Global Warming

Fracking Methane

A new study concludes that the recent boom in fracking to extract shale gas, largely composed of methane, is responsible for a surge in the atmospheric concentration of the powerful greenhouse gas over the past decade.

Robert Howarth at Cornell University says he estimates that fracking in the U.S. and Canada is also responsible for more than half of the increase in the global fossil fuel emissions seen over the past 10 years.

His report warns that if shale gas extraction continues to rise, it will make the goals of the Paris climate change agreement even more difficult to achieve.

Global Warming

Food vs Climate

A new report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that it will be impossible to keep temperatures down under climate change unless there is a transformation in the way the world feeds itself and manages land use.

Because how we now grow crops and livestock causes a third of total greenhouse gas emissions to come from the soil, the report says land will have to be managed in more sustainable ways.

It also says the way we eat has to change, such as shifting our diets away from meat. A reversal of deforestation is also required.

Global Warming

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Under Threat

President Trump’s assault on climate and public lands has been called a kind of administrative vandalism. Under his leadership, crucial environmental regulations have been rolled back, the United States pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement, and millions of acres of public lands have been opened to the energy industry.

Included in the list of areas under threat is Bears Ears National Monument. In December 2017, Trump announced plans to shrink the monument by 85%. A year later, with the protections removed, the surrounding public lands were opened to resource extraction. While the decision is still being challenged in court, for now, it stands.

Arctic Village, a small native village in northeastern Alaska, like Bears Ears, another refuge that lost crucial protections at the start of the Trump administration when the refuge coastal plain, the last 5% of Alaska’s coastline protected from resource extraction, was opened to the energy industry. The move marks the first time a national wildlife refuge in the U.S. has been opened and re-designated for oil development, setting a dangerous precedent.

The Gwich’in, the First Peoples of the area who rely on the land for culture and for subsistence, depend on the Coastal Plain for their chief source of food: the porcupine caribou. The herd, which makes up 80% of Gwich’in food supply, migrates between Canada and Alaska south of the Brooks Range to birth their calves in The Refuge Coastal Plain. This is the longest land migration route of any land mammal on earth. If the administration moves forward to develop the coastal plain for oil the Gwich’in will lose their main source of food.

Developing the coastal plain for oil will also increase climate change. While it’s estimated that the oil reserves would only last six months, based on the current rate at which oil is being used, the climate impacts would be devastating. Research showed that if all the oil is extracted and burned it would add equivalent climate emissions to our atmosphere as emissions from 898 coal plants operating for a year, or adding 776 million passenger vehicles to the road.


Global Warming

Greenland Melt

A staggering 217 billion tons (197 billion metric tons) of meltwater flowed off of Greenland’s ice sheet into the Atlantic Ocean this July. The worst day of melting was July 31, when 11 billion tons (10 billion metric tons) of melted ice poured into the ocean.

This massive thaw represents some of the worst melting since 2012, according to The Washington Post. That year, 97% of the Greenland ice sheet experienced melting. This year, so far, 56% of the ice sheet has melted, but temperatures — 15 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit above average — have been higher than during the 2012 heat wave. All told, this July’s melt alone was enough to raise global average sea levels by 0.02 inches (0.5 millimeters).


More Than 200 Reindeer Found Dead from Starvation in Norway

Researchers recently found more than 200 dead reindeer on the island of Svalbard in Norway; the animals starved to death due to climate change, which is disrupting their access to the plants that they typically eat.

Climate change is bringing warmer temperatures to Svalbard, which means more precipitation. And heavy rainfall in December is thought to be responsible for the unusually high number of reindeer deaths.

After the December rain hit the ground, the precipitation froze, creating “tundra ice caps,” a thick layer of ice that prevented reindeer from reaching vegetation in their usual winter grazing pastures. This forced the animals to dig pits in shoreline snow to find seaweed and kelp, which are less nutritious than the reindeer’s usual fare.

With their pastures locked in ice, the reindeer also have to travel farther to find food. And when there is little to eat, the youngest and oldest animals are usually the first to die.

Screen Shot 2019 07 30 at 1 17 15 PM

Global Warming

Global Warming Is Pushing Pacific Salmon to the Brink

Pacific salmon that spawn in Western streams and rivers have been struggling for decades to survive water diversions, dams and logging. Now, global warming is pushing four important populations in California, Oregon and Idaho toward extinction, federal scientists warn in a new study.

The new research shows that several of the region’s salmon populations are now bumping into temperature limits, with those that spawn far inland after lengthy summer stream migrations and those that spend a lot of time in coastal habitats like river estuaries among the most at risk.

That includes Chinook salmon in California’s Central Valley and in the Columbia and Willamette River basins in Oregon; coho salmon in parts of Northern California and Oregon; and sockeye salmon that reach the Snake River Basin in Idaho, all of which are already on the federal endangered species list.

The salmon live much of their lives in the ocean, but they swim far upstream to spawn. In the process, they’re a key part of the food chain, including for bears and whales, and they are important to indigenous groups and fisheries along the U.S. West Coast.

The research spells out several ways that global warming endangers the fish. Among them:

– Young salmon die when the water warms above a certain threshold, and droughts can leave salmon stranded or exposed to predators by low water levels.

– Flooding can also flush eggs and young fish from their nests, so the scientists included projections of how global warming will affect extreme atmospheric river rain storms in California as one of the ways to measure the growing threat.

– Warmer stream temperatures have also increased outbreaks of fish disease that can affect salmon, including pathogenic parasites. In May, a toxic algae bloom along the coast of Norway killed 8 million farmed salmon at an estimated cost of about $82 million. In Alaska’s Yukon River, a parasite linked with global warming has taken a big toll on the salmon fishery. And in recent weeks, local indigenous observers in Alaska have posted numerous reports of dead salmon in rivers in the western part of the state, as water temperatures reached record highs during Alaska’s record-setting heat wave.

– Salmon are also sensitive to changes in ocean currents that carry nutrients, as well as sea level rise, which affects the physical connection between ocean and stream ecosystems, like coastal wetlands in California. Some salmon populations living near the edge of the range of suitable conditions will start to cluster in rivers near the coast, unable to reach their historic spawning grounds unless “access to higher-elevation habitats is restored and habitat quality in rearing areas and migration corridors is improved,” the scientists wrote.

Sockeye salmon 900 mark conlin vw pics uig via getty

Global Warming

Climate Consensus

As all-time temperature records continue to be broken in heat waves around the Northern Hemisphere this summer, scientists say there has never been a time in the past 2,000 years when global temperatures have risen so quickly.

June 2019 was the hottest on record, and July is likely to be the hottest as well.

Scientists in three separate reports say that while the world has warmed and cooled many times over the centuries, soaring greenhouse gas emissions are resulting in a climate that is now warming as never seen before.

“This paper should finally stop climate change deniers claiming that the recent observed coherent global warming is part of a natural climate cycle,” said Mark Maslin, professor of climatology at University College London, who wasn’t part of the studies.

One of the lead authors says the scientific consensus that human activity is behind global heating is likely to have surpassed 99%.

Oceans Are Melting Glaciers from Below Much Faster than Predicted

Beneath the ocean’s surface, glaciers may be melting 10 to 100 times faster than previously believed, new research shows.

Until now, scientists had a limited understanding of what happens under the water at the point where ice meets sea. Using a combination of radar, sonar and time-lapse photography, a team of researchers has now provided the first detailed measurements of the underwater changes over time. Their findings suggest that the theories currently used to gauge glacier change are underestimating glaciers’ ice loss.

The warming atmosphere melts glaciers from above, while ocean water can erode the ice along the glacier’s face. Researchers have been studying similar effects of ocean water beneath the ice shelves in Antarctica, which slow the flow of the glaciers on land behind them. Last year, a study there found that warming ocean waters are contributing to glacial changes that increase the rate of sea level rise.

As fresh water from melting glaciers enters the ocean, it does more than increase sea level. “Plumes” of fast-moving runoff stir up nutrients locked deep in the water, which then feed phytoplankton and zooplankton near the surface, spurring population booms.

Changes in tidewater glaciers can have an impact on people living along the Alaskan coast, altering patterns in the ocean water that provides food and livelihood for many. Longer melt seasons mean more fresh water entering the ocean earlier in the year. This could affect things like salmon swimming up those streams or not.

Margerie glacier alaska 0900 eric e castro cc by 30

Global Warming

Lake Malawi – Empty Nets

Declining fish numbers in the 20 000 square kilometre Lake Malawi appear to be the result of overfishing and climate change.

The many communities living around the Lake depending on the fishing for food and livelihood are facing a collapse of their lifestyle.

The number of fish caught has decreased by up to eighty percent, while environmental changes make the fishing more difficult. Strong winds and heavy rainfall are new factors affecting the fishermen. Moreover, unsustainable overfishing has also reduced the catches.

There was no attempt by authorities to regulate the exploitation of the natural resource.

The number of fishermen has also doubled in the last ten years due to the lack of other jobs in the country.

Malawi’s agriculture-based economy is sharply vulnerable to climatic events and increasingly entrenched poverty heightens pressure on the environment.


Global Warming

Microbes in the Tundras Increase Emissions in Warming Climate

While many parts of the world are experiencing global warming in different ways, there is an overall rise in the Earth’s temperature. Both the planet’s ice-capped poles are melting, causing a sea-level rise. The increasing warmth in these regions is causing palpable changes in the animals and plants that live in these areas.

In a new study, researchers studying the Alaskan tundras said that global warming could cause microbes living in the soil of this region to release more greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane. Considering that half the carbon in the world (twice as much as the carbon levels in the atmosphere) is stored under the planet’s frozen soil, the consequences of having all this carbon released into the atmosphere would be disastrous.

Microbes react quickly to slight changes like warming over the span of a few years.

The researchers found that microbial species and their genes involved in carbon dioxide and methane release increased their abundance in response to the warming climate. They were surprised to see a substantial response to even mild warming.

Global Warming

Carbon Retirement

New research indicates that the only way to limit global warming to 1.5 to 2.0 degrees Celsius, as agreed to internationally, is through the early retirement of the world’s power plants and industrial equipment that burn fossil fuels. That is, unless the facilities can be retrofitted before 2050 to capture and store their carbon emissions, or those emissions are offset by pulling an equal amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

A new report published in the journal Nature points out that reaching the goal will be difficult because the number of fossil fuel-burning power plants and vehicles around the world has increased dramatically during the past decade. This has mainly been due to rapid economic expansion in China and India.

“We need to reach net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by mid-century to achieve stabilization of global temperatures as called for in international agreements such as the Paris accords,” said the study’s lead author Dan Tong of the University of California, Irvine.



June 2019 Hottest June Ever

The Copernicus Climate Change Services (C3S) — a European Union program that monitors several aspects of climate — reported July 2 that last month saw the highest average temperatures ever recorded in the month of June in both Europe and around the world.

Global Warming

Antarctica’s sea ice is mysteriously melting, and fast

After mysteriously expanding for decades, Antarctica’s sea ice cover melted by an area four times greater than France in just a few years and now stands at a record low, according to a study published Monday.

Scientists already knew Antarctica was thawing at an increasing rate, like the Arctic, because of accelerating discharge from glaciers, the rivers of ice that push up slowly against the shore. But between 1979 and 2014, they observed a phenomenon that was both intriguing and reassuring: the sea ice cover was expanding.

From 2014 to 2017, however, “the Antarctic lost almost as much as the Arctic” over almost 40 years, Nasa climatologist Claire Parkinson said, and the trend has continued ever since.

From a peak area of 12.8-million km2, the sea ice cover receded 2-million km2 for reasons that remain unknown. “It went from its 40-year high in 2014, all the way down in 2017 to its 40-year low,” said Parkinson, whose findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The Arctic is an ocean surrounded by land, while Antarctica is a continent surrounded by oceans, where icebergs are less constrained. Unlike the Arctic, Antarctica is not warming and remains the coldest place on Earth, as well as its largest source of freshwater. Its mountains are covered in ice are capable of raising the level of the oceans by 57m, according to a 2013 study.

Global Warming

Trump Hides Studies Proving Effects of Climate Change

The Trump administration has refused to publicize dozens of studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that conclude climate change is having negative effects on everything from rice production to allergies, a Politico investigation revealed. The studies in question looked at the effects of rising carbon dioxide, increasing temperatures, and volatile weather. The investigation revealed the Trump administration would not share findings that show the potential dangers and consequences of climate change.

Global Warming

Climate of War

Global heating has already had a small influence in sparking civil wars and other armed conflicts, and is poised to play a greater role as temperatures warm even further this century, according to a new study published in the journal Nature.

While there is intense disagreement over how much of a role climate plays in triggering war and related violence, the study estimates that it has already influenced between 3% and 20% of such conflicts during the past century.

But the new study states clearly that factors such as socioeconomic inequalities, weak governments and history of other violent conflicts have much stronger influences in triggering clashes.

Arctic Heat and Melt

Freak summertime heat across parts of the Arctic in recent weeks has caused temperatures to soar 40 degrees F above normal and resulted in an unprecedented early melt of Greenland’s vast ice sheet.

Arctic sea ice coverage was also at its lowest on record for mid-June.

University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists say they have found permafrost in the Canadian Arctic is thawing 70 years earlier than predicted by computer models in yet another troubling sign that the global climate crisis is unfolding more quickly than expected.

The Arctic heat is linked to numerous outbreaks of violent storms far to the south in North America and Europe this spring as the jet stream buckled and undulated due to the northern heat.

“The jet stream this week was one of the craziest I’ve ever seen,” said Jennifer Francis, a leading researcher who has published studies linking Arctic warming to middle latitude weather.

Global Warming

Melting of Himalayan glaciers has doubled in past 20 years

The rate glaciers are melting in the Himalayas has doubled in just 20 years, according to a study which examined 40 years of satellite data.

Glaciers have been losing more than a vertical foot and a half of ice each year since 2000. This equates to 8 billion tons of water being released – or the equivalent of 3.2 million Olympic-size swimming pools.

The rate of melting is more than double that which took place between 1975 and 2000, according to the study published in Science Advances. It is the latest indication climate change is threatening the water supplies for 800 million people living downstream.

These glaciers currently harbour 600 billion tons of ice and they may have lost as much as one quarter of their mass over the past four decades.