• Global warming could help crops’ productivity

    Many scientists fear that global warming will hit staple food crops hard, with heat stress, extreme weather events, and water shortages. On the other hand, higher levels of carbon dioxide — the main cause of ongoing warming — is known to boost many plants’ productivity, and reduce their use of water. So, if we keep pouring more CO2 into the air, will crops fail, or benefit? A new study tries to disentangle this complex question. It suggests that while greater warmth will reduce yields of some crops, higher CO2 could help mitigate the effects in some regions, unless other complications of global warming interfere.

  • Globe continues to break heat records -- for 11th straight month

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, March set another heat record for the globe. As Earth continues to warm, and is influenced by phenomena such as El Niño, global temperature records are piling up. For 2016 year to date (January-March), the average temperature for the globe was 2.07 degrees F above the twentieth-century average. This was the highest temperature for this period in the 1880–2016 record.

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  • Fossil fuels could be phased out worldwide in a decade: Study

    The worldwide reliance on burning fossil fuels to create energy could be phased out in a decade, according to energy experts. The experts analyzed energy transitions throughout history, and argue that only looking toward the past can often paint an overly bleak and unnecessary picture. The transition from wood to coal in Europe, for example, took between 96 and 160 years, whereas electricity took 47 to 69 years to enter into mainstream use. The future could be different: the scarcity of resources, the threat of climate change, and vastly improved technological learning and innovation could greatly accelerate a global shift to a cleaner energy future.

  • Underestimate global warming by exaggerating cloud “brightening”

    As the atmosphere warms, clouds become increasingly composed of liquid rather than ice, making them brighter. Because liquid clouds reflect more sunlight back to space than ice clouds, this “cloud phase feedback” acts as a brake on global warming in climate models. Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Yale University have found, however, that climate models are aggressively making clouds “brighter” as the planet warms. This may be causing models to underestimate how much global warming will occur due to increasing carbon dioxide.

  • Soil’s carbon storage could help limit impact of climate change

    Soils currently lock away around 2.4 trillion tons of greenhouse gases, which are stored underground as stable organic matter. Researchers say the world’s soils could store an extra eight billion tons of greenhouse gases, helping to limit the impacts of climate change. Growing crops with deeper root systems, using charcoal-based composts, and applying sustainable agriculture practices could help soils retain the equivalent of around four-fifths of annual emissions released by the burning of fossils fuels, the researchers say.

  • Water cycle instability posing major political and economic risks: UN experts

    The current instability and unpredictability of the world water cycle is here to stay, making society’s adaptation to new risks a vital necessity when formulating development policies, a UN water expert warns. “What we haven’t understood until now is the extent to which the fundamental stability of our political structures and global economy are predicated on relative stability and predictability of the water cycle — that is, how much water becomes available in what part of the year. As a result of these new water-climate patterns, political stability and the stability of economies in most regions of the world are now at risk,” the expert says.

  • Renewables and nuclear no substitute for carbon dioxide disposal

    Oxford scientist argues that there are only two things we can affect with policies today that will really matter for peak warming: reducing the cost of large-scale capture and disposal of carbon dioxide, and maximizing the average rate of economic growth we achieve for a given rate of emission in the meantime.

  • Flooding, accelerated sea-level rise in Miami over last decade

    Miami Beach flood events have significantly increased over the last decade due to an acceleration of sea-level rise in South Florida. Scientists suggest that regional sea-level projections should be used in place of global projections to better prepare for future flood hazards in the region.

  • Global warming of 2.5°C degrees would put at risk trillions of dollars of world’s financial assets

    An average of $2.5 trillion, or 1.8 percent, of the world’s financial assets would be at risk from the impacts of climate change if global mean surface temperature rises by 2.5°C (4.5°F) above its pre-industrial level by 2100, according to a new study. that the authors found, however, that uncertainties in estimating the “climate Value at Risk” mean that there is a 1 percent chance that warming of 2.5°C could threaten $24 trillion, or 16.9 percent, of global financial assets in 2100.

  • California drought patterns becoming more common

    Atmospheric patterns resembling those that appeared during the latter half of California’s ongoing multi-year drought are becoming more common. The current record-breaking drought in California has arisen from both extremely low precipitation and extremely warm temperature. The new study found clear evidence that atmospheric patterns that look like those seen during this extreme drought have in fact become more common in recent decades.

  • Analyzing the effects of rising sea levels in Norfolk, Va.

    In Norfolk, Virginia, an East Coast city which is home to the world’s largest naval station and important seaports, catastrophic flooding could damage more than homes and roads. A new study from Sandia National Laboratories assesses how much the city, its region, and the nation would suffer in damages to national assets and lost economic activity if it does nothing to address rising sea levels. The analysis method is available to cities that want to become more resilient.

  • Rapid Antarctica ice melt: Sea-level rise nearly double over earlier estimates

    A new study suggests that the most recent estimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for future sea-level rise over the next 100 years could be too low by almost a factor of two. The researchers incorporated into their models mechanisms that were previously known but never incorporated in a model like this before, and added them to their ice-sheet model, so they could consider the effects of surface melt water on the break-up of Antarctica’s ice shelves and the collapse of vertical ice cliffs.

  • Starvation is only one crop breeding cycle away

    Global population growth, urbanization, and a changing climate mean staple food crops will need to achieve much higher yields in the near future. New research proposes genetic engineering solutions to improve photosynthetic efficiency of food crops, boosting yield under higher temperatures and carbon dioxide levels. Because it can take twenty to thirty years of breeding and product development efforts before new crops are available to farmers, those efforts must start now.

  • Water problems in Asia’s future?

    Economic and population growth on top of climate change could lead to serious water shortages across a broad swath of Asia by the year 2050. Having run a large number of simulations of future scenarios, the researchers find that the median amounts of projected growth and climate change in the next thirty-five years in Asia would lead to about one billion more people becoming “water-stressed” compared to today.

  • 1.4 billion people face severe natural disaster risks in South Asia

    New data has revealed that 1.4 billion people in South Asia, or 81 percent of the region’s population, are acutely exposed to at least one type of natural hazard and live in areas considered to have insufficient resources to cope with and rebound from an extreme event. Poor governance, weak infrastructure, and high levels of poverty and corruption amplify the economic and humanitarian losses associated with significant natural hazards events – and these factors will exacerbate the consequences of natural disasters especially in Africa, a continent which hosts eight out of the nine countries most vulnerable to natural hazards.