Rainforest trees may have been dying faster since the 1980s because of climate change
Tropical trees in Australia’s rainforests have been dying at double the previous rate since the 1980s, seemingly because of climate impacts, according to the findings of a long-term international study. This research has found the death rates of tropical trees have doubled in the last 35 years, as global warming increases the drying power of the atmosphere.
Deterioration of such forests reduces biomass and carbon storage, making it increasingly difficult to keep global peak temperatures well below the target 2 °C, as required by the Paris Agreement.
Climate change affecting deepest parts of the ocean
Climate change is leading to a rise in temperatures in the deepest parts of the ocean, scientists from the University of Exeter have warned. New research indicates that much of the “excess heat” stored in the subtropical North Atlantic is in the deep ocean, below 700 metres.
Oceans have absorbed about 90% of warming caused by humans. The study found that in the subtropical North Atlantic (25°N), 62% of the warming from 1850-2018 is held in the deep ocean. The researchers – from the University of Exeter and the University of Brest – estimate that the deep ocean will continue to warm by a further 0.2°C in the next 50 years.
Ocean warming can have a range of consequences including: sea-level rise, changing ecosystems, currents and chemistry, and deoxygenation.
World’s Monthly CO2 Levels Reached Highest in Human History
The monthly average of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached the highest levels on record this past April, reaching up to 420 parts per million (ppm) for the first time since observations started, according to new data released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The numbers from Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory, which is home to the longest continuous record of atmospheric carbon dioxide in the world, showed last month’s CO2 levels have surpassed the highest record of 419.13 ppm from May, 2021.
Twenty years ago, the highest recorded level was at 375.93 ppm and in 1958 when scientists first started collecting CO2 data at Mauna Loa, the maximum level was just at 317.51 ppm.
Climate-change-linked droughts have increased dramatically since 2000
Thanks in part to climate change, the number and frequency of droughts on the planet have increased by 29% in the past 22 years, according to a United Nations report released Wednesday. As a result, roughly one-third of the Earth’s population, 2.3 billion people, now face the risk of water scarcity.
Droughts like the one gripping the American Southwest, where water restrictions have been imposed in states like California and Arizona and reservoir levels continue to fall heading into the dry summer months, are being felt across the globe. A severe drought in the Horn of Africa has put the lives of millions of people in Somalia at risk. The combination of drought and an intense heat dome that has lingered over parts of Pakistan and India is threatening the current wheat harvest and putting millions more lives in danger. Thanks to a series of drought years, Australia’s agriculture industry registered economic declines of 18% between 2002 and 2010, the U.N. report said.
France has seen a 25% drop in rainfall since the start of April, accompanied by a rise in normal temperatures not usually experienced until summer, France24 reported, with dire consequences for crops like corn, sunflowers and beets.
Numerous studies have established the link between rising global temperatures and drought. Hotter temperatures speed up evaporation, reducing the amount of available surface water, drying out crops and other plants. The hotter it gets, the quicker that reaction plays out, raising the risks of wildfires that can feed off dried-out vegetation.
50-50 Chance of Global Warming Milestone
As likely as not, the Earth’s average annual temperature will soon have its first spike above the 1.5 degree Celsius cap set for post-Industrial Revolution warming by the 2015 Paris Agreement, according to a new five-year climate outlook from the World Meteorological Organization. Greenhouse gas emissions have continued to increase since the pact was signed, and the WMO found there is now a 50-50 chance that the world will temporarily cross the 1.5-degree threshold sometime in the next five years.
The WMO projection is the latest in a grim drumbeat of climate science reports showing that the world is still failing to hold warming to a level that could avoid even more catastrophic climate impacts than the increasing heat waves, droughts, wildfires and tropical storms that the current level of warming, about 1.1 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level, has spawned.
Global warming is causing ‘ocean amnesia’
Global warming is causing the world’s oceans to lose their memory. “Ocean amnesia,” the researchers said, means that the world’s oceans are no longer showing a consistent pattern in their movement. They said it is due to human-induced warming.
Researchers said the memory decline poses new challenge, and will have significant impacts on ocean predictions, ocean management, forecasting weather, and other extreme events due to their dependence on the persistence of sea surface temperature as a predictability source.
Analysis of data from sensors aboard a Canadian satellite have for the first time identified an individual farm as the source of methane emissions from cattle.
Aerospace firm GHGSat used one of its three orbiters for the exercise, which demonstrated a new level of precision in identifying where the powerful greenhouse gas is polluting the atmosphere. With high-resolution images from Feb. 2, 2022, the firm used wind modelling to trace the source of the methane from bovine flatulence and belching to a farm near Bakersfield, California.
The new technology could help regulatory agencies monitor how much methane is being generated by specific cattle ranches.
Decline of Tiny Dryland Lichens
Lichens that help hold together soil crusts in arid lands around the world are dying off as the climate warms, new research shows. That would lead deserts to expand and also would affect areas far from the drylands, as crumbling crusts fill winds with dust that can speed snowmelt and increase the incidence of respiratory diseases.
Biologically rich soil crusts, sometimes called cryptobiotic soils or biocrusts, are spread out across dry and semi-dry regions of every continent, including Antarctica. In total, the crusts cover more than 6 million square miles—an area about the size of Russia.
They are assemblages of hundreds of organisms, mostly algae, fungi, lichens, mosses and even cyanobacteria. Woven together by eons of evolution, the organisms become keepers of soil, building intricate organic structures with bacterial filaments and sticky polysaccharides to hold grains of earth and sand in place. Soil crusts build up land, slow erosion and suck a lot of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, storing it in the soil. Some crusts even fix nitrogen that fertilizes plants.
Pulverized rock dust spread on farmland has the potential to remove vast amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, helping countries meet their net-zero carbon target by 2050, experts say. In Britain alone, researchers believe that almost half of the nation’s CO2 removal goals could be achieved in this way.
Enhanced rock weathering is a process in which basalt and other rocks are ground up, increasing their surface area to better absorb carbon from the atmosphere. Because no new technology is needed to prepare, distribute and spread the rock dust, it is far more practical and cheaper than other forms of direct air capture and storage under development.
Extreme global warming could see major ocean life extinction
How badly will ocean animals be hit as Earth warms? A computer model based on the oxygen requirements of marine organisms may provide an answer.
Our oceans already contain about 2 per cent less oxygen than 50 years ago, because the gas is less soluble in warmer water. Many organisms are therefore moving polewards to cooler regions. As the oceans continue to warm, some will be left with nowhere to go, with polar species being hit hardest.
The model suggests marine extinctions will rise gradually alongside ocean warming, passing 10 per cent once around 6°C of warming on average across the seas is reached. After 8°C, the percentage will increase more rapidly, passing 40 per cent at around 14°C of warming.
Major Ocean Current Is at Its Weakest Point in 1,000 Years
The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or AMOC, the current ferries heat between the equator and the Arctic like a giant liquid conveyor belt. As a result, it’s largely responsible for the mild weather conditions enjoyed by much of the North Atlantic region, including Europe and the eastern United States.
Recent research has found that it’s currently at its weakest point in the last 1,000 years having slowed down substantially. Scientists have found the influence of human-caused global warming as a dominant force acting on the current. Although the present situation is still considered to be within the extreme limits of historically ‘normal’ behaviour, the fingerprint of global warming cannot be ignored.
Global heating is on track to become so intense during the next few decades that the survival of 60% of cactus species may be threatened, a new study finds.
Researchers from the University of Arizona tested the belief that cacti will benefit from the hotter and drought-prone world to come. They examined data from more than 400 species and projected how the warming climate would affect them. “Our results suggest that climate change will become a primary driver of cactus extinction risk, with 60% to 90% of species assessed negatively impacted by global warming,” the researchers concluded. Expanding agriculture and habitat losses also make cacti among the most endangered living things on Earth.
Mangroves have ‘Superpowers’
Mangroves are valuable tools to fight climate change. They can capture about five times more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than tropical rainforests, pumping it through their roots and straight into the soil where it’s trapped for hundreds of years. But despite all the benefits, mangroves are under constant threat from coastal development, climate change and even humans.
Global concentrations of the potent but short-lived greenhouse gas methane soared by a record amount during 2021, according to a new NOAA report. It marked the second consecutive year that methane increased at a record rate, bringing the amount of the gas in the atmosphere to far more than twice the levels seen in pre-industrial times.
Methane is a large contributor to climate change and comes mainly from livestock, agricultural production and trash landfills. But some experts point to leaks from oil and gas production as adding to the recent increase in methane levels. Fortunately, the gas only lasts about nine years in the atmosphere, compared to the tens of thousands of years carbon dioxide lingers.
Climate change: IPCC scientists report five ways to save the planet
Yesterday, UN scientists laid out a plan that they believe could help people avoid the worst impacts of rising temperatures. The report, by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), essentially calls for a revolution in how we produce energy and power our world. To avoid very dangerous warming, carbon emissions need to peak within three years, and fall rapidly after that. Even then, technology to pull CO2 from the air will still be needed to keep temperatures down.
The world needs to move away from coal, technology must be developed to pull co2 from the air, strategies to reduce peoples’ demand for energy must be found and implemented, money must be taken away from fossil fuel energy and directed to clean energy solutions and the rich should become models for low carbon lifestyles.
The researchers say these five key concepts are critical to keeping the world safe.