After maintaining a marked silence on the issue of global warming in the campaign running up to the US elections, President Obama now sees a second-term focus on climate change, saying that melting ice caps and increasing global temperatures are signs that climate change is real and that he will seek to mitigate the damage from the phenomenon:
“I am a firm believer that climate change is real… and as a consequence, I think we’ve got an obligation to future generations to do something about it.”
Norway’s $650 billion sovereign wealth fund, one of the world’s biggest investors, has started asking companies it invests in to minimise their impact on rainforests.
It is hoped this will mean Norway stops investing and pulls out of many companies that are damaging rainforests.
A new study by the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA has found that climate model projections that show a greater rise in global temperature are likely to prove more accurate than those showing a lesser rise over the coming decades.
Scientists analyzed how well 16 leading sophisticated climate models reproduce observed relative humidity in Earth’s tropics and subtropics.
Current climate models predict temperature increases in this century, if current carbon dioxide emission levels continue unchanged, at between 3 and 8 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to 19th century temperatures. The average prediction is 5 degrees. If this new study proves accurate, that would mean temperature increases on the upper end of the 3-to-8 degree range if nothing changes. The greater the temperature rise, the greater the effect on sea level rise, heat waves, droughts and other effects
The world’s major global climate models are all based on long-established physical laws known to guide the atmosphere. However, because these relationships are challenging to translate into software, each model differs slightly in its portrayal of global climate. In particular, some processes, such as those associated with clouds, are too small to be represented properly. Although satellites observe many types of clouds, satellite failure, observing errors and other inconsistencies make it challenging to build a comprehensive global cloud census that is consistent over many years.
In a remote fjord where icebergs float in silence and hunters stalk reindeer, plans are being drawn up for a huge iron ore mine that would lift Greenland’s population by four percent at a stroke – by hiring Chinese workers.
The $2.3-billion project by a small, British company, London Mining Plc would also bring diesel power plants, a road and a port near Greenland’s capital Nuuk. It would supply China with much needed iron for its economy.
With global warming thawing its Arctic sea lanes, and global industry eyeing minerals under this barren island a quarter the size of the United States, the 57,000 Greenlanders are wrestling with opportunities that offer rich rewards but risk harming a pristine environment and a traditional society that is trying to make its own way in the world after centuries of European rule.
Great expectations could lead to greater disappointments, for locals and investors. Yet a scramble for Greenland already may be under way, in which some see China trying to exploit the icebound territory as a staging ground in a global battle for Arctic resources and strategic control of new shipping routes.
The Dead Sea is slowly dying as industrial and agricultural extraction of water causes the lake to shrink at record rate over the last year.
NASA satellite images illustrating the decline of the Dead Sea over the past 40 years:
The week’s hottest temperature was 121.1 degrees Fahrenheit (49.5 degrees Celsius) at Kaedi, Mauritania.
The week’s coldest temperature was minus 79.6 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 62.0 degrees Celsius) at Russia’s Vostok Antarctic research station.
Every rainy season, the Guna people living on the Panamanian white sand archipelago of San Blas brace themselves for waves gushing into their tiny mud-floor huts.
Rising ocean levels caused by global warming and decades of coral reef destruction have combined with seasonal rains to submerge the Caribbean islands for days on end.
Once rare, flooding is now so menacing that the Guna have agreed to abandon ancestral lands for an area within their semi-autonomous territory on the east coast of the mainland.
Major nations failed to reach agreement on Thursday to set up huge marine protected areas off Antarctica under a plan to step up conservation of creatures such as whales and penguins around the frozen continent.
Environmentalists criticised the failure to agree new marine protected areas in the Ross Sea and off East Antarctica, home to penguins, seals, whales and seabirds as well as valuable stocks of shrimp-like krill.
Most resistance came from Ukraine, Russia and China.
Peru, the world’s top fishmeal exporter, has slashed its commercial fishing quota as warmer water temperatures and controversial practices deplete stocks of anchovy in one of the world’s richest fisheries.
The government cut its quota for this summer’s anchovy season by 68 percent to 810,000 tonnes, the smallest allowance in 25 years. Anchovy is rarely eaten fresh, but is instead dried, ground up and exported as a protein-rich feed for livestock and farmed fish.
Parts of Miami Beach, Florida, USA were flooded by an unusually high tide Tuesday morning. Miami-Dade County officials said the flooding of low-lying areas in Miami Beach is a warning about the perils of rising sea levels due to climate change.
The images below show the Antarctic ozone hole on September 16 (the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer) in the years 1979, 1987, 2006, and 2011.
Stratospheric ozone is typically measured in Dobson Units (DU), which is the number of molecules required to create a layer of pure ozone 0.01 millimeters thick at a temperature of 0 degrees Celsius and an air pressure of 1 atmosphere (the pressure at the surface of the Earth). The average amount of ozone in Earth’s atmosphere is 300 Dobson Units, equivalent to a layer 3 millimeters (0.12 inches) thick — the height of 2 pennies stacked together.
In 1979 — when scientists were just coming to understand that atmospheric ozone could be depleted — the area of ozone depletion over Antarctica grew to 1.1 million square kilometers, with a minimum ozone concentration of 194 Dobson Units. In 1987, as the Montreal Protocol was being signed, the area of the hole reached 22.4 million square kilometers and ozone concentrations dropped to 109 DU. By 2006, the worst year for ozone depletion to date, the numbers were 29.6 million square kilometers and just 84 DU. By 2011, the most recent year with a complete data set, the hole stretched 26 million square kilometers and dropped to 95 DU.
The Antarctic hole seems to be stabilizing and may be slowly recovering. The focus of scientists now is to make sure that it is healing as expected. The amount of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) in the atmosphere has stopped rising in recent years, and may actually be decreasing. Changes in the ozone hole now are not significantly driven by changes in CFCs, but instead driven by year-to-year changes in weather in the stratosphere.
Plans to open up a new Australian “coal export rush” could turn a single Queensland region into the seventh largest contributor of carbon dioxide emissions on the planet, undermining international efforts to keep global warming below 2C.
Nine proposed “mega mines” in the Galilee Basin would, at full capacity, result in 705m tonnes of CO2 released into the atmosphere. This level of emissions would surpass those of all but six nations in the world. By comparison, the UK emitted 549.3 million tonnes of CO2 from all sources in 2011.
Many of the world’s glaciers and ice sheets are retreating in the face of global warming, but a few are stable or growing — including glaciers in the western Himalaya Mountains, according to a new report. The mountains in the region form the headwaters of several major river systems — including the Ganges, Mekong, Yangtze, and Yellow rivers — which serve as sources of drinking water and irrigation supplies for about 1.5 billion people.
The US National Weather Service in Los Angeles released two notices of triple-digit record-breaking temperatures in Long Beach over the weekend. On Friday, a high of 104 degrees was recorded, breaking the old record of 96 set in 1979.
The first eight months of 2012 have been the warmest of any year on record in the contiguous United States.
As expected, the amount of sea ice in the Arctic has fallen to the lowest level on record.
Satellites tracking the extent of the sea ice found over the weekend that it covered about 1.58 million square miles, or less than 30 percent of the Arctic Ocean’s surface, scientists said. That is below the previous record low, set in 2007, but with weeks still to go in the summer melting season, it is clear that the record will be beaten by a wide margin.
Arctic sea ice is set to reach its lowest ever recorded extent as early as this weekend, signalling that man-made global warming is having a major impact on the polar region.
With the melt happening at an unprecedented rate of more than 100,000 sq km a day, and at least a week of further melt expected before ice begins to reform ahead of the northern winter, satellites are expected to confirm the new record – currently set in 2007.
The ice-free season is now far longer. Twenty years ago it was about a month. Now it’s three months. Temperatures last week in the Arctic were 14 degrees C.
A rare summer storm blasted the Arctic this week, beginning off the coast of Alaska, and moving over much of the Arctic Sea for several days before dissipating.
Nasa reports that Arctic storms such as this one can have a large impact on the sea ice, causing it to melt rapidly through many mechanisms, such as tearing off large swaths of ice and pushing them to warmer sites, churning the ice and making it slushier, or lifting warmer waters from the depths of the Arctic Ocean.
“It seems that this storm has detached a large chunk of ice from the main sea ice pack. This could lead to a more serious decay of the summertime ice cover than would have been the case otherwise, even perhaps leading to a new Arctic sea ice minimum,” said Claire Parkinson, a climate scientist with NASA Goddard. “Decades ago, a storm of the same magnitude would have been less likely to have as large an impact on the sea ice, because at that time the ice cover was thicker and more expansive.”