The Global Rundown
The U.S. Senate has approved Keystone XL, and the time has come for the President of the United States to either sign or veto. The time has also come and gone – again – to launch NASA‘s soil moisture monitoring satellite. A new study says that extreme storms are likely to get larger and less frequent, and another study shows that heat waves in cities around the globe are increasing. California‘s snow pack currently stands at only a quarter of the average.
“This issue is ready for a decision.” — Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, on President Obama’s upcoming veto or signature of a bill approving the Keystone XL pipeline. (New York Times)
By The Numbers
62 to 36 – Results of a vote in the Senate yesterday which favored building the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. The measure is expected to reach President Obama’s desk next week, and is expected to be met with a veto. New York Times
25 percent – California’s snow pack this year as compared to average. Scientists performed their yearly measurements in the Sierra Nevada mountains on Thursday. The lack of snow does not bode well for drought-ridden California, as precipitation in rain form is harder to capture and store than slow snow melt. Los Angeles Times
Science, Studies, And Reports
A study led by Canadian scientists shows that extreme storms, such as the blizzard in New England this week, will likely become larger, but less frequent. The study analyzes the atmosphere as a heat engine – climate change will likely change the way it works. Warmer temperatures will increase the amount of moisture the atmosphere can hold, fueling larger storms with more precipitation, but this will also use up so much energy that wind intensity may decrease, also decreasing storm frequency. Reuters
Heatwaves in over 200 cities around the world are on the upswing, according to a study published in Environmental Research Letters. The study found that hot periods lasting 6 days or more have increased over the past 40 years. In 50 percent of the cities studied, individual hot days have also increased. Reuters
On The Radar
The launch of NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite has been called off for the second time this week in order to repair damaged insulation. It was called off for the first time due to high winds, and the launch has been rescheduled for tomorrow. CBS NEWS
is both a scientist and a journalist, she holds an MS in Environmental Engineering from Michigan Technological University, and she brings proficiency in ESRI’s ArcGIS mapping software.