New NOAA tool shows how climate change will affect your neighborhood

May 4, 2017 by  
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We’ve all seen the projections: Sea-level rises, hastened by a warming planet, will be nothing short of catastrophic for the world’s coastal communities. Even so, climate change can still be a nebulous concept for those of us who aren’t immediately affected by the havoc rising temperatures can bring, whether it’s longer periods of drought, more powerful storms, or the increased risk of flooding. To see what you have personally at stake, tinker around with Climate Explorer , an online tool developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to help community leaders, business owners, municipal planners, and residents understand how environmental conditions may alter local conditions over the next several decades. Launched in 2016 as part of the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit , the Climate Explorer leverages two global climate model scenarios to predict how heat-trapping gases in Earth’s atmosphere may shape variables such as temperature and precipitation through 2100. Related: Earth’s climate hurtling towards warmth unprecedented in nearly half a billion years The site is able to serve up observed and modeled data for every county in the United States. Simply enter your zip code for a snapshot of parameters such as the number of days over 95 degrees Fahrenheit and the number of days with heavy rain. “The Climate Explorer is designed to help users visualize how climate conditions may change over the coming decades,” David Herring, communication and education program manager at NOAA’s Climate Program Office, said when the tool first debuted. “Projections of how much and how fast change is happening is crucial to help communities prepare and become more resilient.” Related: CO2 levels just reached 410 ppm—the highest in millions of years NOAA’s timing couldn’t be more apt. 2016 marked Earth’s hottest year since modern record-keeping began in 1880. It had the equally dubious honor of being the third consecutive year to set a new record for global average surface temperatures. + Climate Explorer + National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Via International Business Times

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New NOAA tool shows how climate change will affect your neighborhood

Snhettas ready-made cabin can fit into any landscape

May 4, 2017 by  
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If you’ve ever dreamed of owning a Snøhetta -designed home, this may be the opportunity you’ve been looking for. The renowned Norwegian design firm just unveiled a beautiful prefabricated cabin designed to pop up in and complement any landscape. Created in collaboration with Rindalshytter , Norway’s leading producer of leisure homes, the Gapahuk cabin features an environmentally friendly footprint with off-grid capabilities. Designed for adaptability, Gapahuk can suit an array of climates and terrains from high mountaintops to lakesides. The cabin is built primarily from wood and uses a twisting roof that protects the interior from the elements. “Focus has been put on using high quality and low maintenance materials that can be locally sourced and are environmentally friendly,” writes Snøhetta. Related: Gorgeous forest home will fulfill your tiny cabin dreams Natural light pours into the Gapahuk through the cabin’s large windows that also frame views of the surrounding landscape. Created with an emphasis on social design, the compact cabin interior prioritizes common areas with its large open-plan kitchen, dining area, and living room. In contrast, the cabin’s three bedrooms are moderately sized. The building also features an outdoor patio space to emphasize connection with the outdoors. + Snøhetta

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Snhettas ready-made cabin can fit into any landscape

The 10,000-year-old East Coast Grand Canyon 100 miles from NYC

April 5, 2017 by  
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The East Coast has its own Grand Canyon -like natural wonder – just 100 miles southeast of Lady Liberty in New York City. And the mile-deep Hudson Canyon brims with biodiversity , but it is at risk of being exploited for oil and gas exploration. The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)’s New York Aquarium recently nominated the canyon as a National Marine Sanctuary in a bid to protect endangered creatures dwelling there from the fossil fuel industry. The Hudson Canyon formed around 10,000 years ago during the last ice age, but few New Yorkers or East Coast residents know it exists. It’s under around 60 feet of water on the continental margin, or ocean floor zone separating thin oceanic crust from thick continental crust, at the Hudson River’s outlet. Scientists don’t even know a lot about what is at the bottom of the canyon, which is the East Coast’s largest submarine canyon , but they do know it’s home to endangered whales , sea turtles , sharks , and hundreds of plankton species. Related: Leonardo DiCaprio gives Seychelles $1 million for monumental marine sanctuary New York Aquarium visitors will get a glimpse into the canyon in the upcoming 57,000-square-foot exhibit “Ocean Wonders: Sharks!” set to open in 2018. The exhibit will include Canyon’s Edge, a recreation of the experience of sitting on or standing just below the edge of Hudson Canyon. WCS wants to preserve the Hudson Canyon from fossil fuel exploration and extraction through nominating the site as a National Marine Sanctuary. They say such a designation will also sustain recreational and commercial fisheries and whale and bird cruises. WCS vice president Jon Forrest Dohlin also told NYMetro a sanctuary designation could also help scientists obtain resources necessary to explore the canyon further. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) did determine the Hudson Canyon meets criteria necessary to be “an ecological site of national significance worthy of protection,” according to WCS, and they have a petition going asking NOAA to rapidly start the designation process. You can sign the petition here . Via 6sqft and NY Metro Images courtesy of Deepwater Canyons 2013 – Pathways to the Abyss, NOAA-OER/BOEM/USGS and Dominic Sherony on Flickr

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The 10,000-year-old East Coast Grand Canyon 100 miles from NYC

Alaska gas leak endangering beluga whales won’t be fixed until the ice melts

March 6, 2017 by  
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A leaking natural gas pipeline in Cook Inlet, Alaska won’t be fixed until the ice melts – continuing to flow unchecked into a habitat for endangered beluga whales. Inside Climate News reports that Hilcorp Alaska, the company responsible for the leak, says it won’t be able repair the damage until later this month, at the earliest, due to concerns over safety for its workers. The 8-inch underwater pipeline has been leaking about 120,000 to 310,000 cubic feet of natural gas per day into the ocean since Feb. 7, 2017. “Given the typical weather patterns affecting ice formation and dissipation in Cook Inlet, we currently anticipate that the earliest that the conditions will allow diving will be in mid-to-late March,” wrote Hilcorp Alaska Senior Vice President, David Wilkins. Doing so before that date would likely make it unsafe for the divers who have to head underwater to fix the leak. But it would be appear to be a case of humans vs. whales, as the oil is leaking into a critical habitat for endangered beluga whales . Bob Shavelson, or the Alaska non-profit Cook Inletkeepe r, have concerns that methane in the leaking gas could displace oxygen in the water and create hypoxic zones that could be dangerous for the roughly 340 belugas in the area. Related: Hundreds of whales die in New Zealand’s third largest mass stranding As Inside Climate News reports, Alaska’s Department of Environment Conservation says Hilcorp didn’t respond to its request for a plan to monitor the leak and environmental impacts. Without such data the state agency can’t assess the threat posed by leak to Cook Inlet. The state has since asked Hilcorp to provide a plan by March 8 – more than a month after the leak began. In a letter to Alaska’s DEC, Hilcorp says the amount of dissolved methane coming from the leak is so minimal that it’s not toxic to aquatic organisms, and that belugas tend to avoid areas covered in ice – meaning that there are likely no belugas around the area of the leak. But the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says otherwise. In a recent letter the agency noted that Cook Inlet belugas tend to prefer ice cover, to the point that their presence has become associated with that of ice. “If a significant hypoxic zone is created by a continuing natural gas discharge,” the NOAA explained, “Cook Inlet belugas and multiple [physical and biological features] of their critical habitat could be adversely affected.” Via Inside Climate News Images via fooey and briangratwke , Flickr Creative Commons and Frank K , Wikimedia Commons

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Alaska gas leak endangering beluga whales won’t be fixed until the ice melts

Independent research shows "global warming hiatus" was indeed false

January 5, 2017 by  
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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) unleashed a huge controversy two years ago with a paper refuting a slow down in ocean warming . Now a group of researchers have used independent data to prove the notion of a “global warming hiatus” in recent years was in fact not true. According to Phys.org, the 2015 study by NOAA showed that modern buoys used to measure ocean temperature have a tendency to show slightly cooler temperatures than the previous ship-based systems did, even when measuring the same part of the ocean at the same time. And as the new system replaced the old one, the researchers realized that some of the “real-world warming” was missed in the transition. After they corrected for what they called a “cold bias,” the NOAA researchers published a paper in the journal Science stating that oceans have actually warmed by 0.12 degrees C per decade since the year 2000 – or nearly twice as fast as the as the 0.07 degrees C per decade in the previous 30 years. This showed that the “global warming hiatus” many thought was happening actually was not. Related: The oceans stalled global warming, but they’re about to unleash the heat The findings caused a huge kerfuffle amongst climate change skeptics, who attacked the NOAA researchers – and led a House of Representatives committee to subpoena emails from the scientists involved. But this recent study, conducted by the University of California, Berkeley and Berkeley Earth and soon to be published as a paper in the journal Science Advances , uses independent data to show that despite the uproar by skeptics, the NOAA’s findings were correct. “Our results mean that essentially NOAA got it right, that they were not cooking the books,” lead author Zeke Hausfather, a graduate student in UC Berkeley’s Energy and Resources Group, told Phys.org . Hausfather and his college Kevin Cowtan at the University of York in the UK extended the NOAA’s study by taking into account several different further kinds of water temperature data. The results they got matched the NOAA’s results exactly. “In the grand scheme of things, the main implication of our study is on the hiatus, which many people have focused on, claiming that global warming has slowed greatly or even stopped,” Hausfather said. “Based on our analysis, a good portion of that apparent slowdown in warming was due to biases in the ship records.” Via Phys.org Images via Unsplash and JDmcginley , Pixabay

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Independent research shows "global warming hiatus" was indeed false

Category 3 storm Hurricane Nicole batters Bermuda

October 13, 2016 by  
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Just days after Hurricane Matthew , Hurricane Nicole is slamming into Bermuda. The Category 3 hurricane battered Bermuda Thursday, destroying homes and trees, and causing massive  floods . While the hurricane is expected to miss the United States and travel into the Atlantic Ocean, it could still cause rip currents along the U.S. East Coast. According to the National Hurricane Center , Hurricane Nicole is “extremely dangerous.” They predicted water levels would surge six to eight feet higher than normal in Bermuda, and “large and destructive” waves would pummel the island. Maximum sustained winds clock in at 125 miles per hour. Tornadoes could possibly roll through the area and add to the destruction. Related: Unchecked global warming could bring the worst hurricanes ever seen by the end of this century Residents and visitors hid indoors as the storm hit. National Security Minister Jeff Baron said, “This is a serious storm , and it’s living up to the weather predictions. The worst is not over.” Bermuda’s weathered hurricanes in the past, but few have been as strong as Hurricane Nicole, according to the National Hurricane Center. The island’s infrastructure is built to deal with severe weather, but even so 20,000 customers lost power. Airlines and cruise ships canceled travel to the tropical destination, as those on the island hunkered down to wait. Government offices and schools closed on Thursday. AP spoke with local Nick West, whose garden was underwater and who lost a big part of his roof to the hurricane. “We are hiding downstairs,” West told AP. “Just as long as we are all safe, that is all I really care about.” While it’s likely Hurricane Nicole won’t make it to the United States, it could still affect weather conditions. The National Hurricane Center warned everyone “from the Carolinas northward” to beware of rip currents. North Carolina and South Carolina could see threatening swell conditions. Via NPR and AP Images via NOAA NWS National Hurricane Center Facebook and screenshot

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Category 3 storm Hurricane Nicole batters Bermuda

New NASA data confirms July 2016 was the hottest month on record

August 16, 2016 by  
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Newly released data from NASA indicates July was the hottest month on record , since scientists began tracking global temperatures in 1880. This July was 1.51 degrees Fahrenheit (0.84 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 1950-1980 global average, and a fraction of a degree hotter than the two months tied for the previous “hottest month ever” record. The conflux of climate change related to human activity and the warming effects of El Niño contributed to this summer’s soaring temperatures, and climate experts expect to see more record high temps in the future. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JK7NV2YheGk If it seems as though there have been a lot of record-breaking high temps lately, it’s because there have. July was the 10th consecutive record hot month in a row, according to NASA . The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) hasn’t yet released its temperature calculations for July, but they are expected on Wednesday of this week. NOAA uses slightly different calculations, compared to NASA, so its conclusions may not match up. (For example, NOAA’s figures count 14 consecutive monthly heat records before July, compared to NASA’s 10.) Related: February’s record high temperatures are bringing us too close to 2°C limit Despite this year’s El Niño season loosening its grip on the weather, global temperatures continue to rise. NASA looks to a number of factors when calculating its global temperatures, including surface temperatures and the extent of Arctic sea ice. Over the first six months of 2016, NASA reports temperatures were the highest average of any six-month period since record keeping began. Via Phys.org Images via Swen George/Flickr

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How corn sweat is making this weeks heat wave even worse

July 22, 2016 by  
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Right now, there is one burning question on your mind, and I know it’s “What the heck is corn sweat?” The week’s extreme heat wave is blistering the middle section of the United States, where excess moisture from corn fields will evaporate and add an unwanted boost of humidity (called ‘corn sweat’) to the already uncomfortable levels. With temperatures expected to rise up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit above average in some places, meteorology experts say the phenomenon will happen more often as global warming worsens. The U.S. is in the midst of a severe heat wave , and it’s hitting the central and eastern parts of the country especially hard. The proverbial ‘they’ are famous for saying “It’s not the heat; it’s the humidity,” and in this case, it’s the darned truth. Scorching temps are plaguing most of the country this week, with the heat index rocketing into triple digits. Warm, moist air blowing in from the Gulf of Mexico combines with the corn sweat phenomenon to create a particularly miserable cocktail of heat and humidity in the Midwest, which is reflected in the heat index of what forecasters say will be the hottest summer on record. Related: Flame-colored NOAA map paints a picture of this week’s toasty heat wave As the effects of climate change wreak havoc on the planet, one of the outcomes is increasing levels of humidity, particularly during intense summer heat waves. Meteorologists have predicted that the next few decades will see this weather trend increase in severity and expand to impact even more areas, elevating the public health concerns associated with heat waves. Extreme heat is already one of the leading causes of weather-related deaths, particularly among the elderly and homeless populations, and the death tolls are likely to rise as the temperatures continue to soar. Via Mashable Images via Shutterstock and USDA

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How corn sweat is making this weeks heat wave even worse

Arctic temperatures are literally off the charts

June 1, 2016 by  
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Even though things are just heating up in the Northern Hemisphere, many of us have already heard about the record-breaking hot temperatures in the Arctic . Now,  National Snow and Ice Data Center research scientist Andrew Slater has translated those temperature statistics into visual form with four telling graphs . Based on these diagrams, one meteorologist tweeted that Arctic conditions are as ” literally off the charts .” To create the charts, Slater pulled in data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR), and the Climate Forecast System Version 2 (CFSv2). His graphs show the Arctic has not had as many days below the freezing point of 0 degrees Celsius as it typically does. In fact, since we began keeping track in 1980, this year marks the most days we’ve recorded above freezing temperatures in the Arctic. Related: Arctic sea ice levels hit a new winter low – again Days higher than freezing is not the only record shattered in the Arctic this year. Sea ice levels were the lowest since 1979 . Just this month NOAA announced at Alaska’s Barrow Observatory they’d recorded “the earliest snowmelt date in 73 years of record-keeping, beating the previous mark set in 2002 by a full 10 days.” According to NOAA, usually Barrow Observatory is “one of the last places in the United States to lose snow cover.” High temperatures, early snowmelts, and low sea ice levels create a dangerous combination for Arctic wildlife. According to NOAA , polar bears and walruses have to adjust to their changing environment. Adorable black guillemont birds may not be able to find as many fish, meaning not as many of their chicks will survive. NOAA reported between January and April of this year, temperatures reached “an incredible 11 degrees above normal.” Many predict the Arctic will continue to break temperature records in the summer. It’s a vicious cycle: melting ice means the Arctic takes in more heat and melts more rapidly. Via Gizmodo and NOAA Images via Wikimedia Commons and Andrew Slater, National Snow and Ice Data Center

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Marine scientists in Hawaii unearth an ancient minivan-sized sea sponge

May 30, 2016 by  
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We’ve all heard stories about enormous deep sea worms and sharks the size of a city bus. It turns out, those aren’t the only incredibly huge creatures hiding beneath the waves. A team of researchers in Hawaii have discovered the largest sea sponge known to science , and it’s as big as a minivan. Located near the Papah?naumoku?kea Marine National Monument , the sea sponge is thought to be several centuries old, if not more. The expedition took place in the summer of 2015. Researchers aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ship Okeanos Explorer, led by research specialist Daniel Wagner, Ph.D, discovered the huge sea sponge while exploring the deep water habitats surrounding the national monument. With the aid of remote-controlled vehicles, the expedition stumbled upon the 12-foot by 7-foot sponge at depth of 7,000 feet. That makes it the largest sea sponge ever found, by a long shot. Related: MIT researchers say the Earth’s first animal was most likely a humble sea sponge “The largest portion of our planet lies in deep waters , the vast majority of which has never been explored,” said Wagner in a statement. He was the science lead for the expedition with NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. “Finding such an enormous and presumably old sponge emphasizes how much can be learned from studying deep and pristine environments such as those found in the remote Papah?naumoku?kea Marine National Monument.” When it comes to determining how old this record-breaking sea sponge might be, it’s a little tricky. Some of the largest sea sponges found in shallower waters are known to live as long as 2,300 years. Further studies might help age the sponge, but for now, researchers are just thrilled to see it thriving at a time when so many marine creatures are struggling to survive. The results of the study were published recently in Marine Biodiversity. Via The Guardian Images via NOAA

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