Environment

Trump Ditches Clean Power Plan

President Donald Trump signed an executive order March 28 that dismantles the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era regulation that would have set limits on emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants from power plants.

The executive order is aimed, in part, at reviving the coal industry, according to Trump. But it’s doubtful that this measure is more than a stopgap, as natural gas and renewable energies, including wind and solar, are already making strides toward supplying electricity on a large scale.

Global Warming

Climate change is shifting global air currents

Huge jetstreams that circle Earth are being altered by climate change, scientists have warned.

The researchers claim that man-made global warming has slowed down the way that air flows and distributes weather – and the consequences could be severe.

They say the shift will see an increase in extreme weather globally, including more deadly droughts, floods and heatwaves.

Jetstreams are influenced by the difference in temperatures between the equator and the Arctic. These streams circle the Earth and transport heat and moisture from the Arctic to the tropics. But when the planetary waves stall droughts or floods can occur.

Warming caused by greenhouse-gases from fossil fuels stall airstreams, the international team of researchers found.

They found changes that show extreme and persistent shifts in the jet stream that can trigger extreme weather events. Human activity has been suspected of contributing to this pattern before, but the researchers say they have now uncovered a ‘clear fingerprint’ of human activity. ‘If the same weather persists for weeks on end in one region, then sunny days can turn into a serious heat wave and drought, or lasting rains can lead to flooding,’ explains co-author Professor Stefan Rahmstorf from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany. ‘This occurs under specific conditions that favour what we call a quasi-resonant amplification that makes the north-south undulations of the jet stream grow very large. It also makes theses waves grind to a halt rather than moving from west to east. Identifying the human fingerprint on this process is advanced forensics.’

Since the Arctic is more rapidly warming than other regions, its temperature difference with the equator is decreasing.

Also, land masses are warming more rapidly than the oceans, especially in summer. Both changes have an impact on those global air movements. This includes the giant airstreams that are called planetary waves because they circle Earth’s Northern hemisphere in huge turns between the tropics and the Arctic.

When airstreams stall thanks to man-made temperature rises droughts or floods can occur. This image shows before (2011) and after (2014) photos of the Enterprise Bridge over Lake Oroville in Butte County, California after recent droughts:

Screen Shot 2017 03 27 at 1 48 31 PMScreen Shot 2017 03 27 at 1 48 42 PM

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 111.0 degrees Fahrenheit (44.0 degrees Celsius) in Vredendal, South Africa.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 89.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 67.2 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

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

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.

Global Warming

Global Warming will shrink Mammals

A remarkable new study claims that global warming will have a major effect on humans in the future in one key way: it will shrink us. A new study claims that major warming events results in dwarfism in mammals, and even shorter periods of warming can result in patterns of shrinkage.

Scientists examined one of the largest of the hyperthemal periods, the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), and found that while temperatures rose between nine and 14 degrees Fahrenheit, mammals shrank by 30 percent. So they started looking at other warming events to see if the trend holds.

By examining the molar teeth to gauge body size on ancient bones dated from different warming periods, researchers determined that two species they examined shrank 14 and 15 percent. Why does this happen? Scientists think it may be possible that CO2 levels diminished the nutrients in plant, and stunting the mammals’ growth.

Mammoth

Environment

Beijing Moves from Coal to Natural Gas

The last large coal-fired power plant in Beijing has suspended operations, with the city’s electricity now generated by natural gas, as the city battles a long term heavy smog problem. The shuttering of the Huangneng Beijing Thermal Power Plant comes on the heels of China’s annual legislative sessions, where Premier Li Keqiang promised to “make our skies blue again” in his state-of-the-nation speech.

The Huangneng plant is the fourth to be closed and replaced by gas thermal power centres between 2013 and 2017, cutting nearly 10 million tonnes in coal emissions annually. Smog has cloaked the capital for several days and is expected to continue through the week.

However, PM2.5 (harmful particulate) levels have remained between 200 and 330 micrograms per cubic metre –well above the World Health Organization’s recommended maximum average exposure of 25 micrograms per cubic metre in a 24-hour period.

The pollution often vanishes during prominent events like the legislative sessions and the 2008 Summer Olympics as authorities order factories to halt activity and force cars off the road.

000dc737 800

Global Warming

Climate Conditions Affect Health

A consortium of 11 leading medical societies, representing more than half of the doctors in the United States, launched a campaign to show how climate change is affecting people’s health.

Its new report, Medical Alert! Climate Change Is Harming Our Health, says climate change is leading to more cardio-respiratory illness, the spread of infectious disease as well as physical and mental health problems from more frequent episodes of extreme weather.

The report was delivered to Congress before being more widely distributed. “Doctors in every part of our country see that climate change is making Americans sicker,” said Dr. Mona Sarfaty, director of the new consortium and a professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, USA.

Warming Seas

The world’s oceans are heating up about 13 percent faster than previously believed, with the rate of warming since 1992 found to be twice as great as the warming rate measured since 1960.

Researchers from leading U.S. and Chinese agencies made the discovery by correcting past data errors and by using more advanced climate computer models.

“The oceans are affecting weather and climate through more intense rains. This process is a major reason why 2016 was the hottest year ever recorded at the Earth’s surface,” the team wrote in a press release. “Additionally, 2015 was a year with record hurricanes, heat waves, droughts and wildfires around the world.”

Nature – Images

Interesting Images

Footage of Nuclear-Weapons Tests Declassified

After decades spent slowly disintegrating in high-security vaults, thousands of historic films of U.S. nuclear weapons tests have been salvaged, including some that have been newly declassified. The incredible footage shows enormous mushroom clouds ballooning over the horizon in what could be a doomsday flick.

A mushroom cloud forms after a nuclear weapons test dubbed Operation Hardtack-1 – Nutmeg in May 1958 on Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.

Screen Shot 2017 03 17 at 3 33 13 PM

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 111.0 degrees Fahrenheit (44.0 degrees Celsius) in Port Hedland, Western Australia.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 89.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 67.2 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

New CO2 record

The atmosphere’s carbon concentration now exceeds 1960 levels by about a third, and rises faster each decade.

The concentration of carbon dioxide rose by 3 parts per million (ppm) for the second year in a row in 2016, bringing the average concentration to a record-setting 405 ppm, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Pre-industrial concentrations rarely exceeded 280 ppm, and some estimates suggest we would need to keep the carbon concentration between 405 and 450 ppm to limit warming to the internationally set target of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). But while that concentration rose by less than one part per million annually in the 1960s, the current annual increase of 3 ppm would put Earth in the danger zone by the early 2030s.

Massive Thirsty Mangroves Dieback Due To Extreme Weather Condition

A James Cook University researcher has found why there was an uncommon dieback of mangroves in the Gulf of Carpentaria in mid-2016 – the plants died of thirst.

The researchers used aeronautical observations and satellite mapping information of the area going back to 1972, joined with climate and weather records. Dr. Duke said they discovered three factors met up to create the extraordinary dieback of 7400 hectares of mangroves, which extended for 1000 kilometres along the Gulf coast.

“From 2011 the coastline had experienced beyond normal rainfalls, and the 2015/16 dry season was especially serious. Secondly, the temperatures in the zone were at record levels and thirdly a few mangroves were left high and dry as the ocean or sea level dropped around 20cm during a particularly extreme El Nino.”

Unprecedented mangrove dieback 1

Environment

Demolishing Unsafe USA Dams Beneficial for Environment

With California now on track to have the rainiest year in its history—on the heels of its worst drought in 500 years—the state has become a daily reminder that extreme weather events are on the rise. And the recent near-collapse of the spillway at California’s massive Oroville Dam put an exclamation point on the potentially catastrophic risks.

More than 4,000 dams in the U.S. are now rated unsafe because of structural or other deficiencies. Bringing the entire system of 90,000 dams up to current standards would cost about $79 billion, according to the Association of State Dam Safety Officials. Hence, it has become increasingly common to demolish problematic dams, mainly for economic and public safety reasons, and less often to open up old habitats to native fish. About 700 dams have been taken down across the U.S. over the past decade, with overwhelmingly beneficial results for river species and ecosystems.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 110.0 degrees Fahrenheit (43.3 degrees Celsius) in Port Hedland, Western Australia.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 74.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 58.9 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.