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Drought saps $2.7 billion from California economy, report says

LA Times: The drought is on track to dry up $2.7 billion in revenue and erase more than 18,600 jobs from the California economy this year, according to a preliminary report. But that blow has been hard to detect because the agriculture sector is just 2% of the overall state economy and because farm employment has grown steadily in the last decade, a panel of experts told the state Board of Food and Agriculture. Despite the drought, in fact, statewide agricultural employment grew by 3,100 jobs last year,...

NASA launches climate change-observing satellite on third try

LA Times: Amid growing concern about global weather patterns, a rocket roared into space Saturday carrying a NASA satellite that will give scientists new tools to forecast weather, track drought and monitor climate change. The liftoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Southern California was the third attempt to launch the craft. Upper-level wind shear above the base near Lompoc had already prompted NASA to push Thursday morning's launch to Friday. The second postponement came after inspections revealed...

Microbes will joust for survival in Earth’s warming climate

LA Times: The meek shall inherit the Earth, and that may not be a good thing, if the meek are cyanobacteria. It turns out that the ancient microbes lowest on Earth's food chain are sensitive sorts. Familiar strains of these organisms that provide "biological services" essential to complex life are about to lose the competition for a viable niche in a world turned warmer and more carbon-rich, according to two new studies. And the strains poised to dominate in the desert and ocean remain mysterious and largely...

Earth’s greenhouse gas levels approach 400 ppm milestone

LA Times: The ratio of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere is flirting with 400 parts per million, a level last seen about 2.5 million to 5 million years ago, according to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. The Institution this week launched a daily Keeling curve update, showing the saw-toothed upward diagonal of rising carbon dioxide levels since the late 1950s. Isolated measurements have peaked at above 400 parts per million in the Arctic, but scientists are more alarmed at steady...