October Climate Science Roundup

Despite concerns that it might be blocked by the Trump administration, the Fourth National Climate Assessment report was recently released. This month’s climate science news is a mix of good and bad: peat bogs may be more resilient carbon sinks than we thought, forests can help us fight heat waves, and narwhals are helping us study glacier melt, but on the other hand, more glaciers may be at risk of melting and some climate scientists are facing gag orders from the government.

Climate Science Special Report – Fourth National Climate Assessment

The U.S. government released the first of two volumes of the Fourth National Climate Assessment. The report definitively states that climate change is man-made and stems from carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels: “it is extremely likely [ed note: meaning, 95-100 percent certainty] that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.”

Narwhal recruits track melting Arctic ice

In a cooperative arrangement meant to improve understanding of both narwhal behavior and melting glaciers, the data gathered by tagged narwhals will help inform where, how, and how fast relatively warm ocean waters are melting Greenland’s ice. Measuring the ocean near Greenland’s glaciers can be a major challenge by ship because of heavy sea ice and numerous icebergs — but narwhals spend their time feeding in these exact waters.

Government scientist blocked from talking about climate and wildfires

A U.S. Forest Service scientist who was scheduled to talk about the role that climate change plays in wildfire conditions was denied approval to attend the conference featuring fire experts from around the country. The travel denial follows reports that the EPA blocked three scientists from making presentations at a conference in Rhode Island featuring climate change.

Massive carbon sink may be more resilient than scientists thought

A new study finds that plants in carbon-rich European peat bogs are able to adapt to changes in temperature, precipitation, and other climate-related factors. As the environment changes, specific types of plants may die off and be replaced by new species—but the study suggests that the incoming species tend to be similar to the old ones, meaning the stability of the bog is preserved. Peat bogs and other wetland ecosystems house extensive stores of dead, carbon-rich organic matter underground and serve as an important carbon sink.

Forests minimize severe heat waves

Extensive, mature forest cover can mitigate the impact of severe heat waves, droughts and other weather extremes over large regions, according to new NOAA research. The research quantifies how historical conversion of native forests to cropland has influenced the frequency of hot and dry summers in the mid-latitudes of the United States and Europe. The effect appears to be less clear in the tropics.

Globe had 2nd warmest year to date, 4th warmest September on record

The average global temperature set in September 2017 was 1.40 degrees F above the 20th-century average of 59.0 degrees, the fourth highest for September in the 1880-2017 record. The year-to-date average temperature was 1.57 degrees F above the 20th-century average of 57.5 degrees. This was the second warmest for this period, 0.23 of a degree behind the record set in 2016. Nine of the 10 warmest January-September global temperatures have occurred since 2005, with 1998 as the only exception. Below-average sea ice persists at the poles.

New Greenland maps show more glaciers at risk

New maps of Greenland’s coastal seafloor and bedrock beneath its massive ice sheet show that two to four times as many coastal glaciers are at risk of accelerated melting as previously thought.

NASA pinpoints cause of Earth’s recent record carbon dioxide spike

A new NASA study provides space-based evidence that Earth’s tropical regions were the cause of the largest annual increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration seen in at least 2,000 years. Researchers have concluded that impacts of El Niño-related heat and drought occurring in tropical regions of South America, Africa, and Indonesia were responsible for the record spike in global carbon dioxide.

Edited by Elizabeth Weinberg. Have a climate science tip? Send it to climate-science@350pdx.org.

September Climate Science News Roundup

What role did climate change play in recent catastrophic hurricanes? What’s going on in the Pacific Ocean? How can we tell what sea level looked like in the past? Find answers to these questions and more in this month’s climate science round-up.

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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 climate-science@350pdx.org.

Hurricane Harvey and the Future of Oregon’s Rural Counties

The beginning of the year’s above average precipitation began in the Southeast corner of the state in some of its most rural counties

Flooding in Oregon in early 2017 damaged many rural roads. Hurricane Harvey is expected to do the same in Texas; dumping an additional 1-3 feet of rain in the days after 2.5 feet of rain had already fallen in the first three days of the storm. Harvey previews future flood-problems for Oregon’s rural roads, while also lending  insight into how simple things such as simply being more careful with one another can save as many lives as rebuilding the physical infrastructure that connects us.

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Bangladesh In Devastating Climate Change-induced Flooding

Climate Change Induced Multiple Heavy Floods Hit the Same Areas During a Single Monsoon Season in Bangladesh

Written by Mukti Rahman, a 350PDX IREX Fellow during the fall of 2016. Mukti has since returned to her home country of Bangladesh, and continues to work to empower women in the work of ensuring access to clean drinking water as the sea levels rise and salinate the groundwater.  

credit: 350.org in Bangladesh

Due to heavy rainfall, this year people of Bangladesh have been affected by multiple heavy floods. Prolonged and successive devastating floods are being induced by climate change impact. Life has come to stand still & economic activities have been severely jeopardized. Around 25% of 160 million population of the country including major cities (Dhaka, Chittagong etc.) has been affected. Over thousands of villages have been inundated by this prolonged flooding, even several times each. Schools remain closed due to the devastation. Road and railway communication in many areas have been snapped. Access to medical facilities especially in the rural areas has become externally limited. People in the affected areas are in dire need of dry food, medical supplies, and fresh water. Access to adequate sanitation especially for women and children has become nearly impossible. Resulting in high proliferation of infectious water borne diseases like Diarrhoea, Hepatitis, Typhoid etc. Due to inundation of homesteads, many families have moved to higher land and living in makeshift shelters expose to elements of weather.


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The Political Science of a Solar Eclipse

Path of places in Oregon the total eclipse will be visible August 21, 2017

Solar irradiance on land is about 1000 watts per square meter at sea level on a clear day, like when the moon is not in the way. On the 21st of this month here in Oregon, solar irradiance is going to suddenly drop to about 1 watt per square meter in places like Salem, Warm Springs (momentarily not so warm), and Prineville. Weather will change for a bit, but climate will not. The solar eclipse will help some politicians escape the confusion between the two. Some will be left behind. Read more

July Climate Science News Roundup

Calving icebergs at both poles, eutrophication in our coastal ecosystems: more often than not, the current climate science can seem dire. But by arming ourselves with the most up-to-date science, we can be more effective in changing the culture around climate change. This month’s climate science round-up seeks to provide accurate and effective information so that we can work together to save our planet.

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June Climate Science News Roundup

It’s increasingly clear that action on climate change in the United States must happen at the local and grassroots level, rather than the federal level. With that in mind, it’s more important than ever that we stay up to date on developments in climate science. This month’s climate science round-up seeks to arm us all with accurate and effective information so that we can work together to save our planet.

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May Climate Science News Roundup

With climate change now our daily reality, climate scientists are working hard to understand its effects. And as climate denial and misinformation seems to crop up everywhere these days, it’s more important than ever that we keep tabs of current climate science so we can be effective, informed activists.

With that in mind, each month we be bring you a curated roundup of the some of the most important current studies on climate-related science, from studies on our changing ocean to news about climate’s effects on key industries. See all articles →

Climate Change Snapshots #2



Think of this bowl as representing the Earth’s sea ice (a hyper accurate visual, clearly). It’s 33% gone – and it’s melting fast.

There is now less sea ice on Earth than at any time in recorded history. Since 1980, the Earth has lost about 1/3rd of its total sea ice volume.

To illustrate how outside of normal climate behaviors the earth is experiencing: In December global sea ice extent fell 4.4 million sq km below average, an event eight standard deviations from the normal range. In other words, the statistical probability of that event happening under past expectations of average is 1 in 30 billion, aka: hugely unlikely aka climate change has disrupted what “normal” climate looks like. Read more