August Climate Science News Roundup

Hurricanes, fires, and drought, oh my! Deep into the summer, the evidence of climate change seems to be all around us. This month’s climate science round-up seeks to provide accurate and effective information so that we can work together to save our planet.

How an ocean climate cycle favored Harvey

Hurricane Harvey’s strength lies in both natural variability and human influences. A powerful, natural, long-term cycle in North Atlantic sea surface temperatures, known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, has been fueling storms in recent decades. However, climate change also plays a role — a hotter ocean can boost the intensity of storms.

Globe had 2nd warmest July and year to date on record

July 2017 was not only the warmest month this year, but it was also the second warmest July on record, only behind July 2016. The average Arctic sea ice extent for July was 16.1 percent below the 1981-2010 average, while the average Antarctic sea ice extent was 4.5 percent below average.

Study finds drought recoveries taking longer

As global temperatures continue to rise, droughts are expected to become more frequent and severe in many regions this century. A new study in Nature finds that land ecosystems took longer to recover from droughts as the 20th century proceeded. Incomplete drought recovery may become the new normal in some areas, possibly leading to tree death and increased emissions of greenhouse gases.

People furthest apart on climate views are often the most educated

People who are the furthest apart in their views on scientific issues like climate change are often the most educated and informed, according to a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers found that political identity was a more important signal of where respondents stood than their scientific knowledge. This means scientific facts may actually be unlikely to change minds in a debate.

Ozone-reducing treaty has also reduced climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions from the United States

The Montreal Protocol, the international treaty adopted to restore Earth’s protective ozone layer, has significantly reduced emissions of ozone-depleting chemicals from the United States. A new study by NOAA and CIRES scientists shows the 30-year old treaty has also significantly reduced climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions from the United States.

International report confirms 2016 was warmest year on record for the globe

The 27th annual State of the Climate report has confirmed that 2016 topped 2015 as the warmest year in 137 years of record keeping. The report found that most indicators of climate change continued to follow trends of a warming world, and several, including land and ocean temperatures, sea level and greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere broke records set just one year prior. Last year’s record heat resulted from the combined influence of long-term global warming and a strong El Niño early in the year.

Carbon offsets really do help lower emissions

A new study examining the efficacy of paying to preserve forests finds that carbon offsets do produce genuine emissions reductions. The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment by three Stanford University researchers, examines California’s carbon offset program. It allows businesses to fund forest preservation in lieu of turning in some of their allowances under the state’s cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gases.

A review found climate-change-denying scientific papers flawed

A review published in Theoretical and Applied Climatology attempted to replicate the results of the three percent of scientific papers that deny climate change, finding faulty results. The team of researchers looked at the 38 papers published in peer-reviewed journals in the last decade that denied anthropogenic global warming and found that each paper had an error in assumptions, methodology, or analysis. When these errors were corrected, their results were in line with scientific consensus.

Edited by Elizabeth Weinberg. Have a climate science tip? Send it to