Environment

Rocket Pollution

Researchers warn that the rapidly increasing number of rocket launches threatens to alter the highest levels of Earth’s atmosphere, and perhaps the planet’s weather. The sootlike grains of black carbon produced when kerosene is burned as an oxidizer in rocket fuel can accumulate in the stratosphere, where they can trap heat from the sun and potentially damage the ozone layer.

A team from the U.S. environmental agency NOAA looked at what would happen if such launches increase by 10 times their current level by 2040, which is predicted. They found that the stratosphere could warm by up to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 C), with jet stream winds increasing by about 11 miles per hour.

Global Warming

Climate Disasters

Many of the extreme weather events so far this year, such as blistering heat waves and the catastrophic flooding in parts of India, Bangladesh and China, can be directly linked to global heating, scientists say.

Writing in the journal Environmental Research: Climate, an international team says that every heat wave occurring today is more intense due to climate change. The team reports that such heat waves are now five times more likely on average than in pre-industrial times. However, the World Weather Attribution group says the one in April that baked India and Pakistan was made 30 times more likely by climate change. The report says attributing drought and wildfires to a warming world is far more challenging.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees F) at Bandar-e Deyr, Iran.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 70.0 degrees Celsius (-94 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.

Global Warming

Northwest Passage

Melting Arctic sea ice during summer may soon become so pervasive if carbon emissions are not drastically curbed that new shipping lanes not controlled by Russia will open up. Current Russian law requires that all vessels passing through the Northern Sea Route off Siberia in summer pay tolls, be piloted by Russians and provide advance notice of their plans to use the route.

But a new study by Brown University finds that there will soon be shorter, more eco-friendly maritime routes that bypass Russian control. Arctic shipping routes between Asia and Europe are 30% to 50% shorter than using the Suez and Panama canals, and are an estimated 14 to 20 days faster.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 52 degrees Celsius (125.6 degrees F) at Al Jahra, Kuwait.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 70.0 degrees Celsius (-94 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.

Environment

China – Hot and Wet

Heatwaves in northern and central China drove up electricity demand to record levels as millions switched on air conditioners to escape the sweltering conditions, while floodwaters in the south submerged villages and trapped city residents.

Global Warming

Climate change is causing an increase in desertificaton

Climate change has caused an increase in desertification. The consequence for countries such as Mauritania is a significant drop in the agricultural production of some regions, leaving farmers struggling to grow enough food to eat or sell. The region of Guidimakha used to have significant rainfall, up to 1600mm in the 1990s, now rainfall barely reaches 400mm.

Politicians and experts met last week in Madrid to discuss ways to tackle drought and the increasing spread of deserts across the globe.

Global Warming

Tropical Trees Are Dying Twice As Fast Due to Climate Change

The results of a long-term international study published in Nature on May 18th, 2022 show that tropical trees in Australia’s rainforests have been dying at a rate twice as high as before since the 1980s, presumably due to climate impacts. According to this study, as the drying effect of the environment has increased due to global warming, the mortality rates of tropical trees have doubled over the last 35 years.

Environment

Plants vs Lighting

A new study documents how artificial light affects the seasonal rhythms of plants around U.S. cities.

Researchers from Iowa State University found that man-made lighting at night alters the natural circadian rhythms of plants, lengthening the pollen season for many of them.

They say this results in urban and suburban residents suffering from sneezing and itchy eyes for longer periods each year.

By comparing nighttime satellite images in the visible spectrum with historic plant data around 3,000 urban sites, they found that artificial light causes leaf budding in the spring about nine days earlier while also delaying the colors of fall foliage by about six days. The longer growing season could also have implications for crops grown around urban settings.

Environment

Europe Bakes in Heatwave

Spain is seeing its hottest early summer temperatures, one area of France banned outdoor events, and drought stalked Italian farmers as a heatwave sent Europeans hunting for shade and fretting over climate change. Temperatures reached 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in Madrid on Friday. A level not seen so early in the year since 1981. Northern Italian regions risk losing up to half their agricultural output due to a drought, as lakes and rivers start to run dangerously low, jeopardizing irrigation. Italy’s longest river, the Po, was experiencing its worst drought for 70 years, leaving many sections of the vast, northern waterway completely dried up.

In France, the Gironde department around Bordeaux prohibited public events including concerts and those at indoor venues without air conditioning. Fourteen administrative departments were on red alert, with schoolchildren told to stay at home in these areas. Speed limits were lowered in several regions, including around Paris, to limit exhaust emissions and a buildup of harmful smog.

Britain’s weather service said Friday was the hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures above 32 Celsius in some parts of the southeast.

Environment

Earth’s Oscillating Core

While scientists have for decades believed that Earth’s inner core consistently rotates faster than the planet’s surface, there is new evidence that the core oscillates and actually changed direction in the six years from 1969 to 1974.

The discovery was made in part by examining seismic data from Soviet underground nuclear tests from 1971 to 1974. Without such blasts, only the less-revealing quake data are available. niversity of Southern California researchers say their findings explain the variations in the length of a day, which has wavered during recent decades.

Global Warming

Arctic Sea Ice Levels

Arctic sea ice has been much slower to melt this spring than in the last 10 years, the result of temperatures being closer to the 1981 to 2010 average than the record warmth mainly experienced this century.

Ice coverage in May was almost 5 million square miles, with Hudson Bay, the Beaufort Sea, waters of Arctic Canada and the eastern Siberian Sea still mainly frozen at a time when the ice should have been melting. While the June 1 sea ice extent was the highest of the last nine years, it was still 16,000 square miles lower than the 1981 to 2010 average and the 16th lowest ever recorded for the date.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

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

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 88.0 degrees Celsius (-126.4 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.

Global Warming

Climate change: Green energy ‘stagnates’ as fossil fuels dominate

A new study says that the transition to renewables, in essence, has stalled. The use of coal, oil and gas continues to dominate total energy consumption. The share of renewable energy has moved in the last decade from 10.6% to 11.7%, but fossil fuels, all coal and gas have moved from 80.1% to 79.6% showing the situation is stagnating.

While renewable energy had reached 10% of global electricity production in 2021, the problems lie in challenging areas such as transport. Cars, lorries, ships and airplanes account for 32% of total final energy consumption, but green energy only had a 3.7% share last year.

As energy prices have risen for consumers, some countries, including the UK, have imposed new taxes on the profits made by oil and gas producers. However, many nations have also enacted new subsidies for fossil fuels. We’re spending globally $11m per minute on subsidising fossil fuel. In 2020, this was 7% of the global GDP.

This obviously creates a system which is unbalanced, because even though renewable energy is an economic alternative to fossil fuels, it’s not playing in a fair market.

The world’s largest trees are struggling to survive climate change

They are the largest trees in the world, living monuments with massive trunks and towering canopies that can thrive for 3,000 years. But ancient sequoia trees, which have been decimated by severe wildfires around California’s Sierra Nevada, are struggling to keep up with ever worsening conditions. And this summer, they could face their worst fate yet.

The trees, which grow in a narrow band of the Sierra Nevada, are accustomed to frequent wildfires — their tree rings show fire recurring every six to 30 years. But the worsening intensity of recent blazes have been too much for them to handle. Since 2020, three fires have resulted in the loss of 13 to 19 percent of the entire population. In August 2020, the Castle Fire killed up to 10,600 trees. And as many as 3,637 sequoias were killed or will ultimately die as a result of the September 2021 Windy and KNP Complex fires in the southern Sierra Nevada, according to the National Park Service.

Sequoias have thick bark that can withstand lower-intensity fire, and their high canopies are usually above the flames, but recent fires are reaching and consuming the canopy.

The southern Sierra, hard hit during the 2012-2016 drought, has become an epicenter for tree mortality. Drought-weakened trees, particularly pine and cedar, were killed by insects during those years, and the effects of the past two years of extreme drought are also becoming apparent. Given record-setting dryness in 2022, another significant die-off is possible this year. Hotter and longer fire seasons due to climate change are exacerbating already volatile forest conditions.

Environment

New Ecosystem Discovered Under Antarctica

A never-before-seen ecosystem lurks in an underground river deep below the icy surface in Antarctica. Researchers recently brought this “hidden world” into the light, revealing a dark and jagged cavern filled with swarms of tiny, shrimplike creatures.

The scientists found the secret subterranean habitat tucked away beneath the Larsen Ice Shelf — a massive, floating sheet of ice attached to the eastern coast of the Antarctic peninsula that famously birthed the world’s largest iceberg in 2021. Satellite photos showed an unusual groove in the ice shelf close to where it met with the land, and researchers identified the peculiar feature as a subsurface river. The team drilled down around 1,640 feet (500 meters) below the ice’s surface using a powerful hot-water hose to reach the underground chamber.

When the researchers sent a camera down through the icy tunnel and into the cavern, hundreds of tiny, blurry flecks in the water obscured the video feed. Initially, the team thought their equipment was faulty. But after refocusing the camera, they realized that the lens was being swarmed by tiny crustaceans known as amphipods. This caught the team off guard, as they had not expected to find any type of life this far below the icy surface.