Global Warming

Thousands March for Climate Change

Tens of thousands of people marched in Paris and other major cities across France on Saturday to call for greater action on climate change. Around 80 demonstrations were scheduled to be held nationwide on Saturday, from the northern city of Lille to Marseille, in the south of France. The protests came a week after after an alarming United Nations report calling for urgent global action to avoid a climate catastrophe.

Global Warming

Climate change is plunging Senegal’s herders into poverty

A 46-year-old Fulani pastoralist/herder returned to his village in Senegal’s northern Podor County after 10 months away with just half the number of sheep, cattle, and donkeys he set out with.

Losing half the herd means Saidou lost half his wealth. A year ago, he was not badly off, able to comfortably support his family. Now, because of the toll climate change has taken, coupled with a government ill-equipped to deal with the fallout, he’s bordering on poverty.

Six million people in the Sahel faced severe food shortages in a prolonged lean season between January and August this year; Senegal was one of the three worst affected countries in the region. It may get worse yet, as the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that 2.5 million livestock herders, or “pastoralists,” and those who raise both livestock and crops in the Sahel risk losing their income.

As soon as the rainy season ended last September, it became clear that erratic rainfall had led to diminished pasture across the Sahel. This forced northern herders like Saidou, who normally begin travelling south in January or February, to embark on their annual journey up to four months early, and in far greater numbers than usual.

Seasonal migration – which helps over-grazed regions recover by temporarily shifting the burden to areas with more pasture – is common way of life for the Fulani, one of the Sahel’s largest ethnic groups. But as the length of the migration period and the distance herders are forced to travel to find food and water for their livestock increases, their economic well-being and very way of life are at risk.

Life in pastoral communities revolves around their main source of financial capital: the herd. So when animals are placed under stress, the social fabric also suffers.

In the last five years, some areas in Senegal have reported decreases of between 50 and 100 percent in crops and grazing areas. This led to a spike in the demand for manufactured animal feed this year, which sent prices skyrocketing. A 40 kg sack of feed that cost around 7,000 CFA ($12) in October 2017 had risen to 13,000 CFA ($23) by March. Herders had to sell off animals to buy feed to sustain the rest of their herds, leaving a severe dent in their wealth.

In addition, livestock prices plummeted due to desperate herders bringing large numbers of animals to market. Cattle, sheep, and goats fetched half the price they had four months earlier; by March in Ranerou, a sack of feed cost more than a sheep.

Then on 27 June, Senegal’s first rains came, accompanied by an unseasonably cold wind. Tens of thousands of animals died in the space of a day as the long-awaited rains became a killer. Some herders lost everything.

The very real struggle for survival by millions of ordinary, hard-working people across the globe resultant upon climate change effects should be seen against the dismissive, arrogant and impossibly ignorant pronouncements by the US President Trump concerning the issue of climate change. It is incomprehensible for untold millions of people globally that the USA continues to allow its leader to destroy the future of our Earth and its people. Just yesterday President Trump sought to cast doubt on the latest UN Climate Change Report by seeking to cast aspersions upon the more than 91 scientists who compiled the report. It seems remarkable that a man who has been described as a buffoon should have the gall to seek to place his severely limited opinions above those of respected international scientists for no apparent purpose other than to facilitate the financial success of his political supporters.

Global Warming

Dutch appeals court upholds landmark climate change ruling

A court in The Hague has upheld a historic legal order on the Dutch government to accelerate carbon emissions cuts, a day after the world’s climate scientists warned that time was running out to avoid dangerous warming.

Appeal court judges ruled that the severity and scope of the climate crisis demanded greenhouse gas reductions of at least 25% by 2020 – measured against 1990 levels – higher than the 17% drop planned by Mark Rutte’s liberal administration.

The ruling – which was greeted with whoops and cheers in the courtroom – will put wind in the sails of a raft of similar cases being planned around the world, from Norway to New Zealand and from the UK to Uganda.

Global Warming

Global warming changing the ecosystem at top of Mount Fuji

The effects of global warming are enabling seed plants, including an alien species, to take root and spread in the harsh conditions around the summit of Mount Fuji.

Warmer temperatures at the 3,776-meter-high peak have allowed plant roots to survive the coldest months of winter, a long-time observer said, adding that some of the seeds have been carried on the shoes and clothing of hikers.

Previously, only lichens and mosses had been found around the summit of Mount Fuji, and seeds accidentally brought to the peak did not survive and are believed to have died.

Global Warming

UN Climate Change Report Makes Absolutely Harrowing Predictions For The Near Future

The nations of the world have a narrow path to preventing global temperatures from overshooting the most ambitious target in the Paris Agreement on managing climate change, a Nobel Peace Prize-winning United Nations panel said in a new report.

However, it would take an effort the likes of which the planet has never seen.

The much-anticipated assessment by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change paints a bleak picture of humanity’s odds of averting a potentially catastrophic rise in global temperatures. That increase leaves the world at greater risk of sea level rise, drought, extreme weather events and species extinction.

Climate scientists gathered in Incheon, South Korea this month to assess the world’s odds of achieving the tougher of two temperature targets in the Paris Agreement.

The agreement aims to mobilize nations to take action to prevent global temperatures from rising by 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100. But it also calls on countries to pursue measures that would cap that rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

More than 91 researchers and editors from 40 countries were involved in the report and the document cites more than 6,000 scientific references. The report describes the future, saying that by 2040, the world could likely see even more severe food shortages and wildfires around the world, along with the widespread death of coral reefs.

Much of the report focused on greenhouse gas emissions; the authors concluded that should emissions continue at the current rate, the atmosphere will heat up by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) above preindustrial levels by 2040. The result of this rise in temperature would be coastline flooding as well as worsening droughts and poverty.

The pledges nations made in the Paris agreement in 2015 are “clearly insufficient to limit warming to 1.5 in any way,” one of the study’s lead authors, Joerj Roeglj of the Imperial College in London, said.

To limit warming to the lower temperature goal, the world needs “rapid and far-reaching” changes in energy systems, land use, city and industrial design, transportation and building use, the report said. Annual carbon dioxide pollution levels that are still rising now would have to drop by about half by 2030 and then be near zero by 2050. Emissions of other greenhouse gases, such as methane, also will have to drop. Switching away rapidly from fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas to do this could be three to four times more expensive than the less ambitious goal, but it would clean the air of other pollutants. And that would have the side benefit of avoiding more than 100 million premature deaths through this century, the report said.

If immediate and drastic action is not taken it will take the planet into an unprecedented and potentially catastrophic climate future.

Global Warming

The Next Three Months are Crucial for the Future of the Planet

The warning signals of climate change that have hit people around the world in the last few months must be heeded by national governments at key meetings later this year, political leaders and policy experts are urging, as the disruption from record-breaking weather continues in many regions.

Extreme weather events have struck around the world – from the drought and record temperatures in northern Europe, to forest fires in the US, to heatwaves and drought in China, to an unusually strong monsoon that has devastated large areas of southern India.

As the northern hemisphere summer closes, polar observations have just established that the Arctic sea ice narrowly missed a record low this year. The sea ice extent was tied for the sixth lowest on record with 2008 and 2010. Sea currents and wind conditions can have large effects on sea ice extent from year to year, but the trend is starkly evident. Of particular concern is the decline in thick ice which forms over several years. “The older ice has been replaced by more and more first-year ice, which is easier to melt out each summer.

Not all of the effects of this year’s extraordinary weather, which has also seen the UK’s joint hottest summer on record, can be traced directly to climate change. However, scientists are clear that the background of a warming planet has made extremes of temperature, and accompanying droughts and floods, more likely.

This week, scientists are gathering in South Korea to draw together the last five years of advances in climate science to answer key questions for policymakers.

After the Korean IPCC publication, the world will face a key test of faith in the 2015 Paris agreement, the only global pact stipulating action on temperature rises. This December in Poland, the UN’s climate change arm will hold a two-week meeting aimed at turning the political resolve reached in Paris three years ago into a set of rules for countries to follow on reducing emissions.

The political situation is more fraught than it was in the runup to Paris. The US is pulling out of the landmark climate agreement and is likely to play little part in the talks. Australia’s government is also in turmoil over climate actions. Now the challenger for Brazil’s presidency, Jair Bolsonaro, is threatening to withdraw its participation – a potential blow to the Paris consensus, as Brazil was a linchpin among rapidly developing nations.

All eyes will be on China, which has shown remarkable progress on renewable energy and emissions reduction, and India, where climate champions have found common cause with opponents of increasingly damaging air pollution.

Global Warming

This Stretch of Water Is Losing Oxygen Faster Than Almost Anywhere Else in The Ocean

A new study links rapid deoxygenation in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to two powerful currents: the Gulf Stream and the Labrador Current.

The broad, biologically rich waterway in Eastern Canada which drains North America’s Great Lakes and is popular with fishing boats, whales, and tourists has lost oxygen faster than almost anywhere else in the global oceans.

The paper, which appears in Nature Climate Change, explains how large-scale climate change already is causing oxygen levels to drop in the deeper parts of this waterway.

The findings confirm a recent study showing that, as carbon dioxide levels rose over the past century due to human emissions, the Gulf Stream has shifted northward and the Labrador Current has weakened.

The new paper finds that this causes more of the Gulf Stream’s warm, salty, and oxygen-poor water to enter the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Oxygen declines have been seen to affect Atlantic wolffish, and also threaten Atlantic cod, snow crabs, and Greenland halibut that all live in the depths.

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Global Warming

Arctic ice reaches lowest recorded extent

The extent of Arctic sea ice, with reached its 2018 lowest extent on 23 September and again on 23 September, has tied with 2008 and 2010 for the sixth lowest summertime minimum extent in the satellite record.

This is the conclusion from satellite data by NASA and the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado Boulder, which showed that, at 1,77-million square miles (4,59-million square kilometres), 2018 effectively tied with.

Arctic sea ice, the cap of frozen seawater blanketing most of the Arctic Ocean and neighbouring seas in wintertime, follows seasonal patterns of growth and decay. It thickens and spreads during the fall and winter and thins and shrinks during the spring and summer.

But in the past decades, increasing temperatures have led to prominent decreases in the Arctic sea ice extents, with particularly rapid decreases in the minimum summertime extent.

The shrinking of the Arctic sea ice cover can ultimately affect the planet’s weather patterns and the circulation of the oceans.

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Global Warming

Scientists Link Southern Ocean’s Rapid Warming to Human Activity

In the past few decades, the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica has gotten less salty and has warmed at roughly twice the rate of global oceans overall.

Now, in a new study, scientists found convincing evidence that these trends are the result of two human influences: climate change from greenhouse gas emissions and the depletion of the ozone layer.

The research, published this week in the journal Nature Geoscience, was authored by scientists from Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California.

Using climate models, data from the Argo global network of floating ocean sensors and past records, the researchers determined that Antarctica’s warming and freshening waters are directly linked to ozone depletion and greenhouse gas emissions, as opposed to natural variabilities.

This is the first time such a connection has been found specifically for the Southern Ocean, lead author Neil Swart of Environment and Climate Change Canada told Canada’s National Observer.

“While the influence of ozone depletion and greenhouse gas increases on the Southern Ocean have been suggested for some time, our research provides the evidence that links the observed changes to these mechanisms, and defines their relative importance,” Swart said.

Global Warming

Climate Change Will Ravage Us National Parks

America’s national parks have warmed twice as fast as the US average and could see some of the worst effects of climate change, according to a new study.

Most of Joshua Tree national park could become uninhabitable for its eponymous trees, glaciers will continue to melt away at Glacier national park, and many other of America’s most treasured beauty spots could be rendered virtually unrecognizable by climate change, Patrick Gonzalez, the lead author of the study, writes in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

Even the tiniest of creatures are at risk in the worst-case predictions: the American pika, a small alpine mammal, may no longer be able to survive on park land.

Alaska parks would see the most extreme heat increases, and the US Virgin Islands parks face 28% less rainfall by the end of the century. In Glacier Bay national park, the Muir Glacier melted 640 meters between 1948 and 2000.

In Yellowstone national park, trees are dying because bark beetles are thriving in warmer winters. Yellowstone will also become far more vulnerable to wildfires. The area burned could be up to three to 10 times higher by 2100. Joshua Tree national park in California could lose up to 90% of the habitat suitable for its namesake trees.

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Global Warming

Climate change kills Antarctica’s ancient moss beds

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Emerging from the ice for a brief growing season every Antarctic summer, the lush green mosses of East Antarctica are finally succumbing to climate change.

That is according to a study of the small, ancient and hardy plants – carried out over more than a decade which revealed that vegetation in East Antarctica is changing rapidly in response to a drying climate.

“Visiting Antarctica, you expect to see icy, white landscapes,” said lead scientist Prof Sharon Robinson from the University of Wollongong, in Australia. “But in some areas there are lush, green moss beds that emerge from under the snow for a growing period of maybe six weeks.”

While West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula are some of the fastest warming places of the planet, East Antarctica has not yet experienced much climate warming, so the scientists did not expect to see much change in the vegetation there.

“After a pilot study in 2000, we set up monitoring in 2003. When we returned in 2008, all these green moss beds had turned dark red, indicating they were severely stressed. It was a dramatic change.

The red pigments are the sunscreen and drought stress protective pigments they produce to protect themselves – antioxidant and UV screening compounds.

Grey means they are dying.

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By dating the mosses, the researchers could tell they have been growing here for hundreds of years. As they grow, the mosses preserve a record of how dry or wet the environment is along their shoots – preserving a record of Antarctic coastal climate over the centuries.

[They might be only] 4-14 cm tall, but [the moss beds] are home to tiny animals and fungi and lichens and algal cells – think of them as a forest and at least 40% of it is suffering drought.

“The mosses are our sentinel for the whole ecosystem.”

Global Warming

Melting Arctic Permafrost Releases Acid that Dissolves Rocks

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As temperatures rise in the Arctic, permafrost — permanently frozen ground — is defrosting at an alarming rate. But the permafrost isn’t the only thing in the Arctic that’s melting.

Exposed rock that was once covered in ice is dissolving, eaten away by acid. And the effects of this acid bath could have far-reaching impacts on global climate, according to a new study.

Icy permafrost is rich in minerals, which are released when the ice melts. The minerals then become vulnerable to chemical weathering, or the breakdown of rock through chemical reactions, scientists recently reported. They investigated areas once covered by permafrost in the western Canadian Arctic, finding evidence of weathering caused by sulfuric acid, produced by sulfide minerals that were released when the permafrost melted.

Another type of naturally occurring chemical erosion is caused by carbonic acid, and it also dissolves Arctic rock. But although carbonic-acid weathering locks carbon dioxide (CO2) in place, sulfuric-acid erosion releases CO2 into the atmosphere, and it does so in quantities that were not previously accounted for, researchers wrote in the study.

Hundreds of mummified penguins in Antarctica can tell us a lot about climate change

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New research has connected hundreds of mummified penguin carcasses to two disastrous weather events thought to be influenced by climate change.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Geophysical Research – Biogeosciences, warns that these events might foreshadow what’s to come if the Earth continues to get hotter.

A team of Chinese and Australian researchers found the mummified Adélie penguins under a remarkably thick layer of sediment in Long Peninsula, East Antarctica, which usually has a dry climate.

Then, using radiocarbon dating, the scientists found that most of the mummified carcasses were from two specific incidents that affected breeding colonies from 750 and 200 years ago.

The two instances of unusually thick sediment were evidence to the researchers that a lot of water flowed over the area in a short amount of time.

Since penguin chicks do not develop waterproof feathers until a later stage of development, a particularly wet or snowy season would put them in danger of getting hypothermia and dying — which is why scientists believe they found the large number of dead chicks in the two breeding colonies.

The weather event they suspect to be the cause is called zonal wave 3 (ZW3), which produces near-shore ice and adds a lot of moisture to the atmosphere.

Research showed that this meteorological pattern became more frequent in the late 20th Century due to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

Since the world hasn’t done enough to curb our collective greenhouse gas emissions, researchers fear that ZW3’s will become more frequent than ever before and penguin populations will continue to face unfavorable conditions that will jeopardize the survival of the populations.

This particular breed of Antarctic penguins have seen a slough of catastrophic breeding seasons recently.

In 2017 all but two penguins from a colony of 40,000 died from starvation. Earlier that year, only two chicks from a colony of 18,000 breeding penguins survived. That same colony lost every chick in 2013.

Global Warming

World’s Largest River Floods Five Times More Often Than It Used to

Extreme floods have become more frequent in the Amazon Basin in just the last two to three decades, according to a new study.

After analyzing 113 years of Amazon River levels in Port of Manaus, Brazil, researchers found that severe floods happened roughly every 20 years in the first part of the 20th century. Now, extreme flooding of the world’s largest river occurs every four years on average—or about five times more frequently than it used to.

This increase in flooding could be disastrous for communities in Brazil, Peru and other Amazonian nations, the researchers pointed out. There are catastrophic effects on the lives of the people as the drinking water gets flooded, and the houses get completely destroyed.

This dramatic increase in floods is caused by changes in the surrounding seas, particularly the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and how they interact. Due to a strong warming of the Atlantic Ocean and cooling of the Pacific over the same period, we see changes in the so-called Walker circulation, which affects Amazon precipitation. The effect is more or less the opposite of what happens during an El Niño event. Instead of causing drought, it results in more convection and heavy rainfall in the central and northern parts of the Amazon basin.

With temperatures in the Atlantic expected to continue warming, the scientists expect to see more of these high water levels in the Amazon River.

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Global Warming

Global Warming Pushing Alpine Species Upslope

For every one-degree-Celsius increase in temperature, mountaintop species shift upslope 100 meters, shrinking their inhabited area and resulting in dramatic population declines, new research by University of British Columbia zoologists has found.

The study, a first-of-its-kind broad review, analyzed shifts in elevation range in 975 populations of plants, insects and animals.

Most mountaintop species we looked at are responding to warming temperatures by shifting upslope to live in cooler environments. As they move towards the mountaintop, the area they live within gets smaller and smaller. This supports predictions that global warming could eventually drive extinctions among species at the top.

The study found that most mountaintop species have moved upward, including:

– The northern pocket gopher in Nevada’s Ruby Mountains lost more than 70 percent of its inhabited area over the past 80 years as a 1.1-degree temperature increase drove populations upslope.

– The mountain burnet butterfly in the French Pyrenees adjusted to a one-degree temperature increase by shifting upslope 430 meters, losing 79 percent of its range over the past 50 years.

– An alpine meadow flower in the Himalayas moved upslope more than 600 meters as temperatures rose more than 2.2 degrees in the past 150 years. It lost 29 percent of its habitat in the region.

The research also found that a few species, such as the white-crowned sparrow in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains in California, moved their entire range down mountains.

“This highlights how complicated responses to climate change are likely to be”, said the study authors.

Global Warming

Colorado River is Evaporating and Climate Change is to Blame

An hour’s drive from Las Vegas stands America’s Hoover Dam, a commanding barrier of concrete holding back the trillions of gallons of Colorado River water held inside Lake Mead.

Yet, in the 80 years since the great dam’s completion, the 1,450-mile Colorado River – which sustains some 40 million Americans in places like Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles — has been gradually growing weaker, and the water level beyond the noble dam has fallen considerably over the last two decades. The writing is easily spotted on the steep rocky walls of the Lake Mead reservoir, where a bathtub-like ring shows where the water once sat during more fruitful times.

Today, however, the water sits 150-feet below that line, and human-caused climate change is a major reason why.

Over the last century, the river’s flow has declined by around 16 percent, even as annual precipitation slightly increased in the Upper Colorado River Basin — a vast region stretching from Wyoming to New Mexico. New research published in the journal Water Resources Research argues that over half of this decline is due to sustained and rising temperatures in the region, which ultimately means more water is evaporated from the river, diminishing the flow.

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