global warming


No Relief in Latest California Climate Assessment

But hope persists that we can blunt the worst impacts, if not slow down the warming

The new normal? A temperature display in the Kern County town of Taft shows 105 degrees on a late afternoon in July.

Granted, it’s been a relatively cool summer in many parts of California. But state officials are saying, “Don’t get used to it.” How would you like to see the number of “extremely hot” days (105 or hotter) in Sacramento increase fivefold in the next few decades? That’s just one of many new projections from the state’s latest official climate assessment.

One hundred-twenty scientists worked on the report, entitled California’s Changing Climate (PDF). Funded by the California Energy Commission, it’s actually a portfolio of studies and contains some of the most specific warnings we’ve seen. For instance, it projects that going forward, average temperatures in the state will warm at three times last century’s pace. It’ll mean heat waves happening more often and lasting longer. Continue reading

Climate Science in Schools: the Next “Evolution”

An Oakland group vows to keep climate science in the classroom.

Some science teachers face opposition from students, parents and even administrators when they teach basic climate science.

As the climate change debate creeps into classrooms across the country, an Oakland non-profit vows to stem the tide of climate denial in California. They also plan to conduct a comprehensive review of science textbooks to help teachers separate the sound from the shaky in climate science.

The Oakland-based National Center for Science Education (NCSE) has announced that it will now offer support to teachers facing resistance to climate science in the classroom, similar to their long-standing work to keep the instruction of evolution in schools. “We’ve already had a couple of calls along the lines of, ‘I know you guys do evolution, but I’ve got this problem with [teaching] climate change and do you have any suggestions for me,’” said Dr. Eugenie Scott, executive director of NSCE.
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Govt. Study Affirms Delta Fears, Water Risks for California

Suisun Slough in the lower Sacramento Delta. Twenty-five million Californians depend on the Delta for at least some of their water.

“Today’s extremes could become tomorrow’s norms”

That’s the upshot of an ambitious study by the US Geological Survey, which would appear to affirm some dire predictions for California’s most important water system.

The study, authored by nearly a dozen scientists, is billed as “the first integrated assessment of how the Bay-Delta system will respond to climate change.” It’s presented as a “flash forward” to what California’s Sacramento-SanJoaquin Delta could become by the end of this century. It ran a series of nine indicators through multiple models to project trends in temperature, precipitation, salinity, runoff and sea level rise.

The result: Pretty much what climate scientists have been saying; that we’ll see “potentially longer dry seasons,” a shrinking Sierra snow pack and “earlier snowmelt leaving less water for runoff in the summer.” Continue reading

Forget this Winter: Western Snowpack Shrinking

By Alyson Kenward

A new study finds large losses of springtime snow cover in the West in recent years, raising concerns about water supplies.

Spring snowpack in the West is an essential water resource, particularly in Southwestern states that are prone to summer drought, like California, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. (Credit: Wolfgang Staudt on Flickr)

This spring, from the Pacific Northwest and Sierra Nevada, to the Northern Rockies, western mountain ranges were more than just snow-capped – they were buried in the white stuff. In fact, many locations still have more spring snowpack than has been seen in decades.

Head south across the 40th parallel, however, and things are dramatically different. While there is still above average snow throughout the Sierra, a relatively snow-less winter and spring has left much of the Southwest in a drought that has fostered record wildfires. Already local officials are worried there won’t be enough water to get through the summer months ahead. Continue reading