Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 124.0 degrees Fahrenheit (51.1 degrees Celsius) in Death Valley, California.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 73.3 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

The Larsen C Iceberg Is Already Cracking Up

The trillion-ton iceberg that broke off Antarctica last week will not go quietly into the night. New satellite imagery reveals that the iceberg, dubbed A68, is already shifting shape along with the remaining Larsen C ice shelf itself.

The iceberg has traveled about 1.5 miles from the ice shelf it was formerly attached to. A piece of ice the size of Delaware moving across the choppy waters of the Weddell Sea was bound to experience an almost unbearable amount of stress. And on Tuesday, the European Space Agency showed the iceberg has begun to crack up.

Satellite images show that the massive iceberg is splintering and a constellation of smaller icebergs are surrounding it. The vagaries of ocean currents and buoyancy of ice will dictate how long the pack of ‘bergs travels together. It’s possible the smaller chunks could be the first drift north toward warmer waters in the South Atlantic where they would meet their likely demise.

LarsenCA68 Frame2

Environment

Humans Have Produced Whopping 9 Billion Tons of Plastic

A new study, which is the first global analysis of all mass-produced plastics ever made, finds that since large-scale manufacturing of plastics took off in the 1950s and until 2015, humans have produced approximately 9 billion tons (8.3 billion metric tons) of plastic.

To put that in perspective, all that plastic would be equivalent to 85,567 aircraft “supercarriers” like the USS Gerald R. Ford, which weighs 107,000 tons (97,000 metric tons).

Of those 9 billion tons, half was made in the last 13 years, said Roland Geyer, an associate professor of industrial ecology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and lead author of the new study, which was published online today (July 19) in the journal Science Advances.

As of 2015, about 7 billion tons (6.3 billion metric tons) of plastic have been disposed of as waste, with only 9 percent of it recycled, 12 percent incinerated, and a whopping 79 percent finding its way into landfills, the researchers report.

AHR0cDovL3d3dy5saXZlc2NpZW5jZS5jb20vaW1hZ2VzL2kvMDAwLzA5My85ODYvb3JpZ2luYWwvcGxhc3RpYy1wb2xsdXRpb24uanBlZw==

Environment

Longevity Barrier?

New research suggests the maximum human lifespan could far exceed the 115-year limit cited in a previous study, after decades of increasing longevity.

Geneticist Jan Vijg of New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine authored a controversial report last year that says humans have reached our maximum allotted lifespan for the first time.

But other researchers quickly argued that Vijg’s findings were skewed by flawed calculations.

Siegfried Hekimi from Montreal’s McGill University argues that under more optimistic interpretations of longevity data, the oldest person alive in 2300 would be about 150 years old.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 127.0 degrees Fahrenheit (52.8 degrees Celsius) in Death Valley, California.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 111.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 79.4 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

Giant Iceberg Breaks off Antarctica

One of the biggest icebergs on record has broken away from Antarctica, scientists said on Wednesday, creating an extra hazard for ships around the continent as it breaks up.

The one trillion tonne iceberg, measuring 5,800 square km, calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica sometime between July 10 and 12, said scientists at the University of Swansea and the British Antarctic Survey.

The iceberg has been close to breaking off for a few months. Throughout the Antarctic winter, scientists monitored the progress of the rift in the ice shelf using the European Space Agency satellites.

The iceberg, which is likely to be named A68, was already floating before it broke away so there is no immediate impact on sea levels, but the calving has left the Larsen C ice shelf reduced in area by more than 12 percent.

85

Environment

Sixth mass extinction

Many scientists say it’s abundantly clear that Earth is entering its sixth mass-extinction event, meaning three-quarters of all species could disappear in the coming centuries.

But that’s not even the full picture of the “biological annihilation” people are inflicting on the natural world, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Gerardo Ceballos, an ecology professor at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and his co-authors, including well-known Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich, cite striking new evidence that populations of species we thought were common are suffering in unseen ways.

Their key findings: Nearly one-third of the 27,600 land-based mammal, bird, amphibian and reptile species studied are shrinking in terms of their numbers and territorial range. The researchers called that an “extremely high degree of population decay.”

The scientists also looked at a well-studied group of 177 mammal species and found that all of them had lost at least 30% of their territory between 1900 and 2015; more than 40% of those species “experienced severe population declines,” meaning they lost at least 80% of their geographic range during that time.

Looking at the extinction crisis not only in terms of species that are on the brink but also those whose populations and ranges are shrinking helps show that “Earth’s sixth mass extinction is more severe” than previously thought, the authors write. They say a major extinction event is “ongoing.”

Global Warming

Global Warming May Cause Bees to Mistime Spring Emergence, Missing Their Food Supply

Scientists have found that global warming may cause temporal mismatches between bees and the plant species on which they depend for food.

German researchers from the University of Würzburg, reporting in the Journal of Animal Biology, investigated three different species of bees that hatch in the spring. They set up 36 flight cages, which allowed them to time the emergence of the bees so it was simultaneous with the flowering of plants in the cage or occurred three or six days prior to flowering. The study showed that bees that hatched prior to flowering suffered from lower rates of reproduction, were less active, and faced greater risk from predators and parasites.

“Already a minor temporal mismatch of three or six days is enough to harm the bees,” says Mariela Schenk, the study’s author.

The decline of bee species, adds ecologist Andrea Holzschuh, who led the study, would also reduce plant pollination in general, which is widely viewed as a threat to global agriculture.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 129.0 degrees Fahrenheit (53.9 degrees Celsius) in Ahwaz, Iran.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 109.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 78.3 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

Oozing Methane Blasts Holes in Siberian Tundra

Escaping methane gas has blown at least two new holes in the Siberian tundra in the past few months, according to eyewitness accounts to the Siberian Times and the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Reindeer herders northwest of the village of Seyakha in Siberia’s far north reported seeing an eruption of fire and smoke on the morning of June 28 — an event caught on seismic sensors at 11 a.m. local time, according to The Siberian Times. Scientists visiting the site photographed a fresh crater blown into the banks of a river.

Researchers also discovered a second, previously unknown crater in the Tyumen region of Siberia this month.

Screen Shot 2017 07 06 at 7 49 05 PM

Global Warming

Stephen Hawking: Trump Pushing Earth’s Climate ‘Over The Brink’

The world’s best-known living physicist, Stephen Hawking, says that President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate change accord could lead humanity to a tipping point, “turning the Earth into Venus.”

“We are close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible,” Hawking told the BBC. “Trump’s action could push the Earth over the brink, to become like Venus, with a temperature of 250 degrees, and raining sulphuric acid.”

Hawking, who is best known for his discoveries about black holes, called climate change “one of the great dangers we face, and it’s one we can prevent if we act now.

“By denying the evidence for climate change, and pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, Donald Trump will cause avoidable environmental damage to our beautiful planet, endangering the natural world, for us and our children,” Hawking told the BBC.

Global Warming

Ozone Killer

The slow healing of Earth’s ozone hole is being held back by the use of an unregulated chemical that continues to damage the UV protection layer 30 years after most ozone-destroying compounds were banned.

Scientists at the University of Lancaster say atmospheric levels of dichloromethane, a short-lived, ozone-depleting substance used in paint strippers, are on the rise. It isn’t covered under the 1987 Montreal Protocol.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 127.0 degrees Fahrenheit (52.8 degrees Celsius) in Death Valley, California.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 108.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 77.8 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

A warming Antarctica will create new animal habitats.

As climate change continues to cause massive melting and ice loss in Antarctica, new habitats may begin to open up for wildlife across the thawing continent, scientists reported Wednesday. But while that may sound like a boon for plants, microbes, birds and other organisms, they caution that this is not necessarily a good thing for the fragile Antarctic ecosystem.

As more ice-free space opens up across the continent, previously isolated species may begin to spread out and come in contact with each other. And as they’re increasingly forced to compete for resources, some organisms may emerge dominant — and others may start to disappear, write a team of researchers in a new study, just published in the journal Nature.

While Antarctica is a largely frozen continent, isolated ice-free areas — including exposed mountaintops, cliffs, valleys and islands — are already scattered across the region and may range in size from less than a square mile to hundreds of square miles. They may be separated by anywhere from a few feet to dozens or hundreds of miles.

Secluded as they may be in some cases, these areas can be home to various species of vegetation, microbes, worms or insects and other small organisms, and may also serve as breeding grounds for animals like seals and seabirds. These species tend to be highly specialized for the extreme conditions in which they live. Some of them may be dormant throughout much of the year. Others may have developed specific adaptations that allow them to survive in conditions with high winds, little water or extreme low temperatures.

Additionally, some species are found only in very specific areas — in fact, a few have only been recorded in a single ice-free zone. Others may be more widespread across the continent, but may have developed different adaptations in different areas. In general, Antarctica is home to many diverse and fragile communities that may be highly susceptible to environmental change.

Global Warming

Scientists find evidence of coral bleaching at iconic Heart Reef

Scientists claim they have found evidence of coral bleaching on one of the Great Barrier Reef’s most iconic landmarks, Heart Reef in the Whitsundays. They say it’s been caused by an extreme heatwave around the time of Cyclone Debbie.

The devastating storm itself missed the heart-shaped reef but it smashed other significant coral systems nearby. Just 18km away at Baits Reef, entire sections have been decimated. It’s been reduced to rubble, with barely any signs of life.

Experts say the reef is resilient and will bounce back, but it does take years and the more cyclones we have, the more vulnerable our global treasure becomes.