Many of New York City's coastal residents are plagued by flooding – during storms and on sunny days.
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It's harvest time, and by eating what's in season locally, people can reduce the carbon pollution caused by trucking food long distances.
From raising livestock to growing vegetables, farmers help put food on our plates. But agriculture also creates emissions that warm the climate. And the most warming is caused by nitrous oxide, an especially potent global warming gas.
By Michael Svoboda
If measured by the number of reports put out in just the first half of this year, the coronavirus has not slowed the work of the international, national, and non-governmental organizations keeping an eye on climate change.
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When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, the convent of the Sisters of St. Joseph was severely damaged by flooding.
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By Jeff Masters
Death Valley, California hit an astonishing 129.9 degrees Fahrenheit (54.4°C) at 3:41 p.m. PDT Sunday, August 16, 2020, which was rounded to 130 degrees Fahrenheit in the final report from NOAA.
Cautions About the Record<p>Herrera and Burt are cautious about accepting the new record set at the Furnace Creek Visitor's Center in Death Valley. The measurement came in mid-August. But extreme high temperature records are much easier to set in July, which is the hottest month of summer. Also concerning was the fact that Sunday's temperatures at Furnace Creek showed some odd jumps during the day. (See the raw high-resolution data <a href="https://hads.ncep.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/hads/interactiveDisplays/displayMetaData.pl?table=dcp&nesdis_id=19021366" target="_blank">here</a> by choosing a time up to six days in the past from the drop-down menu, then choosing "Decoded Data.")</p><p>However, there were some relevant wind direction changes at Furnace Creek that occurred during these temperature jumps, bolstering the idea that the temperature changes were real. The National Weather Service noted that transient <a href="https://twitter.com/NWSWPC/status/1295137837361139712" target="_blank">high cirrus clouds</a> may have played a role in the temperature changes. Further support for the 130 degrees Fahrenheit reading at Furnace Creek came from the nearby Stovepipe Wells site in Death Valley, which peaked at <a href="https://www.wrh.noaa.gov/mesowest/timeseries.php?sid=ISWC1&num=72&banner=gmap&raw=0&w=325" target="_blank">125 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday</a>. That site, which lies in a cooler part of the valley and is 200 feet higher in elevation, is typically three to five degrees cooler than the Furnace Creek site.</p>
The Greenland Ranch USWB weather shelter in Death Valley, California, site of the official world record extreme temperature of 134 degrees Fahrenheit on July 10, 1913. Photo is the oldest known photograph of the weather station (circa late 1910s to as late as 1921) and is looking west. NWS Las Vegas archives via Chris Burt
The Official World Record Will Remain 134°F<p>"If Sunday's observation passes an investigation (instrument calibration, etc.) then, yes, this a new reliably measured global extreme heat record," Burt wrote by email.</p><p>But the observation will not count as an official world record. In 2013, the World Meteorological Organization <a href="https://www.wunderground.com/blog/weatherhistorian/world-heat-record-overturneda-personal-account.html" target="_blank">officially decertified</a> the official all-time hottest temperature in world history, a 136.4 degrees Fahrenheit reading from Al Azizia, Libya, in 1923. (Burt was a member of the WMO team that made the determination.) After the abandonment of the Libya record, the <a href="https://wmo.asu.edu/content/world-meteorological-organization-global-weather-climate-extremes-archive" target="_blank">official world record</a> was given to a 134 degrees Fahrenheit measurement taken at Death Valley on July 10, 1913.</p><p>However, this record has been strongly disputed by Burt and Herrera.</p><p>"The old Death Valley record from July 1913 is 100% bogus (not just 99.9% such), as are all other temperature readings of 130 degrees Fahrenheit or higher from Africa in the past," Burt said.</p>
A Weird Weather Day in California<p>Another argument supporting Sunday's 130 degrees Fahrenheit measurement at Death Valley was the unusual weather setup over California.</p><p>"I'm coming around to thinking that this 129.9° reading just might be for real," Burt said. "For one thing, the weather today in California has been unique. All kinds of strange local weather occurred. In fact, the folks at most of the state's National Weather Service offices are saying there has never been a day like today in recorded history in the state: all kinds of weird dynamics at work and the models just can't handle the details."</p><p>Yale Climate Connections contributor <a href="https://yaleclimateconnections.org/author/bhenson/" target="_blank">Bob Henson</a> had these observations on Sunday's weird weather in California: "Among the strange developments over the weekend in California were a <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=bay%20area%20thunderstorms&src=typed_query" target="_blank">highly unusual round of pre-dawn thunderstorms</a> in the Bay Area on Sunday, with only scant rain but <a href="https://twitter.com/Weather_West/status/1295031504226009088" target="_blank">profuse lightning</a> that started multiple new wildfires. <a href="https://twitter.com/YubaNetFire/status/1295049825768022017" target="_blank">More than 4,800 lightning strikes</a> were recorded in California on Saturday alone. Also on Saturday, a fire-based thunderstorm (pyrocumulonimbus) in Lassen County spawned what appear to be multiple fire whirls and 'fire tornados,' as indicated by radar and documented in <a href="https://twitter.com/nevada_traveler/status/1294799157241118720" target="_blank">photos</a> and <a href="https://mobile.twitter.com/That1GirlTasha/status/1294810824993734656" target="_blank">videos</a>. The storm prompted what is apparently the first-ever NWS tornado warning related to pyrocumulonimbus. It will take further study to establish how many vortexes developed and how many might have been fire whirls (smaller-scale, shorter-lived spin-ups akin to dust devils) versus more unusual fire tornadoes, which extend up into a pyrocumulonimbus and which can generate surface winds of more than 100 mph.</p><p>"These events are related to an infusion of moisture from the tropical northeast Pacific, some of it from ex-Hurricane Elida, coupled with one of the strongest, hottest upper-level domes of high pressure ever recorded across the western United States in August. When such air is forced to descend, it warms up even more, which can lead to record-setting temperatures at the surface."</p>
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By Jeff Masters, Ph.D.
Tropical Storm Josephine Also No Threat to Land<p>Meanwhile, the season's record-earliest tenth named storm, Tropical Storm Josephine, was also struggling with high wind shear as it traced out a path over the open ocean.</p><p>At 5 a.m. EDT Saturday, Josephine was located about 310 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands, moving west-northwest at 15 mph with top sustained winds at 45 mph. Josephine is expected to bring one to three inches of rain over portions of the northern Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico over the weekend. Josephine will encounter steadily rising wind shear through Monday, peaking at a very high 30 – 35 knots. This high shear is likely to destroy Josephine's circulation by Monday, before the storm can affect any other land areas.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2020/08/tropical-storm-kyle-forms-unlikely-to-affect-land/" target="_blank">Yale Climate Connections</a>. </em><em></em></p>
Transitioning to renewable energy can help reduce global warming, and Jennie Stephens of Northeastern University says it can also drive social change.
For example, she says that locally owned businesses can lead the local clean energy economy and create new jobs in underserved communities.
"We really need to think about … connecting climate and energy with other issues that people wake up every day really worried about," she says, "whether it be jobs, housing, transportation, health and well-being."
To maximize that potential, she says the energy sector must have more women and people of color in positions of influence. Research shows that leadership in the solar industry, for example, is currently dominated by white men.
"I think that a more inclusive, diverse leadership is essential to be able to effectively make these connections," Stephens says. "Diversity is not just about who people are and their identity, but the ideas and the priorities and the approaches and the lens that they bring to the world."
So she says by elevating diverse voices, organizations can better connect the climate benefits of clean energy with social and economic transformation.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
When Europeans first arrived in North America, Atlantic puffins were common on islands in the Gulf of Maine. But hunters killed many of the birds for food or for feathers to adorn ladies' hats. By the 1800s, the population in Maine had plummeted.
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By Kristen Pope
Melting and crumbling glaciers are largely responsible for rising sea levels, so learning more about how glaciers shrink is vital to those who hope to save coastal cities and preserve wildlife.
Groans, Creaks, Icebergs’ Calving Splashes<p>Oskar Glowacki already knew that melting glacial ice sounds like frying bacon. As ice bubbles burst, anyone nearby can hear crackling and popping, said Glowacki, a postdoctoral scholar at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Using hydrophones, he and other scientists now can make more nuanced measurements of how a changing climate sounds underwater, from the groans, creaks and splashes of a calving iceberg to the changes in whale songs as the ocean warms.</p><p>Glowacki recently used a pair of hydrophones to study the underwater world of glaciers, publishing his findings in <a href="https://www.the-cryosphere.net/14/1025/2020/" target="_blank">The Cryosphere</a>. He and co-author Grant B. Deane measured glacier retreat by <a href="https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2020/07/melting-glaciers-sound-like-frying-bacon/" target="_blank">recording the sounds of ice</a> – from small chunks to enormous slabs – falling off the glacier and splashing into the water.</p><p>During the summer of 2016, Glowacki's team placed two hydrophones near Hansbreen Glacier in Hornsund Fjord, Svalbard. For a month and a half, they recorded sounds, also using three time-lapse cameras to collect images – including the "drop height" (how far the ice fell into the water) – so they could compare photos to the recordings. The team created a formula to represent the relationship between the size of a piece of ice falling from a glacier and the sound it makes underwater, also accounting for the pieces of ice falling from varying heights. (Hear an example of the sound an iceberg makes while calving <a href="https://soundcloud.com/user-248456662/iceberg-calving-hansbreen-glacier" target="_blank">here</a>.)</p>
Unlocking Information About Antarctic Ice Shelf<p>Other researchers also are using hydrophones to learn more about crumbling glaciers. Bob Dziak, research oceanographer with the NOAA/Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory <a href="https://www.pmel.noaa.gov/acoustics" target="_blank">acoustics research group</a>, captured a massive calving event of the Nansen Ice Shelf in Antarctica with a hydrophone. He published the results with colleagues in <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/feart.2019.00183/full" target="_blank">Frontiers in Earth Science</a></p><p>On April 7, 2016, satellite images showed a massive calving event had occurred on the ice shelf. The paper described it as the "first large scale calving event in >30 years."</p><p>However, once Dziak and colleagues delved into the data from three hydrophones deployed 60 kilometers east of the ice shelf, they uncovered a series of "icequakes" from January to early March 2016. He and other researchers believe that much of the ice actually broke free in mid-January to February, but it remained in the same location until an April storm – which their paper described as the "largest low-pressure storm recorded in the previous seven months" – broke the ice free.</p><p>"We suspected that the icebergs broke apart but remained in place – kind of pinned in place – until a major storm with high winds passed through the area and, finally, it was that last push that pushed the icebergs out to sea," Dziak says.</p><p>He and his co-authors wrote that "fortuitous timing and proximity of the hydrophone deployment presented a rare opportunity to study cryogenic signals and ocean ambient sounds of a large-scale ice shelf calving and iceberg formation event."</p>
Listening to Songs of Humpback Whales<p><a href="https://www.mbari.org/" target="_blank">Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute</a> studies the ocean, including its acoustics. One of the institute's projects involves examining the soundscape of California's Monterey Bay, including sounds from animals, humans, weather, and geologic processes like earthquakes. The researchers once even recorded an under-sea landslide. They also focus on recording and analyzing the <a href="http://www.mbari.org/humpback-song/" target="_blank">songs of humpback whales</a>. Male humpback whales' songs can be over 15 minutes in length, and they can be repeated for long periods of time – even hours. Listening to these songs and analyzing them can provide unique insights into the lives of these complex animals.</p><p>"Any time we want to study marine mammals, sound gives us a window into their lives because they use sound for all of their essential life activities, really," says institute biological oceanographer John Ryan. "Communication, foraging, reproduction, navigation – depending on the species, of course."</p><p>Previously, scientists had thought singing occurred only during courtship and mating, but now they think whales may also use song while migrating and hunting. They know song has a crucial role in the whales' lives.</p><p>"There's a whole other dimension to humpback whale song," Ryan says. "It is a mode of cultural transmission in this species. They learn songs from each other. They share songs as a population, and when populations mix and mingle, they learn new ideas, they explore with their song, improvise, and it's a real essential part of their culture."</p>
In 2007, baby oysters began dying by the millions at the Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery on the Oregon coast.
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The Huntley coal plant in Tonawanda, New York, was once the area's biggest polluter. But it was also the town's biggest taxpayer.
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By Amy Brady
Australian author and critic James Bradley stunned with his previous novel, Clade, a multi-generational story about a swiftly changing planet. His latest novel, Ghost Species, encompasses similar themes of ecological loss and climate catastrophe.
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