Global Warming

Arctic Ozone Aperture

NASA satellites have just detected one of the largest holes ever observed in the ozone layer over the Arctic.

Although the holes above Antarctica are much larger and dramatic, allowing dangerous ultraviolet light to reach the surface, those over the Arctic are usually much smaller, and often called “gaps” rather than holes due to their sizes.

But experts say the hole that opened from northern Canada to Siberia in March exceeds the record sizes set in 2011 and 1997.

Meanwhile Earth’s Ozone Hole Over Antarctica Continues to Repair Itself

It has been more than 30 years since the world banned the chemicals that were depleting Earth’s protective ozone layer and simultaneously triggering some troubling changes in atmospheric circulation in the Southern Hemisphere.

Now, new research published this week in Nature finds that those changes have paused and might even be reversing because of the Montreal Protocolan international treaty that successfully phased out use of ozone-depleting chemicals.

Ozone depletion has shifted the midlatitude jet stream and the dry regions at the edge of the tropics toward the South Pole. However, there are signs that this shift in wind circulation has paused and may even be reversing to original conditions.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 112 degrees Fahrenheit (45.0 degrees Celsius) in Diffa, Niger.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 104.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 75.6 degrees Celsius) 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.

Environment

Wildfires – Australia

Smoke pollution that blanketed Australia for months during the bushfire crisis caused 416 deaths and thousands of hospitalisations, according to research published in the Medical Journal of Australia.Smoke was responsible for 1,124 cardiovascular-related hospital admissions, 2,027 respiratory-related hospital admissions, and 1,305 asthma-related emergency room admissions, according to the study. Most cases were in New South Wales, where thousands of residents were forced to flee their homes.

Environment

River Nile Is Threatened By Waste, Global Warming, Pollution

Egypt’s lifeline since Pharaonic days and the source of 97 percent of its water is under massive strain from pollution and climate change and now the threat of a colossal dam being built far upstream in Ethiopia.

No country is more reliant on the Nile than Egypt, whose teeming population has just passed 100 million people — over 90 percent of whom live along the river’s banks.

Despite its importance, the Nile is still heavily polluted in Egypt by wastewater and rubbish poured directly into it, as well as agricultural runoff and industrial waste, with consequences for biodiversity, especially fishing, and human health, experts say.

Around 150 million tonnes of industrial waste are dumped into it every year, according to the state-run Environmental Affairs Agency.

Climate change spells another threat as rising sea levels are set to push Mediterranean saltwater deep into the fertile Nile river delta, the nation’s breadbasket.

More than 3,000 kilometres (2,000 miles) upstream on the Blue Nile, the main tributary, thousands of workers have toiled for almost a decade to build the $4.5-billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, set to be Africa’s largest.

Downstream countries, mainly Egypt but also drought-plagued Sudan, fear that the dam’s 145-metre (475-foot) high wall will trap their essential water supplies once the giant reservoir, the size of London, starts being filled this summer.

Dirty river nile

Nuclear Highway

Workers near Moscow began building a highway over a Soviet-era dump of radioactive material despite protests by environmental advocates who warn the activity will release toxic particles into the air.

Moscow’s mayor insists that there are only “insignificant traces of contamination” over the site. The road is the initial phase of a project to redevelop the former industrial zone in the south of the Russian capital.

But Greenpeace says a state report shows that there are at least 66,000 tons of radioactive waste from a plant there that produced thorium for nuclear reactors.

Global Warming

Permafrost Herds

A German researcher says that sending large herds of horses and other grazing animals to roam across regions where global heating is thawing the permafrost could help preserve about 80% of those soils in a frozen state until 2100.

Christian Beer points to Siberian studies where scientists resettled herds of bison, reindeer and horses more than 20 years ago.

They found that when the snow cover is scattered and compressed by the grazing animals’ stomping hooves, its insulating effect is dramatically reduced, intensifying the freezing of of the permafrost in winter.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 112 degrees Fahrenheit (44.4 degrees Celsius) in Rivadavia, Argentina.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 96.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 71.1 degrees Celsius) at Concordia, 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.

Global Warming

Climate Change Model Identifies Global Warming’s Impact on Electricity Usage

Global warming alone could push Chicago to generate 12% more electricity for each person each summer month by 2030. According to projections from a new climate change model developed by Purdue University researchers, U.S. midwest cities could easily face widespread power shortages if this percentage is lower. This would mean that the city would need to implement stringent measures to avoid rolling blackouts.

This 12% estimated increase is much larger than previous projections, too, owing to the fact that it now accounts for how consumers use both electricity and water at the same time, such as when a dishwasher is used or when water is heated.

Overall, the model projected that the U.S. Midwest will be using 19% more electricity and 7% more water by 2030—and this is only accounting for the summer months.

Global Warming

Ice Free Arctic

The Arctic may become “ice free” in as few as 15 years due to accelerating global heating, according to a team of U.S. scientists.

While areas of the thickest ice that surround islands near the North Pole are likely to survive until later this century, the region will be considered ice-free when the summer coverage is less than 386,000 square miles.

Writing in the journal Climate, the researchers say statistical models point to the first ice-free summer arriving during the 2030s, with 2034 the most likely year.

”The extent of Arctic ice is important to Arctic peoples, whose lands are being affected by increased coastal erosion,” NOAA said in a statement. “Conversely, the disappearance of ice creates economic opportunities, including the opening of oil fields and new shipping routes.”

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46.1 degrees Celsius) in Bougouni, Mali.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 83.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 63.9 degrees Celsius) 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.

Global Warming

Flagship UN study shows accelerating climate change on land, sea and in the atmosphere

A wide-ranging UN climate report, released on Tuesday, shows that climate change is having a major effect on all aspects of the environment, as well as on the health and wellbeing of the global population.

The report, The WMO Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2019, which is led by the UN weather agency (World Meteorological Organization), contains data from an extensive network of partners.

It documents physical signs of climate change – such as increasing land and ocean heat, accelerating sea level rise and melting ice – and the knock-on effects on socio-economic development, human health, migration and displacement, food security, and land and marine ecosystems.

Australia’s 2018-2019 summer was the hottest ever recorded, reaching a peak of 41.9 degrees centigrade on December 18. Australia’s seven hottest days on record, and nine of the 10 hottest, occurred in 2019.

The country was not the only place affected by extreme heat, or wildfires. Heat records were broken in several European countries, including France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Even Nordic countries saw record-breaking temperatures, including Finland, which registered a high of 33.2 degrees in the capital, Helsinki.

Several high latitude regions, including Siberia and Alaska, saw high levels of fire activity, as did some parts of the Arctic, where it was previously extremely rare. Indonesia and neighbouring countries had their the most significant fire season since 2015, and total fire activity in South America was the highest since 2010.

2020 has seen the warmest January recorded so far.

Greenhouse gas emissions continued to grow in 2019, leading to increased ocean heat, and such phenomena as rising sea levels, the altering of ocean currents, melting floating ice shelves, and dramatic changes in marine ecosystems.

The ocean has seen increased acidification and deoxygenation, with negative impacts on marine life, and the wellbeing of people who depend on ocean ecosystems. At the poles, sea ice continues to decline, and glaciers shrunk yet again, for the 32nd consecutive year.

In 2019, extreme weather events, some of which were unprecedented in scale, took place in many parts of the world. The monsoon season saw rainfall above the long-term average in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar, and flooding led to the loss of some 2,200 lives in the region.

Parts of South America were hit by floods in January, whilst Iran was badly affected in late March and early April. In the US, total economic losses from flooding were estimated at around $20 billion. Other regions suffered a severe lack of water. Australia has its driest year on record, and Southern Africa, Central America and parts of South America received abnormally low rains.

2019 also saw an above-average number of tropical cyclones, with 72 in the northern hemisphere, and 27 in the southern hemisphere.

Following years of steady decline, hunger is again on the rise, driven by a changing climate and extreme weather events: over 820 million people were affected by hunger in 2018. The countries in the Horn of Africa were particularly affected in 2019, where the population suffered from climate extremes, displacement, conflict and violence. The region suffered droughts, then unusually heavy rains towards the end of the year, which was a factor in the worst locust outbreak in the past 25 years.

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Greenland and Antarctica ice loss accelerating

Earth’s great ice sheets, Greenland and Antarctica, are now losing mass six times faster than they were in the 1990s thanks to warming conditions.

A comprehensive review of satellite data acquired at both poles is unequivocal in its assessment of accelerating trends, say scientists who studied 30 years of satellite images and data.

Between them, Greenland and Antarctica lost 6.4 trillion tonnes of ice in the period from 1992 to 2017.

This was sufficient to push up global sea-levels by 17.8mm. Of that combined 17.8mm contribution to sea-level rise, 10.6mm (60 %) was due to Greenland ice losses and 7.2mm (40%) was due to Antarctica.

The combined rate of ice loss for the pair was running at about 81 billion tonnes per year in the 1990s. By the 2010s, it had climbed to 475 billion tonnes per year.

Global Warming

Carbon Emissions Fall

Carbon emissions from the global electricity system fell by 2% last year, the biggest drop in almost 30 years, as countries began to turn their backs on coal-fired power plants.

A new report on the world’s electricity generation revealed the steepest cut in carbon emissions since 1990 as the US and the EU turned to cleaner energy sources.

Overall, power from coal plants fell by 3% last year, even as China’s reliance on coal plants climbed for another year to make up half the world’s coal generation for the first time.

Coal generation in the US and Europe has halved since 2007, and last year collapsed by almost a quarter in the EU and by 16% in the US.

Global Warming

Vanishing Beaches

The effects of global heating will erode approximately half of the world’s existing beaches by the end of this century if efforts to cut carbon emissions fail, according to a study by the Joint Research Center of the European Commission.

It says more than 22,400 miles of sandy coastline will be eroded by rising tides and stormier seas during the next 30 years before conditions worsen and far more beaches disappear during the latter half of the century.

Writing in the journal Nature Climate Change, study author Michalis Vousdoukas says that even modest efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could prevent about 17% of the shoreline retreat by 2050 and 40% by 2100.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.3 degrees Celsius) in Diourbel, Senegal.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 76.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 60.0 degrees Celsius) at Concordia, 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.

Global Warming

Global warming is shrinking the rainforest’s role as climate protector

The amount of planet-warming carbon dioxide that can be sucked up from the atmosphere and stored by tropical forests is falling as the global climate heats up, researchers said on Wednesday. They warned in a study that rainforests could tip from absorbing carbon to becoming a source of emissions.

The 30-year study, led by the University of Leeds and involving almost 100 institutions, showed that the intake of carbon by “intact tropical forests” peaked in the 1990s and had dropped by a third by the 2010s.

Intact forests are large areas of continuous forest with no signs of intensive human activity like agriculture or logging. They form part of the world’s roughly 5.5 billion hectares of forest.

Trees suck carbon dioxide from the air, the main greenhouse gas heating up the Earth’s climate, and store carbon, which they release when they are cut down and are burned, or rot.

Tropical forests are huge reservoirs of carbon, storing 250 billion tonnes in their trees alone – an amount equivalent to 90 years of global fossil-fuel emissions at current levels.

Researchers, who tracked the growth and death of 300,000 trees in Africa and the Amazon, found that undisturbed tropical forests had started the process of switching from a carbon sink to a source, largely due to carbon losses from trees dying.

In the 1990s, intact tropical forests removed about 46 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, declining to an estimated 25 billion tonnes in the 2010s, the study said.

The lost sink capacity was 21 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide – the same as a decade of fossil-fuel emissions from Britain, Germany, France and Canada combined

Intact tropical forests removed 17% of human-made carbon dioxide emissions in the 1990s but that fell to 6% in the 2010s.

The decline was because those forests, whose area shrank by 19%, absorbed a third less carbon, while global carbon emissions soared by 46%, the study said.

The tropics lost 12 million hectares of tree cover in 2018, including 3.6 million hectares of old-growth rainforest, an area the size of Belgium, much due to fires, land-clearing for farms and mining, according to monitoring service Global Forest Watch.

Global Warming

Australian summers grow longer due to climate change

Australian summers are lengthening by a month or more while winters are getting shorter due to climate change, according to an analysis by a leading think tank released Monday.

The Australia Institute said large swathes of the country were experiencing an additional 31 days of summer temperatures each year compared to the 1950s.

While Sydney was just under the average with an extra 28 hot days a year, Melbourne added 38 warmer days since the middle of the 20th century.

In some regional areas ravaged by bushfires in recent months, such as the New South Wales town of Port Macquarie, residents are now experiencing seven more weeks of typical summer temperatures.