Environment – El Nino

The tropical Pacific continued its retreat from El Nino thresholds for the second consecutive fortnight, ocean temperatures cooled, remaining within the neutral range (neither El Nino nor La Nina). Chances are favourable that sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean will remain at neutral levels, though still warmer than average, for the remainder of 2012.

Environment

As global warming has thawed ground in northern Russia that is usually permanently frozen, a variety of mammoth remains have been uncovered. Researchers say this is the best-preserved one ever found.

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At a glance, the environmental benefits of electric vehicles seem obvious. No exhaust pipe means no harmful pollutants? However, it’s where the electricity comes from to power the car which is a huge factor. Recent research shows that the manufacturing of electric cars is more environmentally taxing than producing conventional cars. [Norwegian Institute of Science and Technology] Electric vehicle production can produce twice as much climate change potential as the production of conventional cars.

Much of the performance of EVs environmentally has to do with how long they’re kept on the road. They are efficient, so the longer they stay on the road, the more they can make up for the impacts of their production. And, in places like Europe where electricity is generated from a wide variety of sources, including renewable energy, they do represent a 10% to 24% decrease in global warming potential (GWP) relative to conventional diesel or gasoline vehicles assuming lifetimes of 150,000 km.

If you live somewhere with oil or coal-fired power plants, then having an electric car is actually far worse for the environment than a comparable gas or diesel car. This includes many areas of the US.

Environment

A study released on Sunday suggests that fish are likely to get smaller on average by 2050 because global warming will cut the amount of oxygen in the oceans in a shift that may also mean dwindling catches.

Average maximum body weights for 600 types of marine fish, such as cod, plaice, halibut and flounder, would contract by 14-24 percent by 2050 in circumstances of the rapid rise in greenhouse gas emissions due to the burning of fossil fuels.

Life will become harder for fish in the oceans largely because warmer water can hold less dissolved oxygen, vital for respiration and growth.

Average maximum sizes of fish in the Indian Ocean were likely to shrink most, by 24 percent, followed by a decline of 20 percent in the Atlantic and 14 percent in the Pacific. The Indian Ocean has most tropical waters of the three.

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Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has lost more than half its coral cover in the past 27 years.

Researchers analysed data on the condition of 217 individual reefs that make up the World Heritage Site.

The results show that coral cover declined from 28.0% to 13.8% between 1985 and 2012.

They attribute the decline to storms, a coral-feeding starfish and bleaching linked to climate change.

Environment

Record Antarctica ice contradicts global warming trend. As climatologists worry about the effects of global warming, Antarctica has quietly set a new record for the greatest sea ice extent ever measured at either pole.

Climate scientists have recently been alarmed by declining Arctic ice. But the Arctic Icecap is only 1 to 2 percent of Earth’s ice, while the Antarctic Icecap, contains about 90 percent of the Earth’s ice.

Environment

A study conducted for governments of 20 developing countries suggests that more than 100 million people will die and global economic growth will be cut by 3.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030 if the world fails to tackle climate change.

As global average temperatures rise due to greenhouse gas emissions, the effects on the planet, such as melting ice caps, extreme weather, drought and rising sea levels, will threaten populations and livelihoods, said the report conducted by humanitarian organisation DARA.

It calculated that five million deaths occur each year from air pollution, hunger and disease as a result of climate change and carbon-intensive economies, and that toll would likely rise to six million a year by 2030 if current patterns of fossil fuel use continue.

More than 90 percent of those deaths will occur in developing countries, said the report that calculated the human and economic impact of climate change on 184 countries in 2010 and 2030. It was commissioned by the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a partnership of 20 developing countries threatened by climate change. Link

Environment

As previously reported, the melting of ice in the Arctic has set a new record. On Sunday, according to the National Snow and Ice Center, sea ice covered just 24 percent of the surface of the Arctic Ocean, or 1.32 million square miles. That shattered the previous low set in 2007, when sea ice covered just 29 percent of the ocean.

Arctic ice

Predictions of future ice melts vary wildly — some scientists say the summer ice could be gone within four years, while other scientists support climate models which don’t expect ice-free summers in the Arctic for another 30 or 40 years. Some models indicate that 2015 may be an extreme.

These predictions aren’t just of interest to scientists. A wide variety of nations and companies are now swooping in to exploit the Arctic’s oil, gas and minerals.

But there remain plenty of mysteries about how the ice will melt — and when, exactly, we’ll see ice-free summers. What does seem indisputable is that the present trend towards global warming will continue.

The warmest Atlantic waters on record off New England are driving Cod and other fish to cooler waters.

Soot from oil production and shipping across the Arctic threatens to cause even more rapid sea ice melt.

Previous prediction model:

Previous Predictions

 

New prediction model:

New predicions

 

 

Environment

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.

Ozone 1979 2011

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.

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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.

Damian blog coal in Aust 007

Environment

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.

Himalaya ali 2009359

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.

Environment

Coral reefs around the world are under severe threat.

Caribbean corals are under immediate threat and urgent action was needed to limit pollution and aggressive fishing practices. Average live coral cover on Caribbean reefs has declined to just 8 percent today compared to more than 50 percent in the 1970s.

As more and more carbon dioxide is absorbed from the atmosphere, sea water turns more acidic which can hinder calcification which is crucial for corals’ growth.

Warmer sea surface temperatures are likely to trigger more frequent and more intense mass coral bleaching, which is when reefs turn pale. Although corals can survive bleaching, if the heat persists they can die. This happened in 1998 when 16 percent of corals were lost in a single, prolonged period of warmth worldwide.

Warmer ocean temperatures and acidification are also placing the Great Barrier Reef off Australia under stress.

Coral reefs are home to almost a quarter of the world’s ocean species, they provide coastal protection and can support tourism and fishing industries for millions of people worldwide.

Environment

Arctic sea ice is shrinking at a rate much faster than scientists ever predicted and its collapse, due to global warming, may well cause extreme weather this winter in North America and Europe.Decades ago, Arctic ice covered about 6 million square miles of sea in the winter, and would shrink to about 3 million square miles in the summer. The rate of summer melt increased enormously around 2005, however, and today scientists say Arctic ice covers only about 1 million square miles.

The loss of Arctic ice has several effects. Ice reflects heat and solar energy back into space. With less ice cover, that heat energy is instead absorbed by the ocean, which warms and melts more ice. Currently, the Arctic region is the fastest-warming region on the planet, and the change in temperature will probably influence weather patterns here and in Europe.

The heating and cooling of Arctic seawater has been affecting the jet stream – the river of air that flows from west to east high above the Earth’s surface – and has slowed it down, Francis said. The jet stream controls the formation and movement of storm systems, so when its movement slows, weather conditions persist for longer periods of time over the same area. They get “stuck.”

Environment

The first eight months of 2012 have been the warmest of any year on record in the contiguous United States.

Environment

Wildlife authorities say the strong earthquake off the coast of El Salvador destroyed more than 45,000 endangered sea turtle eggs .

The director of the turtle conservation program for the El Salvador Zoological Foundation says the 7.4-magnitude undersea quake sent at least three waves at least 30 feet high up the beach and destroyed thousands of nests and just-hatched turtles.

In the last year and a half the foundation has successfully hatched and released 700,000 turtles from four species at risk of extinction.

Climate Change

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.

 

Rainforests

The rate at which wildlife is dying off in the remaining fragments of rainforests in Brazil is greater than previously thought. What was previously one cohesive area of rainforest where wildlife could roam free has now been cut up and divided by roads, cities, farms, and other forms of deforestation.

In the 196 fragments of forest visited, scientists found only 4 of the 18 mammal species they were looking for.

Among the highly endangered creatures were howler monkeys and marmosets. And species like white-lipped peccaries, which are similar to pigs, have been completely wiped out.

The situation was worse than previously thought. All the charismatic species, the large primates, the large ungulates, brocket deer, tapirs, giant anteaters, jaguars, the large cats have all but disappeared.