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El Nino Watch: 6 Months and Still Counting

El Nino Watch: 6 Months and Still Counting

For months now, the tropical Pacific Ocean has been flirting with blossoming into a full-fledged El Niño state: Waters off the coast of South America have warmed, a hallmark of the climate phenomenon, but then cooled, only to warm once again. Winds, which normally blow east-to-west have made tentative moves in the other direction, another key… Read More

Warming in Europe Raises Risks of Tropical Diseases

Warming in Europe Raises Risks of Tropical Diseases

Add one more horror to the list of awful threats that climate change poses: it could introduce dengue fever in Europe. Dengue fever is already a hazard for 2.5 billion people in humid tropical regions, and 50-100 million people a year are infected by the mosquito-borne disease. It puts 500,000 of them in hospital each year, and kills around 12,000 … Read More

Pests Pose Increasing Risk to Food Security

Pests Pose Increasing Risk to Food Security

Coming soon to a farm near you: just about every possible type of pest that could take advantage of the ripening harvest in the nearby fields. By 2050, according to new research in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography, those opportunistic viruses, bacteria, fungi, blights, mildews, rusts, beetles, nematodes, flies, mites, spiders and caterpi… Read More

Climate Change Ups Odds of a Southwest Megadrought

Climate Change Ups Odds of a Southwest Megadrought

If you think the drought in California is bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet. New research indicates that climate change is giving a boost to the odds of long-term drought across the Southwest. The research, published Thursday in the Journal of Climate, puts the chances of a megadrought lasting 35 years or longer at up to 50 percent in the region. It… Read More

What Global Warming Might Mean for Extreme Snowfalls

What Global Warming Might Mean for Extreme Snowfalls

So if the world is warming, that means winters should be less snowy, right? Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. OK, it’s a lot more complicated. While the average annual snowfall in most parts of the world is indeed expected to decline, the extreme snowfalls — those that hit a place once every 10 or 20 years and can cause major headaches… Read More

Antarctic Riddle: How Much Will the South Pole Melt?

Antarctic Riddle: How Much Will the South Pole Melt?

One of the biggest question marks surrounding the fate of the planet’s coastlines is dangling from its underbelly. The melting of the Antarctic ice sheet has long been a relatively minor factor in the steady ascent of high-water marks, responsible for about an eighth of the 3 millimeters of annual sea-level rise. But when it comes to climate change… Read More

The Jargonaut: What’s a Rossby Wave?

The Jargonaut: What’s a Rossby Wave?

This is the year of obscure atmospheric phenomenon. The polar vortex chilled everyone’s winter. Methane releases might be carving mysterious craters in the Arctic ice. And blocking patterns got the blame for Colorado’s so-called thousand-year flood. So if you want to impress friends and relatives with your meteorological knowledge, you’re going to … Read More

What Iceland’s Volcanoes Can Teach Us about Climate

What Iceland’s Volcanoes Can Teach Us about Climate

It’s not quite a sharknado, but the possible impending eruption of a mile-high volcano under Iceland’s largest glacier represents a fascinating example of a real-life natural disaster combo—quite literally fire and ice. Seismologists have detected some 3,000 tremors in the vicinity of Bárðarbunga since Saturday, a sign that the mountain might just … Read More