November 21, 2011

The Future of Grapes

Filed under: Adaptation, Plants

A team of six scientists from Portugal began their article noting “According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the concentration of carbon dioxide [CO2] in the atmosphere has been increasing since pre-industrial times and is expected to exceed 550 ppm by the middle of the twenty-first century as a direct result of human activities, primarily fossil fuel burning, cement production and modified land-use patterns. More frequent extreme weather is therefore predicted by most models, along with a significant increase of the summer air temperature and water stress, namely for regions with a Mediterranean-type environment. Expected changes in the climate of viticultural regions may alter significantly both the spectrum and the distribution of grape varieties currently used. In particular, shifts in precipitation patterns will affect most European regions, with increased risk of drought and, given this scenario, the consequences would be most dramatic for the Iberian Peninsula”.

We could and have addressed their concerns about climate change many times, but we found ourselves interested in their focus on how elevated CO2 concentrations will impact grapes growing in the Douro Region of Portugal. Moutinho-Pereira et al. state “Red wine produced in Demarcated Douro Region (Oporto wine region) is one of the most important products for the Portuguese economy.”


November 16, 2011

Atlantic Hurricanes: Fewer, Worse…Less Menacing?

Filed under: Climate Extremes, Hurricanes

Judging by the number of posts to date in each of our “Categories” (listed in the right-hand sidebar), it seems that, as far as individual categories go, we’ve treated you to more articles on “Hurricanes” than on anything else besides “Climate Politics”—and that’s saying a lot! And while we’ve spent a lot of time talking about the observational record of hurricanes and what it reveals (namely how weak the relationship is between global warming and hurricane characteristics), as well as projections as to what the future may hold in store for hurricane frequency (declines) and intensity (slight increases), we’ve haven’t really talked much about potential changes to the preferred hurricane tracks that may evolve under “global warming.” So, here, we’ll set out to change that.

To do so, we’ll highlight a couple of new articles by scientists at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (a less-visible part of the National Hurricane Center where an awful lot of hurricane research takes place) that suggests that global warming may alter the environment in the Atlantic Ocean basin in such a way as to steer hurricanes away from the U.S. coastline. So while they may get stronger, they would become less of a threat to our coastal communities.


November 8, 2011

A new, lower estimate of climate sensitivity

Filed under: Climate Forcings

There is word circulating that a paper soon to appear in Science magazine concludes that the climate sensitivity—how much the earth’s average temperature will rise as a result of a doubling of the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide—likely (that is, with a 66% probability) lies in the range 1.7°C to 2.6°C, with a median value of 2.3°C. This is a sizeable contraction and reduction from the estimates of the climate sensitivity given by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), in which the likely range is given as 2.0°C to 4.5°C, with a best estimate of 3.0°C.


Powered by WordPress