Global Warming

Ghastly Future

An international group of scientists warns that Earth is headed for a “ghastly future of mass extinction, declining health and climate-disruption upheavals” because of ignorance and dithering.

Writing in the journal Frontiers in Conservation Science, experts say that the scale of the threat is so great that it’s difficult even for experts to grasp. The report warns that climate-induced mass migrations, more pandemics and conflicts over resources will become inevitable unless urgent action is taken. It asks world leaders to meet the challenges posed by the climate emergency.


Octopuses Adapt to Climate Change

With the impact of climate change increasing by the day, scientists are studying the ways in which human behavior contributes to the damage. A recent study at Walla Walla University, by a collaboration of researchers from Walla Walla University and La Sierra University, examined the effects of acidic water on octopuses, potentially bringing new insight into both how our activities impact the world around us, and the way that world is adapting in response.

The study focused on the metabolic rate of octopuses exposed to water acidified by carbon dioxide, and the changes it made to the animals. CO2 is a key indicator of the growing acidity of our oceans because much of the gas released into the air by humans is dissolving into the seawater.

For instance, studies on cuttlefish show no significant change in their metabolism after exposure to increased OA, while squid subjected to the same conditions showed a reduction in aerobic metabolism, indicating reduced oxygen circulation in the subjects. The results demonstrated a surprising amount of adaptability in the subjects.

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Global Warming Heats 2020 to Record Temps

2020 capped off Earth’s hottest recorded decade and tied with 2016 for the hottest year, according to data released today by the Copernicus Climate Change Service, a program of the European Commission.

Average global temperatures were about 2.25°F (1.25°C) above the preindustrial average. That 2020 tied 2016 alarmed climate scientists because the 2016 high was fueled in part by a largely natural El Niño cycle, which features above-average equatorial sea surface temperatures across the Pacific and adds more heat to the atmosphere, while 2020 featured a cooling La Niña cycle.

This means, in essence, human-caused global warming overwhelmed the planet’s natural cooling cycle.

NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will each issue their year-end global temperature data Jan. 14 and are expected to rank 2020 as either the first or second-warmest based on slight differences in measuring.

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Native biodiversity collapse in the Eastern Mediterranean

The coastline of Israel is one of the warmest areas in the Mediterranean Sea. Here, most marine species have been at the limits of their tolerance to high temperatures for a long time — and now they are already beyond those limits. Global warming has led to an increase in sea temperatures beyond those temperatures that Mediterranean species can sustain. Consequently, many of them are going locally extinct.

The research team quantified this local extinction for marine molluscs, an invertebrate group encompassing snails, clams and mussels. They thoroughly surveyed the Israeli coastline and reconstructed the historical species diversity using the accumulations of empty shells on the sea bottom.

The shallow habitats at scuba diving depths are affected most. Here, the researchers were not able to find living individuals of up to 95 per cent of the species whose shells were found in the sediments. The study suggests that most of this loss has occurred recently, presumably in just the last few decades.

Additionally, most of the species still found alive cannot grow enough to reproduce, “a clear sign that the biodiversity collapse will further continue.

Global Warming

Tree line on Mt. Fuji reaches new heights

The tree line near the halfway point of 3,776-meter Mount Fuji, considered the uppermost limit where such plants can thrive, has steadily climbed over the past four decades and global warming offers the best explanation, researchers say.

A joint study by Niigata and Shizuoka universities also found that Japanese larch trees, known for their stunted posture as if to hug the wind-swept terrain, stand more upright these days. The only possible explanation appears to be the shift in global warming.

The latest findings show that the upper end of a Japanese larch forest, which defines the timberline, had moved 30 or so meters upward along the slope from 40 years earlier, and the number of trees in the area had also increased.

Global Warming

Greenhouse Earth

Scientists predict that Earth’s atmosphere will soon contain the same high level of carbon dioxide that existed at the peak of the Pliocene Epoch warmth 3 million years ago. That’s when temperatures were 5 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer and sea levels were 65 feet higher.

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Recalculated Heat

The world may have less time than expected to curb carbon emissions and avert a life-threatening climate catastrophe after it was discovered that manmade greenhouse gases may have already warmed the planet by 18% more than predicted.

“Climate change hasn’t suddenly got worse. It’s just our estimate of how much warming has taken place has improved,” says Tim Osborn of Britain’s University of East Anglia.

The findings come as 2020 appears to be vying with 2019 as the second-warmest year on record.

The British Met Office predicts 2021 is still likely to at least be among the six warmest years on record, chilled a bit by the ongoing moderate La Niña ocean-cooling in the Pacific.

Global Warming

Arctic Report Card 2020

The average annual land-surface air temperature in the Arctic measured between October 2019 and September 2020 was the second-warmest since record-keeping began in 1900, and was responsible for driving a cascade of impacts across Arctic ecosystems during the year.

Extremely high temperatures across Siberia during spring 2020 resulted in the lowest June snow extent across the Eurasian Arctic observed in the past 54 years.

The 2020 Arctic minimum sea ice extent reached in September was the second-lowest in the satellite record. Overall thickness of the sea ice cover is also decreasing as Arctic ice has transformed from an older, thicker, and stronger ice mass to a younger, thinner more fragile ice mass in the past decade.

Extreme wildfires in the Sakha Republic of northern Russia during 2020 coincided with unparalleled warm air temperatures and record snow loss in the region.

Pacific Arctic bowhead whales have rebounded in the past 30 years, due to increases in both local plankton blooms and transport of increased krill and other food sources northward through the Bering Strait, a signal of long-term warming in the Arctic Ocean.

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Global Warming

Global warming has profoundly transformed Arctic in just 15 years

The Arctic as we once knew it, an inhospitable, barely accessible and icebound place, is gone. Climate change has transformed it into a region that can heat up to 100 degrees, is beset by ferocious wildfires, and is covered in permafrost that is no longer permanent. The sea ice cover that has long defined the Far North is fast disappearing. This is the picture from a new international scientific assessment released Tuesday.

The Arctic as a whole is warming at nearly three times the rate of the rest of the world, owing to feedback loops between snow, ice and land cover. This rapid warming, studies have shown, is largely the result of increased emissions of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas.

This year, the biggest Arctic climate extremes were the persistent, dramatically warmer than average conditions in the Siberian Arctic, which had a domino effect that led to record-low sea ice in the adjacent Kara and Laptev Seas, a wildfire season that defied historical norms, melting permafrost and changes in wildlife populations.

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Global Warming

5 ways climate change is already hurting your health

Heat-related illness – As the planet gets warmer, people across the globe are beginning to feel the heat. More heat-related deaths are occurring. Heat waves aggravate illnesses like asthma, diabetes, mental health disorders and kidney disease.

Infectious disease – As climate change alters environmental conditions across the planet, so too does it affect the geographic distribution of infectious diseases. Warmer temperatures around the globe cause rising sea levels, warmer seawater, and either more frequent or increasingly severe natural disasters like hurricanes and flood. And each of these events is associated with a range of infectious diseases, including life-threatening diarrheal disease, respiratory infections, and skin infections.

Extreme weather events – 2020 has also witnessed a record-breaking hurricane season as well as wildfires and floods across the globe — and climate change is thought to be contributing to the severity of all of these extreme weather events.

Air quality – Another way climate change affects human health is through its impact on air quality. While the burning of fossil fuels directly pollutes the air, global warming that’s a byproduct of fossil fuel combustion also contributes to and exacerbates worsening air quality. Increasing wildfires also impact of air quality.

Mental health and trauma – The psychosocial impact of extreme weather events is huge. People have their possessions and homes destroyed. They must move and rebuild and often are doing so with much of their wealth obliterated. This can cause significant mental distress, rates of depression and anxiety, as well as PTSD rise in survivors of such events.

Satellite images confirm uneven impact of climate change

Researchers have been following vegetation trends across the planet’s driest areas using satellite imagery from recent decades. They have identified a troubling trend: Too little vegetation is sprouting up from rainwater in developing nations, whereas things are headed in the opposite direction in wealthier ones. As a result, the future could see food shortages and growing numbers of climate refugees.

More than 40 percent of Earth’s ecosystems are arid, an amount that is expected to increase significantly over the course of the 21st century. Some of these areas, such as those in Africa and Australia may be savannah or desert, where sparse rainfall has long been the norm. Within these biomes, vegetation and wildlife have adapted to making use of their scant water resources, but they are also extraordinarily vulnerable to climate change.

Conversely, vegetation in arid areas of the world’s wealthier countries seems to be coping better with climate change. This is likely due to the intensification and expansion of larger farms, where more economic resources allow for, among other things, irrigation and fertilization.

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Greenhouse Rise

The U.N. weather agency says that while global carbon emissions fell by as much as 17% globally at times during the COVID pandemic, the levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere have continued to rise to even higher records this year.

“The lockdown-related fall in emissions is just a tiny blip on the long-term graph,” said World Meteorological Organization chief Petteri Taalas. “We need a sustained flattening of the curve.”

He added in a statement that such a rise in carbon dioxide levels as observed over the past four years has never been seen before, either in direct measurements from the atmosphere or in ice-core samples that reveal CO2 concentrations from up to 800,000 years ago.

Trees Lose their Leaves Earlier Due To Global Warming

Trees will start to shed their leaves earlier as the planet warms, a new study has suggested, contradicting previous assumptions that warming temperatures are delaying the onset of fall.

Every year, in a process known as senescence, the leaves of deciduous trees turn yellow, orange and red as they suspend growth and extract nutrients from foliage, before falling from the tree ahead of winter. Leaf senescence also marks the end of the period during which plants absorb carbon dioxide through photosynthesis.

Global warming has resulted in longer growing seasons — spring leaves are emerging in European trees about two weeks earlier, compared with 100 years ago, researchers said.

Increases in spring and summer productivity that come as a result of elevated carbon dioxide, temperature and light levels then actually drive trees to lose their leaves earlier, the experts found. The experts now predict by the end of the century, leaves might even fall off three to six days earlier than at present.

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Global Warming Shifts Arctic Wildlife Movement Patterns

For animals in the Arctic, life is a balancing act. Seasonal cues, such as warmer spring temperatures or cooler temperatures in the fall, tell animals when to migrate, when to mate, and when and where to find food. Predators and prey, birds and mammals alike follow this natural schedule, and an overall shift of just a few days or weeks could have unknown impacts on these animals and ecosystems.

These changes in seasonal timing are already starting – although the shifts differ between species and populations – according to a new study published Nov. 5 in Science.

The timelapse shows the movement patterns for various animals (colors indicate different animal types) over the course of a year. Animal migration in the Arctic is highly seasonal, as various species and populations move around in search of food, suitable temperatures, and places to mate and raise their young.

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Marine Heat Wave

Climate experts warn that the third marine heat wave in four years is developing off northern New Zealand as the country enters the southern summer. Such a warm-water designation means the ocean temperatures have been cooler 90% of the time in the past. “We’re not even at the peak of our sea-surface temperatures, which typically occur over January and February,” said meteorologist Ben Noll of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.

Heat waves at sea can alter the marine ecosystem, bringing in species of fish and other aquatic life from more tropical waters. They can affect the land environment as well.

The 2018 marine heat wave off northern New Zealand led to a population boom of some land animals, including rodents.

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Global warming will continue no matter what we do

Even if humanity stopped emitting greenhouse gases tomorrow, Earth will warm for centuries to come and oceans will rise by metres, according to a controversial modelling study published Thursday.

Natural drivers of global warming — more heat-trapping clouds, thawing permafrost, and shrinking sea ice — already set in motion by carbon pollution will take on their own momentum, researchers from Norway reported in the Nature journal Scientific Reports.

“According to our models, humanity is beyond the point-of-no-return when it comes to halting the melting of permafrost using greenhouse gas cuts as the single tool, If we want to stop this melting process we must do something in addition — for example, suck CO2 out of the atmosphere and store it underground, and make Earth’s surface brighter.”

The core finding — contested by leading climate scientists — is that several thresholds, or “tipping points”, in Earth’s climate system have already been crossed, triggering a self-perpetuating process of warming, as has happened millions of years in the past. One of these drivers is the rapid retreat of sea ice in the Arctic.

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Global Warming

Ozone Hole – Antarctica

Persistent cold temperatures and strong circumpolar winds, also known as the polar vortex, supported the formation of a large and deep Antarctic ozone hole that should persist into November, NOAA and NASA scientists reported today.

The annual Antarctic ozone hole reached its peak size at about 24,8-million square kilometres (9,6-million square miles), roughly three times the area of the continental US, on 20 September. Observations revealed the nearly complete elimination of ozone in a 4-mile-high column of the stratosphere over the South Pole.