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Climate - Feb 2

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Australia experiences hottest ever January: weather bureau

Australia experienced its hottest January on record this year, with the dry continent heating up as part of the global warming process, the bureau of meteorology said Friday.

Temperatures rose by between 1.0 and 2.0 degrees in most parts of the country, with the national average hitting 29.2 degrees Celsius (84 Fahrenheit) for the summer month, said the bureau's head of climate analysis, David Jones.

"It's a remarkable number certainly. Averaging, as we did across the whole country 1.3 degrees above average is the highest temperature we've seen in our history of records for Australia in January," he told AFP.
(1 February 2008)

US drought 'man-made' says study

Jim Giles, New Scientist
The water shortages gripping the western US are the result of global warming, not natural variations in climate, according to a bleak study by hydrologists. The results suggest that water disputes will plague the region in the future and damage economic growth unless action is taken now, warn researchers.

About 60% of the changes seen in river flow in the western US are due to warming caused by humans, their study suggests.

Key indicators have hinted at looming water problems for many years. More rain and less snow has been falling in mountain ranges such as the Rockies, for example. River levels, which depend on melting snow from the mountains during the spring and summer, have fallen as a result.

...Hopes that the drought is temporary have been dashed by the analysis, prompting leading researchers to intensify their calls for policy change.

Peter Gleick, a water policy expert at the Pacific Institute, an independent think tank based on Oakland, California, says that water use in his state could be reduced by a fifth by 2030, even if the population and economy continue to grow.

Many sectors need to change to achieve that goal. Agriculture would have to shift towards drip irrigation, in which small amounts of water are focused on individual plants, rather than whole areas being sprayed. Home owners would also have to adopt toilets and washing machines that use less water, he says.
(31 January 2008)
Culprits in a hotter West: people (Portland Oregonian)
Water managers told: Plan now for crisis (San Francisco Chronicle)
Study: Much of West’s climate-related water trends human-caused (AP)

Hundreds of profs hold green 'teach-in'

Julia Silverman, Associated Press
Global warming issues took over lecture halls in colleges across the country Thursday, with more than 1,500 universities participating in what was billed as the nation's largest-ever "teach-in."

Organizers said the goal of the event, dubbed "Focus the Nation," was to move past preaching to the green choir, to reach a captive audience of students in many fields who might not otherwise tune in to climate change issues.
(31 January 2008)

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