Global Warming

Oil and gas production is contributing even more to global warming than was thought

Among greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide is the most significant contributor to global warming and therefore, public enemy No. 1 when it comes to stopping the climate crisis.

But methane — the main component in natural gas and an even more effective heat-trapping gas — is a close second. Scientists say that atmospheric methane is now responsible for about 25 percent of the human-caused warming we see today.

Now, a new study finds that methane emissions from fossil fuels are between 25% and 40% larger than past research had estimated, revealing that oil and gas production is contributing far more to warming the planet than previously thought.

The study, published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature, sheds new light on just how much fossil fuel production and use is changing the atmosphere — and in turn, warming the planet.

Global Warming

Climate change opens up ‘frontier’ farmland

Kenya’s livestock herders planting chilli peppers, Pakistan’s mountain farmers rearing fish and tropical fruits in Sicily – farmers around the world are already shifting what they grow and breed to cope with rising temperatures and erratic weather.

In a few more decades, potatoes from the Russian tundra and corn from once-frigid areas of Canada could be added to the list as vast swathes of land previously unsuited to agriculture open up to farmers on a hotter planet.

Climate change could expand farmland globally by almost a third, a study by international researchers found this week.

They examined which new areas may become suitable for growing 12 key crops including rice, sugar, wheat, oil palm, cassava and soy.

“In a warming world, Canada’s North may become our breadbasket of the future,” the scientists wrote.

But, they warned, opening up new “agricultural frontiers” would also bring significant environmental threats, including a risk of increased planet-warming emissions from soils.

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Global Warming

Global warming may cut lifespan of many species

Global warming could reduce the lifespan of hundreds of cold-blooded species around the world, a study by Israeli and Irish researchers has warned.

Researchers from Tel Aviv University and Queen’s University Belfast analyzed data from more than 4,100 land vertebrate species to test the long-accepted “rate of living” theory, which predicts that the faster the metabolic rate of an organism, the shorter the lifespan.

The researchers found that rates of aging in cold-blooded organisms are linked to high temperatures. Proposing an alternative hypothesis, their findings suggest that the hotter the environment is, the faster the rate of living – which in turn leads to more accelerated aging and a shorter lifespan. If increasing ambient temperatures reduces longevity, it may make these species more prone to go extinct as the climate warms.

Accordingly, global warming could reduce the lifespan of many cold-blooded species, subject to accelerated aging. The findings were published on Friday in Global Ecology and Biogeography, a bimonthly peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Busy Week for Antarctica

This week, an iceberg the size of Atlanta broke off the Pine glacier. Researchers discovered a dramatic decline in Antarctic penguin colonies. And Antarctica may have just registered its hottest temperature ever.

These events are all consistent with trends seen in Antarctica over the past few years. The Antarctic Peninsula, where the potentially record-breaking February temperatures were logged, is one of the fastest-warming regions on the planet.

The decline of the Antarctic penguin colonies provides evidence of the effects of this broader warming on the animals that inhabit these sensitive regions. The number of penguins on Elephant Island, where a recently released survey took place, is half what it was at the last survey in 1971. Climate change has removed these penguins’ primary food source, krill. Penguins, seals and whales all depend on krill, which depends on ice. So if climate change affects the ice, that impacts on everything else.

Another unusually high temperature was logged in the Antarctic Peninsula on February 9, when a weather station on Seymour Island produced a reading of almost 70 degrees.

Global Warming

Global warming to blame for hottest day in Argentine Antarctica

Global warming is to blame for Argentine Antarctica recording its hottest day since readings began, Greenpeace said on Friday.

Temperatures climbed to 18.3 degrees Celsius (64.9 degrees Fahrenheit) at midday Thursday at the research station Esperanza base, the highest temperature on record since 1961, according to the National Meteorological Service.

The previous record stood at 17.5 degrees on March 24, 2015.

At Marambio, another Argentine base in Antarctica, temperatures reached 14.1 degrees Celsius on Thursday, the hottest temperature for a day in February since 1971.

Global Warming

The World’s oceans are speeding up

Three quarters of the world’s ocean waters have sped up their pace in recent decades, scientists reported Wednesday, a massive development that was not expected to occur until climate warming became much more advanced.

The change is being driven by faster winds, which are adding more energy to the surface of the ocean. That, in turn, produces faster currents and an acceleration of ocean circulation.

The new research found that 76% of the global ocean is speeding up, when the top 2,000 meters of the ocean are taken into account. The increase in speed is most intense in tropical oceans and especially the vast Pacific.

Scientists aren’t certain of all the consequences of this speedup yet. But they may include impacts in key regions along the eastern coasts of continents, where several currents have intensified. The result in some cases has been damaging ocean hotspots that have upended marine life.

They found a global increase in wind speed over the ocean of about 2% per decade since the 1990s, which translates into about a 5% increase per decade in the speed of ocean currents.

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Global Warming

Rapid Permafrost Collapse

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Arctic permafrost can thaw so quickly that it triggers landslides, drowns forests and opens gaping sinkholes. This rapid melt, described in a new study, can dramatically reshape the Arctic landscape in just a few months.

Fast-melting permafrost is also more widespread than once thought. About 20% of the Arctic’s permafrost — a blend of frozen sand, soil and rocks — also has a high volume of ground ice, making it vulnerable to rapid thawing. When the ice that binds the rocky material melts away, it leaves behind a marshy, eroded land surface known as thermokarst.

Frozen water takes up more space than liquid water, so when ice-rich permafrost thaws rapidly — “due to climate change or wildfire or other disturbance” — it transforms a formerly frozen Arctic ecosystem into a flooded, “soupy mess,” prone to floods and soil collapse. This can happen very quickly, causing relatively dry and solid ecosystems (such as forests) to turn into lakes in the matter of months to years.

Global warming is literally dissolving the ocean’s plankton

Ocean acidification is wreaking havoc on the ocean’s tiniest inhabitants, and the entire ocean is likely feeling the effects.

Many of the ocean’s inhabitants have soft bodies protected by hard shells. Clams, oysters, and sea snails have them, as do multiple other types of mollusks and plankton. These seashells are almost always made of calcium carbonate — which, under most conditions, is fine. The ocean water is well-suited to support calcium carbonate under normal conditions.

Seawater is slightly basic (meaning pH > 7). When we increase the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) we emit, not all of it goes into the atmosphere. Much of it, in fact, is absorbed by the oceans. As oceans absorb CO2, their chemistry starts to change, and they become more acidic.

Lyndsey Fox, a researcher from Kingston University in London, analyzed plankton fossils gathered by the 1872–76 expedition of the HMS Challenger and compared them to plankton gathered from a 2011 expedition to the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean called Tara.

All modern plankton had much thinner shells — up to 76% thinner. In some cases, the shells were so thin that the team wasn’t even able to image them. Plankton is at the foundation of the ocean food chain and if it were to collapse, life in the oceans would probably be unable to recover.

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Global Warming

Greenland Glaciers Melting

Scientists have long known that higher air temperatures are contributing to the surface melting on Greenland’s ice sheet.

But a new study has found another threat that has begun attacking the ice from below: Warm ocean water moving underneath the vast glaciers is causing them to melt even more quickly.
The findings were published Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience by researchers who studied one of the many “ice tongues” of the Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden Glacier — also known as the 79° North Glacier — in northeast Greenland.

An ice tongue is a strip of ice that floats on the water without breaking off from the ice on land. The massive one these scientists studied is nearly 50 miles long.

The survey revealed an underwater current more than a mile wide where warm water from the Atlantic Ocean is able to flow directly towards the glacier, bringing large amounts of heat into contact with the ice and accelerating the glacier’s melting.

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Global Warming

Carbon Pollution

Smoke from the massive Australia bushfires of recent months will contribute to an anticipated record annual rise in atmospheric carbon emissions this year, according to Britain’s Met Office.

The CO2 concentration is predicted to peak above 417 parts per million (ppm) in May, while the 2020 average should be around 414 ppm. That would be nearly 3 ppm above the 2019 average, according to the agency.

Smoke from the protracted bushfire crisis will contribute up to one-fifth of the CO2 increase caused by global warming’s altered weather patterns and the resulting effects on the landscape, the British experts say.

As our planet gets greener, plants are slowing global warming

In a new study, published in Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, the researchers report that climate-altering carbon emissions and intensive land use have inadvertently greened half of the Earth’s vegetated lands.

Green leaves convert sunlight to sugars while replacing carbon dioxide in the air with water vapor, which cools the Earth’s surface. The reasons for greening vary around the world, but often involve intensive use of land for farming, large-scale planting of trees, a warmer and wetter climate in northern regions, natural reforestation of abandoned lands, and recovery from past disturbances.

And the chief cause of global greening we’re experiencing? It seems to be that rising carbon dioxide emissions are providing more and more fertilizer for plants, the researchers say. As a result, the boom of global greening since the early 1980s may have slowed the rate of global warming, the researchers say, possibly by as much as 0.2 to 0.25 degrees Celsius.

Global Warming

Antarctica’s Largest Glacier Is Slowly  Approaching Its Demise

The days of Antarctica’s Pine Island glacier are numbered, but no one really knows what that number is. New models could help to shed some much-needed light on the matter.

In the past four decades, this slow-moving monstrosity of ice has contributed more to sea level rise than any other glacier on Earth, and recently, scientists have noticed signs it might be accelerating and thinning unusually fast.

Using high-resolution satellite observations from the European Space Agency (ESA), researchers at the University of Bristol have tracked the ebbs and flows of Antarctica’s largest glacier

In short, the data suggests the Pine Island glacier is going to lose mass, but not any faster than it already is. Under present-day thinning rates, the glacier has retreated by 20 kilometres in 50 years, and this, according to the authors, is ‘negligible’ compared to more extreme estimates and although the glacier will continue to lose mass, it will do so at present rates and not any faster – which essentially is some good news.

Global Warming

Climate refugees cannot be sent back home – UN

Refugees fleeing the effects of the climate crisis cannot be forced to return home by their adoptive countries, a United Nations panel has ruled, in a landmark decision that could open the door to a flood of legal claims by displaced people around the world.

The UN’s Human Rights Committee was making a judgment on the case of Ioane Teitiota, who applied for protection from New Zealand after claiming his life was at risk in his home country of Kiribati. The Pacific island is at risk of becoming the first country to disappear under rising sea levels.

The committee ruled against Teitiota on the basis that his life was not at imminent risk — but it also outlined that countries could violate people’s international rights if they force them back to countries where climate change poses an immediate threat.

Global Warming

Global Warming – Thinner Clouds – More Heat

A new study suggests global warming effect is underestimated. The most up-to-date computer simulations suggest that greenhouse gases emitted by human activity will leave the planet hotter than previously thought, researchers have found.

A study that combines the outputs of nearly 30 new computer models that simulate the Earth’s climate suggests that, if the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere doubles, then the average global temperature should increase by 3.9 degrees C. This figure is around 0.6 degrees C more than previous simulations predicted.

Reflecting the findings of recent research, newer simulations assume that cold clouds thin out more as the atmosphere becomes warmer. Thinner clouds reflect less of the sun’s energy back to space—meaning more warming on the Earth’s surface. Over the whole planet, this effect could be amplifying global warming. Clouds are Earth’s sunscreen, reflecting away sunlight and keeping the planet cooler than it would otherwise be.

Global Warming

Oceans hotter than ever

The world’s oceans are warmer than ever — and they are getting warmer faster, according to a new report.

In a development that provides yet further evidence of global warming, the study, published in the Chinese journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, found that ocean temperatures in the last decade have been the warmest on record.

In addition, the research illustrates the influence of human-induced warming on the Earth’s waters and indicates that sea-level rise, ocean acidification and extreme weather could get worse as the oceans go on absorbing excess heat.

The rate of ocean warming is increasing at an alarming rate, according to the report. It showed that, from the period 1987 to 2019 compared with the period 1955 to 1986, the rate of warming accelerated almost 4 1/2 times in the latter timespan.

Global Warming

Russia unveils plan to ‘use the advantages’ of climate change

The Russian government has unveiled a plan to adapt the country’s economy and population to climate change. Climate change, the report says, poses a threat to public health, endangers permafrost, and heightens the likelihood of infections and natural disasters. Russia will likely see longer and more frequent droughts, extreme precipitation and flooding, increased risk of fire as well as the displacement of different species from their habitats, according to the plan.

Expected positive effects of climate change, the plan says, include the reduction of energy consumption during warm periods, shrinking levels of ice which will foster increased access to navigational opportunities in the Arctic Ocean, and expanded agricultural areas.

Russia is warming faster than the global average — its average annual air temperature has increased 2.5 times more rapidly than the average global air temperature since the mid-1970s.

The country is one of the world’s most vulnerable to climate change, with large arctic areas and infrastructure that is built on permafrost. In recent years, Russia has experienced flooding and fires, with the massive wildfires in Siberia in 2019.

Global warming found to give rise to earlier springs

An international team of researchers has found evidence that suggests global warming is giving rise to earlier springs in some parts of the world, which contributes to drier summers—at least in the northern hemisphere. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group describes their study of satellite data over a 30-year period.

The researchers report that they found that earlier greening led to water earlier water depletion from the soil by plants, which led to drier soil as summer came on. Noting that most of the water that is pulled by plants makes its way into the air through pores in leaves, the researchers wondered if that might contribute to more rainfall. The researchers found that it did contribute to more rainfall, but not enough to offset the amount of water pulled from the soil by plants. They suggest that in addition to making conditions more difficult for plants, the drier soil could also lead to higher temperatures in the drier areas due to less evaporative cooling in the summer. They report also that they found drying is worse in Europe, east and west Asia and some parts of North America.

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Global Warming

The Climate Crisis Is Now Detectable in Daily Weather

The climate changes we humans have inflicted on the planet are now so deeply embedded, they are showing up in our daily weather.

Researchers from Switzerland and Norway now claim to have detected the “fingerprint” of climate change in every single day of weather in the global record since 2012.

The distinction between climate and weather is one that scientists have been hammering on about for years. And while the two are closely intertwined, they are generally considered distinct, with weather referring to short-term conditions and climate referring to longer trends.

Examining yearly data, the authors noticed the stamp of climate change on global weather went back to 1999. And from 2012, it could be seen every single day. And the signal of climate change is now so big it’s greater than global daily weather variability.

In recent years, scientists have detected stronger links between global warming and changing weather patterns, and while it’s difficult to blame any one storm on climate change, the overall pattern for heat waves, droughts and storms is clear.

Global Warming

Global Warming Defined

The terms “climate change” and “global warming” are often used interchangeably but have distinct definitions.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) defines global warming as the “long-term heating of Earth’s climate system observed since the pre-industrial period (between 1850 and 1900).” Global warming focuses on the changes in global average surface temperatures caused by human activity, mainly the burning of fossil fuels, which increases the overall amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Climate change is the long-term change in the average weather patterns that are typical for a local, region, or the globe; these changes can be natural or human-induced. Human activities that contribute to climate change include urbanization, fossil fuel burning, agriculture, deforestation, and many others. Natural processes that contribute to climate change include volcanic activity, mountain growth, El Nino and La Nina, changes in solar output, and shifts in the planet’s orbit.