Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

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

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 99.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 72.8 degrees Celsius) at Russia’s Vostok base, 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 carbon emissions hit record high in 2018

Global energy-related carbon emissions rose to a record high last year as energy demand and coal use increased, mainly in Asia, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Tuesday (March 26).

Energy-related CO2 emissions rose by 1.7 per cent to 33.1 billion tonnes from the previous year, the highest rate of growth since 2013, with the power sector accounting for almost two-thirds of this growth.

The United States’ CO2 emissions grew by 3.1 per cent in 2018, reversing a decline a year earlier, while China’s emissions rose by 2.5 per cent and India’s by 4.5 per cent. Europe’s emissions fell by 1.3 per cent and Japan’s fell for the fifth year running.

Carbon dioxide emissions are the primary cause of global average temperature rise which countries are seeking to curb to avoid the most devastating effects of climate change.

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Environment

Billion Volt Storm

The most powerful thunderstorm on record, with an electric potential of 1.3 billion volts, has been measured by scientists from Japan and India.

They made the novel discovery by using a muon telescope located in Southern India to estimate the intensity of the record storm by measuring the flow of the high-energy muon particles it blocked.

Muons are subatomic particles that rain down after being created when cosmic rays collide with Earth’s upper atmosphere.

Global Warming

Everest’s melting glaciers reveal bodies of dead climbers

Glaciers on Mount Everest have been melting at a rapid pace over the past few years. Now authorities have begun removing some of the estimated hundreds of bodies that once lay buried beneath the ice, and they say more and more have begun to emerge because of global warming. Since 1922, when the first deaths on Everest were recorded, more than 200 mountaineers have died on the peak.

Environment

Hydrogen Power

Stanford scientists have proven they can use solar power to convert salt water taken directly from San Francisco Bay to create hydrogen gas.

On a larger scale, the process could achieve a truly pollution-free and carbon-neutral energy source to power cars and other devices.

Current methods of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen require the use of expensive purified water, which doesn’t corrode the electrodes that produce the splitting as does seawater at high voltages.

The researchers found that by using electrodes rich in negatively charged layers of nickel-iron hydroxide and nickel sulfide over a nickel foam core, the corrosion is significantly reduced.

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 89.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 67.2 degrees Celsius) at Russia’s Vostok base, 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

UN global climate report restores hope, lays out roadmap

A new UN report on global climate change isn’t quite as dire as one it issued last October. That special report on warming of 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) showed that the effects of climate change could become catastrophic by 2040, at least 10 years earlier than scientists had predicted. Another report in December by private energy consulting group Wood Mackenzie showed that it’s already too late to counter the worst effects of climate change.

The report lays out a roadmap for how to address critical problems, including air and water pollution, land and biodiversity degradation, and even antibiotic resistance.

It notes that water quality is getting worse, and that plastics are now found throughout every depth in all seven of the world’s major oceans.

It warns, however, that “Time is running out to prevent the irreversible and dangerous impacts of climate change.” In previous reports, UN climate scientists have identified 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit as the threshold at which global warming will endanger human and other life, as laid out in the Paris Climate Accord.

The latest report also warns of a “major species extinction event, compromising planetary integrity and Earth’s capacity to meet human needs” and notes that 29 percent of all land areas on the globe are already unsuitable for growing crops, and that deforestation is continuing. It notes progress, however, in the slowing rate of deforestation.

The report lays out plans to continue and expand such progress by involving community groups, scientists, academics, businesses, and authors to build the capacity to magnify change. It breaks down its findings into six major geographic areas, and notes that some regions will be especially hard-hit, including poorer regions of the world.

In North America, the report notes significant progress in energy usage and air quality, but says that high drinking-water quality is backsliding, and concerns of drought are growing. It also says that loss of biodiversity is a significant risk.

It points to stable or declining greenhouse-gas emissions in Europe, but says that higher emissions in Eastern and Southern Europe are offsetting that progress. Air quality is the largest concern in Europe, and the report says that “The region’s resource footprint is unsustainable, owing to its overuse of natural resources and its trading patterns with other regions. Ecological, societal and economic resilience will be negatively affected in coming decades by global megatrends that are largely outside the region’s direct control and influence.”

Global Warming

Students Around the World Protest Climate Change

Thousands of school pupils worldwide have abandoned classrooms for a day of protest against climate change. India, South Korea, Australia and the US are among the countries where teenagers are already on strike.

The day of action is expected to embrace about 100 countries. The globally co-ordinated children’s protests – promoted through posts on Twitter and other social media – have been going on for several months.

Global Warming

Glacial Break

The most significant glacial ruptures at Chile’s Grey Glacier in Patagonia since the 1990s saw two new icebergs break off in the last three weeks, sparking concerns that such ruptures are becoming more frequent due to climate change.

A larger break-off of glacial ice occurred in 2017. Scientists say recent above-normal temperatures and heavy rain could also be factors in the latest ruptures.

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Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 116 degrees Fahrenheit (46.7 degrees Celsius) in Dampier, Western Australia.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 79.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 61.7 degrees Celsius) at Russia’s Vostok base, 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

Dire UN climate change report

Earth is sick with multiple and worsening environmental ills killing millions of people yearly, a new U.N. report says.

Climate change, a global major extinction of animals and plants, a human population soaring toward 10 billion, degraded land, polluted air, and plastics, pesticides and hormone-changing chemicals in the water are making the planet an increasing unhealthy place for people, says the scientific report issued once every few years.

The sixth Global Environment Outlook, released Wednesday at a U.N. conference in Nairobi, Kenya, concludes “unsustainable human activities globally have degraded the Earth’s ecosystems, endangering the ecological foundations of society.”

But the same document says changes in the way the world eats, buys things, gets its energy and handles its waste could help fix the problems.

The report details climate change impacts on human health, air, water, land and biodiversity. Almost all coastal cities and small island nations are increasingly vulnerable to flooding from rising seas and extreme weather.

A major species extinction event, compromising planetary integrity and Earth’s capacity to meet human needs, is unfolding,” the report says, listing threats to ecosystems, fisheries and other major systems. It notes conservationists are divided on whether Earth is in a sixth mass extinction.

People getting sick from diseases caused by antimicrobial resistant bacteria in water supplies could become a major cause of death worldwide by 2050, unless something can be done about it, the report says.

Land is getting less fertile and useful. The report says degradation “hot spots,” where it’s difficult to grow crops, now cover 29 percent of all land areas. The rate of deforestation has slowed but continues.

Global Warming

Planting Trees Not Enough

There is so much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that solely planting trees won’t be enough to save humans from global warming, a study has revealed.

It was recently found that young trees can absorb carbon dioxide better than established tropical rainforests, which seemed to be a dose of good news.

But research has found there just isn’t enough space on earth to plant the amount of trees that would be required to make a real dent in our carbon emissions.

It has been calculated that if we planted 1.7 billion acres of trees, we could remove 3 billion tons of atmospheric carbon a year, according to Business Insider.

That’s about 10 percent of what humans emit every year, which can total up to 40 billion tons.

Scientists have looked at trees as a potential solution because they remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during photosynthesis, using it to form carbohydrates that are used in plant structure and function. Trees also release oxygen back into the atmosphere as a byproduct.

But 1.7 billion acres of trees would be equivalent to the entire contiguous US.

And planting that many trees would cover half the land that is used to farm crops worldwide, plus land we would need to eventually farm as populations continue to grow.

Thus, studies have found that this solution could actually lead to starvation of the human population.

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Global Warming

Rain melting Greenland ice sheet ‘even in winter’

Rain is becoming more frequent in Greenland and accelerating the melting of its ice, a new study has found. Scientists say they’re “surprised” to discover rain falling even during the long Arctic winter. The massive Greenland ice-sheet is being watched closely because it holds a huge store of frozen water.

Precipitation usually falls as snow in winter – rather than as rain – which can balance out any melting of the ice in the summer. Even if it falls during winter, and then quickly refreezes, the rain changes the characteristics of the surface, leaving it smoother and darker, and “pre-conditioned” to melt more rapidly when summer arrives.

The darker the ice is, the more heat it absorbs from the Sun – causing it to melt more quickly.

Whereas in 1979 there were on average 2 spells of winter rain, by 2012 the analysis found there were 12 spells of winter rain.

In stable times, snowfall in winter will balance any ice melted or breaking off into the ocean in summer. But research has shown how in recent decades the ice-sheet has been losing vast amounts of mass.

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Environment

Ice Quakes

Researchers studying Antarctica’s McMurdo Ice Shelf have discovered that thousands of tiny “ice quakes” occur there each day. The scientists from the University of Chicago believe they are caused by pools of partially melted ice as they refreeze at night.

“As the temperature cools at night, the ice on the top contracts, and the water below expands as it undergoes freezing,” said glaciologist Douglas MacAyeal. “This warps the top lid, until it finally breaks with a snap.” He and his colleagues believe using seismometers such as theirs elsewhere in Antarctica may help other scientists track glacier melting.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 116 degrees Fahrenheit (46.7 degrees Celsius) in Eucla, Western Australia.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 71.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 57.2 degrees Celsius) at Russia’s Vostok base, 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.