Global Warming

Land-based Strategies to Reduce Future Heat Island-related Mortality

Urban centers have been warming at double the global rate the last half-century. High daily temperatures are associated with increased mortality. Sustained increases in temperatures projected under most climate models represent a significant public health problem that may increase weather-related mortality in the United States. In a first of its kind study, Stone et al., (2014) modeled how local climate action plans that integrate land-based mitigation strategies through albedo and vegetation enhancement can mitigate future increases in heat-related mortality…

"Dead Zones" in Marine Systems. Another Climate Change Threat?

Coastal areas are some of the most productive and valuable ecosystems on the planet, providing people with large amounts of food and performing other critical services like water filtration, nutrient cycling, and wave buffering. Unfortunately, one of the most alarming signs of compromised coastal health, “dead zones,” have been exponentially increasing in number, size, and severity since the mid-20th century. Dead zones are areas that have become oxygen depleted and can no longer support many kinds of marine life…

Future Cold Air Out-Breaks. Less Frequent in a Warmer World?

During winter and spring 2014, waves of unusually cold temperatures hit northeastern regions of North America, noticeably effecting the US economy and hampering growth in the first quarter of 2014 (see CNS news link on a statement by Fed. Chairman Janet Yellen on this topic). A number of research studies proposed mechanisms by which changes in the jet stream strength and location attributed to polar amplification would enhance temperature variability at the surface (Liu et al., 2012; Francis and Vavrus, 2012). Polar amplification…

Predicting the Cascading Effects of Climate Change on Ecosystems: "Staggeringly Complex"

Predicting the effects of climate change on the structure and function of ecosystems is difficult because most ecosystems are staggeringly complex, with many directly and indirectly interacting animal and plant species. A recent study by Christenson and colleagues attempts to track the effects of climate change through a forest ecosystem in the northeastern US to understand how one climatic alteration might affect the plant community through multiple pathways…

Rising Mean Temperature vs. Changing Temperature Extremes: What’s at risk?

The average temperature of the planet is rising but increases in the frequency and severity of high and low temperature extremes are also expected. Most climate change research focuses on the possible effects of average rise in temperature, but in some cases changes in temperature extremes may be more important. A new study led by Yale professor David Vasseur explores the dynamics of temperature…

Climate Change Impacts on Coral Reefs Felt in Surrounding Ecosystems

Studies have shown that variation in species responses to changing climate will result in disruption of biotic interactions such as predation, parasitism, competition, and mutualism, ultimately leading to changes in community composition and ecosystem functioning (e.g., Both et al. 2009). Just as different species are linked by a network of interactions, ecosystems are connected by…

Chinese Annals and Traditional Proxies Reveal Volcanic Monsoon Influence

Volcanic eruptions are generally considered one of the best-understood (and most dramatic) causes of sudden climate changes, with large explosive eruptions capable of causing severe short-term cooling on hemispheric and global scales. This mainly occurs when eruptions inject large volumes of sulfur dioxide into the high atmosphere, where the gas oxidizes to form an aerosol particle haze that reflects incoming solar radiation to space, cooling the…

A Case Where Climate Change Reduces Infectious Disease Transmission

One of the most feared consequences of climate warming is the potential expansion of tropical infectious diseases. However, for diseases that require intermediate hosts a warmer climate and the particular dynamics of the disease can actually reduce transmission in some cases. A recent study by Paull and Johnson describes one such scenario.  The authors examined a system in which freshwater snails are intermediate hosts for trematode…

Climate & Energy Bookshelf: Christine Klein and Sandra Zellmer, Mississippi River Tragedies: A Century of Unnatural Disaster

Christine Klein is the Chesterfield Smith Professor of Law at the University of Florida College of Law and Sandra Zellmer is the Robert B. Daugherty Professor of Law at the University of Nebraska College of Law. Professors Klein and Zellmer will discuss their new book, Mississippi River Tragedies: A Century of Unnatural Disaster, which chronicles the engineering and legal developments that have sought to control the Mississippi River.

Dendrochronology's "Divergence Problem" Explained?

A new study by Alexander Stine and Peter Huybers offers strong evidence that reduced light availability (“global dimming”) explains the apparent lack of tree-ring evidence in many Arctic regions for the recent warming observed in instrumental records there. Dendroclimatology uses measurements of the yearly growth width and density of tree rings to reconstruct changes in past climate. The …

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