Global Warming

End in Sight for an Ice Age Remnant

For eons, the Laurentide Ice Sheet has been a fixture of North America. At its peak, it covered the majority of Canada and sent icy tendrils down across the Midwest and Northeast, covering Chicago, New York and Toronto in a mile or more of ice. It helped carved mountains as it advanced, and it filled the Great Lakes as it receded at the end of the last Ice Age.

About 2,000 years ago, the ice sheet remnants reached equilibrium on Baffin Island, Canada’s largest island, now dubbed the Barnes Ice Cap. But that equilibrium has been disrupted by human-driven climate change.

A new study shows that the last vestige of the once-mighty ice sheet faces near certain death, even if the world rapidly curtails its carbon pollution. The results indicate the Arctic has entered a state nearly unheard of since the Pliocene, an epoch when the Arctic was largely free of ice.

The Barnes Ice Cap covers an area about the size of Delaware. After reaching a near steady state 2,000 years ago, the ice cap began shrinking in the late 1800s, with a marked increase in its decline since the 1990s. That coincides with the rapid rise in human carbon pollution, which has also driven a roughly 1.8°F increase in the global average temperature over that period.

But researchers can look back much deeper into the ice cap’s history using other clues. The new research, published on Monday in Geophysical Research Letters, looked at an array of amazingly named cosmogenic radionuclides in bedrock around the ice cap to tease out when the ground was free of ice.

Cosmogenic radionuclides are isotopes that form when exposed to cosmic rays. That can only happen when the ground isn’t covered by ice, giving researchers a way to see how rare the current shrinking ice cap is.

Their findings show that there were two periods where ice extent was roughly as tiny as it is now. Both periods came hundreds of thousands of years ago and were due to natural changes in the earth’s tilt and orbit that helped warm the planet.

Today’s rapid change is different because human carbon pollution is the main driver of the unrelenting warmth in the region, which is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. The findings indicate that the Arctic likely hasn’t been this warm in 2.6 million years.

Looking into the future using climate models, sustained warming almost certainly spells doom for the ice sheet. On our current trajectory of carbon pollution, the research indicates that the ice cap is likely to disappear in the next 300 years. That’s a geological blink of an eye for an icy legacy that stretched across millions of years.

3 21 17 Brian BarnesIceCapNASA 720 376 s c1 c c

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In the South Indian Ocean:Tropical Cyclone Caleb forms in the South Indian Ocean. The system is in the Coral Sea, about 850 kilometres east of Lockhart River in Cape York, and is moving southeast at 11mph. It is uncertain where or whether the system will make landfall.

Gl sst mm

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – New Activity for the week of 15 March-21 March 2017

Bezymianny | Central Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported that lava continued to advance down Bezymianny’s NW flank during 10-17 March, and gas-and-steam plumes rose from the crater. A thermal anomaly was visible each day in satellite images. The Aviation Colour Code remained at Orange.

Chirinkotan | Kuril Islands (Russia) : Based on satellite images, SVERT reported that on 21 March an ash plume from Chirinkotan rose to an altitude of 6 km (20,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 15 km E. The Aviation Colour Code was raised to Yellow (the second lowest on a four-colour scale).

Etna | Sicily (Italy) : INGV reported that during the morning of 15 March lava began to flow down the S flank of Etna’s Southeast Crater (SEC) – New Southeast Crater (NSEC) cone complex. Activity rapidly intensified at 0800, and by 1000 near-constant Strombolian explosions were generating ash plumes. The lava flow reached the base of the cone and traveled S. By late afternoon the lava was advancing on top of lava flows from the previous eruption. The intensity of the Strombolian activity reached a peak around 1840-1845, and by the evening both the eruptive activity and seismicity gradually diminished. Just before midnight a new lava flow began to effuse from a vent on the S flank of the cone. On 16 March at 1243 a phreato-magmatic explosion occurred at the front of a lava flow where it contacted an area covered with snow. An INGV-Osservatorio Etneo volcanologist was injured in the explosion, suffering minor bruises. A news article noted that about 10 people were injured during the event.

Manam | Papua New Guinea : Based on analyses of satellite imagery and model data, the Darwin VAAC reported that on 21 March weak ash emissions from Manam rose to an altitude of 2.4 km (8,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NE and E.

Nevados de Chillan | Chile : Based on satellite and webcam views, the Buenos Aires VAAC reported that during 15-17 March gas-and-ash plumes from Nevados de Chillán rose to altitudes of 4-5.5 km (13,000-18,000 ft) a.s.l. and sometimes drifted NE and SW.

Wildlife

Czech Zoo Dehorns Rhinos to Ward Off Poachers

AHR0cDovL3d3dy5saXZlc2NpZW5jZS5jb20vaW1hZ2VzL2kvMDAwLzA5MC81Njcvb3JpZ2luYWwvY3V0dGluZy1vZmYtcmhpbm8taG9ybi5qcGc=

In the wake of a brazen incident of rhino poaching at a French zoo, a Czech zoo that holds the largest number of rhinoceroses of any zoo in Europe is cutting the horns off the at-risk animals.

Přemysl Rabas, director of Dvůr Králové Zoo, announced today (March 21) that the zoo had begun dehorning its herd of 21 rhinos. The first rhino underwent the procedure under sedation yesterday. The intervention took less than 1 hour, and it was performed without any complications.

Chimpanzee Funerary Rites Seen for 1st Time

Screen Shot 2017 03 22 at 12 41 32 PM

In a first, scientists have observed a chimpanzee cleaning the teeth of a dead companion. This postmortem ritual, which was caught on video, hints that humans might not be the only animals to gently attend to their dead. With the care of a mortician, the chimpanzee opened the mouth of her dead companion with her hands. She took a grass tool and poked it between his teeth, seeming to examine and even taste the debris she flossed out.

Scientists now have a growing body of evidence about some unusual animal kingdom mortuary practices. Crows seem to hold vigil over their dead. Elephants, dolphins and whales have been known to stick by their dead companions.

Chimpanzees, our closest living relatives, had also been seen engaging in some mourning behaviors in the past, like returning to,dragging and perhaps even trying to resuscitate corpses. But using tools to clean the dead is something new to science.

Disease

Meningitis in Niger

Sixteen people have lost their lives to cerebrospinal meningitis in Magama local government area of Niger state, state officials confirmed yesterday. The breakdown of mortalities showed that nine female and seven males died in the latest outbreak of the disease in Madakayi and Aungwan Tunga villages. 31 cases of meningitis were reported on March 6 across four local government areas, namely Magama, Kontagora, Rijau and Agwara, and that of the four, apart from being the only council with mortality, Magama has the highest cases of 23, followed by Rijau with 4; Kotagora 3 and Agwara 1.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.3 Earthquake hits west of Macquarie Island.

5.0 Earthquake hits Kepulauan Barat Daya, Indonesia.

5.0 Earthquake hits New Britain, Papua New Guinea.

5.0 Earthquake hits near the west coast of Colombia.

Wildfires

Wildfires – Nebraska, USA

A fire chief says a wildfire has destroyed at least eight homes and several other buildings near Lake McConaughy. More than 100 firefighters from a couple dozen departments responded to calls late Sunday morning. An overnight fire had rekindled as stiff winds whipped up embers near the northeast corner of the lake. He estimated that Sunday’s blaze blackened at least 500 acres.

Wildfires – North Carolina, USA

A massive wildfire continues to burn in Burke County, already charring more than 1,300 acres and is 20 percent contained. Firefighters conducted burnout operations Monday afternoon in the Linville Gorge in order to keep the fire from spreading. There were 160 firefighters who responded to the wildfire. They said they’re keeping an eye on a weather system that is expected to move in Tuesday afternoon and has the potential for increased winds.

Wildfires – Florida, USA

Firefighters on Monday continued battling a wildfire in the Big Cypress National Preserve that started on 60 acres Sunday and quickly spread across at least 3,300 acres of cypress, grasses and pine rockland. The blaze, named the Parliament Fire, started in an area targeted by park officials for a prescribed fire. That means as long as it’s contained, the fire will help the swamp, preserve spokeswoman Ardrianna McLane said.

Disease

Malaria in South Africa

In March 2017, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) received official reports of possible locally-transmitted cases of malaria detected in non-endemic areas of Limpopo, North West, and Gauteng Provinces. Forty-nine cases were reported between the end of February through March 12, 2017 in Thabazimbi and Lephalele municipalities in the western Waterberg District of North West Province.

Yellow Fever – Brazil

As of 16 March 2017, yellow fever virus transmission continues to expand towards the Atlantic coast of Brazil in areas not previously deemed to be at risk for yellow fever transmission. Last week, the state of Rio de Janeiro reported its two first confirmed autochthonous yellow fever cases in the municipality of Casimiro de Abreu, located 135 km from the city of Rio de Janeiro. This has prompted the World Health Organization Secretariat to determine that the State of Rio de Janeiro, with the exception of the urban areas of Rio de Janeiro City and Niterói, should also be considered at risk for yellow fever transmission.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Australia – More than 4000 people remain isolated in northern NSW because of heavy rain, with more wet weather forecast for much of the state. Eleven rivers in the northern rivers and mid-north coast regions have flooded, with the Bureau of Meteorology issuing severe thunderstorm warnings on Monday for those areas, along with the central west slopes and plains, and upper western and northern tablelands.

Peru – Authorities in Peru have declared that the intense rains, overflowing rivers, mudslides and flooding being experienced in the country are the worst seen in two decades, with the death toll since the beginning of the year having hit 72. The highly unusual rains follow a series of storms that have struck hard along Peru’s northern coast, with voracious waters inundating hospitals and leaving some small villages isolated. The storms are being caused by a warming of the surface waters in the Pacific Ocean and are expected to continue for another two weeks, with the disaster affecting more than half the nation.

Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur – It was a busy day for firefighters responding to reports of flash floods, landslides and clogged drains after particularly heavy rains in the Klang Valley.

Drought

Drought Violence in Kenya

At least 10 people have been killed in the latest clashes in drought-hit Kenya between rural communities fighting over pasture to graze their animals, police said on Monday. Kenya, like elsewhere in the Horn of Africa, is suffering from serious drought.

Herders from the Borana and Samburu communities fought a gun battle on Sunday in an area in the centre of the country called Kom, where both groups had taken their livestock to graze, said Charles Ontita, police chief of the town of Isiolo.

The deaths come a week after 13 people were killed in the western Baringo region when Ilchamus and Pokot herdsmen clashed over grazing at an area called Mukutani.