climate change

How did Minnesota melt 12,000 years ago?

The link at the bottom of this post will take you to a phenomenal article from the NY Times on researchers observing the melting of Greenland’s ice cap. You owe it to yourself to view it on a full-size monitor instead of squinting at your phone. Scrolling down and back up the article is worth ten minutes of your day.

They’ve spliced in drone video, photos, and satellite imagery in a seamless look at how a very thick chunk of ice goes away. Looking at the landscape and the micro-melt patterns made me think about how Minnesota must have looked as our glacial history was unfolding.

We don’t specialize in climate change work here at Freshwater, but we do appreciate how new perspectives help propel along innovative solutions to the problems we face. View this link and see how a number of little changes spread across a landscape can have a large cumulative effect.

New York Times Article

–   Steve Woods

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Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and the inevitability of future events arriving

We all were warned by the demographers 20 years back that the boomers would stress the social security, pension, housing, and medical systems. Now it’s here. Similarly, rising atmospheric CO2 levels were the subject of a report I did back in the mid-1980s at the Institute of Technology. And here we are.

In the water world we have seen regulatory authorities slowly tighten the screws on urban and industrial sources. As the measures became tougher and the law of diminishing returns kicked in, the cost per unit of pollutant removal jumped. Municipalities pointed out the cost ineffectiveness a decade back. Then they went to full grumble over fairness. We all saw it coming a decade back as the basic human nature of wondering why one party has to apparently do more than another became more and more prominent.

A recent article in Governing describes how the debate about fairness between Urban and Rural has gone mainstream in Iowa. Des Moines has filed suit. Cedar Rapids is still following a non-regulatory, voluntary approach –in part because they have time to manage their problem. It’ll be interesting to see if Cedar Rapids can make enough progress with landowners who are hoping to avoid lawsuits like what landowners upstream of Des Moines’ are facing.

We’ve got time to watch this unfold.

Steve Woods

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Climate, water and food

A warming worldwide climate already has been predicted to significantly cut global production of corn, soybeans, wheat and rice by the end of this century. Now new research suggests food production could be further curtailed by water shortages that would end the irrigation of 50 million to 150 million acres. Read a ScienceDaily  article about the research, published Dec. 16.

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Huttner climate lecture is available on video

Paul Huttner

Paul Huttner

Did you miss Paul Huttner’s Oct. 1 presentation on climate change in Minnesota?

If you missed it, or you want to refer a friend to it, view his talk on video produced and posted by the Lake Minnetonka Communications Commission.

Hutter, chief meteorologist for Minnesota Public Radio, spoke at an event sponsored by the South Tonka League of Women Voters and the Freshwater Society.

His lecture was titled “Minnnesota’s Changing Climate: Is This the New Normal?” It dealt with more-humid summers; longer autumns; shorter, milder winters, later freeze-ups on lakes and more frequent floods.


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Huttner talk set Oct. 1 on Minnesota’s changing climate

It’s not our imagination. The nature of our seasons is changing.

Spring blooms arrive earlier on average. Summer is more humid with a documented increase in extreme localized flash flood events – and more frequent droughts. Fall lingers longer. Lakes freeze up later. Winters are trending shorter and noticeably, measurably milder. New plants are able to thrive in Minnesota’s milder climate.

We’re all living witnesses to rapid climate changes in our lifetime.  This is no longer your grandparents’ Minnesota.

On Tuesday, Oct. 1, Paul Huttner, Minnesota Public Radio’s chief meteorologist, will explain some of the weather and climate changes we all are experiencing.

The title of his presentation will be “Minnnesota’s Changing Climate: Is This the New Normal?”

The talk will be at 7 p.m. at the Freshwater Society’s Gray Freshwater Center, 2500 Shadywood Road, Excelsior. It is sponsored by the South  Tonka League of Women Voters and the Freshwater Society.



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Climate imperils fish

Cover of "Swimming Upstream: Freshwater Fish in a Warming WorldClimate change and warming lakes and rivers will produce major changes in freshwater fish populations and their ranges, a new report warns.

Download the 34-page report, “Swimming Upstream: Freshwater Fish in a Warming World.” It was produced by the National Wildlife Federation.

The report makes a series of recommendations, including minimizing other stress factors for native fish such as pollution and invasive species, and setting minimum flow standards for streams that anticipate future heat and drought.

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Read and comment on climate change forecast

A draft National Climate Assessment that predicts the impact of global warming in the U.S. by 2050 was released last week by a huge team of scientists. A Pioneer Press article on the assessment says it predicts that the frequency of heavy rainfalls will increase in Minnesota, “causing erosion and declining water quality and negatively impacting transportation, agriculture, health and infrastructure.” Read and comment on the draft assessment.


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How hot was 2012? Hotter than any year in the record book

Last year – 2012 – was the hottest on record in the United States – a full degree Fahrenheit above the previous record, set in 1998. Read a New York Times article that documents a March heat wave and a drought in the Corn Belt that went along with the record warmth.

The Times wrote:

“Scientists said that natural variability almost certainly played a role in last year’s extreme heat and drought. But many of them expressed doubt that such a striking new record would have been set without the backdrop of global warming caused by the human release of greenhouse gases. And they warned that 2012 was probably a foretaste of things to come, as continuing warming makes heat extremes more likely.”

And Australia is going through searing spell of heat, drought and wildfires right now. Read a good Times article on that.

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Arctic sea ice hits new low

The amount of sea ice in the Arctic has fallen to the lowest level on record, a confirmation of the drastic warming in the region and a likely harbinger of larger changes to come.

Satellites tracking the extent of the sea ice found that it covered about 1.58 million square miles, or less than 30 percent of the Arctic Ocean’s surface, scientists said. That is only slightly below the previous record low, set in 2007, but with weeks still to go in the summer melting season, it is clear that the record will be beaten by a wide margin.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center, a government-sponsored research agency in Boulder, Colo., announced the findings in collaboration with NASA. The amount of sea ice in the summer has declined more than 40 percent since satellite tracking began in the late 1970s, a trend that most scientists believe is primarily a consequence of the human release of greenhouse gases.

“It’s hard even for people like me to believe, to see that climate change is actually doing what our worst fears dictated,” said Jennifer A. Francis, a Rutgers University scientist who studies the effect of sea ice on weather patterns. “It’s starting to give me chills, to tell you the truth.”
–The New York Times  

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How hot was July? Hotter than in ’36

July in the U.S. was the hottest month ever in records going back to 1895. And the 12-month period ending in July also was the warmest. Read a New York Times article on the records and the causes. According to scientists quoted by the Times, the drought afflicting most of the country reduced soil moisture, leading to higher daytime temperatures in July. The higher nighttime lows most of the country experienced are part of a long-term trend.

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