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climate change

China's top weather scientist has made a rare official acknowledgement: climate change, he says, could have a "huge impact" on the country's crop yields and infrastructure.

Zheng Guogang, the head of China's meteorological administration, tells Xinhua news agency that China is already experiencing temperature increases that outpace those in other parts of the world.

As a result, China — the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases — faces a possible "ecological degradation," he says.

There are more than two dozen pens at the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro, Calif., and no vacancy. They're filled with more than a hundred sea lion pups, grouped by health condition.

The pups in the first row of pens are swimming in small pools and sliding across the wet concrete.

"These guys on this half of the facility are actually doing pretty well," says Lauren Palmer, the chief biologist at the center. "They're eating on their own. They're playing. They're porpoising."

For the first time, biologists have caught a rare type of coral in the act of reproducing, and they were able to collect its sperm and eggs and breed the coral in the laboratory.

The success is part of an effort to stem the decline in many types of coral around the world.

It’s a double-whammy kind of year for the Pacific.

An unusually warm winter in Alaska failed to chill ocean waters. Then this winter’s El Nino is keeping tropical ocean temperatures high. Combine these and scientists are recording ocean temperatures up to 7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than average off the coasts of Oregon and Washington.

“This is a situation with how the climate is going, or the weather is going, that we just haven’t really seen before and don’t know where it’s headed,” says National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries biologist Chris Harvey.

Scott Pattee stands well over 6 feet, but he’s dwarfed by the tall white tube set up near the Stevens Pass Ski Area to measure snow depth.

Little black numbers marking inches of snow ascend the side of the tube. The top number reads 250 inches, an amount of snow that’s hard to imagine right now.

Most of the mountains around Pattee are green and brown, not white - even though it’s officially still winter until March 19 arrives.

And the snow depth, according to the tower?

Northwest Faces Greater Risks From Acidifying Waters

Feb 24, 2015

The Pacific Northwest faces a higher risk of economic harm from ocean acidification than other parts of the country, according to a new study released Monday.

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, found a "potent combination" of risk factors along the coasts of Oregon and Washington. The region has cold ocean water that absorbs carbon dioxide more readily than warmer water, and it has upwelling ocean currents that bring corrosive water to the surface.

Ross Reynolds talks with University of Waterloo professor Daniel Scott about how climate change could affect the winter tourism industry.

Sens. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, left, and Kevin Ranker. On Christmas Day, Ashley Ahearn asked them to join her at the Spar Cafe, a bar in Olympia.
KUOW Photo/Ashley Ahearn

Earlier this winter, Ashley Ahearn was growing tired of polarized political debate.

She wondered: Did politicians actually believe what came out of their mouths? So she invited Sens. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, and Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, leaders, to drinks at Spar Cafe in Olympia.  

Two teenagers in Kivalina, Alaska, play near a skinned polar bear. Scientists predict Kivalina, an Alaskan village, will be the first casualty of climate change and sea rising in the U.S.
Suzanne Tennant

I first heard of Kivalina, a sliver of an island in far northwest Alaska, when I was looking for a photo project.

It appealed in part because of this one startling fact: Scientists believe that Kivalina, population 457, will be the first casualty of climate change in the U.S., and that it will be inundated by sea water by 2025. That’s in just a decade.

Last year was the hottest year on record, according to data released Friday by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"For the 21st century, nine out of 10 years have been warmest on record — 1998 was the only year prior to the 21st century that made the top 10," said Thomas Karl, director of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center.

Ocean temperatures were higher than land temperatures, which raised the overall global average.

U.S. Coast Guard/Travis Marsh

The Seattle Port Commission decided on Tuesday to let Shell Oil's Arctic drilling fleet use West Seattle as its home port.

Shell's drill rigs and barges would overwinter at the Port of Seattle's Terminal 5 in West Seattle while the terminal is being renovated.

The latest word from scientists studying the Arctic is that the polar region is warming twice as fast as the average rise on the rest of the planet. And researchers say the trend isn't letting up. That's the latest from the 2014 Arctic Report Card — a compilation of recent research from more than 60 scientists in 13 countries. The report was released Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

SEATTLE -- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee took the handoff Monday for his latest run at putting a price on carbon emissions.

It happened at a gathering at Seattle City Hall, where the chair of his task force on climate change, Ada Healey, delivered a set of options to the Democratic governor.

"Here you go, there’s a bow on it. It’s red," she joked.

Options put forward for Inslee's consideration include a carbon tax and a cap-and-trade system. The task force did not make recommendations on either approach to reducing carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels.

Marcie Sillman speaks with Gary Locke,  former U.S. ambassador to China, about the bilateral agreement between the two countries on reduction of carbon emissions and why the two countries have such dissimilar goals.

On election night in a hotel ballroom in Anchorage, Alaska, Sen. Lisa Murkowski picked up a chair and waved it over her head.

"I am the chairmaaaaaaaaaaan!" she shouted.

The long-range weather outlook from the Climate Prediction Center gives high probabilities for a warmer and drier than average winter across the Northwest.

SEATTLE -- If you can’t take the heat… head to the poles. That’s what fish are doing anyway.

A new study published in the ICES Journal of Marine Science looked at historical data for more than 800 commercial fisheries around the world and found that fish are heading to deeper waters and higher latitudes as the world's oceans warm.

Flickr Photo/Valerie (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with Vaughn Palmer, columnist for the Vancouver Sun, about shrinking polar bears, Canadian troops being sent to the Middle East, and muskrat love.

This stunning picture is making the rounds on the Internet today:

It was released by NOAA's Aerial Surveys of Arctic Marine Mammals and shows an estimated 35,000 walrus "hauling out" on an Alaskan beach.

This is not normally how you would find them. The animals would normally be spread out on the sea ice, but, as you see in the picture, this year the ice has all melted.

Flickr Photo/Dan Nguyen (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks to state climatologist Nick Bond about an upcoming research trip he and other scientists are making to Fairbanks, Alaska, where they will be utilizing a NOAA P-3 research aircraft to take direct measurements of the extra heat coming out of areas of open ocean to compare against areas that are frozen. 

Reynolds also speaks with Ursula Rakova from the group Tulele Peisa, a community group of Tulun and Carterets islanders who’s land is already affected by rising seas.

Flickr Photo/Erich Ferdinand (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Is Seattle going too far by making composting mandatory? Is the Northwest the best place to be in a changing climate? Is Hope Solo distracting you from the real domestic violence problem?

Bill Radke discusses these stories plus torn-up pot tickets, washed-up Mariners (maybe) and glitchy ferry clickers with Eli Sanders, Knute Berger, Joni Balter, Luke Burbank, ESPN’s Jim Caple and UW atmospheric scientist Cliff Mass.

Flickr Photo/UN University in Bonn (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds speaks with Dr. Koko Warner, lead author of the adaptation section in the latest UN report on Climate Change, about a new University of Washington study this week that found no evidence that weather patterns in the Northwest so far have been influenced by human greenhouse gas emissions.

They also discuss a New York Times story which suggested the Pacific Northwest would be a good place to be when climate change hits because there will be less extreme heat and plentiful water.

According to Warner, if you feel relief with these reports, you are mistaken. Reynolds spoke to her at the UN Climate summit this week.

Earth Ministry's Facebook page

Marcie Sillman speaks with Jessie Dye, outreach director for Earth Ministry, about the 2014 UN Climate Summit and the involvement of religious groups in environmental work.

SEATTLE – Changing wind patterns are the primary cause of warming temperatures in the Northwest, according to a study published Monday.

The authors lined up historical wind data with coastal sea surface temperature in the Northeastern section of the Pacific Ocean since the beginning of the 20th century. They found that up to 90% of the warming in the Pacific Northwest and Northern California is driven by changes in wind patterns.

Kristin Ohlson's book "The Soil Will Save Us."

This week on Speakers Forum we’ll hear from author Kristin Ohlson. Her new book is "The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers, and Foodies Are Healing the Soil to Save the Planet."

In it she sheds light on our understanding of soil and its crucial role in capturing and storing carbon emissions. Ohlson details how changes in how we farm may hold the key to countering global warming.

Ohlson is a freelance journalist and author based in Portland, Ore. She’s written for the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, Utne and Salon. Her books include "Stalking the Divine" and "Kabul Beauty School."

Ohlson spoke at The Elliott Bay Book Company on July 28. Thanks to Anna Tatistcheff for this recording. 

A recent study has found that the Northwest’s average annual temperature increased significantly over the last century, and that the shift is most likely caused by greenhouse gas emissions.

The study was published by researchers at the University of Idaho and Oregon State University. It found that the region's average annual temperature has risen by a total of 1.3­ degrees Fahrenheit over the last hundred years.

The study drew together data from 141 weather stations across Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming from the period between 1901 and 2012.

It might seem like fire season is as bad as it's ever been. But there's a group of researchers who question that prevailing wisdom.

SEATTLE -- When Washington Gov. Jay Inslee wanted to show the connection between climate change and an unpleasant and costly consequence for his constituents, he decided to tour a sewage treatment plant.

Inslee's visit Tuesday to the West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant in Seattle's Discovery Park was the latest stop on his statewide tour to raise awareness about the costs of climate change.

Flickr Photo/Washington Department of Natural Resources

Fighting this summer’s wildfires in eastern Washington has cost the state more than $50 million, and Governor Jay Inslee said the state can expect even more expensive fires in years ahead.

The ongoing fires are the “tip of the iceberg," Inslee said, because warmer climate likely means more fires.

John Ryan / KUOW

An independent commission will delve into the deadliest landslide in Washington history. The commission will seek statewide lessons from the Oso landslide, land use in the Oso area before the slide and the emergency response in the days and weeks afterward.

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