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Brenda Ekwurzel

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About the author: Brenda Ekwurzel is a senior climate scientist and assistant director of climate research and analysis at UCS. She has expertise on many aspects of climate variability including Arctic Ocean and sea ice, wildfires, groundwater, and coastal erosion. She holds a Ph.D. in isotope geochemistry from Columbia University (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory). See Brenda's full bio.

Severe Texas Drought Exposed in “Years of Living Dangerously”

Don Cheadle talks with a displaced meat-packing plant worker, Nelly Montez, about the punishing multi-year drought in Texas that drastically reduced the cattle herd in the first episode of Years of Living Dangerously, which aired April 13 and can be viewed online. A USDA spreadsheet on cattle losses, or a map of the most severe period during the recent drought in Texas, do not do justice in conveying the stories of people demonstrating courage in the face of mighty external forces. This episode has several surprising stories that I will not soon forget.

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Early Wildfire Season in New Mexico Starts as U.S. Considers New Funding Sources to Fight Extreme Wildfires

I experienced very dry conditions in the mountains of northern New Mexico a few weeks back. I spoke with someone who travels to Taos nearly every winter and this was the least snow he could remember. The fire risk sign said “low” in the surrounding forests, but if more snow did not come soon I suspected those signs would start nudging to the yellow and red colors that warn of fire risk. Unfortunately, fires have already erupted in New Mexico this February. Some officials say that if 2014 continues to be the sixth year in a row with drier-than-average conditions on New Mexico’s Rio Grande, this would be the longest dry stretch since before the Rio Grande river gauges existed. Read More

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The Slow Burn Continues: 2013 Ranks in the Top 10 Warmest Years on Record

Even as I sit in the northern hemisphere winter writing this, I am not surprised that 2013 ranked within the top 10 hottest over the 134-year record maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). According to NOAA, 9 of the top 10 years occurred this century. Read More

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How High Will Temperatures Rise in My Lifetime?

Do you want to know how much hotter the world has become since you were born? Or how much hotter it will get over the rest of your life?  Now you can, thanks to a new nifty interactive graphic by Duncan Clark. Read More

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Hot Topics for IPCC Release: Surface Temperature “Speed Bump” and the Latest on Extreme Events

Residents in Colorado are recovering from extremely rare precipitation the second week of September that was ten times greater than the average precipitation for this time of year. On September 19, Usagi reached “Super-typhoon” status with wind gusts over 160 miles per hour (over 71 meters per second). Better predictions about these events in real time are saving lives. At the same time, scientists are studying these events with more urgency so even more lives can potentially be saved.  What does the latest science tell us about these rare events? And what about the recent trend in global average surface air temperature that has been in the news of late?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is poised to release the latest climate assessment “summary for policymakers” in Stockholm, Sweden, when they meet September 23 – 26, where these hot topics will be addressed. Read More

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Climate Reality Must Win Out Over Political Attacks on Science

This summer’s heat has been brutal. A surprisingly early June heat wave broke records in the Western United States. The heat sent people to emergency rooms and stoked wildfires that destroyed homes and lives. Europe and Asia have suffered recent dangerous heat waves, too.  Wildfire season in the U.S. West—fueled by extreme heat and water stress—is nearly two months longer than in the 1970s. Read More

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What Is All the Fuss Over the Last Decade of Global Average Temperature?

There’s been a flurry of magazine articles, a Congressional opinion piece in a national newspaper, and blogs disparaging climate models, all due to global average temperature not following a steady upward trend every step of the way. What’s remarkable is the sense these pieces convey that if there is a wiggle or pause over a decade in the clear long-term upward trend over the last century, then we should “throw out the baby with the bathwater.” Read More

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Evidence to Date Does Not Show Clear Link Between Tornadoes and Climate Change

In the wake of extreme weather events, people often ask scientists if they can be linked to climate change. Naturally, questions are being asked about tornadoes following the tragic losses suffered in the region of Moore, Oklahoma on May 20, 2013 after an EF5 Tornado. Read More

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10 Places President Obama Should Visit to See Climate Change In Action

In November, President Obama suggested that we needed a wide-ranging national discussion about climate change. But where to have that conversation? There are so many stories from communities that are on the front lines of climate change, grappling with ways to cope and looking for options. Here are ten places especially deserving of a visit from the President because they are dealing with consequences of climate change that affect many other parts of the country, indeed the world. Read More

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Grappling with Sea Level Rise Before and After Hurricane Sandy: Film “Shored Up” Leaves No Sand Grain Unturned

I have the opportunity to participate in a work-in-progress screening of the new film “Shored Up” with Ben Kalina, Director and Producer, as part of the 2013 Filmfest DC. The film leaves no sand grain unturned; every perspective is brought together to capture wisdom and ironic lessons as New Jersey and North Carolina grapple with accelerating sea level rise before and after Hurricane Sandy. It is a gripping tale about human nature and how we try to prevail over the tremendous forces of nature that can be episodic and terrifying at times, separated by long periods of seeming tranquility. The scenes shot during and after Hurricane Sandy remind us of that reality in a visceral way.

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