Environment

Pollution

Smog and smoke clouds that now frequently plague California and other parts of the West are making breathing more dangerous for residents of the region, according to a new study.

Researcher Deepti Singh of Washington State University, Vancouver and colleagues found that exposure to ground-level ozone and the fine-particle pollution from more frequent wildfires has increased by 25 million “person days” from 2001 to 2020.

Short-term effects from the pollution include breathing difficulties and worsening heart and lung diseases, such as asthma. Exposure to both types of pollution at the same time compounds the health risks, and long-term exposure can have even far more serious consequences. The study found that in August 2020, 86% of the western U.S. was blanketed by extreme amounts of both.

Global Warming

No Quick Fix for Global Warming in Greenland

The warming that humans cause today may have ripple effects far into the future, scientists warned in a study yesterday that finds the vast Greenland ice sheet could continue melting for centuries after greenhouse gases are stabilized. Greenland has a delayed response to changes in the Earth’s climate, and even if the planet stopped warming tomorrow, Greenland may continue losing ice for hundreds or even thousands of years.

During periods of natural cooling, for instance, the ice sheet has begun to grow—and then it continued to grow for some time even after the climate starts warming again. Eventually, the ice sheet flips and starts to shrink again. Then it continues shrinking even after temperatures stop rising.

That’s because the Greenland ice sheet is such a large, complex system. The ice sheet is so large that once it starts losing ice at faster and faster speeds, it can take a long time to slow back down again.

Environment

Mass Extinction

Earth’s sixth mass extinction is currently accelerating, and a new study points out that it is the only one in the planet’s history to be caused by human activity.

“Drastically increased rates of species extinctions and declining abundances of many animal and plant populations are well documented, yet some deny that these phenomena amount to mass extinction,” said lead researcher Robert Cowie. Writing in the journal Biological Reviews, he and his colleagues estimate that between 7.5% and 13% of Earth’s 2 million known species may already be lost. Some critics of the alarm over the man-made “biological annihilation” of wildlife say this it merely a new and natural trend, with humans just playing the dominant role in Earth’s evolutionary history.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 46.7 degrees Celsius (116 degrees F) at Oodnadatta, South Australia.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 51.7 degrees Celsius (-61 degrees F) at Oimyakon, Siberia.

Temperatures were tabulated from the more than 10,000 worldwide synoptic weather stations. The United Nations World Meteorological Organization sets the standards for weather observations, and provides a global telecommunications circuit for data distribution.

Global Warming

Scientists Warn Again Artificial Sun Dimming

Plans to dim the Sun’s rays in order to slow the effects of global warming are potentially dangerous and should be forbidden by governments, a group of scientists and policy experts have said.

One of the plans includes injecting billions of sulphur particles into the atmosphere – but the success of any plan would be far outweighed by the probable disastrous effects thereof on all life on the planet.

Human beings are already experiencing the serious effects of meddling with nature – the solution should be self-evident: stop polluting the planet, don’t make it worse by escalating the pollution with more artificial, nature-destroying nonsense schemes.

Environment

Polar Lightning

Scientists say they are alarmed at the sudden and rapid increase in lightning strikes across the high Arctic during the past few years. Once very rare, the 7,278 lightning bolts north of 80 degrees latitude during 2021 were nearly double the number in the previous nine years combined.

The trend was highlighted by the Finnish scientific instrument manufacturer Vaisala, which issues an annual report on global lightning. The more frequent lightning bolts are being caused by disappearing sea ice, which means more water is able to evaporate, and the greater atmospheric instability caused by Arctic warming that is occurring at four times the global average.

Global Warming

Methane Alarm

The global level of the potent greenhouse gas methane has reached a record high, growing at twice the rate of the long-term average in what scientists are calling a “fire alarm moment” for curbing climate change.

NOAA says methane concentrations reached a record 1,900 parts per billion in September, the highest in almost four decades of regular monitoring. The gas is 80 times more potent in contributing to global heating than carbon dioxide.

While most of the rise has occurred from the gas being released through changes in wetlands and by agriculture in the tropics, leaks from oil and gas operations are also major contributors. More than 100 countries pledged to cut their methane emissions at last year’s COP26 climate summit.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 50.6 degrees Celsius (123 degrees F) at Onslow, Western Australia.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 52.8 degrees Celsius (-63 degrees F) at Bolshoye Toko, Siberia.

Temperatures were tabulated from the more than 10,000 worldwide synoptic weather stations. The United Nations World Meteorological Organization sets the standards for weather observations, and provides a global telecommunications circuit for data distribution.

Summer Heat

The height of southern summer has brought some of the hottest weather on record to northern Argentina and parts of western Australia.

The Argentine heat wave caused the power grid around Buenos Aires to collapse, leaving 700,000 without electricity as temperatures in the north of the country approached the hottest ever recorded in South America.

A temperature of 123 degrees Fahrenheit in Pilbara, Western Australia, tied for the hottest ever recorded in Australia, and the entire Southern Hemisphere, since 1960.

Environment

Brazilian Deforestation

Flanking the Amazon rainforest, Brazil’s Cerrado savannah reported a six-year deforestation high, after which government scientists have said that deforestation monitoring will cease soon, citing government budget cuts. Wood from the endangered savannah is being illegally deforested to fuel a charcoal boom, which reports say is reliant on forced labour. Th charcoal is being used to fuel Brazil’s steel mills.

Global Warming

Ocean Warming

Thanks to the relentless pace at which humans are adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, ocean temperatures in 2021 were “the hottest ever recorded by humans,” according to a report published Tuesday in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences.

Since 1958, the researchers found, the world’s oceans have warmed at a steady pace. But that rate sharply accelerated in the late 1980s, warming eight times as fast as in the decades prior.

The seas that are warming fastest, the report says, are the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. While factors such as El Niño and La Niña weather patterns continue to help determine short-term water temperature conditions, greenhouse gas emissions that trap solar radiation and warm the planet’s atmosphere are the biggest factor for increasing ocean warmth, according to the report.

The consequences of rising ocean temperatures range from stronger tropical storms to the accelerated melting of the Earth’s polar ice, which, in combination with the fact that the volume of the oceans expands when warmed, translates into more sea level rise. Warmer oceans result in a greater amount of evaporation, which adds more moisture to the atmosphere and leads to more powerful rain events like those witnessed across the globe in 2021, as well as conditions that give rise to tornadoes.

Global Warming

Antarctica – Resource Race

Climate change has long been seen as an existential threat to Antarctica, but it could also trigger a new race for resources, experts warn. Since the 1990s there has been a ban on extracting minerals and fossil fuels from Antarctica.

Now researchers suggest that prospectors looking for wealth in the white continent are likely to be more interested in the ice and ecology of Antarctica rather than what they can dig for beneath it. The topic is regularly discussed at Antarctic Treaty meetings.

Countries with a stake in Antarctica have been discussing the possibility of opening it up to bioprospecting or even harvesting icebergs for drinking water.

Global Warming

Texas has Hottest December

State climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon announced that Texas had its hottest December since at least 1889. The official state record for previous warmest December was December 1933, at 53.3 degrees and once the data is finalized, December 2021 may go into the record books with an average state temperature above 58 degrees Fahrenheit. In many of the states’ largest cities, temperatures were between 5-9 degrees warmer than average.

The 20th century average temperature for December in Texas is 46.9 degrees and Nielsen-Gammon believes that once data is finalized, the statewide average temperature for December 2021 will end up near 12 degrees above the 20th century average. Typically, temperatures are not compared to the century average, but instead the 30-year average. With our warming climate the 30-year average temperature for Texas is roughly two degrees warmer than the 20th century average.

Global Warming

Marine Heat Wave

The waters off Sydney are approaching their hottest on record for January, with some swimmers and surfers saying the water already feels more like February and March (late in the southern summer) than early January. Satellite images indicate that the water is almost 5.5 degrees Fahrenheit above normal for the month.

University of New South Wales oceanographer Moninya Roughan says the abnormal heat is caused by a combination of overall global heating of the ocean, the current La Niña pushing warmer waters from the tropics southward and some unusual atmospheric conditions. “Marine heat waves are having severe consequences on ecosystems and they can kill habitats,” said Roughan.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 46.7 degrees Celsius (116 degrees F) at Rivadavia, Salta, Argentina.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 56.7 degrees Celsius (-70 degrees F) at Oimyakon, Siberia.

Temperatures were tabulated from the more than 10,000 worldwide synoptic weather stations. The United Nations World Meteorological Organization sets the standards for weather observations, and provides a global telecommunications circuit for data distribution.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 54.4 degrees Celsius (130 degrees F) at Death Valley, California.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 78.9 degrees Celsius (-110 degrees F) at Vostok, Antarctica.

Temperatures were tabulated from the more than 10,000 worldwide synoptic weather stations. The United Nations World Meteorological Organization sets the standards for weather observations, and provides a global telecommunications circuit for data distribution.