Global Warming

10 Year Challenge

People concerned about climate change are posting before and after photos of glaciers retreating, bleached coral reefs, starving polar bears and drought-stricken landscapes to make a point about climate change.

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Global Warming

Climate Change A Threat to US Military Bases

The US defence department has issued a dire report on how climate change could affect the nation’s armed forces and security, warning that rising seas could inundate coastal bases and drought-fueled wildfires could endanger inland ones.

The 22-page assessment delivered to Congress on Thursday says about two-thirds of 79 mission-essential military installations in the US that were reviewed are vulnerable to current or future flooding, with more than half vulnerable to current or future drought. About half also are at risk from wildfires, including the threat of mudslides and erosion from rains following the blazes.

Global Warming

Climate Change to Affect Human Health

Climate change is on its way to “halt and reverse” progress made in human health over the last century.

The grim analysis comes from one of the authors of a new report in the New England Journal of Medicine that suggests rising global temperatures could lead to many more deaths than the 250,000 a year the World Health Organization predicted just five years ago.

In 2014 the WHO said that climate change will bring with it malaria, diarrhea, heat stress and malnutrition, killing that many more people annually around the world from 2030 to 2050.

In reviewing the research on the topic, study co-author Sir Andrew Haines thinks our health is much more vulnerable to climate change — and he believes 250,000 deaths is a “conservative estimate.”

Due to climate change-related food shortages alone, the world could see a net increase of 529,000 adult deaths by 2050, the report said. Climate change could force 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030 and poverty makes people more vulnerable to health problems.

The depletion of freshwater resources, the unprecedented biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, overfishing, pollution, deforestation and the spread of invasive species, that are related to climate change, but are environmental problems on their own, all compound these public health threats he said.

Global study – permafrost warming

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Large areas of permafrost around the world warmed significantly over the past decade, intensifying concerns about accelerated releases of heat-trapping methane and carbon dioxide as microbes decompose the thawing organic soils.

One quarter of the Northern Hemisphere and 17 percent of the Earth’s exposed land surface is underlain by permafrost. Most of these regions have been permanently frozen since the last Ice Age, 10,000 years ago.

The permafrost, especially in the Arctic, can be 1.6 kilometers (1.0 mile) deep, trapping large amounts of carbon in the frozen organic matter. Global warming – particularly in the Arctic regions – has increased the potential for thawing of the permafrost and the release of carbon dioxide and methane gasses.

The study was published in the journal Nature Communications on January 16, 2018. Using detailed data from the GTN-P, researchers found that on average, permafrost regions around the world—in the Arctic, Antarctic and the high mountains—warmed by a half degree Fahrenheit between 2007 and 2016.

The most dramatic warming was seen in the Siberian Arctic, where temperatures in the deep permafrost increased by 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit. “There, in regions with more than 90 percent permafrost content, the soil temperature rose by an average of 0.30 degrees Celsius within ten years.

In Arctic regions with less than 90 percent permafrost, the frozen ground only warmed by 0.2 degrees Celsius on average.

Besides the most obvious impact – the release of vast amounts of carbon dioxide and methane – there are other concerns to take into account, especially for four million people living in Arctic permafrost areas.

We have already seen the damages that thawing permafrost leaves behind. The buckling ground, holes, destabilized roads and bridges and buildings and homes shifting on their foundations.

We can add ecosystems to the economic and infrastructure issues. Massive discharges of silt and sediments have been dumped into our rivers and coastal areas due to the melting permafrost, forcing families to move away in some communities.

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Global Warming

Antarctica Is Dumping Hundreds of Gigatons of Ice into the Ocean Right Now

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The southern, frozen continent lost an average of 252 gigatons of ice a year to the sea between 2009 and 2017. Between 1979 and 1990, it lost an average of just 40 gigatons per year. That means that ice loss on Antarctica has accelerated by 6.3 times in just four decades, according to new research published Jan. 14 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

As the sea ice at the North Pole melts away, the melting causes negative consequences and ripple effects for the global climate. However, that melting doesn’t directly raise sea levels. North polar ice is already floating on the ocean, so turning it from solid to liquid doesn’t add to the total volume of water in the seas, according to NASA.

But Antarctica is a landmass buried beneath ice. And it holds the largest reserve of frozen, landlocked water anywhere on the planet. Any ice loss on Antarctica directly contributes to the total volume of water in the oceans, and raises sea levels.

Hidden Beneath a Half Mile of Ice, Antarctic Lake Teems with Life

The dark waters of a lake deep beneath the West Antarctic ice sheet and a few hundred miles from the South Pole are teeming with bacterial life, say scientists — despite it being one of the most extreme environments on Earth.

The discovery has implications for the search for life on other planets — in particular on the planet Mars, where signs of a buried lake of liquid saltwater were seen in data reported last year by the European Space Agency’s orbiting Mars Express spacecraft.

The drill team bored through about 3,504 feet (1,068 meters) of ice, and the water below was a chilly 30.8 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 0.65 degrees Celsius), so that scientific researchers could take water samples and sediment cores from the lake, which was about 49 feet (15 m) deep at that spot and covers an area of about 54 square miles (139 square kilometers) under the ice sheet.

Early studies of water samples taken from Lake Mercer — which is buried beneath a glacier — showed that they contained approximately 10,000 bacterial cells per milliliter. That’s only about 1 percent of the 1 million microbial cells per milliliter typically found in the open ocean, but a very high level for a sunless body of water buried deep beneath an Antarctic glacier.

The scientists said that the high levels of bacterial life in the dark and deeply buried lake were signs that it might support higher life-forms, such as microscopic animals like tardigrades.

Upper-ocean warming is making waves stronger

Sea level rise puts coastal areas at the forefront of the impacts of climate change, but new research shows they face other climate-related threats as well. Scientists found that the energy of ocean waves has been growing globally, and they found a direct association between ocean warming and the increase in wave energy.

The new study focused on the energy contained in ocean waves, which is transmitted from the wind and transformed into wave motion. This metric, called wave power, has been increasing in direct association with historical warming of the ocean surface. The upper ocean warming, measured as a rising trend in sea-surface temperatures, has influenced wind patterns globally, and this, in turn, is making ocean waves stronger.

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Global Warming

Global Warming in a Nutshell – The Carbon Cycle

Using sunlight, plants and microorganisms take in carbon dioxide and emit oxygen. Those plants are then eaten by animals, which then convert the plants to energy and exhale carbon dioxide. Or if the plants don’t get eaten, they die and decay, putting some carbon in the soil and returning some carbon to the atmosphere.

It’s almost a closed loop, though over the course of millions of years, enough decaying plant and animal matter gradually built up in the ground to yield vast reserves of fossil fuels while reducing the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere bit by bit.

Humans have breached this cycle by digging up fossil fuels and burning them, leading to carbon dioxide building up in the atmosphere faster than natural systems can soak it up. This has led to a net increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, causing the planet to heat up.

The Oceans are Warming Faster than Previously Thought

The planet’s oceans are warming a lot quicker than estimated, highlighting the perils of unchecked climate change, according to a new study.

New data published by the journal Science on Thursday, indicates that ocean temperatures have consistently risen since the 1950s and are rising 40% faster than calculated by scientists in a 2014 U.N. report. According to Lijing Cheng, one of the study’s authors, temperatures down to 2,000 meters rose about 0.1 degree Celsius (0.18F) between 1971-2010, according to Reuters. The fallout could include rising sea levels, destruction of corals, severe weather systems and a decrease in ice sheets and glaciers. According to the study, sea levels could rise by 30cm by the year 2100.

The earth’s oceans have absorbed more than 90% of heat caused by greenhouse gases trapped in the atmosphere, according to the New York Times, making them a vital regulator for the planet’s thermostat. However, their role was relatively unnoticed because of insufficient and imprecise data. The new study analyzed earlier published information and data compiled by Argo, an international system of nearly 4,000 floats that measures temperature and saline levels in the upper parts of the world’s oceans.

The study is the latest in a number of warnings from the scientific community, urging people to change their ways and address global warming. In October 2018, a report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that the planet has only until 2030 to avoid devastating climate change effects. Governments are becoming more aware of their responsibilities, with almost 200 nations pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the 2015 Paris climate accord.

Global Warming

CO2 Surge in US Emissions

A three-year decline in the amount of carbon dioxide being spewed into the atmosphere by the United States ended in 2018 with a surge that saw emissions rise by 3.4 percent.

Data collected by an independent economic research firm found it was the largest rise in carbon emissions in the country in eight years.

A report by the Rhodium Group said the spike occurred even though a record number of U.S. coal-fired power plants closed last year.

But prolonged cold spells in many areas and a hot summer increased demand for air conditioning and heating, fueling the surge.

Global Warming

Lake Baikal threatened by Climate Change

Lake Baikal, the world’s oldest, deepest lake, is feeling the temperature of human-induced climate change. Situated in southern Siberia, Baikal occupies one of the fastest warming regions on the planet and, as a result, the lake itself has got warmer, seasonal ice is present for a shorter period of time and has got thinner, and its waters have become stratified for longer periods. These changes have already had an impact on the lake’s microscopic life, including phytoplankton and zooplankton.

Most of the energy in Lake Baikal’s food web ultimately comes from photosynthesis by tiny diatoms. As with most plants and animals found in Baikal, these diatoms are mainly endemic – that is, they are found nowhere else in the world.

The latest research data showed that a significant change in the diatoms occurred at the very start of the 1970s, at the same time as the lake began to warm and ice thinned. The endemic diatoms are being replaced by non-endemic diatoms that can tolerate the warming conditions in the Lake.

Why is this important? Climate change is already interfering with ecosystems in other large, ancient lakes, such as Lake Tanganyika in East Africa. What happens to plankton has a knock on effect up the food web, causing fish to struggle and also, ultimately, those humans who depend on the ecosystem for their livelihood.

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Global Warming

Ocean Warming

Global warming has heated the oceans by the equivalent of one atomic bomb explosion per second for the past 150 years, according to analysis of new research.

More than 90% of the heat trapped by humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions has been absorbed by the seas, with just a few per cent heating the air, land and ice caps respectively. The vast amount of energy being added to the oceans drives sea-level rise and enables hurricanes and typhoons to become more intense.

Much of the heat has been stored in the ocean depths but measurements here only began in recent decades and existing estimates of the total heat the oceans have absorbed stretch back only to about 1950. The new work extends that back to 1871. Scientists have said that understanding past changes in ocean heat was critical for predicting the future impact of climate change.

A Guardian calculation found the average heating across that 150-year period was equivalent to about 1.5 Hiroshima-size atomic bombs per second. But the heating has accelerated over that time as carbon emissions have risen, and was now the equivalent of between three and six atomic bombs per second.

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Dying Ancients

The world’s oldest flowering trees are mysteriously dying after having provided food, water and shelter from the African sun to both humans and animals for thousands of years.

The deaths of four of the continent’s 13 oldest baobab trees, and the withering to near death of five others over the past 12 years, is being blamed by some on climate change.

Towering over Africa’s savannah, the iconic trees can live to be nearly 3,000 years old. One village held a funeral for its dead baobab, calling it the “mother of us all”.

 

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Global Warming

Climate change is destroying Lebanon’s biblical cedar trees

The cedar trees of Lebanon have survived for millennia. King Solomon is said to have used the tall, strong evergreens to build his temple in Jerusalem. The Phoenicians chopped them down to build ships, the ancient Egyptians to make paper.

But conservationists are warning the usually resilient trees are now facing the biggest threat to their existence – climate change. Today in the Chouf Biosphere Reserve south of the Lebanese capital Beirut, black branchless trunks jut from the ground where young, healthy ones once stood.

The cedars, which grow in Lebanon and a handful of other Mediterranean countries where they enjoy the high altitude and humid climate, are suffering from the longer, hotter summers and drier winters.

In the 1950s, it typically rained or snowed here 100 days a year or more. The relatively cool temperatures through winter would keep snow on the ground for months. However, the last few winters have seen an average of just 40-50. Temperatures, meanwhile, have risen 2 degrees.

The warming earth has encouraged greater numbers of sawflies, the Cephalcia tannourinensis, which burrow into the cedars’ trunks and feast on their needles. While the larvae first began to appear in the 1990s, they have previously gone unnoticed because their cycles did not interfere with the trees, now, the insects mostly target the relatively younger trees – those aged between 20-100 years. Last year, 170 trees dried up completely and died. It was like a fire had ravaged the forest.

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Global Warming

Climate Change Threatening Kenya’s Smallholder Farm Crop Production

In sub-Saharan Africa, climate change is seen as a threat to food security because of the region’s dependence on rain-fed agriculture. In Kenya alone, the Ministry of Agriculture estimates that, in the past year, the adverse effects of climate change resulted in losses of more than 50 percent of the yield of major crops, with smallholder farmers bearing the greatest hardships.

Global Warming

Poland Conference Bring Paris Climate Deal to Life

Negotiators in Poland have finally secured agreement on a range of measures that will make the Paris climate pact operational in 2020. Delegates believe the new rules will ensure that countries keep their promises to cut carbon. The Katowice agreement aims to deliver the Paris goals of limiting global temperature rises to well below 2C.

Global Warming

Mountain of Evidence Confirms: Climate Change Is Really, Really Bad for Human Health and Well-Being

It’s now beyond official: Greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, pose a danger to public health and welfare, according to an exhaustive review that looked at 275 scientific studies published over the past nine years.

Researchers did the report to investigate whether the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2009 Endangerment Finding, which found that greenhouse gases pose a risk to human health, still held up. The new study showed that there is now even more evidence that greenhouse gases are harming human health and welfare. The investigation also found an additional four areas, not listed in the original report, in which greenhouse gases threaten people.

“There’s absolutely no scientific basis for questioning the Endangerment Finding,” review lead researcher Philip Duffy, president and executive director of the Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts said. “The case for endangerment is stronger than ever.”

Global Warming

Satellite spies methane bubbling up from Arctic permafrost

For the first time, scientists have used a satellite to estimate how much methane is seeping into the atmosphere from Arctic lakes. Preliminary data presented this week at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Washington DC help to explain long-standing discrepancies between estimates of methane emissions from atmospheric measurements and data collected at individual lakes.

As icy permafrost melts to form lakes, microbes break down organic matter in the thawing ground beneath the water and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Researchers have measured the amount of methane seeping out of hundreds of lakes, one by one, but estimating emissions across the Arctic remains a challenge. Understanding how much methane is being released by these lakes is crucial to predicting how much permafrost emissions could exacerbate future climate change.

The results suggest that previous research over-estimated how much methane was coming from many large lakes, partly because scientists have spent more time studying smaller lakes with relatively high emissions.

In a 2,000-square-kilometre area around the Barrow Peninsula in northern Alaska, for instance, the research team calculated that lakes release an average of 0.6 grams of methane per square metre of water surface each year — which equates to around 141 kilograms of methane per square kilometre. That is about 84% lower than some previous estimates based on measurements at individual lakes, but lines up well with estimates based on atmospheric measurements.

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Global Warming

Climate Change will Strengthen El Niños

El Niños will be stronger and more frequent in the decades ahead because of global warming, causing “more extreme events” in the United States and around the world, a study said Wednesday.

A natural phenomenon marked by warmer-than-average seawater in the tropical Pacific Ocean, El Niño is Earth’s most influential climate pattern. A weak one is forecast to form at some point this winter, scientists have said.

Rather than once every 15 years, powerful El Niños will occur roughly once every 10 years. They found that the physical processes in the ocean and atmosphere that produce strong El Niños will be supercharged by human-caused climate change.

The entire natural climate cycle is officially known as El Niño – Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which swings between warmer and cooler seawater in the tropical Pacific. Cooler-than-average ocean water is known as La Niña. The cycle is the primary factor government scientists consider when announcing their winter weather forecast.

Strong El Niños can lead to floods in the western United States, Ecuador and northeast Peru and to droughts in nations that border the western Pacific Ocean, the study finds.

During extreme El Niños, marine life in the eastern Pacific can die off, and mass bleaching of corals across the Pacific and beyond can occur.