Global Warming

Climate change drives spread of toxic algae in USA water supplies

Across the U.S., reservoirs that supply drinking water and lakes used for recreation are experiencing algae blooms which release toxins into the water with growing frequency. The trend represents another impact of global warming and raises looming questions about the effects on human health, researchers say.

Technically called cyanobacteria, the ancient class of organisms that create the blooms are present nearly everywhere water is found but thrive in warm, still bodies like lakes and ponds. They also create a unique class of toxins, the impact of which on humans is only partly understood.

Long linked to animal deaths, high doses of the toxins in humans can cause liver damage and attack the nervous system. In the largest outbreaks, hundreds have been sickened by blooms in reservoirs and lakes, and officials in some areas now routinely close water bodies used for recreation and post warnings when blooms occur.

In Lake Erie, a major bloom in 2014 caused authorities to warn against drinking tap water in Toledo, Ohio, for more than two days, cutting off the main water source for more than 400,000 people. Now blooms happen every year in Utah and Ohio. Other blooms, including flare-ups affecting drinking water, have been logged in recent years in New York, Florida and California. In Oregon, officials lifted Salem’s drinking water advisory after several days, but then had to reissue the warning. Testing for the blooms isn’t required by either federal or state law.

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Global Warming

Antarctica Is Getting Taller

Bedrock under Antarctica is rising more swiftly than ever recorded — about 1.6 inches (41 millimeters) upward per year. And thinning ice in Antarctica may be responsible.

That’s because as ice melts, its weight on the rock below lightens. And over time, when enormous quantities of ice have disappeared, the bedrock rises in response, pushed up by the flow of the viscous mantle below Earth’s surface, scientists reported in a new study.

These uplifting findings are both bad news and good news for the frozen continent.

The good news is that the uplift of supporting bedrock could make the remaining ice sheets more stable. The bad news is that in recent years, the rising earth has probably skewed satellite measurements of ice loss, leading researchers to underestimate the rate of vanishing ice by as much as 10 percent, the scientists reported.

Global Warming

300,000 coastal homes in USA at risk from rising seas

Hundreds of thousands of homes along U.S. coasts are at risk of devastating coastal flooding over the next 30 years as climate change causes oceans to rise, according to a new study.

About 311,000 coastal homes, worth about $120 billion, are at risk of chronic flooding, the Union of Concerned Scientists, a science advocacy group, said in the report released Monday.

By the end of the century, homes and businesses currently worth more than $1 trillion — including those in Miami, New York’s Long Island and the San Francisco Bay area — could be at risk.

States with the most homes at risk by the end of the century are Florida, with about 1 million homes (more than 10 percent of the state’s current residential properties); New Jersey, with 250,000 homes; and New York with 143,000 homes.

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Global Warming

New Un Report Says Global Warming To Exceed Paris Agreement Limits

A draft of a report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (I.P.C.C.) says the world is on course to exceed the global warming limits set by the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement, signed by almost 200 nations, had asked signatories to commit to a goal of limiting global warming to well below a rise of 2°C above pre-industrial times while “pursuing efforts” for the tougher 1.5° goal.

Reuters obtained an exclusive copy of the draft report which stated that temperatures are already up 1°C and rising about 0.2°C a decade. “If emissions continue at their present rate, human-induced warming will exceed 1.5°C by around 2040,” according to the report.

Global Warming

Carbon Collecting

Recent advances in removing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the air have significantly brought down the cost, with one process having the ability to create synthetic fuel.

Carbon Engineering’s pilot facility in western Canada has been extracting about one ton of CO2 per day at a cost of about $100 per ton, far less than the prevailing price of about $600 per ton.

While the captured carbon can be stored in stone deep underground, Carbon Engineering says it can use renewable energy to take hydrogen from water and combine it with the collected carbon to create a synthetic liquid fuel.

The Bill Gates-funded company says it is already making about one barrel a day with that process.

Global Warming

Antarctica Is Losing An Insane Amount of Ice. Nothing About This Is Good.

Antarctica has lost 3 trillion tons of ice in the past 25 years, and that ice loss has accelerated rapidly over the last five years.

In a new study, the most comprehensive to date of the continent’s icy status, an international group of 84 researchers analyzed data from multiple satellite surveys, from 1992 to 2017.

They discovered that Antarctica is currently losing ice about three times faster than it did until 2012, climbing to a rate of more than 241 billion tons (219 billion metric tons) per year. Total ice loss during the 25-year period contributed to sea level rise of about 0.3 inches (around 8 millimeters), approximately 40 percent of which — about 0.1 inches (3 mm) — happened in the past five years.

Millimeters of sea level rise may not sound like much, but previous surveys suggested that Antarctica’s massive ice sheets likely wouldn’t be affected by climate change at all. The new findings hint that the continent’s ice cover may not be as resistant to warming as once thought, and present a very different picture of Antarctica’s potential contributions to a rising ocean: Consider that if all of Antarctica’s ice melted, the resulting water could elevate sea levels by about 190 feet (58 meters), the researchers reported.

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Global Warming

Flooding from high tides has doubled in the US in just 30 years

The frequency of coastal flooding from high tides has doubled in the US in just 30 years, with communities near shorelines warned that the next two years are set to be punctuated by particularly severe inundations, as ocean levels continue to rise amid serious global climate change concerns.

Last year there was an average of six flooding days per area across 98 coastal areas monitored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) – an all-time record. More than a quarter of these locations tied or broke their records for high tide flood days, the federal agency states in a new report.

The longer-term trend is even more certain, Noaa said, with melting glaciers, thermal expansion of sea water and altered ocean currents pushing the sea level steadily higher and causing further floods.

South Florida, where weather forecasts in some places now come with tidal warnings, and fish are a regular sight on flooded roads, is particularly vulnerable. The low-lying region sits on porous limestone, which pushes up floodwater from underground, and many communities are unable to easily retreat because they back on to the Everglades wetlands.

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Globally, the seas have risen by an average of nearly three inches since 1992. Parts of the US coastline are unusually prone, with Noaa that the oceans could swell by more than eight feet by 2100.

Global Warming

Experts “grossly underestimate” the economic cost of global warming

A group of authors from several backgrounds, including Thomas Stoerk of the Environmental Defense Fund, Gernot Wagner of the Harvard University Center for the Environment, and Bob Ward of the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science, have written a paper warning that the true economic damage of global warming is “grossly” underestimated.

The authors state that there is “ … mounting evidence that current economic models of the aggregate global impacts of climate change are inadequate in their treatment of uncertainty and grossly underestimate potential future risks.”

One of the key components of their analysis is that the models used currently ignore the possibility and potential for “tipping points.” These are points beyond which “… impacts accelerate, become unstoppable, or become irreversible.” An example might be the melting of the Antarctic ice sheet; this would greatly accelerate the rate of change.

The projected economic damage, which will affect the southern United States much more seriously than the north, is already daunting: 30 percent of GDP destroyed, and a world cost of $535 trillion by the end of this century using existing climate/economic models.

Natural disaster USA map

Climate change has transformed much of Alaska over the past three decades

Climate change disproportionately impacts the Arctic, where rising global temperatures wrought by the burning of fossil fuels have brought rapid, fundamental changes to places like Alaska. In a new study published in Global Change Biology, researchers conclude that 67,000 square miles of land in Alaska, 13 percent of the total land, have been affected over the past three decades.

The land has been impacted by what the study calls ‘directional change,’ in which a location has experienced fundamental change in its ecology from historic levels. For example, some areas have become greener and wetter and others have dried out as glaciers shrink and wildfires rage across the state. Even trees have shifted, with treelines moving farther north to adjust to a warming Arctic.

Climate change has also disrupted the state’s historic water patterns. Melting permafrost has led to depressions, allowing wetlands to form in unusual places. This has also exacerbated erosion along the coasts, which are being tested by an ever-shorter season of sea ice.

Global Warming

Eerie silence falls on Shetland cliffs that once echoed to seabirds’ cries

Sumburgh Head lies at the southern tip of mainland Shetland. This dramatic 100-metre-high rocky spur, crowned with a lighthouse built by Robert Louis Stevenson’s grandfather, has a reputation for being one of the biggest and most accessible seabird colonies in Britain.

Thousands of puffins, guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes and fulmars gather there every spring to breed, covering almost every square inch of rock or grass with teeming, screeching birds and their young.

Or at least they used to – for this year Sumburgh Head is a quiet and largely deserted place. Where seabirds once swooped and cried in their thousands, only a handful of birds wheel round the cliffs. The silence is uncanny – the result of a crash in seabird numbers that has been in progress for several years but which has now reached an unprecedented, catastrophic low.

One of the nation’s most important conservation centres has been denuded of its wildlife, a victim – according to scientists – of climate change, which has disrupted food chains in the North Sea and North Atlantic and left many seabirds without a source of sustenance. The result has been an apocalyptic drop in numbers of Arctic terns, kittiwakes and many other birds.

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Global Warming

The Chemicals That Were Harming The Ozone Layer Are Back

One of humanity’s big achievements when it comes to managing our environment has been the phasing-out of chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs – the chemicals that were blasting a hole in Earth’s ozone layer.

However, there may now be a new problem. Scientists from the US, UK and the Netherlands have discovered that someone, for some unknown reason, is continuing to produce CFCs, which were banned under the 1987 Montreal Protocol.

The specific chemical in question is CFC-11, which was once widely used in appliances and foam building insulation. Still found in some old freezers, it was supposed to be completely out of production by 2010. But an analysis of long-term atmospheric measurements suggests it’s still being made somewhere in East Asia—and that means the concentrations of CFC-11 in the atmosphere are declining more slowly than they should be.

The researchers found that emissions of CFC-11 were between 2014 and 2016 up by a quarter from the average between 2002 and 2012. If the source can be identified and controlled soon, they said, the damage to the ozone layer “should be minor.” If not, then it will take substantially longer than anticipated for the ozone layer to recover.

Global Warming

Siberia’s mining potential grows due to global warming

As the Siberian land becomes more accessible because of global warming, it seems that we’ll see a greater influx of mining operations in the region, assumes mining-technology.com. According to Globaldata’s analyst Alok Shukla, there were over 220 operating mines in Siberia in 2017, which was 44% higher than the total number of mines in 2000. ”Siberia has a lot of mining potential,” says the expert. ”There are over 25 mineral deposits currently having a life of over 20 years and 30 deposits having a life of over 30 years; [there are] approximately 10 deposits that can produce for another 40 years and three deposits having a life extending for another 70 years.”

However, the exploration is hindered by some of the harshest conditions in the world. Kupol gold mine in the Chukotka region exploited by Canadian company Kinross is only accessible by air for most of the year. All of the supplies for the year for its 1,000 workers are transported between November and April when a 220-mile ice road is opened. The isolation makes Siberian mines hard places to live and work.

Although Siberia is one of the coldest places on earth, global warming has already begun to affect the northern landscape. Less snow and ice in areas such as Siberia is potentially easing aspects such as transport, extraction and recruitment like it happens in the oil and gas industry, where the melting of Arctic ice has opened areas previously inaccessible or too treacherous for operations.

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Global Warming

German Cities to Ban Diesel Cars

German cities are entitled to ban older diesel vehicles from streets with immediate effect to bring air pollution levels in line with European Union rules, Germany’s top administrative court confirmed on Friday.

Germany opened the door to diesel bans in February when it allowed environmental groups to sue cities which fail to enforce Europe’s clean air rules, despite fierce lobbying to oppose bans from carmakers.

Global Warming

Warming Waters Push Fish To Cooler Climes

The oceans are getting warmer and fish are noticing. Many that live along U.S. coastlines are moving to cooler water. New research predicts that will continue, with potentially serious consequences for the fishing industry.

As a warming climate is heating up their coastal habitats, fish and other marine animals are shifting their habitats further north quite rapidly.

The study considered 686 marine species ranging from bass and flounder to crab and lobster. It projected how much warmer oceans would get over the next 80 years, using various scenarios for emissions of greenhouse gases and the rate of global warming.

Some would move just a few miles. Others, like the Alaskan snow crab that gained fame on the television show Deadliest Catch, a lot more. They are projected to move up to 900 miles farther north, really dramatic changes for a species that’s very important.

But even a shift of a couple hundred miles can put fish or lobster out of range for small boats with limited fuel and time to get to a new fish habitat. And it’s a serious problem for organizations that manage fish stocks.

Global Warming

400th straight warmer-than-average month

It was December 1984, and President Reagan had just been elected to his second term, Dynasty was the top show on TV and Madonna’s Like a Virgin topped the musical charts.

It was also the last time the Earth had a cooler-than-average month.

Last month marked the planet’s 400th consecutive month with above-average temperatures, federal scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday.

The cause for the streak? Unquestionably, it’s climate change, caused by humanity’s burning of fossil fuels.

Global Warming

How We are Changing Our Plant

Global warming, deforestation, coral bleaching, urbanisation… the list of ways that we’ve managed to damage Earth in our time here isn’t a pretty one, and a new online map called EarthTime brings all those effects into sharp focus.

You can watch the world change before your eyes between 1984 and 2016 – forests and glaciers disappear, coral gets damaged, and sea levels creep up, mostly thanks to the increased amount of carbon dioxide we’re putting into the air.

To see EarthTime click here.