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July 19 News: In A Hot Summer, The Real Story May Be Rapid Sea Ice And Snow Melt

June 2013 was one of the warmest on record, but the real story may be in the rapid snowmelt across North America in May and the fact that the Arctic is losing sea ice at an alarming rate. [Washington Post]

NOAA and NASA both ranked June 2013 among the top five warmest (NOAA fifth warmest, NASA second warmest) Junes on record globally (dating back to the late 1800s). But, more remarkable, was the incredible snow melt that preceded the toasty month and the sudden loss of Arctic sea ice that followed.

The amazing decline in Northern Hemisphere snow cover during May is a story few have told, but is certainly worth noting. In April, hefty Northern Hemisphere snow cover ranked 9th highest on record (dating back to 1967), but then turned scant, plummeting to third lowest on record during May. Half of the existing snow melted away.

“This is likely one of the most rapid shifts in near opposite extremes on record, if not the largest from April to May,” said climatologist David Robinson, who runs Rutgers University Global Snow Lab. …

You may recall, late last summer the Arctic sea ice extent dropped to its lowest level on record, 49 percent below the 1979–2000 average.

It’s not clear if 2013 levels will match 2012′s astonishing record low, but — with temperatures over the Arctic Ocean 1–3 degrees above average — the 2013 melt season has picked up in earnest during July.

A high pressure system known as a “heat dome” is not only baking 21 states and DC, it’s also trapping air pollutants closer to the ground. [LA Times]

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The heat wave stifling much of the eastern U.S. has also been moving in the wrong directions, and meteorologists don’t know why. [Climate Central]

It turns out that extracting fossil fuel is unsustainable not only in that the fuel is finite, but the process strains the national infrastructure. [Washington Post]

A preliminary federal study found that chemicals from the fracking process did not move up to contaminate drinking water aquifers in Western Pennsylvania. [AP]

The Export-Import Bank actually rejected a proposed coal-fired power plant in Vietnam, following President Obama’s declaration last month that the U.S. would not finance coal plants abroad. [Washington Post]

States may be aggressively adopting their own climate and clean energy policies, but the three committee hearings on Capitol Hill yesterday illuminated the bizarre paralysis that grips Congress on the issue. [LA Times]

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However, the insurance industry told Republicans on the Senate EPW Committee (all of whom deny climate change) that climate change increases the “exposure of citizens and their property to extreme weather risk.” [Bloomberg]

UN carbon prices are experiencing their longest-ever rally, with prices jumping 39 percent. [Sydney Morning Herald, Bloomberg]

White House energy adviser Heather Zichal said that EPA could complete regulations to cut carbon pollution by the end of President Obama’s second term. [Politico]

China is asking the European Union for aid in reducing pollution — specifically its heavy metals, water, and waste. [South China Morning Post]

At the same time, China plans to levy a tax on imported polysilicon, the main ingredient of solar panels, that it imports from the United States and South Korea. [New York Times]

NASA has a green fuel program, and it looks like its green alternative to the high-powered-but-toxic hydrazine (rocket fuel) was even more highly powered and performed better. [CleanTechnica]