During November, the year-to-date pattern for incidents of fewer fires with larger size continued. The year-to-date total of 55,505 fires was the least since records began in 2000 for any January through November period. Whereas, the year-to-date average fire size was the most since 2000 for any January through November period, with the year-to-date total acreage burned being the 2nd highest since 2000. The monthly total number of 3,694 fires was the 5th most for November in the thirteen-year record. November’s average fire size and monthly total acres burned both ranked at the median value (7th highest and 7th lowest) for any November in the 2000-2012 record. The monthly average fire size reached 41.3 acres per fire, which was well below the 10-year average (based on 2001-2010) of 71.4 acres per fire. The January through November average fire size was 165.0 acres. Over 150,000 acres burned by wildfires in November, with a total of 9.1 million acres having burned since January 2012.

Monthly Wildfire Statistics*
November Rank
(out of 13 years)
Record 10-Year Average
Value Year
Acres Burned 152,697 7th Most 478,648 2003 184,808.8
7th Least
Number of Fires 3,694 5th Most 10,223 2001 3,620.3
9th Least
Acres Burned/Fire 41.3 7th Most 227 2003 71.4
7th Least
Seasonal Wildfire Statistics*
(out of 13 years)
Record 10-Year Average
Value Year
Acres Burned 1,431,323 4th Most 1,992,436 2007 1,012,094.2
10th Least
Number of Fires 10,981 10th Most 22,843 2001 14,175.8
4th Least
Acres Burned/Fire 130.3 3rd Most 176 2006 79.7
11th Least
Year-to-Date Wildfire Statistics*
(out of 13 years)
Record 10-Year Average
Value Year
Acres Burned 9,156,278 2nd Most 9,508,251 2006 6,346,769.6
12th Least
Number of Fires 55,505 13th Most 91,094 2000 72,115.7
Least on Record
Acres Burned/Fire 165.0 Most on Record 165 2012 88.5
13th Least

*Data Source: The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC)


As exceptional drought remained anchored over the central Great Plains, dryness expanded into central North Carolina and Virginia from a second location of exceptional drought centered over Georgia during November. In early November, the moisture deficits mounted across Georgia and South Carolina (Keetch-Byram Drought Index values exceeded 500 units), before mid-month showers brought brief improvement. Dryness spread from western and central Kentucky to dip across northeastern Tennessee by the end of the month, where an outbreak of wildfire incidents resulted. Drought conditions intensified in eastern Oklahoma, and northern and southeastern Texas. Severe drought expanded in southwestern Nevada and southeastern California in the latter half of November. Although the east-facing slopes of the Hawaiian islands received precipitation from mid-month onward, the western areas continued to experience drought.

Significant Events


Please note, this is a list of select fires that occurred during November. Additional fire information can be found through Inciweb.



Precipitation across southern California remained below-normal during November. The ongoing dryness in wind-prone areas provided conditions for significant fire potential. Multiple wildfires burned during the month. The Devore Fire ignited on November 5th in the chaparral along Interstate 15, which resulted in the day-long closure of the highway through Cajon Pass. Santa Ana winds fanned the blaze quickly through more than 330 acres in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains. Three residences near the Mathews Ranch were evacuated, but no damage was reported. Over 450 firefighters with the support of 10 aircraft contained the wildfire on November 6th. The following week the Cut Fire sparked in the same area, but was contained after charring about 4 acres on November 11th. The wildfire also forced a brief closure of one northbound lane of Interstate 15 for a few hours. Off-shore winds, which strengthened unexpectedly, drove a prescribed 430-acre burn in Montana de Oro State Park outside of containment to become a wildfire on November 13th. The Creek Fire burned an additional 100 acres of brush and hardwoods before being controlled on November 15th. The Ranch Fire, which ignited on November 25th to the northeast of San Bernardino near Apple Valley, caused the evacuation of the Horse Springs Campground. The wildfire was contained the next day after scorching 10 acres of grass and chaparral.


Westward portions of several Hawaiian islands had above-normal significant fire potential during November. A couple of wildfires developed on Oahu’s southern coast at mid-month where dry conditions and uncontrolled vegetation provided fuel, according to media reports. A wildfire at Ewa Beach burned about 100 acres and threatened residences on November 10th. Firefighting efforts were hampered due to the lack of fire hydrants. Another wildfire sparked the same day near Kalaeloa, which burned about 35 acres of dry brush without posing a threat to homes.

Monthly Wildfire Conditions

Wildfire information and environmental conditions are provided by the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Wildland Fire Assessment System (WFAS).

Early in the month, only a few large wildfires formed and their locations coincided with the low 10-hour fuel moistures (at or below 10 percent) in southeastern Kentucky, southeastern Oregon, and southern California. In Kentucky, the Cave Branch Fire consumed over 200 acres. In Oregon, the Juniper Creek Fire consumed 1,500 acres of brush and grass. Critically low 10-hour fuel moistures (under 5 percent) spanned the Four Corners area of the southwest United States. Moreover, the lower half of the country experienced 10-hour fuel moistures at or below 8 percent. Both the 100-hour and 1000-hour fuel moistures were at or below 10 percent from Nevada to New Mexico, with most areas west of the High Plains at or below 15 percent, except for the Pacific Northwest and northern California.


Fuel moistures generally improved at all intervals (10-hour, 100-hour, and 1000-hour) from precipitation received during the second and third weeks of November, except in the Northeast. At mid-month, only southern Arizona and southern New Mexico’s fuel moistures remained below 5 percent for the 10-hour interval. As 10-hour fuel moistures dropped across the middle and northern Atlantic states, an increase in wildfire activity occurred in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Wildfires erupted in North Carolina, northeastern Tennessee, southeastern Kentucky, and western Virginia. Pilot Mountain Fire in North Carolina, which began as a prescribed 200-acre burn to clear dead wood and underbrush, tripled in size on November 8th when strong winds spread the blaze along the Jomeokee Trail. The fire’s low intensity spared standing trees, but forced closure of the Pilot Mountain State Park where other than for some burned fences at viewing areas no structural losses occurred, according to media reports. The fire was contained at 675 acres and the park reopened on November 21st. The Spade wildfire burned over 800 acres in Virginia’s Jefferson National Forest (northwest of Roanoke) and threatened homes from November 13th-15th. Another Virginia wildfire, the 3 Fingers Fire, burned about 100 acres from November 10th-15th.


During the latter part of November, the 10-hour and 100-hour fuel moistures remained at or below 15 percent in the Piedmont plateau regions of the eastern U.S. (parts of central Virginia, western and central North Carolina, upstate South Carolina, and northeast Georgia). In northern Georgia, a wildfire in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest burned over 200 acres. The blaze, which sparked on November 25th, forced a temporary closure to the Appalachian Trail. In North Carolina, the High Eagle fire burned over 150 acres in the rugged terrain of Caldwell County near Lenoir before being contained on November 28th, according to media reports. Large wildfires continued to develop in eastern Tennessee, Kentucky and northern Arkansas. The Stone Mountain Fire consumed over 2,000 acres of beetle-killed pines in steep terrain of east Tennessee, while fanned by a northeasterly wind. The blaze burned west of Rogersville from November 15th-24th where it had threatened homes and structures in Hawkins County, according to media reports. Multiple wildfires sparked across eastern Kentucky in late November. The Turkey wildfire burned nearly 600 acres in the Daniel Boone National Forest from November 22nd-27th. The Belles Fork Fire burned nearly 250 acres. The Lime Kiln Fire burned nearly 170 acres from November 18th-20th. The Meathouse Fire burned up to 150 acres. Northwestern Arkansas remained under a moderate fire risk following a summer of hot temperatures and drought conditions, which dried the soil and fine fuels. The Snowball Fire consumed over 300 acres by November 23rd. Gusty winds, fallen leaves, warm temperatures, and low humidity at the end of November combined to keep the fire danger elevated in northwestern Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma.

In central Texas, preparations for the first volunteer planting workday at the Bastrop State Park occurred during November, according to media reports. Most of the 6,600-acre park’s signature “Lost Pines” were destroyed during the 2011 fires — deemed as the most destructive wildfires in the state’s history after devastating more than 32,000 acres. Drought-hardy loblolly pine seedlings were nurtured during the past year from over 1,000 pounds of surplus seeds in refrigerated storage. Over 400,000 seedlings were delivered to the park for the planting event commencing on December 1st. The seeds were collected as part of cooperative efforts between five states and eight industrial partners — led by the Texas A&M Forest Service — to promote the best genetic quality seed for use in forest regeneration programs in the Western Gulf Region of the United States. Planting of more than one million seedlings is planned for each of the two next years. Geneticists estimated that the 10-inch tall seedlings need up to 25 years to reach the mature size of the former Bastrop Lost Pines.

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Global Warming Gets Cold Reception

(DOHA/ WASHINGTON – Dec. 8, 2012) After another marathon negotiating session, countries at the UN climate talks in Doha managed to scrape together minimal progress on its scope of work and agreed to begin addressing the hardships that climate change is already inflicting on the most vulnerable countries, but left a number of lingering issues unresolved, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) said at the conclusion of the talks Saturday evening.

Working through long nights, delegates ultimately agreed to a three-part deal: i) a second round of emission reduction commitments under the Kyoto Protocol; ii) the close of the “LCA” negotiating track, which — since launched in Bali in 2007 — has led many countries to make voluntary emission reduction pledges; and iii) a course for negotiating the “Durban Platform for Enhanced Action” (ADP), a new climate deal for all countries to be agreed by 2015 and to take effect in 2020.

“With the unfinished business of the Kyoto Protocol and the Bali agenda finally behind them, countries can now face forward and concentrate on crafting the robust new agreement that we so urgently need,” said EDF’s International Climate Program Director Jennifer Haverkamp.

As predicted, a large sticking point across the negotiations was climate finance. Seeking firm commitments and clarifications of how financing would scale up between now and the $100 billion a year by 2020, as they were promised in Copenhagen, developing countries instead got a workplan and reassurances. The talks’ modest outcome also failed to send the policy signal needed to unlock critical private investments in climate change.

“Not until we get clarity on how all countries will participate in reducing emissions, and on the legal structure of the agreement and its institutions, will we see substantial funds flowing to address climate change, both inside and out of the UN process. Doha barely began to answer some of those questions,” said Haverkamp.

Countries also agreed to establish a process to address “loss and damage” resulting from climate change. Haverkamp says it indicates the UN’s recognition that the severe consequences of climate change have become today’s problem, no longer one of the distant future.

“This is the next step in the UN’s increasingly reactive response to climate change. First the focus was on avoiding emissions. When mitigation efforts proved inadequate, it turned more attention to adaptation. Now, as the effects of extreme weather and rising oceans hit communities from the Philippines to New Jersey, the UN has realized it must begin to grapple with the damaging effects of climate change it had been mostly trying to avoid,” said Haverkamp.

Doha’s outcome also reinforces the importance of continuing to make climate progress at the domestic and local levels. During the Doha talks, the Dominican Republic announced its commitments to reduce its carbon emissions 25% by 2030 from 2010 levels, and Belarus announced a domestic carbon market that will start in 2014.

“While more and deeper cuts are needed around the world, we’re seeing real action via national and state-wide climate programs in Europe, Australia, California, South Korea, China and others. It is domestic efforts like these, in tandem with multilateral accords and initiatives, that will get us to a secure climate future,” said Haverkamp.

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Ice Mass Loss Mounting

from NASA

Ice Mass Loss in Greenland

Ice Mass Loss in Greenland

PASADENA, Calif. – An international team of experts supported by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) has combined data from multiple satellites and aircraft to produce the most comprehensive and accurate assessment to date of ice sheet losses in Greenland and Antarctica and their contributions to sea level rise.

In a landmark study published Thursday in the journal Science, 47 researchers from 26 laboratories report the combined rate of melting for the ice sheets covering Greenland and Antarctica has increased during the last 20 years. Together, these ice sheets are losing more than three times as much ice each year (equivalent to sea level rise of 0.04 inches or 0.95 millimeters) as they were in the 1990s (equivalent to 0.01 inches or 0.27 millimeters). About two-thirds of the loss is coming from Greenland, with the rest from Antarctica.

This rate of ice sheet losses falls within the range reported in 2007 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The spread of estimates in the 2007 IPCC report was so broad, however, it was not clear whether Antarctica was growing or shrinking. The new estimates, which are more than twice as accurate because of the inclusion of more satellite data, confirm both Antarctica and Greenland are losing ice. Combined, melting of these ice sheets contributed 0.44 inches (11.1 millimeters) to global sea levels since 1992. This accounts for one-fifth of all sea level rise over the 20-year survey period. The remainder is caused by the thermal expansion of the warming ocean, melting of mountain glaciers and small Arctic ice caps, and groundwater mining.

The study was produced by an international collaboration — the Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise (IMBIE) — that combined observations from 10 satellite missions to develop the first consistent measurement of polar ice sheet changes. The researchers reconciled differences among dozens of earlier ice sheet studies by carefully matching observation periods and survey areas. They also combined measurements collected by different types of satellite sensors, such as ESA’s radar missions; NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat); and the NASA/German Aerospace Center’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE).

“What is unique about this effort is that it brought together the key scientists and all of the different methods to estimate ice loss,” said Tom Wagner, NASA’s cryosphere program manager in Washington. “It’s a major challenge they undertook, involving cutting-edge, difficult research to produce the most rigorous and detailed estimates of ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica to date. The results of this study will be invaluable in informing the IPCC as it completes the writing of its Fifth Assessment Report over the next year.”

Professor Andrew Shepherd of the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom coordinated the study, along with research scientist Erik Ivins of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Shepherd said the venture’s success is because of the cooperation of the international scientific community and the precision of various satellite sensors from multiple space agencies.

“Without these efforts, we would not be in a position to tell people with confidence how Earth’s ice sheets have changed, and to end the uncertainty that has existed for many years,” Shepherd said.

The study found variations in the pace of ice sheet change in Antarctica and Greenland.

“Both ice sheets appear to be losing more ice now than 20 years ago, but the pace of ice loss from Greenland is extraordinary, with nearly a five-fold increase since the mid-1990s,” Ivins said. “In contrast, the overall loss of ice in Antarctica has remained fairly constant, with the data suggesting a 50-percent increase in Antarctic ice loss during the last decade.”

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WMO: Climate Change is of Great Concern

The World Meteorological Organization is cautioning humanity against global warming:

Climate change and its impacts is of great concern to humanity and is one of the most serious problems facing sustainable development worldwide. Through the network of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services of its Members, WMO plays an important role in weather and climate observation and monitoring, understanding of climate processes, the development of clear, precise and user-targeted information and predictions and the provision of sector-specific climate services, including advice, tools and expertise, to meet the needs of adaptation strategies and decision-making.

Climate information for adaptation and development needs
Role of WMO and NMHSs in the implementation of the Nairobi Work Programme
The Nairobi Work Programme on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change
WMO’s role in global climate change issues
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Climate Change And Global Warming

Greenpeace says:

Stop Global Warming

We are changing our planet in a fundamental way. Our world is hotter today than it has been in two thousand years.

By the end of the century, if current trends continue, the global temperature could climb so high that the climate and weather patterns that have given rise to human civilization would be radically different.

But it didn’t happen on its own. We’re driving climate change by burning fossil fuels like coal and oil. In fact, coal-fired power plants are the single largest U.S. source of global warming pollution.

America’s coal-burning power plants, in addition to causing global warming and climate change, are killing tens of thousands of Americans, poisoning our air and water, and making our children sick.

But a brighter future is possible. Over the next three years, Greenpeace will:

1. Join local communities to shut down dangerous, dirty coal plants all across the United States.

2. Advocate for strong laws to curb global warming and put America on a path to clean energy.

3. Expose climate deniers, like the Koch Brothers, and hold them publicly accountable for providing millions of dollars to lobby against climate and clean energy policies.

4. Kick-start an Energy Revolution by advocating for clean-energy solutions like solar and wind power.

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Extreme Ice Survey Team

The Extreme Ice Survey Team is composed of artists and scientists. The team is documenting the effects of global warming on the planet.

“To reveal the impact of climate change, James Baylod founded the Extreme Ice Survey (EIS), the most wide-ranging, ground-based, photographic study of glaciers ever conducted. National Geographic showcased this work in June 2007 and June 2010 issues. The project is also featured in the 2009 NOVA documentary “Extreme Ice,” and in the feature-length documentary, “Chasing Ice,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2012 (in theaters November 2012).”

“Balog, who in addition to being a photographer is a mountaineer with a graduate degree in geomorphology, recognized that extraordinary amounts of ice were vanishing with shocking speed.” The glaciers in the Rocky Mountains are expected to disappear within 20 years.

Ice Breaking Up Into Icebergs in Greenland

Ice Breaking Up Into Icebergs in Greenland

Rocky Mountains

Extreme Ice Survey http://extremeicesurvey.org/

More About Global Warning

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Another Record Warm Month Leading to Record Warm Year

State of the Climate
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Climatic Data Center

Summary Information

Global temperatures were fifth highest on record for Ocotber

Arctic sea ice doubles from last month, yet remains second lowest on record for October

The globally-averaged temperature for October 2012 was the fifth warmest October since record keeping began in 1880. October 2012 also marks the 36th consecutive October and 332nd consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average.

Higher-than-average monthly temperatures were observed across much of Europe, western and far eastern Asia, northeastern and southwestern North America, central South America, northern Africa, and most of Australia. Meanwhile, much of northwestern and central North America, central Asia, parts of western and northern Europe, and southern Africa were notably below average.

Global temperature highlights: October

    • The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for October tied with 2008 as the fifth highest for October on record, at 58.23°F (14.63°C) or 1.13°F (0.63°C) above the 20th century average. The margin of error associated with this temperature is ±0.22°F (0.12°C).
October 2012 Blended Land and Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies
October 2012 Blended Land & Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies in °C
  • October marked the 36th consecutive October and 332nd consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average October was October 1976 and the last below-average month was February 1985.
  • The global land temperature was the eighth warmest October on record, at 1.66°F (0.92°C) above the 20th century average of 48.7°F (9.3°C). The margin of error is ±0.13°F (0.07°C).
  • Higher-than-average monthly temperatures were most notable across Europe, western and far eastern Asia, northeastern and southwestern North America, central South America, northern Africa, and most of Australia, while temperatures were below average across much of northwestern and central North America, central Asia, parts of western and northern Europe, and southern Africa.
    • The average temperature across the United Kingdom was 2.3°F (1.3°C) below the 1981–2010 average, making it the coldest October since 2003.
    • Temperatures were above average across southeastern Europe during October. The Republic of Moldova reported monthly temperatures that ranged from 4.5 to 6.3°F (2.5 to 3.5°C) above average across the country.
    • Every state and territory in Australia observed above-average monthly maximum temperatures during October. The nationally-averaged temperature was 2.75°F (1.53°C) above the 1961–1990 average, making it the 10th warmest October maximum temperature since records began in 1950.
  • For the ocean, the October global sea surface temperature was 0.94°F (0.52°C) above the 20th century average of 60.6°F (15.9°C), tying with 2004 as the fourth highest on record for October. The margin of error is ±0.07°F (0.04°C). The northwestern Atlantic Ocean and part of the north central Pacific Ocean temperatures were markedly higher than average, while much of the eastern and part of the western Pacific Ocean and much of the southern Atlantic Ocean were below average.
  • Borderline neutral / weak El Niño conditions were present during October across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, with sea surface temperatures close to 0.9°F (0.5°C) above average for a three-month period, the official threshold for the onset of El Niño conditions. According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, neutral conditions are expected to continue through the Northern Hemisphere’s winter 2012/13.

Precipitation highlights: October

  • Sandy dumped copious rain over Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and much of the eastern United States. Sandy also brought blizzard conditions to the Central and Southern Appalachians, shattering all-time U.S. October monthly and single storm snowfall records.
  • The Finnish Meteorological Institute reported that precipitation totals across western parts of the country were double the October monthly average. Some stations broke their all-time highest monthly precipitation records for October.
  • October was dry across Australia, with the country experiencing rainfall that was 48 percent of average for the month. This was the 10th driest October since precipitation records began in 1900.

Snow cover & polar ice highlights: October

    • The Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent for October was the eighth largest monthly extent in the 45-year period of record, at 734,000 square miles above average. The North American snow cover extent was the seventh largest on record for October, while the Eurasian snow cover was the 11th largest. Canada and Russia both experienced much above average October snow cover.
October 2012 Northern Hemisphere Sea Ice Extent
October 2012 Southern Hemisphere Sea Ice Extent
Arctic and Antarctic sea ice extent, from the October 2012 Global Snow & Ice Report
  • During the first full month of the annual growth cycle, Arctic sea ice doubled in size after reaching its record smallest minimum in September. The October Arctic sea ice extent was 2.7 million square miles, 24.6 percent below average. This marked the second smallest monthly sea ice extent on record—only slightly larger than the record small October extent of 2007.
  • On the opposite pole, Antarctic sea ice extent declined rapidly after reaching its largest annual maximum extent on record. October Antarctic sea ice extent was 7.3 million square miles, 3.4 percent above average, and the third largest October ice extent on record.

Global temperature highlights: Year to Date

    • Record to near-record warmth over land from April to September and above-average global ocean temperatures resulted in the first ten months of 2012 ranking as the eighth warmest such period on record, with a combined global land and ocean average surface temperature of 1.04°F (0.58°C) above the 20th century average of 57.4°F (14.1°C). The margin of error is ±0.16°F (0.09°C).
Year-to-Date Temperature Anomalies: Horserace
Year-to-date temperatures by month, with 2012 compared to the five warmest years on record
  • The January–October worldwide land surface temperature was 1.69°F (0.94°C) above the 20th century average, making this the sixth warmest such period on record. The margin of error is ±0.38°F (0.21°C).
  • The global ocean surface temperature for the year to date was 0.79°F (0.44°C) above average, tying with 1997 as the 10th warmest such period on record. The margin of error is ±0.07°F (0.04°C).


The State of the Climate Report is a collection of monthly summaries recapping climate-related occurrences on both a global and national scale. The report is comprised of the following sections:

  • Global
  • Global Analysis — a summary of global temperatures and precipitation, placing the data into a historical perspective
  • Upper Air — tropospheric and stratospheric temperatures, with data placed into historical perspective
  • Global Snow & Ice — a global view of snow and ice, placing the data into a historical perspective
  • Global Hazards — weather-related hazards and disasters around the world
  • El Niño/Southern Oscillation Analysis — atmospheric and oceanic conditions related to ENSO
  • National
  • National Overview — a summary of national and regional temperatures and precipitation, placing the data into a historical perspective
  • Drought — drought in the U.S.
  • Wildfires — a summary of wildland fires in the U.S. and related weather and climate conditions
  • Hurricanes & Tropical Storms — hurricanes and tropical storms that affect the U.S. and its territories
  • National Snow & Ice — snow and ice in the U.S.
  • Tornadoes — a summary of tornadic activity in the U.S.
  • Synoptic Discussion — a summary of synoptic activity in the U.S.
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BP Admits to Crimes in Oil Spill

The multinational oil company, British Petroleum, has admitted to criminal activities related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.


BP confirms that it is in advanced discussions with the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding proposed resolutions of all US federal government criminal and SEC claims against BP in connection with the Deepwater Horizon incident. No final agreements have yet been reached and any resolutions, if agreed, would be subject to federal court approvals in the United States.

The proposed resolutions are not expected to cover federal civil claims, including Clean Water Act claims, federal and state Natural Resource Damages claims; private civil claims in MDL 2179 that were not covered by the PSC settlement, private securities claims pending in MDL 2185 or state economic loss claims.

A further announcement will be made if and when final agreements are reached. Until final agreements are reached, there can be no certainty any such resolutions will be entered into.


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Future Climate Projections


Due to the enormous complexity of the atmosphere, the most useful tools for gauging future changes are ‘climate models’. These are computer-based mathematical models which simulate, in three dimensions, the climate’s behavior, its components and their interactions. Climate models are constantly improving based on both our understanding and the increase in computer power, though by definition, a computer model is a simplification and simulation of reality, meaning that it is an approximation of the climate system. The first step in any modeled projection of climate change is to first simulate the present climate and compare it to observations. If the model is considered to do a good job at representing modern climate, then certain parameters can be changed, such as the concentration of greenhouse gases, which helps us understand how the climate would change in response. Projections of future climate change therefore depend on how well the computer climate model simulates the climate and on our understanding of how forcing functions will change in the future.

The IPCC Special Report on Emission Scenarios determines the range of future possible greenhouse gas concentrations (and other forcings) based on considerations such as population growth, economic growth, energy efficiency and a host of other factors. This leads a wide range of possible forcing scenarios, and consequently a wide range of possible future climates.

According to the range of possible forcing scenarios, and taking into account uncertainty in climate model performance, the IPCC projects a best estimate of global temperature increase of 1.8 – 4.0°C with a possible range of 1.1 – 6.4°C by 2100, depending on which emissions scenario is used. However, this global average will integrate widely varying regional responses, such as the likelihood that land areas will warm much faster than ocean temperatures, particularly those land areas in northern high latitudes (and mostly in the cold season). Additionally, it is very likely that heat waves and other hot extremes will increase.

AR4 Figure SPM.5

Precipitation is also expected to increase over the 21st century, particularly at northern mid-high latitudes, though the trends may be more variable in the tropics, with much of the increase coming in more frequent heavy rainfall events. However, over mid-continental areas summer-drying is expected due to increased evaporation with increased temperatures, resulting in an increased tendency for drought in those regions.

AR4 Figure SPM.7

Snow extent and sea-ice are also projected to decrease further in the northern hemisphere, and glaciers and ice-caps are expected to continue to retreat.

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Forcing Islanders to Abandon Their Homes

NEW YORK CITY — Islands throughout the world are going under water. It is obvious that human induced climate change is causing the ocean temperatures to rise. The combination of rising sea levels and volatile weather produced from rising ocean temperatures is wreaking havoc across many traditional island nations. In fact, the United Nations is embarking on a mission to understand what the changes mean; however, the location of the United Nations is now looking into the mirror.  The islands are going under water… but, not in slow rising water manner.  Rather, some of the islands, such as Staten Island, are being slam dunked.

Climate Change And Hurricane Sandy: How Global Warming Might Have Made The Superstorm Worse

From Climate Central’s Andrew Freedman:

As officials begin the arduous task of pumping corrosive seawater out of New York City’s subway system and try to restore power to lower Manhattan, and residents of the New Jersey Shore begin to take stock of the destruction, experts and political leaders are asking what Hurricane Sandy had to do with climate change. After all, the storm struck a region that has been hit hard by several rare extreme weather events in recent years, from Hurricane Irene to “Snowtober.”

Scientists cannot yet answer the specific question of whether climate change made Hurricane Sandy more likely to occur, since such studies, known as detection and attribution research, take many months to complete. What is already clear, however, is that climate change very likely made Sandy’s impacts worse than they otherwise would have been.

There are three different ways climate change might have influenced Sandy: through the effects of sea level rise; through abnormally warm sea surface temperatures; and possibly through an unusual weather pattern that some scientists think bore the fingerprint of rapidly disappearing Arctic sea ice.

If this were a criminal case, detectives would be treating global warming as a likely accomplice in the crime.

Warmer, Higher Seas

Water temperatures off the East Coast were unusually warm this summer — so much so that New England fisheries officials observed significant shifts northward in cold water fish such as cod. Sea surface temperatures off the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic remained warm into the fall, offering an ideal energy source for Hurricane Sandy as it moved northward from the Caribbean. Typically, hurricanes cannot survive so far north during late October, since they require waters in the mid to upper 80s Fahrenheit to thrive.

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  • RSS Global Warming

    • Houston Exceeds Health Standards For Particulate Matter: More Work Ahead
      By Elena Craft, PhDTexans can breathe a bit easier now. The Environmental Protection Agency today released updated standards for fine particulate matter (PM2.5), often referred to as “soot” (although it actually comprises a broader array of fine particles).  Fine particulate pollution in the air we breathe — some of it directly emitted from cars and trucks, […]
    • EPA Updates Standards to Reduce Levels of Deadly Soot Pollution in Our Air
      By Mandy WarnerAmerica took a big step toward cleaner, healthier air today. Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its long-awaited updated standards for fine particulate matter. EDF was among the many health and environmental groups applauding the life-saving new standards. Fine particulate matter is often referred to as soot, although it […]
    • EDF’s Eric Holst Appointed to California State Board of Food & Agriculture
      EDF’s Eric Holst Appointed to California State Board of Food & Agriculture Fri, 2012-12-14 Contact:  Jennifer Witherspoon, (415) 293.6067, jwitherspoon@edf.org (SACRAMENTO – December 13, 2012) Eric Holst, a senior director of Environmental Defense Fund’s working lands program, was appointed to the California State Board of Food & Agriculture by Gover […]
  • RSS State Of The Climate

    • November 2012 Wildfires
      For November 2012, 3,694 fires (5th most on record) burned 152,697 acres (7th most on record) , which is 41.3 acres burned/fire (7th most on record). For September-November, 10,981 fires (4th most on record) burned 1,431,323 acres (4th most on record) , which is 130.3 acres burned/fire (3rd most on record). For January-November, 55,505 fires (the most on rec […]
    • November 2012 National Overview
      The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during November was 44.1°F, 2.1°F above the 20th century average, tying 2004 as the 20th warmest November on record. The contiguous U.S. temperature of 54.7°F was the 21st warmest autumn, 1.1°F above average. The autumn precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 5.71 inches, 1.0 inch below average. […]
    • November 2012 Synoptic Discussion
      The weather pattern this time of year normally consists of the seasonal battle between subtropical high pressure (High, or upper-level ridge) to the south and the polar jet stream and associated storm track to the north. As the sun angle decreases during Northern Hemisphere autumn and early winter, polar air masses get colder and expand the polar jet toward […]
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