Driven by heat and high winds, wildfires are 10 times worse so far this year than average

Wildfire season, or the period between spring and late fall when dry weather, heat, and ignition sources make wildfires more likely, is already off to a devastating start, with fires already burning through a combined 2 million acres across the country — ten times the average for mid-March. Record-high temperatures combined with low humidity and high wind have created...

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Trump’s Defense Secretary Cites Climate Change as National Security Challenge

Secretary of Defense James Mattis has asserted that climate change is real, and a threat to American interests abroad and the Pentagon’s assets everywhere, a position that appears at odds with the views of the president who appointed him and many in the administration in which he serves. In unpublished written testimony provided to the Senate Armed Services Committee...

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The Trump administration really doesn’t want this climate lawsuit to go to trial

The lawsuit, brought by a group of 21 children and young adults against the federal government, alleges that the United States government has violated the plaintiff’s constitutional right to a healthy environment. The lawsuit is based on the old legal doctrine of public trust, which holds that it is the government’s responsibility to preserve certain natural resources...

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Spring in the Smokies

Spring has sprung in the Smokies. Daffodils have popped up, trees are budding, and grass is sprouting green but that’s not necessarily a good thing. For a lot of the country spring has arrived about 3 weeks too soon, a growing result of climate change according to a recent study shared by the US Geological Survey. Looking at data spanning the past 112 years, the...

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The great Greenland meltdown

From a helicopter clattering over Greenland’s interior on a bright July day, the ice sheet below tells a tale of disintegration. Long, roughly parallel cracks score the surface, formed by water and pressure; impossibly blue lakes of meltwater fill depressions; and veiny networks of azure streams meander west, flowing to the edge of the sheet and eventually out to...

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Antarctica’s sea ice just hit the lowest level ever seen

Since it’s summertime there, sea ice cover is poised to drop even further. Sea ice can fluctuate from year to year, but over the past 20 years, Antarctica has lost 61,390 square miles of ice — a Florida-sized chunk. That’s Act I of the unfolding Antarctic drama. In Act II, the continent’s fourth-biggest ice shelf, Larsen C, sheds a Delaware-sized iceberg. It could break...

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China smashes solar energy records, as coal use and CO2 emissions fall once again

With millions of jobs up for grabs, China seizes clean tech leadership from United States. We are witnessing a historic passing of the baton of global leadership on technology and climate from the United States to China. The new U.S. administration has said it will abandon climate action, gut clean energy funding, and embrace coal and oil — the dirty energy sources of...

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Can Grasslands, The Ecosystem Underdog, Play an Underground Role in Climate Solutions?

Globally, grasslands are one of the most converted and least protected ecosystems. The rich soil of Earth’s grasslands plays an important role in feeding the world and because of this much of our grassland has been converted to row-crop agriculture. Loss of grasslands is a big problem for two reasons: The continual conversion of native grassland puts all grassland...

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Scientists sound the alarm on impending ‘major extinction event’

In June of 2016, a group of scientists reported that a tiny rodent found only on a single island off the coast of Australia had officially gone extinct — the first mammalian causality, according to the scientists, of man-made climate change. The tiny mammals might have been the first to go extinct due to man-made climate change, but it’s unlikely they’ll be the last. One...

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Is It Okay to Enjoy the Warm Winters of Climate Change?

This is not how February is supposed to feel. From D.C. to Denver, from Charlotte to Chicago, towns and cities across the United States have posted strings of record-breaking summery days in what is normally the final month of winter. Wednesday was only the third time since 1880 that Green Bay, Wisconsin, cracked 60 degrees Fahrenheit in February. Ice on the Great Lakes...

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NOAA-supported National Phenology Network data shows plants leafing out 10-20 days earlier than normal

The USA-National Phenology Network is tracking the start of the spring season across the country using models called the Spring Leaf and Bloom Indices. HOW DOES THIS YEAR STACK UP AGAINST THE RECENT PAST? We can evaluate whether spring is arriving early, late, or right on time this year at a location by comparing the day of year the Spring Leaf Index requirements were...

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NASA is defiantly communicating climate change science despite Trump’s doubts

If you peruse NASA’s social media feeds dedicated to climate change, you would have no clue a new administration has taken power that has expressed doubts about the reality or seriousness of the issue. Every day, NASA has dutifully posted updates on Twitter (@nasaclimate) pertaining to climate change science, including some that are in direct contradiction to statements...

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Antarctic sea ice shrinks to smallest ever extent

Sea ice around Antarctica has shrunk to the smallest annual extent on record after years of resisting a trend of manmade global warming, preliminary US satellite data has shown. Ice floating around the frozen continent usually melts to its smallest for the year towards the end of February, the southern hemisphere summer, before expanding again as the autumn chill sets...

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This is what climate change looks like

Two years ago this month, in a well-publicized and much lampooned political stunt, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) brought a snowball to the Senate floor to highlight the “unseasonable” cold and cast doubt on climate change. The Republican lawmaker would have been hard-pressed to find a snowball anywhere in his home state this past weekend. Oklahoma just endured a spell of...

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5 possible futures for the EPA under Trump

Donald Trump has long talked about reining in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is in charge of enforcing federal laws on air and water pollution. It’s a top priority for his supporters in the fossil-fuel industry. But there’s still a lot of uncertainty over what, exactly, this will look like. Trump himself has been all over the map on the agency’s future....

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The Trouble With Climate Change and Truths We Don’t Like

How does one reconcile the overwhelming evidence that the world’s atmosphere is being disrupted with the perception of the 30 percent of Americans who do not believe in climate change? Here’s a thought experiment: If there are 10 M&Ms in a bowl, and then you count the 10 M&Ms, you would have to “believe,” right? Many scientists aim to persuade climate skeptics...

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The Hermit Who Inadvertently Shaped Climate-Change Science

It was a year into his life alone in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains when Billy Barr began his recordings. It started as a curiosity, a task to busy his mind during the winter. By no means did he set out to make a vital database for climate change scientists. “Hell no!” he said. “I didn’t know anything about climate change at the time.” In 1973 Barr had dropped out of college...

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How the Parks of Tomorrow Will Be Different

When Congress passed the act creating the National Park Service in the summer of 1916, it instructed the agency to leave park scenery and wildlife “unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” The law did not define “unimpaired.” To Stephen Mather, the charismatic borax magnate who served as the first director of the Park Service, it meant simply “undeveloped.”...

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Exxon ordered to turn over 40 years of climate change research

ExxonMobil has lost a key battle in an investigation into whether the oil giant misled the public about the dangers of climate change. A Massachusetts judge ordered Exxon to hand over more than four decades of the company’s climate change research. The court rejected Exxon’s emergency motion to kill the demand from Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey,...

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Warming crushes global records again in 2016

2016 has crushed the record for hottest year, set way back in 2015, which itself smashed the previous record for hottest year that was set in 2014. Such a three-year run has never been seen in the 136 years of temperature records. It’s but the latest in an avalanche of evidence this year that global warming will either be as bad as climate scientists have been warning...

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The Arctic is showing stunning winter warmth, and these scientists think they know why

Last month, temperatures in the high Arctic spiked dramatically, some 36 degrees Fahrenheit above normal — a move that corresponded with record low levels of Arctic sea ice during a time of year when this ice is supposed to be expanding during the freezing polar night. And now this week we’re seeing another huge burst of Arctic warmth. A buoy close to the North Pole just...

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As Trump Signals Climate Action Pullback, Local Leaders Push Forward

The incoming Trump administration appears determined to reverse much of what President Obama has tried to achieve on climate and environment policy. In position papers, agency questionnaires and the résumés of incoming senior officials, the direction is clear — an about-face from eight years of policies designed to reduce climate-altering emissions and address the...

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Obama invokes 1953 law to indefinitely block drilling in Arctic and Atlantic oceans

President Barack Obama on Dec. 20, 2016 moved to indefinitely block drilling in vast swaths of U.S. waters. The president had been expected to take the action by invoking a provision in a 1953 law that governs offshore leases. The law allows a president to withdraw any currently unleased lands in the Outer Continental Shelf from future lease sales. There is no provision...

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Scientists confirm that warm ocean water is melting the biggest glacier in East Antarctica

Scientists at institutions in the United States and Australia published a set of unprecedented ocean observations near the largest glacier of the largest ice sheet in the world: Totten glacier, East Antarctica. And the result was a troubling confirmation of what scientists already feared — Totten is melting from below. The measurements, sampling ocean temperatures in...

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Solar capacity has increased 99% since last quarter

The U.S. solar industry just experienced a quarter of record-breaking growth, with 4,143 megawatts of solar capacity added between July and September. That’s a 99 percent increase over the previous quarter, and a 191 percent increase over the same time period last year. Those numbers come from a quarterly report issued by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)...

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Can Joshua trees survive global warming? Scientists have differing thoughts

It started with a 2011 study that indicated by the turn of the century there would be no more Joshua trees in the national park named after the iconic desert plant. And likely none in California. “I was shocked when the study came out. I wanted to look at the details and change the scale,” said Cameron Barrows, a research ecologist for the UC Riverside Center for...

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Priebus confirms that climate denial will be the official policy of Trump’s administration

White House chief of staff may be “the second most powerful job in government,” according to James A. Baker III, who had the job under both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. So it matters that the man Trump named his chief of staff, Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus, embraces Trump’s hard-core climate denial. Priebus appeared on the latest Fox News...

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Drought, Fire, and Forests

More than 6,300 firefighters from all over the U.S have been fighting forest fires that have now burned more than 119,000 acres in eight states across the Southeast, some of which have burned for over a month. The low humidity and lack of rain for more than three months in some areas has provided what Adam Rondeau from the inter-agency Southern Area Coordination Center...

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An astounding 102 million trees have now died in California

Forest managers have never seen anything like it. Across California, an astounding 102 million trees have died over the past six years from drought and disease — including 62 million trees in 2016 alone, the US Forest Service estimates. Once-mighty oaks and pines have faded into ghastly hues of brown and gray. The biggest worry is that these dead, dry forests will become...

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The North Pole is an insane 36 degrees warmer than normal as winter descends

Political people in the United States are watching the chaos in Washington in the moment. But some people in the science community are watching the chaos somewhere else — the Arctic. It’s polar night there now — the sun isn’t rising in much of the Arctic. That’s when the Arctic is supposed to get super-cold, when the sea ice that covers the vast Arctic Ocean is supposed...

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