Climate Change

Be Prepared: ‘Extreme’ El Nino Events to Double, Study Says

Publication: NBC News   Date: January 19, 2014   View Article

During February 1998, a powerful jet stream pounded California with an unrelenting series of wet Pacific storms. Longstanding rainfall records fell. Oceanfront homes slumped into the roiling surf. Roads washed out across the state. Federal disaster areas were declared in 35 counties. At least 17 people died. The Red Cross opened 79 shelters and fed more than 100,000 people.

The culprit? An extreme El Niño, a phenomenon triggered by a warming of waters in the equatorial Pacific Ocean that shifts weather patterns around the world.

El Niño’s ills weren’t confined to California: In 1997-98, torrential rains washed away villages in northern Peru, heat waves rolled across Australia, and massive peat-bog fires cloaked Indonesia in a thick haze. All told, the impacts caused upwards of $45 billion in global economic losses and claimed an estimated 23,000 lives.

Melting ice a ‘sleeping giant’ that will push sea levels higher, scientist says

Publication: NBC News   Date: December 13, 2013   View Article

By the time today’s preschoolers are babysitting their grandkids, global sea levels are likely to be pushing 2 feet higher than they are now and on the way to topping 8 feet above current levels by the year 2200, according to a new study.

The finding stems from geologic evidence that allowed scientists to tease apart a natural background pattern of how fast and how high sea levels rose as ice ages came and went over the past 2 million years.

Today’s pace of sea level rise is about twice as fast compared to historical standards, the team concluded. Going forward, seas will be pushed higher as rising temperatures force the great ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica to disintegrate, glaciers around the world to retreat toward mountaintops, and warming ocean waters to expand, the study notes.

Abandoned mine could yield clues to stopping global warming

Publication: NBC News   Date: December 10, 2013   View Article

An abandoned mine in California is providing scientists with important data that could lead to a possible new weapon to fight global warming.

Massive amounts of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide vacuumed from smokestacks or the air could be permanently locked up in a type of tight, magnesium-rich rock found in the mine, according to scientists. One tricky part is to break up the rock to make room for the greenhouse gas. And that may require violence.

Harsh carbon fee needed to avert disaster, warns top climate scientist

Publication: NBC News   Date: December 3, 2013   View Article

Time is almost out to avoid a climate catastrophe that would leave today’s children and future generations with a world starkly different from the one that nurtured civilization for the past 10,000 years, according to one of the world’s most eminent climate scientists.

Left unchecked, for example, rising global temperatures could soon cross thresholds that melt enough ice in Greenland and Antarctica to drown all of the world’s existing coastal cities in rising seas.

Methane emissions soar past previous estimates, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: November 25, 2013   View Article

Emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane from industrial activities in the United States are vastly higher than previous estimates, according to a new study.

“We think our result for the oil and gas sector could be up to five times higher” than figures reported in a widely used international emissions database, Scot Miller, the study’s lead author and a graduate student at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., told NBC News.

No excuses: Cut carbon dioxide emissions now, scientists urge

Publication: NBC News   Date: November 21, 2013   View Article

Recently, several scientific studies have concluded that the global climate is less sensitive to the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide than previously believed. Other studies also found that cuts to short-lived pollutants such as soot could temporarily slow the pace of warming.

Neither, however, are reasons to delay weaning the world off fossil fuels in a bid to curb global warming, according to a pair of perspective papers released Thursday.

Volcano under Antarctic ice may erupt, accelerate melting

Publication: NBC News   Date: November 17, 2013   View Article

A newly discovered volcano rumbling beneath nearly a mile of ice in Antarctica will almost certainly erupt at some point in the future, according to a new study. Such an event could accelerate the flow of ice into the sea and push up the already rising global sea levels.

When the volcano will blow is unknown, “but it is quite likely” to happen, Amanda Lough, a graduate student in seismology at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., told NBC News.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach