Climate Research: Most Recent
I've been following the scientific literature regarding climate change for quite a while, and have saved articles and studies I found especially interesting. These are almost entirely from major peer-reviewed scientific journals, government science research agencies, and mainstream media reporting on such studies. Dates are often visible in the entry's link. The list is in roughly chronological order, most recent at the top. This list will be updated as I find more to add. Your suggestions and comments are welcome.
The timeline of earth's average temperature is from xkcd. Click it to go to the original.
Go to most recently published articles and studies
Go to earlier articles and studies published in: 2019 · 2018 · 2017 · 2016 · 2015 or earlier
5th Straight Year of Alaska Seabird Die-Offs Blamed on Starvation Linked to Climate Change
"They are dying of starvation," Robb Kaler, a wildlife biologist and seabird specialist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Anchorage, told weather.com ... previous research has linked the rising number of bird deaths to climate change.
Forest fires destroying vital buffer against climate change
With fierce blazes raging in jungles from the Amazon to Indonesia, concerns are mounting about the impact as rainforests play a vital role in protecting the planet against global warming. The latest serious outbreak is in Indonesia, where smog-belching fires started to clear land for agriculture are burning out of control, blanketing the region in toxic smog ... forests worldwide have been logged on an industrial-scale over the decades for timber and to make way for agricultural plantations. The burning of large expanses of trees also releases huge amounts of carbon dioxide ... Farmers and plantation owners are usually blamed for starting the fires as a quick and cheap way to clear land.
Huge decline in songbirds linked to common insecticide
A first ever study of birds in the wild found that a migrating songbird that ate the equivalent of one or two seeds treated with a neonicotinoid insecticide suffered immediate weight loss ... “We show a clear link between neonicotinoid exposure at real-world levels and an impact on birds,” says lead author Margaret Eng, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Saskatchewan Toxicology Center ... The EU banned the use of the chemicals in 2018 because they were killing pollinators. This study is another link in the chain of environmental problems, one showing that the use of neonicotinoids is harming birds, and that bird populations are at risk as a result.
Climate change: Electrical industry's 'dirty secret' boosts warming
Sulphur hexafluoride, or SF6, is widely used in the electrical industry [but] it has the highest global warming potential of any known substance. It is 23,500 times more warming than carbon dioxide (CO2). Just one kilogram of SF6 warms the Earth to the same extent as 24 people flying London to New York return. It also persists in the atmosphere for a long time, warming the Earth for at least 1,000 years ... Researchers at the University of Bristol who monitor concentrations of warming gases in the atmosphere say they have seen significant rises in the last 20 years ... global installed base of SF6 is expected to grow by 75% by 2030 ... SF6 is a synthetic gas and isn't absorbed or destroyed naturally.
UN trade chief: Climate crisis could see collapse of some economies
United Nation’s trade chief has said climate change poses an “existential threat to commodity-dependent developing countries” and highlighted the need to diversify economies and exports ... “The climate crisis…will result in the collapse of some economies if decisive action is not taken now,” UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi stressed on Wednesday ... The climate crisis puts commodity-dependent developing countries most at risk because their economies depend on sectors which are highly exposed to extreme weather events ... commitments made by countries to mitigate climate change under the Paris Agreement are not ambitious enough but must instead be quadrupled to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. For this, stronger political will and greater mobilization of financial and human resources are necessary.
Researchers unearth 'new' mass-extinction
New analysis brings total of species extinctions to six
A team of scientists has concluded that earth experienced a previously underestimated severe mass-extinction event, which occurred about 260 million years ago, raising the total of major mass extinctions in the geologic record to six ... "Massive eruptions such as this one release large amounts of greenhouse gases, specifically carbon dioxide and methane, that cause severe global warming, with warm, oxygen-poor oceans that are not conducive to marine life ... In terms of both losses in the number of species and overall ecological damage, the end-Guadalupian event now ranks as a major mass extinction, similar to the other five."
$1 million a minute: the farming subsidies destroying the world - report
The public is providing more than $1m per minute in global farm subsidies, much of which is driving the climate crisis and destruction of wildlife, according to a new report. Just 1% of the $700bn (£560bn) a year given to farmers is used to benefit the environment, the analysis found. Much of the total instead promotes high-emission cattle production, forest destruction and pollution from the overuse of fertiliser. The security of humanity is at risk without reform to these subsidies, a big reduction in meat eating in rich nations and other damaging uses of land, the report says ... A series of major recent reports have concluded the world’s food system is broken. It is driving the planet towards climate catastrophe while leaving billions of people either underfed or overweight, 130 national academies of science and medicine concluded in November.
Expert Tells House Committee Climate Change Could Wreck US Economy
Marshall Burke, who holds a doctorate in agricultural and resource economics, studies the impact global warming has on economic inequality. On Wednesday he testified before the House Financial Services Committee during a hearing on climate change and macroeconomics. The warnings Burke issued were stark: If, by 2050, the U.S. fails to mitigate the effects of climate change by reducing greenhouse gases, the cost to the nation’s economy is an estimated $5 trillion. If, by 2100, conditions are no better, the year-to-year damage of intensified storms, higher temperatures, rising sea levels and their cumulative effect on key markets such as the financial sector, real estate, manufacturing and customer service will result in damage in the tens of trillions, he said.
Eight More Effects of Climate Change: Some Surprising, Some Fatal
Climate change will take its toll across the economy, in some unexpected places, a panel of experts told members of Congress last week. Unmitigated climate change has already cost the U.S. economy $1 trillion, said economist Marshall Burke, an assistant professor of earth system science at Stanford University, and that cost will rise to $5 trillion by 2050 ... Lost Productivity: economic output falls in hot years ... Cognitive Decline: cognitive function declines when it’s hot: people perform office tasks less effectively, and kids learn less ... Violent Crime: violent assault, sexual violence, and homicide all increase on days or months where temperatures are above normal ... Suicide: tens of thousands of additional suicides in the US ... Civil Unrest: documented large increases in civil conflict and organized crime as temperatures rise ... Immigration: this conflict drives substantial international migration into wealthier countries ... Inequality: economic damages from climate change will be many times higher in poorer counties ... Insurance Collapse: insurance executives ranked climate change the number one risk faced by their industry.
Climate change is already here. 2020 could be your last chance to stop an apocalypse
The temperature reached a record-breaking 90 degrees in Anchorage this summer and an unprecedented 108 degrees in Paris. We can watch glaciers melting and collapsing on the web; ice losses in Antarctica have tripled since 2012 ... entire cities are running out of water, thanks, scientists say, to a dangerous combination of mismanagement and climate change ... 18 of the 19 warmest years ever recorded have occurred since 2000. The last five years have been the hottest since record-keeping began ... By burning fossil fuels for energy, humans have added so much carbon (and other greenhouse gases) to the atmosphere that we are changing nature itself, imperiling the delicate interdependence among species and putting our own survival at risk ... burning of carbon fuels needs to end; yet unless policies and politics change dramatically, it won’t end ...overall emissions have increased ... total carbon levels in the atmosphere reached 414.8 parts per million in May, the highest recorded in 3 million years. The richer human society becomes, it seems, the more we poison the world.
This Is Not the Sixth Extinction. It’s the First Extermination Event
From the “insect apocalypse” to the “biological annihilation” of 60 percent of all wild animals in the past 50 years, life is careening across every planetary boundary that might stop it from experiencing a “Great Dying” once more. But the atrocity unfolding in the Amazon, and across the Earth, has no geological analogue — to call it the “sixth extinction event” is to make what is an active, organized eradication sound like some kind of passive accident. This is no asteroid or volcanic eruption or slow accumulation of oxygen in the atmosphere due to cyanobacteria photosynthesis. We are in the midst of the First Extermination Event, the process by which capital has pushed the Earth to the brink of the Necrocene, the age of the new necrotic death.
Plant growth has declined drastically around the world due to dry air
A lack of water vapour in the atmosphere has caused a global decline in plant growth over the past two decades, resulting in a decline in growth rates in 59 per cent of vegetated areas worldwide. Studying four global climate datasets, Wenping Yuan at Sun Yat-sen University in Zhuhai, China and his colleagues found that the decline is correlated with a vapour pressure deficit in the atmosphere, which has increased sharply over more than 53 percent of vegetated areas since the late 1990s ... The team projects that VPD will continue to rise in the decades to come. “This atmospheric drought will last into the end of this century.”
Another vital forest at risk: Scientists fear warming water could be killing off Puget Sound’s kelp beds
In portions of Puget Sound, these sunken canopies are vanishing, and scientists fear the consequences to local ecosystems ... Bull kelp canopy near Squaxin Island is down to about a third of its size compared to just six years ago. Only a few dozen individual bull kelp remain in the bed near Fox Island ... “We measured record high temperatures at kelp sites,” Berry said. When waters approach 70 degrees Fahrenheit, it stresses bull kelp reproduction.
What Is Nitrous Oxide and Why Is It a Climate Threat?
Nitrous oxide is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and it also depletes the ozone layer. Since it also has a shorter life span, reducing it could have a faster, significant impact on global warming. But the largest source of nitrous oxide is agriculture, particularly fertilized soil and animal waste, and that makes it harder to rein in. "[N]itrous oxide is so much a food production issue" ... Like other greenhouse gases, nitrous oxide absorbs radiation and traps heat in the atmosphere, where it can live for an average of 114 years, according to the EPA [and] can damage the ozone layer, which humans rely on to prevent most of the sun's ultraviolet radiation from reaching earth's surface ... Especially in larger farming operations, livestock manure presents a two-fold emissions problem: it emits an enormous amount of methane, but it can create nitrous oxide too.
Sudden warming over Antarctica to prolong Australia drought
The unusual event, known as "sudden stratospheric warming," started in the last week of August when the atmosphere above Antarctica began heating rapidly, scientists at Australia's Bureau of Meteorology said in a report. "The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting the strongest Antarctic warming on record ... leapt up more than 40 degrees warmer than normal in the course of three weeks," he said.
Oil and gas companies approve $50 billion of major projects that undermine climate targets and risk shareholder returns
The first study to identify individual projects that are inconsistent with the Paris Agreement finds that no major oil company is investing to support its goals of keeping global warming “well below” 2˚C and to “pursue efforts” to limit it to a maximum of 1.5˚C. Investors are under huge pressure to determine which energy companies are “Paris-compliant”. It warns that fossil fuel demand will have to fall to meet international climate targets, and only the lowest cost projects will deliver an economic return under these goals ... “Every oil major is betting heavily against a 1.5˚C world and investing in projects that are contrary to the Paris goals."
World losing area of forest the size of the UK each year, report finds
The rate of loss has reached 26m hectares (64m acres) a year, a report has found, having grown rapidly in the past five years despite pledges made by governments in 2014 to reverse deforestation and restore trees ... The New York declaration on forests was signed at the UN in 2014, requiring countries to halve deforestation by 2020 and restore 150m hectares of deforested or degraded forest land. But the rate of tree cover loss has gone up by 43% since the declaration was adopted, while the most valuable and irreplaceable tropical primary forests have been cut down at a rate of 4.3m hectares a year. The ultimate goal of the declaration, to halt deforestation by 2030 – potentially saving as much carbon as taking all the world’s cars off the roads – now looks further away than when the commitment was made ... While some countries have embarked on tree-planting schemes ... these have been far outweighed by the loss of existing forests.
Dangerous new hot zones are spreading around the world
Roughly one-tenth of the globe has already warmed by more than 2 degrees Celsius, when the last five years are compared with the mid- to late 1800s. That's more than five times the size of the United States. Some entire countries, including Switzerland and Kazakhstan, have warmed by 2C. Austria has said the same about its famed Alps ... About 20 percent of the planet has warmed by 1.5 degrees Celsius, a point at which scientists say the impacts of climate change grow significantly more intense ... Extreme warming is helping to fuel wildfires in Alaska, shrink glaciers in the Alps and melt permafrost across Canada’s Northwest Territories. It is altering marine ecosystems and upending the lives of fishermen who depend on them, from Africa to South America to Asia ... scientists expect this to continue and steadily worsen.
‘In for a roasting’: Australia ‘on brink’ of ‘apocalyptic’ conditions
According to a recent report by senior researchers from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, we’re in for higher than normal spring temperatures. And less rain. It’s all because of record warm temperatures in the air swirling above Antarctica ... NSW and southern Queensland — already in parts devastated by bushfires so early in the season — are set to face worsening conditions and an even more catastrophic bushfire season ... “In the coming weeks the warming is forecast to intensify, and its effects will extend downward to earth’s surface, affecting much of eastern Australia over the coming months,” the forecasters warn. It is likely to be the most severe Antarctic warming event on record ... This compounds an already disastrous winter for New South Wales and much of Queensland. There, soil moisture levels actually decreased over what should have been their wet season. So spring — and summer — will be starting from an already devastatingly dry low.
Climate Disaster Looms as Earth Burns Up
In 2010, the prestigious Met Office Hadley Centre/UK said average temperatures would likely be 4C above pre-industrial by 2055, “if greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) did not slow down.” Well, guess what’s happened to GHGs? Asking the question is the answer. And, worse yet, it would bring in its wake a 16C rise in Arctic temperatures where at least twice the amount of carbon already in the atmosphere is frozen in time, waiting to be released via permafrost thawing. And, +16C would do that fast. Accordingly, recent scientific field studies found thawing permafrost 70 years ahead of schedule in the High Arctic ... What happens if 4C hits by 2055? According to Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, one of Europe’s most eminent climate scientists, director of the Potsdam Institute, “At 4C Earth’s ... carrying capacity estimates are below 1 billion people.” Echoing that opinion, professor Kevin Anderson of the prestigious Tyndall Centre for Climate Change stated, “Only about 10% of the planet’s population would survive at 4C.” A global average of 4C means land temperatures would be 5.5C-6C hotter, especially inland from coasts. The tropics would be too hot for people to live and most of the temperate regions would be desertified ... according to the New Scientist, in 2003: “The EPI says it is confident that the August heat wave has broken all records for heat-related deaths and says the world must cut the carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming.” But, today, that’s a bad joke with CO2 in 2003 at 378 ppm [yet today at] 410 ... most ecosystems will collapse with breakdown of organic material, leading to ever-greater emissions of carbon that is self-perpetuating ... half of the planet would be uninhabitable ... As of today, CO2 at 410 ppm has powered through the 280-ppm ceiling of the past 400,000 years like a hot knife through butter ... What happens next is a gamble.
Water shortages pose growing risk to global stability
Securing access to clean water and protection against flooding and tsunamis is critical to safeguarding society against the effects of climate change, according to the 2019 World Risk Report published Thursday ... Increasing occurrences of heat waves, hurricanes, and droughts mean water security is an ever-greater global issue. Water shortages could lead to wars, the 2019 report said.
Boats Stranded as Drought Dries China’s Canals
[T]he worst drought in decades has left rivers in East China at their lowest level for decades. This has created congestion on canals, as vessels loaded with cargo crowd the gates to locks, waiting for them to fill with enough water so they can travel along the waterway.
A Supercharged Marine Heat Wave Is Roasting the Pacific
Ocean temperatures have skyrocketed in the northeast Pacific ... could spell trouble for wildlife and fisheries from Alaska to California, according to data scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released on Thursday ... abnormally warm waters extend from Alaska to Canada and as far west as Hawaii. ... churn usually pushes warm surface waters around and allows cool, nutrient-rich water from below to rise and take its place. Without that mixing, surface heat quickly built up. And it without the aforementioned nutrients from the cooler water below the surface, the heat wave has disrupted the food chain ... fisheries managers expected 4.8 million salmon to spawn up British Columbia’s Fraser River, but only 628,000 fish showed up ... "what used to be unexpected is becoming more common," Cisco Werner, NOAA Fisheries Director of Scientific Programs and Chief Science Advisor, said in a statement.
Alaska just had the most ridiculous summer. That's a red flag for the planet.
With the Arctic warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, America's "Last Frontier" feels like the first in line to see, smell and feel the unsettling signs of a climate in crisis. There are the smoky skies and dripping glaciers, dead salmon and hauled-out walrus but scientists also worry about the changes that are harder to see, from toxic algae blooms in the Bering Sea to insects from the Lower 48 bringing new diseases north. The head shaking among longtime locals really began on the Fourth of July, when at 90 degrees, Anchorage was hotter than Key West ... after decades of seeing their warnings fall on deaf ears -- especially in a state funded by oil -- scientists like Brettschneider hope that the indisputable clues across a baked Alaska will inspire real action, from Juneau to Washington, DC. "We've talked about these things occurring in decades or in centuries, but ... it's happening right now and it's visible right now and it's noticeable right now," the University of Alaksa climatologist says. "The opportunity to do things about it is right now and not decades down the road."
Wool production, sheep numbers hit 100-year lows as widespread drought continues
[Y]ears of ongoing drought across all key production areas is now forcing producers to offload breeding stock to slaughter. "The more the drought impacts on the farmers, we either see the farmers taking their animals [or] getting rid of them, losing their breeding stock" ... years of ongoing drought across all key production areas is now forcing producers to offload breeding stock to slaughter ... The drought has also meant sheep grow less wool ... "Everybody's running out of water."
World 'gravely' unprepared for effects of climate crisis – report
The world’s readiness for the inevitable effects of the climate crisis is “gravely insufficient”, according to a report from global leaders. This lack of preparedness will result in poverty, water shortages and levels of migration soaring, with an “irrefutable toll on human life” ... study says the greatest obstacle is not money but a lack of “political leadership that shakes people out of their collective slumber” ... The report has been produced by the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA), convened by 18 nations including the UK. It has contributions from the former UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, environment ministers from China, India and Canada, the heads of the World Bank and the UN climate and environment divisions, and others ... The report says severe effects are now inevitable.
I am a CNN meteorologist. I used to be a climate crisis skeptic
I've been a meteorologist at CNN since 1999 ... for a long time I didn't think that global warming gasses would overwhelm the earth enough to change its climate. As a skeptic, I didn't deny climate change existed. I was questioning the data behind the science ... I started attending climate conferences, and continued to consume more and more of the data coming in about climate change. I like to say that I didn't go from denier to believer; I went from skeptic to scholar ... As this alarming rate of warming continues, it is evident that humans are responsible ... The problem is that people are only looking at the weather out their windows. When you look at the crisis from a global perspective, you start to see evidence of a devastating future.
What If We Stopped Pretending?
The climate apocalypse is coming. To prepare for it, we need to admit that we can’t prevent it. The goal has been clear for thirty years, and despite earnest efforts we’ve made essentially no progress toward reaching it. Today, the scientific evidence verges on irrefutable. If you’re younger than sixty, you have a good chance of witnessing the radical destabilization of life on earth—massive crop failures, apocalyptic fires, imploding economies, epic flooding, hundreds of millions of refugees fleeing regions made uninhabitable by extreme heat or permanent drought. If you’re under thirty, you’re all but guaranteed to witness it ... New research, described last month in Scientific American, demonstrates that climate scientists, far from exaggerating the threat of climate change, have underestimated its pace and severity ... The rise might, in fact, be far higher ... I don’t see human nature fundamentally changing anytime soon. I can run ten thousand scenarios through my model, and in not one of them do I see the two-degree target being met.
Climate change could halve crop production in southern Europe by 2050, report warns
Europe needs to reshape its agricultural sector, the European Environmental Agency (EEA) warned on Wednesday, as climate change could halve production of cereals in southern Europe ... "New records are being set around the world due to climate change and the adverse effects of this change are already affecting agricultural production in Europe" ... report highlights that most of the EEA member countries already have national adaptation strategies in place but stresses that they are rarely implemented at farm level due to a lack of financing, access to know-how and policy support to adapt.
Climate change: Greenland's ice faces melting 'death sentence'
Dr Jason Box of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), says he's unnerved by the potential dangers and that coastal planners need to "brace themselves" ... it's the recent increase in the average temperature that's being felt in Greenland's ice: "Already effectively that's a death sentence for the Greenland ice sheet because also going forward in time we're expecting temperatures only to climb ... So, we're losing Greenland - it's really a question of how fast"... the ice is not only being melted by the air, as the atmosphere heats up, but also by warmer water reaching underneath the fronts of the glaciers. One NASA scientist describes the ice as being under a hair-dryer and at the same time also on a cooker.
On the front lines of climate change in the world's northernmost town
Since 1970, average annual temperatures have risen by 4 degrees Celsius in Svalbard, with winter temperatures rising more than 7 degrees, according to a report released by the Norwegian Center for Climate Services in February ... He compares climate change to an accident that we can’t help staring at, feeling lucky we weren’t the victim. “When people slow down to look at a car crash, climate change is like that because everyone is slowing down to look at the accident but not realizing that we are actually the car crash.”
Stanford researchers use vintage film to show Thwaites Glacier ice shelf in Antarctica melting faster than previously observed
The researchers made their findings by comparing ice-penetrating radar records of Thwaites Glacier with modern data. The research appeared in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Sept. 2. “By having this record, we can now see these areas where the ice shelf is getting thinnest and could break through,” said lead author Dustin Schroeder, an assistant professor of geophysics at Stanford University’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences ... The research was supported by NASA, NSF and the George Thompson Fellowship at Stanford University.
New Data: Brazilian Amazon Fires Have Released 104-141 Million Metric Tons of CO2
A new analysis estimates this year’s Brazilian Amazon fires have produced between 104 and 141 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), according to scientists at Woods Hole Research Center and IPAM-Amazônia. That is equivalent to annual tailpipe carbon pollution from 22.6 to 30.6 million cars, or the annual CO2 emissions from the entire state of North Carolina. The number of fires in the Brazilian Amazon this year is already 60% higher than levels seen over the last three years ... “It’s important to understand these aren’t wildfires of the sort we’re familiar with in the western United States. The majority of the burning we’re seeing now is the end result of a months-long process that began with people cutting trees to clear the land for cattle grazing or growing crops. These cut trees were left to dry and only now are they being set on fire to finish the job of land clearing” said WHRC Associate Scientist Wayne Walker.
Melting glaciers, as well as ice sheets, raising Earth's seas
As the planet's polar ice sheets destabilise amid rising temperatures, a landmark UN assessment of Earth's retreating frozen spaces is also set to spell out how melting mountain glaciers will impact humanity in the decades to come ...Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets lost roughly 400 billion tonnes of mass annually in the decade to 2015 ... But glaciers high up mountains also lost around 280 billion tonnes of ice each year during the same period ... Their retreat is likely to impact inland communities the world over, for whom glaciers are a key water source. The glaciers nestled high in the Himalayas provide water for 250 million people in nearby valleys and feed the rivers upon which a further 1.65 billion people rely for food, energy and income. One study referenced in the IPCC report warns that Asian high mountain glaciers could lose more than a third of their ice, even if humans slash greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming to 1.5 Celsius (2.6 Fahrenheit). A continuation of "business-as-usual" in the coming decades with a global economy still powered mainly by fossil fuels could see two thirds lost.
Europe Is Warming Even Faster Than Climate Models Predicted
Over the past seven decades, the number of extreme heat days in Europe has steadily increased, while the number of extreme cold days has decreased, according to new research. Alarmingly, this trend is happening at rates faster than those proposed by climate models ... Europe is getting progressively hotter, and the data bears this out. What’s disturbing, however, and as new research published today in Geophysical Research Letters points out, this warming trend is occurring faster than the projections churned out by most European climate models. And as the new paper also notes, the observed increases in temperatures “cannot be explained by internal variability” ... the number of days with extreme heat across Europe more than tripled ... Meanwhile, days featuring extreme cold temperatures are now on the decline, decreasing twofold or threefold depending on the location ... Climate scientists have already shown that Europe is getting warmer, but the new study was an effort to test the reliability of local climate models by cross-referencing local observational data ... gathered from around 4,000 weather stations across Europe.
see also https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-08/agu-ewf082819.php
reporting on a study at https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2019GL082062
Why have 500 million bees died in Brazil in the past three months?
While thousands of fires roar and crackle through the Amazon rainforest, Brazil faces a quieter tragedy playing out in farm country: the silence of empty hives. Earlier this year, beekeepers reported losing over 500 million honeybees in only three months. The speed and scale of the die-offs recall colony collapse disorder, a malady that began decimating bees across North America and Europe in 2006. But the symptoms are tellingly different. Where colony collapse caused worker bees to abandon their hives and disappear, the bees in Brazil are dropping dead on the spot. And where scientists blamed colony collapse on a combination of factors, the evidence in Brazil points to one overarching cause: pesticides. The parallels between Brazil’s Amazon crisis and its bee die-offs are many. Just as the relaxation of forestry rules has led to more fires, so have loosened pesticide restrictions exposed more bees to lethal doses.
Great Barrier Reef outlook now 'very poor', Australian government review says
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s outlook report, published every five years, finds coral reefs have declined to a very poor condition and there is widespread habitat loss and degradation affecting fish, turtles and seabirds. It warns the plight of the reef will not improve unless there is urgent national and global action to address the climate crisis, which it described as its greatest threat ... The report says rising sea temperatures and extreme events linked to climate change, such as the marine heatwaves that caused mass coral bleaching in the northern two-thirds of the reef in 2016 and 2017, are the most immediate risks. Other major threats include farming pollution, coastal development and human use, such as illegal fishing. The report says water quality is improving too slowly and continues to affect many inshore areas ... the report showed that, while there were some small areas of progress, Australia was failing the reef. “Overall, there is very little good to report whatsoever.”
There is no ice left on Northern Sea Route
The Arctic shortcut that connects Asia and Europe is open and ice-free and shipping appears smooth, also for vessels without ice class standards. The last pieces of frozen water vanished in mid-August and ice-data shows that the whole route now is free of ice. That includes the East Siberian Sea, the area that normally has the longest-lasting white sheet.
Massive Siberian forest fire could melt permafrost, freeing massive methane stores
At the end of the month, the Siberian forest fire stretched across 6.4 million acres ... Like the Amazonian fires, the Siberian fires have the potential to accelerate global warming ... their ash and soot, which releases black carbon, pose a massive threat to the Arctic region’s ice sheets. They could accelerate melting, which will increase the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere ... melting of the ice sheets might free previously-trapped permafrost methane, a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide and which is not absorbed in photosynthesis.
Acid oceans are shrinking plankton, fuelling faster climate change
Increasingly acidic oceans are putting algae at risk, threatening the foundation of the entire marine food web ... increased seawater acidity reduced Antarctic phytoplanktons’ ability to build strong cell walls, making them smaller and less effective at storing carbon ... Many studies [have looked at] the effects of seawater acidification on “calcifying” creatures. However, we wanted to know if other, non-calcifying, species are at risk ... Our new research adds yet another group of organisms to the list of climate change casualties. It emphasises the urgent need to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.
Amazon fires 'extraordinarily concerning', warns UN biodiversity chief
Cristiana Paşca Palmer, the executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, said the destruction of the world’s biggest rainforest was a grim reminder that a fresh approach was needed to stabilise the climate and prevent ecosystems from declining to a point of no return, with dire consequences for humanity. “The Amazon fires make the point that we face a very serious crisis,” she told the Guardian. “But it is not just the Amazon. We’re also concerned with what’s happening in other forests and ecosystems, and with the broader and rapid degradation of nature. The risk is we are moving towards the tipping points that scientists talk about that could produce cascading collapses of natural systems.”
Amazon wildfires set to cause irreversible damage
For weeks, the fires in the Amazon rainforest have attracted international attention. Compared to 2018, the total number of fires increased by 82% between January and August this year. In August alone, almost 26,000 fires were reported ... According to the investigating prosecutor, Paulo de Tarso, most of the fires were lit on state-owned nature reserves. These areas are constantly under threat by landowners, speculators and mine operators.
The Amazon Is on Fire. So Is Central Africa.
Among the regions at risk is the Congo Basin forest, the second-largest tropical rainforest, after the Amazon, mostly in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The region absorbs tons of carbon dioxide, a key in the fight against climate change, and has been called the world’s “second lung,” following the Amazon ... in Central Africa, they are incinerating savanna and scrubbier land, and mostly licking at the edges of the rainforest ... While some ignite naturally in the dry season, others are deliberately set by farmers to clear land and improve crop yields. In South America the burns spilled into sensitive areas and grew out of control. In Africa, some experts fear the same outcome.
Europe warming faster than expected due to climate change
New research in the AGU journal Geophysical Research Letters finds the number of summer days with extreme heat has tripled since 1950 and summers have become hotter overall, while the number of winter days with extreme cold decreased in frequency by at least half and winters have become warmer overall. The new study finds parts of Europe are warming faster than climate models project. "Even at this regional scale over Europe, we can see that these trends are much larger than what we would expect from natural variability. That's really a signal from climate change."
It’s official: Parts of California are too wildfire-prone to insure
According to newly released data, it’s simply become too risky to insure houses in big swaths of the wildfire-prone state ... Insurance companies aren’t renewing policies in areas climate scientists say are likely to burn in giant wildfires in coming years ... Between 2015 and 2018, the 10 California counties with the most homes in flammable forests saw a 177 percent increase in homeowners turning to an expensive state-backed insurance program because they could not find private insurance ... “We are seeing an increasing trend across California where people at risk of wildfires are being non-renewed by their insurer ... This data should be a wake-up call for state and local policymakers that without action to reduce the risk from extreme wildfires and preserve the insurance market we could see communities unraveling.” A similar dynamic is likely unfolding across many other Western states.
Can We Survive Extreme Heat?
Humans have never lived on a planet this hot, and we’re totally unprepared for what’s to come Since the 1960s, the average number of annual heat waves in 50 major American cities has tripled. They are also becoming more deadly ... the risk of a heat-driven catastrophe increases every year ... “How likely is this to happen?” I ask. “It’s more a question of when,” Chester says, “not if.”
Why Climate Change Is So Hard
What makes climate change different from other environmental calamities isn’t that it’s bigger or farther away or difficult to see ... the key difference is that halting climate change requires us to dramatically alter our way of life ... We’re willing to make modest changes here and there, but dramatic changes? The kind that seriously bite into our incomes and our way of life? Nope. When I mention this to people, a common reaction is disbelief. You really think people will let the planet burn before they’ll give up their cars? That’s exactly what I think, because it’s happened many times before. Over and over, human civilizations have destroyed their environments because no one was willing to give up their piece of it.
Hawaii Is Losing As Much Of Its Land To Wildfires As Any Other State
“Here in Hawaii, we always talk about sea level rise and that’s been the main focus. You can see it and put metrics on it and it grabs attention,” said Stanbro, who leads Honolulu’s Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency. “But the hurricane stuff, the heat stuff and the fire stuff is what I think will really impact Hawaii before sea level rise gets a chance.”
Rare weather phenomenon amassing in southern hemisphere - Sudden Stratospheric Warming (SSW)
SSW occurs when the temperature of the stratosphere (30 - 50 km / 18 - 31 miles above ground) over the South Pole rises by more than 25 °C ... In the southern hemisphere's winter, a ring of stormy and freezing weather encircles Antarctica. Known as the polar vortex, it is usually very good at keeping harsh, wintry conditions locked up close to the pole. When a SSW occurs, it can help to weaken or displace the polar vortex in the stratosphere.
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"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it." (Upton Sinclair)
However, "The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it." (Neil deGrasse Tyson)
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