News Article | May 27, 2017
Climate change may keep you awake -- and not just metaphorically. Nights that are warmer than normal can harm human sleep, researchers show in a new paper, with the poor and elderly most affected. According to their findings, if climate change is not addressed, temperatures in 2050 could cost people in the United States millions of additional nights of insufficient sleep per year. By 2099, the figure could rise by several hundred million more nights of lost sleep annually. The study was led by Nick Obradovich, who conducted much of the research as a doctoral student in political science at the University of California San Diego. He was inspired to investigate the question by the heat wave that hit San Diego in October of 2015. Obradovich was having trouble sleeping. He tossed and he turned, the window AC in his North Park home providing little relief from the record-breaking temperatures. At school, he noticed that fellow students were also looking grumpy and bedraggled, and it got him thinking: Had anyone looked at what climate change might do to sleep? Published by Science Advances, the research represents the largest real-world study to date to find a relationship between reports of insufficient sleep and unusually warm nighttime temperatures. It is the first to apply the discovered relationship to projected climate change. "Sleep has been well-established by other researchers as a critical component of human health. Too little sleep can make a person more susceptible to disease and chronic illness, and it can harm psychological well-being and cognitive functioning," Obradovich said. "What our study shows is not only that ambient temperature can play a role in disrupting sleep but also that climate change might make the situation worse by driving up rates of sleep loss." Obradovich is now a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and a research scientist at the MIT Media Lab. He is also a fellow of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at UC San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Obradovich worked on the study with Robyn Migliorini, a student in the San Diego State University/UC San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, and sleep researcher Sara Mednick of UC Riverside. Obradovich's dissertation advisor, social scientist James Fowler of UC San Diego, is also a co-author. The study starts with data from 765,000 U.S. residents between 2002 and 2011 who responded to a public health survey, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study then links data on self-reported nights of insufficient sleep to daily temperature data from the National Centers for Environmental Information. Finally, it combines the effects of unusually warm temperatures on sleep with climate model projections. The main finding is that anomalous increases in nighttime temperature by 1 degree Celsius translate to three nights of insufficient sleep per 100 individuals per month. To put that in perspective: If we had a single month of nightly temperatures averaging 1 degree Celsius higher than normal, that is equivalent to 9 million more nights of insufficient sleep in a month across the population of the United States today, or 110 million extra nights of insufficient sleep annually. The negative effect of warmer nights is most acute in summer, the research shows. It is almost three times as high in summer as during any other season. The effect is also not spread evenly across all demographic groups. Those whose income is below $50,000 and those who are aged 65 and older are affected most severely. For older people, the effect is twice that of younger adults. And for the lower-income group, it is three times worse than for people who are better off financially. Using climate projections for 2050 and 2099 by NASA Earth Exchange, the study paints a bleak picture of the future if the relationship between warmer nights and disrupted sleep persists. Warmer temperatures could cause six additional nights of insufficient sleep per 100 individuals by 2050 and approximately 14 extra nights per 100 by 2099. "The U.S. is relatively temperate and, in global terms, quite prosperous," Obradovich said. "We don't have sleep data from around the world, but assuming the pattern is similar, one can imagine that in places that are warmer or poorer or both, what we'd find could be even worse."
News Article | May 26, 2017
Climate change may keep you awake -- and not just metaphorically. Nights that are warmer than normal can harm human sleep, researchers show in a new paper, with the poor and elderly most affected. According to their findings, if climate change is not addressed, temperatures in 2050 could cost people in the United States millions of additional nights of insufficient sleep per year. By 2099, the figure could rise by several hundred million more nights of lost sleep annually. The study was led by Nick Obradovich, who conducted much of the research as a doctoral student in political science at the University of California San Diego. He was inspired to investigate the question by the heat wave that hit San Diego in October of 2015. Obradovich was having trouble sleeping. He tossed and he turned, the window AC in his North Park home providing little relief from the record-breaking temperatures. At school, he noticed that fellow students were also looking grumpy and bedraggled, and it got him thinking: Had anyone looked at what climate change might do to sleep? Published by Science Advances, the research represents the largest real-world study to date to find a relationship between reports of insufficient sleep and unusually warm nighttime temperatures. It is the first to apply the discovered relationship to projected climate change. "Sleep has been well-established by other researchers as a critical component of human health. Too little sleep can make a person more susceptible to disease and chronic illness, and it can harm psychological well-being and cognitive functioning," Obradovich said. "What our study shows is not only that ambient temperature can play a role in disrupting sleep but also that climate change might make the situation worse by driving up rates of sleep loss." Obradovich is now a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and a research scientist at the MIT Media Lab. He is also a fellow of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at UC San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Obradovich worked on the study with Robyn Migliorini, a student in the San Diego State University/UC San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, and sleep researcher Sara Mednick of UC Riverside. Obradovich's dissertation advisor, social scientist James Fowler of UC San Diego, is also a co-author. The study starts with data from 765,000 U.S. residents between 2002 and 2011 who responded to a public health survey, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study then links data on self-reported nights of insufficient sleep to daily temperature data from the National Centers for Environmental Information. Finally, it combines the effects of unusually warm temperatures on sleep with climate model projections. The main finding is that anomalous increases in nighttime temperature by 1 degree Celsius translate to three nights of insufficient sleep per 100 individuals per month. To put that in perspective: If we had a single month of nightly temperatures averaging 1 degree Celsius higher than normal, that is equivalent to 9 million more nights of insufficient sleep in a month across the population of the United States today, or 110 million extra nights of insufficient sleep annually. The negative effect of warmer nights is most acute in summer, the research shows. It is almost three times as high in summer as during any other season. The effect is also not spread evenly across all demographic groups. Those whose income is below $50,000 and those who are aged 65 and older are affected most severely. For older people, the effect is twice that of younger adults. And for the lower-income group, it is three times worse than for people who are better off financially. Using climate projections for 2050 and 2099 by NASA Earth Exchange, the study paints a bleak picture of the future if the relationship between warmer nights and disrupted sleep persists. Warmer temperatures could cause six additional nights of insufficient sleep per 100 individuals by 2050 and approximately 14 extra nights per 100 by 2099. "The U.S. is relatively temperate and, in global terms, quite prosperous," Obradovich said. "We don't have sleep data from around the world, but assuming the pattern is similar, one can imagine that in places that are warmer or poorer or both, what we'd find could be even worse." The research was supported in part by the National Science Foundation, grants no. DGE0707423 and TG-SES130013 to Obradovich, DGE1247398 to Migliorini, and BCS1439210 to Mednick. Mednick is also funded by the National Institute on Aging (R01AG046646) and the Department of Defense (Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award). As a student, Obradovich was a Gramercy Fellow in the UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences. The authors also acknowledge the assistance of the San Diego Supercomputer Center and the Human Nature Group at UC San Diego.
News Article | March 27, 2017
On the left is an image of the global circulation pattern on a normal day. On the right is the image of the global circulation pattern when extreme weather occurs. The pattern on the right shows extreme patterns of wind speeds going north and south, while the normal pattern on the left shows moderate speed winds in both the north and south directions. Flood survivors negotiate a flooded road at Muzaffargarh, in central Pakistan, on Aug. 19, 2010. The floods that hit Pakistan in the summer of 2010 took 2,000 lives and affected 20 million people. —Whether a specific extreme weather event can be linked to climate change rarely gets a straightforward answer from climate scientists or meteorologists. It's complicated, they'll say, but that doesn't mean there isn't a relationship. "Climate scientists have been willing to link the general increase in certain types of weather extremes (heat waves, droughts, and floods) to climate change in a generic sense," says Michael Mann, an atmospheric scientist at Pennsylvania State University. Rising global temperatures and other climate forces can certainly change the conditions that underlie weather, which climate scientists have said can lead to a change in the frequency of a type of weather event. But Dr. Mann and colleagues report that there is a more direct way that climate change is impacting weather extremes: by altering the movement of the jet stream. "Our work shows that climate change isn’t just leading to more extreme weather through the usual mechanisms that have been described in the literature (warmer temperatures means more heat waves, hotter summers mean worse drought, warmer atmosphere holds more moisture so when it rains or snows we tend to see greater amounts of precipitation)," Mann writes in an email to The Christian Science Monitor. "We show that, in addition to those effects, climate change is changing the behavior of the jet stream in a way that favors more extreme persistent weather anomalies." And, in a paper published Monday in the journal Scientific Reports, Mann and his colleagues suggest that this climate change-driven shift in the jet stream influenced the 2003 heat wave in Europe, flooding in Pakistan and a heat wave in Russia simultaneously in 2010, and the Texas heat wave in 2011. "This study convincingly demonstrates a mechanism connecting climate change with extreme weather during summer over Northern Hemisphere continents, affecting billions of people," Jennifer Francis, a climate scientist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., who was not involved in the research, writes in an email to the Monitor. The jet stream, which Mann describes as a "ribbon-like air current that travels eastward … in the lower part of the atmosphere where weather happens," exists because of the difference in air temperatures between the subtropic and subarctic regions. The eastward-flowing air isn't one completely steady band. Slow-moving waves that travel from north to south often appear across the ribbon of air. It is those particularly large undulations, called Rossby waves, that researchers link with extreme weather, because of the intensely low or high pressure systems they bring with them. In a warming world, these Rossby waves are getting stuck in one place for a long period of time, Mann and his colleagues say. And this means that a region under the low pressure part of these waves will experience intense, prolonged rainfall resulting in flooding. The regions under the high pressure systems will be stuck with hot, dry conditions conducive to drought and wildfires. What's making these waves static, or at least slowing them down? Mann points to the warming Arctic. The tropics aren't warming as much as the Arctic, so the temperature gradient from north-to-south is less extreme. As the temperature differences that create the jet stream decline, the jet stream's dynamics change. This relationship was previously proposed by German climate researchers in 2013. But Mann and his colleagues have built on this idea by identifying a fingerprint related to these static, or particularly slow-moving, waves. The researchers found that the pattern of these fingerprints in the real-world data for recent extreme weather events matched simulations of the influence of anthropogenic greenhouse gases, indicating that climate change is indeed influential in altering the jet stream dynamics. Kevin Trenberth, senior scientist in the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) who was not involved in the research, cautions that teasing out the climate change signal from the noise of natural variability in a particular weather system can be tricky. "Weather systems occur naturally, in terms of the storms themselves, the phenomena, etc.," he writes in an email to the Monitor. "But their impacts are undoubtedly altered by climate change: higher temperatures, heat waves, wildfires; stronger rains (and snows), more intense droughts, and further, the storms may be more intense." Although the impact of climate change on the temperature, and rainfall intensity is undoubtable, Dr. Trenberth says, the causal relationship is less clear when considering the dynamics (the storms themselves and atmospheric waves) of a weather system. "There is a no doubt that there are relationships, but it is not so clear what is the cause; i.e. the change in waves, the Arctic and so forth are all part of the same thing: and the change in Arctic is likely more a result not a cause," he writes. Climate scientists and meteorologists have been hesitant to draw a direct link between extreme storms and climate change, although they say unusual weather is consistent with models of a changing climate. But Dr. Francis and David Easterling, chief of the Scientific Services Division of the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration’s (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information, who also was not involved in the study, say this research is eroding that hesitation. "This work adds a substantial layer to the pile of research suggesting that climate change is already causing an increase in certain types of extreme weather events. Moreover, as society continues along the present path of unabated fossil fuel burning, weather will become even more extreme," Francis says. "I think it certainly provides more evidence towards it," Dr. Easterling agrees in a phone interview with the Monitor. "Is it a definitive answer? No, not necessarily.... But it's beginning to draw that link." "This is beginning to give you a dynamical meteorology reason why we may see more of these events," Easterling says. This research gives us an idea about the mechanism behind these changes, rather than just statistics, he says. Mann and his team have focused their work on identifying the link in historical data, but the same technique could have applications in predicting future extreme weather from climate trends. "Indeed, that’s precisely the analysis we are doing now, performing a similar analysis but using instead the climate model projections for the next century," Mann says. "Stay tuned." It's not just about long-term climate trends, Easterling adds. "If meteorologists that are actually doing forecasting can look at this and begin to see these patterns, they can do a better job of forecasting heatwaves and/or extended wet periods" in the nearer future as well. Regardless of timescale, these sorts of predictions could help save lives and expense, Francis says. Extreme weather affects insurance costs, food security, and political stability, among other things, she says. "Knowing the reason for the increased frequency of extreme summer weather events – such as heat waves, droughts, and floods – and knowing these events will become only more frequent and intense in the future, will inform decisionmakers and help leaders of governments and businesses to prepare for them," Francis says. "This knowledge, if acted upon, could save lives and [prevent] suffering."
News Article | May 4, 2017
Stargazers are flocking to these neighboring towns in Colorado that have traded streetlights for starlight. We are losing the nighttime sky, an invaluable resource that has inspired musing and wonder like few other natural phenomena. And as our cities grow bigger and our suburbs continue to creep and crawl, it's only getting worse. “We’ve got whole generations of people in the United States who have never seen the Milky Way,” says Chris Elvidge, from the NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information in Boulder, Colorado. “It’s a big part of our connection to the cosmos – and it’s been lost.” But if it's up to the residents of Westcliffe and Silver Cliff, two small towns in western Colorado that comprise Wet Mountain Valley, the great night sky will not be lost. After some 15 years of hard work, they're finally seeing the light. And in fact, they boast some of the darkest skies on the planet, luring in stargazers from near and far to feast on the delights of pitch dark heavens studded with stars. In their (approved) application to become Colorado's first designated International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) community, they decribe their work as "a long 15-year process to change the mindsets of these old western communities from one of 'Don’t tell me what I can and can’t do' to 'How can we protect our beautiful Wet Mountain Valley’s rural charm from being lost to big-city problems like light pollution?'" In this short film, you can see the towns' journey as well as their rewards: Modified streetlights and stars for miles. For while we may be losing the nighttime sky, it is a magnificently forgiving resource and is willing to jump back into the game, we just have to turn off the lights.
News Article | February 15, 2017
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) CEO Rush Holt, a former Democratic congressman, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, before the House Science Committee. He rebuffed claims by Republican members that federal climate science had been falsified. (AP Photo/Michael Biesecker) WASHINGTON (AP) — Another round of bickering is boiling over about temperature readings used in a 2015 study to show how the planet is warming. The issue is about how readings gathered decades ago were adjusted to try to get a clearer picture of how the Earth's temperature is changing now. Those adjustments have been questioned by some who reject mainstream climate science and have tried to claim there has been a pause in global warming. A January study in a scientific journal used another set of measurements to confirm the readings and prove again that the earth's temperature is rising quickly and that the warming has not paused. But a congressional committee on Tuesday seized on complaints from a retired scientist from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration about how the original data were handled to claim the data were falsified — even though the retired NOAA scientist they cite does not argue that it was. What is being touted as a scientific scandal is more about data handling than what rising temperatures show, according to phone and email interviews with more than two dozen experts on the issue, including the former government scientist, whose blogging Saturday reignited a debate. The hubbub was sparked when retired NOAA data scientist John Bates claimed in a blog post that his boss, then-director of the National Centers for Environmental Information Thomas Karl, "constantly had his 'thumb on the scale' — in the documentation, scientific choices and release of datasets — in an effort to discredit the notion of a global warming hiatus" and rushed a study published in the journal Science before international climate negotiations. Bates said in an interview Monday with The Associated Press that he was most concerned about the way data was handled, documented and stored, raising issues of transparency and availability. He said Karl didn't follow the more than 20 crucial data storage and handling steps that Bates created for NOAA. He said it looked like the June 2015 study was pushed out to influence the December 2015 climate treaty negotiations in Paris. However Bates, who acknowledges that Earth is warming from man-made carbon dioxide emissions, said in the interview that there was "no data tampering, no data changing, nothing malicious." "It's really a story of not disclosing what you did," Bates said in the interview. "It's not trumped up data in any way shape or form." Still, after Bates' blog post, the House Science Committee , a British tabloid newspaper and others who reject mainstream climate science accused NOAA of playing "fast and loose" with land and water temperature data. House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, speaking at a hearing Tuesday, called on Science to retract the 2015 study and blasted NOAA for not being cooperative with his subpoenas. When the journal's publisher Rush Holt, a physicist and former Democratic congressman, said the charges don't support a retraction because the issue is more about data procedures than science, Smith, an attorney, interrupted him and insisted: "They falsified global warming data." The Karl study looked mostly at ocean temperature records several decades old and determined that those older readings skewed too warm when compared to modern monitoring from buoys and other devices because they were taken in ships' engine rooms. He adjusted those old readings down, which makes it clearer that the earth's temperature is rising now. Since then, a new independent study from the University of California, Berkeley looked at the same issue in a different way, and confirmed the Karl calculations. "Not using their data we get the exact same results, both for the ocean record and for the land," said Zeke Hausfather, lead author of the Berkeley study. He called Bates' claims "all about procedural disagreements within NOAA that have very little bearing about our understanding about what's happening to Earth's climate." Marcia McNutt, who was editor of Science at the time the paper was published and is now president of the National Academy of Sciences, praised Bates for wanting to highlight the importance of data archiving, but said his criticisms have little to do with the main part of the paper and chastised the House for using issues of data archiving to try to discredit the 2015 study. "The study has been reproduced independently of Karl et al — that's the ultimate platinum test of whether a study is to be believed or not," McNutt said. "And this study has passed." The Associated Press interviewed more than two dozen experts by phone or email. Most agreed with Karl or didn't take a side but said it didn't matter because global warming continues regardless of this latest kerfuffle. Two supported Bates, saying there were serious scientific integrity concerns. As far as the study being rushed, the journal says its records show otherwise. Science's new editor-in-chief Jeremy Berg said it usually takes 109 days between a paper's submission and its publication. The Karl study was received by the journal on Dec. 23, 2014 and published 185 days later, on June 26, 2015. "The paper was not rushed in any way," McNutt said. "It had an exceptional number of reviewers, many more than average because we knew it was on a controversial topic. It had a lot of data analysis."
News Article | January 5, 2017
Fueling speculations of a climate change hiatus are data showing that from about 1998 to 2012, global temperature rise appeared to plateau, based on NOAA’s Extended Reconstruction Sea Surface Temperature dataset. This so-called pause has been puzzling scientists as well as prompting skeptics to say that human-induced global warming, after all, is a mere hoax. Now a new study has surfaced to say that, no, that data isn’t proof of a hiatus. Across Earth, the oceans have been warming at a relatively steady clip over the last 50 years. Lead author Dr. Zeke Hausfather, a data scientist from the University of California Berkeley, clarifies that warming appears in both datasets in practically the same way — confirming the integrity of the NOAA dataset. However, further evidence showed that ocean temperatures have warmed steadily without a pronounced slowdown. “A fair bit of the apparent hiatus seems to be due to problems in our ocean measurements, and not a real thing," Hausfather told The Christian Science Monitor over the phone. Detailing their findings in the journal Science Advances last Wednesday, Hausfather’s team revisited the data after political chaos erupted in 2015, when the errors were first identified. They discovered that NOAA was right despite the flak they received. In June that year, NOAA updated its dataset, with National Centers for Environmental Information Director Thomas Karl and his NOAA colleagues pointing to a critical flaw in the old database. ERSST version 3b, the said previous version, had a cooling bias over the 15-year period and showed global temperatures as lower than actual. In that controversial research, Karl’s team called the hiatus “an illusion.” “[Scientists at the NOAA] weren’t cooking the books. They weren’t bowing to any political pressure to find results that show extra warming,” Hausfather said, adding that the scientists tried their best to “work with messy data.” Hausfather and the NOAA team agreed that changing technology caused the skewed data. Sea surface temperatures, for long decades, were tracked on ships. This changed in the mid-1990s when researchers started to use thermometers on buoys as a new strategy. The buoys, however, take colder measurements than the previous technique, and scientists in the previous dataset version did not adjust for the difference. When this problem surfaced, the NOAA scientists calculated the difference and weighted the numbers differently to come up with version 4, which revealed that warming was actually more than twice as that on version 3b. The results triggered great controversy, with some politicians suggesting that the team manipulated data out of political motives. What Hausfather’s team did is to do things a little differently, studying trends in data from various sources independently rather than putting composite datasets together as other agencies do. The trends are tracked in sources that include data from buoys, ships, and satellites. Indeed, from 1998 to 2012, temperatures did show some slow rising than predicted in climate models. The slowdown has been attributed to different factors, including the El Niño cycle, multiyear ocean cycles, and even the post-Soviet reforestation in Russia. A massive El Niño event that occurred before that 15-year timeframe, for instance, would have made the following years appear relatively cold, while La Niña could have also helped drive the temperature reading slow. Certain small volcanoes too that were excluded in models could have had their share in the cooling effect, Hausfather explained. For Karl — the lead scientist in the controversy-rocked 2015 paper — the recent findings emphasize the need for independent measurements in order to tackle observational uncertainties, he noted in his email to the Monitor. Whatever slowdown occurred in the 2000s, it also appears to have stopped by now, with the last three years, from 2014 to 2016, breaking all records as the hottest year ever in the modern temperature data. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
News Article | January 6, 2017
The year 2016 has been adjudged as the warmest year in last 38 years, dislodging 1998 from the hottest year slot. This is based on close to four decades' worth of satellite temperature measurements. This was revealed by John Christy, the director of the University of Alabama's Earth System Science Center in Huntsville. According to him, 2016 was warmer by +0.02 degrees Celsius compared to 1998. Even after conceding an error margin to 0.10 degrees Celsius, which means a statistical tie with 1998, Christy said the last year may still qualify as warmest as the Northern Hemisphere was extra hot in 2016. Based on global average temperatures from 1981-2010, the atmosphere was warmer by +0.484 degrees Celsius in 1998, while it was +0.505 degrees Celsius hotter in 2016. Given that temperature trends from satellite data are a tad lower than those based on thermometer readings across the globe, other groups may also pronounce 2016 as the warmest year. "The question is, does 2016's record warmth mean anything scientifically?" Christy said. "I suppose the answer is, not really. Both 1998 and 2016 are anomalies, outliers, and in both cases, we have an easily identifiable cause for that anomaly: A powerful El Niño Pacific Ocean warming event." He said climate studies usually treat phenomena like El Niño as transient, as the focus is on long-term trends as far as temperature is concerned. The data noted instances of high and low temperatures. The warmest average temperature anomaly in December 2016 was recorded at south central China's Qamdo town, where the average temperatures during the month were 3.91 degrees Celsius hotter than seasonal trends. As for the the coolest average temperature, a place in Saskatchewan had December temperatures averaging 4.13 degrees Celsius cooler than seasonal norms. Christy, together with ESSC principal scientist Roy Spencer, was able to obtain precise temperature readings for various regions of the Earth including deserts, oceans, and rain forests through data collected by microwave sounding units on NASA and NOAA satellites. Meanwhile, the Copernicus Climate Change Service, a wing of the Copernicus earth observation program run by the European Union, also confirmed 2016 as the warmest year on record. Its figures showed temperatures of 2016 on a global scale crossed 14.8 degrees Celsius and were up by nearly 1.3 degrees Celsius. The C3S also said that 2016 was close to 0.2 degrees Celsius warmer than 2015. One reason for the global temperatures soaring above average in the second half of 2016 was the disappearing sea ice cover in the Antarctic and Arctic. Predictions are also out on how 2017 will fare in terms of global temperature. It is expected to be among the hottest years in more than 130 years of record-keeping. According to the UK Met Office, El Niño might be over, but 2017 will be one of the hottest. According to forecasters, 2017 temperatures would decline between 0.63 and 0.87 degrees Celsius above the 1961-1990 average. However, "the dip in 2017 is much smaller than the long-term increase," noted Adam Scaife, head of long-range prediction at the Met Office. And because of the rising temperatures brought about by global warming, "each new year is basically predestined to be among the warmest on record," said Deke Arndt, who heads the climate monitoring division of the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Information. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
News Article | February 27, 2017
Everett Osborne, 11, Sam Wedzik, 11, and Michael McGuigan, 11, all of North East, stop for ice cream on their way home from school at La Casa De Pizza in North East, Pa., on Friday, as the region saw record-breaking high temperatures. —Forget what Punxsutawney Phil’s shadow showed – spring is making its way to large swathes of the country between two and three weeks ahead of schedule, according to a study from a federal agency. Unseasonably warm temperatures have hit coastal California, southern Nevada, southeastern Colorado, and several Midwestern states as well as parts of the Northeast, according to new maps produced by the USA National Phenology Network, which is led by the United States Geological Survey agency. While shedding some layers and enjoying nice weather in February has come as a treat for many, the unexpected weather changes could pose economic and environmental challenges. “While these earlier springs might not seem like a big deal – and who among us doesn’t appreciate a balmy day or a break in dreary winter weather – it poses significant challenges for planning and managing important issues that affect our economy and our society,” Jake Weltzin, a USGS ecologist and the executive director of the USA-NPN, said in a statement. Those include an influx in harmful insects, such as ticks and mosquitos, as well as increased pollen that can create complications for those with allergies. And while an earlier start to growing season could prove a boon for the agriculture industry, a return to seasonal winter temperatures could bring snow or frost, killing crops that started growing too soon. Further economic impact can come from changes to recreational activities, such as hunting and fishing season and other outdoor activities, according to the USGS statement. February, which is typically the third-coldest month of the year, saw unusually high temperatures during its first three weeks, shattering more warm-weather records across the country than cold ones. "For every cold daily-temperature record we've broken in February, we've broken 62 warm daily-temperature records," Jake Crouch, a climate scientist for the National Centers for Environmental Information in Ashville, N.C., told Live Science. "That ratio is very high. In a normal situation, we would expect those to be a 1-to-1 ratio." With limited data, climate scientists haven’t determined exactly why this February saw warmer temperatures than usual in nearly every part of the US. But they do believe the Arctic polar vortex, which sometimes brings a punch of cold air to the US, instead had greater impact on Russia and northern Europe, which saw “fairly cold” winters, according to Mr. Crouch. It’s unclear if the average February temperature will set a record, as researchers continue to gather daily data throughout the month. But an unprecedented spring-like February would follow three years of record year-round average temperatures, with 2016 marking the hottest year since researchers started collecting the data in 1880, and continue a trend that has raised concerns among scientists. Scientists have known for more than a decade that climate change has been setting spring into motion earlier than before, according to the USGS. “A single warm year is something of a curiosity,” Deke Arndt, the chief of global climate monitoring a the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told The New York Times last month. “It’s really the trend, and the fact that we’re punching at the ceiling every year now, that is the real indicator that we’re undergoing big changes.”
News Article | January 19, 2017
Scientists have reported that 2016 is the hottest year on Earth since record keeping started in 1880 — and it is the third year in a row to set a new record for average global temperatures. The average temperatures last year were the highest recorded since over 130 years ago: 1.78 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century average according to NASA, and 1.69 degrees Fahrenheit above the same period’s average according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. These recorded temperatures “continue a long-term warming trend,” scientists from NASA said in a statement. Across Earth too, there was not a single land area that enjoyed lower-than-average temperatures last year, warned NOAA. The year 2016, in fact, marked the third consecutive warmest year on record globally, with the months from January to August emerging as the warmest on record. "This was the third year in a row in our analysis to set a new record. That happened only once before in our record, and that was in the years 1939 through 1941, which now don't even fit in the top 30 [warmest years] of the record,” explained Deke Arndt, global monitoring chief at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, at a press briefing. The poles felt the brunt of this warming trend, with the estimated average yearly sea-ice extent last year in the Arctic appearing to be the lowest annual average on data. It was 3.92 million square miles, the National Snow and Ice Data Center revealed. The Arctic was nearly 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit hotter last year than in preindustrial period, a “very large change” according to Goddard Institute for Space Studies director Gavin Schmidt. The El Niño phenomenon, a climate cycle marked by abnormally warm temperatures in the Pacific, raged through 2015 and 2016 and contributed to the record temperatures. Phenomena such as El Niño or La Niña warm or cool the upper tropical Pacific Ocean and result in corresponding global wind and weather pattern variations. However, 90 percent of the warming was because of human activity, primarily via greenhouse gas emissions, Schmidt said further. The scientists used global climate models to probe how various factors such as solar changes, volcanic impacts, changes in Earth’s orbit, and man-made effects such as greenhouse gases played a part in climate change. They analyzed not just surface air temperatures but also the data from the upper atmosphere, stratosphere, and deep ocean. What they discovered: the natural factors’ contribution to the record heat is so close to zero, with the long-term trend being seen today surfacing as the consequence of human activity. It’s dominantly the climb in greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide, Schmidt added. Tech Times previously reported that in the United States, 2016 ranked second warmest in records dating back 1895, with every single state and city in the Lower 48 states getting warmer than usual last year. Average temperature in the country last year was 54.9 degrees Fahrenheit, which was nearly 3 degrees higher than long-term average. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
News Article | January 10, 2017
For the United States, 2016 ranked second warmest in records dating back 1895, with every single state and city in the Lower 48 states warmer than usual last year. Average temperature in the nation during that time was 54.9 degrees Fahrenheit — almost 3 degrees more than long-term average. The warmest year for the country was 2012, which had an average temperature of 55.3 degrees Fahrenheit. Last year was the 20th consecutive warmer-than-usual year, with an average warming rate of 0.15 degree Fahrenheit every decade, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported. Dubbing 2016 “a year of temperature and precipitation extremes,” the NOAA said that every state registered one of their top 7 warmest years on record. “The breadth of the 2016 warmth is unparalleled in the nation's climate history,” the agency wrote. Thirty-four U.S. cities logged their warmest year on file, including New Orleans, Houston, Nashville, Atlanta, New York (La Guardia), El Paso, and Barrow (Alaska). Alaska registered its warmest year for the third time in as many years, with nearly 6 degrees above average in temperature, still climbing at a rate of 0.3 degrees each decade. The country also saw extreme rainfall, with a number of severe rainfall events adjudged as 1 in 1,000 year happenings, including torrential rains in northern Louisiana in March and eastern North Carolina in October brought about by Hurricane Matthew. “Catastrophic flooding” also hit Louisiana back in August, with losses from four inland flooding events in Texas, West Virginia, and Louisiana exceeding $15 billion. The United States, however, does not have a monopoly of unusually warm temperatures, as NOAA and NASA are poised to announce 2016 as the warmest year on record around the world for the third time in many years. Based on nearly four decades’ worth of satellite temperature measurements, the Earth System Science Center of the University of Alabama already hailed 2016 as the warmest year in the last 38 years, ousting the year 1998 from the said slot. It was warmer by +0.02 degrees Celsius compared to 1998. As temperature trends from satellite data are a bit lower than those reflected by temperature readings across the world, other groups are expected to pronounce 2016 as the warmest year. The question, said the science center’s director John Christy, is whether this means anything scientifically. “Both 1998 and 2016 are anomalies, outliers, and in both cases, we have an easily identifiable cause for that anomaly: A powerful El Niño Pacific Ocean warming event.” Not really, he believed. The focus, as far as temperature is concerned, is on long-term trends rather than phenomena such as El Niño, he added. Predictions for 2017, though, still remain glum, as this year is expected to be among the hottest in over 130 years’ worth of record. El Niño might be over, but this year will still continue to sizzle, the UK Met Office said. Every new year is practically poised to become the warmest on record based on the rising temperatures caused by global warming, warned the Deke Ardnt, head of the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Information’s climate monitoring office. Scientists also recently urged everyone to forget about the so-called global warming pause, as oceans steadily warm and negate claims of a climate change hiatus. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.