Water Cycle is Speeding Up Over Much of the U.S.

Regions with weakening water cycles and low soil moisture should be carefully tracked over the next few decades because they could become increasingly dry. That would make agriculture more difficult or require more irrigation.

Read more here. NASA Earth Observatory image by Lauren Dauphin, using data from Huntington, Thomas, et al. (2018). Story by Kasha Patel. Image shows difference in water intensity from January 1, 1945 – December 31, 2014.

In new research, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) showed that there has been an increase in the flow between the various stages of the water cycle over most the U.S. in the past seven decades. The rates of ocean evaporation, terrestrial evapotranspiration, and precipitation have been increasing. In other words, water has been moving more quickly and intensely through the various stages.

“As the planet warms we anticipate that the warmer air, which holds more moisture, will lead to more evaporation and precipitation,” said Tom Huntington, the study’s first author and a research hydrologist at USGS. “If those processes are increasing, it is evidence for an intensifying water cycle. But no one had really shown that trend quantitively.” Until now….

Huntington said these regions with weakening water cycles and low soil moisture should be carefully tracked over the next few decades because they could become increasingly dry. That would make agriculture more difficult or require more irrigation. On the other hand, too much rain or soil moisture storage, such as in the northeast U.S. or Texas, could lead to increased flooding. ..

Memo To The Auto Industry: Time To Join California And Leaders Opposing Trump Clean Cars Rollback

Read full Forbes article here

When four auto companies representing 30% of the U.S. car market announced they reached a clean cars compromise with California regulators after months of negotiations, they may have found the light at the end of a tortuous tunnel that began more than two years ago. Now that Ford, Honda, VW, and BMW are accelerating toward a cleaner future, it’s time for the other automakers to join this agreement

…The new California agreement would take industry fuel efficiency to around 50 mpg in 2026, vs. the Obama era rules which targeted 51 mpg in 2025, significantly more than the [Trump’s] SAFE rule’s proposed 37 mpg. It would eliminate costly industry uncertainty and align automakers with the very certain direction the rest of the world has moved toward since Trump’s announcement in 2017: much more stringent fuel economy and greenhouse gas targets.

Ellie’s note: Good work by CA with automakers but 50 mpg by 2026 is not enough to meet what the climate science and reality are telling us. We must phase out fossil fuel powered cars sooner to secure a safe climate. The EU is further ahead but still needs to do more- “vehicles have to effectively achieve around 57 mpg” starting in January and new rules would reduce CO2 emissions by almost 40% by 2030 from 2021 levels with cars getting 90 mpg. Around 35% of new EU car sales are expected to be EVs by 2030.

‘Unprecedented’: more than 100 Arctic wildfires burn in worst ever season

Huge blazes in Greenland, Siberia and Alaska are producing plumes of smoke that can be seen from space

By Edward Helmore Guardian UK Read full article here

The Arctic is suffering its worst wildfire season on record, with huge blazes in Greenland, Siberia and Alaska producing plumes of smoke that can be seen from space.

The Arctic region has recorded its hottest June ever. Since the start of that month, more than 100 wildfires have burned in the Arctic circle. In Russia, 11 of 49 regions are experiencing wildfires.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the United Nations’ weather and climate monitoring service, has called the Arctic fires “unprecedented”….

Ellie’s note: We must start counting wildfire emissions in our GHG inventories in California & globally! Otherwise we are fooling ourselves into complacency.

Megadroughts Are Likely Coming to the US Southwest Within Decades, Scientists Say

Climate change is ‘almost assured’ to cause decades-long droughts in the American Southwest not seen since medieval times, scientists warn in a new study.

by Madeleine Gregory See full Vice article here

In medieval times, the US Southwest was routinely struck by decades-long droughts. Those megadroughts stopped around 1600, but climate change could bring them back.

In a study published on Wednesday in Science Advances, researchers from Columbia’s Earth Institute used climate models to study what caused the megadroughts. Using historical climate data, they determined that two things were to blame: changing ocean temperatures and excess energy trapped inside the Earth’s atmosphere (called radiative forcing)….

“Having paleoclimatic evidence shows you what happened in the past,” lead author Nathan Steiger said over the phone. “It helps verify projections that say the American Southwest is almost assured to have a megadrought in the next few decades.” …

According to the study, the biggest driver of these historical megadroughts were La Niña events, which made the Pacific Ocean unseasonably cold, pushing the storm path north towards Washington and British Columbia. A warmer Atlantic played a smaller role, shifting a high pressure system that blocked storms from rolling over the continental US. “Both a warm Atlantic and a cold Pacific change where storms go,” Steiger said. “They both result in fewer storms going to the Southwest.”

Climate change: Current warming ‘unparalleled’ in 2,000 years

It’s a climate emergency

Matt McGrath BBC Read full article hereThe speed and extent of current global warming exceeds any similar event in the past 2,000 years, researchers say. They show that famous historic events like the “Little Ice Age” don’t compare with the scale of warming seen over the last century.

The research suggests that the current warming rate is higher than any observed previously. The scientists say it shows many of the arguments used by climate sceptics are no longer valid….

No evidence for globally coherent warm and cold periods over the preindustrial Common Era Letter | Published: 24 July 2019

Nature volume 571, pages550–554 (2019) | Download Citation

Abstract

Earth’s climate history is often understood by breaking it down into constituent climatic epochs1. Over the Common Era (the past 2,000 years) these epochs, such as the Little Ice Age2,3,4, have been characterized as having occurred at the same time across extensive spatial scales5. Although the rapid global warming seen in observations over the past 150 years does show nearly global coherence6, the spatiotemporal coherence of climate epochs earlier in the Common Era has yet to be robustly tested. Here we use global palaeoclimate reconstructions for the past 2,000 years, and find no evidence for preindustrial globally coherent cold and warm epochs. In particular, we find that the coldest epoch of the last millennium—the putative Little Ice Age—is most likely to have experienced the coldest temperatures during the fifteenth century in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean, during the seventeenth century in northwestern Europe and southeastern North America, and during the mid-nineteenth century over most of the remaining regions. Furthermore, the spatial coherence that does exist over the preindustrial Common Era is consistent with the spatial coherence of stochastic climatic variability. This lack of spatiotemporal coherence indicates that preindustrial forcing was not sufficient to produce globally synchronous extreme temperatures at multidecadal and centennial timescales. By contrast, we find that the warmest period of the past two millennia occurred during the twentieth century for more than 98 per cent of the globe. This provides strong evidence that anthropogenic global warming is not only unparalleled in terms of absolute temperatures5, but also unprecedented in spatial consistency within the context of the past 2,000 years.

Ellie comment: From climate scientist Peter Kalmus on Twitter : “The correct “12 years” claim: We have 10 yrs, 5 months, 4 days until we must cut global emissions in half for a 50/50 chance to stay under 1.5°C of mean global heating according to IPCC SR1.5. Many scientists, including me, feel this underestimates irreversible global change.”

415.26 parts per million: CO2 levels hit historic milestone, highest in 3 million years; first time in human history

Getting back to around 350 ppm is required for a safe climate to sustain life as we know it on Earth. The last four years were the four hottest on record and, in spite of the Paris deal and increasing public awareness of the problem, mankind continues to break its own emissions records, year on year.

Read full PhysOrg post here

The Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, which has tracked atmospheric CO2 levels since the late 1950s, on Saturday morning detected 415.26 parts per million (ppm)….

The last time Earth’s atmosphere contained this much CO2 was more than three million years ago, when global sea levels were several metres higher and parts of Antarctica were blanketed in forest.

“It shows that we are not on track with protecting the climate at all. The number keeps rising and it’s getting higher year after year,” Wolfgang Lucht, from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), told AFP. It was also the first time on record that the observatory measured a daily baseline above 415 ppm….

….The 2015 Paris Agreement calls on humanity to block the rise in Earth’s temperature at “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) compared to preindustrial levels, and 1.5C if possible. ….Earth’s average surface temperature has already increased 1.0C since pre-industrial times due to man-made emissions.

Dangerous decline of nature and increase in species extinctions unprecedented in human history- New UN report

“The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.” The five direct drivers of change in nature with the largest relative global impacts so far are, in descending order: (1) changes in land and sea use; (2) direct exploitation of organisms; (3) climate change; (4) pollution and (5) invasive alien species.

Read Policymakers Summary here (Pdf), press release here and ScienceDaily coverage here.

Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history — and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely, per a new report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)… More than 1,000,000 species- or ~25% of all species- are threatened with extinction. Transformative changes are needed to restore and protect nature for our well-being.

Findings include:

  • Three-quarters of the land-based environment and about 66% of the marine environment have been significantly altered by human actions. On average these trends have been less severe or avoided in areas held or managed by Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities.
  • More than a third of the world’s land surface and nearly 75% of freshwater resources are now devoted to crop or livestock production…

….Compiled by 145 expert authors from 50 countries over the past three years, with inputs from another 310 contributing authors, the Report assesses changes over the past five decades, providing a comprehensive picture of the relationship between economic development pathways and their impacts on nature. It also offers a range of possible scenarios for the coming decades.

Based on the systematic review of about 15,000 scientific and government sources, the Report also draws (for the first time ever at this scale) on indigenous and local knowledge, particularly addressing issues relevant to Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities.

“Biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people are our common heritage and humanity’s most important life-supporting ‘safety net’. But our safety net is stretched almost to breaking point…”

For ease of reference, a number of issues highlighted in the Report are summarized in the ‘Further Information’ section that follows below, specifically on:

…Societal goals – including those for food, water, energy, health and the achievement of human well-being for all, mitigating and adapting to climate change and conserving and sustainably using nature – can be achieved in sustainable pathways through the rapid and improved deployment of existing policy instruments and new initiatives that more effectively enlist individual and collective action for transformative change. Since current structures often inhibit sustainable development and actually represent the indirect drivers of biodiversity loss, such fundamental, structural change is called for. By its very nature, transformative change can expect opposition from those with interests vested in the status quo, but such opposition can be overcome for the broader public good. If obstacles are overcome, commitment to mutually supportive international goals and targets, supporting actions by indigenous peoples and local communities at the local level, new frameworks for private sector investment and innovation, inclusive and adaptive governance approaches and arrangements, multi-sectoral planning and strategic policy mixes can help to transform the public and private sectors to achieve sustainability at the local, national and global levels…

El Nino events increased dramatically over past 30 years compared to past 400 years

Read ScienceDaily coverage here

There has been an unprecedented increase in the number of El Niños forming in the Central Pacific over the past 30 years, compared to all 30 year periods in the past 400 years. At the same time, the stronger Eastern Pacific El Niños were the most intense El Niño events ever recorded, according to both the 100-year long instrumental record and the 400-year long coral record. This information will help improve climate change models to understand future impacts on weather and extreme events.

….Australian researchers have produced a world-first seasonal El Niño record extending 400 years and a new methodology that will likely be the basis for future climate research…..”The El Niño phenomenon is one of the most important features of global climate, and changes to its behaviour have very serious implications for weather patterns and extreme events around the world,” said Dr Henley.

Mandy B. Freund, Benjamin J. Henley, David J. Karoly, Helen V. McGregor, Nerilie J. Abram & Dietmar Dommenget. Higher frequency of Central Pacific El Niño events in recent decades relative to past centuriesNature Geoscience, 2019 DOI: 10.1038/s41561-019-0353-3

Plants and soil microbes shape forest types worldwide through local underground alliances

Patterns researchers found will predict what communities of trees will go where, their effect on the environment, and how they will respond in the future to climate change and increased carbon dioxide.

Princeton University Read ScienceDaily summary here

Mingzhen Lu, Lars O. Hedin. Global plant–symbiont organization and emergence of biogeochemical cycles resolved by evolution-based trait modellingNature Ecology & Evolution, 2019; 3 (2): 239 DOI: 10.1038/s41559-018-0759-0

Researchers report that the distribution of forest types worldwide is based on the relationships plant species forged with soil microbes to enhance their uptake of nutrients. These symbioses could help scientists understand how ecosystems may shift as climate change alters the interplay between plants, microbes and soil.

….The biome-specific dynamics between plants and soil microbes could help scientists understand how ecosystems may shift as climate change brings about warmer temperatures that alter the interplay between trees, microbes and soil, the researchers report. Because the most competitive symbiotic arrangements for a particular biome triumph, scientists would only need to understand how an ecosystem is changing to gauge which vegetation will be moving in and which will be moving out.

…”The pattern we found can be used to tell us the landscapes that are more sensitive to human disturbance,” said senior author Lars Hedin, the George M. Moffett Professor of Biology and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and the Princeton Environmental Institute. “It will predict what communities of trees will go where, their effect on the environment, and how they will respond in the future to climate change and increased carbon dioxide.”

Flight attendants know the real job killer is climate change with 2x or more clear air turbulence (CAT) projected by mid-century

We find large relative increases in CAT, especially in the mid-latitudes in both hemispheres, with some regions experiencing several hundred per cent more turbulence. The busiest international airspace experiences the largest increases, with the volume of severe CAT approximately doubling over North America, the North Pacific, and Europe.

Vox Read full article here

Luke N. Storer, Paul D. Williams, Manoj M. Joshi .
Global Response of Clear‐Air Turbulence to Climate Change . Geophysical Research Letters. 2017https://doi.org/10.1002/2017GL07461L

Severe turbulence is becoming more frequent and intense due in part to climate change.Research indicates that rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere cause disruptions to the jet streams and create dangerous wind shears that greatly increase turbulence, especially at moderate latitudes where the majority of air travel occurs…

… According to a study by professor Paul D. Williams and his colleagues at the University of Reading in the UK, CAT is expected to more than double by midcentury, and turbulence “strong enough to catapult unbuckled passengers and crew around the aircraft cabin” is expected to double or triple.

There’s an economic cost, too. Turbulence is already costing US airlines $200 million per year, with damage to aircraft plus injuries to passengers and crew. That number will skyrocket as extreme incidents increase. Costs are passed on to consumers and used to justify cuts to pay, benefits, and staffing levels for crew….