Climate

Western Governors Emphasize Need for Short- and Long-term Strategies, Preparedness at National Drought Forum

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec 13, 2012) - Speaking at the National Drought Forum held here today, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback emphasized the critical importance of water resources in the arid West and actions states have taken or that are needed to be adequately prepared.

"The moderate to exceptional drought conditions we've seen this year in Kansas and throughout much of the West are hurting communities, economies, agriculture and the quality of life," Brownback said.  "Drought impacts next year could be far more severe, especially given the reservoir storage in many basins has been depleted.  In Kansas, we revised our drought operations plan; identified tools to meet emergency water needs; and looked for ways we could better prepare for the next drought.

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North Atlantic Storms: Medieval Warm Period vs Little Ice Age

In the words of Trouet et al. (2012), "an increasing number of high-resolution proxy records covering the last millennium have become available in recent years, providing an increasingly powerful reference frame for assessing current and future climate conditions," and, as might be added, for assessing the validity of the climate-alarmist claim that warmer conditions typically lead to increases in the frequency and/or ferocity of stormy weather. In the present study, therefore, Trouet et al. searched the scientific literature for evidence pertinent to their climate modeling concern, which also happens to be pertinent to the concern about global warming and what it does or does not imply about concurrent storminess. So what did the search reveal?

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Little Change in Drought Over 60 Years

A new paper out in the current issue of Nature finds little evidence to support claims that drought has increased globally over the past 60 years. The authors write:

Drought is expected to increase in frequency and severity in the future as a result of climate change, mainly as a consequence of decreases in regional precipitation but also because of increasing evaporation driven by global warming. Previous assessments of historic changes in drought over the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries indicate that this may already be happening globally. In particular, calculations of the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) show a decrease in moisture globally since the 1970s with a commensurate increase in the area in drought that is attributed, in part, to global warming. The simplicity of the PDSI, which is calculated from a simple water-balance model forced by monthly precipitation and temperature data, makes it an attractive tool in large-scale drought assessments, but may give biased results in the context of climate change6. Here we show that the previously reported increase in global drought is overestimated because the PDSI uses a simplified model of potential evaporation that responds only to changes in temperature and thus responds incorrectly to global warming in recent decades. More realistic calculations, based on the underlying physical principles that take into account changes in available energy, humidity and wind speed, suggest that there has been little change in drought over the past 60 years.

What does this mean?

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Climate Change Report Released

Climate Change in Grasslands, Shrublands, and Deserts of the Interior American West: A Review and Needs Assessment

FORT COLLINS, Colo., Aug. 27, 2012 - Climate change poses as much risk to public and private grassland and shrubland ecosystems as it does to forested ecosystems yet receives less attention by the public and key stakeholders. Consequently, most climate change research concentrates on forested ecosystems, leaving grassland and shrubland managers with insufficient information to guide decision making.

The USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station published a comprehensive report summarizing climate change research and potential effects on grassland, shrub, and desert ecosystems. The report, “Climate Change in Grasslands, Shrublands, and Deserts of the Interior American West: A Review and Needs Assessment,” highlights current knowledge and future research essential to mitigate the prospective detrimental effects of climate change. It addresses animal, plant, and invasive species models and responses, vulnerabilities and genetic adaption, animal species and habitats, and decision support tools for restoration and land management.

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National Strategy Proposed to Respond to Climate Change’s Impacts on Fish, Wildlife, Plants

Public encouraged to review and provide comments

WASHINGTON (Jan 19, 2012) – In partnership with state, tribal, and federal agency partners, the Obama Administration today released the first draft national strategy to help decision makers and resource managers prepare for and help reduce the impacts of climate change on species, ecosystems, and the people and economies that depend on them.

The strategy represents a draft framework for unified action to safeguard fish, wildlife and plants, as well as the important benefits and services the natural world provides the nation every day, including jobs, food, clean water, clean air, building materials, storm protection, and recreation.

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