Massive wildfires are on the increase in the western USA due to rising temperatures and worsening drought from climate change, and the trend could continue in the decades to come, new research suggests.
Five anthropogenic factors that will radically alter forest conditions and management needs in the Northern United States have been outlined in a new report. "The northern quadrant of the United States includes 172 million acres of forest land and 124 million people," said one researcher. This report "is helping identify the individual and collective steps needed to ensure healthy and resilient futures for trees and people alike."
(Phys.org) —A collaborative study released today involving scientists from the Cambridge Conservation Initiative has shown that climate change is altering species distributions and populations, seemingly through shifting interactions between species rather than direct responses to climate.
Future simulations of climate in the Amazon suggest a longer dry season leading to more drought and fires. Scientists have published a new study on the impacts of fire and drought on Amazon tree mortality. Their article found that prolonged droughts caused more intense and widespread wildfires, which consumed more forests in Amazonia than previously understood.
This spring, more than 40 percent of the western U.S. is in a drought that the USDA deems "severe" or "exceptional." The same was true in 2013. In 2012, drought even spread to the humid east. But new research shows how short-lived but severe climatic events can trigger cascades of ecosystem change that last for centuries.
Greenland's ice sheets are melting faster than anyone predicted. Why glaciologist Jason Box's radical theory may not be so radical after all...
The expedition, called the Dark Snow Project, is the first crowd-sourced scientific research trip to Greenland. “The old ways of doing things aren’t working,” Box tells me one evening. “I want to pursue big ideas, but I also want to communicate them in ways that the public understands. Scientists need to do everything they can to wake people up. It is our job, our moral responsibility.”http://www.rollingstone.com/greenland-melting?stop_mobi=yes
-▶ AN UNRECOGNIZABLE ARCTIC Arctic systems may be reaching “tipping points” —critical moments in time where a small change has large, potentially irreversible impacts (see sidebar) http://climate.nasa.gov/news/958
August 01, 2013 Mongabay -▶ CLIMATE COULD WARM MORE RAPIDLY THAN ANY TIME IN THE LAST 65 MILLION YEARS According to a new review of 27 climate models, scientists say the global climate is likely to experience a warmth as great as any in the last 65 million years, only much, much faster... http://news.mongabay.com/2013/0801-hance-climate-pace.html
BERLIN (AP) - The cost of keeping global warming in check is "relatively modest," but only if the world acts quickly to reverse the buildup of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, the head of the U.N.'s expert panel on climate change said Sunday.
The amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere has exceeded 402 parts per million (ppm) during the past two days of observations, which is higher than at any time in at least the past 800,000 years, according to readings from monitoring equipment on a mountaintop in Hawaii. Carbon dioxide, or CO2, is the most important long-lived greenhouse gas responsible for manmade global warming, and it is building up in the atmosphere due to the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas.
Once emitted, a single molecule of carbon dioxide can remain aloft for hundreds of years, which means that the effects of today's industrial activities will be felt for the next several centuries, if not thousands of years. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, such as methane, warm the planet by absorbing and redirecting outgoing solar radiation that would otherwise escape back into space.
In 2013, atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide briefly hit 400 ppm for the first time in mid-May, but this year that symbolic threshold has been crossed even earlier. This means it is more likely that the annual peak, which typically occurs in mid-to-late May, will climb further above 400 ppm for the first time.
Although crossing above 400 ppm is largely a symbolic milestone, scientific research indicates that the higher that carbon dioxide concentrations get, the more global temperatures will increase, resulting in a wide range of damaging effects. These impacts will range from global sea level rise to a heightened risk of heat waves, severe droughts and floods, according to a recently released comprehensive assessment of climate science produced by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Modern carbon dioxide monitoring began in 1958 on the peak of Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano, which is more than two miles high. At that time, carbon dioxide concentrations were at just 313 ppm. They have risen rapidly and steadily since then, both at Mauna Loa and at other observatories around the world. The chart documenting this rise is perhaps the most iconic in all of climate science, known as the "Keeling Curve" for Charles David Keeling, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientist who began and maintained the monitoring program.
According to the Keeling Curve website, carbon dioxide concentrations spiked to 402.20 parts per million on April 7, whereas data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) showed a slightly lower level of 402.11 parts per million on the same day. Both data sets indicate that daily carbon dioxide measurements have been at or above 400 ppm since March 29, and the graph appears on course to stay above 400 ppm throughout the rest of the month and into the next.
When digesting ruminants exhale methane. Their contribution to this global greenhouse gas is considerable. So far the assumption had been that camels with similar digestion produce the same amount of the climate-damaging gas. However, researchers have now shown camels release less methane than ruminants.
On March 22nd 2014, an over waterlogged hillside collapsed triggering a massive mudslide above the North Fork of Stillaguamish River in the town of Oso, WA. The devastating mudslide, estimated to be over 1-square mile large, tore through the Stillaguamish River, decimated a portion of Highway 530 and destroyed over 40 homes. 30 people were killed and roughly 15 people remain missing.
Cathryn Wellner's insight:
The consequence was unintended, but we humans have to stop pretending we can destroy the planet with impunity.