Climate News Roundup 8/28/2015

  • New Orleans is getting a lot of press right now because of the upcoming tenth anniversary of Katrina. While most of that coverage has focused on the people and how their lives have changed, Chris Mooney and colleagues at the Washington Post have pulled together an interesting piece on building new wetlands to help protect New Orleans when the next hurricane strikes. Turns out that not everyone is happy about the new wetlands. In addition, Kerry Emanuel, Prof. of Atmospheric Sciences at MIT, examines what scientists have learned about the impact of climate change on hurricanes.
  • So far this year, the U.S. has been very fortunate in not being hit by a hurricane. Unfortunately, other parts of the world have not been so lucky. Typhoon Goni hit Okinawa with record winds of 159 mph after hitting the Philippines, where 15 were killed.
  • Altered precipitation patterns are one consequence of a warming world. Around one-fifth of the countries in the world will face acute water shortages by 2040 as climate change disrupts rainfall patterns according to a new study by the World Resources Institute. Water stress will be particularly important in Central America and the Middle East in coming years. This will likely have a negative impact on their efforts to relieve poverty. Chelsea Harvey of The Washington Post summarizes the findings of one study.
  • Based on data from NASA satellites, it looks like 2015 is on track to being a low surface ice year in the Arctic. In addition, glaciers on Greenland have been found to be much more vulnerable to melting from below by seawater than previously thought. The latter does not bode well for sea level rise. In fact, NASA held a press conference on Wednesday to announce that they will be undertaking an “intensive research effort” on sea level rise. Chris Mooney summarized the major news from the announcement. It struck me as ironic that the ad preceding a new NASA animation showing ice loss from Greenland in The Washington Post article was for Porsche and focused on exhaust pipes! The Carbon Brief also has a good summary.
  • California’s salmon, steelhead, and smelt are in danger of being wiped out because the long-term drought is reducing river flows and making them hotter. These problems for the fish are being exacerbated by dams and other water projects built over the years to provide water for agriculture in the state.
  • The wildfires in Washington state continue to burn. The Okanogan fire is now the largest in state history, covering more than 400 square miles.
  • Jim Pierobon has an interesting essay about the innovations of Tony Smith and Secure Futures in bringing solar power to nonprofits such as Eastern Mennonite University.

These news items have been compiled by Les Grady, member and former chair of the CAAV steering committee. He is a licensed professional engineer (retired) who taught environmental engineering at Purdue and Clemson Universities and engaged in private practice with CH2M Hill, the world’s largest environmental engineering consulting firm. Since his retirement in 2003 he has devoted much of his time to the study of climate science and the question of global warming and makes himself available to speak to groups about this subject. More here.

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