Global Warming

Interactive Map Shows What Climate Change Will Do to US Cities by 2050

The US National Climate Assessment, a stunning report released in November by 13 federal agencies and the White House late last month, showed that climate change has already had devastating impacts on our health and economy, and that costs could mount to hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century.

The report maps out what we can expect if we aggressively cut greenhouse gas emissions now, and what would happen if we do nothing. As part of the Weather 2050 project, researchers used the latter scenario to look at what could happen to temperature and precipitation in US cities by the middle of the century.

They found that by 2050, many US cities may resemble hotter, more southern parts of the country today. A few of the most striking transitions are shown here:

Global Warming

Polar Bear Invasion

Thinning sea ice has driven more than 50 polar bears ashore on an Arctic archipelago in northern Russia, causing chaos for the local population. Fences have risen around kindergartens. Special vehicles transport military personnel to their work sites. Residents of the island settlement are afraid to leave their homes.

Novaya Zemlya is a Russian archipelago stretching into the Arctic Ocean. It once played host to Soviet nuclear tests, including the largest-ever man-made explosion, when the so-called King of Bombs detonated in 1961, releasing 50 megatons of power and deepening an arms race that threatened to turn the Cold War hot.

Today, the barren landscape is under siege — from dozens of polar bears locked in their very own sort of hot war. Marine ecologists have long been sounding the alarm about the peril posed by global warming for the vulnerable species. In the far reaches of Russia, the situation has suddenly become traumatic for humans, too.

But as arctic ice thins, which is linked to the acceleration of climate change, the animals move ashore, ravenous. They scavenge, sometimes coming into contact with human populations.

At least 52 bears were massed near Belushya Guba, the main settlement on the island territory, which is still used as a military garrison, with restricted access to the public. The town had a population of about 2,000 as of the 2010 Census.

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Global Warming

Warming Record

The U.N. weather agency announced that the last four years have been the warmest ever recorded since reliable measurements began.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) also says that the 20 warmest years in history occurred during the past 22 years.

The WMO went on to point out that the unprecedented warming continues this year, with Australia experiencing its hottest January on record.

“The degree of warming during the past four years has been exceptional, both on land and in the ocean,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

Oceans to Change Color

The distinctive blue color that Earth presents to the universe may be altered by the end of this century due to effects of a warmer climate.

A team of U.S. and British researchers modeled how phytoplankton absorb and reflect light, and how the ocean’s color will change as global warming alters the composition of those microorganisms living in it.

The scientists predict that blue regions, such as the subtropics, will become more blue, while areas nearer the poles may turn a deeper green as warmer waters stimulate larger and more diverse blooms of phytoplankton.

“There will be a noticeable difference in the color of 50 percent of the ocean by the end of the 21st century,” said lead researcher Stephanie Dutkiewicz of MIT.

Global Warming

Study: Melting ice sheets may cause ‘climate chaos’

Billions of tonnes of meltwater flowing into the world’s oceans from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets could boost extreme weather and destabilise regional climate within a matter of decades, researchers said yesterday.

These melting giants, especially the one atop Greenland, are poised to further weaken the ocean currents that move cold water south along the Atlantic Ocean floor while pushing tropical waters northward closer to the surface, they reported in the journal Nature.

Known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (Amoc), this liquid conveyor belt plays a crucial role in Earth’s climate system and helps ensures the relative warmth of the Northern Hemisphere.

“According to our models, this meltwater will cause significant disruptions to ocean currents and change levels of warming around the world,” said lead author Nicholas Golledge, an associate professor at the Antarctic Research Centre of New Zealand’s Victoria University of Wellington.

The Antarctic ice sheet’s loss of mass, meanwhile, traps warmer water below the surface, eroding glaciers from underneath in a vicious circle of accelerated melting that contributes to sea level rise.

Most studies on ice sheets have focused on how quickly they might shrink due to global warming, and how much global temperatures can rise before their disintegration — whether over centuries or millenia — becomes inevitable, a threshold known as a “tipping point.”

But far less research has been done on how the meltwater might affect the climate system itself.

One likely result of weakened current in the Atlantic will be warmer air temperatures in the high Arctic, eastern Canada and central America, and cooler temperatures over northwestern Europe and the North American eastern seaboard.

Global Warming

Climate change: Warming threatens Himalayan glaciers

Climate change poses a growing threat to the glaciers found in the Hindu Kush and Himalayan mountain ranges, according to a new report.

The study found that if CO2 emissions are not cut rapidly, two thirds of these giant ice fields could disappear.

Even if the world limits the temperature rise to 1.5C this century, at least one third of the ice would go.

The glaciers are a critical water source for 250 million people living across eight different countries.

The towering peaks of K2 and Mount Everest are part of the frozen Hindu Kush and Himalayan ranges that contain more ice that anywhere else on Earth, apart from the polar regions.

But these ice fields could turn to bare rocks in less than a century because of rising temperatures, say scientists.

Over the next few decades, the melting could accelerate thanks to warming and increased air pollution from a growing population.

The air pollutants come from the Indo-Gangetic Plain, one of the world’s most polluted regions. The dirty air makes the glacier situation worse by depositing black carbon and dust on the ice, hastening the thaw.

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Global Warming

Scientists Have Detected an Enormous Cavity Growing Beneath Antarctica

Antarctica is not in a good place. In the space of only decades, the continent has lost trillions of tonnes of ice at alarming rates we can’t keep up with, even in places we once thought were safe.

Now, a stunning new void has been revealed amidst this massive vanishing act, and it’s a big one: a gigantic cavity growing under West Antarctica that scientists say covers two-thirds the footprint of Manhattan and stands almost 300 metres (984 ft) tall.

This huge opening at the bottom of the Thwaites Glacier – a mass infamously dubbed the “most dangerous glacier in the world” – is so big it represents an overt chunk of the estimated 252 billion tonnes of ice Antarctica loses every year.

Researchers say the cavity would once have been large enough to hold some 14 billion tonnes of ice. Even more disturbing, the researchers say it lost most of this ice volume over the last three years alone.

The Thwaites Glacier actually holds in neighbouring glaciers and ice masses further inland. If its buttressing force disappeared, the consequences could be unthinkable, which is why it’s considered such a pivotal natural structure in the Antarctic landscape.

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.

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.

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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Global Warming

Climate Change A Threat to US Military Bases

The US defence department has issued a dire report on how climate change could affect the nation’s armed forces and security, warning that rising seas could inundate coastal bases and drought-fueled wildfires could endanger inland ones.

The 22-page assessment delivered to Congress on Thursday says about two-thirds of 79 mission-essential military installations in the US that were reviewed are vulnerable to current or future flooding, with more than half vulnerable to current or future drought. About half also are at risk from wildfires, including the threat of mudslides and erosion from rains following the blazes.

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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