global warming

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

It may be tempting to attribute current weather trends like the record warmth and early rains on climate change caused by humans. 

But KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says a newly-published paper should give us pause. It shows that the global warming of approximately 1 degree Celsius on the U.S. West Coast since 1900 appears more likely to be the result of natural variations than of human inputs of greenhouse gases.

Laura Rauch / AP Photo

Despite widespread concern about global warming, rising air temperatures have actually slowed down dramatically over the past 15 years. This so-called “hiatus” has posed a big puzzle for climate scientists.

Researchers at the University of Washington looked deep into the oceans for answers, and found that despite the surficial evidence, climate change has not stopped. 

Evan Vucci / AP Photo

U.S. senators pulled an all-nighter Monday night to call attention to climate change. Democrats Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Barbara Boxer of California led the effort to shine light on the need for more curbs on carbon emissions.

Sen. Maria Cantwell and Sen. Patty Murray were both present for the event. Cantwell took the floor early Tuesday morning following more than 12 hours of testimony. She said the issue isn’t about the future; it’s about negative effects that industries here are already seeing.

Malcolm Ritter / AP Photo

Global warming behind the recent polar vortex? Nonsense, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“There’s really no basis for this,” said Mass, adding there's a lot of misguided hype on both sides of the issue. 

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday laid out how he'd like the state to combat global warming pollution, including eliminating any electricity generated by coal and putting a statewide cap on greenhouse gas emissions. Legislative Republicans immediately raised concerns.

Back in 2008, the Washington Legislature set ambitious goals for reducing the state's carbon footprint. But they're just goals without enforcement mechanisms. Subsequently, a pact between 11 western states and provinces to put a price on greenhouse gas emissions fell apart. 

Update: The original version of this story incorrectly summarized this study as showing populations to be displaced by 2100 if current trends continue. Author Ben Strauss sent the following correction: "by 2100, we would most likely be *locked in* to such an outcome in a more distant future, time unspecified, but essentially inevitable." We have updated the story accordingly. 

The warming climate is causing sea levels to rise as oceans expand, and, combined with more frequent storms, the effects could be devastating.

A new map shows more than 1,400 towns in the U.S., 30 in Washington state, where half the population will be displaced  if current trends continue through the end of this century.

Cecilia Bitz photo

Arctic sea ice is melting at record rates, and the loss of that ice could drive significant degradation of marine and terrestrial ecosystems, according to a researcher at the University of Washington. The researcher, Cecilia Bitz, is part of an international team of scientists whose findings are published this week in the journal, Science

PNNL scientist Pete McGrail describes CO2 injection underway behind him on the grounds of the Boise Inc. paper mill in Wallula, Wash. / Tom Banse

This week, technicians in southeast Washington are moving forward with a field test to show how carbon dioxide could be injected and trapped deep underground.

Led by the Pacific Northwest National Lab, the experiment involves the injection of 50 tanker-truck loads of carbon dioxide, and will take about four weeks. Then comes about a year and a half of monitoring to see if the global warming gas stays locked away forever beneath ancient lava flows. 

leff / Flickr

Having your groceries delivered might seem like a self-indulgent luxury.

But researchers at the University of Washington have found that, most of the time, you can feel good about doing something for the environment when you order your groceries online and have them delivered instead of making a trip to the store.

“We like to call it 'the bus for groceries,'” said Anne Goodchild, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at UW.

A bill put forward by Gov. Jay Inslee directing the state to figure out how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has passed both houses of the Legislature.

The passage is a big step forward for the environmental lobby and the governor, who has championed clean energy. But there is still a lot of pushback in Olympia.

Courtesy Skanska USA

Seattle is leading the way in environmentally-sound building design. Sweden’s international construction firm Skanska has broken ground on a building in Fremont that promises to bring a whole new level of green to the city. 

Bellamy Pailthorp photo / KPLU News

It’s data that’s been collected and analyzed for several years now.

But predictions on how high tides and extreme storm events might combine to cause flooding in Seattle are seeming less and less like science fiction.

The City has unveiled a new map, showing huge areas that are much more likely to end up waterlogged during storms. And it says the estimates are no longer considered extreme. 

Bjørn Giesenbauer photo / Flickr

Imagine a future in which major areas of Seattle’s waterfront are flooded because of rising tides.

Businesses that front on Elliot Bay, including the famous Edgewater Hotel, or parks such as Myrtle Edwards or Golden Gardens, would have to adjust to storm surges more than six feet higher than we’re used to.

According to a new federal report on climate change, that future is just a few decades away. 

A new peer-reviewed study by climate scientists finds the rise in sea level during the past two decades has been 60 percent faster than predictions from the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The scientists also found that IPCC's estimates for warming temperatures was just right.

NBC News explains:

One of the northwest’s most controversial birds is still ruffling feathers. The elusive spotted owl was at the heart of the timber wars here in the 1990s. Some scientists are criticizing the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s plan to log some of the bird’s habitat.

Subhankar Banerjee / AP

JUNEAU, Alaska – An Alaska scientist whose observations of drowned polar bears helped galvanize the global warming movement has been reprimanded for improper release of government documents.

An Interior Department official says emails released by Charles Monnett were cited by a federal appeals court in decisions to vacate approval of an oil company's Arctic exploration plan.

Arctic sea ice is in sharp decline this year: Last week, scientists announced that it hit the lowest point ever measured, shattering the previous record.

But it turns out that's not the most dramatic change in the Arctic. A study by Canadian researchers finds that springtime snow is melting away even faster than Arctic ice. That also has profound implications for the Earth's climate.

Arctic sea ice has melted dramatically this summer, smashing the previous record. The Arctic has warmed dramatically compared with the rest of the planet, and scientists say that's what's driving this loss of ice.

To be sure, ice on the Arctic Ocean always melts in the summer. Historically, about half of it is gone by mid-September. But this year, three-fourths of the ice has melted away, setting a dramatic new benchmark.

Today in Washington, D.C. we got our first taste of fall. It was crisp and in the low 60s. And just as we slide into the last days of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration published its summer 2012 recap.

It's exactly what you were expecting: It was really hot. In fact, 2012 was the third hottest on record.

NOAA reports:

John McNeill, via UW News

By Todd Bishop of Geekwire

A group of scientists, including a University of Washington atmospheric physicist, wants to test the theory that pumping sea salt into the sky over the ocean would combat global warming by creating clouds that reflect more sunlight back into space.

Last week there were the pictures of an iceberg twice the size of Manhattan breaking off Greenland's Petermann Glacier.

Now there are NASA images showing that in four days earlier this month, "Greenland's surface ice cover melted over a larger area than at any time in more than 30 years of satellite observations."

A huge iceberg that's about twice the size of Manhattan has broken off the Petermann Glacier in Greenland — the same sheet of ice that just two years ago "calved" another massive berg.

Photo by / Flickr

Rising sea levels in the Puget Sound region may prove costly to taxpayers. A city like Olympia could have to re-build its sewer system. Other cities may find waterfront roads washed out.

The culprit is global warming. Warmer water expands, bringing sea levels higher. And glacial ice that is above water now is expected to chunk off and fall into oceans, causing additional sea level rise.

Michael Free Jazz Faster / Flickr

The threats to our well-being (well beyond climate change now) are quite real. The goals of Rio+20 – to arrive at consensus on what’s needed to avoid continuing this massive fouling of our nest – are perhaps more important to our future than any other meeting we could hope to hold.

So you’d think there would be some urgency to achieve something. Don’t hold your breath.

Read more on Humanosphere.

New analysis (pdf) of climate data finds that since 1912, the United States has warmed 1.3 degrees. But that warming is concentrated in certain states, some of which have "warmed 60 times faster than the 10 slowest-warming states."

All of that is according to Climate Central, a research and journalism non-profit that seeks to inform the public about climate and energy. The center looked at data from the National Climatic Data Center's U.S. Historical Climatology Network.

joiseyshowaa / flickr

Yet another weekend that beats the work-week, when it comes to sunshine--that's the forecast from KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, of the University of Washington.

But, it won't exactly be warm and sunny.

Claudia Wedell / Flickr

Scientists are blaming slightly higher levels of carbon dioxide in Pacific Ocean waters caused by global warming for the failure of oyster larvae to survive in an Oregon hatchery.

Thousands of homes in Washington and Oregon could be inundated by rising seas caused by global warming over the next century, according to research by the non-profit Climate Central and the University of Arizona.

By calculating how many Americans live less than 1 meter above the high tide line, the researchers found 10,500 homes in Washington and 7000 in Oregon that would be flooded by rising seas.

The biggest concentrations of vulnerable homes are in Seattle, and Warrenton and Seaside, Ore.

A King County Superior Court judge is set to hear arguments this afternoon, in a case brought by kids about climate change.  The young plaintiffs, who filed complaints against the Governor and several state agencies last May, are seeking an effective climate recovery plan from government.  The State has filed a motion to dismiss the case. 

Today’s hearing is part of an international youth campaign launched by the iMatter Trust.  Young people have filed legal actions across the nation as well as a federal lawsuit to compel governments to protect and restore the atmosphere.  According to the organization’s website, a federal hearing has not been set.

Rachael McDonald / KLCC

A Lane County Circuit Court Judge heard from attorneys today (Monday) in a lawsuit against the state of Oregon calling for more action to fight climate change. A South Eugene High School sophomore is one of the plaintiffs in the case.

15-year old Kelsey Juliana started her environmental activism early. She's organized rallies to raise public awareness. Now she's in the courtroom. Juliana says it's a matter of survival.