Confronting the exploitation of extreme weather events in global warming reporting

February 28, 2014

Extreme weather events remind us of our vulnerability to the truly awesome forces of nature. They reveal the weaknesses in our societal infrastructure.  Sometimes they provide valuable insights into the workings of the climate system. But the debate about whether this winter’s cold weather over the central and eastern U.S. is due to global warming has become a stumbling block in our public discourse on human induced climate change.

Pine forest particles appear out of thin air, influence climate

February 26, 2014

Pine forests are especially magical places for atmospheric chemists. Coniferous trees give off pine-scented vapors that form particles, very quickly and seemingly out of nowhere.

New research by German, Finnish and U.S. scientists elucidates the process by which gas wafting from coniferous trees creates particles that can reflect sunlight or promote cloud formation, both important climate feedbacks. The study is published Feb. 27 in Nature.

Climate change: mitigation, adaptation

February 13, 2014

Climate change is here, it is happening, and it is the future. Lots can still be done to mitigate the changes, but policy is moving to adapt to impacts

Discussions around climate change are on a pragmatic new course. Enough of the talk-show bilge about “is it real?”

The shift I am hearing is not only about mitigating climate change, but also promoting smart adaptation to the impacts already here — and here to stay.

Scientific energy and insight are pointing the discussion toward what can be done to lessen the economic, political and social impacts ahead.

Embarking on geoengineering, then stopping, would speed up global warming

February 18, 2014

Spraying reflective particles into the atmosphere to reflect sunlight and then stopping it could exacerbate the problem of climate change, according to new research by atmospheric scientists at the University of Washington.

Carrying out geoengineering for several decades and then stopping would cause warming at a rate that will greatly exceed that expected due to global warming, according to a study published Feb. 18 in Environmental Research Letters.

Jewell Visits Mount Rainier, Discusses Climate Change At UW Roundtable

February 5, 2014

"The best classrooms are the ones without walls," said U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, standing inside a classroom at the University of Washington, her alma mater, on Tuesday.

The former CEO of Seattle-based REI spent two days at home this week, wrapping up her visit with a roundtable discussion about the president's Climate Action Plan and the local impacts of climate change.

To illustrate the need to reduce carbon pollution, Jewell visited Mount Rainier National Park and toured areas affected by climate change.

Greenland’s fastest glacier sets new speed record

February 3, 2014

The latest observations of Jakobshavn Glacier show that Greenland’s largest glacier is moving ice from land into the ocean at a speed that appears to be the fastest ever recorded.  Researchers from the University of Washington and the German Space Agency measured the speed of the glacier in 2012 and 2013. The results were published Feb. 3 in The Cryosphere, an open access journal of the European Geosciences Union.

Deaths attributed directly to climate change cast pall over penguins

January 29, 2014

Climate change is killing penguin chicks from the world’s largest colony of Magellanic penguins, not just indirectly – by depriving them of food, as has been repeatedly documented for these and other seabirds – but directly as a result of drenching rainstorms and, at other times, heat, according to new findings from the University of Washington.

Glaciers, streamflow changes are focus of new Columbia River study

January 15, 2014

The Columbia River is perhaps the most intricate, complex river system in North America. Its diverse landscape crosses international borders and runs through subarctic, desert and sea-level ecosystems. Surrounding communities rely on the river for fishing, agriculture, transportation and electrical power.

As the Earth warms, experts know the Columbia will change – they just don’t know how much or when.

Ecovillages, Ecodistricts and Climate Change

January 9, 2014

Karen Litfin, a University of Washington professor of political science, spent a year traveling and researching her book, Ecovillages: Lessons for Sustainable Community. Litfin, along with Deni Ruggeri of the UO’s landscape architecture program and Anita Van Asperdt, a local landscape architect, will be discussing “Ecovillages and Ecodistricts: Solutions for Climate Change” at the UO Jan. 13.