Tag Archives: El Nino

In 2015, Hot, Wet and Opinionated

Map: NOAA

(First published Oct. 23, 2015, on State of the Planet.)

Three interesting pieces of news about climate change, in case you missed them:

For starters, 2015 is shaping up to be the warmest year on record since 1880, according to new data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Potential sea level rise in Guilford, CT. Source: Climate Central

Second, if you’re wondering about the longer-term impacts of climate change: Climate Central has produced a startling new, interactive graphic that shows the potential effects of sea level rise, should the world continue to grow warmer, melting more and more of the world’s ice sheets and glaciers. From a general view of the impacts on the United States, you can drill down into the graphic and see what’s likely to happen in your nearest coastal community. You can adjust the scene to see what might happen under various scenarios, should we actually succeed in cutting back carbon emissions.

Translation? My former hometown’s downtown would be pretty much under water, along with a substantial stretch of the Amtrak line running up through coastal Connecticut, by the end of the century. Posted Oct. 14, you can check it out here—just in case you want to plan ahead.

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Tree Rings Open Door to El Niño’s Past

First published on the Earth Institute website on May 26, 2011.

Bristlecone trees, such as this over 1,000-year-old tree in the Great Basin National Park, contributed to the tree ring record on El Niño. Photo courtesy Gisela Speidel, IPRC

Bristlecone trees, such as this over 1,000-year-old tree in the Great Basin National Park, contributed to the tree ring record on El Niño. Photo courtesy Gisela Speidel, IPRC

El Niño and La Niña, the periodic shifts in Pacific Ocean temperatures, affect weather around the globe, and many scientists have speculated that a warming planet will make those fluctuations more volatile, bringing more intense drought or extreme rainfall to various regions.

Now, scientists have used tree-ring data from the American Southwest to reconstruct a 1,100-year history of the cycle that backs up that assertion. The researchers found a 50-90-year cycle of waxing and waning El Niño intensity that shows that, when the earth warms, the climate acts up.

“Our work revealed that the towering trees on the mountain slopes of the U.S. Southwest and the colorful corals in the tropical Pacific both listen to the music of El Niño, which shows its signature in their yearly growth rings,” explains Jinbao Li, the paper’s lead author and a former PhD student at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

The research, published May 6 in Nature Climate Change, will improve scientists’ ability to predict future climate and the effects of global warming, the scientists say.

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