Global Warming

Lake Malawi – Empty Nets

Declining fish numbers in the 20 000 square kilometre Lake Malawi appear to be the result of overfishing and climate change.

The many communities living around the Lake depending on the fishing for food and livelihood are facing a collapse of their lifestyle.

The number of fish caught has decreased by up to eighty percent, while environmental changes make the fishing more difficult. Strong winds and heavy rainfall are new factors affecting the fishermen. Moreover, unsustainable overfishing has also reduced the catches.

There was no attempt by authorities to regulate the exploitation of the natural resource.

The number of fishermen has also doubled in the last ten years due to the lack of other jobs in the country.

Malawi’s agriculture-based economy is sharply vulnerable to climatic events and increasingly entrenched poverty heightens pressure on the environment.

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Global Warming

Microbes in the Tundras Increase Emissions in Warming Climate

While many parts of the world are experiencing global warming in different ways, there is an overall rise in the Earth’s temperature. Both the planet’s ice-capped poles are melting, causing a sea-level rise. The increasing warmth in these regions is causing palpable changes in the animals and plants that live in these areas.

In a new study, researchers studying the Alaskan tundras said that global warming could cause microbes living in the soil of this region to release more greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane. Considering that half the carbon in the world (twice as much as the carbon levels in the atmosphere) is stored under the planet’s frozen soil, the consequences of having all this carbon released into the atmosphere would be disastrous.

Microbes react quickly to slight changes like warming over the span of a few years.

The researchers found that microbial species and their genes involved in carbon dioxide and methane release increased their abundance in response to the warming climate. They were surprised to see a substantial response to even mild warming.

Global Warming

Carbon Retirement

New research indicates that the only way to limit global warming to 1.5 to 2.0 degrees Celsius, as agreed to internationally, is through the early retirement of the world’s power plants and industrial equipment that burn fossil fuels. That is, unless the facilities can be retrofitted before 2050 to capture and store their carbon emissions, or those emissions are offset by pulling an equal amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

A new report published in the journal Nature points out that reaching the goal will be difficult because the number of fossil fuel-burning power plants and vehicles around the world has increased dramatically during the past decade. This has mainly been due to rapid economic expansion in China and India.

“We need to reach net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by mid-century to achieve stabilization of global temperatures as called for in international agreements such as the Paris accords,” said the study’s lead author Dan Tong of the University of California, Irvine.

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Environment

June 2019 Hottest June Ever

The Copernicus Climate Change Services (C3S) — a European Union program that monitors several aspects of climate — reported July 2 that last month saw the highest average temperatures ever recorded in the month of June in both Europe and around the world.

Global Warming

Antarctica’s sea ice is mysteriously melting, and fast

After mysteriously expanding for decades, Antarctica’s sea ice cover melted by an area four times greater than France in just a few years and now stands at a record low, according to a study published Monday.

Scientists already knew Antarctica was thawing at an increasing rate, like the Arctic, because of accelerating discharge from glaciers, the rivers of ice that push up slowly against the shore. But between 1979 and 2014, they observed a phenomenon that was both intriguing and reassuring: the sea ice cover was expanding.

From 2014 to 2017, however, “the Antarctic lost almost as much as the Arctic” over almost 40 years, Nasa climatologist Claire Parkinson said, and the trend has continued ever since.

From a peak area of 12.8-million km2, the sea ice cover receded 2-million km2 for reasons that remain unknown. “It went from its 40-year high in 2014, all the way down in 2017 to its 40-year low,” said Parkinson, whose findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The Arctic is an ocean surrounded by land, while Antarctica is a continent surrounded by oceans, where icebergs are less constrained. Unlike the Arctic, Antarctica is not warming and remains the coldest place on Earth, as well as its largest source of freshwater. Its mountains are covered in ice are capable of raising the level of the oceans by 57m, according to a 2013 study.

Global Warming

Trump Hides Studies Proving Effects of Climate Change

The Trump administration has refused to publicize dozens of studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that conclude climate change is having negative effects on everything from rice production to allergies, a Politico investigation revealed. The studies in question looked at the effects of rising carbon dioxide, increasing temperatures, and volatile weather. The investigation revealed the Trump administration would not share findings that show the potential dangers and consequences of climate change.

Global Warming

Climate of War

Global heating has already had a small influence in sparking civil wars and other armed conflicts, and is poised to play a greater role as temperatures warm even further this century, according to a new study published in the journal Nature.

While there is intense disagreement over how much of a role climate plays in triggering war and related violence, the study estimates that it has already influenced between 3% and 20% of such conflicts during the past century.

But the new study states clearly that factors such as socioeconomic inequalities, weak governments and history of other violent conflicts have much stronger influences in triggering clashes.

Arctic Heat and Melt

Freak summertime heat across parts of the Arctic in recent weeks has caused temperatures to soar 40 degrees F above normal and resulted in an unprecedented early melt of Greenland’s vast ice sheet.

Arctic sea ice coverage was also at its lowest on record for mid-June.

University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists say they have found permafrost in the Canadian Arctic is thawing 70 years earlier than predicted by computer models in yet another troubling sign that the global climate crisis is unfolding more quickly than expected.

The Arctic heat is linked to numerous outbreaks of violent storms far to the south in North America and Europe this spring as the jet stream buckled and undulated due to the northern heat.

“The jet stream this week was one of the craziest I’ve ever seen,” said Jennifer Francis, a leading researcher who has published studies linking Arctic warming to middle latitude weather.

Global Warming

Melting of Himalayan glaciers has doubled in past 20 years

The rate glaciers are melting in the Himalayas has doubled in just 20 years, according to a study which examined 40 years of satellite data.

Glaciers have been losing more than a vertical foot and a half of ice each year since 2000. This equates to 8 billion tons of water being released – or the equivalent of 3.2 million Olympic-size swimming pools.

The rate of melting is more than double that which took place between 1975 and 2000, according to the study published in Science Advances. It is the latest indication climate change is threatening the water supplies for 800 million people living downstream.

These glaciers currently harbour 600 billion tons of ice and they may have lost as much as one quarter of their mass over the past four decades.

Global Warming

What would life be like in a zero-carbon country?

Drastic restrictions on almost every aspect of people’s lives, from the cars they drive, the way they heat their homes, to the fridges they buy — even the food stored in them. That is the reality of what awaits us in 2050 if a UK government pledge to cut greenhouse emissions to “net zero” is to be met.

If it can do it, the country will become the world’s first major economy to stop contributing to climate change. Net zero means the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere is no more than the amount taken out.

Petrol and diesel vehicles will need to be phased out and replaced by electric or hydrogen powered ones by 2035. Consumption of beef, lamb and dairy must be cut by 20% by 2050. No houses built after 2025 will be connected to the gas grid. The owners of older buildings will need to switch their heating system to a low carbon one by around 2035. Aviation and shipping are other sectors where low-carbon alternatives don’t yet exist.

Emissions that can’t be cut, like the ones created by belching animals, must be offset for the country to reach the net zero target. Trees take carbon out of the atmosphere through photosynthesis, so planting more of them is one way to do this. But growing more trees is not always practical. Britain is a small island and space is limited, so the government wants the option of paying other countries to plant trees instead. Groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth are sounding the alarm about that idea. They worry that being able to pay someone else to act could undermine UK’s domestic efforts.

Another way to offset emissions is by storing greenhouse gases underground or under the sea. But scientists are still figuring out how exactly to do that in a cost-effective and safe way.

Reaching net zero will cost about £1 trillion ($1.3 trillion), a price that for some, is simply too much. There are also those who argue the UK and other countries should move much faster. Extinction Rebellion, which recently staged major protests in central London and pushed the UK parliament to declare a climate emergency, wants the net zero target to be set for 2025.

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Global Warming

Trump Seeks Strategy Advice from Climate Change Deniers

The Trump administration sought advice from a vocal climate-change denier to help shape its environmental message, according to the Associated Press, which saw emails acquired through the Freedom of Information Act. The emails, written in 2018 and 2019, included correspondence between William Happer, a member of the National Security Council, and officials from the Heartland Institute, one of America’s most vocal climate-change challengers. The AP quotes a March 3 email exchange between Happer and Heartland adviser Hal Doiron in which the Trump official was given arguments that would help counter environmentalists’ messaging. In those emails, Happer admitted he had also discussed the issue with another Heartland adviser. “It’s the equivalent to formulating anti-terrorism policy by consulting with groups that deny terrorism exists,” Matthew Nisbet, a professor of environmental communication and public policy with Northeastern University said.

Global Warming

Arctic Permafrost Is Going Through a Rapid Meltdown — 70 Years Early

In the Canadian Arctic, layers of permafrost that scientists expected to remain frozen for at least 70 years have already begun thawing. The once-frozen surface is now sinking and dotted with melt ponds and from above looks a bit like Swiss cheese, satellite images reveal.

Permafrost is ground that remains frozen for at least two years. It underlies about 15% of the unglaciated Northern Hemisphere and serves a critical role in the transfer of carbon from living things to the atmosphere.

The researchers recorded permafrost thawing to depths that were not expected until air temperatures reached levels the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has predicted will occur after 2090, according to one of its “moderate” climate change models.

The researchers believe higher summer temperatures, low levels of insulating vegetation and the presence of ground ice near the surface contributed to the exceptionally rapid and deep thawing.

The most striking evidence is visible to the naked eye. As upper layers of permafrost thaw and ice melts, the land settles unevenly, forming what is known as thermokarst topography. Landscapes in the Canadian Arctic that had been defined by gently rolling hills are now pockmarked with ditches and small ponds. The ground at the northernmost study site sank by about 35 inches (90 centimeters) over the course of the study.

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Global Warming

Australian Report Lays Out Devastating Consequences Climate Change Could Have By Mid-Century

According to analysis put together by a Melbourne, Australia-based think tank, climate change is “a near- to mid-term existential threat to human civilization” which “threatens the premature extinction of Earth- originating intelligent life or the permanent and drastic destruction of its potential for desirable future development.” The analysis goes on to describe what could happen in as little as three decades if the problem isn’t seriously addressed and combated with a massive global effort.

The report says that the risk to the planet is far more dire than most people seem to think, and that the potential devastation is hard to comprehend because it falls “outside the human experience of the last thousand years.”

It also says, again like many previous reports, that the “point of no return” is quickly approaching, and could arrive around 2050. If/when this happens order would break-down both domestically and internationally. The report states that the only way to counter the impending disaster would be with an effort “akin in scale to the World War II emergency mobilization,” which we already know is way too optimistic.

The report comes to the conclusion that the earth’s current path will probably lock in a global heating temperature of at least three degrees Celsius. They go on to say that this would trigger an acceleration of the collapse of ecosystems “including coral reef systems, the Amazon rainforest and in the Arctic.” Additionally the report notes that even coming up short of this projection would still have disastrous consequences, writing “Even for 2°C of warming, more than a billion people may need to be relocated and in high-end scenarios, the scale of destruction is beyond our capacity to model with a high likelihood of human civilization coming to an end, two billion would have to deal with major water scarcity, agriculture would be devastated in the sub-tropics, and food production would dramatically reduced.

Global Warming

Climate change is already affecting global food production – unequally

The world’s top 10 crops — barley, cassava, maize, oil palm, rapeseed, rice, sorghum, soybean, sugarcane and wheat — supply a combined 83 percent of all calories produced on cropland. Yields have long been projected to decrease in future climate conditions. Now, new research shows climate change has already affected production of these key energy sources — and some regions and countries are faring far worse than others.

Published in PLOS ONE, the University of Minnesota-led study, conducted with researchers from the University of Oxford and the University of Copenhagen, used weather and reported crop data to evaluate the potential impact of observed climate change. The researchers found that:

– observed climate change causes a significant yield variation in the world’s top 10 crops, ranging from a decrease of 13.4 percent for oil palm to an increase of 3.5 percent for soybean, and resulting in an average reduction of approximately one percent (-3.5 X 10e13 kcal/year) of consumable food calories from these top 10 crops;

– impacts of climate change on global food production are mostly negative in Europe, Southern Africa, and Australia, generally positive in Latin America, and mixed in Asia and Northern and Central America;

– half of all food-insecure countries are experiencing decreases in crop production — and so are some affluent industrialized countries in Western Europe;

– contrastingly, recent climate change has increased the yields of certain crops in some areas of the upper Midwest United States.

Marine Species More Vulnerable to Global Warming Than Terrestrial Species

A new study published in the journal Nature reveals that marine species may be more susceptible to global warming effects — specifically increases in temperatures — than land creatures.

All organisms, whether you’re warm-blooded or cold-blooded, have this range of temperatures that you can tolerate before your body starts to shut down and experience serious physiological stress — a lower bound and an upper bound. And so with warming, we’re mostly concerned about the upper bound because these temperatures are getting hotter and hotter.

The scientists compiled the upper thermal limits for 406 total ectothermic species — 88 marine and 318 terrestrial — and assessed their position relative to the temperature threshold before they would begin to experience heat shock or heat stroke.

It turned out that in the ocean, marine animals were sitting much closer to that maximum, much closer to this ceiling where they would overheat and get into a real physiological stressful situation than terrestrial animals were, on average — which means that there is then less buffering for them to get to these overheating points in the ocean.

In addition, the scientists found that local species extinctions in the ocean occurred at twice the rate than those on land. Marine organisms may also have heightened vulnerability and sensitivity to thermal stress because they experience less thermal variability on average than do land creatures. During the transition from winter to summer or even across the duration of a day, a temperature logger tracks noticeably greater changes on land than in water.

Marine species haven’t needed to worry about temperature fluctuations as much, leaving them more disadvantaged to deal with the rapidly rising ocean temperatures.

Global Warming

Global warming and more storms

The type of stalled jet stream pattern that brought almost daily rounds of severe storms to North America and parts of the Mediterranean during the latter half of May is linked to the record warming of the Arctic.

Researchers from Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) combined two models that use machine learning to realistically reproduce the observed changes in the jet stream. They say it’s the first time artificial intelligence has been used in climate modeling.

“Our study shows that the changes in the jet stream are at least partly due to the loss of Arctic sea ice,” said Markus Rex of AWI. “If the ice cover continues to dwindle, we believe that both the frequency and intensity of the extreme weather events – in the middle latitudes will increase.”