Global Warming

‘Landmark’ Irish climate case sets global precedent

The Supreme Court ruling that will force the Government to review its climate action plan will have significant international repercussions, according to an expert from the United Nations.

For the first time in Ireland, and only the second time in the world, the highest national court has required a government to revise its national climate policy.

The case dubbed “Climate Case Ireland,” lodged by Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) against the Government, argued that the State’s National Mitigation Plan does not do enough to tackle climate change.

Yesterday’s ruling rejected the plan as invalid and in breach of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015, overturning a High Court ruling last year which said that it could not second guess government policy.

Environment

Global Quiet

The plunge in human activities worldwide in recent months due to the pandemic has brought the longest and most pronounced quiet period of seismic noise in recorded history. An international team of scientists write in the journal Science that the relative quiet has allowed them to detect previously concealed earthquake signals, which could help us more accurately tell the difference in the future between man-made and natural seismic noise. The typically quiet periods around Christmas, New Year’s and the Chinese New Year have been eclipsed by the decline of industrial production, transport and service industries brought on by COVID-19.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 123 degrees Fahrenheit (50.6 degrees Celsius) in Al Qaysumah, Saudi Arabia.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 106.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 76.7 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

Increasing Arctic freshwater is driven by climate change

New, first-of-its-kind research from CU Boulder shows that climate change is driving increasing amounts of freshwater in the Arctic Ocean. Within the next few decades, this will lead to increased freshwater moving into the North Atlantic Ocean, which could disrupt ocean currents and affect temperatures in northern Europe.

Since the 1990s, the Arctic Ocean has seen a 10% increase in its freshwater. That’s 2,400 cubic miles (10,000 cubic kilometers), the same amount it would take to cover the entire U.S. with 3 feet of water.

The salinity in the ocean isn’t the same everywhere, and the Arctic Ocean’s surface waters are already some of the freshest in the world due to large amounts of river runoff.

This freshwater is what makes sea ice possible: it keeps cold water at the surface, instead of allowing this denser liquid to sink below less dense, warm water. In this way, the Arctic Ocean is much different than other oceans. But as more freshwater exits the Arctic, this same stabilizing mechanism could disrupt the ocean currents in the North Atlantic that moderate winter temperatures in Europe.

Such disruptions have happened before, during the “great salinity anomalies” of the 1970s and 80s. But these were temporary events. If too much cold freshwater from the Arctic continuously flows into the North Atlantic, the ocean turnover could be disrupted more permanently.

Global Warming

Forests Migrate — But Not Fast Enough For Climate Change

We’re all familiar with migration: Wildebeests gallop across Africa, Monarch butterflies flit across the Americas … but forests migrate, too, an agonizingly slow migration, as forests creep inch by inch to more hospitable places.

Individual trees are rooted in one spot. As old trees die and new ones sprouts up, the forest is — ever so slightly — moving. A forest sends seeds just beyond its footprint in every direction, but the seeds that go to the north — assuming the north is the more hospitable direction — thrive a little more than the ones that fall to the south. Over time, this forest would march steadily northwards.

Global Warming

Rivers and climate change in Europe

Studying historical documents from 5 centuries, scientists from Vienna University were able to compare flood events from the past with recent flood events in Europe. This combination of historical and hydrological research provides evidence for the strong influence of climate change on rivers and floodings. Floods tend to be larger, the timing has shifted and the relationship between flood occurrence and air temperatures has reversed.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 123 degrees Fahrenheit (50.6 degrees Celsius) in Death Valley, California.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 90.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 67.8 degrees Celsius) at the South Pole.

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.

Space Events

Asteroid Close Shave

Asteroid 2020ND will fly by Earth on Friday, 24 July 2020. Sadly, it won’t be visible to the naked eye, although those using powerful telescopes could catch a glimpse as it flies by Earth. The asteroid, which is said to make London look like a speck on the map, measures 170 metres in diameter and will come within 0.034 astronomical units (AU) of Earth. Even an Asteroid 1 metre in diameter could cause significant damage on impact.

Global Warming

Greenhouse Earth

Scientists predict that Earth’s atmosphere will soon contain the same high level of carbon dioxide that existed at the peak of the Pliocene Epoch warmth 3 million years ago, when temperatures were 5 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer and sea levels were 65 feet higher.

A report published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports says that given the level of emissions present at the start of the study, prior to the coronovirus lockdowns, CO2 levels could surpass 427 parts per million within five years. The authors say that the comparison with the Pliocene shows what is likely to happen in the future as the Earth responds to the buildup of greenhouse gas emissions.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 128 degrees Fahrenheit (53.3 degrees Celsius) in Death Valley, California.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 73.3 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.

Brutal Heat

A punishing heat wave blanketing the southwestern U.S. produced the hottest temperature anywhere on the planet since 2017.

The thermometer at Death Valley, California, reached 128 degrees Fahrenheit on July 12, only one degree lower than what experts believe was the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth. That reading was 129 degrees, also in Death Valley during the scorching summer of 2013. The temperature dropped to only 100 degrees at dawn following last week’s scorcher.

Environment

Lingering Radioactivity

Japan’s 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdowns blanketed snow and ice around the Northern Hemisphere with a thin layer of light radioactivity dubbed the Fukushima Layer. The nuclear disaster was triggered by a massive thrust earthquake that spawned a devastating tsunami, which knocked out the nuclear plant’s main cooling system. The resulting meltdowns contaminated groundwater around the plant and spewed radioactive particles into the atmosphere. It was thought that the airborne radiation would have faded by now. But scientists writing in Environmental Research Letters say the thawing and melting of glaciers around the hemisphere has made the radioactivity more concentrated, creating a lingering layer of contamination.

Global Warming

No quick fix in fight against global warming

Slashing greenhouse gas emissions would probably not yield visible results until mid-century, researchers have said, cautioning that humanity must manage its expectations in the fight against global warming.

Even under optimistic scenarios in which carbon pollution falls sharply, climate change will continue for decades, they reported on Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.

Two factors will make it difficult to feel and measure a drop in Earth’s surface temperature, if and when that happens.

One is lag time – Over the past half-century, human activity has loaded the atmosphere with more than 1-trillion tonnes of planet-warming carbon dioxide (CO2), a gas that lingers for hundreds of years.

The second factor is natural variability – Over the past half-century the planet has warmed 0.2°C every decade, mainly due to the burning of fossil fuels.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50.0 degrees Celsius) in As Ahsa, Saudi Arabia.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 102.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 74.4 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

Thin Arctic Ice

The biggest ever science expedition to the Arctic encountered extremely thin sea ice, which could threaten future efforts to study the region.

A team on board the Polarstern icebreaker ship began drifting last September until their vessel became locked in an ice floe. In the area off the Russian continental shelf where they started their journey, the ice was exceptionally thin compared with what models had predicted for the past two decades. The ice was around 50 centimetres thick, while it had been around 150 to 160 centimetres thick the previous three years.

Global Warming

Italian glacier turns pink due to global warming-linked algae

In a first for Italy, pink snow is observed on parts of the Presena glacier, in the north of the country. The phenomenon is caused by algae that develops when snow melts, simultaneously colouring the ice a darker colour. In a vicious circle, the algae in turn increases the rate at which the snow melts by accelerating the absorption of radiation.

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