Environment

Lingering Radioactivity

Japan’s 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdowns blanketed snow and ice around the Northern Hemisphere with a thin layer of light radioactivity dubbed the Fukushima Layer. The nuclear disaster was triggered by a massive thrust earthquake that spawned a devastating tsunami, which knocked out the nuclear plant’s main cooling system. The resulting meltdowns contaminated groundwater around the plant and spewed radioactive particles into the atmosphere. It was thought that the airborne radiation would have faded by now. But scientists writing in Environmental Research Letters say the thawing and melting of glaciers around the hemisphere has made the radioactivity more concentrated, creating a lingering layer of contamination.

Global Warming

No quick fix in fight against global warming

Slashing greenhouse gas emissions would probably not yield visible results until mid-century, researchers have said, cautioning that humanity must manage its expectations in the fight against global warming.

Even under optimistic scenarios in which carbon pollution falls sharply, climate change will continue for decades, they reported on Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.

Two factors will make it difficult to feel and measure a drop in Earth’s surface temperature, if and when that happens.

One is lag time – Over the past half-century, human activity has loaded the atmosphere with more than 1-trillion tonnes of planet-warming carbon dioxide (CO2), a gas that lingers for hundreds of years.

The second factor is natural variability – Over the past half-century the planet has warmed 0.2°C every decade, mainly due to the burning of fossil fuels.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50.0 degrees Celsius) in As Ahsa, Saudi Arabia.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 102.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 74.4 degrees Celsius) at Vostok, Antarctica.

Temperatures were tabulated from the more than 10,000 worldwide synoptic weather stations. The United Nations World Meteorological Organization sets the standards for weather observations, and provides a global telecommunications circuit for data distribution.

Global Warming

Thin Arctic Ice

The biggest ever science expedition to the Arctic encountered extremely thin sea ice, which could threaten future efforts to study the region.

A team on board the Polarstern icebreaker ship began drifting last September until their vessel became locked in an ice floe. In the area off the Russian continental shelf where they started their journey, the ice was exceptionally thin compared with what models had predicted for the past two decades. The ice was around 50 centimetres thick, while it had been around 150 to 160 centimetres thick the previous three years.

Global Warming

Italian glacier turns pink due to global warming-linked algae

In a first for Italy, pink snow is observed on parts of the Presena glacier, in the north of the country. The phenomenon is caused by algae that develops when snow melts, simultaneously colouring the ice a darker colour. In a vicious circle, the algae in turn increases the rate at which the snow melts by accelerating the absorption of radiation.

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Environment

Russian Methane Leaks

Satellite data have detected massive plumes of methane gas leaking from Russia’s Yamal pipeline, which carries natural gas from Siberia to Europe. The Paris-based Kayrros energy consultancy said one leak was gushing 93 metric tons of methane each hour, with the same greenhouse gas effect as the exhaust of 15,000 cars in the United States during a full year.

Radiation Mystery

Russia has denied it is responsible for a cloud of radioactive particles detected at monitoring stations across northern Europe. Officials in Finland, Norway and Sweden say that one of the isotopes, Iodine 131, does not occur in nature and is created by nuclear fission. Cobalt, ruthenium and cesium were also detected in Finland. hile the amount of the radiation is considered tiny and not dangerous, its presence has led some experts to believe it may be from the testing of Russia’s new cruise missiles, which are said to be propelled by onboard nuclear power plants.

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Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50.0 degrees Celsius) in Death Valley, California.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 96.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 71.1 degrees Celsius) at Vostok, Antarctica.

Temperatures were tabulated from the more than 10,000 worldwide synoptic weather stations. The United Nations World Meteorological Organization sets the standards for weather observations, and provides a global telecommunications circuit for data distribution.

Global Warming

Global Warming Has Undone 6,500 Years Of Worldwide Cooling

Caused primarily by the burning of fossil fuels global warming circulates carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and is leading to the gradual heating of Earth’s surface, oceans and atmosphere.

A new study has surfaced suggesting that global warming has toppled six millennia of global cooling in the last 150 years.

The findings of the study show that global cooling started approximately 6,500 years ago when the long-term average global temperature peaked at around 0.7 degree Celsius warmer than the mid-nineteenth century. Since then, accelerating greenhouse gases have contributed to global average temperatures that are now moving past one degree Celsius above the mid-19th century.

Global Warming

South Pole Warming Faster

The South Pole has warmed three times faster than the rest of the planet in the last 30 years due to warmer tropical ocean temperatures, new research showed Monday. Antarctica’s temperature varies widely according to season and region, and for years it had been thought that the South Pole had stayed cool even as the continent heated up.

Researchers in New Zealand, Britain and the United States analysed 60 years of weather station data and used computer modelling to show what was causing the accelerated warming. They found that warmer ocean temperatures in the western Pacific had over the decades lowered atmospheric pressure over the Weddell Sea in the southern Atlantic. This in turn had increased the flow of warm air directly over the South Pole — warming it by more than 1.83°C since 1989.

Authors of the research said the natural warming trend was likely boosted by manmade greenhouse gas emissions and could be masking the heating effect of carbon pollution over the South Pole.

Beavers Gnaw at Permafrost

The beaver may be an unlikely agent of climate change, but the cuddly-looking creatures are transforming the Arctic landscape in a way that could be exacerbating global warming, a new study has suggested.

With their sharp teeth, beavers fell trees and shrubs and build dams, which flood small valleys and form new lakes that can cover several hectares of land. These new water bodies contribute to the thawing of the frozen permafrost soil, which is a huge natural reservoir of methane — a potent greenhouse gas. Scientists are concerned that as the permafrost degrades, the climate-changing methane and carbon leak into the atmosphere.

Environment

Plastic Reaches Antarctica

Scientists have found for the first time evidence that plastic has entered the food chain in the Antarctic. Researchers write in the journal Biology Letters that bits of polystyrene were discovered in the guts of tiny organisms known as springtails, living in the soil not covered by ice on King George Island, off the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Extensive scientific research, along with an airport, military facilities and visiting tourists, make it what the researchers call one of the most contaminated regions of the Antarctic. The authors of the report said they believe the springtails inadvertently consumed the plastic fragments while grazing on their usual food.

Global Warming

Six Month Deadline

The Paris-based International Energy Agency has warned that world leaders have only six months to take measures to control carbon emissions, before a post-lockdown recovery brings a surge in the greenhouse gases that may be impossible to curb. The organization cautions that without immediate action, reaching the targets to address global warming will not be possible.

“This year is the last time we have, if we are not to see a carbon rebound,” said Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency. He told The Guardian governments must design economic recovery packages that promote shifts away from carbon-based fuels.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 120 degrees Fahrenheit (48.9 degrees Celsius) in Death Valley, California.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 86.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 65.6 degrees Celsius) at Vostok, Antarctica.

Temperatures were tabulated from the more than 10,000 worldwide synoptic weather stations. The United Nations World Meteorological Organization sets the standards for weather observations, and provides a global telecommunications circuit for data distribution.

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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Environment

Heat Record North of Arctic Circle

A small town in Siberia reached a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday, which, if verified, would mark the hottest temperature ever recorded north of the Arctic Circle.

Temperatures have jumped in recent months to levels rarely seen in the Russian region, and it’s a sign of a broader trend of human-caused climate change that’s transforming weather patterns in the Arctic Circle.

The town of Verkhoyansk is one of the coldest towns on Earth — temperatures dropped to nearly 60 degrees below zero there this past November — and the average June high temperature is 68 degrees.

The 100.4 reading in Verkhoyansk, which sits farther north than Fairbanks, Alaska, would be the northernmost 100-degree reading ever observed.

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