Global Warming

Scientists detect methane surge in South Sudan

Scientists think they can now explain at least part of the recent growth in methane levels in the atmosphere. Researchers, led from Edinburgh University, UK, say their studies point to a big jump in emissions coming from just the wetlands of South Sudan.

Satellite data indicates the region received a large pulse of water from East African lakes, including Victoria. This would have boosted CH4 from the wetlands, accounting for a significant part of the rise in global methane.

Global Warming

Arctic Report Card 2019: Extreme Ice Loss, Dying Species as Global Warming Worsens

When dead salmon wash ashore along the coast of the Bering Sea, the problem is much bigger than dead fish. It’s a sign of deeper trouble cascading through the Arctic’s ecosystems.

It’s been happening more and more the last few years—fish, dead or dying, rolling in with the tide, said Mellisa Johnson, executive director of the Bering Sea Elders Group. “The seals, they don’t want to eat those types of fish. They know they’re unhealthy for consumption. So then they don’t have enough fat reserves to last them.”

As the Arctic warms roughly twice as fast as the rest of the planet, the effects are reverberating far beyond any single species. Massive systems—from the sea ice and permafrost to the jet stream—are beginning to behave in unexpected ways.

The changes are impacting species, fishing industries and local communities, including the people who have long called Bering Sea communities home. Indigenous hunters are working harder than ever to find the food they have long relied on, and they’re sometimes making macabre discoveries: sea birds dying en masse, nets filled with fish that have rarely been seen in those areas.

Sea ice extent arctic report card 529px

Alaska Oceans Warming529px

Sea ice years arctic report card 529px

Greenland melt extent arctic report card 529px

Global Warming

Oceans running out of oxygen as temperatures rise

Climate change and nutrient pollution are driving the oxygen from our oceans, and threatening many species of fish. That’s the conclusion of the biggest study of its kind, undertaken by conservation group IUCN.

While nutrient run-off has been known for decades, researchers say that climate change is making the lack of oxygen worse. Around 700 ocean sites are now suffering from low oxygen, compared with 45 in the 1960s. Researchers say the depletion is threatening species including tuna, marlin and sharks.

As more carbon dioxide is released enhancing the greenhouse effect, much of the heat is absorbed by the oceans. In turn, this warmer water can hold less oxygen.

Global Warming

Polar Bears Descend On Russian Village

More than 50 polar bears have gathered on the edge of a village in Russia’s far north, environmentalists and residents said, as weak Arctic ice leaves them unable to roam.

The Russian branch of the World Wildlife Fund said climate change was to blame, as unusually warm temperatures prevented coastal ice from forming.

The WWF said 56 polar bears had gathered in a one-square-kilometre (0.4-square-mile) area near the village of Ryrkaipy in Chukotka on the northeastern tip of Russia.

There were concerns they could enter the village, home to fewer than 1,000 people, and patrols had been set up to monitor their movements.

“The number of human and predator encounters in the Arctic is increasing,” the WWF said in statement.

“The main reason is the decline of sea ice area due to the changing climate. In the absence of ice cover, animals are forced to go ashore in search of food.”

How saving the ozone layer in 1987 slowed global warming

The Montreal Protocol, an international agreement signed in 1987 to stop chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) destroying the ozone layer, now appears to be the first international treaty to successfully slow the rate of global warming.

New research published today in Environmental Research Letters has revealed that thanks to the Protocol, today’s global temperatures are considerably lower. And by mid-century the Earth will be—on average—at least 1°C cooler than it would have been without the agreement. Mitigation is even greater in regions such as the Arctic, where the avoided warming will be as much as 3°C—4°C.

Global Warming

30 Year Old Climate Change Warning Vindicated

‘It is time to stop waffling so much and say that the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here.’ – Dr. James Hansen

This sounds like a comment that might have been overheard in Madrid this week, where the U.N. is yet again huddling to discuss the climate crisis.

No doubt similar sentiments were expressed among those delegates in recent days but this was the viewpoint offered as many as three decades ago from NASA scientist James Hansen, who was giving congressional testimony.

Dr. Hansen is considered to be among the first climatologists to sound the alarm on man-made global warming in this context, including charting a projection for just how hot conditions could get by 2019.

As 2019 draws to a close, the year is on course to be among the top three warmest years on record. Data issued this week shows that the world continues to increase the amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide it pumps into the air, led by China and India, but it’s not rising as fast as in the previous couple years.

Global Warming

UN Chief Warns of ‘Point of No Return’ on Climate Change

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Sunday that the world’s efforts to stop climate change have been “utterly inadequate” so far and there is a danger global warming could pass the “point of no return.”

Speaking before the start Monday of a two-week international climate conference in Madrid, the U.N. chief said the impact of rising temperatures — including more extreme weather — is already being felt around the world, with dramatic consequences for humans and other species.

He noted that the world has the scientific knowledge and the technical means to limit global warming, but “what is lacking is political will.”

Global Warming

Global Coal Power Generation Falls

Electricity generated from coal-fired plants is set to fall by a record 3% this year, raising chances for slowing global carbon dioxide emissions growth, according to a report released by Carbon Brief.

The global usage rate for coal-fired generation this year is about 54% and suggests that electricity from the plants, which are built to run at or near capacity for extended periods, is more expensive, according to the report, which was written by researchers from several climate research groups, including the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air. The decline comes even as new coal-fired generation capacity in places including China and Southeast Asia is rising.

Reindeer Herders at Risk From Vanishing Ice Due to Global Warming

Deep in the Sayan Mountains of northern Mongolia, patches of ice rest year-round in the crooks between hills.

Locals in this high tundra call the perennial snowbanks munkh mus, or eternal ice. They’re central to lives of the region’s traditional reindeer herders, who depend on the snowy patches for clean drinking water and to cool down their hoofed charges in summer months.

Now, a new study led by archaeologist William Taylor suggests that this eternal ice, and the people and animals it supports, may be at risk because of soaring global temperatures. The research team discovered, the once-reliable munkh mus is melting faster than at any time in recent history.

Reindeer are cold-loving animals and can overheat when the weather gets too warm. To compensate, the Tsaatan bring their herds to the ice to give them a break from the heat and the tundra’s abundant insects.

Eternal Ice 777x583

Largest global assessment of ocean warming impacts

Climate change is reorganizing the life in our oceans in a big way: as waters warm, cold-loving species, from plankton to fish, leave the area and warm water species become more successful. So say an international group of scientists in the most comprehensive assessment of the effects of ocean warming on the distribution fish communities.

The results showed how subtle changes in the movement of species that prefer cold water or warm water, in response to rising temperatures, made a big impact on the global picture.

While the global warming trend was widely seen, the North Atlantic showed the largest rise in average temperature during the time period. However, for fish communities in the Labrador Sea, where the temperature at 100 meters deep can be as much as five degrees Celsius cooler than the surface, moving deeper in the water column allowed the cold-water species to remain successful.

Most of the data collected were targeted surveys of commercial fish stocks, so the changes seen reflect those likely to be seen in fish markets as cold-water fish like cod and haddock decline, while warm-water species like red mullet increase with warming.

There has been a temperature rise of almost one degree Celsius in some parts of the ocean since 1985.

Global Warming

Nitrous Greenhouse Threat

A new study finds that emissions of the ozone-eating greenhouse gas nitrous oxide have increased more than expected.

Researchers from the Norwegian Institute for Air Research and other institutions found that the increased use of fertilizers containing nitrogen has been the main driver in the increase.

“We see that the N2O emissions have increased considerably during the past two decades, but especially from 2009 onwards,” said author Rona Thompson.

While fertilizer use has made it possible to grow a lot more food, the researchers say it resulted in destruction of stratospheric ozone and further climate change.

Current Fossil Fuel Plans Will Shatter Paris Climate Limits

The world’s top fossil fuel-producing nations are on track to extract enough oil, gas and coal to send global temperatures soaring past the goals of the Paris climate agreement, according to a United Nations report published Wednesday.

If countries follow through on their current plans, they will produce about 50 percent more fossil fuels by 2030 than would be compatible with the international goal of keeping global warming under 2 degrees Celsius, the report said.

They would blow past the more ambitious target of keeping warming under 1.5°C, the report found, with countries poised to produce twice as much oil, gas and coal by 2030 than would be allowable to meet that goal.

Global Warming

Venice Floods and Local Government

Screen Shot 2019 11 17 at 3 04 34 PM

Venice regional council’s offices on the city’s Grand Canal were flooded for the first time in history just minutes after officials rejected a plan to combat climate change.

Greenland airport becomes victim of climate change

Greenland’s main airport is set to end civilian flights within five years due to climate change, as the melting of permafrost is cracking the runway. Kangerlussuaq Airport, the country’s main hub, had 11,000 planes landing or departing last year. Permafrost, the layer of soil usually frozen solid, is shrinking as temperatures rise.

Global Warming

Climate change triggers a chain reaction that threatens the heart of the Pacific

The salmon catch is collapsing off Japan’s northern coast, plummeting by about 70 percent in the past 15 years. The disappearance of the fish coincides with another striking development: the loss of a unique blanket of sea ice that dips far below the Arctic to reach this shore.

The twin impacts – less ice, fewer salmon – are the products of rapid warming in the Sea of Okhotsk, wedged between Siberia and Japan. The area has warmed in some places by as much as 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) since preindustrial times, making it one of the fastest-warming spots in the world, according to a Washington Post analysis of data from the nonprofit organization Berkeley Earth.

The rising temperatures are starting to shut down the single most dynamic sea ice factory on Earth. The intensity of ice generation in the northwestern Sea of Okhotsk exceeds that of any single place in the Arctic Ocean or Antarctica, and the sea ice reaches a lower latitude than anywhere else on the planet. Its decline has a cascade of consequences well beyond Japan as climate dominoes begin to fall.

When sea ice forms here, it expels huge amounts of salt into the frigid water below the surface, creating some of the densest ocean water on Earth. That water then sinks and travels east, carrying oxygen, iron and other key nutrients out into the northern Pacific Ocean, where marine life depends on it.

As the ice retreats, that nutrient-rich current is weakening, endangering the biological health of the vast northern Pacific – one of the most startling, and least discussed, effects of climate change so far observed.

Global Warming

Melting Arctic Ice Spreading Deadly Virus to Marine Mammals

A deadly virus is rapidly spreading among marine mammals in the Arctic. In a new study published Wednesday in the journal Nature, scientists have found a link between the disease and melting sea ice due to climate change.

Phocine distemper virus (PDV) has been a known pathogen in certain seal populations for decades, resulting in several mass mortality events involving tens of thousands of animals since 1988.

Researchers studied 15 years of data that tracked 2,500 marine mammals in a variety of locations via satellite.

Scientists also found a record amount of sea ice melt in August 2002 was followed by a widespread outbreak of PDV in North Pacific Steller sea lions in 2003 and 2004. During those years, over 30% of the animals tested positive for the virus.

Researchers concluded that melting Arctic sea ice caused by human-driven climate change paved the way for PDV to spread to new regions and infect new populations of marine mammals, especially along the northern Russian coast and along the coast of northern Canada.

Scientists believe the spread of pathogens could become more common as ice continues to melt, with the increased opportunity to affect more species.

Gettyimages 508144575

Global Warming

Economic Effect of Climate Change

Top economists say the economic effects of climate change are just starting to be felt — and they’re likely to start snowballing.

Wildfires, floods, and other natural disasters could harm the nation’s financial backbone, damaging vital electronic payment systems, causing bank failures, and disrupting the economy in myriad unanticipated ways.

The Federal Reserve — arguably the most influential economic body in the world — held its first-ever climate change research conference on Friday, where economists sounded the alarm about the toll the U.S. economy could face.

Among the findings:

Global GDP per capita could fall 7% by 2100 in the absence of climate change mitigation effects, according to a paper presented by Hashem Pesaran, an economist at the University of Southern California.

If countries abide by the Paris Accord, that would bring that loss down to 1%, the paper said.

Extreme heat impacts the productivity of workers. For each degree the temperature rises above above a daily average temperature of 59°F, productivity declines by 1.7% — a figure that Sandra Batten, a senior research economist at the Bank of England, cited in research presented Friday.

Global Warming

Thickest Mountain Glacier Is Melting

Massive and meaty, the Taku Glacier in Alaska’s Juneau Icefield was a poster child for the frozen places holding their own against climate change. As the largest of 20 major glaciers in the region and one of the single thickest glaciers in the world (it measures 4,860 feet, or 1,480 meters, from surface to floor), Taku had been demonstrably gaining mass and spreading farther into the nearby Taku river for nearly half a century, while all of its neighboring glaciers shrank.

In a new pair of satellite photos shared by NASA’s Earth Observatory, the slow decline of Taku Glacier has finally become apparent. Taken in August 2014 and August 2018, the photos show the icy platforms where the glacier meets the river retreating for the first time since scientists began studying Taku, in 1946.

While the shrinkage is subtle for now, the results are nonetheless shocking. According to glaciologist Mauri Pelto, who has studied the Juneau Icefield for three decades, Taku was predicted to continue advancing for the rest of the century. Not only have these signs of retreat arrived about 80 years ahead of schedule, Pelto said, but they also snuff a symbolic flicker of hope in the race to understand climate change. Of 250 mountain (or “alpine”) glaciers that Pelto has studied around the world, Taku was the only one that hadn’t clearly started to retreat.

Screen Shot 2019 11 08 at 11 36 54 AM

Global Warming

Italy to become first country to make studying climate change compulsory in schools

Italian students in every grade are about to get schooled in the climate emergency facing our planet. Learning about climate change and sustainability will soon be compulsory for all students across the country.

Italy is the first country to adopt a climate change curriculum in public schools. Starting next school year, schools will be required to dedicate 33 hours per year — almost one hour per school week — to discussing the challenges of climate change.

Global Warming

Scientists around the world declare a ‘climate emergency’

A global team of more than 11,000 scientists from over 150 countries officially declared that the world is in a “climate emergency,” according to a new paper released Tuesday.

“Scientists have a moral obligation to warn humanity of any great threat,” said Thomas Newsome of the University of Sydney, one of the paper’s authors, in a statement. “From the data we have, it is clear we are facing a climate emergency.”

The scientists warned that “untold human suffering” is unavoidable without deep and lasting shifts in human activities that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and other factors related to climate change. Climate change has arrived and is accelerating faster than many scientists expected.

This is the first time a group of scientists have come together to use the word “emergency” in regards to climate change.

USA Withdraws from the Paris Climate Treaty

The United States has formally notified the United Nations that it is withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, triggering expressions of concern and regret from other major powers on Tuesday. Donald Trump is moving to formally exit the Paris climate agreement, making the United States the only country in the world that will not participate in the pact, as global temperatures are set to rise 3C and worsening extreme weather will drive millions into poverty.

The paperwork sent by the US government to withdraw begins a one-year process for exiting the deal agreed to at the UN climate change conference in Paris in 2015. The Trump administration will not be able to finalize its exit until a day after the presidential election in November 2020.

October 2019 Warmest Month on Record

The European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, which analyzes temperature data from around the planet, said October 2019 was the warmest in their data record, which goes back to 1979. Globally, October was 0.69 degrees Celsius (1.24 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the average of all the Octobers in the 30-year span from 1981-2010, Copernicus said in its report. Last month narrowly edged out the previous record for October, set in 2015.