Earth ChangesS


Population of nearly extinct frogs found in California

© Adam Backlin, U.S. Geological SurveyUSGS scientists found this adult mountain yellow-legged frog on June 10 in Tahquitz Creek, a rediscovered population of the endangered frog in the San Jacinto Wilderness, San Bernardino National Forest, California.
For the first time in nearly 50 years, a population of a nearly extinct frog has been rediscovered in the San Bernardino National Forest's San Jacinto Wilderness. Biologists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) assessing suitability of sites to re-establish frogs and scientists from the San Diego Natural History Museum retracing a 1908 natural history expedition both rediscovered the rare mountain yellow-legged frog in the San Jacinto Wilderness near Idyllwild, Calif.

This re-discovery - along with the San Diego Zoo's first successful breeding of the frog in captivity, and successful efforts by California Department of Fish and Game to restore frog habitat - renews hope of survival for this Southern California amphibian.

Globally, amphibians are on the decline because of habitat loss, effects of climate change and the spread of a deadly pathogen called the chytrid fungus. The mountain yellow-legged frog is one of three frogs or toads on the federal Endangered Species List in Southern California. Prior to this recent discovery, USGS researchers had estimated there were about 122 adult mountain yellow-legged frogs in the wild.


New York City may miss 90°F for second time in history

NYC Central Park
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More from the "weather is not climate" department. While our economy cools, so do apparently our cities. Cincinnati has a similar problem, and does Traverse City, and the cool weather doesn't "play in Peoria".

Taken by themselves it doesn't mean much, but it is interesting.


US: A flood of cold weather and climate data

First of all, I want to thank the hundreds of readers coming here every week! Because of you, the writers for the Examiner can continue their work, and the more you visit, the more we will write for your enjoyment and information.

Secondly, as a lifelong weather lover, my goals have always been to take the complex science of meteorology and make it easier to understand for the general public. That's what I did for 23 years in television and continue to do on MAX FM radio in Cincinnati (97.7 and 99.5 FM), which you can listen to online anywhere. I'll be doing a weekly segment on MAX FM highlighting the current research and observations involving weather and climate so you can better understand where we're heading. Our first installment, if all goes well (it's "live"), is Friday morning at 9:40 am (eastern time) and we'll be doing that every Friday at 9:40 am, for 20 you'll get some good information. We'll even be taking a few phone calls if you have questions.

You won't see me doing detailed research because that's not my specialty, nor do I have the time to do the thorough job that is done by paid researchers. It's their job, and many do it well, although we're always looking at who is paying for the research to ascertain potential biases. What I like to do, and apparently you like to read, is bring the big news and research stories together here and add my own experience and expertise in a plain-language story that everyone from children to the elderly can understand.

Control Panel

Is the Climate Science Debate Over? No, It's Just Getting Very, Very Interesting

How many times have you been told that the debate on the science of climate change is "over"? Probably almost as many times as Al Gore has traveled in private jets and limousines to urge audiences to repent of their fuelish ways.

Although tirelessly intoned by politicians, major media, advocacy groups, academics, and even some Kyoto critics, the "debate is over" mantra is just plain false. The core issues of climate-change attribution, climate sensitivity, and even anthropogenic detection remain very much in play.


The Summer of '09: What global warming?

The family and I were supposed to go on vacation in northern Saskatchewan in mid-June. A few days before we were to fly out we received a phone call from the camp's owner who said we'd have to postpone the trip. The lake was covered by four feet of ice!

So, we went there a couple of weeks back. Not surprisingly, the lake still had mammoth sheets of ice floating on it on July 11. Mind you, this was not the tundra. It's a lake that's normally ice-free by the end of May.

That delay to the start to the summer is reminiscent of what has happened on the home front. After a lengthy, very cold winter, most Western New Yorkers were suffering from cabin fever and looking forward to getting outside and enjoying those oh-so-few months of sun and warmth. For many, 2009 has been a real letdown. Our summer has often seemed nonexistent and just a run-off of our spring. By any standard it has been unusually cool with nippy nights and temperate days.

Personally, you won't hear me complaining about 50-degree sleeping weather or daytime highs around 70, but most folks don't dig that. Professionally, though, I don't either; it's hurting my business. Those who find it a little too frigid haven't opened their swimming pools or invested in a hot tub, which in turn has prevented Confer Plastics from selling the products they need to enter those watery retreats from the summer heat. Day-in and day-out we hear from pool and spa professionals in the Northeast and Midwest that this has been one of the coldest summers in recent memory. Because of that, our pool/spa-related sales are down about 7 percent versus last year.


Debunking the Claims Heat Waves are Becoming More Common

Although there has been some high heat in the southern Plains and most recently the southwest, for many areas of the lower 48 states, unless August turns around big time, it may be remembered as "a year without a summer." After some early heat with 92F in April, Central Park peaked at 86F in May, just 84F in June and so far in July 86F.

June was below normal in the southwest and all across the northern tier. July for the first three weeks was exceptionally cold, in many places ranking among the top 5 coldest. More seasonable temperatures the last week of the month (especially in the east) will diminish the anomalies a little but the month will end up cold.
US mean temp 7/2009
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Amazon Review: Why We Disagree About Climate Change: Understanding Controversy, Inaction and Opportunity

Mike Hulme book
© unknownWhy We Disagree About Climate Change: Understanding, Controversy, Inaction And Opportunity

Having participated in the national and international debate over climate change for more than 15 years, I eagerly bought and read this book in the hope that it would examine the ideas and motives of both sides in the global warming debate. But that is not what this book is about.

The author, Mike Hulme, is a professor of climate change at the University of East Anglia, in the UK. He helped write the influential reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and many other government agencies that are commonly cited by alarmists in the debate. He has been one of the most prominent scientists declaring that "the debate is over" and that man-made global warming will be a catastrophe.

In this book, Hulme (photo below) comes clean about the uncertain state of scientific knowledge about global warming, something alarmists almost never admit in public. For example, he writes, "the three questions examined above - What is causing climate change? By how much is warming likely to accelerate? What level of warming is dangerous? - represent just three of a number of contested or uncertain areas of knowledge about climate change." (p. 75)
Mike Hulme
© unknown


Hubris in climate change

Hubris in global climate science scares me. As a scientist, I often carry a British coin that bears Isaac Newton's statement "standing on the shoulders of giants" as a reminder of humility. I try to remember that most of what I know and understand comes from the work of others before me and a larger reservoir of existing knowledge. Considering this, and hoping knowledge leads to wisdom, it becomes very important to seek wisdom in the climate-change discussion.

Consider geology. From the recent G8 discussions, it is apparent that we are intent, as humans, to mitigate global climate change. During a recent climate-change forum, I heard a distinguished International Panel on Climate Change scientist state that "113 distinguished scientists" agreed that the earth is warming. This statement was made, rather emphatically, to a room filled with hundreds of geologists who did not react at all. The fact is that geoscientists worldwide, and possibly many archaeologists, would agree.


Bush Fires Blaze Around Southern Europe

Bush fires raged across swathes of southern Europe Friday, with a prolonged spell of hot weather turning woodland around the Mediterranean coastline tinder dry. Hundreds of fires in Spain, France, Italy and Greece have killed at least seven people this week, destroying thousands of hectares of forest and gutting dozens of homes.

Spain has been the worst hit and authorities said Friday thousands of villagers have had to be evacuated to escape wildfires that have killed five firefighters. Thousands of police and soldiers had been drafted in to help combat seven serious fires in the south and east of Spain.


Indonesia: Drought severely hits rice paddies

Months before another El Ni*o, expected to deepen drought around the country, hundreds of rice paddies have already produced failed harvests. Data from the Agriculture Ministry showed that 26,388 hectares of rice paddies suffered from drought in the April to June period due to water shortages.

"However, the figure is still far lower than it was in the 2003 to 2007 period when an average of 82,472 hectares of rice paddies suffered from drought each year," Ati Wasiati, director for the protection of food crops at the Agriculture Ministry told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

She remained optimistic about the target to plant rice in 5 million hectares up until September despite the expected impacts of the El Ni*o phenomenon.