change tailored to their communities — which in coastal communities may include rising sea levels and increased storm surges that can lead to flooding.

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  • In the world of finance, consideration of climate change is now mainstream

    As climate changes become impossible to dismiss, how does the mainstream investor community respond? Are financial decisions taking full account of risks and opportunities related to climate change, or is the topic still virtually ignored in financial decision-making?    

  • Blitz spirit needed to meet challenges like climate change: Dr. Hugh Hunt

    Today’s engineers will need the kind of drive and determination shown by the great wartime innovators such as Sir Barnes Wallis and Sir Frank Whittle if they are to respond effectively to challenges such as climate change, Dr. Hugh Hunt told the Royal Academy of Engineering on Tuesday. Hunt compared today’s challenge of adapting to future climate change with the imperative to develop new technologies to tip the balance of military capability in favor of the Allies during the Second World War.

  • Update issued for southeast Florida regional sea level rise projections

    The four-county Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact (Compact) has prepared an update to the regional sea level rise projections used for important planning purposes. Overall, the update includes minor changes to the short-term curves, but a more significant increase in the mid-and long-term projections. The 2015 update estimates sea level rise of 6 to 10 inches by 2030, or 3 to 5 inches above average sea level in 2015. Predictions for the mid-term are between 11 and 22 inches of additional sea level rise by 2060, and longer-term between 28 and 57 inches by 2100.

  • New York proposes new sea-level rise projection regulations

    New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced last week that to better prepare New York State coastal communities and business owners for extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy three years ago, DEC is proposing new state sea-level rise projections which will help state agencies and project planners develop more resilient structures. “The sea-level rise projections DEC is proposing today reflect the best science available,” said DEC acting commissioner. “Sea level projections will help state agencies, developers, planners and engineers to reduce risks posed by rising seas and coastal storms over the next several decades.”

  • California releases plan for preparing the state for extreme effects of climate change

    In response to a directive from California governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., the California Natural Resources Agency has been seeking public comment on a draft plan for how California will prepare for and adapt to the catastrophic effects of climate change, including extended droughts and wildfires, rising sea levels and increasingly extreme weather. The draft plan — Safeguarding California: Implementation Action Plans — identifies the state’s vulnerabilities to climate change and details steps that need to be taken across ten sectors including water, transportation, agriculture, biodiversity and habitat, emergency management, and energy.

  • Wildfires may double erosion across a quarter of western U.S. watersheds by 2050

    Wildfires, which are on the rise throughout the west as a result of prolonged drought and climate change, can alter soil properties and make it more vulnerable to erosion. A new study shows that the increase in wildfires may double soil erosion in some western United States by 2050, and all that dirt ends up in streams, clogging creeks and degrading water quality.

  • Study: Persian Gulf could experience deadly heat

    Detailed climate simulation shows that the Persian Gulf region would likely cross the threshold of survivability unless mitigation measures are taken. That tipping point involves a measurement called the “wet-bulb temperature” which combines temperature and humidity, reflecting conditions the human body could maintain without artificial cooling. That threshold for survival for more than six unprotected hours is 35 degrees Celsius, or about 95 degrees Fahrenheit, according to recently published research (the equivalent number in the National Weather Service’s more commonly used “heat index” would be about 165 F). The researchers say that hot summer conditions that now occur once every twenty days or so “will characterize the usual summer day in the future.”

  • Deadly extreme weather events to intensify, become more frequent over the next 50 years

    European heat wave of 2003, during which 35,000 people died. It was the most extreme event of its kind since 1500 AD. In May 2015, India was struck by a severe heat wave that killed more than 2,500 people. “Heat waves that [were once] expected to occur twice a century [are now], in the early 2000s, expected to occur twice a decade. Human influence has very likely at least doubled the likelihood of such an event,” says one expert.

  • Climate change will reshape global economy: Study

    Unmitigated climate change is likely to reduce the income of an average person on Earth by roughly 23 percent in 2100, according to estimates contained in a new study. The findings indicate climate change will widen global inequality, perhaps dramatically, because warming is good for cold countries, which tend to be richer, and more harmful for hot countries, which tend to be poorer. In the researchers’ benchmark estimate, climate change will reduce average income in the poorest 40 percent of countries by 75 percent in 2100, while the richest 20 percent may experience slight gains.