Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Global warming behind record 2005 storms: experts

MONTEREY, California (Reuters) - The record Atlantic hurricane season last year can be attributed to global warming, several top experts, including a leading U.S. government storm researcher, said on Monday.

"The hurricanes we are seeing are indeed a direct result of climate change and it's no longer something we'll see in the future, it's happening now," said Greg Holland, a division director at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

Holland told a packed hall at the American Meteorological Society's 27th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology that the wind and warmer water conditions that fuel storms that form in the Caribbean are "increasingly due to greenhouse gases. There seems to be no other conclusion you can logically draw."

His conclusion will be debated throughout the week-long conference, as other researchers present opposing papers that say changing wind and temperature conditions in the tropics are due to natural events, not the accumulation of carbon dioxide emissions clouding the Earth.

Canada's polar bears will be extinct within 25 years, scientist warns

OTTAWA (CP) - Polar bears will be extinct within 25 years as global warming shrinks the ice cover they depend on for feeding and giving birth, says a renowned Australian scientist.

The Arctic ice cap is shrinking by eight per cent a year and polar bears are already showing signs of severe stress, says Tim Flannery, one of Australia's best-known scientists and author of the current best-seller The Weather Makers.

In the past, polar bears typically gave birth to triplets, but now they usually have just one cub, he said. And the weaning time has risen to 18 months from 12, while the average weight has declined 15 per cent.

"Polar bears are going to go with the ice cap. They're not going to actually last that long," Flannery told a news conference Friday.

Citing other warning signs, he said British Columbia's Fraser River has been fatally warm to salmon for five of the last 13 years, while West Coast forests are being decimated by an infestation of pine beetles able to survive milder winters.

"These are unheralded signs of change. They simply haven't been seen in the past. They persuade me and the vast majority of my colleagues that the debate on climate change is well and truly over. The science is solid and the effects are there for everyone to see."

Monday, April 24, 2006

Perfect cyclone' bears down on Australian city

SYDNEY (AFP) - A hugely destructive cyclone described as a "perfect" storm is bearing down on the isolated northern Australian city of Darwin, devastated by a killer cyclone in 1974.

Packing winds of up to 350 kilometres (218 miles) an hour, Tropical Cyclone Monica was moving relentlessly towards Darwin as it turned towards the coast from the Arafura Sea, the government's weather bureau said.

"It's probably the best developed cyclone I have seen in many, many years," said David Alexander, a senior forecaster at the Bureau of Meteorology.

"It's got a perfect circular eye, it's right at the top of a category five range, so it's a very, very severe cyclone."

Category five is the highest and most dangerous ranking for a tropical cyclone. The 1974 storm which killed 71 people and left 20,000 homeless in Darwin, Cyclone Tracy, was a category four storm.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Tornadoes Sweep Through Tennessee, Kill 10

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

How global warming is effecting the wild kingdom.

The planet is warming, humans are mostly to blame and plants and animals are going to dramatic lengths to cope. That's the consensus of a number of recent studies that used wildlife to gauge the extent of global warming and its effects.

While the topic of climate change is contentious -- including whether the planet is actually heating up -- a growing number of documented shifts in traits and behaviors in the wild kingdom is leading many scientists to conclude the world is changing in unnatural ways.

Among the changes [see full list]:

  • Marmots end their hibernations about three weeks earlier now compared to 30 years ago.
  • Polar bears today are thinner and less healthy than those of 20 years ago.
  • Many fish species are moving northward in search of cooler waters.
  • A fruitfly gene normally associated with hot, dry conditions has spread to populations living in traditionally cooler southern regions.

While we argue ...

Over the past century, Earth's average temperature has risen by about 1 degree Fahrenheit and many scientists believe greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide emissions from human activities are to blame. Left unattended, they warn, temperatures may rise by an additional 2-10 degrees by the end of the century. In the leading computer models, it follows that polar ice will melt and seas would rise drastically, threatening coastal communities around the globe.

Mating March of the Penguin Slows Down

Penguins and other Antarctic seabirds are nesting and laying their eggs later than they did 50 years ago, a response, scientists say, to global climate change.

While the effects of climate change on animal behavior have been well documented in the Northern Hemisphere, the effects are less well known south of the equator. In North America and Europe, cold-weather animals are generally shifting northward as the Arctic warms and the ice cap shrinks.

A new study by two scientists at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in France compiled data for Antarctic seabird nesting from 1950 to 2004. It reveals that nine species of birds are, on average, arriving nine days later to nest. The birds are also laying their eggs two days later.