Move forms California’s largest science & environmental unit for electronic media
Climate Watch Sr. Editor Craig Miller with Producer Molly Samuel in the KQED studios.
After four years, numerous awards, and something just shy of 900 blog posts, the multimedia reporting effort that’s been known as Climate Watch is turning a significant page. KQED is combining our efforts with Quest, the station’s more broadly-based science and environmental news and programming effort.
We’ll continue to cover climate-related issues, as evidenced by the recent rollout of Heat and Harvest, a major multimedia project with the combined resources of Climate Watch, Quest and the Center for Investigative Reporting. Through a documentary now airing on public television stations throughout California, radio features on The California Report and an extensive lineup of online features, Heat and Harvest examines some of the ways in which climate change is already challenging farmers in the Golden State. Continue reading →
Having nudged the upper 90s on Sunday, Sacramento closed out the month of September with a record 26 days of 90-plus highs, surpassing the 1974 record of 24 days. The trend is forecast to continue into the first several days of October, with a chance of hitting 100 for the first time since mid-August. Farther north, Sacramento Valley towns like Redding and Red Bluff are suffering similar bake-offs. Continue reading →
Abnormally warm summer temperatures were felt across much of interior California
By Nicholas Christen and Craig Miller
Craig Miller / KQED
Even tomatoes can only take so much heat. A belt from Bakersfield to the northern Sacramento Valley produces a third of the nation's canning tomatoes.
Autumn is here, so says the calendar. Living on the coast, it might be easy to think that California escaped the heat wave suffered by much of the nation this summer. While that may be true for most of the large coastal population centers, it was a different story for much of the state’s interior farm belt.
Throughout June and July, even Central Valley spots escaped much of the heat felt by the Great Plains, though Cal Expo officials blamed the heat, in part, for tamping down attendance at the state fair. Then things heated up quickly — especially in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys — through August and into September. Valley towns including Redding, Red Bluff, Sacramento, Merced, Madera, Fresno, and Bakersfield, have been on the order of three-to-five degrees above normal for the duration of August and September. Continue reading →
NOAA has created a startling animation of this year’s record shrinkage of ice in the Arctic Ocean. The 34-second clip zooms in from a western hemisphere view and presents as a time-lapse, tracking the ice from January 1 to September 14. This is the first time since NOAA started using satellites to monitor the Arctic in 1979, that sea ice area has shrunk to less than 4,000,000 square kilometers. What happens in the polar regions has a profound effect on the world’s climate.
Climate change had been virtually absent from the campaign until Mitt Romney and President Obama traded jabs at their conventions. Some polls say it could be a vote-getter for Democrats. By Mark Clayton, Staff writer / September 7, 2012 Like Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter saga, climate change has been the issue “that shall not be named” – mostly a political no-show in the presidential campaign.
The Pacific warm-water phase known as El Nino is gathering momentum but don’t batten down the hatches just yet, as the impact on California weather remains ambiguous. Often associated with drenching winter storms, this occurrence seems too weak to have forecasters in an uproar.
Thanks to a tiny but consistent warming of the Pacific Ocean half a world away, the Bay Area will experience an El Nino season this year, beginning this month. If that idea conjures up images of fearsome storms and tumultuous winds – as one infamous El Nino pattern caused in the late 1990s – fear not.
The Arctic has lost more sea ice this year than at any time since satellite records began in 1979, Nasa says. Scientists involved in the calculations say it is part of a fundamental change. What is more, sea ice normally reaches its low point in September so it is thought likely that this year’s melt will continue to grow.
California governor posts a direct rebuttal to climate change contrarians
Governor Brown is pushing back against those who deny the evidence for climate change and this week, used a Lake Tahoe environmental conference to say that he’s taken his campaign online.
Governor's Office of Planning & Research
Jerry Brown's new website is a countermeasure against climate science "deniers."
The Governor has long been a vocal supporter of climate action but his new “Just the Facts” website represents his most definitive reaction against what he calls “the deniers” of widely accepted climate science.
Industry looks for inroads in a “stalled” California market
One of California’s two nuclear power plants remains offline amid roiling speculation about its future. At a geothermal energy conference in Sacramento this week, the head of California’s Independent Energy Producers association put the odds of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) “ever” coming back online at 50/50.
Geothermal Education Office
A "flash steam" geothermal plant in East Mesa. Geothermal plants tap the heat energy underground to produce steam for electricity.
The odds matter because nuclear plants provide so-called “baseload” power, which is to say that they produce electricity 24/7 — when they’re on. Geothermal power — tapping energy from underground sources of heat — also has the virtue of being baseload. While geothermal plants can lose potency during the hottest part of the day, they don’t stop producing completely. Solar and wind are considered “intermittent” sources as they’re at the mercy of the sun shining and wind blowing.
At this week’s meeting of the Geothermal Energy Association, there was visible consternation over geothermal being the odd man out in California’s race for renewables, even though the Golden State is endowed with the most geothermal capacity in the nation. Continue reading →