Climate Change Weekly Roundup 9/2/14

Publication: The Washington Post

Author(s): Petula Dvorak, Nia-Malika Henderson and Kimberly Kindy

Date: August 24, 2014

Title: Magnitude-6.0 earthquake hits in N. Calif., hurting dozens and rattling wine country

Napa, California, was a little shaken up after a 6.0-magnitude earthquake hit the western wine city on Sunday, August 24, causing Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency.

The earth quaked at 3:20 a.m., and was the largest earthquake to hit the Napa region since 1989’s Loma Prieta quake, according to the Washington Post.

About 120 people were treated for injuries, and the effects on the wine industry that generates about $13 billion in revenue annually for the Napa County are still being evaluated.

Along First Street, the main road through the Napa city, storefronts were reduced to rubble, and many storeowners spent the next 24 hours cleaning up what they could, nervous for potential aftershocks. The main concern for many winemakers in the region, however, was the effects the quake had on their warehouses.

“All of us are just waiting now to see how bad the damage is in all the warehouses, how much we lost from other years,” said Ariel Ceja, who runs the Ceja Vineyards, to the Washington Post.

To read more, click here.

Publication: New York Times

Author: Joshua A. Krisch

Date: August 25, 2014

Title: Modern Research Borne on a Relic: Airships That Carry Science Into the Stratosphere

When you think of blimps in the sky, you may recall the GoodYear advertisements or learning about the Hindenberg. Now, however, scientists are looking into using these airships to fly through the stratosphere and measure other galaxies as well as changes on the ground.

“Stratospheric airships could give us spacelike conditions from a spacelike platform, but without the spacelike costs,” said Sarah Miller, an astrophysicist at the University of California, Irvine to the New York Times.

Unlike free-flying weather balloons, a blimp can be actively maneuvered, providing the control necessary to carry out advanced missions with expensive equipment, said the Post, but that maneuverability is compromised the moment it begins to lose its aerodynamic shape.

High-endurance, high-altitude airships would allow scientists to study phenomena like the carbon cycle over extended periods at varying altitudes, and sample some of the less-understood greenhouses gases that contribute to climate change.

To learn more about blimps’ potential research capabilities, click here.

Publication: New York Times

Author: Justin Gillis

Date: August 26, 2014

Title: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Are Growing, and Growing More Dangerous, Draft of U.N. Report Says

Runaway growth in greenhouse gas emissions, despite the political efforts to decrease the problem, makes the coming decades look bleak, according to a recent draft of a major new United Nations report.

The world may already be nearing a temperature at which the loss of the vast ice sheet covering Greenland would become inevitable, the report said.

The report found that global warming is causing grain production to decrease by several percentage points, which could continue to drop with more uncontrolled emissions.

Higher seas, devastating heat waves, torrential rain and other climate extremes are also being felt around the world as a result of human emissions, the draft report said, and those problems are likely to intensify unless the gases are brought under control.

To read more about the report, click here.

Publication: Live Science

Author: Becky Oskin

Date: August 27, 2014

Title: High-Tech Sleuthing Cracks Mystery of Death Valley’s Moving Rocks

For a century, Death Valley’s sailing stones and their long, graceful trails have stumped visitors and scientists.

The boulders of black dolomite appear to move on their own, sliding uphill across the playa’s flat lakebed. The trails are the only evidence the rocks move. No one has ever seen them set sail.

Now, with video, time-lapse photographs and GPS tracking of Racetrack Playa’s moving rocks, the mystery has finally been solved.

Jagged plates of thin ice, resembling panels of broken glass, bulldoze the rocks across the flooded playa, scientists revealed in the journal PLOS One. Driven by gentle winds, the rocks seem to hydroplane atop the fluffy, wet mud.

“It’s a wonderful Goldilocks phenomenon,” said lead study author Richard Norris, a paleobiologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California. “Ponds like this are vanishingly rare in Death Valley, and it may be a decade between heavy enough rain or snowfall events to make a substantial pond.”

To read more about the solved mystery of the Death Valley sliding rocks, click here.