In a Million Years

May 21, 2015 // 0 Comments

By Ehren Goossens The amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere averaged more than 400 parts per million globally for the first time ever in March, according to U.S. government measurements. The recording was based on air samples taken from 40 sites around the world, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a statement Wednesday. It’s the highest level of the gas in at least a million years. Increasing CO2 emissions are blamed for global climate change that causes stronger storms, melting Arctic ice and rising sea levels, according to scientists. This is the first time the emissions have reached that level on a global basis — sites in the Arctic and Hawaii recorded CO2 concentrations over 400 ppm in 2012 and 2013, respectively. “This marks the fact that humans burning fossil fuels have caused global carbon dioxide concentrations to rise more than 120 parts per million since pre-industrial times,” Pieter Tans, lead scientist for the [...]

Knack for Math

May 21, 2015 // 0 Comments

By Eric Roston Lester Brown has spent his career making shrewd projections about the food, water, and energy people need to survive, and pushing governments to respond. None of this math brings tears to his eyes except the time in 1965 he made some calculations and risked his career advising the president of the United States to save India from starving. Brown’s eyes misted over as the 81-year-old resource economist recalled the reaction of a U.S. agriculture attache in New Delhi to his discovery that famine was imminent in India that autumn. Few saw it coming, he warned the attache, and the U.S. would have to take extraordinary measures, transporting millions of tons of grain, to prevent mass suffering and death. “If you’re right, it’s the biggest shipment ever,” the man told Brown, then 31, in New Delhi. “But if you’re wrong, you’re going to be a statistical clerk the rest of your life.” Brown, a soft-spoken walking [...]


May 20, 2015 // 0 Comments

By Linda Lam The unofficial start to summer is just around the corner, and if you are one of the millions with travel or outdoor plans this Memorial Day weekend then you will want to know if weather will impact your plans. Many are hoping for dry and warm conditions for the holiday weekend, but not everyone will get what they wish for, as some areas will continue to see the threat for flash flooding and severe thunderstorms. Rain and thunderstorms will likely cause some travel delays, especially as AAA expects that automotive travel this Memorial Day will be up 5.3 percent to 33 million travelers compared to last year, which would be the highest volume in ten years. Below we break down the forecast Friday through Monday for each region. Friday’s Forecast Friday’s Forecast If you are traveling to your weekend destination on Friday or are starting your holiday weekend early, much of the East will find no weather disruptions with generally dry conditions anticipated. A few [...]

Too Late

May 20, 2015 // 0 Comments

By Zain Haidar The world’s longest-running study of predator-prey interactions is running out of subjects. Lake Superior’s Isle Royale, where the study has been conducted for nearly six decades, is down to its last three wolves. As Nature journal reports, scientists have studied the relationship between moose and wolves on the 210-square-mile island for the last 57 years, but the population of carnivores has taken major hits through disease and birth defects over the past decade. Isle Royale researchers say that the wolf population has plummeted to three in their most recent report, compared to nine wolves last year. John Vucetich, project leader and associate professor of wildlife ecology at Michigan Technological University, said in a statement that the wolf population is likely beyond redemption. Vucetich and co-leader Rolf Peterson have called for ‘genetic rescue’ for years; meaning, with the importation of fresh wolves (and thus, fresh wolf DNA), the [...]

Timing Off

May 7, 2015 // 0 Comments

By Noami Eide Just before dawn, birds wreak havoc on the stillness, cackling and calling to the world that spring has arrived and that it is time to mate. It’s 6:32 on Easter morning, the sunrise is 14 minutes away, and the world is a hazy mosaic of muted colors, too pale to call yellow or orange. A golden-crowned sparrow sings its three descending notes, sounding mournful in a minor key among the cheerful songs of avian neighbors. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s guide, many say the golden-crowned sparrow’s whistles sound like a phrase, such as “I’m so tired” or “Oh, dear me.” The air is bustling with the songs of flirting birds, yet sleeping houses remain blissfully unaware that nature’s instinct has taken over with the change in day length. Though this late, cool spring is an exception, temperatures on average are becoming warm before their time. Climate change has disturbed the delicate choreography that [...]

Park Benches

May 6, 2015 // 0 Comments

By Brain Clark Howard Cigarette butts are, by some counts, the world’s number one litter problem. Butts represent the most numerous form of trash that volunteers collect from the world’s beaches on the Ocean Conservancy’s cleanup days. More than two million cigarette parts were recently collected in a single year around the world—double the amount of both food containers and beverage containers. The hard numbers from some other sources are staggering. New York state, for instance, produces an estimated 1.5 million tons of cigarette butts a year. And butts account for about 13 percent of the litter accumulated on Texas highways, 130 million butts a year. The problem extends well beyond the gross factor. Cigarette filters are made from wood-based plastic fibers that take generations to fully decompose, says Tom Szaky, CEO and founder of the New Jersey-based recycling company TerraCycle. And the filters can leach nicotine and tar into the ground or water. Butts are also often [...]

Too Much of a Good Thing

May 6, 2015 // 0 Comments

By Jon Erdman In stark contrast to the dominant pattern early in the year, a stagnant jet stream pattern will continue to deliver locally heavy rain to much of the Plains into Mother’s Day weekend. Interestingly, this persistently wet outlook is actually both good and bad news in the nation’s heartland. The upper-level setup for repeated heavy rain through at least the weekend in the nation’s heartland. Rainfall Forecast Through Monday Locally heavier rainfall amounts may fall where thunderstorms repeatedly track over a given area. Bad News: Flood Threat Monday provided a good example of the threat over the next several days. Significant flash flooding was reported in Manhattan, Kansas, Lubbock, Texas, and Seagraves, Texas. Monday was the third wettest May day on record in Lubbock (3.42 inches), and Manhattan, Kansas, picked up over 4 inches of rain. Through the weekend, the jet stream will feature a prominent southward dip in the West and at least a slight northward [...]

Could the Atlantic Hurricane Season Start Early

May 5, 2015 // 0 Comments

  By Jon Erdman System off Southeast Coast, Could Turn Tropical Meteorologist Ari Sarsalari talks about a system off the Southeast Coast that could turn into something tropical. Highlights A subtropical depression or storm may form off the Southeast coast later this week. Uncertainty continues on ultimate path, intensity of this system (inland or remaining offshore). High surf, rip currents, some coastal flooding possible into the weekend from Florida to North Carolina. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June through November. Occasionally a storm develops early, and that could happen off the Southeast coast as soon as Wednesday. (MORE: Hurricane Season Outlook | Hurricane Central | Tropical Update) Enlarge Setup For Potential Low The Setup The setup for this begins with a leftover, fading frontal boundary over the southwest Atlantic, the Bahamas and Cuba. This is the same frontal boundary that brought a much-needed soaking to South Florida last week and gave Key West its [...]

Warm Blob

May 4, 2015 // 0 Comments

By Science Daily The one common element in recent weather has been oddness. The West Coast has been warm and parched; the East Coast has been cold and snowed under. Fish are swimming into new waters, and hungry seals are washing up on California beaches. A long-lived patch of warm water off the West Coast, about 1 to 4 degrees Celsius (2 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit) above normal, is part of what’s wreaking much of this mayhem, according to two University of Washington papers to appear in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. “In the fall of 2013 and early 2014 we started to notice a big, almost circular mass of water that just didn’t cool off as much as it usually did, so by spring of 2014 it was warmer than we had ever seen it for that time of year,” said Nick Bond, a climate scientist at the UW-based Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, a joint research center of the UW and the U.S. National Oceanic and [...]

Record Pace

May 4, 2015 // 0 Comments

By Nafeesa Syeed and Rinat Gannullin Saudi Arabia is burning through foreign reserves at a record pace as the largesse of the new king and regional turmoil ratchet up pressure on public finances already hurt by the oil price slump. The kingdom spent $36 billion of the central bank’s net foreign assets — about 5 percent of the total — in February and March, the biggest two-month drop on record, data released this week show. The fall was in part due to King Salman’s order to give government employees and pensioners a two-month bonus after he ascended to the throne of the world’s biggest oil exporter in January. The early months of Salman’s rule also saw a sharpening of the country’s rivalry with Iran — most strikingly over the Saudi-led air offensive in Yemen — and mounting security threats at home, challenges that had already led to a surge in military spending in 2014. The 48 percent drop in oil prices last year has prompted the government to use [...]