Global Warming

Climate change is reshaping how heat moves around globe

The Earth’s atmosphere and oceans play important roles in moving heat from one part of the world to another, and new research is illuminating how those patterns are changing in the face of climate change.

The greenhouse effect and carbon dioxide aren’t the only issues to consider as the planet grows warmer – they are just one part of the equation. The way that the atmosphere and oceans move heat around is changing, too, and this could have significant effects on temperatures around the world.

Without heat transfer, the world’s hottest spots would be sizzling and the coolest spots would be even more frigid. Conditions in both hot and cold climates are affected by the movement of heat from the equator toward the poles in the atmosphere and oceans.

The study concludes that warming temperatures are driving increased heat transfer in the atmosphere, which is compensated by a reduced heat transfer in the ocean. Additionally, the excess oceanic heat is trapped in the Southern Ocean around the Antarctic.

For now, that heat is not re-entering the atmosphere, but at some point it may. If that were to happen, changes in heat transfer could contribute to significant shifts in normal temperatures worldwide. For instance, if we didn’t have heat transfer, Ohio would be 20 or 30 degrees colder than we are right now.

Environment

Iran’s Capital City Is Being Devoured by Sinkholes

Sinkholes and fissures are opening up the earth around Tehran, Iran’s capital city. And they threaten people’s homes and the local infrastructure.

The ground is cracking open, thanks to a water crisis that has deepened as Tehran’s population has ballooned. The region is in the midst of a three-decade-long drought and ongoing desertification. The problem has been compounded as the city’s population has grown to close to 8.5 million.

Water pumped from underground aquifers has gotten saltier every year as the city has increasingly relied on these underground water sources as opposed to rainwater. At the same time, a great deal of the dwindling water supply gets diverted to thirsty and inefficient agriculture.

As a result, land in the area is physically slumping in on itself. The ground around Tehran, sitting 3,900 feet (1,200 meters) above sea level, has subsided an average of 8.6 inches (22 centimeters) per year based on satellite measurements.

All that subsidence has cracked buildings and water pipes, opened holes in the drying earth, and caused miles-long fissures. Residents fear their buildings collapsing, Nature reported. The airport, oil refinery, highways and railroads in the area are all threatened.

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Global Warming

Retreating Ice Exposes Arctic Landscape Unseen for 120,000 Years

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The retreat of Arctic glaciers on Baffin Island is exposing landscapes that haven’t seen the sun for nearly 120,000 years.

These rocky vistas have very likely been covered in ice since the Eemian, a period in which average temperatures were up to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) warmer than present, and sea levels up to 30 feet (9 meters) higher.

The island is ringed with dramatic fjords, but its interior is dominated by high-elevation, relatively flat, tundra plains. These tundra plains are covered with thin ice caps. Because the landscape is so flat, the ice caps don’t flow and slide like typical glaciers. Instead, they simply sit on the underlying rock and soil, preserving everything beneath them like the glass of a museum case.

What’s preserved includes tiny Arctic plants and mosses that were last alive when the ice enveloped the land. As the ice melts, it exposes this ancient, delicate vegetation. Wind and water destroy the long-lost plants within months, but if researchers can get to them first, they can use radiocarbon dating to determine the age of the vegetation. The samples were at least as old as the oldest age that radiocarbon dating can detect: 40,000 years. That’s a direct indication that the plants had been under ice for at least that long.

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Over 70,000 march for the climate in Brussels

At least 70,000 people marched on January 27 in Brussels, braving the cold and rain to urge politicians to uphold their promises on countering climate change.

Chanting and holding placards with slogans such as, “Stop denying the Earth’s dying” and “What I stand for is what I stand on,” demonstrators walked through the streets of the Belgian capital towards the European Parliament building to send a message about climate change to European lawmakers.

Protests Across France Call for Action on Climate Change

Thousands gathered in Paris and across France on Sunday to denounce political inaction on battling climate change.

More than 100 demonstrations were planned across France for a weekend of action on the environment. Organisers called on people to come together to discuss practical ideas on how to advance an agenda that would halt or at least slow global warming.

Hundreds of people battled heavy rain and winds in Paris to attend a protest at Place de la République that included representatives from NGOs, scientists and activists as well as the general public.

Throughout the afternoon moderators will run workshops exploring how to make the planet greener and how lawsuits can be an effective tool against climate change. More than 2 million people signed a petition in December to sue the French government for not doing enough to combat climate change, France’s most successful petition ever.

Germany Sets Goal to End Coal Use by 2038

In a pioneering move, a German government-appointed panel has recommended that Germany stop burning coal to generate electricity by 2038 at the latest, as part of efforts to curb climate change.

Germany gets more than a third of its electricity from burning coal, generating large amounts of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

Global Warming

Climate Change – Migrant Crisis in Bangladesh

The country, already grappling with the Rohingya crisis, now faces a devastating migration problem as hundreds of thousands face an impossible choice between battered coastlines and urban slums.

Bangladesh, a densely populated, riverine South Asian nation, has always survived its share of tropical storms, flooding, and other natural disasters. But today, climate change is accelerating old forces of destruction, creating new patterns of displacement, and fueling an explosion of rapid, chaotic urbanization

Bangladesh holds 165 million people in an area smaller than Illinois. One-third of them live along the southern coast, a lush honeycomb of island villages, farms, and fish ponds linked by protective embankments. Most of the country’s land area is no higher above sea level than New York City, and during the rainy season more than one-fifth of the country can be flooded at once.

For tens of thousands of years, people living in the vast Ganges Delta accepted a volatile, dangerous landscape of floods and tropical storms as the cost of access to rich agricultural soil and lucrative maritime trade routes.

Climate change is disrupting traditional rain patterns—droughts in some areas, unexpected deluges in others—and boosting silt-heavy runoff from glaciers in the Himalaya Mountains upstream, leading to an increase in flooding and riverbank erosion. Every year, an area larger than Manhattan washes away. Meanwhile, sea-level rise is pushing saltwater into coastal agricultural areas and promising to permanently submerge large swaths.

Over the last decade, nearly 700,000 Bangladeshis were displaced on average each year by natural disasters, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. That number spikes in years with catastrophic cyclones,

As people flee vulnerable coastal areas, most are arriving in urban slums—particularly in Dhaka, one of the world’s fastest-growing and most densely populated megacities. The city is perceived as the country’s bastion of economic opportunity, but it is also fraught with extreme poverty, public health hazards, human trafficking, and other risks, including its own vulnerability to floods. Already, up to 400,000 low-income migrants arrive in Dhaka every year.

Environment

Doomsday Clock Hovers at 2 Minutes to ‘Midnight’

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Humanity might be running out of time to turn away from a path toward our utter annihilation — at least, according to the hypothetical Doomsday Clock.

Experts with the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) updated the imaginary timepiece, which measures the proximity of humanity’s destruction based on the position of the clock’s hands relative to midnight — the hour of the impending apocalypse.

Last year the Doomsday Clock’s hands were set at 2 minutes to midnight, the closest it had ever been to “doomsday.” And, citing similar risks of humanity’s destruction, BAS representatives announced today that the clock will remain at 2 minutes to midnight.

But even though the clock’s hands haven’t moved, the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the relentless progress of climate change — aided by widespread misinformation and fake news — are still a cause for grave concern, BAS representatives declared at a press event.

South Australia heatwave

Temperatures in southern Australian neared 48 degrees on Thursday, shattering previous records as sizzling citizens received free beer to help weather heatwave of historic proportions.

The Bureau of Meteorology reported temperatures of 47.9 Celsius (118 Fahrenheit) north of Adelaide, while inside the city temperatures reached 46.2 Celsius, a fraction above a record that had stood since 1939.

More than 13 towns across South Australia have smashed their own heat records, with some of the state forecast to see temperatures of 50 degrees by the end of the day.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 121 degrees Fahrenheit (49.4 degrees Celsius) in Port Augusta, South Australia.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 63.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 52.8 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

Climate Change and Groundwater

Climate change may be creating a groundwater “time bomb” as the world’s underground water systems catch up to the impacts of global warming.

Researchers for a study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change say more than half of the world’s groundwater systems — the largest source of usable freshwater in the world — could take more than 100 years to completely respond to current environmental changes from global warming.

Groundwater is replenished primarily by rainfall through a process known as recharge. Concurrently, water exits or discharges from groundwater sources into lakes, streams and oceans to maintain an overall balance.

When there is a change in recharge due to a lack of rainfall, for example, levels of groundwater drop until balance is restored.

Groundwater systems take a lot longer to respond to climate change than surface water, with only half of the world’s groundwater flows responding fully within ‘human’ timescales of 100 years. This could be described as an environmental time bomb because any climate change impacts on recharge occurring now, will only fully impact the base flow to rivers and wetlands a long time later.

Global Warming

Antarctic krill is moving southwards

Krill are moving further south from the Southern Ocean in vast numbers to an icier habitat as the oceans continue to warm, new research has found.

Scientists say warming conditions in recent decades have led to the krill migrating by about 270 miles (440km) toward the Antartic over the past 90 years.

The pink shrimp-like creatures are the primary food source for almost all sea creatures including other fish, penguins, seabirds and whales.

If this pattern continues, scientists warn that it will have negative ecosystem impacts and continue to see further dramatic declines in marine species.

There is already evidence that macaroni penguins and fur seals are competing for krill to support their populations.

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Global Warming

10 Year Challenge

People concerned about climate change are posting before and after photos of glaciers retreating, bleached coral reefs, starving polar bears and drought-stricken landscapes to make a point about climate change.

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Environment

Bovine Companions

Delhi’s development minister announced a controversial plan to house abandoned cows alongside senior citizens, who will care for the animals — considered holy by many in India.

Gopal Rai points out how the Indian capital’s cow shelters are teeming with bovines abandoned by their owners once they dry up, while old people are put into nursing homes to live out their remaining days virtually alone.

He proposes adding an old-age home to a modernized 18-acre cattle shelter in southwestern Delhi, where “cows and senior citizens will coexist, taking care of each other.”

But a leading animal rights advocate says the scheme is “unethical because the government will be using the senior citizens living there for their labor.”

Environment

Desalination Brine

The nearly 16,000 desalination plants around the world that extract fresh water from the sea are discharging far greater amounts of toxic brine back into the ocean than previously thought, a new U.N. study reveals.

It says the salt-laden liquid is increasing the density of salinity where it is released, and poses a significant risk to marine life and ecosystems.

More than half of the 5 billion cubic feet of brine discharged each day worldwide comes from desalination plants operating in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait.

Magnetic North Pole Shift

The erratic and rapid shift of the Magnetic North Pole since 2014 has prompted scientists to update a year earlier than scheduled a model used in crucial navigation systems.

The unprecedented update was requested by the U.S. military due to the mounting level of inaccuracies in guidance across the Arctic for ships, planes and submarines.

Scientists believe the wayward pole is being influenced by changes in the flow of iron in Earth’s outer core.

But some experts believe the planet’s magnetic poles are on the verge of reversing, which is long overdue.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 118 degrees Fahrenheit (47.8 degrees Celsius) in Port Augusta, South Australia.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 70.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 56.7 degrees Celsius) at Olenek, 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

Climate Change to Affect Human Health

Climate change is on its way to “halt and reverse” progress made in human health over the last century.

The grim analysis comes from one of the authors of a new report in the New England Journal of Medicine that suggests rising global temperatures could lead to many more deaths than the 250,000 a year the World Health Organization predicted just five years ago.

In 2014 the WHO said that climate change will bring with it malaria, diarrhea, heat stress and malnutrition, killing that many more people annually around the world from 2030 to 2050.

In reviewing the research on the topic, study co-author Sir Andrew Haines thinks our health is much more vulnerable to climate change — and he believes 250,000 deaths is a “conservative estimate.”

Due to climate change-related food shortages alone, the world could see a net increase of 529,000 adult deaths by 2050, the report said. Climate change could force 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030 and poverty makes people more vulnerable to health problems.

The depletion of freshwater resources, the unprecedented biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, overfishing, pollution, deforestation and the spread of invasive species, that are related to climate change, but are environmental problems on their own, all compound these public health threats he said.

Global study – permafrost warming

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Large areas of permafrost around the world warmed significantly over the past decade, intensifying concerns about accelerated releases of heat-trapping methane and carbon dioxide as microbes decompose the thawing organic soils.

One quarter of the Northern Hemisphere and 17 percent of the Earth’s exposed land surface is underlain by permafrost. Most of these regions have been permanently frozen since the last Ice Age, 10,000 years ago.

The permafrost, especially in the Arctic, can be 1.6 kilometers (1.0 mile) deep, trapping large amounts of carbon in the frozen organic matter. Global warming – particularly in the Arctic regions – has increased the potential for thawing of the permafrost and the release of carbon dioxide and methane gasses.

The study was published in the journal Nature Communications on January 16, 2018. Using detailed data from the GTN-P, researchers found that on average, permafrost regions around the world—in the Arctic, Antarctic and the high mountains—warmed by a half degree Fahrenheit between 2007 and 2016.

The most dramatic warming was seen in the Siberian Arctic, where temperatures in the deep permafrost increased by 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit. “There, in regions with more than 90 percent permafrost content, the soil temperature rose by an average of 0.30 degrees Celsius within ten years.

In Arctic regions with less than 90 percent permafrost, the frozen ground only warmed by 0.2 degrees Celsius on average.

Besides the most obvious impact – the release of vast amounts of carbon dioxide and methane – there are other concerns to take into account, especially for four million people living in Arctic permafrost areas.

We have already seen the damages that thawing permafrost leaves behind. The buckling ground, holes, destabilized roads and bridges and buildings and homes shifting on their foundations.

We can add ecosystems to the economic and infrastructure issues. Massive discharges of silt and sediments have been dumped into our rivers and coastal areas due to the melting permafrost, forcing families to move away in some communities.

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Global Warming

Antarctica Is Dumping Hundreds of Gigatons of Ice into the Ocean Right Now

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The southern, frozen continent lost an average of 252 gigatons of ice a year to the sea between 2009 and 2017. Between 1979 and 1990, it lost an average of just 40 gigatons per year. That means that ice loss on Antarctica has accelerated by 6.3 times in just four decades, according to new research published Jan. 14 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

As the sea ice at the North Pole melts away, the melting causes negative consequences and ripple effects for the global climate. However, that melting doesn’t directly raise sea levels. North polar ice is already floating on the ocean, so turning it from solid to liquid doesn’t add to the total volume of water in the seas, according to NASA.

But Antarctica is a landmass buried beneath ice. And it holds the largest reserve of frozen, landlocked water anywhere on the planet. Any ice loss on Antarctica directly contributes to the total volume of water in the oceans, and raises sea levels.

Hidden Beneath a Half Mile of Ice, Antarctic Lake Teems with Life

The dark waters of a lake deep beneath the West Antarctic ice sheet and a few hundred miles from the South Pole are teeming with bacterial life, say scientists — despite it being one of the most extreme environments on Earth.

The discovery has implications for the search for life on other planets — in particular on the planet Mars, where signs of a buried lake of liquid saltwater were seen in data reported last year by the European Space Agency’s orbiting Mars Express spacecraft.

The drill team bored through about 3,504 feet (1,068 meters) of ice, and the water below was a chilly 30.8 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 0.65 degrees Celsius), so that scientific researchers could take water samples and sediment cores from the lake, which was about 49 feet (15 m) deep at that spot and covers an area of about 54 square miles (139 square kilometers) under the ice sheet.

Early studies of water samples taken from Lake Mercer — which is buried beneath a glacier — showed that they contained approximately 10,000 bacterial cells per milliliter. That’s only about 1 percent of the 1 million microbial cells per milliliter typically found in the open ocean, but a very high level for a sunless body of water buried deep beneath an Antarctic glacier.

The scientists said that the high levels of bacterial life in the dark and deeply buried lake were signs that it might support higher life-forms, such as microscopic animals like tardigrades.

Upper-ocean warming is making waves stronger

Sea level rise puts coastal areas at the forefront of the impacts of climate change, but new research shows they face other climate-related threats as well. Scientists found that the energy of ocean waves has been growing globally, and they found a direct association between ocean warming and the increase in wave energy.

The new study focused on the energy contained in ocean waves, which is transmitted from the wind and transformed into wave motion. This metric, called wave power, has been increasing in direct association with historical warming of the ocean surface. The upper ocean warming, measured as a rising trend in sea-surface temperatures, has influenced wind patterns globally, and this, in turn, is making ocean waves stronger.

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Global Warming

Global Warming in a Nutshell – The Carbon Cycle

Using sunlight, plants and microorganisms take in carbon dioxide and emit oxygen. Those plants are then eaten by animals, which then convert the plants to energy and exhale carbon dioxide. Or if the plants don’t get eaten, they die and decay, putting some carbon in the soil and returning some carbon to the atmosphere.

It’s almost a closed loop, though over the course of millions of years, enough decaying plant and animal matter gradually built up in the ground to yield vast reserves of fossil fuels while reducing the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere bit by bit.

Humans have breached this cycle by digging up fossil fuels and burning them, leading to carbon dioxide building up in the atmosphere faster than natural systems can soak it up. This has led to a net increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, causing the planet to heat up.

The Oceans are Warming Faster than Previously Thought

The planet’s oceans are warming a lot quicker than estimated, highlighting the perils of unchecked climate change, according to a new study.

New data published by the journal Science on Thursday, indicates that ocean temperatures have consistently risen since the 1950s and are rising 40% faster than calculated by scientists in a 2014 U.N. report. According to Lijing Cheng, one of the study’s authors, temperatures down to 2,000 meters rose about 0.1 degree Celsius (0.18F) between 1971-2010, according to Reuters. The fallout could include rising sea levels, destruction of corals, severe weather systems and a decrease in ice sheets and glaciers. According to the study, sea levels could rise by 30cm by the year 2100.

The earth’s oceans have absorbed more than 90% of heat caused by greenhouse gases trapped in the atmosphere, according to the New York Times, making them a vital regulator for the planet’s thermostat. However, their role was relatively unnoticed because of insufficient and imprecise data. The new study analyzed earlier published information and data compiled by Argo, an international system of nearly 4,000 floats that measures temperature and saline levels in the upper parts of the world’s oceans.

The study is the latest in a number of warnings from the scientific community, urging people to change their ways and address global warming. In October 2018, a report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that the planet has only until 2030 to avoid devastating climate change effects. Governments are becoming more aware of their responsibilities, with almost 200 nations pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the 2015 Paris climate accord.