The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.
New research confirms that the land under the Chesapeake Bay is sinking rapidly and projects that Washington, D.C., could drop by six or more inches in the next century–adding to the problems of sea-level rise. This falling land will exacerbate the flooding that the nation’s capital faces from rising ocean waters due to a warming climate and melting ice sheets–accelerating the threat to the region’s monuments, roads, wildlife refuges, and military installations.
Scientists at the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science investigating the increasing risk of ‘compound flooding’ for major U.S. cities have found that flooding risk is greatest for cities along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts when strong storm surge and high rainfall amounts occur together. While rising sea levels are the main driver for increasing flood risk, storm surges caused by weather patterns that favor high precipitation exacerbates flood potential.
The world’s deserts may be storing some of the climate-changing carbon dioxide emitted by human activities, a new study suggests. Massive aquifers underneath deserts could hold more carbon than all the plants on land, according to the new research. Humans add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere through fossil fuel combustion and deforestation. About 40 percent of this carbon stays in the atmosphere and roughly 30 percent enters the ocean, according to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. Scientists thought the remaining carbon was taken up by plants on land, but measurements show plants don’t absorb all of the leftover carbon. Scientists have been searching for a place on land where the additional carbon is being stored–the so-called “missing carbon sink.”
In the virtual worlds of climate modeling, forests and other vegetation are assumed to bounce back quickly from extreme drought. But that assumption is far off the mark, according to a new study of drought impacts at forest sites worldwide. Living trees took an average of two to four years to recover and resume normal growth rates after droughts ended, researchers report today in the journal Science. “This really matters because in the future droughts are expected to increase in frequency and severity due to climate change,” says lead author William R.L. Anderegg, an assistant professor of biology at the University of Utah. “Some forests could be in a race to recover before the next drought strikes.”
Widespread drought-sensitive butterfly population extinctions could occur in the UK as early as 2050 according to a new study published today in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change. However, the authors conclude that substantial greenhouse gas emission reductions combined with better management of landscapes, in particular reducing habitat fragmentation, will greatly improve the chances of drought-sensitive butterflies flying until at least 2100.
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