Category Archives: Climate Change News

Feds: Mid-Atlantic Wind Farms Take Step Forward

wind energy
Photo source: ©© Marvis75


The view off the mid-Atlantic shore in the next decade could include giant wind turbines generating electricity for homes in several states if federal efforts to speed approval for the projects shave years off the process as officials intend.

It usually takes at least five years from the time contractors say they want to lease a site to the turbines being installed, an offshore wind developer official said. But still, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Thursday that the future of the renewable energy source took a big step forward with the completion of a review that showed no major environmental damage was expected from the installation along the coasts of Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey…

Read Full Article, AP / NPR News

Farming is Key to Meeting Environmental Challenges

Green algae on beach, Brittany, France. Photo source: ©© CristinaBarroca


Agriculture is part of the solution to the world’s environmental challenge and must play a key role at next June’s Rio summit on sustainable development, the Brazilian head of the UN food agency said here Tuesday.

Read Full Article, AFP

Toxic Algae Turns Brittany’s Beaches Green

Waves of Toxic Green Beaches, France, by Sharlene Pilkey

Breakthrough in Seaweed Biofuel Reported

seaweed red
The term seaweed includes some members of the red, brown and green algae. Seaweeds most commonly inhabit the littoral zone and within that zone more frequently on rocky shores than on sand or shingle. Seaweeds occupy a wide range of ecological niches. The highest elevation is only wetted by the tops of sea spray, the lowest is several meters deep. In some areas, littoral seaweeds can extend several miles out to sea. Caption: Wikipedia. Photo source: ©© Murkas2


Energy experts believe that seaweed holds enormous potential as a biofuel alternative to coal and oil, and US-based scientists say they have unlocked the secret of turning its sugar into energy…

Read Full Article, AFP

How Societies Can Stave Off Climate Change and Save Lives

How Societies Can Stave Off Climate Change, Save Lives, and Increase Agricultural Productivity

A new study led by a NASA scientist highlights 14 key air pollution control measures that if implemented could slow the pace of global warming, save millions of lives and boost agricultural production.

All of the control measures focus on either limiting black carbon or methane, pollutants that exacerbate climate change and damage human or plant health.

The research, led by Drew Shindell of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City, finds that focusing on black carbon and methane measures could slow global mean warming 0.5ºC (0.9 ºF) by 2050, prevent between 700,000 and 4.7 million premature deaths each year and increase global crop yields by up to 135 million metric tons per season.

While all regions of the world would benefit, countries in Asia and the Middle East would see the biggest health and agricultural gains from the emissions controls.

The new study builds upon research featured in an assessment report published last year by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

“We’ve shown that implementing specific practical emissions reductions chosen to maximize climate benefits would also have important ‘win-win’ benefits for human health and agriculture,” said Shindell.

Shindell and an international team considered about 400 control measures based on technologies evaluated by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria. The new study focused on 14 measures with the greatest climate benefit. All 14 would curb the release of either black carbon or methane, pollutants that exacerbate climate change and damage human or plant health either directly or by leading to ozone formation.

Black carbon, a product of burning fossil fuels or biomass such as wood or dung, can worsen a number of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. The small particles also absorb radiation from the sun causing the atmosphere to warm and rainfall patterns to shift. In addition, they darken ice and snow, reducing their reflectivity and hastening global warming.

Methane, a colorless and flammable substance that is a major constituent of natural gas, is both a potent greenhouse gas and an important precursor to ground-level ozone. Ozone, a key component of smog and also a greenhouse gas, damages crops and human health.

While carbon dioxide is the primary driver of global warming over the long term, limiting black carbon and methane are complementary actions that would have a more immediate impact because these two pollutants circulate out of the atmosphere more quickly.

Shindell and his team concluded that these control measures would provide the greatest protection against global warming to Russia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, countries with large areas of snow or ice cover. Iran, Pakistan and Jordan would experience the most improvement in agricultural production. Southern Asia and the Sahel region of Africa would see the most beneficial changes to precipitation patterns.

The south Asian countries of India, Bangladesh and Nepal would see the biggest reductions in premature deaths. The study estimates that globally between 700,000 and 4.7 million premature deaths could be prevented each year.

Black carbon and methane have many sources.
Reducing emissions would require that societies make multiple infrastructure upgrades. For methane, the key strategies the scientists considered were capturing gas escaping from coal mines and oil and natural gas facilities, as well as reducing leakage from long-distance pipelines, preventing emissions from city landfills, updating wastewater treatment plants, aerating rice paddies more, and limiting emissions from manure on farms.
For black carbon, the strategies analyzed include installing filters in diesel vehicles, keeping high-emitting vehicles off the road, upgrading cooking stoves and boilers to cleaner burning types, installing more efficient kilns for brick production, upgrading coke ovens and banning agricultural burning.

The scientists used computer models developed at GISS and the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany, to model the impact of emissions reductions. The models showed widespread benefits from the methane reduction because it is evenly distributed throughout the atmosphere. Black carbon falls out of the atmosphere after a few days so the benefits are stronger in certain regions, especially ones with large amounts of snow and ice.

“Protecting public health and food supplies may take precedence over avoiding climate change in most countries, but knowing that these measures also mitigate climate change may help motivate policies to put them into practice,” Shindell said. The new study builds on a United Nations Environment Program/World Meteorological Organization report, also led by Shindell, published last year.

“The scientific case for fast action on these so-called ‘short-lived climate forcers’ has been steadily built over more than a decade, and this study provides further focused and compelling analysis of the likely benefits at the national and regional level,” said United Nations Environment Program Executive Director Achim Steiner.

In this slideshow, take a closer look at some of the control measures that Shindell’s team considered.

Original Article, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Slideshow, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Global Climate Change: A Primer, a book by Orrin H. Pilkey and Keith C. Pilkey
After explaining the greenhouse effect, Pilkey, writing with son Keith C. Pilkey, turns to the damage it is causing: sea level rise, ocean acidification, glacier and sea ice melting, changing habitats, desertification, and the threats to animals, humans, coral reefs, marshes, and mangroves…

Greenland’s Ice Is Growing Darker

Image by NOAA’s team, based on NASA satellite data processed by Jason Box, Byrd Polar Research Center, the Ohio State University.

By Rebecca Lindsey, NASA ClimateWatch

In the past, the bright surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet reflected well over half of the sunlight that fell on it. This reflectiveness helped keep the ice sheet stable, as less absorbed sunlight meant less heating and melting. In the past decade, however, satellites have observed a decrease in Greenland’s reflectiveness. This darker surface now absorbs more sunlight, which accelerates melting.

The map above shows the difference between the amount of sunlight Greenland reflected in the summer of 2011 versus the average percent it reflected between 2000 to 2006. Virtually the entire ice sheet shows some change, with some areas reflecting close to 20 percent less light than a decade ago. The map is based on observations from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites. It was produced as part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Arctic Report Card.

Climate scientists have long expected that Earth’s polar regions will become less reflective as global temperatures rise. Rising temperatures melt snow and ice, and the uncovered terrain—water, vegetation, bare ground—is darker and absorbs more sunlight. The loss of reflectiveness then amplifies the initial warming.

Most of the patterns on the map fit expectations. Warmer, lower-elevation areas of the ice sheet have darkened more than the colder, higher-altitude interior. Each summer, winter snow retreats from the edge of the ice sheet. Dark pools of melt water form on the surface of the ice, and windblown dust and other particles also collect near the surface, making it even less reflective.

But the darkening in the interior is just as remarkable as the changes at the margins, according to Jason Box of Ohio State University, who analyzed the reflectiveness data. The interior is the high point of the ice sheet, nearly two miles above sea level, and there is no visible melting in the summer.


So why is the area becoming darker?

The darkening, says Box, is due to changes in the shape and size of the ice crystals in the snowpack. As temperatures rise, snow grains clump together and reflect less light than the many-faceted, smaller crystals (see lower image from a scanning electron microscope). Additional heat rounds the sharp edges of the crystals, and round particles absorb more sunlight than jagged ones.

Original Article, NASA

Snow crystals, close-up. Photo source: ©© Awrose

Dramatic Loss of Harp Seals Amid Warming: Study

harp seal climate change
Photo source: © Greenpeace / Davis Andrew


Harp seal pups off the coast of eastern Canada are dying at alarming rates due to a loss of winter ice cover, according to US scientists from Duke University, who questioned if the declining population will be able to recover.

The study shows that seasonal ice cover in the harp seal breeding regions of the North Atlantic Ocean has declined about six percent per decade since 1979, when satellite data began…

Read Full Article, AFP

World-first Hybrid Shark Found Off Australia

This undated handout photo from the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries shows a hybrid black tip shark containing both common and Australian black tip DNA in Australian waters.


Scientists said on Tuesday that they had discovered the world’s first hybrid sharks in Australian waters, a potential sign the predators were adapting to cope with climate change.

The find was made during cataloguing work off Australia’s east coast when scientist said genetic testing showed certain sharks to be one species when physically they looked to be another…

Read Full Article, AFP

Canada Pulls Out Of Kyoto Protocol

Photo source: ©© y M.Angel Herrero


Canada pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change Monday, saying the accord won’t help solve the climate crisis. It dealt a blow to the anti-global warming treaty, which has not been formally renounced by any other country…

Read Full Article, AP

What does Canada’s withdrawal from Kyoto protocol mean? Guardian UK
Canada has shown that a legally binding deal does not guarantee countries won’t walk away from their commitments.

Rapid Retreat Of Chile Glacier Captured In Images

Patagonia, glacier. Photo source: ©© Trey Radcliff


Researchers in Chile recently released a series of time-lapse photos showing the dramatic retreat of a glacier in Patagonia…

Chile. Photograph: © SAF

Read Full Article, AP

Chile, Record Glacier Retreat Footages, BBC

Worldwide Glaciers In Retreat
Climate change is causing many glaciers worldwide, to melt in increasingly unstable ways, and there are concerns about the long term viability of the ice in a warmer world.

History Vanishes with Melting Himalayan Glacier, LiveScience
Ice cores from glaciers capture a detailed history of the atmosphere and climate from the time when the snow and ice fell. They record dust, ash and even minute amounts of nuclear fallout from atmospheric nuclear tests conducted in the 1950s. It can all be seen in ice around the globe, from the Himalayas to the poles to the Alps.