Jet Streams are the Weather
Devastating floods destroyed towns in Germany and Belgium. A ruthless heat wave broiled the Western United States and Canada. Heavy rains paralysed a Chinese industrial hub home to 10 million people. These recent weather phenomena are being intensified by the changing climate.
But the link between these far-flung extremes goes beyond warming global temperatures. All of these events are touched by jet streams, strong and narrow bands of westerly winds blowing above the Earth’s surface.
The currents are generated when cold air from the poles clashes against hot air from the tropics, creating storms and other phenomena such as rain and drought.
Jet streams are the weather – they create it and they steer it. Sometimes the jet stream takes on a very convoluted pattern. When we see it taking big swings north and big dips southward we know we’re going to see some unusual weather conditions. When that happens, warm air travels further north and cold air penetrates further south.
Under these conditions, winds often weaken and dangerous weather can remain stuck in the same place for days or weeks at a time – rather than just a few hours or a day – leading to prolonged rains and heat waves.
Atmospheric experts concede that they were shocked by the intensity of the recent European floods and the North American heat dome, saying their computer models are not yet able to project such extremes.
Some scientists say the next official predictions due out in August by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will already be outdated when released due to the rapidly intensifying climate emergency.
Freak weather events are now happening with greater frequency, ranging from the heaviest rain on record in parts of Japan and China this month to the record-breaking June heat across parts of India, Pakistan and Libya.
The Amazon rainforest – Carbon Sink to Carbon Factory
Forests absorb huge amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) from Earth’s atmosphere, making them a key part of mitigating climate change. But humans may have already rendered the world’s largest rainforest useless in — and perhaps even detrimental to — the battle against greenhouse gases, a new study finds.
According to the study, published July 14 in the journal Nature, the Amazon rainforest is now emitting more than 1.1 billion tons (1 billion metric tons) of CO2, a greenhouse gas, a year, meaning the forest is officially releasing more carbon into the atmosphere than it is removing.
The carbon balance tipped due to “large-scale human disturbances” in the Amazon ecosystem, the researchers wrote in their study, with wildfires — many deliberately set to clear land for agriculture and industry — responsible for most of the CO2 emissions from the region. These fires also reinforce a feedback loop of warming, the team found, with more greenhouse gases contributing to longer, hotter dry seasons in the Amazon, which lead to more fires and more CO2 pollution.
More Heat Victims
Wildlife experts are expressing concern over recent avian behavioral changes and the deaths of birds due to excessive heat.
The international organization Hot Birds Research Project says that in Australia, the southern U.S. and Africa’s Kalahari Desert, the mounting episodes of excessive heat are having profound effects on birds.
Record heat in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal state last November saw scores of birds fall dead, the country’s first reported bird fatalities from heat.
Ornithologist Susan Cunningham of the Hot Birds Research Project says, “Some bird species are spending more time trying to stay cool as they deal with increased numbers of hot days. Birds are forced to shelter in the shade when they should be foraging.”
Desert plant life disappearing due to climate change
The steady decline of plants in Southern California’s portion of the Sonoran Desert — which includes Anza-Borrego Desert State Park — is caused by climate change-driven heat increases, according to a new UC Irvine study.
That area grew hotter by 3 degrees over the study period, 1984 to 2017, with vegetation decreasing an average of about 1% a year in the desert portions of the study area. While fluctuations in rainfall accounted for some of the year-to-year variation, the broader trend resulted overall decrease of 35% of vegetation in desert ecosystems and a 13% decline in the adjacent mountains.
The findings, based on 34 years of NASA satellite images of 5,000 square miles of desert, add to a small but growing body of evidence that manmade climate change is reducing the amount of vegetation in drylands — primarily desert areas — worldwide, with trickle-down effects on animals and, in some cases, humans. About 41% of the Earth’s land mass is drylands, according to the UCI report.
Massive oil pipeline is threatened by thawing permafrost
The Trans-Alaska Pipeline, one of the world’s largest oil pipelines, could be in danger.
Thawing permafrost threatens to undermine the supports holding up an elevated section of the pipeline, jeopardizing its structural integrity and raising the potential of an oil spill in a delicate and remote landscape.
The slope of permafrost where an 810-foot section of the pipeline is secured has started to shift as it thaws, causing several of the braces holding up the pipeline to twist and bend.
Hottest June in North America
If the melting power cables in Portland, Oregon, weren’t enough of an indication, new satellite data confirms what many sweat-drenched Americans could have guessed: June 2021 was the single hottest June on record in North America.
The month saw record heat waves blast the Pacific Northwest and western Canada, with stagnant air bearing down on densely populated cities, like Seattle and Portland, for several days in a row. The culprit was a dangerous weather phenomenon called an omega block, which is essentially a dome of hot air trapped in place by atmospheric currents.
Unprecedented heat – Climate change is frying the Northern Hemisphere
The tiny town of Lytton has come to hold a grim record. On Tuesday, it experienced Canada’s highest-ever temperature, in an unprecedented heat wave that has over a week killed hundreds of people and triggered more than 240 wildfires across British Columbia, most of which are still burning. Lytton hit 49.6 degrees Celsius (121.3 degrees Fahrenheit), astounding for the town of just 250 people nestled in the mountains, where June maximum temperatures are usually around 25 degrees. Now fires have turned much of Lytton to ash and forced its people, as well as hundreds around them, to flee.
Roads melted last week in America’s Northwest, and residents in New York City were told not to use high-energy appliances, like washers and dryers — and painfully, even their air conditioners — for the sake of the power grid.
In Russia, Moscow reported its highest-ever June temperature of 34.8 degrees on June 23, and Siberian farmers are scrambling to save their crops from dying in an ongoing heat wave. Even in the Arctic Circle, temperatures soared into the 30s.
In India, tens of millions of people in the northwest were affected by heat waves.
And in Iraq, authorities announced a public holiday across several provinces for Thursday, including the capital Baghdad, because it was simply too hot to work or study, after temperatures surpassed 50 degrees and its electricity system collapsed.
Hundreds of people have been reported to have died from the various heatwaves across North America, Russia and India.
Huge Methane Plume over China
A massive plume of methane, the potent greenhouse gas that’s a key contributor to global warming, has been identified in China’s biggest coal production region.
The release in northeast Shanxi province is one of the largest that geoanalytics company Kayrros SAS has so far attributed to the global coal sector and likely emanated from multiple mining operations.
Details captured in European Space Agency satellite data show the plume about 90 kilometers (56 miles) east of Shanxi’s capital Taiyuan, in Yangquan City. The area has 34 coals mines, according to the Shanxi Energy Bureau.
The emissions rate needed to produce the plume observed in the June 18 satellite image would be several hundred metric tons an hour. For comparison, a 200-ton per hour release would have roughly an equivalent climate warming in the first two decades as 800,000 cars driving at 60 miles an hour.
Enormous Antarctic lake vanishes in 3 days
An enormous, ice-covered lake in Antarctica vanished suddenly, and scientists are worried it could happen again.
In this disappearing act, which researchers say occurred during the 2019-2020 winter on the Amery Ice Shelf in East Antarctica, an estimated 21 billion to 26 billion cubic feet (600 million to 750 million cubic meters) of water — roughly twice the volume of San Diego Bay — drained into the ocean.
The scientists who used satellite observations to capture the shocking vanishing act say the lake drained in roughly three days after the ice shelf beneath it gave way.
“We believe the weight of water accumulated in this deep lake opened a fissure in the ice shelf beneath the lake, a process known as hydrofracture, causing the water to drain away to the ocean below,” Roland Warner, a glaciologist at the University of Tasmania.
Hydrofracturing leaves behind a gigantic fissure which compromises the structural integrity of the sheet as a whole. As meltwater lakes and streams multiply across the surface of Antarctica, researchers are concerned that growing volumes of surface meltwater could cause more hydrofracturing events, thus elevating sea levels above current projections.
Unprecedented Heat Wave in Pacific Northwest Driven by Climate Change
A blistering heat wave obliterated high temperature records in Oregon and Washington over the weekend, ratcheting up risks for deaths and fires, and underscoring the dangers of climate change.
Portland, Oregon’s biggest city, hit a sweltering all-time high of 112 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday at its international airport, the National Weather Service said. That broke a record of 108 F set just a day earlier. Both days topped the previous record of 107 F, reached in 1981 and 1965.
The temperature in Salem, Oregon’s capital, soared to 113 F yesterday, smashing a record of 108 F hit in 1941 and 1927.
Farther north, the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport hit 104 F yesterday a new all-time high that edged out the area’s previous record of 103 F, set in 2009.
Even beaches baked. Hoquiam, Wash., on the state’s west coast, reached 102 F. That shattered the previous record of 95 F set in 2016.
European Union countries approve landmark climate change law
European Union countries on Monday gave the final seal of approval to a law to make the bloc’s greenhouse gas emissions targets legally binding, as EU policymakers prepare a huge new package of policies to fight climate change which sets targets to reduce net EU emissions by 55% by 2030, from 1990 levels, and eliminate them by 2050.
The climate law also requires Brussels to launch an independent expert body to advise on climate policies, and a budget-like mechanism to calculate the total emissions the EU can produce from 2030-2050, under its climate targets.
EU satellites recorded ground temperatures above 118 degrees Fahrenheit in Arctic Siberia on June 20 — the 2021 summer solstice and summer is just heating up.
The heat wave baking Siberia on June 20 saw ground temperatures reach 118 degrees Fahrenheit in an area that often records the world’s coldest temperatures during winter.
The reading near Verkhoyansk was measured by Europe’s Copernicus Sentinel satellite system.
While the air temperature recorded in Verkhoyansk was only 86 degrees that day, many Siberian temperature records were broken. The scorching ground heat was also observed across a wide area of Siberia in a development that does not bode well for Russia’s rapidly melting permafrost and the potent greenhouse gases the melt is releasing.
Climate Change Brings Starvation to Madagascar
Climate change is the driving force of a developing food crisis in southern Madagascar, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) has warned. The African island has been plagued with back-to-back droughts — its worst in four decades — which have pushed 1.14 million people right to the very edge of starvatio.
Families are suffering and people are already dying from severe hunger. This is not because of war or conflict, this is because of climate change. This is an area of the world that has contributed nothing to climate change, but now, they’re the ones paying the highest price. An estimated 14,000 people are already in catastrophic conditions, according to the WFP, a number that is predicted to double to 28,000 by October. Thousands in southern Madagascar have left their homes in search of food, while those who remain are resorting to extreme measures such as foraging for wild food to survive.
The warning came a day after the WFP said 41 million people in 43 countries were now teetering on the edge of starvation, with 584,000 already experiencing famine-like conditions across Madagascar, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Yemen. This number has increased from 27 million in 2019.
Drought, Climate Change Helping to Kill Off Plants
UC Irvine scientists concluded in a study released Monday that climate change is contributing to the dying-off of plant species. The researchers, who focused on 5,000 square miles surrounding Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, found that from 1984 through 2017, vegetation in the deserts declined by about 35% and 13% in the mountains.
Plants are dying and nothing’s replacing them. The drought conditions and rising temperatures appear to be contributing to the decline in vegetation cover in the deserts, the researchers found.
Conditions in the mountains for pines and oaks are better due to more rain.