Environment

Siberia’s record-breaking heat wave

The extreme record-breaking heat that has baked Siberia for several months should serve as an “incredibly loud alarm bell” of the need to adapt to climate change, say researchers.

Thawing permafrost leading to the Norilsk oil spill – one of the worst in Russia’s history – “zombie fires” resurrected from blazes last year and dramatic levels of snowmelt are among the consequences.

The temperatures, while mostly still cold by the standards of someone living in London or New York, have been unprecedented.

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Global Warming

Rain, floods and confused seals: Antarctica’s warmest-ever summer

With annual rainfall of just 6.5 inches, Antarctica is technically considered a desert, but the two days of drizzle was just one of a number of remarkable weather phenomenon observed by scientists in 2020.

A heatwave began in late spring to the east of the Antarctic Peninsula and circumnavigated the continent. The Casey Research Station, south of Australia, saw three days of record-breaking temperatures, culminating in the all-time high of 9.2C on 24 January.

Antarctica’s heatwave made international headlines on 6 February when its highest ever temperature – 20.75C – was recorded on Seymour Island, just off the Antarctic Peninsula, the narrow arm that juts out into the Southern Ocean to within 1,000 kilometres of South America.

At Australia’s station in the typically ice-free Vestfold Hills, the landscape was transformed. New rivers were formed in the ice, existing lakes flooded and new ones were formed. The ice runway where planes land from Australia was inaccessible for ten weeks. It even left the seals confused.

The reason for rising temperatures in Antarctica are complex, ranging from the lateness of the Indian monsoon season, to warmer patches of water in the Pacific Ocean, to the position of the hole in the Ozone layer, to the strength of jet stream winds across the Southern Ocean.

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Environment

Moscow’s Warm Winter

Russia’s capital Moscow, which for the past months has largely been deprived of its traditional seasonal covering of snow, has seen its warmest winter since records began, the state weather service said on Saturday.

The head of Russia’s forecasting centre Roman Vilfand told the TASS news agency that the average temperature in Russia from December to February has been some 2.5 degrees Celsius (4.5 Fahrenheit) warmer than the previous record of minus 2.8 degrees seen in the winter of 1960-1961.

He said such differences between records were extremely rare. Records began 140 years ago in Russia.

Environment

Earth’s Magnetic North Pole Moving Towards Siberia at a Fast Pace

Our planet is restless, and its poles are wandering. Of course, the geographic north pole is in the same place it always was, but its magnetic counterpart – indicated by the N on any compass – is roaming towards Siberia at record-breaking speeds that scientists don’t fully comprehend.

It’s worth stating that while the pace is remarkable, the movement itself isn’t. The magnetic north pole is never truly stationary, owing to fluctuations in the flow of molten iron within the core of our planet, which affect how Earth’s magnetic field behaves.

“Since its first formal discovery in 1831, the north magnetic pole has travelled around 1,400 miles (2,250 km),” the NOAA’s National Centres for Environmental Information (NCEI) says. “This wandering has been generally quite slow, allowing scientists to keep track of its position fairly easily.”

That slow wander has quickened of late. In recent decades, the magnetic north pole accelerated to an average speed of 55 kilometres (34 miles) per year.

The most recent data suggest its movement towards Russia may have slowed down to about 40 kilometres (25 miles) annually, but even so, compared to theoretical measurements going back hundreds of years, this is a phenomenon scientists have never witnessed before.

Heatwave – Australia

Tuesday, 17 December, was Australia’s hottest day on record. Ever. The average maximum temperature across the country was 40.9C. Temperatures of 46C and above were recorded in multiple localities in three states (SA, WA, NT) on Wednesday.

Environment

Record Temperature in South Africa

Vioolsdrif, a village in the Northern Cape, has broken a new record for the highest temperature in the country — reaching over 50 degrees Celsius. On Thursday, it reached a new record of 50.1°C and then it broke its own record again on Friday by reaching 53.2°C.

There was an upper high weather system situated over the area that resulted in an increase of temperatures, which is the reason we had a heatwave condition in parts of SA. Planet Earth and Storm Report SA reported that the temperature recorded at the Viooldrif weather station is now the highest yet recorded anywhere in Africa in the modern era.

Environment

Heatwave in Europe Continues

Europe sweltered Saturday on the sixth day of a widespread, deadly heatwave that has fuelled record-breaking temperatures, huge blazes and pollution peaks. France, Italy, Spain and some central European nations posted all-time high temperatures.

The heat has officially claimed four lives in France, two in Italy and another two in Spain, including a 17-year-old harvest worker, a 33-year-old roofer and a 72-year-old homeless man.

The hot spell sparked several blazes, including in Spain where firefighters were again battling high flames in strong winds and blistering heat Saturday just after they managed to contain another inferno after nearly 72 hours. A fire that started Friday in the central Spanish town of Almorox burnt at least 1,600 hectares (4,000 acres), spilling over into the Madrid region and forcing the evacuation of a village, emergency services said.

In France, about 40 fires were reported, razing about 600 hectares and dozens of houses in the Gard department in the country’s south. This is the same region where a new French record of 45.9 degrees Celsius (114.6 degrees Fahrenheit) was set Friday, prompting the Meteo France weather service to issue its highest alert level of red for the first time.

Winegrowers in the south of France said their precious crops have been badly burnt.

Environment

“Plasticrust”

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Researchers say they have found a strange new combination of rock and plastic forming on Portugal’s Atlantic island of Madeira.

Researcher Ignacio Gestoso says the new hybrid geology was first observed on the island’s volcanic shore in 2016, the apparent result of waterborne plastic pollution being slammed into rocks by wave action.

The new “plasticrust” looks like melted plastic encrusted on the rocks, according to Gestoso and colleagues at the island’s Marine and Environmental Research Center. They say the plastic is mainly polyethylene, a mixture of polymers and ethylene used in single-use packaging, bottles and food containers.

Heatwave in Europe

Europe’s record-breaking heatwave is forecast to intensify further on Thursday with authorities on high alert as temperatures threaten to exceed 40 degrees Celsius in some parts of the continent.

The stifling heat prompted traffic restrictions in France, sparked forest fires in Spain, and fanned debate in Germany over public nudity as sweltering residents stripped down.

Meteorologists blame a blast of hot air from northern Africa for the heat this week, which has already set new records in Europe for June. According to reports, the high temperatures have already claimed the lives of three people.

Exceptional for arriving so early in summer, the heatwave will on Thursday and Friday likely send mercury above 40C in France, Spain and Greece.

Paris Bans 60% of Cars Due To Heatwave and Pollution Levels

Paris imposed a ban on older and less efficient cars on Wednesday and is due to stay in place within the A86 second ring-road – which encompasses Paris and 79 towns around it – as long as the hot weather lasts, the city council said.

Data firm AAA Data said that nearly five million vehicles registered in the Ile-de-France area around Paris were covered, about 60 percent of total, a record number to be restricted. The city was not immediately available to comment on those estimates.

Traffic was lighter in Paris, but not significantly so. Several drivers said they were ignoring the restrictions as the fines for breaking them – just 68 euros ($77) for cars and 135 euros for vans – were so low.

French authorities also stepped up restrictions on water use on Thursday as swathes of western Europe remained in the grip of an intense heatwave.

Paris’ driving ban was imposed under the new “Crit’Air” colored stickers system, which classifies cars by age and pollution levels.

Only electric or hydrogen vehicles, petrol cars registered after Jan. 2006 and diesel cars registered from Jan. 2011 – corresponding to Crit’Air levels 1 and 2 out of 5 – were allowed on the roads.

Environment

Heatwave in India

Almost half of India has been put on heatwave alert, with at least 500 people being reported to have died in the heatwave sweeping India, with temperatures reaching 48C (118F) in some areas. Most deaths have taken place in the southern states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, where more than 140 people have died since Saturday.

Environment

Cool Roofs

A new study finds that making rooftops a light-reflective colour can reduce heat-related deaths and cool peak daytime temperatures by more than 3 degrees Celsius during heat waves.

Cities store more heat than the surrounding countryside due to the urban heat island effect. This makes cities more susceptible to the increasing number and intensity of heat waves under global warming.

New modelling by the University of Oxford found that introducing cool roofs across a city could prevent about a quarter of heat wave-related deaths and cut the need for air conditioning.

Global Warming

‘Stuck’ Weather

Recent extended heatwaves across Europe, North America and Asia are being driven by stalled weather patterns that are becoming more frequent due to record Arctic warmth, according to a new study by a team of international researchers.

It points to the polar region warming more quickly than any other part of the planet, which is slowing the jet stream and other large-scale planetary winds.

This means areas of high and low barometric pressure are getting stuck in the middle latitudes, resulting in longer periods of extreme weather, including heat waves.

Writing in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers say the more frequently stalled patterns turn sunny days into heat waves, dry conditions into wildfires and rains into floods.

Global Warming

Animated Earth Map Shows Extent of Global Heat Wave

Earth is boiling under record-high temperatures. Global heat waves have landed thousands of people in the hospital and fueled massive wildfires in places ranging from Greece to the Arctic Circle.

An animation called “earth” shows just how high worldwide temperatures really are. The animation, designed by computer programmer Cameron Beccario, an engineering manager at Indeed Tokyo in Japan, updates every 3 hours with weather data taken from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction’s Global Forecast System.

Environment

Record high temperatures around world this week

Record high temperatures have been set across much of the world this week as an unusually prolonged and broad heatwave intensifies concerns about climate change.

The past month has seen power shortages in California as record heat forced a surge of demand for air conditioners. Algeria has experienced the hottest temperature ever reliably registered in Africa. Britain, meanwhile, has experienced its third longest heatwave, melting the roof of a science building in Glasgow and exposing ancient hill forts in Wales.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said the rising temperatures were at odds with a global cyclical climate phenomena known as La Niña, which is usually associated with cooling.

Taiwan is the most recent place to report a new high with a temperature of 40.3C in Tianxiang on Monday.

Environment

“Heat Dome” to Scorch USA

A blast of sweltering heat will sweep across the United States over the next four days, and some places will see temperatures as much as 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit above average for this time of year, according to the National Weather Service.

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Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

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India – The heaviest rainfall in over a century caused massive flooding across Tamil Nadu, driving thousands from their homes, shutting auto factories and paralysing the airport in capital Chennai. The national weather office predicted three more days of torrential downpours in the southern state of nearly 70 million people. No deaths were reported and the extent of damage would only become clear when the floodwaters recede. Air and rail traffic has ground to a halt.

South Africa – A heat wave has claimed the lives of two people in a shopping mall in Cape Town. Two people died in Khayelitsha Shopping Mall as the mercury reached 34°C.

Environment

July was Earth’s hottest month on record

July was the hottest month on Earth since records began, averaging 16.6 C (61.9 F), according to US scientists.

That is 0.08 degrees higher than the previous record, set in July 1998 – a significant margin in weather records.