Global Warming

Nitrous Greenhouse Threat

A new study finds that emissions of the ozone-eating greenhouse gas nitrous oxide have increased more than expected.

Researchers from the Norwegian Institute for Air Research and other institutions found that the increased use of fertilizers containing nitrogen has been the main driver in the increase.

“We see that the N2O emissions have increased considerably during the past two decades, but especially from 2009 onwards,” said author Rona Thompson.

While fertilizer use has made it possible to grow a lot more food, the researchers say it resulted in destruction of stratospheric ozone and further climate change.

Current Fossil Fuel Plans Will Shatter Paris Climate Limits

The world’s top fossil fuel-producing nations are on track to extract enough oil, gas and coal to send global temperatures soaring past the goals of the Paris climate agreement, according to a United Nations report published Wednesday.

If countries follow through on their current plans, they will produce about 50 percent more fossil fuels by 2030 than would be compatible with the international goal of keeping global warming under 2 degrees Celsius, the report said.

They would blow past the more ambitious target of keeping warming under 1.5°C, the report found, with countries poised to produce twice as much oil, gas and coal by 2030 than would be allowable to meet that goal.

Global Warming

Venice Floods and Local Government

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Venice regional council’s offices on the city’s Grand Canal were flooded for the first time in history just minutes after officials rejected a plan to combat climate change.

Greenland airport becomes victim of climate change

Greenland’s main airport is set to end civilian flights within five years due to climate change, as the melting of permafrost is cracking the runway. Kangerlussuaq Airport, the country’s main hub, had 11,000 planes landing or departing last year. Permafrost, the layer of soil usually frozen solid, is shrinking as temperatures rise.

Global Warming

Climate change triggers a chain reaction that threatens the heart of the Pacific

The salmon catch is collapsing off Japan’s northern coast, plummeting by about 70 percent in the past 15 years. The disappearance of the fish coincides with another striking development: the loss of a unique blanket of sea ice that dips far below the Arctic to reach this shore.

The twin impacts – less ice, fewer salmon – are the products of rapid warming in the Sea of Okhotsk, wedged between Siberia and Japan. The area has warmed in some places by as much as 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) since preindustrial times, making it one of the fastest-warming spots in the world, according to a Washington Post analysis of data from the nonprofit organization Berkeley Earth.

The rising temperatures are starting to shut down the single most dynamic sea ice factory on Earth. The intensity of ice generation in the northwestern Sea of Okhotsk exceeds that of any single place in the Arctic Ocean or Antarctica, and the sea ice reaches a lower latitude than anywhere else on the planet. Its decline has a cascade of consequences well beyond Japan as climate dominoes begin to fall.

When sea ice forms here, it expels huge amounts of salt into the frigid water below the surface, creating some of the densest ocean water on Earth. That water then sinks and travels east, carrying oxygen, iron and other key nutrients out into the northern Pacific Ocean, where marine life depends on it.

As the ice retreats, that nutrient-rich current is weakening, endangering the biological health of the vast northern Pacific – one of the most startling, and least discussed, effects of climate change so far observed.

Global Warming

Melting Arctic Ice Spreading Deadly Virus to Marine Mammals

A deadly virus is rapidly spreading among marine mammals in the Arctic. In a new study published Wednesday in the journal Nature, scientists have found a link between the disease and melting sea ice due to climate change.

Phocine distemper virus (PDV) has been a known pathogen in certain seal populations for decades, resulting in several mass mortality events involving tens of thousands of animals since 1988.

Researchers studied 15 years of data that tracked 2,500 marine mammals in a variety of locations via satellite.

Scientists also found a record amount of sea ice melt in August 2002 was followed by a widespread outbreak of PDV in North Pacific Steller sea lions in 2003 and 2004. During those years, over 30% of the animals tested positive for the virus.

Researchers concluded that melting Arctic sea ice caused by human-driven climate change paved the way for PDV to spread to new regions and infect new populations of marine mammals, especially along the northern Russian coast and along the coast of northern Canada.

Scientists believe the spread of pathogens could become more common as ice continues to melt, with the increased opportunity to affect more species.

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Global Warming

Economic Effect of Climate Change

Top economists say the economic effects of climate change are just starting to be felt — and they’re likely to start snowballing.

Wildfires, floods, and other natural disasters could harm the nation’s financial backbone, damaging vital electronic payment systems, causing bank failures, and disrupting the economy in myriad unanticipated ways.

The Federal Reserve — arguably the most influential economic body in the world — held its first-ever climate change research conference on Friday, where economists sounded the alarm about the toll the U.S. economy could face.

Among the findings:

Global GDP per capita could fall 7% by 2100 in the absence of climate change mitigation effects, according to a paper presented by Hashem Pesaran, an economist at the University of Southern California.

If countries abide by the Paris Accord, that would bring that loss down to 1%, the paper said.

Extreme heat impacts the productivity of workers. For each degree the temperature rises above above a daily average temperature of 59°F, productivity declines by 1.7% — a figure that Sandra Batten, a senior research economist at the Bank of England, cited in research presented Friday.

Environment

Scientists Study Sea Levels 125,000 Years Ago

Sea levels rose 10 metres above present levels during Earth’s last warm period 125,000 years ago, according to new research that offers a glimpse of what may happen under our current climate change trajectory.

The paper, published today in Nature Communications, shows that melting ice from Antarctica was the main driver of sea level rise in the last interglacial period, which lasted about 10,000 years.

Rising sea levels are one of the biggest challenges to humanity posed by climate change, and sound predictions are crucial if we are to adapt.

This research shows that Antarctica, long thought to be the “sleeping giant” of sea level rise, is actually a key player. Its ice sheets can change quickly, and in ways that could have huge implications for coastal communities and infrastructure in future.

Earth’s cycles consist of both cold glacial periods – or ice ages – when large parts of the world are covered in large ice sheets, and warmer interglacial periods when the ice thaws and sea levels rise.

The Earth is presently in an interglacial period which began about 10,000 years ago. But greenhouse gas emissions over the past 200 years have caused climate changes that are faster and more extreme than experienced during the last interglacial. This means past rates of sea level rise provide only low-end predictions of what might happen in future.

Global Warming

Thickest Mountain Glacier Is Melting

Massive and meaty, the Taku Glacier in Alaska’s Juneau Icefield was a poster child for the frozen places holding their own against climate change. As the largest of 20 major glaciers in the region and one of the single thickest glaciers in the world (it measures 4,860 feet, or 1,480 meters, from surface to floor), Taku had been demonstrably gaining mass and spreading farther into the nearby Taku river for nearly half a century, while all of its neighboring glaciers shrank.

In a new pair of satellite photos shared by NASA’s Earth Observatory, the slow decline of Taku Glacier has finally become apparent. Taken in August 2014 and August 2018, the photos show the icy platforms where the glacier meets the river retreating for the first time since scientists began studying Taku, in 1946.

While the shrinkage is subtle for now, the results are nonetheless shocking. According to glaciologist Mauri Pelto, who has studied the Juneau Icefield for three decades, Taku was predicted to continue advancing for the rest of the century. Not only have these signs of retreat arrived about 80 years ahead of schedule, Pelto said, but they also snuff a symbolic flicker of hope in the race to understand climate change. Of 250 mountain (or “alpine”) glaciers that Pelto has studied around the world, Taku was the only one that hadn’t clearly started to retreat.

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Global Warming

Italy to become first country to make studying climate change compulsory in schools

Italian students in every grade are about to get schooled in the climate emergency facing our planet. Learning about climate change and sustainability will soon be compulsory for all students across the country.

Italy is the first country to adopt a climate change curriculum in public schools. Starting next school year, schools will be required to dedicate 33 hours per year — almost one hour per school week — to discussing the challenges of climate change.

Global Warming

Scientists around the world declare a ‘climate emergency’

A global team of more than 11,000 scientists from over 150 countries officially declared that the world is in a “climate emergency,” according to a new paper released Tuesday.

“Scientists have a moral obligation to warn humanity of any great threat,” said Thomas Newsome of the University of Sydney, one of the paper’s authors, in a statement. “From the data we have, it is clear we are facing a climate emergency.”

The scientists warned that “untold human suffering” is unavoidable without deep and lasting shifts in human activities that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and other factors related to climate change. Climate change has arrived and is accelerating faster than many scientists expected.

This is the first time a group of scientists have come together to use the word “emergency” in regards to climate change.

USA Withdraws from the Paris Climate Treaty

The United States has formally notified the United Nations that it is withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, triggering expressions of concern and regret from other major powers on Tuesday. Donald Trump is moving to formally exit the Paris climate agreement, making the United States the only country in the world that will not participate in the pact, as global temperatures are set to rise 3C and worsening extreme weather will drive millions into poverty.

The paperwork sent by the US government to withdraw begins a one-year process for exiting the deal agreed to at the UN climate change conference in Paris in 2015. The Trump administration will not be able to finalize its exit until a day after the presidential election in November 2020.

October 2019 Warmest Month on Record

The European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, which analyzes temperature data from around the planet, said October 2019 was the warmest in their data record, which goes back to 1979. Globally, October was 0.69 degrees Celsius (1.24 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the average of all the Octobers in the 30-year span from 1981-2010, Copernicus said in its report. Last month narrowly edged out the previous record for October, set in 2015.

Global Warming

North Sea Oil Expansion Plans

Ten oil companies are planning to invest £6.8 billion in six major new projects in the North Sea in breach of international targets to cut climate pollution, according to an expert analysis.

In the next three years big oil multinationals from the UK, the US, Canada, Norway, Japan and Korea want to start exploiting new oil and gas fields off Scotland. But the carbon emissions that would result would accelerate dangerous global warming, experts say.

The financial think tank, Carbon Tracker, also warns that the new North Sea projects would be “deeply loss-making”. Multi-million pound investments would risk becoming “stranded assets”, it says.

Campaigners are demanding a halt to new oil developments in the North Sea to prevent a “climate disaster”. But the offshore oil industry insists that continued investment is “fully compatible” with the UK government’s aim to reach “net zero” climate emissions by 2050.

Global Warming

Arctic Impacts

Alarming changes to the Arctic landscape from record warming this century threaten to unleash far more abrupt shifts in climate than models have predicted.

New research published in the journal Nature Climate Change says that the rapid melting of the permafrost is creating disruptive “feedback loops” between the atmosphere and land, resulting in previously unforeseen warming consequences.

Beyond the impacts on the environment, the report warns that roads, pipelines and mining facilities across the Arctic are also likely to suffer dramatic impacts from the warming.

Global Warming

Sea Level Rise Underestimated

Scientists have dramatically underestimated the impact rising seas will have on cities around the world, according to research published in the journal Nature Communications on Tuesday.

One hundred and fifty million people are currently living in places that will be below the high-tide line in 30 years — three times as many people as the old projection methods estimated.

Their model paints a grim picture: whole swaths of Vietnam, Thailand, coastal China, India, Egypt and Iraq swallowed by ocean. Where previous estimates showed one percent of Thailand’s population would live in areas under water by 2050, the revised estimates puts the figure closer to 10 percent. In Vietnam, a quarter of the country’s residents — 20 million people — presently live in areas that will be flooded at high tide. Almost all of Mumbai, where 1.6 percent of India’s population lives, will be inundated.

Global Warming

Global Warming Affecting UK Butterfies

Scientists have discovered in a new study that many butterflies, sensing warmer temperatures, are emerging earlier than they’re supposed to. This is causing their numbers to decline considerably.

The study conducted by York University involved collecting data on butterflies and moths by citizen scientists over a 20-year period from 1995 to 2014, when Britain experienced an increase of 0.5 degrees in temperature on average during spring.

The study revealed that species which are known to have multiple and rapid breeding cycles every year with flexible habitat can be benefited, like Speckled Wood species which are able to spend more time in increasing their numbers before winter.

However, the early emergence of species that are specific to certain habitats, and are known to have only one life per cycle in a year are shrinking in population and vanishing from the northern parts of UK — a place that they once inhabited. Species affected with this include the High Brown Fritillary butterfly which are the most vulnerable to climate change. Not only doesn’t extra breeding time benefit them in any way, they also emerge early from their cocoon where they don’t find food pertaining to their restricted diet and thus suffer, being driven gradually towards extinction.

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Global Warming

Climate change making stronger El Ninos

Climate change is making stronger El Ninos, which change weather worldwide and heat up an already warming planet, a new study finds.

Scientists examined 33 El Ninos — natural warming of equatorial Pacific that triggers weather extremes across the globe — since 1901. They found since the 1970s, El Ninos have been forming farther to the west in warmer waters, leading to stronger El Ninos in some cases.

A powerful El Nino can trigger drought in some places, like Australia and India. And it can cause flooding in other areas like California. The Pacific gets more hurricanes during an El Nino and the Atlantic gets fewer.

The shift for the origin of El Nino by hundreds of miles from the east of the International Dateline to the west of that point is important because the water to the west is naturally warmer.

Before 1978, 12 of the 14 El Ninos formed in the east. After 1978, all 11 were more central or western, according a study in Monday’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

There have been three “super” El Ninos, starting in 1982, 1997 and 2015 and all started in the west. During each of those El Ninos, the world broke new average temperature records.

Ozone Hole Shrinks

Abnormal weather patterns in the upper atmosphere over Antarctica dramatically limited ozone depletion in September and October. This resulted in the smallest ozone hole observed since 1982, NASA and NOAA scientists said.

Endangered Antarctic Glacier Could Soon Calve a Massive New Iceberg

Two cracks are growing in western Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier, and they are an ominous warning that major ice loss is on the way. Two large rifts have widened near the edge of Pine Island Glacier on the West Antarctic ice sheet. If they continue to grow, they could release an iceberg four times bigger than Manhattan.

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Global Warming

Climate Change Affecting New Zealand

Climate change, pollution and fishing are causing irreversible damage to New Zealand’s marine environment and putting many birds and mammals at risk of extinction, according to a new report from the nation’s Ministry for the Environment.

The report said New Zealand’s coastline, which stretches for about 15,000 kilometers, is also under increasing pressure from development and shipping. Agriculture, forestry and urbanization are increasing the amount of sediment, chemicals and plastics flowing into the oceans, and contaminating the coastline, it said.

The report said 90 percent of the country’s seabirds and about a quarter of its marine mammals are threatened with extinction, and that 16 percent of New Zealand’s fish stocks had been overfished.

The report also confirmed that New Zealand’s sea temperature had risen and was consistent with the global average. It also found sea levels were rising faster than before.

There was a warning, too, that New Zealand could expect more frequent marine heat waves, similar to those in 2017 and 2018, and ocean acidification.