Global Warming

North American Birds under Threat

Two-thirds of bird species in North America are at risk of extinction if global temperatures continue to rise, according to a new report from scientists at the Audubon Society. A total of 389 species, out of 604 studied, are expected to experience declines in their populations as a result of warmer temperatures, higher seas, loss of habitat, and extreme weather, all driven by climate change.

Among those birds most at-risk are the greater sage grouse, Baltimore oriole, common loon, and the wood thrush. The new study comes less than a month after research found the United States and Canada have lost 3 billion birds since 1970, equal to losing one out of every four birds.

Global Warming

Mediterranean Warming

A new report, whose main conclusions are being presented on Thursday in Barcelona by the Mediterranean Institute of Biodiversity and Ecology, shows that the temperature increase in the Mediterranean region has already reached 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels, which means that the warming effect in this area is 20% faster than the global average.

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Global Warming

Earlier breeding season for some Arctic seabirds

The breeding season of some seabirds in Arctic regions takes place earlier as a result of the temperature rise caused by climate change, according to a science article with Francisco Ramírez, from the Faculty of Biology and the Biodiversity Research Institute (IRBio) of the University of Barcelona -as one of the main authors.

According to the study, published in the journal Global Change Biology, surface-feeding seabirds in the north of the Pacific Ocean are moving their breeding season to an earlier timing than the rest of species -about ten days before for over the last thirty-five years- due the ocean’s temperature rise and ice melting, which are signs of Spring onset in the Arctic.

The Arctic is one of the most sensitive areas to the global warming effects. Ice melting and the continuous rise of temperatures -higher than the average worldwide- are dramatically altering the structure of the Arctic ecosystems.

Wildlife

Bears Starving in Canada

Grizzlies in Canada are starving as the salmon population withers amid climate change. Excruciatingly thin grizzly bears in Canada are fresh evidence of the dire consequences of climate change and vanishing food sources for wildlife. Salmon, a key food source for grizzlies, is at an all-time low, affected by climate change. Fisherman say the salmon population is the smallest they’ve seen in 50 years.

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Bird Populations in Mojave Desert Collapse

Bird populations in the Mojave Desert have collapsed over the last century, and now scientists say they know why: The animals’ bodies can’t cope with the hotter and drier weather brought on by global warming.

The discovery, described this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, draws upon historical records and high-tech virtual bird modeling to explain how climate change has caused such drastic population losses — and how it will likely cause even deeper losses in the future.

As climate change and habitat destruction due to human activity continue across the globe, many species have found themselves in decline or under threat. A recent study in the journal Science, for instance, found that there are nearly 3 billion fewer birds in North America today than there were in 1970.

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Global Warming

Ozone Changes

The hole in stratospheric ozone that develops over Antarctica as the frozen continent emerges from winter is now acting in ways never before observed.

Scientists at Europe’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service say the hole is not only about half as large as normally seen in September, but it has been off-center and far from the South Pole.

They point to a sudden and significant warming of the stratosphere over Antarctica during the month. This appears to have destabilized the process in which ozone has been destroyed since the now-banned chlorofluorocarbons began causing the ozone hole during the 1960s and 1970s.

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Global Warming

Human CO2 Emissions Greatly Outstrip Natural Sources

Human activity churns out up to 100 times more planet-warming carbon each year as all the volcanoes on Earth, says a decade-long study released on Tuesday.

The Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO), a 500-strong international team of scientists, released a series of papers outlining how carbon is stored, emitted and reabsorbed by natural and manmade processes.

They found that manmade carbon dioxide emissions drastically outstrip the contribution of volcanoes – which belch out gas and are often fingered as a major climate change contributor – to current warming rates.

The findings, published in the journal Elements, showed just two-tenths of 1% of Earth’s total carbon – around 43 500 gigatonnes – is above the surface in oceans, the land, and in our atmosphere.

The rest – a staggering 1.85 billion gigatonnes – is stored in our planet’s crust, mantle and core, providing scientists with clues as to how Earth formed billions of years ago. One gigatonne is equivalent to around 3 million Boeing 747s.

Global Warming

Landmark UN report warns sea levels will rise faster than projected

Cities from New York to Shanghai could see regular flooding, as sea levels rise faster than previously thought.

Glaciers and ice sheets from the Himalayas to Antarctica are rapidly melting.

And the fisheries that feed millions of people are shrinking.

These are just some of the impacts that emissions of greenhouse gases have already triggered across the planet’s oceans and frozen regions, according to a new landmark report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

This new report paints a full and alarming picture of the rapid thawing happening in frozen regions all across the globe — and how the changes will dramatically alter human civilization in the coming decades.

The findings show that the planet’s warming is accelerating melting in glaciers and ice sheets from Greenland to Antarctica, and that sea levels will likely rise more than previously projected by the end of this century.

Of the major ice sheets, Greenland’s — which has the potential to raise sea levels around 20 feet — is melting the fastest, and lost more than 275 gigatons on average per year between 2006 and 2015. But the even larger Antarctic ice sheet is also shrinking, and its mass loss tripled between 2007 and 2016 compared to the previous ten years.

Even if collapse of the Antarctic ice sheet is not imminent, the report says that many of the 680 million people around the world living in low-lying coastal areas will experience annual flooding events by 2050 that used to occur only once a century.

Global Warming

Mayhem as sea ice melts in heating world – Bering Strait

In the Bering Strait region, where a narrow passage separates Alaska from Russia and links the Arctic Ocean to the Pacific, the sea ice is long gone and mayhem has taken hold in the marine environment.

The most striking signs are on the shorelines, which have been littered with dead animals ranging from tiny shellfish to giant whales.

The toll of discovered dead animals as of mid-July: 137 ice-dependent seals and five gray whales, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); dozens of walruses, piles of bird carcasses — marking what has become the latest in five consecutive years of bird die-offs in the region; carcasses of salmon that never got the chance to spawn clogging rivers and streams; and in some spots, stretches of dead blue mussels and krill have coated beaches.

Sometimes animals are found alive, but only barely so. A walrus found in June near Solomon, a village 30 miles east of Nome, was so thin that its ribs were visible and so weak its head was down on the ground, according to a local report. “It was having trouble keeping its head out of the mud,” said the report filed with the Local Environmental Observer network operated by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.

Extreme warmth that, this summer, brought air temperatures in places to the high 80s and even low 90s Fahrenheit (or into the 30s Celsius) and cooked marine waters.

Freeze-up that used to come in fall is now delayed to mid-winter and the ice that forms is thin. That thinner ice melts earlier, exposing open waters that absorb more of the sun’s heat. That means water temperatures soar, freeze-up is again delayed, the late-forming winter ice is again thin, melt is early, and so on.

When there is little or no ice, seals and walruses cannot find platforms to rest in between food-foraging dives and during key life events like birth and nursing of young. More light penetrates the water, boosting phytoplankton blooms and upsetting a prior balance, benefitting fish and pelagic species in the upper reaches of the ocean water but reducing the amount of nutrition that drifts down to the deep-dwelling benthic species like tiny amphipods, clams, crabs and snails that are crucial to the marine-mammal food web.

The absence of a winter freeze also means lack of the usual “cold pool” of ultra-salty, super-chilled water that normally serves as an underwater barrier separating the high-fat, nutrition-dense species in the northern Bering Sea from the lower-fat species that live in the southern part of the sea.

There is another possible heat-related explanation for the die-offs: lack of the high-quality, high-fat food in the environment. As water temperatures rise, the lower-fat species more typical of the southern Bering Sea are moving north, taking over the higher-fat northern species’ territory.

Among the newcomers is Pacific cod, a staple of people’s diets for millennia in southern Alaska and marine predators so voracious they are known to eat seabirds. To the south, in the heated-up Gulf of Alaska, cod have become scarce, a severe blow to commercial fishermen and fishing-dependent communities; harvest quotas were slashed so deeply that the state sought a fisheries disaster declaration from the federal government. Now it appears that cod populations have swum north, swarming Norton Sound, a waterbody famous for its harvests of succulent king crab.

The wildlife in the region are unable to adequately deal with changes and interruptions in their traditional food chains and poisoning from the toxins released by increasingly prevalent algal blooms.

Global Warming

Climate Change Protests

Millions of people around the world walked out of their schools and workplaces Friday to demand urgent action on climate change. The global climate strikes, which are taking place in more than 150 countries, were scheduled ahead of the opening of the United Nations General Assembly and the Climate Action Summit on September 23.

Global Warming

Hottest Summer

A full 90 percent of the world’s population just experienced the hottest summer on record, according to the U.S. agency NOAA.

While it was the second-hottest on record worldwide, most people live in the Northern Hemisphere, where records say it was a tie with 2016 as the hottest meteorological summer.

• French researchers say that mounting atmospheric CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels is warming the Earth’s surface more quickly than earlier predicted.

New models that will replace those used for the current U.N. global warming predictions point to an atmosphere up to 2 degrees Celsius hotter than the 2014 U.N. report had warned.

Global Warming

Researchers forecast more intensified global warming

The latest climate forecasts made by several French scientific bodies reveal a rather alarming situation: current forecasts are a little too optimistic in relation to the reality of global warming.

According to models from the Pierre-Simon Laplace Institute (IPSL) and France’s National Meteorological Research Centre, our planet, in the worst-case scenario, could warm up to 6 or even 7°C by 2100.

However, at best, the situation is also alarming. If the planet achieves carbon neutrality by 2060, which is far from certain, then global warming will reach 1.9°C, as opposed to less than 1.5°C.

In an intermediate scenario, where the planet would reach carbon neutrality by 2080, the increase would be 2.6°C.

In the scientific community, the 1.5°C target appears increasingly unattainable. And climatologists are now increasingly reluctant to mention a “business as usual” scenario, simply because it no longer exists.

Global Warming

Climate Change and the Looming Omega-3 Crisis

Algae are the small but mighty, responsible for synthesizing most of the world’s docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The plants provide DHA to fish and sea creatures, many of which end up on the plates of seafood lovers everywhere. But algae are particularly sensitive to changes in ambient temperature — and warmer waters have already started disrupting algae’s DHA synthesis.

A new study, published Wednesday in the journal Ambio, predicts that by 2100, 96 percent of the global population may not have sufficient access to a DHA, the naturally occurring essential brain-building omega-3 fatty acid.

DHA is a key component of cell membranes and is critical for brain function. It helps regulate cell survival, inflammation, and neuroprotection, and makes up 10 percent of the mammalian brain’s fatty acids. DHA is also thought to help develop the central nervous system and retina.

But humans can’t produce enough DHA on their own. To reach the recommended dose — 1.1 g for adult women and 1.6 g for adult males daily — they either have to eat DHA-rich foods like fish and seafood once or twice a week, or take dietary supplements.

As DHA production declines and human population explodes, humans all over the world will likely become DHA deficient. Basically, too many people and not enough seafood will lead to health complications.

Global Warming

As Earth faces climate catastrophe, US set to open nearly 200 power plants

Powerful hurricanes. Record-breaking heatwaves. Droughts that bring ruin to farmers. Raging forest fires. The mass die-off of the world’s coral reefs. Food scarcity.

To avoid a climate change apocalypse, carbon dioxide emissions need to fall by as much as 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, according to the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Instead, utilities and energy companies are continuing to invest heavily in carbon-polluting natural gas. USA TODAY compiled its own list of 177 planned and proposed natural gas plants through August, using data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, which tracks power plants that have been officially announced, and the Sierra Club, which tracks proposed plants.

Of those, 152 have a scheduled opening date of between 2019 and 2033, though only 130 have specific locations chosen. An additional 25 are part of companies’ long-term planning processes and don’t have estimated opening dates yet.

The plants are a mix of large-scale installations meant to provide lots of electricity much of the day and smaller plants used for short periods when demand for energy is particularly high.

Texas has the most proposed plants, with 26. Next is Pennsylvania with 24, North Carolina with 12, Florida with 10, California with nine and Montana with eight.

There are close to 2,000 natural gas plants now in service.

Global Warming

Bill Gates-funded chemical cloud could help stop global warming

Fires burning across the Amazon rainforest have renewed the debate about solutions to climate change. Bill Gates is backing the first high-altitude experiment of one radical approach called solar geoengineering. It’s meant to mimic the effects of a giant volcanic eruption. Thousands of planes would fly at high altitudes, spraying millions of tons of particles around the planet to create a massive chemical cloud that would cool the surface.

“Modeling studies have found that it could reduce the intensity of heat waves, for instance, apparently it could reduce the rate of sea level rise. It could reduce the intensity of tropical storms,” said Andy Parker, project director at the Solar Radiation Management Governance Initiative.

The technology is not far from being ready and it’s affordable, but it could cause massive changes in regional weather patterns and eradicate the Earth’s blue sky. These consequences might be horrific. They might involve things like mass famine, mass flooding, drought of kinds that will affect very large populations.

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Global Warming

Geese Change Migration Routes due to Global Warming

Geese which winter in Britain before flying to the Arctic to breed each summer are changing their migration route in response to climate change, researchers have found.

Scientists studying the habits of barnacle geese, which spend the winter months in large numbers on Britain’s coast, found that the birds were flying further north far into the Arctic Circle each spring to fatten up en route to their Norwegian summer breeding grounds.

The study is one of the first provide solid evidence that animals are adapting their long-established behaviour to cope with the effects of global warming.