“Scientists have been warning for decades that climate change is a threat to the immense tracts of forest that ring the Northern Hemisphere, with rising temperatures, drying trees and earlier melting of snow contributing to a growing number of wildfires.The near-destruction of a Canadian city last week by a fire that sent almost 90,000 people fleeing for their lives is grim proof that the threat to these vast stands of spruce and other resinous trees, collectively known as the boreal forest, is real. And scientists say a large-scale loss of the forest could have profound consequences for efforts to limit the damage from climate change.In retrospect, it is clear that Fort McMurray, in northern Alberta, was particularly vulnerable as one of the largest human outposts in the boreal forest. But the destruction of patches of this forest by fire, as well as invasions by insects surviving warmer winters, has occurred throughout the hemisphere.In Russia, about 70 million acres burned in 2012, new statistics suggest, much of that in isolated areas of Siberia. Alaska, home to most of the boreal forest in the United States, had its second-largest fire season on record in 2015, with 768 fires burning more than five million acres.”
Source: Global Warming Cited as Wildfires Increase in Fragile Boreal Forest – The New York Times
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. — Thanks in part to El Niño, snowpack in the Sierra Nevada is greater than it has been in years. With the winter snowfall season winding down, California officials said that the pack peaked two weeks ago at 87 percent of the long-term average.That’s far better than last year, when it was just 5 percent of normal and Gov. Jerry Brown announced restrictions on water use after four years of severe drought. But the drought is still far from over, especially in Southern California, where El Niño did not bring many major storms.Despite the better news this year, there are plenty of worrying signs about the Sierra snowpack, which provides about 30 percent of the water Californians use after it melts and flows into rivers and reservoirs, according to the state Department of Water Resources.
Source: Sierra Nevada Snow Won’t End California’s Thirst – The New York Times
The policy of putting out small fires in the forest is causing the tree population to explode, which takes larger amounts of water away from reservoirs needed by humans.
“Here are some disturbing things we have learned since December, when the nations of the world reached a landmark agreement in Paris to lower greenhouse gas emissions.In January, scientists reported that 2015 was by far the hottest year on record, and another record could be set this year.In February, a Princeton-based research organization said the tidal flooding that has already made life miserable for people in coastal cities like Miami and Charleston is getting steadily worse.In mid-March, a group of experts, including James Hansen, the retired scientist who first brought the perils of climate change to Congress’s attention in 1988, warned that shifts in climate could be sudden and abrupt, giving humanity little time to prepare for flooding, severe droughts and other upheavals.Now comes another scary prediction: If carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels continue unabated, the vast West Antarctic ice sheet could begin to disintegrate, causing the sea to rise by five to six feet by the end of the century, destroying coastal cities and low-lying island nations and creating environmental devastation within the lifetimes of children born today.”
Source: The Danger of a Runaway Antarctica – The New York Times
“The nations of the world agreed years ago to try to limit global warming to a level they hoped would prove somewhat tolerable. But a group of leading climate scientists warned on Tuesday that permitting a warming of that magnitude would actually be highly dangerous.The likely consequences would include killer storms stronger than any in modern times, the disintegration of large parts of the polar ice sheets, and a rise of the sea sufficient to begin drowning the world’s coastal cities before the end of this century, the scientists declared.“We’re in danger of handing young people a situation that’s out of their control,” said James E. Hansen, the retired NASA climate scientist who led the new research. The findings were released Tuesday morning by a European science journal, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.A draft version of the paper had been released last year, and it provoked a roiling debate among climate scientists. The main conclusions have not changed, however, and a replay of that debate seems likely in the coming weeks.”
Source: Scientists Warn of Perilous Climate Shift Within Decades, Not Centuries – The New York Times
“EUREKA OIL PLATFORM OFF CALIFORNIA COAST — Eight miles off the coast of Long Beach, Calif., the oil rig Eureka, which has stood here for 40 years, is a study in contrasts. From a distance, it looks like just another offshore platform, an artifact of the modern industrial landscape.From Our AdvertisersBut beneath the waves, the Eureka and other rigs like it in the area are home to a vast and thriving community of sea life that some scientists say is one of the richest marine ecosystems on the planet.“They are more productive than coral reefs, more productive than estuaries,” said Milton Love, a professor of marine biology at the University of California Santa Barbara. “It just turns out by chance that platforms have a lot of animals that are growing really quickly.”Great ReadsOur best deeply reported and engaging works. Donald Trump Doesn’t Understand Common Core (and Neither Do His Rivals) MAR 8 Marco Rubio’s Campaign Echoes ’07 Tax Revolt: A Big Plan With Little Payoff MAR 7 Money Given to Kenya, Since Stolen, Puts Nike in Spotlight MAR 5 Donald Trump Considered Path to Presidency Starting at Governor’s Mansion in New York MAR 5 Tensions Simmer as a Small Town Seeks Answers in a Boy’s Killing MAR 5See More »Dr. Love, who has published research on marine life at offshore drilling sites, said the location of these rigs — in marine-protected areas in a cold current that swoops down from British Columbia — have made them perfect habitats for fish and other sea life.”
Source: Marine Life Thrives in Unlikely Place: Offshore Oil Rigs – The New York Times
Keep reading the article. Some conservationists are are changing their opposition to allowing oil companies to decommission and not tear down, in exchange for sharing the savings with the state EPA.