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Melanie Fitzpatrick

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About the author: Melanie Fitzpatrick, a climate scientist with the UCS Climate and Energy Program, is an expert on local and global impacts of climate change. She holds a Ph.D. in Geophysics from the University of Washington, specializing in the role of sea ice and clouds in Antarctica. See Melanie's full bio.

Arctic Sea Ice Thins as Old Thick Ice Rapidly Disappears

Last week brought news of yet another alarming season for sea ice in the Arctic. The National Snow and Ice Data Center announced the Arctic sea ice coverage for winter was the fifth lowest maximum on record. The extent of ice was more than 280,000 square miles below the 30-year average for 1981-2010. That’s an area just bigger than the size of Texas missing. Read More

Categories: Global Warming  

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The New 400ppm World: CO2 Measurements at Mauna Loa Continue to Climb

The level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached 400 parts per million for the first time in human history at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii in May last year. That same level has been reached again in the last few days. This year we’ve hit the target in March, two months earlier, and it will stay above 400ppm for longer. At that rate, it will only be a handful of years until we are living in an atmosphere permanently above 400 ppm. While 400 ppm is a somewhat arbitrary marker, humans did not exist the last time atmospheric CO2 was at that level. Read More

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Four Climate Change Facts To Keep the Senate Up All Night

Tonight more than two dozen Members of Congress from the Senate Climate Action Task Force will be holding the Senate floor to discuss global warming. A number of them are expected to participate throughout the night. Here are some startling climate facts that keep me up at night: Read More

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The Global Carbon Budget and Why the Warsaw Climate Talks Matter

As the latest round of United Nations climate negotiations opened this week in Warsaw, the tragedy and destruction of typhoon Haiyan dominated news coverage around the globe. The disaster in the Philippines, with countless lives and livelihoods lost, is a stark reminder of the suffering and tremendous heartbreak that is at stake as the world’s nations meet to find an agreement to curb our heat-trapping emissions. Read More

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“Catastrophic” Fire Conditions Arrive Early in Australia, Mirror the 2013 U.S. Wildfire Season

My parents are almost 80 years old and live in Sydney, the place where they were born and raised. Yesterday I phoned them to ask for news of bush fires that are raging just beyond the western edge of the city. As they described the pall of dark smoke that has covered the city of over four million people, I thought of my childhood summers. We knew there would be searing temperatures and days of “total fire bans” when not even backyard barbeques were allowed. But I remember those days being during my summer vacations – that is, in December and January. Now they are happening in October, in springtime. Read More

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Five Reasons Why Sea Ice Decline Should be Front Page News

In the next few days the Arctic sea ice will reach its minimum extent for 2013. At the end of this year’s summer melt season, the areal extent covered by sea ice was more than a million square kilometers below the 30-year average. That’s a lot of ice missing compared to an average year. An area of frozen ocean—ten times the size of Indiana, or four times the size of Colorado, or a third bigger than Texas—is just not there this summer. Read More

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Disappearing Glaciers, Melting Ice Sheets, and Rising Seas to be Highlighted in Forthcoming IPCC Report

In a few weeks, the latest United Nations / World Meteorological Organization assessment of the state of the climate will be released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC report will include revised estimates of the rate of sea level rise, both from ocean water expanding and from contributions from snow and ice melting. Read More

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Wacky Weather, a Warmer Arctic, and a Slower Jet Stream – Is There a Link?

The flow of the jet stream is somewhat like a river – at times, a straight rushing ravine and at other times, a slow twisting meander. It’s almost like the atmosphere is alternately dancing the quickstep or doing a slow waltz. Why does the jet stream change its behavior and how might a warming climate be affecting this central influence on our weather in the U.S.? Let’s take a close look at what’s going on in the atmosphere up above us every day. Read More

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President Takes Historic First Step on Climate Action: Near-term Target for CO2 Reductions

Remember the promises to reduce carbon dioxide emissions that were made in Copenhagen in 2009? Since then, there has been a growing gap between what nations collectively need to do to meet their stated goals and what they have actually put on the table in terms of commitments out to 2020. Yesterday that changed – at least in the United States. Read More

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Today’s “King Tides” Preview the Future of Sea Level Rise

If you’ve been wondering what sea level will look like with ongoing climate change, head to the coast during a “king tide,” the highest tide of the year. This weekend extreme high tides are happening in a number of places along the U.S. East Coast, including Florida, New Jersey, and Maryland. Grab your camera and join the fray! Read More

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