Climate Change Weekly Roundup: 07/09/12

Publication – Washington Post
Date: June 30, 2012

Derecho: Behind Washington, D.C.’s destructive thunderstorm outbreak, June 29, 2012

Between 9:30 and 11 p.m. on June 29, one of the most destructive complexes of thunderstorms in memory swept through the Washington, D.C. area. Packing wind gusts of 60-80 mph, the storm known as a derecho produced extensive damage, downing hundreds of trees, and leaving more than 1 million area-residents without power, according to The Washington Post.

A bowing line of thunderstorms formed west of Chicago around 11 a.m. and by midnight approached the Atlantic Ocean. It left a massive trail of destruction spanning from northern Illinois to the Delmarva Peninsula. According to the National Weather Service, there were well over 800 reports of damaging winds.

“On Friday, a historic, record-setting heat wave covered a sprawling region from the Midwest to the Southeast. All-time high temperatures records of 109 were established in Nashville and Columbia, South, Carolina and tied in Raleigh and Charlotte which hit 105 and 104. Here in Washington, D.C., the mercury climbed to an astonishing 104 degrees (breaking the previous record set in 1874 and 2011 by two degrees), our hottest June day in 142 years of records,” according to the article.

Publication – Science Daily
Date: July 1, 2012

Rising Heat at the Beach Threatens Largest Sea Turtles, Climate Change Models Show

New research suggests that climate change could exacerbate existing threats and nearly wipe out the Eastern Pacific populations of leatherback turtles.

Deaths of turtle eggs and hatchlings in nests buried at hotter, drier beaches are the leading projected cause of the potential climate-related decline in the largest sea turtle species, according to a new study by a research team from Drexel University, Princeton University, other institutions and government agencies.

Leatherbacks are among the most critically endangered due to a combination of historical and ongoing threats including egg poaching at nesting beaches and juvenile and adult turtles being caught in fishing operations, according to the article. The new research on climate dynamics suggests that climate change could impede this population’s ability to recover. If actual climate patterns follow projections in the study, the eastern Pacific population of leatherback turtles will decline by 75 percent by the year 2100.

Publication – Environmental News Network

Date: July 2, 2012

‘No doubt’ that climate change is playing a role in U.S. fires

A climate scientist said there is “no doubt” that climate change is “playing a role” in this year’s series of record fires in the Western U.S.

A massive wildfire in Colorado has forced the evacuation of 36,000 people, destroyed over 300 homes, and killed two people. But this is not the only epic fire in the U.S. this year: less than a month before the Colorado disaster, New Mexico experienced its largest fire on record in Gila Nation Forest; the conflagration burned up 247,000 acres (100,000 hectares), according to ENN. Other major wildfires have occurred in Utah and Wyoming, as well as other parts of New Mexico and Colorado.

“I have no doubt climate change is playing a role in this,” climate scientist Kevin Trenberth, who heads the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), told The Salt Lake Tribune, noting that “there are wildfires all over the place.” Located in Boulder Colorado, Trenberth’s NCAR lab was recently evacuated due to the Waldo Canyon Fire.

Publication – EurekaAlert!

Date: July 5, 2012

Satellite research reveals smaller volcanoes could cool climate

A University of Saskatchewan-led international research team has discovered that aerosols from relatively small volcanic eruptions can be boosted into the high atmosphere by weather systems such as monsoons, where they can affect global temperatures.

Adam Bourassa of the U of S Institute of Space and Atmospheric Studies, who led the research, told EurekaAlert! that until now, it was thought that a massively energetic eruption was needed to inject aerosols past the troposphere, the turbulent atmospheric layer closest to the earth, into the stable layers of the stratosphere higher up.

“If an aerosol is in the lower atmosphere, it’s affected by the weather and it precipitates back down right away,” Bourassa told EurekaAlert!. “Once it reaches the stratosphere, it can persist for years, and with that kind of a sustained lifetime, it can really have a lasting effect.” That effect is the scattering of incoming sunlight and the potential to cool the Earth’s surface.

Publication – MSN

Date: July 5, 2012

Undersea eruption gives clues to effects of climate change

An underwater volcano that erupted near the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa is giving scientists a closer look at how ocean ecosystems could respond to climate change, from dying fish to adapting plankton.

The ecosystem responded to the high temperatures and changes in acidity caused by the uneasy volcano south of El Hierro island, according to the article. But the strength of the response was a surprise, study researcher Eugenio Fraile-Nuez of the Instituto Español de Oceanografía in Spain told LiveScience.

“The physical and chemical response of the system was predictable, but we never have imagined that we would reach this magnitude,” Fraile-Nuez said.

The eruption killed or drove away all of the fish in the region (though many were seen floating dead on the ocean’s surface), the researchers found. Some phytoplankton, or the floating plants that sit at the bottom of the ocean food chain, were able to adapt.

Publication – Environmental News Network

Date: July 7, 2012

Arctic Sea Ice Continues its Summer Retreat

A rapid decline for Arctic sea ice extent briefly hit daily record lows in June, led by extensive ice loss in the Bering, Kara, and Beaufort Seas, as well as Hudson and Baffin Bay, according to ENN. Snow extent was also unusually low for both May and June, reinforcing the continuing pattern of rapid spring snow melt of the past six years.

Average Arctic sea ice extent for June was 4.24 million square miles (10.97 million square kilometers), which is 456,000 square miles below the 1970-2000 average sea ice extent and second lowest on record behind June 2010. Sea ice extent for June 2010, 2011, and 2012 has been the lowest in the satellite record, according to the article.

Ice loss was particularly extensive in the Kara and Beaufort Sea, with ice loss in the Hudson and Baffin Bays also contributing to a retreating June ice extent not typically expected until July 21 based on 1970-2000 averages. Total ice loss for June was 1.10 million square miles, the largest ice loss in June in the satellite record.

Have you seen breaking climate change news or discussion that should be included in our next “Roundup?”  Let us know!