Global Warming

Climate Change will Strengthen El Niños

El Niños will be stronger and more frequent in the decades ahead because of global warming, causing “more extreme events” in the United States and around the world, a study said Wednesday.

A natural phenomenon marked by warmer-than-average seawater in the tropical Pacific Ocean, El Niño is Earth’s most influential climate pattern. A weak one is forecast to form at some point this winter, scientists have said.

Rather than once every 15 years, powerful El Niños will occur roughly once every 10 years. They found that the physical processes in the ocean and atmosphere that produce strong El Niños will be supercharged by human-caused climate change.

The entire natural climate cycle is officially known as El Niño – Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which swings between warmer and cooler seawater in the tropical Pacific. Cooler-than-average ocean water is known as La Niña. The cycle is the primary factor government scientists consider when announcing their winter weather forecast.

Strong El Niños can lead to floods in the western United States, Ecuador and northeast Peru and to droughts in nations that border the western Pacific Ocean, the study finds.

During extreme El Niños, marine life in the eastern Pacific can die off, and mass bleaching of corals across the Pacific and beyond can occur.

Global Warming

The Arctic Is Not Doing Well (at All)

A new “report card” from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Arctic Program paints a dire picture for the frozen North. According to the program’s 2018 Arctic Report Card, Arctic surface air temperatures are warming twice as fast as in the rest of the globe, while populations of wild reindeer and caribou have tumbled by 50 percent over the last 20 years.

And the Arctic is setting alarming new records all the time. Air temperatures from 2014 to 2018 in the Arctic were warmer than in any prior year dating back to 1900, according to the report. The past 12 years have shown the lowest extents on record of Arctic sea ice. And the Greenland ice sheet is melting faster than it has in at least 350 years.

The annual report is the 13th issued by NOAA’s Arctic Program. One of the most dramatic changes in today’s Arctic, the report found, is the loss of the region’s sea ice. The winter maximum sea ice of 2018, measured in March, was the second lowest in 39 years of record-keeping, behind only 2017. In 1985, the report authors wrote, ice that had survived multiple years of freezing and thawing made up 16 percent of the Arctic’s sea ice. Today, that number is a mere 1 percent. The thinner, single-year ice that makes up 99 percent of the ice pack is more prone to melt and flow.

Warming temperatures, lost sea ice and long-term declines in snowpack on land have caused chaos for the Arctic’s wildlife. While reindeer are mythologized in Christmas carols, real herds are suffering. Wild reindeer and their fellow foragers, tundra caribou, have been in decline since the 1990s, according to the report. Where there were once 4.7 million animals combined, there are now 2.1 million. Of 22 herds being monitored by researchers today, 20 are on the decline.

Climate is to blame for much of the decline, according to the report. Longer, warmer summers mean more parasites and heat stress for the winter-adapted grazing animals, along with a greater risk of grass-killing drought.

Meanwhile, toxic algal blooms driven by warming waters represent a new threat to marine life in the Arctic, the researchers wrote. Algal toxins have been found in ill or dead animals ranging from seabirds to seals to whales.

East Antarctica glacial stronghold melting as seas warm

A group of glaciers spanning an eighth of the East Antarctica coastline are being melted by the warming seas, scientists have discovered.

This Antarctic region stores a vast amount of ice, which, if lost, would in the long-term raise global sea level by tens of metres and drown coastal settlements around the world.

Freezing temperatures meant the East Antarctica region was until recently considered largely stable but the research indicates that the area is being affected by climate change.

The vast Totten glacier was known to be retreating but the new analysis shows that nearby glaciers in the East Antarctica area are also losing ice.

To the east of Totten, in Vincennes Bay, the height of the glaciers has fallen by about three metres in total since 2008, before which no loss had been recorded.

To the west of Totten, in Wilkes Land, the rate of height loss has doubled since 2009, with glaciers losing height by about two and a half metres to date.

The data comes from detailed maps of ice movement speed and height created by Nasa from satellite information.

Screen Shot 2018 12 12 at 7 26 21 PM

Environment

Researchers suggest broiler chicken is the hallmark of the Anthropocene

A team of researchers from several institutions in the U.K. and one in South Africa has come to the conclusion that the broiler chicken offers perhaps the most striking evidence of the rise of the Anthropocene. In their paper published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, the group outlines their reasons for choosing the chicken as a signal of human biosphere reconfiguration.

Scientists have begun suggesting that we are now living in a new epoch, which thehy call the Anthropocene—the age of man-made impacts on the planet. In this new effort, the researchers suggest the broiler chicken is a prime example of the changes we have wrought. They note, for example, that the broiler chicken is now by far the most populous bird on the planet—at any given moment, there are approximately 23 billion of them. The second most populous bird, by comparison, is the red-billed quelea, and there are just 1.5 billion of them.

There are so many chickens that their body mass is greater than all other birds combined. And they are not anywhere close to their initial native state—the modern broiler is unable to survive and reproduce in the wild. It has been bred to eat non-stop, allowing it to grow to a desired size in just five to nine weeks. And as it grows, its meaty parts outgrow its organs, making it impossible for many to survive to adulthood. And all these chickens are being cooked and eaten, and their bones are discarded. Billions of bones wind up in landfills where they are covered over in an oxygen-free environment, making it likely that they will, over time, become fossilized. If we do not survive due to global warming, pandemics or nuclear warfare, the researchers suggest, the next dominant life form will likely dig up our landfills and find evidence of our love for the broiler chicken.

Batterycage

Global Warming

Climate change is not only influencing extreme weather events, it’s causing them

Extreme weather events that spanned the globe in 2017 have been directly linked to — and in some cases were even caused by — continued warming of the planet via human influence through greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report.

For the second year in a row, the annual report from the American Meteorological Society found weather extremes that could not have happened without human-caused warming of the climate. Advances in scientific modeling and additional climbs in temperatures are making the connection between global warming and extreme weather much more concrete.

Scientists found that record warm waters in the Tasman Sea in 2017 and 2018 “were virtually impossible without global warming,” and they concluded that a crippling drought in East Africa that has led to food shortages for millions of people would not have occurred naturally before the Industrial Revolution, when humans began to interfere with the climate system.

Included in the 17 events identified in the report in which global warming played a role were major floods such as those with Hurricane Harvey, fires, heat waves over land and in the ocean, and even record low sunshine in Japan in August 2017.

The findings are part of an annual report titled “Explaining Extreme Events in 2017 from a Climate Perspective,” which reveals clear ties between recent extremes in weather and human influences of the climate

Environment

Scientists Reveal a Massive Biosphere of Life Hidden Under Earth’s Surface

Earth is not the home you think it is. Far below the scant surface spaces we inhabit, the planet is teeming with an incredibly vast and deep ‘dark biosphere’ of subterranean lifeforms that scientists are only just beginning to comprehend.

Hidden throughout this subsurface realm, some of the world’s deepest and oldest organisms thrive in places where life shouldn’t even exist, and in new research, scientists have quantified this ‘dark matter’ of the microbial world like never before.

In a preview of results from an epic 10-year collaboration by over 1,000 scientists, Lloyd and fellow researchers with the Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) estimate the deep biosphere – the zone of life under Earth’s surface – occupies a volume of between 2 to 2.3 billion cubic kilometres (0.48 to 0.55 billion cubic miles).

That’s almost twice the volume of all the world’s oceans – another enormous natural environment that lies largely unexplored by humans.

And just like the oceans, the deep biosphere is an abundant source of countless lifeforms – a population totalling some 15 to 23 billion tonnes of carbon mass (between 245 to 385 times greater than the equivalent mass of all humans on the surface).

The findings, representing numerous studies conducted at hundreds of sites around the world, are based on analyses of microbes extracted from sediment samples sourced 2.5 kilometres (1.6 miles) under the seafloor, and drilled from surface mines and boreholes more than 5 kilometres (3.1 miles) deep.

927 deep earth biosphere life 0 1024

Global Warming

US, Russia block key global warming report from climate summit

A landmark study on global warming has been blocked from being endorsed by a world climate summit by the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

“I think it was a key moment,” said Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “The fact that a group of four countries were trying to diminish the value and importance of a scientific report they themselves, with all other countries, requested three years ago in Paris is pretty remarkable.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report on what would happen if average global temperatures rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius, and how to ensure they don’t go higher, was widely regarded as a wake-up call for policy-makers when it was released in October.

As diplomats wrapped up a week of technical talks on Saturday (Sunday NZT), almost all 200 countries present in Katowice, Poland, had wanted to “welcome” the IPCC report, making it the benchmark for future action.

Global Warming

Global warming today mirrors conditions leading to Earth’s largest extinction event: study

More than two-thirds of life on Earth died off some 252 million years ago, in the largest mass extinction event in Earth’s history.

Researchers have long suspected that volcanic eruptions triggered “the Great Dying,” as the end of the Permian geologic period is sometimes called, but exactly how so many creatures died has been something of a mystery.

Now scientists at the University of Washington and Stanford believe their models reveal how so many animals were killed, and they see frightening parallels in the path our planet is on today.

Models of the effects of volcanic greenhouse gas releases showed the Earth warming dramatically and oxygen disappearing from its oceans, leaving many marine animals unable to breathe, according to a study published Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal Science. By the time temperatures peaked, about 80 percent of the oceans’ oxygen, on average, had been depleted. Most marine animals went extinct.

By this century’s end, if emissions continue at their current pace, humans will have warmed the ocean about 20 percent as much as during the extinction event, the researchers say. By 2300, that figure could be as high as 50 percent.

Global Warming

Climate Alarm at Summit

Those attending a U.N. climate-change summit in Poland were warned that today’s generation is the last that can prevent catastrophic global warming by eliminating greenhouse gas emissions.

Famed British naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, who attended the gathering, gave the dire warning: “If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”

The summit convened as scientists announced that the last four years have been the hottest on record, and that the planet’s average temperature is on track to rise between 3 and 5 degrees Celsius (5.4 to 9.0 F) by the end of the century.

A new report released in conjunction with the summit said that instead of falling around the world as agreed to by world governments, global carbon emissions will jump 2.7 percent to a record high by the end of 2018, mainly due to booming industrial output.

Carbon Eaters

Scientists from the University of Texas at Austin say they have discovered dozens of new species of exotic bacteria in extremely hot deep-sea ocean sediment that appear to have the ability to consume hydrocarbons such as methane and butane to survive and thrive.

Writing in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers say the microbes might be harnessed to curb the concentrations of some greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and someday even help clean up oil spills.

The bacteria, found in the Guaymas Basin of the Gulf of California, are so genetically different from other known species that they represent new branches in Earth’s tree of life.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.3 degrees Celsius) in Victoria River Downs, Australia.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 57.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 49.4 degrees Celsius) at 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.

Global Warming

Greenland Is Melting Faster Than Ever

Greenland is melting faster today than it has at any time in the last 350 years, and probably much longer, new research finds.

Surface melt from the icy island has increased 50 percent in the last 20 years compared with the early 1800s, before the industrial era, researchers report (Dec. 5) in the journal Nature. The runoff alone is now contributing about a millimeter to the global average sea level per year.

Scientists tracking Greenland’s ice by satellite and on the ground have seen increasingly dire ice loss. Greenland loses ice both when icebergs calve off glaciers and when ice on the surface melts and flows to the sea as water. The meltwater flow is how the majority of the ice vanishes.

The amount of annual meltwater runoff from Greenland has increased from between 200 and 250 gigatons a year before humans started burning fossil fuels in large amounts to 350 gigatons a year today. It takes about 360 gigatons of meltwater to raise the global sea level by a millimeter.

Screen Shot 2018 12 06 at 12 44 08 PM

Environment

Tehran Is Sinking

The ground is shifting under Iran’s capital, Tehran, home to approximately 15 million people and the biggest city by population in western Asia. High-resolution satellite images recently revealed that in some places, the metropolis of the Middle East is sinking about 10 inches (25 centimeters) per year.

researchers found Tehran’s current subsidence rate to be among the highest in the world, with groundwater loss driven by drought, dam construction and a booming population. Another troubling discovery was that rainfall wasn’t replenishing depleted groundwater reserves, suggesting it may already be too late for the land to recover.

Tehran isn’t the only sinking city. Satellite observations have also shown that Venice, Italy; parts of western Texas and coastal Louisiana; California’s San Joaquin Valley and San Francisco International Airport are victims of subsidence.

Should the sinking continue, Tehran’s railways, bridges, gas and oil pipelines, and electrical infrastructure could be at risk

Global Warming

Morocco’s irrigation revolution against global warming

In 1980, 2,500 m3 of drinking water was available per person per year in Morocco. Today, as a result of global warming, water scarcity has brought the level down to 500 m3 per person. According to NASA, the global average temperature has increased by 1.1°C over the last century, which is causing more droughts.

In response, the agricultural irrigation sector in Morocco has boomed. The government aims to convert 550,000 hectares of agricultural land to drip-irrigation technology within 10 years.

Thousands march peacefully in Brussels against global warming

Tens of thousands of people marched peacefully on Sunday in Brussels urging governments to respect commitments on countering climate change as a United Nations conference on keeping global warming in check opened in Poland.

Belgian police said some 65,000 people participated in Sunday’s “Claim The Climate” demonstration, many of them on their bikes.

Global warming increases frost damage on trees in Central Europe

Global warming increases frost damage on trees in large areas of Central Europe, according to a new Finnish-Chinese study by researchers from the University of Eastern Finland, the Chinese Academy of Science and Zhejiang A&F University.

Late frost damages are economically important in agriculture and forestry. In certain years, they are known to have caused losses amounting to up to hundreds of millions of euros.

Climate change and increasing temperatures will diminish the occurrence and severity of spring frost events, which should reduce frost damages.

“However, global warming also has another, negative consequence: plants flower and leaf out earlier than they used to. As a result, the incidence of frost damages will increase,” says Professor Frank Berninger from the University of Eastern Finland.

“Our research suggests that as a result, trees will suffer increasing frost damages in many places in Central Europe.”

Global Warming

Weaker Ocean Currents

A new study has found evidence that the ocean circulation in the North Atlantic has become the weakest of the past 1,500 years, mainly as a result of a warming climate.

Many climate models predict a weakening, or even a collapse, of this branch of the ocean circulation under global warming — partly due to a surge of fresh water from the melting of the Greenland ice sheet.

Researchers from the University of Hong Kong write in the journal Geophysical Research Letters that the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation has far-reaching impacts on the climate from North America to Europe, and can influence the monsoon rainfall in South Asia and Africa.

CO2 Emissions Surge

Global emissions of the most prevalent greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, rose to a new historic high last year, according to a U.N. report that warns the time for action to avoid disastrous climate change is running out.

It adds that emissions began rising again during 2017 for the first time in four years. Levels of accumulated atmospheric CO2 reached a global average of 405.5 parts per million during 2017, almost 50 percent higher than before the Industrial Revolution.

“The last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was 3 to 5 million years ago, when the temperature was 2 to 3 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 5.4 F) warmer and sea level was 10 to 20 meters (33 to 66 feet) higher,” said World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

EWCOLOR

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 109 degrees Fahrenheit (42.8 degrees Celsius) in Proserpine, Queensland, Australia.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 51.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 46.1 degrees Celsius) 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

Global warming increases the risk of an extinction domino effect

The complex network of interdependencies between plants and animals multiplies the species at risk of extinction due to environmental change, according to a JRC study.

In the case of global warming, predictions that fail to take into account this cascading effect might underestimate extinctions by up to 10 times.

As an obvious, direct consequence of climate change, plants and animals living in a given area are driven to extinction when the local environmental conditions become incompatible with their tolerance limits, just like fish in an aquarium with a broken thermostat.

However, there are many elusive drivers of species loss that go beyond the direct effects of environmental change (and human activity) which we still struggle to understand.

In particular, it is becoming clearer that co-extinctions (the disappearance of consumers following the depletion of their resources) could be a major culprit in the ongoing biodiversity crisis.

While the concept of co-extinction is supported by a sound and robust theoretical background, it is often overlooked in empirical research because it’s extremely difficult to assess.