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Video: From Rooftop to Alleyway, Chicago Fights Extreme Urban Heat With Greener Ideas

As the planet warms, heat waves are becoming more frequent and severe.  The problem is compounded in cities by the "urban heat island" effect -- the tendency for cities to be much warmer than the surrounding countryside.  In this 10 minute video, PBS Newshour reports on Chicago's efforts to cool the city down and dampen the rising need for air conditioning.  

In Film "Chasing Ice," See How Climate Change Puts the Planet on a Slippery Slope (video)

Whether or not we take action to slow climate change and prepare for its impacts depends a lot on compelling images of what is happening to the planet around us, and on visualizing alternative futures. Few images can be as iconic, compelling and symbolic of climate change than the melting and disintegration of the world's ice sheets and glaciers. In the movie Chasing Ice, to be released on 9 November 2012, audiences will follow photographer James Balog and his crew in their determined efforts to capture those images in some of the harshest, most isolated -- and most beautiful -- areas of the planet.

With Inadequate Sea Ice North of Alaska, Walruses Haul-Out Along Russian Coast

We reported last week (26 September 2012), that sea ice in the Chukchi Sea north of Alaska had declined to the point where the National Ice Center had characterized an area preferred by walruses (Hanna Shoal) as open water. Without the sea ice they needed to rest on, walruses were headed ashore in search of a suitable area of coastal land where they could "haul out." We and others expected large numbers of walruses to haul out in the area of Point Lay, Alaska, where they have hauled out in recent years. But most of the walruses instead opted to continue swimming far to the West, to haul out in the vicinity of Russia's Cape Serdtse-Kamen -- joining other walruses already hauled out there. Though we cannot yet confirm that large numbers of walruses are hauling out at the remote cape, that certainly was the case last year. By mid-October 2011, an estimated (and astounding) 100,000 walruses from both the U.S. and Russian sides of the Chukchi, had hauled out there.

Earth Hour 2013 (Video): Take Action Beyond the Hour

It's not too soon to start thinking about Earth Hour 2013!  From 8.30pm – 9.30pm on Saturday 23 March 2013, people around the world will turn off their lights for an hour in symbolic support for taking steps to address climate change and the other threats to our planet.  The official Earth Hour 2013 video captures the excitement of past Earth Hours and challenges us to take substantive actions beyond the hour.  The video features David Guetta’s “Without You.”

Southwest U.S. Forests Projected by 2050 to See Worst Drought Conditions in at Least 1,000 years, With Extensive Forest Die-off

Scientists report in the journal Nature Climate Change that the drought-stress currently being experienced by forests in the Southwestern U.S. "is more severe than any event since the late 1500s megadrought" that "probably led to deaths of a large proportion of trees living at the time." They warn that climate projections indicate that "the mean forest drought-stress by the 2050s will exceed that of the most severe droughts in the past 1,000 years."

In Alaska's Chukchi Sea: Shell Resumes Offshore Drilling as Nearby Walruses are Forced Onshore

The story of this year's Arctic sea ice decline did not end on 16 September when the sea ice reached its official minimum extent for the Arctic overall. The decline has continued in the Chukchi Sea -- with momentous consequences. While the National Ice Center indicated that a large "marginal ice zone" was present north of Alaska on 16 September, that zone continued to decline and on 24 September the marginal ice zone had been entirely replaced by open water.

With Record Low Sea Ice Extent, Polar Bears Persevere on Marginal Ice -- or on Land

On Saturday, 15 September -- the day before the Arctic sea ice extent reached its record low -- a scientist aboard the USGS Healy spotted a polar bear struggling across thin ice.  Her photos capture a situation facing growing numbers of polar bears as sea ice extent declines, and the ice grows thinner, in response to warming conditions. The bears must persevere on marginal ice or swim in search of suitable sea ice -- both far from preferred coastal waters; or they must abandon the ice altogether and swim to land.

Losing the Top of the World: Breaking the Arctic Sea Ice One Record at a Time

In our world of information overload, we get used to hearing of records being broken. Even so, some moments stand out -- including now the record low Arctic sea ice extent reached earlier this month.   When we look closer, this and the many other climate-related records events we've witnessed in recent years are not isolated, but connected. And in this new era of extremes, we aren't just breaking records. By continuing to pour carbon pollution into the atmosphere we are rewriting the rulebook for the future of life on Earth.

"An Unprecedented Planetary Distress Signal": Arctic Sea Ice Extent Bottoms Out at a Record Low

The U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center today (19 Sept 2012) announced that the extent of Arctic sea ice reached an annual minimum of 1.32 million square miles, the lowest sea ice extent on record (since 1979 when satellites started to regularly monitor the ice). The extraordinary sea ice decline has enormous implications in the region, and has consequences that extend well south of the Arctic. “In a year of record-breaking extremes, shocking has become the new normal," says Lou Leonard, Managing Director for Climate Change at WWF-US. "But what’s happened in the Arctic this summer should be on the front page of every newspaper. This is an unprecedented planetary distress signal.”

Video: Tucson (Arizona) Citizens Talk about Climate Change and their "Power to Prepare Tucson" Summit

In this video, the citizens of Tucson, Arizona, talk about the challenges climate change poses for the city and about the "Power to Prepare Tucson" summit the city held earlier this year (2012) to address those challenges. The event, was a central part of Tucson's participation in WWF's Earth Hour City Challenge, a competition among U.S. cities to prepare for climate change and reduce carbon footprints.  

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