Get out the umbrella: study suggests fewer perfect weather days

The first verse of “You Are My Sunshine” ends with the plea, “Please don’t take my sunshine away.” People around the world may soon be singing this refrain, according to a new study on the possible impact of climate change on mild weather days around the globe. Some scientists predict that global warming will lessen the amount of perfect weather days seen in certain areas over the next few decades.

In an article published in the journal Climatic Change, researchers wrote that places such as Miami, Rio de Janeiro, and Africa will see fewer days of milder weather by the year 2035.

How do scientists define a mild day? Study lead author Karin van der Wiel of Princeton University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says, “It’s the type of weather where you can go outside and do something fun. It’s not too cold. It’s not too hot. It’s not too humid.” For scientific purposes, mild days feature low humidity and little rain, with temperatures running between 68 and 86 degrees (18 and 30 degrees Celsius).

Most places in the U.S. will lose days of sunshine in the summer, but gain perfect weather days during the rest of the year. Eastern South America, Africa, South Asia and northern Australia will lose almost 40 mild days a year.

According to the study, some cities will stand to gain from the change. Seattle, known for its often rainy and cloudy weather, will gain nine days of mild weather. Meanwhile, Los Angeles, a city with notoriously perfect weather, will get six extra days of mild-climate perfection.

The study raises concerns about more than having fewer days to plan an outdoor picnic. Marshall Shepherd, a meteorology professor from the University of Georgia, says that this negative trend in weather could harm agricultural production and boost populations of disease-carrying insects.

Other scientists such as Gerald Meehl of the National Center for Atmospheric Research feel that the agricultural impact will be limited, but that tourism and “simple human enjoyment” could suffer.

By Dawn Henderson, Earth.com Staff Writer

Sources: Karin van der Wiel, Princeton University

Marshall Shepherd, University of Georgia

Gerald Meehl, National Center for Atmospheric Research

“Is it getting hot in here?” asks Northeastern United States

As scientists continue to observe and study climate change and its causes, one piece of data is heating up the controversy. According to a study published by researchers at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, the Northeastern United States is heating up faster than the rest of the country.

Many climate change claim that the phenomenon is caused by human activity. They warn that to avoid the worst effects associated with climate change, humans must avoid increasing the Earth’s temperature by 2°C. While that number isn’t exact, it’s the threshold that’s been set by some in the scientific community as an indication that global warming has gone too far. Some experts suggest that the number should be lower – somewhere around 1.5°C.

Unfortunately for the Northeastern United States, they will be the first region to reach that ominous number. Scientists expect the Northeast to warm an alarming 50% faster than the rest of the planet. The news isn’t only bad for northeastern states, however. The study also suggests that the U.S. as a whole will warm faster than the rest of the globe.

What kind of effects do climatologists expect to see as temperatures rise? People in the Northeastern US will likely see winters that are warmer and have increased amounts of precipitation. Because temperatures will be higher, this precipitation will come in the form of rainfall, rather than snow. This means less snowmelt in the hot, dry summer months and an increased risk of droughts. Other areas may see phenomena such as heavy precipitation, increased flooding, and rising sea levels.

Although the debate continues about the cause behind climate change, studies such as this one provide definite data that something concrete is happening. What this means and whether humans can stop it remains to be seen.

By Dawn Henderson, Earth.com Staff Writer

Image: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

Source: University of Massachusetts at Amherst

NASA releases ‘then and now’ Earth images

NASA’s “then and now” Earth images reveal planet’s aging process

As people age, their faces change. It seems that the same is true of Mother Earth. In a new series of stunning Earth images, NASA is showing us just how much the planet has changed over the past few decades.

NASA claims that some of the changes are due to climate change, while others are due to ever-expanding urbanization. The photos reveal differences caused by natural phenomena such as sweeping floodwaters and destructive fires.

In one set of images, viewers can see the changes that have occurred in New Delhi, India, between 1991 and 2016. Urban expansion there has packed New Delhi’s 16.49 square miles, as India’s capital has grown from 9.4 million to 25 million in the past 25 years.

The images also examine changes in Utah’s Great Salt Lake. Changes in the earth’s surface are expected over time – the current lake is all that remains of Lake Bonneville, a huge body of water that was born during an ice age 30,000 years ago. However, the changes documented in the Great Salt Lake are striking. The lake’s ice cover has shrunk by 70 percent since 1985. This has caused an overall reduction in the lake area, with low water levels becoming the norm.

The Great Salt Lake isn’t the only body of water to be affected by changes that have happened over time. Cloudy skies trapping heat over Greenland have accelerated ice melt there, causing increased amounts of meltwater to run off into the seas. This increases sea levels. Although studies are still ongoing to determine the cause of the ice melt, many experts cite climate change as the trigger.

The NASA images also examined the flux and flow of bodies of water elsewhere in the world. Bolivia’s Lake Poopó dried up, while the Ganges River in India topped its banks and caused catastrophic flooding.

No matter the cause of these changes, NASA’s before and after images of growing centers, rising waters, decreasing ice, and dried up lakes are shocking and fascinating.  

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Colorado River

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Greenland

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Great Salt Lake

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New Delhi, India

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By Dawn Henderson, Earth.com Staff Writer

Credit NASA

Image credit NASA

Anctarctic scientists fear falling into an ice crack

As the ice crack grows, scientists hurry to move their lab

Imagine doing work on a research station that’s in the Antarctic and situated on top of the ice. Now imagine that your team discovers a large, growing ice crack. And then they discover a second one.

That’s exactly what happened at the Halley VI Research Station this winter. Home to the British Antarctic Survey, the research station is the location where scientists first discovered the hole in the ozone layer. It does research on climate change, extreme space weather events, and various atmospheric phenomena.

Scientists were aware of the first fissure and knew that a move was inevitable. It has laid dormant for over 30 years and began opening in 2012. By the next year, the pace had accelerated and the fissure began expanding at an incredible one mile per year.

The discovery of the second fissure has sped up the moving process. It poses an immediate concern because it has appeared along a route that’s often used to deliver supplies to the base. Scientists are now working to move the research station 14 miles across the Brunt Ice Shelf. If the station stays put, it could slide into a vast chasm in the ice by 2020.

Although there is currently no risk posed to people working at the station, scientists shut it down out of an abundance of precaution. (An excellent idea when working around ice chasms.) They’ll remove all of the people stationed there before the Antarctic winter ends. It runs from March to November.

Thankfully, the Halley VI Research station was meant to be mobile. It can be broken into eight modules and moved with tractors. Director of Operations Tim Stockings says that it was created this way so that it could be moved inland if the need arose.

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-10-11-37-am screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-10-12-25-am Scientists at the Halley VI Research Station in Antarctica have discovered that the station is located on a large, growing ice crack.

By Dawn Henderson, Earth.com Staff Writer

Photos: British Antarctic Survey

Wyoming could target solar, wind energy with new law

A new bill in Wyoming’s Legislature would penalize electric utilities that sell solar and wind energy to the state’s residents.

Senate File No. SF0071 would require electric utilities selling power to Wyoming citizens to generate 95 percent of power from “eligible resources” in 2018. By 2019, that would go up to 100 percent.

So what are eligible resources under the proposal?

  • Coal
  • Hydroelectric
  • Natural gas
  • Net metering systems like backyard solar or wind projects intended for individual use
  • Nuclear
  • Oil

Under the new proposal, electric utilities that generate wind power or solar power would be charged $10 per megawatt hour that they sell to Wyoming customers.

Electric utilities would still be able to generate power from wind and solar, they would just have to sell that energy out-of-state to avoid penalties.

Lawmakers behind the bill called it a way to protect Wyoming’s fossil fuel industries. About 90 percent of Wyoming’s power comes from coal, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The state – the least populous in the U.S. – accounts for more than 40 percent of the coal mined in the country.

“Our mines are first class and reclamation is second to none. Our air is pristine and wildlife flourishes. Wyoming holds the gold standard when it comes to mining and drilling,” co-sponsor Rep. Scott Clem wrote on his website. “… These industries have created thousands of jobs.”

But environmental groups have criticized the bill.

“It would be very difficult to implement, difficult to regulate,” attorney Shannon Anderson told the Billings Gazette. “It goes against longstanding precedent to choose least-cost resources, and it ignores the reality of a multi-state grid.”

Anderson represents the Powder River Basin Resource Council, an organization that works to preserve rural Wyoming.

Rep. David Miller, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, admitted to InsideClimate News that the bill’s chances of passing are low.

Wyoming already has the nation’s only tax on wind power, charging $1 per megawatt hour of wind energy produced in the state. Another bill introduced this session would increase that tax if passed.

Your world: Instagram documents California rainstorms

As we reported earlier today, a series of strong California rainstorms have brought much needed rain to the Golden State and eased worries about the ongoing severe drought. While the windy, wet weather was good news for the environment, it was less fun for residents, who in many places endured substantial flooding. For a closer look at first-hand accounts of the California rainstorms, we turned to the best of Instagram.

 

#californiaflooding #worklife #winelandwalnut #redline #thatcurrentthough

A photo posted by Wineland Walnut Inc. (@winelandwalnut) on

Never seen the water this high before #CaliforniaFlooding #towerbridge

A photo posted by Ryan Duggan (@duggan_r) on