State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Climate News Roundup: Week of 9/04

Hurricanes Underscore Insurers’ Lack of Climate Change Readiness,, Sept 6

In a press conference to announce the publication of a new report, Sharlene Leurig, senior manager of the insurance program at Ceres and author of the report, stated, “2011 has been a painful and important reminder that changing climate will inflict damage across the U.S. Even before Hurricane Irene, insured losses in the U.S. this year were 40 percent higher than in the entire year of 2010.” The report, entitled “Climate Risk Disclosure by Insurers: Evaluating Insurer Responses to the NAIC Climate Disclosure Survey,” studies the preparedness of the insurance industry for the impacts of climate change. Its finding, Leurig said, “That insurers are concerned about climate risk but don’t understand what to do about it, underscores the need for sustained engagement by regulators and shareholders.”

Clouds do not Cause Climate Change: Study, International Business Times, Sept 8

A study published this week in Geophysical Research Letters disproves recent claims that clouds are the root cause of climate change. Based on a 10-year study of El Nino and La Nina cycles, Andrew Dessler, atmospheric sciences professor at the Texas A&M University, says clouds act primarily as a feedback mechanism that amplifies warming from human activity.

HIPPO reveals climate surprise, Science News, Sept 8

A major pollution-mapping program that ends September 9 has turned up startling trends in climate-warming gases and soot. The data it collected over the past five years from a National Science Foundation aircraft show the tropics periodically belch huge plumes of nitrous oxide — a potent greenhouse gas — into the upper atmosphere. Arctic measurements show that the recent record summer retreats of ice cover have allowed seas there to exhale unexpected amounts of methane, another potent greenhouse gas. Then there’s soot. Parts of the supposedly pristine Arctic skies host dense clouds of these black carbon particles.

800,000 years of Greenland’s abrupt climate variability,, Sept 8

An international team of scientists, led by Dr Stephen Barker of Cardiff University, has produced a prediction of what climate records from Greenland might look like over the last 800,000 years. Drill cores taken from Greenland’s vast ice sheets provided the first clue that Earth’s climate is capable of very rapid transitions and have led to vigorous scientific investigation into the possible causes of abrupt climate change. By drilling cores in the ice scientists have reconstructed an incredible record of past climates. Until now such temperature records from Greenland have covered only the last 100,000 years or so.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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