Global Warming

Putting a Cost on Climate Change

Led by the deadly and costly Hurricane Ida and massive flooding in Europe, the world racked up $329 billion in economic losses linked to severe weather last year, and only 38% of that bill was covered by insurance. Total economic losses tallied $343 billion, Aon said, $329 billion of which resulted from weather and climate-related events such as hurricanes, flooding, wildfires, tsunamis and drought. That left 2021 as the third costliest year on record after adjusting for inflation.

“There’s no question that the finger prints of climate change are already here today, more intense weather, impacting more things in harm’s way,” Steve Bowen, meteorologist and head of catastrophe insight at Aon.

Global Warming

Climate change is making it harder for plants to spread seeds via animals

The loss of biodiversity of birds and mammals from human-induced climate change has reduced the ability of plants to spread their seeds via animals, according to a new study.

Published in Science earlier this month, the study uses data from more than 400 networks of seed dispersal interactions between plants, birds and mammals to track the changes being seen by declines in animal populations due to climate change.

Half of all plant species rely on animals to disperse their seeds, either through their feces or hitching a ride on feathers, wings and fur, and seed dispersal networks lost or created in new ways to make up for biodiversity loss can influence how plants can adapt to climate change through migration, the study states.

The American and Dutch researchers estimate that mammal and bird losses have reduced the capacity of plants to adapt to climate change by 60 per cent across the globe.

Global Warming

No Quick Fix for Global Warming in Greenland

The warming that humans cause today may have ripple effects far into the future, scientists warned in a study yesterday that finds the vast Greenland ice sheet could continue melting for centuries after greenhouse gases are stabilized. Greenland has a delayed response to changes in the Earth’s climate, and even if the planet stopped warming tomorrow, Greenland may continue losing ice for hundreds or even thousands of years.

During periods of natural cooling, for instance, the ice sheet has begun to grow—and then it continued to grow for some time even after the climate starts warming again. Eventually, the ice sheet flips and starts to shrink again. Then it continues shrinking even after temperatures stop rising.

That’s because the Greenland ice sheet is such a large, complex system. The ice sheet is so large that once it starts losing ice at faster and faster speeds, it can take a long time to slow back down again.

Global Warming

Scientists Warn Again Artificial Sun Dimming

Plans to dim the Sun’s rays in order to slow the effects of global warming are potentially dangerous and should be forbidden by governments, a group of scientists and policy experts have said.

One of the plans includes injecting billions of sulphur particles into the atmosphere – but the success of any plan would be far outweighed by the probable disastrous effects thereof on all life on the planet.

Human beings are already experiencing the serious effects of meddling with nature – the solution should be self-evident: stop polluting the planet, don’t make it worse by escalating the pollution with more artificial, nature-destroying nonsense schemes.

Global Warming

Methane Alarm

The global level of the potent greenhouse gas methane has reached a record high, growing at twice the rate of the long-term average in what scientists are calling a “fire alarm moment” for curbing climate change.

NOAA says methane concentrations reached a record 1,900 parts per billion in September, the highest in almost four decades of regular monitoring. The gas is 80 times more potent in contributing to global heating than carbon dioxide.

While most of the rise has occurred from the gas being released through changes in wetlands and by agriculture in the tropics, leaks from oil and gas operations are also major contributors. More than 100 countries pledged to cut their methane emissions at last year’s COP26 climate summit.

Global Warming

Ocean Warming

Thanks to the relentless pace at which humans are adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, ocean temperatures in 2021 were “the hottest ever recorded by humans,” according to a report published Tuesday in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences.

Since 1958, the researchers found, the world’s oceans have warmed at a steady pace. But that rate sharply accelerated in the late 1980s, warming eight times as fast as in the decades prior.

The seas that are warming fastest, the report says, are the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. While factors such as El Niño and La Niña weather patterns continue to help determine short-term water temperature conditions, greenhouse gas emissions that trap solar radiation and warm the planet’s atmosphere are the biggest factor for increasing ocean warmth, according to the report.

The consequences of rising ocean temperatures range from stronger tropical storms to the accelerated melting of the Earth’s polar ice, which, in combination with the fact that the volume of the oceans expands when warmed, translates into more sea level rise. Warmer oceans result in a greater amount of evaporation, which adds more moisture to the atmosphere and leads to more powerful rain events like those witnessed across the globe in 2021, as well as conditions that give rise to tornadoes.

Global Warming

Antarctica – Resource Race

Climate change has long been seen as an existential threat to Antarctica, but it could also trigger a new race for resources, experts warn. Since the 1990s there has been a ban on extracting minerals and fossil fuels from Antarctica.

Now researchers suggest that prospectors looking for wealth in the white continent are likely to be more interested in the ice and ecology of Antarctica rather than what they can dig for beneath it. The topic is regularly discussed at Antarctic Treaty meetings.

Countries with a stake in Antarctica have been discussing the possibility of opening it up to bioprospecting or even harvesting icebergs for drinking water.

Global Warming

Texas has Hottest December

State climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon announced that Texas had its hottest December since at least 1889. The official state record for previous warmest December was December 1933, at 53.3 degrees and once the data is finalized, December 2021 may go into the record books with an average state temperature above 58 degrees Fahrenheit. In many of the states’ largest cities, temperatures were between 5-9 degrees warmer than average.

The 20th century average temperature for December in Texas is 46.9 degrees and Nielsen-Gammon believes that once data is finalized, the statewide average temperature for December 2021 will end up near 12 degrees above the 20th century average. Typically, temperatures are not compared to the century average, but instead the 30-year average. With our warming climate the 30-year average temperature for Texas is roughly two degrees warmer than the 20th century average.

Global Warming

Marine Heat Wave

The waters off Sydney are approaching their hottest on record for January, with some swimmers and surfers saying the water already feels more like February and March (late in the southern summer) than early January. Satellite images indicate that the water is almost 5.5 degrees Fahrenheit above normal for the month.

University of New South Wales oceanographer Moninya Roughan says the abnormal heat is caused by a combination of overall global heating of the ocean, the current La Niña pushing warmer waters from the tropics southward and some unusual atmospheric conditions. “Marine heat waves are having severe consequences on ecosystems and they can kill habitats,” said Roughan.

Global Warming

Europe’s global warming crisis

Europe has experienced abnormally high temperatures throughout the month of December as a consequence of global warming, with France recording a wave of warmth as high as 17 degrees Celsius.

The extremely mild temperatures are a result of climate change. Record high temperatures were experienced in the south, the south-west, the west and the centre of France. A mass of warm air is coming directly from the tropical Atlantic region.

Vegetation needs cold in winter to be able to develop. This is a disturbance for vegetation and ecosystems. If the mild weather persists, what may happen later in the season is that vegetation will develop too early. This will lead to exposure to frosts that may occur later in March and April.

Global Warming

Climate change in Lapland: Reindeer herders struggle

With the Arctic warming three times faster than the rest of the planet, reindeer herders in Finnish Lapland are already seeing the effects of climate change.

Tens of kilometres into the Arctic Circle, reindeer herder Anne Ollila ventures into -25C temperatures to feed her herd. This is an increasingly important task as the animals have difficulty getting enough food for themselves.

A 20-year study of reindeer on Norway’s Svalbard archipelago by the James Hutton Institute revealed in 2016 that reindeer had already got smaller and lighter. And researchers believe climate change is to blame.

Warmer winters mean more rain. When rain falls on snow, it freezes, locking reindeer’s food – such as lichen – beneath the ice. That means the animals are unable to smell or dig for it. As a result, researchers believe the reindeer starve, abort their calves, or give birth to much lighter young.

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Global Warming

Global warming melting Himalayan glaciers at an ‘exceptional’ rate

According to a new study, global warming is causing glaciers in the Himalayas to melt at an “exceptional rate.” The research was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

The glaciers are also melting there faster than any other region of the world, threatening the water supply of close to 2 billion people. Only Antartica and the Arctic have more ice than the Himalayas.

The study found the glaciers had lost as much as 40% of their area, much of it since the 1970s. The glaciers supply water to people who live in the mountains and in the valleys near rivers like the Ganges, Indus, Brahmaputra and many others.

Global Warming

Climate change is fueling new violent conflict in Africa

Violent confrontations over increasingly scarce water in Africa have broken out in northern Cameroon, causing more than 30,000 people to flee into neighboring Chad, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency. Since Sunday, 22 people have been killed and 30 others seriously injured in fighting between fishermen and farmers, which follows an eruption of violence in August, which led to 45 deaths and forced 23,000 Cameroonians to leave their homes.

The root cause, according to the United Nations, is the dramatic decrease of water levels in Lake Chad, which has lost 90 percent of its surface area since 1963 due to overuse and climate change. The water body is no longer sufficient to meet the demands of the population who need water to carry out their daily activities. The dwindling of water resources has led to fighting over what is left.

Global Warming

UN confirms hottest temperature ever recorded in the Arctic

The highest temperature ever recorded in the Arctic has been officially confirmed by the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization (WMO), sounding ”alarm bells” about climate change.

The temperature, a ”Mediterranean” 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) — which was recorded in the Siberian town of Verkhoyansk in June 2020 — was measured at the peak of an extended heat wave. In fact, temperatures across the region that summer averaged as much as 18 F (10 C) above normal, the WMO said in a statement.

The Arctic fails its annual health check

From extreme melt events to an influx of beaver colonies in Alaska, and rain falling at the summit of Greenland for the first time on record, the Arctic region showed clear symptoms of an ailing planet over the past year.

A report published on Tuesday, which serves as an annual physical for the Arctic, found this vast and significant biome is changing profoundly. It continues to warm twice as fast as the rest of the Earth and is rapidly losing ice cover, transforming from a reliably-frozen landscape to a greener and browner one than it was just around a decade ago.

The report also describes an increase in commercial activities and ships that are venturing further into the Arctic on sea routes opened up by melting ice. They bring more garbage and noise to the region, changing its soundscape and interfering with the ability of marine mammals to communicate. Retreating glaciers and melting permafrost also threaten lives, economies and infrastructure.

Global Warming

Lack of Sea Ice Brings Hunger and Orcas

Winter sea ice has re-formed off Siberia so rapidly this year that it has trapped ships and blocked supplies to Russian cities, but Canada’s Hudson Bay now has an extreme lack of ice, threatening the region’s polar bears. The massive Arctic bay typically begins to freeze in November, but temperatures about 11 degrees above normal have left it virtually ice-free into December.

Peter Convey, an ecologist at the British Antarctic Survey, says this is not good for the polar bears, which need the ice to hunt seals. “The longer they don’t have sea ice, they get a gradual loss in (health) condition. Fewer will survive.” Bears are now left standing along the Hudson Bay shores in a season that is second only to 2010 for the lack of ice in early December.

Decreasing sea ice around the North Pole and a rapidly warming Arctic climate appear to be driving orcas, also known as killer whales, deeper into the Arctic Ocean, where they could be a threat to the region’s ecosystem.

While a common sight in many of the world’s oceans, orcas have historically not ventured to waters covered in ice most of the year because of the danger of becoming trapped beneath it. But using underwater microphones to record and date orca vocalizations, Brynn Kimber at the University of Washington and her colleagues found that the marine mammals are now arriving early in summer near the Bering Strait.