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Climate

Linking Atmospheric Rivers to Wildfire Patterns in the Southwest

This winter, parts of drought-stricken California have been besieged by heavy flooding, mudslides, and feet of snow. The cause? A meteorological phenomenon known as an atmospheric river, which carries high concentrations of water vapor in narrow bands from the warm tropics up to western North America.
 
In the western U.S., atmospheric rivers are relatively common and are critical providers of winter rain and snow. However, they can also be a source of extreme flooding and costly damage to transportation networks, public utilities, and other infrastructure. While the economic and social impacts of strong atmospheric rivers are well understood, we know much less about how they can impact ecosystems.

Read more: Linking Atmospheric Rivers to Wildfire Patterns in the Southwest

Forest Fires in Sierra Nevada Driven by Past Land Use

Firefighter with drip torch setting a prescribed burn

Changes in human uses of the land have had a large impact on fire activity in California’s Sierra Nevada since 1600, according to new research

Forest fire activity in California's Sierra Nevada since 1600 has been influenced more by how humans used the land than by climate, according to new research led by University of Arizona and Penn State scientists.

For the years 1600 to 2015, the team found four periods, each lasting at least 55 years, where the frequency and extent of forest fires clearly differed from the time period before or after.

However, the shifts from one fire regime to another did not correspond to changes in temperature or moisture or other climate patterns until temperatures started rising in the 1980s.

Read more: Forest Fires in Sierra Nevada Driven by Past Land Use

Historic Drought Helps Predict How Climate Change Might Affect an Endangered Species

BLM LogoExtreme 2012-2014 drought a "crystal ball" into future climate change

The Bureau of Land Management, the University of California at Santa Cruz, and The Nature Conservancy announce the release of a new study documenting the negative effects of the 2012-2014 drought, the most severe multi-year drought in southwestern North America in the past 1200 years, on an endangered lizard in the San Joaquin Desert of California. The results provide a unique glimpse into the potential effects of future droughts expected in California as a result of climate change, and provide guidance on how to buffer these negative effects to avoid species extinction.

Read more: Historic Drought Helps Predict How Climate Change Might Affect an Endangered Species

Supreme Court's Stay of EPA Carbon Rules Gives Time to Get the Climate Science Right

climate change - Science is never settledJACKSON, Wyo., Feb. 11, 2016 -- The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday to temporarily block implementation of the EPA's Clean Power Plan while lawsuits from 29 states and many power companies proceed. It also provides a chance to be sure the science behind this plan is correct.

"New data and understanding now show that the science underlying the global 'consensus' on climate change is flawed," says Dr. Peter Langdon Ward, a geophysicist who worked 27 years with the US Geological Survey. Ward spent the last ten years reexamining the many assumptions underlying greenhouse warming theory.

"Current climate models calculate energy incorrectly," Ward explains, "based on a fundamental misunderstanding in physics going back 150 years."

Read more: Supreme Court's Stay of EPA Carbon Rules Gives Time to Get the Climate Science Right

New Application Shows Projected Climate Change Impacts in California

Interactive Tool Provides Actionable Climate Data to Help Scientists and Planners

SACRAMENTO - (August 25, 2015) - An application that shows how climate change could alter ecosystems in the California desert and the natural range of birds, fish, and mammals was released today by the California Energy Commission.

Read more: New Application Shows Projected Climate Change Impacts in California

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