Climate Center News

a new CO2 threshold exceeded: 410ppm

April 21, 2017
In what’s become a spring tradition like Passover and Easter, carbon dioxide has set a record high each year since measurements began. It stood at 280 ppm when record keeping began at Mauna Loa in 1958. In 2013, it passed 400 ppm. Just four years later, the 400 ppm mark is no longer a novelty. It’s the norm. On Tuesday, the Mauna Loa Observatory recorded its first-ever carbon dioxide reading in excess of 410 parts per million( 410.28 ppm).

More evidence of rapid change: Greenland

April 2, 2017
Glaciers and ice caps along Greenland's coast will not recover from current melting because it passed a tipping point 20 years ago according to a new study released in Nature Communications. However were all of Greenland's coastal ice to melt away at once, global sea level would only rise a few inches.

Mass bleaching event in the Great Barrier Reef for the 2nd year in a row

March 22, 2017
A repeat of mass bleaching compounds fears for the survival of already-stressed coral, whose recovery since 2016 has been challenged by stubbornly high sea surface temperatures, including through winter. “The climate is changing and that is bringing a much greater frequency of extreme weather events to the Great Barrier Reef”.

Changes in phenology with warming

March 17, 2017
2017 February has been the 2nd warmest on record for the conterminous US. The appearance of the first leaves on trees has arrived on average three days earlier than 30 years ago nationally.

Winter 2017: extreme outlier for spring onset

March 2, 2017
Climate change has been causing spring to arrive earlier and earlier, though this year is an extreme outlier. On average, spring is arriving three days earlier in the U.S. compared to the period of 1961-1980. The quickening pace of climate change means that spring could be up to 13 days earlier by mid-century and 21 days earlier by 2100 if carbon pollution isn’t cut.

Antarctic sea ice shrinks to smallest ever extent

February 14, 2017
Ice floating around the frozen continent usually melts to its smallest for the year towards the end of February, the southern hemisphere summer, before expanding again as the autumn chill sets in.
This year, sea ice extent contracted to 883,015 sq miles (2.28m sq km) on 13 February, according to daily data from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).
That extent is a fraction smaller than a previous low of 884,173 sq miles recorded on 27 February 1997 in satellite records dating back to 1979. Mark Serreze, director of the NSIDC, said he would wait for a few days’ more measurements to confirm the record low.

Climate change, impacts and vulnerability in Europe 2016

February 7, 2017
Another climate report is out, the fourth ‘Climate change, impacts and vulnerability in Europe’ report which supports the implementation and review process of the 2013 EU Adaptation Strategy, which is foreseen for 2018, and the development of national and transnational adaptation strategies and plans.

Global heat record broken for the 3rd time in 3 years

January 22, 2017
Global average surface temperature last year was 0.94 degrees Celsius warmer than 20th century average, 0.04 degrees C warmer than in 2015, the warmest on record since record-keeping began in 1880. July 2016 was the earth’s warmest month on record.

another heat wave in the arctic

December 22, 2016
For the second year in a row, the Arctic is facing a late December heat wave (at least by Arctic winter standards). Temperatures are forecast to soar about 50°F above normal, which would bring them near the freezing point at the North Pole. At the North Pole, temperatures in November averaged an astonishing 27°F above normal.

2016 might become the hottest year on record in the US.

December 22, 2016
The U.S. is likely going to have its second-hottest year on record, trailing only 2012. Every state is slated to have a top 10 warmest year and even at the city level, unrelenting warmth has been the main story in 2016. Ten % of 1730+ meteorological stations have broken heat records this year.

Sea Ice Shrinks as Winter Approaches

November 29, 2016
Warm air and ocean are driving a mini-meltdown at a time when Arctic sea ice should be rapidly growing. With the lowest maximum sea ice extent set two years in a row, the hottest year on record set three years in a row, global coral bleaching entering a third, what’s happening in the Arctic right now stands out for just how abnormal it is.

Canadian Glacier Retreats ~2km as Iceberg breaks off and no one paid attention

November 3, 2016
Another climate change signal is sounding off quietly as the largest iceberg to ever break off a glacier in Canada fell into a lake in British Columbia this summer (2016). Amazingly no one noticed until Dr. Mauri Pelto, professor of environmental science at Nichols College in Massachusetts and director of the North Cascade Glacier Climate Project, saw it on a NASA photo. The Porcupine Glacier event is due to rapid melting both on top of and underneath the glacier’s tongue, which is floating on a lake of melted ice. Dr. Pelto said this event is a dramatic reminder that glaciers are in such rapid retreat because of climate change.

From now on, global average CO2 concentration above 400pm

October 25, 2016
The average carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere throughout 2015 was 400 parts per million. This according to the World Meteorological Organization. Between 1990 and 2015 there was a 37% increase in radiative forcing – the warming effect on our climate – because of long-lived greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide (N2O) from industrial, agricultural and domestic activities. The increase of  CO2 from 2014 to 2015 was larger than the previous year and the average over the previous 10 years. Atmospheric methane reached a new high of about 1845 parts per billion (ppb) in 2015 and is now 256% of the pre-industrial level. Nitrous oxide's atmospheric concentration in 2015 was about 328 parts per billion. This is 121% of pre-industrial levels.

First-ever universal legally binding global climate deal into effect by Nov 2016

October 5, 2016
"The UNFCCC Paris Agreement on fighting climate change, the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal, will come into force next month, having met the necessary conditions much earlier than predicted, as the European Parliament agreed to its ratification by the European Union in a historic vote on Tuesday. The EU will join the US, China and India, other global players and major greenhouse gas emitters, at a November meeting of Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA) in Marrakesh."

New IUCN Report on Warming Oceans

September 13, 2016
The oceans have already sucked up an enormous amount of heat due to escalating greenhouse gas emissions, affecting marine species from microbes to whales, according to an International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) report involving the work of 80 scientists from a dozen countries.

The ocean has absorbed more than 90 percent of the extra heat created by human activity. If the same amount of heat that has been buried in the upper 2km of the ocean had gone into the atmosphere, the surface of the Earth would have warmed by a devastating 36°C, rather than 1°C, over the past century.

At some point, the report says, warming waters could unlock billions of tonnes of frozen methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, from the seabed and cook the surface of the planet. This could occur even if emissions are drastically cut, due to the lag time between emitting greenhouse gases and their visible consequences.

Hottest August on record

September 13, 2016
August came in at 1.76˚F (0.98˚C) above the average from 1951-1980, 0.16C above August 2014, the previous record holder. The record keeps 2016 on track to be the hottest year in the books by a fair margin.

Krill habitat under threat in Antarctica

September 1, 2016
Adult krill populations have dropped by 80 to 90 percent since the 1970s. There is an ongoing scientific debate about what is causing the drop, from changes in the environment to an increase in whale populations. While other studies have looked into how ocean acidification, overfishing or more freshwater entering the sea from melting Antarctic glaciers could affect krill habitat, a new study examines the effects of a warmer ocean and a decline in sea ice on these small crustaceans. Warmer waters and lack of sea ice could lead krill habitat to shrink by as much as 80 percent by 2100.

Source: Piñones, A., and A. V. Fedorov (2016), Projected changes of Antarctic krill habitat by the end of the 21st century, Geophys. Res. Lett., 43, doi:10.1002/ 2016GL069656.

Current melting processes in eastern Antarctica remind scientists of Greenland

September 1, 2016
Just as in Greenland, some East Antarctic lakes appear to drain down into floating parts of a glacier, potentially weakening it and making it more likely to fracture and break apart.

Source: Langley, E. S., A. A. Leeson, C. R. Stokes, and S. S. R. Jamieson (2016), Seasonal evolution of supraglacial lakes on an East Antarctic outlet glacier, Geophys. Res. Lett., 43, doi:10.1002/2016GL069511.

Greenland: 270 gigatons of ice loss per year for 2011–2014

September 1, 2016
To put this in perspective, the Greenland Ice Sheet is losing approximately 110 million Olympic size swimming pools worth of water each year. After the record deficit of 439 ± 62 Gt observed in 2012, which was driven by an exceptionally warm summer, subsequent ice losses have been more moderate. But the question remains, will high rates of melting continue?

Source: McMillan, M., et al. (2016), A high-resolution record of Greenland mass balance, Geophys. Res. Lett., 43, 7002–7010, doi:10.1002/2016GL069666.

Projected numer of days greater than 100 deg F by 2100

August 29, 2016
This is a glimpse of our future if nothing is done to slow climate change. By the end of the century, the number of 100-degree days are expected to skyrocket.This does not bode well for southern states. For example, Dallas is expected to be above 95 degrees for more than four months a year.