Climate Research

xkcd: timeline of earth's average temperature xkcd.com/1732/

I've been following the scientific literature regarding climate change for quite a while, and 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. To observe the accelerating pace of climate change, read this list from bottom to top. Or if that seems daunting, read just the last few years. 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 reports, articles, and studies published in:
2021 · 2020 · 2019 · 2018 · 2017 · 2016 · 2015-2011 · 2010-2001 · 2000 and earlier

··· --- ···

Wildfires torched up to a fifth of all giant sequoia trees
[W]ildfires killed thousands of giant sequoias this year, leading to a staggering two-year death toll that accounts for up to nearly a fifth of Earth's largest trees, officials said Friday. [Fires] tore through more than a third of groves in California and torched an estimated 2,261 to 3,637 sequoias, which are the largest trees by volume. Nearby wildfires last year killed an unprecedented 7,500 to 10,400 giant sequoias ... trees once considered nearly fire-proof ... In 2013, the park had done climate modeling that predicted extreme fires wouldn't jeopardize sequoias for another 50 years, Brigham said. But that was at the start of what became a punishing five-year drought that essentially broke the model.
https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Thousands-of-giant-sequoias-killed-in-California-16635506.php

Connecting the dots between B.C.’s floods, landslides and the clearcut logging of old forests
The combination of climate change, clearcut logging and poor forestry practices are being blamed as contributing factors ... the hydrology of an area changes as soon as the forest cover is removed, whether by logging or fire, and that contributes to floods and landslides ... “you go past a certain threshold and you are in danger of the whole hillside collapsing ... pressure on the system has been increasing with climate (change).”
https://thenarwhal.ca/bc-floods-clearcut-logging

Storms at Canada’s Biggest Port Leave Grain Stuck in Prairies
Mountains of wheat and canola are stranded in Canada after storms blocked access to the Port of Vancouver during peak shipping season. There’s no rail access to Canada’a biggest port after days of torrential rain and landslides ... it will take an “extended period of time” before some other roads open ... Canada is one of the world’s largest grain exporters and about half of its shipments go through Vancouver. “This is disastrous,” Quorum President Mark Hemmes said. “You’ve got rail lines that run into the terminal from Canadian origins cut off. All of the highways are cut off. And it’s Canada’s biggest port.”
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-11-18/storms-at-canada-s-biggest-port-leaves-grain-stuck-in-prairies

How locust swarms ‘the size of Luxembourg’ are plaguing East Africa
When the locusts settled on trees, there were “so many of them that branches broke under the weight”. Locust swarms can vary from less than one square kilometre to several hundred square kilometres. There can be at least 40 million and sometimes as many as 80 million locust adults in each square kilometre. One swarm ... was reported to have reached 2,400 square kilometres in size – an area the size of Luxembourg. Locusts eat their body weight in food every day; a small swarm covering one square kilometre can eat the same amount as 35,000 people.
https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/science-health/954861/east-africa-locust-plagues

South Africa’s next big crisis is water
South Africa’s next crisis will be water and that could be far worse than rolling power blackouts we’ve endured for about 14 years now. The emerging reality for many residents in small towns, rural areas and cities, is that their own Day Zero is looming — or is already here.
https://mg.co.za/editorial/2021-11-18-editorial-south-africas-next-big-crisis-is-water/

Brazil: Amazon sees worst deforestation levels in 15 years
Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest has hit its highest level in over 15 years, official data shows. A report by Brazil's space research agency (Inpe) found that deforestation increased by 22% in a year. Brazil was among a number of nations who promised to end and reverse deforestation by 2030 during the COP26 climate summit [but] according to the latest data, some 13,235 sq km (5110 sq miles) was lost during the 2020-21 period, the highest amount since 2006.
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-59341770

Antarctic ice sheet destabilized within a decade
After the natural warming that followed the last Ice Age, there were repeated periods when masses of icebergs broke off from Antarctica into the Southern Ocean. A new data-model study led by the University of Bonn (Germany) now shows that it took only a decade to initiate this tipping point in the climate system [and] that today's accelerating Antarctic ice mass loss also represents such a tipping point ... "the acceleration of Antarctic ice-mass loss in recent decades may mark the beginning of a self-sustaining and irreversible period of ice sheet retreat and substantial global sea level rise," says study leader Dr. Michael Weber from the University of Bonn.
https://phys.org/news/2021-11-antarctic-ice-sheet-destabilized-decade.html
see also https://www.sciencealert.com/warming-events-could-destabilize-the-antarctic-ice-sheet-in-just-10-years
reporting on a study at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-27053-6

Ice on the edge of survival: Warming is changing the Arctic
Arctic ice sheets and glaciers are shrinking, with some glaciers already gone. Permafrost, the icy soil that traps the potent greenhouse gas methane, is thawing. Wildfires have broken out in the Arctic. Siberia even hit 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) ... What's happening in the Arctic is a runaway effect ... “The Arctic isn’t just changing in temperature,” Abdalati said. “It’s changing in state. It’s becoming a different place” ... those changes, scientists say, can contribute to more extreme weather events, such as floods, drought, the February Texas freeze, or more severe wildfires.
https://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/ice-edge-survival-warming-changing-arctic-81006330

Global warming speeds up the frequency of extreme hot weather and rainfall
The frequency of extreme hot weather and record temperatures and rainfall has increased around the world as a result of global warming, according to an international research project headed up by Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM) and involving the participation of the Geoscience Institute (CSIC-UCM). The study, published in npj Climate and Atmosphere Science estimates that the occurrence of record temperatures is eight times higher than what would have been expected without global warming.
https://phys.org/news/2021-11-global-frequency-extreme-hot-weather.html

The forgotten oil ads that told us climate change was nothing
The fossil fuel industry has perpetrated a multi-decade, multibillion dollar disinformation, propaganda and lobbying campaign to delay climate action by confusing the public and policymakers about the climate crisis and its solutions ... with headlines ranging from “Lies they tell our children” to “Oil pumps life” – seeking to convince the public that the climate crisis is not real, not human-made, not serious and not solvable. The campaign continues to this day ... 30-plus year evolution of fossil fuel industry propaganda.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/nov/18/the-forgotten-oil-ads-that-told-us-climate-change-was-nothing
reporting on a study at https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ab89d5

Drought, overpumping cut Morocco river link to sea
"It's the first time ever that the Moulouya has stopped flowing into the sea," said Benata, a retired agronomist. "The flow has been weakened by over-pumping of the water. It's pretty dramatic." And as the fresh water of the river recedes, salty seawater is creeping up the groundwaters around the riverbed, spelling ruin for farmers as much as 15 kilometres inland ... "Everything's dead because there's hardly any rain and the river is salty" ... What was the mouth of the river is now also filling up with rubbish, spoiling one of the richest natural reserves in the area ... "the situation is getting worse and worse ... all the region's young people are thinking of emigrating."
https://phys.org/news/2021-11-drought-overpumping-morocco-river-link.html

Cop26 targets too weak to stop disaster, say Paris agreement architects
[T]he proposed targets agreed at the Cop26 summit are too weak to prevent disastrous levels of global heating, the three architects of the Paris agreement have warned ... The last-ditch intervention by such senior figures, with the Glasgow talks reaching their final hours, reveals the heightened alarm among many experts over the chasm between carbon targets and the deep cuts necessary to limit temperature rises ... Current national plans – known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs) – would lead to 2.4C of heating, according to an influential analysis this week by Climate Action Tracker.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/nov/11/cop26-targets-too-weak-to-stop-disaster-say-paris-agreement-architects

Coastal States In Mumbai, Kolkata & Four Other Indian Cities Will Be Underwater By 2030 Finds Report
A new study shows that [by 2030] parts of Mumbai, almost the entirety of Navi Mumbai, the coastal areas of Sunderbans, and the surrounding areas of West Bengal’s capital, Kolkata, along with Cuttack in Odisha, may be below tide-level ... For Kerala too, the area surrounding Kochi and other coastal cities, the threat of being below tide-level is drastically high.
https://www.firstpost.com/tech/science/coastal-states-in-mumbai-kolkata-four-other-indian-cities-will-be-underwater-by-2030-finds-report-10122571.html

Extreme Greenland ice melt raised global flood risk: study
Writing in the journal Nature Communications, researchers said that Greenland's meltwater runoff had risen by 21 percent over the past four decades. More strikingly, the data provided by the European Space Agency showed that the ice sheet had lost 3.5 trillion tonnes of ice since 2011, producing enough water to raise oceans globally and put coastal communities at higher risk of flood events. One-third of the ice lost in the past decade came in just two hot summers -- 2012 and 2019 -- the research showed ... "As we've seen with other parts of the world, Greenland is also vulnerable to an increase in extreme weather events," said Thomas Slater, from the University of Leeds Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling and lead author. "As our climate warms, it's reasonable to expect that the instances of extreme melting in Greenland will happen more often."
https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20211101-extreme-greenland-ice-melt-raised-global-flood-risk-study

‘Rapid and concerning’: Chesapeake Bay is getting warmer, researchers say
In the course of 30 years, the Chesapeake Bay warmed up by about 2 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s according to researchers at William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science ... “We’re really concerned about this elevated summer warming because warmer waters can help expand and worsen the annually occurring dead zone that happens in the bay when oxygen levels are low,” he said. Lower oxygen levels can impact crab habitat and fisheries ... “There’s not a lot of mitigation that can be done, besides limiting greenhouse gas emissions, which would reduce future warming in the atmosphere, which is what’s ultimately driving most of these trends,” Hinson said ... The study’s findings are based on data stored by the Chesapeake Bay Program, which is an office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The readings were collected by Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality and Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources.
https://wtop.com/science/2021/11/how-much-water-temperatures-have-been-rising-in-the-chesapeake-bay-over-30-years/

U.S. Power Grid Is Becoming Less Reliable, Thanks to Extreme Weather
The U.S. power grid is becoming less resilient and reliable, with extreme weather leaving more Americans without electricity more often over the past several years, analysts for Fitch Ratings said. Weather accounted for 25% of utility company downgrades from 2017 to 2021, analysts said during a presentation Monday at the Edison Electric Institute Financial Conference in Hollywood, Florida. U.S. power networks are also less reliable than those in other industrialized countries, they said. “Climate change is expected to continue to challenge electric reliability,” said Fitch analyst Barbara Chapman.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-11-08/u-s-power-grid-becoming-less-reliable-due-to-extreme-weather

2021 was a bad year for glaciers in western North America — and it’s about to get much worse
In late June, the so-called heat dome settled over the west, creating exceptional warming that melted snow cover on the glaciers and exposed ice in a matter of days. The timing was especially bad, as it coincided with days when energy from sunlight is at its maximum. The hot weather also helped spark wildfires in British Columbia, Oregon and California that spread through the mountains. When soot, dust and debris from wildfires settle on snow and ice, it darkens the surface, causing them to absorb more solar energy and melt more ... glacier mass loss over the past two decades in western North America has accelerated, with losses in the past decade that were four times greater than the decade before ... recent study [projects] nearly complete deglaciation in mid- to southern areas of British Columbia and Alberta even under moderate future emission scenarios.
https://theconversation.com/2021-was-a-bad-year-for-glaciers-in-western-north-america-and-its-about-to-get-much-worse-170847

Business-as-usual will lead to super and ultra-extreme heatwaves in the Middle East and North Africa
Global climate projections suggest a significant intensification of summer heat extremes in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) ... Our results, for a business-as-usual pathway, indicate that in the second half of this century unprecedented super- and ultra-extreme heatwave conditions will emerge ... Peak temperatures during future heatwaves could exceed 56C in some locations in the Middle East, and our analysis indicates that this is a conservative estimate. This will be life-threatening for humans, and even high-temperature tolerant animals such as camels cannot survive in such conditions ... we anticipate that the maximum temperature during “super-extreme” and “ultra-extreme” heatwaves in some urban centers and megacities in the MENA could reach or even exceed 60C ... the MENA countries need to prepare for exceedingly hot summers.
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41612-021-00178-7

One Billion People to Face Deadly Heat Stress If World Warms 2C
A study by the Met Office, the U.K.’s national meteorological service, warned that a 2C rise could lead to a 15-fold increase of a potentially fatal cocktail of heat and humidity across the planet. A 4°C rise would mean that nearly half of the world’s population could be living in affected areas, according to the research, released at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow. The Met Office used an indicator which combines warmth and humidity, known as wet-bulb temperature, to assess heat stress risk. Once this measure passes 32°C, people are at extreme risk of adverse health effects, particularly those with physical outdoor jobs, according to Andy Hartley, climate impacts lead at the Met Office. The study was derived from the EU-funded Helix project ... Richard Betts, leader of the Helix project, warned that most regions of the world are likely to suffer from the impacts of climate change.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-11-09/cop26-climate-change-puts-1-billion-people-at-risk-of-heat-stress-at-2c

Countries’ climate pledges built on flawed data, Post investigation finds
Across the world, many countries underreport their greenhouse gas emissions in their reports to the United Nations, a Washington Post investigation has found. An examination of 196 country reports reveals a giant gap between what nations declare their emissions to be vs. the greenhouse gases they are sending into the atmosphere ... At the low end, the gap is larger than the yearly emissions of the United States. At the high end, it approaches the emissions of China and comprises 23 percent of humanity’s total contribution to the planet’s warming ... That means the challenge is even larger than world leaders have acknowledged. “In the end, everything becomes a bit of a fantasy,” said Philippe Ciais, a scientist with France’s Laboratory of Climate and Environmental Sciences ... The gap comprises vast amounts of missing carbon dioxide and methane emissions as well as smaller volumes of powerful synthetic gases. It is the result of questionably drawn rules, incomplete reporting in some countries and apparently willful mistakes in others.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/interactive/2021/greenhouse-gas-emissions-pledges-data/

New estimates predict climate change is coming for crops sooner than expected
The impacts of changing climate conditions on the world’s wheat, corn, soybean and rice production are likely to be seen sooner than previously estimated [says] a new paper in the journal Nature Food from an international research team led by Jonas Jägermeyr of NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies and Columbia University. The paper uses improved crop and climate models to update estimates from 2014 and concludes “major shifts in global crop productivity due to climate change are projected to occur within the next 20 [years].” That’s decades sooner than previous estimates.
https://www.agri-pulse.com/articles/16732-new-estimates-predict-climate-change-is-coming-for-crops-sooner-than-expected

‘Reality check’: Global CO2 emissions shooting back to record levels
Global carbon emissions are shooting back to the record level seen before the coronavirus pandemic levels, new analysis has shown. Scientists said the finding is a “reality check” ... emissions driving the climate crisis reached their highest ever levels in 2019, before global coronavirus lockdowns saw them fall by 5.4%. However, fossil fuel burning has surged faster than expected in 2021 ... data shows world leaders have failed to build back greener, with just a small proportion of pandemic spending going to sustainable sectors ... scientists said 2022 could set a new record for global emissions.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/nov/04/reality-check-global-co2-emissions-shooting-back-to-record-levels

Top climate scientists are sceptical that nations will rein in global warming
Nature conducted an anonymous survey of the 233 living IPCC authors last month and received responses from 92 scientists — about 40% of the group. Their answers suggest strong scepticism that governments will markedly slow the pace of global warming, despite political promises made by international leaders as part of the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Six in ten of the respondents said that they expect the world to warm by at least 3C by the end of the century, compared with what conditions were like before the Industrial Revolution. That is far beyond the Paris agreement’s goal to limit warming to 1.5–2C. Most of the survey’s respondents - 88% - said they think global warming constitutes a ‘crisis’, and nearly as many said they expect to see catastrophic impacts of climate change in their lifetimes.
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-02990-w

Twenty-four trillion pieces of microplastics in the ocean and counting
The team found 24.4 trillion pieces (82,000--578,000 tons) of microplastics in the world's oceans, but the actual amount is likely to be much greater ... To create the new dataset, which was published in the journal
Microplastics and Nanoplastics, the researchers collected, calibrated, and gridded data from a total of 8,218 pelagic microplastic samples taken from oceans around the world between 2000 and 2019 [however] "the total amount of microplastics is still likely to be much greater since this is just what we can estimate on the surface."
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/10/211027122120.htm

Climate threats: living in the shadow of a crumbling mountain
The climate crisis is slowly transforming the Swiss Alps. Temperatures are rising, glaciers are melting, and thawing permafrost is undermining the stability of mountain slopes ... measurements paint a bleak picture: permafrost temperatures have reached record levels in many high-altitude locations ... Higher temperatures have melted ice, allowing water to penetrate the underlying rock and contribute to the instability. “Over the past three years we have really observed that the whole mountain is slowly melting,” says Robert Kenner, a permafrost expert at the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (WSL).
https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/cop26-slpine-climate-threats-living-in-the-shadow-of-the-spitzer-stein-mountain-switzerland/47011992

Get Ready for More Volcanic Eruptions as the Planet Warms
Scientists have noted volcanic eruptions tended to increase as glaciers melted. In a recent study published in Geology researchers ... found the number of eruptions indeed dropped significantly as the climate cooled and ice expanded ... when glaciers retreat, the pressure lifts and volcanic activity surges.
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/get-ready-for-more-volcanic-eruptions-as-the-planet-warms/

World is failing to make changes needed to avoid climate breakdown, report finds
Every corner of society is failing to take the “transformational change” needed to avert the most disastrous consequences of the climate crisis, with trends either too slow or in some cases even regressing, according to a major new global analysis. Across 40 different areas spanning the power sector, heavy industry, agriculture, transportation, finance and technology, not one is changing quickly enough to avoid 1.5C in global heating beyond pre-industrial times, a critical target of the Paris climate agreement, according to the new Systems Change Lab report ... Atmospheric levels of planet-heating gases hit a new record high last year, and the UN has warned the amount of fossil fuel extraction planned by countries “vastly exceeds” the limit needed to keep below the 1.5C threshold ... the report found that no indicator was showing the required progress to cut emissions in half this decade before eliminating greenhouse gases completely by 2050, which would give the world a chance to keep below 1.5C.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/oct/28/world-failing-make-changes-avoid-climate-breakdown-report

Climate change damage becoming increasingly uninsurable, AFM warns
Many damages resulting from climate change cannot be insured, while the cost of claims will increase sharply in the coming years. The Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM) warns ... Climate change is increasing the risk of extreme weather. The damage caused by floods in the first ten years of this century in the European Union averaged 4 billion euros per year. According to estimates, this will rise to 24 billion euros per year by 2050. The AFM cites subsidence as an example. In 2016, four insurers still covered this risk. Since last year, none did so anymore, while the Netherlands is increasingly faced with prolonged periods of drought and subsidence risks.
https://nltimes.nl/2021/10/28/climate-change-damage-becoming-increasingly-uninsurable-afm-warns

Changing ocean currents are driving extreme winter weather
A pair of researchers studied the Atlantic portion of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or AMOC, and found that winter weather in the United States critically depends on this conveyor belt-like system. As the AMOC slows because of climate change, the U.S. will experience more extreme cold winter weather. The study, published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment was led by Jianjun Yin, an associate professor in the University of Arizona Department of Geosciences and co-authored by Ming Zhao, a physical scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory ... "This circulation transports an enormous amount of heat northward in the ocean," Yin said. "The magnitude is on the order of 1 petawatts, or 10 to the 15 power watts. Right now, the energy consumption by the entire world is about 20 terawatts, or 10 to the 12 power watts. So, 1 petawatt is enough to run about 50 civilizations." But as the climate warms, so does the ocean surface. At the same time, the Greenland ice sheet experiences melting, which dumps more freshwater into the ocean. Both warming and freshening of the water can reduce surface water density and inhibit the sinking of the water, slowing the AMOC. If the AMOC slows, so does the northward heat transport ... "So, if the ocean heat transport slows or shuts down, the weather becomes more extreme."
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/10/211020140042.htm

Unprecedented rise of heat and rainfall extremes in observational data
Observation data analysis reveals a 90-fold increase in the frequency of monthly heat extremes, so-called 3-sigma-events that deviate strongly from what is normal in a given region, in the past ten years compared to 1951-1980. Record daily rainfall events also increased in a non-linear way -- on average, 1 in 4 rainfall records in the last decade can be attributed to climate change. Seemingly small amounts of additional warming push up extreme events substantially.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/10/211007122218.htm

Increasing large wildfires over the western United States linked to diminishing sea ice in the Arctic
Here we show that increasing large wildfires during autumn over the western U.S. are fueled by more fire-favorable weather associated with declines in Arctic sea ice during preceding months on both interannual and interdecadal time scales. Our analysis demonstrates and explains the Arctic-driven teleconnection through regional circulation changes with the poleward-shifted polar jet stream and enhanced fire-favorable surface weather conditions.
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-26232-9

‘Receding before our eyes:’ [Vancouver Island] glaciers likely to be all gone by mid-century
“They are receding before our eyes,” says Brian Menounos, a professor of Earth sciences at the ­University of Northern B.C. who has extensively studied glaciers on B.C.’s coast. Menounos estimates all of the Island’s ice packs will be gone by mid-century ... “human-induced climate change” is the real culprit, said Menounos, as increased amounts of ­greenhouse gases in the atmosphere alter weather ­patterns and temperatures ... There are 17,000 glaciers across British Columbia, and most are facing demise. Glaciologists estimate 22 billion cubic metres of water are lost from the province’s glaciers every year.
https://www.coastreporter.net/bc-news/receding-before-our-eyes-island-glaciers-likely-to-be-all-gone-by-mid-century-4546405

Permafrost: a ticking carbon time bomb
Carbon stores, long locked in the permafrost, are now seeping out. Between carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane, permafrost contains some 1,700 billion tonnes of organic carbon, almost twice the amount of carbon already present in the atmosphere. Methane lingers in the atmosphere for only 12 years compared to centuries for CO2 but is about 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas over a 100-year period. Thawing permafrost is a carbon "time bomb", scientists have warned [and] the thawing and accompanying carbon release will continue even if human emissions are cut ... humanity cannot emit more than 400 billion tonnes of CO2, the IPCC recently concluded. At current rates of emissions, our "carbon budget" would be exhausted within a decade. But carbon budgets do "not fully account for" the wild card of a rapid discharge in greenhouse gases from natural sources in the Arctic, warned a study this year, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States.
https://phys.org/news/2021-10-permafrost-carbon.html

Climate scientists fear tipping points (maybe you should too)
Anyone who has leaned back in a chair balancing on two legs knows there is a threshold beyond which you irrevocably crash to the floor. That portal between two stable states -- in this case, an upright versus a fallen-over chair -- is a tipping point, and Earth's complex, interlocking climate system is full of them ... Accelerating melt-off from the Greenland ice sheet, for example, is almost certainly slowing down the conveyor belt of ocean currents known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). This, in turn, could push Earth's tropical rain belt southward and weaken the African and Asian monsoons, upon which hundreds of millions depend for rain-fed crops. Scientists cannot rule out the possibility that the AMOC will stall altogether, as it has in the past. If this happened, European winters would become much harsher and sea levels in the North Atlantic basin could rise substantially. There are dozens of other ways in which facets of the climate system are intertwined ... the ultimate tipping point [is] "hothouse Earth". The last time atmospheric concentrations of CO2 matched today's levels, some three million years ago, temperatures were at least 3C more and sea levels five-to-25 metres higher ... In Antarctica, more than half the ice shelves that prevent glaciers from sliding into the ocean and lifting sea levels are at risk of crumbling due to climate change.
https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20211025-climate-scientists-fear-tipping-points-maybe-you-should-too

Greenhouse Gas Bulletin: Another Year Another Record
The abundance of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere once again reached a new record last year, with the annual rate of increase above the 2011-2020 average. That trend has continued in 2021, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Greenhouse Gas Bulletin. Concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2), the most important greenhouse gas, reached 413.2 parts per million in 2020 and is 149% of the pre-industrial level. Methane (CH4) is 262% and nitrous oxide (N2O) is 123% of the levels in 1750 when human activities started disrupting Earth’s natural equilibrium. The economic slowdown from COVID-19 did not have any discernible impact on the atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases and their growth rates, although there was a temporary decline in new emissions. As long as emissions continue, global temperature will continue to rise. Given the long life of CO2, the temperature level already observed will persist for several decades even if emissions are rapidly reduced to net zero.
https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/greenhouse-gas-bulletin-another-year-another-record

Rising Arctic Temperatures Mean Migrating North No Longer Worth It for Many Species, Study Finds
As temperatures rise in northern regions, migrating species are seeing less benefit from heading north for the summer months, according to scientists who reviewed 25 recent studies. In the warm months, birds, mammals, and insects head north to access food, escape predators, and avoid diseases made worse by summer heat. But with climate change, many species are seeing shrinking food supplies and encountering new parasites and pathogens in the Arctic. This has stunted reproduction and increased mortality among migrating species, the scientists write in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution.
https://e360.yale.edu/digest/rising-arctic-temperatures-mean-migrating-north-no-longer-worth-it-for-many-species-study-finds

Shell Not Meeting Own Sustainability Goals: Report
Shell will not meet their emission targets, a climate report showed. The Anglo-Dutch multinational oil and gas company was also far behind in a court judgment ... emissions will increase until 2030, instead of a mandatory reduction of 45 percent determined by the Dutch court ... Shell said they will make new plans in due time. The company has said that it will gradually reduce its emissions to become carbon neutral by 2050. According to the research report, the company does not seem to be able to achieve its targets after 2022 ... The report stated that fuel emissions will increase by 66 percent, which means net greenhouse emissions will rise by 4.4 percent. At the end of May, the court in The Hague ruled that the oil and gas company is obliged to reduce their CO2 emissions drastically. The judges determined that by 2030 emissions need to be reduced by 45 percent compared to 2019.
https://nltimes.nl/2021/10/23/shell-meeting-sustainability-goals-report

TotalEnergies accused of downplaying climate risks
French oil company TotalEnergies knew at least 50 years ago about a link between burning fossil fuels and global warming ... An article from 1971 in the company's magazine, Total Information, mentioned partial melting of ice caps [and] also predicted the rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere ... The research, which follows similar studies about US oil giant ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch [Shell], was carried out by three historians and published on Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal Global Environment Change ... by the late 1980s Total "began promoting doubt regarding the scientific basis for global warming", moving from "denial to delay," the researchers said ... Professor Andy Shepherd, director of the Centre for Polar Observation & Modelling, said the evidence is "pretty clear cut. Total can claim they weren't aware of the dangers, but few people will believe that. In fact the article was remarkably prescient."
https://www.bbc.com/news/business-58989374

Climate change: Fossil fuel production set to soar over next decade
Plans by governments to extract fossil fuels up to 2030 are incompatible with keeping global temperatures to safe levels, says the UN. The UNEP production gap report says countries will drill or mine more than double the levels needed to keep the 1.5C threshold alive. Oil and gas recovery is set to rise sharply with only a modest decrease in coal. There has been little change since the first report was published in 2019 [and] despite the flurry of net zero emission goals and the increased pledges of many countries, some of the biggest oil, gas and coal producers have not set out plans for the rapid reductions in fossil fuels that scientists say are necessary to limit temperatures in coming years ... instead of curbing carbon, many of the biggest emitting countries are also planning to significantly increase their production of fossil fuels, according to the UN.
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-58971131
see also https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/oct/20/planned-fossil-fuel-output-vastly-exceeds-climate-limits-says-un

White House, intelligence agencies, Pentagon issue reports warning that climate change threatens global security
The Pentagon report in particular marks a shift in how the U.S. military establishment is incorporating climate issues into its security strategy, analysts said. Until now, when the Defense Department has considered climate change, it has tended to focus on how floods and extreme heat can affect military readiness rather than the broader geopolitical consequences of a warming world. Now it is worried that climate change could lead to state failure ... builds on other grim warnings from national security officials about how a changing climate could upend societies and topple governments. “We assess that climate change will increasingly exacerbate risks to U.S. national security interests as the physical impacts increase and geopolitical tensions mount about how to respond to the challenge,” the document states. It also concludes that while momentum to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases is growing, “current policies and pledges are insufficient” to meet the goals that countries laid out in the landmark Paris climate accord [and] offers a dim assessment of the prospects for unified international action. “Countries are arguing about who should act sooner and competing to control the growing clean energy transition,” it states, concluding that “most countries will face difficult economic choices and probably will count on technological breakthroughs to rapidly reduce their net emissions later” ... The report’s warnings build on years of intelligence analysis that also painted a bleak picture. Just six months ago, in its quadrennial “Global Trends” report, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence forecast that climate change could spawn social upheaval and political instability.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/intelligence-pentagon-climate-change-warnings/2021/10/21/ea3a2c84-31d3-11ec-a1e5-07223c50280a_story.html

Where civilization emerged between the Tigris and Euphrates climate change is poisoning the land and emptying the villages
Iraq’s climate woes have exacerbated shortages in everything from food to electricity generation. Fisheries have been depleted. In the country’s north, wheat production is expected to decline by 70 percent, aid groups say. In provinces without access to rivers, families are spending ever larger portions of their monthly income on drinking water. The result, increasingly, is migration. According to the International Organization of Migration, more than 20,000 Iraqis were displaced by lack of access to clean water in 2019, most of them in the country’s south. But as they flee to towns and cities, they’re further straining services already hollowed out by widespread corruption and weak job markets where unemployment is high ... Climate scientists warn that the extreme temperatures facing places like southern Iraq are a small taste of what will follow elsewhere. Iraq’s climate woes have exacerbated shortages in everything from food to electricity generation. Temperatures in Iraq topped a record 125 degrees this summer.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/interactive/2021/iraq-climate-change-tigris-euphrates/

Report: Plastic May Soon Overtake Coal as a Climate Killer
A new report from Beyond Plastics, an initiative at Bennington College to reduce plastic pollution [is] the first to look at the full climate impacts of plastic, analyzing publicly available data of 10 stages of plastics production, usage, and disposal. The results are startling. Among the findings: The U.S. plastics industry releases at least 232 million tons of greenhouse gases each year, the equivalent of 116 average-sized coal-fired power plants; In 2020, the plastics industry’s reported emissions increased by 10 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions over 2019; Construction is currently underway in the U.S. on another 12 plastics facilities, and 15 more are planned. Altogether these expansions may emit more than 40 million more tons of greenhouse gases annually by 2025; Plastics are on track to contribute more climate change emissions than coal plants by 2030. Oil and gas companies like ExxonMobil have a huge presence in the plastics business and it’s getting bigger ... expanding into plastics is the plan B for a fossil fuel industry that sees its future being squeezed by a shift to cleaner, cheaper forms of energy and an increasingly broad social mandate to reduce carbon pollution. “They are losing money on power, on electrification, on the rise of electric cars,” says Enck. “So under the radar, they are investing billions in a petrochemical build-out that few people know about, except impacted communities” ... report also blows up industry claims about recycling. Regular recycling has in fact stagnated at less than 9 percent. Now the plastics industry is touting “chemical recycling,” a term used to describe the processing of plastic waste into fuel. There are only a few chemical recycling plants in operation now, but by 2025, new capacity may cause the release of 18 million tons of greenhouse gases each year — equivalent to nine coal-fired power plants.
https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/plastic-pollution-climate-change-1245402/
reporting on a study at https://www.beyondplastics.org/plastics-and-climate

Extreme rain over California's burn scars causes mudslides: This is what cascading climate disasters look like
Wildfires strip away vegetation and leave the soil less able to absorb water. A downpour on these vulnerable landscapes can quickly erode the ground as fast-moving water carries debris and mud with it ... communities and government agencies aren't prepared. Big-time precipitation is expected for the West Coast over the next 10 days. An atmospheric river will dump inches of rain and feet of snow across California, Oregon, and Washington as numerous storm systems roll in off the Pacific ... Several research studies have shown that compound events with both drought and heat waves have become more severe and frequent in recent years. One study attributed the increase in the risk of these dry-warm events in California to human-caused global warming and projected that the increased risk of dry-warm conditions will continue in the future ... At the same time, extreme rainfall events are expected to intensify in a warming climate. A warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, leading to wetter storms. This means there will likely be more burned acres exposed to potentially extreme rainfall events in a warmer world.
https://phys.org/news/2021-10-extreme-california-scars-mudslides-cascading.html

Vapor Storms Are Threatening People and Property
More moisture in a warmer atmosphere is fueling intense hurricanes and flooding rains
In mid-July, storms in western Germany and Belgium dropped up to eight inches of rain in two days. Floodwaters ripped buildings apart and propelled them through village streets. A week later a year’s worth of rain—more than two feet—fell in China’s Henan province in just three days [and] mid-August a sharp kink in the jet stream brought torrential storms to Tennessee that dropped an incredible 17 inches of rain in just 24 hours ... None of these storm systems were hurricanes or tropical depressions. Soon enough, though, Hurricane Ida swirled into the Gulf of Mexico, the ninth named tropical storm in the year’s busy North Atlantic season. On August 28 it was a Category 1 storm with sustained winds of 85 miles per hour. Less than 24 hours later Ida exploded to Category 4 ... As the oceans and atmosphere warm, additional water evaporates into the air. Warmer air, in turn, can hold more of that vapor before it condenses into cloud droplets that can create flooding rains [and] a juicier atmosphere provides extra energy and moisture ... fueling what might be called “vapor storms” that are unleashing more rain and snow than storms did only a few decades ago. Measurements confirm that heavy-precipitation events are hitting harder and occurring more often ... water vapor is also making global warming worse. Even though carbon dioxide gets most of the attention, water vapor is by far the most important greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. It absorbs much more of the infrared energy radiated upward by Earth’s surface than do other greenhouse gases, thereby trapping more heat ... As human activities continue to produce more heat-trapping gases, the oceans and atmosphere will continue to warm, and additional water will evaporate, leading to more frequent vapor storms and debilitating steam waves. Hurricanes in the strongest categories will occur more often, as will storms that intensify rapidly.
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/vapor-storms-are-threatening-people-and-property

Gaping hole opened up in 'Last Ice Area' of the Arctic, NASA images show
Arctic sea ice has starkly declined over the last 40 years, though polar scientists believed a region dubbed the "Last Ice Area" was largely resistant to melting as the planet warmed. Yet new research published in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters shows a hole nearly the size of Rhode Island opened up there in 2020, meaning even places with robust ice some 15-feet thick (or more) is increasingly susceptible in today's warming climate. "The scary thing is this area might not be as resilient as we think it is," Arctic scientist Kent Moore told Mashable. Moore is a professor of physics at the University of Toronto Mississauga who led the research.
https://mashable.com/article/arctic-climate-change

One in five of Europe’s bird species slipping towards extinction
From the Azores in the west to the Ural mountains in the east, birds that have been the cornerstones of European ecosystems are disappearing ... 30% of species assessed are showing population decline ... 13% of birds are threatened with extinction and a further 6% are near threatened.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/oct/14/one-in-five-of-europes-bird-species-slipping-towards-extinction-aoe

California records driest year in a century
[A] total of 11.87 inches of rain and snow fell in California in the 2021 water year. That’s half of what experts deem average during a water year in California ... California’s major reservoirs are below their average storage level ... drought effects have been worsened by accelerated climate change ... California recorded its hottest summer this year, and the extreme heat has parched the landscape. And as the newest water year begins, the state could be in for more of the same. La Niña conditions that typically bring dry winters to California and the Southwest have emerged in the Pacific Ocean, NOAA reported Thursday. “We’ve already had this dry year, we’re in a drought situation, and then trends are that it potentially could be below the low rainfall season again this winter,” said Jayme Laber, senior hydrologist with the National Weather Service’s office in Oxnard. “All those things add up to not looking good.” NOAA climatologists forecast the present drought to last into 2022 and potentially longer.
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-10-18/california-records-driest-year-in-a-century

Increasing heat and rainfall extremes now far outside the historical climate
Over the last decade, the world warmed by 0.25 °C, in-line with the roughly linear trend since the 1970s. Here we present updated analyses showing that this seemingly small shift has led to the emergence of heat extremes that would be virtually impossible without anthropogenic global warming. Also, record rainfall extremes have continued to increase worldwide and, on average, 1 in 4 rainfall records in the last decade can be attributed to climate change.
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41612-021-00202-w

Global emissions plans will fall 60% short of 2050 net zero target
In its annual World Energy Outlook ... IEA predicted that carbon emissions would decrease by just 40% by the middle of the century if countries stick to their climate pledges. The organisation said the difference between current plans and the change necessary to reach the net zero target was “stark.”
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/oct/13/carbon-emissions-will-drop-just-40-by-2050-with-countries-current-pledges

Climate Change Is Melting Russia’s Permafrost—and Challenging Its Oil Economy
The melting of the thick layer of the earth known as permafrost is a result of climate change, according to scientists and Russia government research. Two-thirds of the country sits on such soil, including much of its oil and gas infrastructure ... Mines and plants are experiencing increasing corrosion leaks and cracks, stemming in large part from defrosting ground. In the pipeline industry, braces and other mechanisms, previously anchored into permafrost, often corrode, twist and bend when the earth below changes ... “In the near past, everybody believed that permafrost would have an impact on infrastructure by the end of the century. Now we know we don’t have much time,” said Vladimir Romanovsky, professor of geophysics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. “Oil, gas, villages—it’s all on the line.” Russian economic officials and scientists estimate that thawing permafrost could affect more than a fifth of Russian infrastructure. The economy stands to lose more than $68 billion by 2050, a government minister said in May. The government says that 40% of buildings and infrastructure facilities in permafrost-covered areas have already been damaged.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/climate-change-permafrost-oil-gas-economy-russia-11633443474
see also https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2021-10-18/russias-remote-permafrost-thaws-threatening-homes-and-infrastructure

Why the American west’s ‘wildfire season’ is a thing of the past
What the US Forest Service once characterized as a four-month-long fire season starting in late summer and early autumn now stretches into six to eight months of the year ... More than half of the 20 largest fires in California history burned in just the last four years. Eight of the top 20 fires in Oregon occurred in that time frame too. Last year, Arizona saw the most acres burned in its history ... the climate emergency is a leading culprit. [It] has amplified drought and heat, two factors that have always been natural parts of western landscape, but play crucial roles in driving bigger blazes ... the highest danger for fire may not yet have passed. More than 95% of the west remains mired in drought, with more than half of the region classified in extreme or exceptional. It’s the most “expansive and intense” drought seen in this century, according to the US Drought Monitor.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/oct/10/wildfire-climate-emergency-us-west

[US] Defense Department warns climate change will increase conflicts over water and food
Climate change poses a serious threat to U.S. military operations and will lead to new sources of global political conflict, the Department of Defense wrote in its new climate adaptation plan ... Water shortages could become a primary source of friction or conflict between U.S. military overseas and the countries where troops are based, it warned ... The DOD was among 20 federal agencies unveiling the plans, which reveal the biggest threats global warming poses to their operations and suggest how they could handle them.
https://www.cnbc.com/2021/10/08/defense-department-warns-climate-change-will-increase-conflicts.html

Saltwater Intrusion Intensifies Coastal Permafrost Thaw
Along coastlines globally, sea-level rise is causing saltwater to intrude into terrestrial environments and freshwater reservoirs (i.e., saltwater intrusion) ... Results show that sea-level rise causes saltwater to intrude into the unfrozen pore space of permafrost. With a lower freezing temperature than freshwater, saltwater intrusion triggers permafrost thaw and lateral retreat. The combination of atmospheric and oceanic warming and sea-level rise has the potential to drive extensive permafrost loss along Arctic coastlines.
https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2021GL094776

The American Bumblebee Has Vanished From Eight States
In two decades, the insect’s population has declined by nearly 90 percent
The American bumblebee (Bombus pensylvanicus)—once abundant and found lazily floating around in grasslands, open prairies, and some urban areas throughout the United States—now face a rapidly declining population ... the species' population has dropped nearly 90 percent [but] despite dwindling population numbers, the American bumblebee is not protected in any state or by federal law. American bumblebees are a vital pollinator for wildflowers and crops, and their decline could have severe consequences for the environment. The species has completely vanished from eight states ... Researchers can trace the bee's plummeting population numbers back to multiple threats, including pesticides, habitat loss, climate change, diseases and competition from non-native honeybees. States with the most significant dip in bee numbers have the largest increase in the use of pesticides like neonicotinoids, insecticides, and fungicides, per Live Science.
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/american-bumblebee-has-vanished-from-eight-us-states-180978817/

U.N. weather agency says world ill-prepared for ‘looming water crisis’
Floods, droughts and other water-related disasters are on the rise due to global warming, the World Meteorological Organization said in a new report published Tuesday. At the same time, swelling populations and dwindling resources around the globe have led to increased water scarcity in multiple regions, the U.N. agency said ... more than 2 billion people live in "water-stressed countries” where they lack access to safe drinking water and sanitation, according to the report “The State of Climate Services 2021: Water” ... The WMO and other agencies said that “urgent action” is needed to ramp up sustainable investment in drought and flood early warning systems, improve water management and integrate water and climate policies. “Time is not on our side.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/10/05/united-nations-world-meteorological-organization-water-crisis/

Andrew Forrest criticises use of carbon capture and storage saying it fails ‘19 out of 20 times’
‘It’s a good soundbite but it doesn’t work’
As the [Australian] government moves to award carbon credits to fossil fuel projects that promise to capture and store carbon dioxide, the mining billionaire has told a podcast such projects had failed “19 out of 20 times” ... “in my own home state of Western Australia, we have some of the biggest gas developments in the world who’ve been granted permission to develop on carbon sequestration. And it failed. And that’s quite normal around the world. So to suddenly say, well, carbon sequestration, we’re going to wave a wand, it’s going to work reliably. Well, you know that, actually – if you’re a realist – is a bridge way too far. It’s good in a soundbite, but it doesn’t work in reality.”
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/oct/04/andrew-forrest-criticises-use-of-carbon-capture-storage-saying-it-fails-19-out-of-20-times

The Ground Is Literally Exploding Due to Climate Change in Siberia, and It’s Going to Get Worse
Huge gas explosions are erupting in the icy soils of Siberia, a recent phenomenon that is linked to climate change ... a team led by Evgeny Chuvilin, a leading research scientist at the Skoltech Center for Hydrocarbon Recovery in Moscow, has proposed a new formation model [that is] published in the journal Geosciences ... the surface permafrost “caps” become weakened by this thawing process, which makes them more vulnerable to pressure from pools of methane gas that build up deep underground [and] the pressure from the gas pools reaches a tipping point that triggers the immense explosions. Given the direct link to climate change, Chuvilin and his colleagues expect these blowouts to continue in the future.
https://www.vice.com/en/article/wx5mmq/the-ground-is-literally-exploding-due-to-climate-change-in-siberia-and-its-going-to-get-worse

Critical groundwater supplies may never recover from drought
In the largest study of its kind, scientists found that this recovery time only applies to aquifers that aren’t touched by human activity, and the recovery time might be even longer in regions with excessive pumping. For groundwater levels to recover after a drought, new precipitation requires time to percolate through the soil and recharge the depleted aquifer. The researchers show that this process can take several years longer in areas with deeper groundwater levels. “If people pump groundwater without first letting it recharge, groundwater levels keep going down, the cost of pumping goes up, and the land sinks,” explained Hoori Ajami, UCR groundwater hydrologist and study co-author and principal investigator on this project. Published in the Journal of Hydrology, the new study is the first to examine groundwater response to droughts on a continental scale ... “Excessive pumping lowers the groundwater level, creating a downward spiral in which restoring the aquifer becomes harder and harder,” added study co-author Adam Schreiner-McGraw.
https://news.ucr.edu/articles/2021/09/30/critical-groundwater-supplies-may-never-recover-drought

U.S. military consumes more hydrocarbons than most countries -- massive hidden impact on climate
[T]he US military is one of the largest climate polluters in history, consuming more liquid fuels and emitting more CO2e (carbon-dioxide equivalent) than most countries. The majority of greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting routinely focuses on civilian energy use and fuel consumption, not on the US military. This new study, published in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, calculates part of the US military's impact on climate change through critical analysis of its global logistical supply chains [and] reports that if the US military were a nation state, it would be the 47th largest emitter of GHG in the world.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/06/190620100005.htm
reporting on a study at https://rgs-ibg.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/tran.12319

Triple jeopardy: Children face dark future of climate disasters
The outlook is troubling if the pace of global warming continues unchecked, said Wim Thiery, a climate scientist at Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium, who led the research. "We found that everyone under 40 today will live an unprecedented life in terms of their lifetime exposure to heat waves, droughts and floods," Thiery said. "This is true even under the most conservative scenarios" ... Thiery said it's likely that impacts on people's lives will be even greater than the study estimates. That's because the researchers focused only on the frequency of extreme events, which doesn't take into account how long and severe they are. Studies have shown that climate change is making events like heat waves, droughts and wildfires not only more likely to occur, but also more intense.
https://www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/triple-jeopardy-children-face-dark-future-climate-disasters-rcna2304
reporting on a study at https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abi7339

US to declare ivory-billed woodpecker and 22 more species extinct
The ivory-billed woodpecker and 22 more birds, fish and other species are expected to be declared extinct by the US Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday. It’s a rare move for wildlife officials to give up hope on a plant or animal, but government scientists have exhausted efforts to find these 23 species and warned that the climate crisis, on top of other pressures, could make such disappearances more common ... “it’s a sobering reminder that extinction is a consequence of human-caused environmental change,” Fahey said.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/29/us-bird-species-ivory-billed-woodpecker-extinct

In the Arctic, Less Sea Ice and More Snow on Land Are Pushing Cold Extremes to Eastern North America
Arctic sea ice this year is once again near a record low, and medium range forecasts call for relatively cold and snowy conditions in Siberia ... Disruptions of the polar vortex—a belt of strong, high altitude winds usually circling the central Arctic—have become more frequent in the last 40 years, the new research found. In the study, the researchers write that the lack of sea ice in the Barents-Kara Seas and heavier snowfall over Siberia combine to build a wave of high pressure in the atmosphere between Northern Europe and the Ural Mountains, along with low pressure over East Asia ... the new pattern, shaped by global warming, intensifies the waves [and] if that energy bounces downward off the polar vortex it distorts the vortex, pushing one end of the cold dumbbell over Siberia and the other toward the eastern half of the United States.
https://insideclimatenews.org/news/02092021/arctic-polar-vortex-ice-snow-extreme-freeze/

The world's biggest carbon-removal plant just opened. In a year, it'll negate just 3 seconds worth of global emissions.
This carbon capture and storage facility, named Orca, turned on two weeks ago after more than 18 months of construction. The fans are embedded in shipping container-sized boxes ... Orca can trap and sequester 4,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year — making it the largest facility of its kind in the world (though there are currently only two running) ... "Nothing else can do what this tech does." According to the latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), carbon capture and storage is a necessary part of our best-case climate scenarios. [But] climate scientist Peter Kalmus has done the math: "If it works, in one year it will capture three seconds worth of humanity's CO2 emissions."
https://www.businessinsider.com/carbon-capture-storage-expensive-climate-change-2021-9

Rice feeds half the world. Climate change’s droughts and floods put it at risk
California is the second-largest U.S. producer of rice [and] climate change is expected to worsen the state’s extreme swings in precipitation, researchers reported in 2018 in Nature Climate Change ... “If we lose our rice crop, we’re not going to be eating,” says plant geneticist Pamela Ronald of the University of California, Davis. Climate change is already threatening rice-growing regions around the world, says Ronald, who identifies genes in rice that help the plant withstand disease and floods. “This is not a future problem. This is happening now.”
https://www.sciencenews.org/article/rice-agriculture-feeds-world-climate-change-drought-flood-risk

‘Out of control’ durum wheat market expected to cause pasta shortage
Inclement weather in Canada and Europe is resulting in a spike in the price of raw material, which – along with increases in freight – is spiralling the durum wheat market ‘completely out of control’ ... Canada – the world’s leading durum wheat producer – has experienced extreme heat and scarce rainfall since seeding ... Poor weather in Europe is also affecting the harvest, with French wheat, in particular, experiencing a poor year due to excessive rain. Durum is the second most cultivated species of wheat after common wheat ... “The market is completely out of control and as a result there has been an approximately 90% increase in raw material prices as well as increases in freight,” said Jason Bull, director of Eurostar Commodities. “This is a dire situation hitting all semolina producers and all buyers of durum wheat across the globe. Companies are buying at record high prices and farmers are holding onto wheat and driving the price up. “We expect to see shortages on supermarket shelves and increasing prices.”
https://www.bakeryandsnacks.com/Article/2021/09/10/Out-of-control-durum-wheat-market-expected-to-cause-pasta-shortage

Paraguay on the brink as historic drought depletes river, its life-giving artery
“Twelve barges had to leave today, but only six will make it out: there’s no time, the water’s dropping too fast,” said Krivenchuk, general manager of the Trociuk private port in southern Paraguay. “It’s the first time that any have left in two months.” The Paraná River, which winds through Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, has dropped to its lowest levels in 77 years as a severe drought that began in late 2019 continues to punish the region ... levels are rapidly falling. The drought has threatened water supplies in Argentina, driven up energy prices in Brazil, and helped drive rampant wildfires across the region. Paraguay, which has no coast and relies on its rivers for countless social, environmental, and commercial services, faces dire strain ... The world’s third-largest river fleet moves 96% of Paraguay’s international imports and exports along two great waterways, the Paraná and the Paraguay ... The CAF–Development Bank of Latin America lists Paraguay as the country most vulnerable to the climate emergency in South America. It has also seen enormous deforestation. Only 7% of the Atlantic forest that until recent decades covered the country’s east remains, and the western Chaco forest faces some of the world’s highest deforestation rates ... no end to the drought in sight.
https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/sep/27/paraguay-severe-drought-depletes-river

Dying crops, spiking energy bills, showers once a week. In South America, the climate future has arrived.
From the frigid peaks of Patagonia to the tropical wetlands of Brazil, worsening droughts this year are slamming farmers, shutting down ski slopes, upending transit and spiking prices for everything ... So low are levels of the Paraná running through Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina that some ranchers are herding cattle across dried-up riverbeds typically lined with cargo-toting barges ... droughts this year are extensions of multiyear water shortages ... offering a taste of the challenges ahead in securing an increasingly precious commodity: water. “[This] is not a coincidence,” said Lisa Viscidi, energy and climate expert with the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue. “It’s definitely because we’re seeing the effects of climate change” ... spots severe enough to cause widespread crop losses, water shortages and elevated fire risk are now present in every continent outside Antarctica [and] disasters, scientists say, will worsen as the planet warms ... In a country long known as a global breadbasket, where 70 percent of exports are food commodities such as soybeans and corn, the drought is slamming farmers — and the broader economy ... Analysts fear the droughts are a harbinger of a new normal.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/09/24/argentina-brazil-south-america-drought/

Lake Powell Reaches New Low
As North America approaches the end of the 2021 water year, the two largest reservoirs in the United States stand at their lowest levels since they were first filled ... Lake Powell is the second largest reservoir by capacity in the United States [and on] September 20, 2021 [the] lake held just 30 percent of its capacity ... Downstream in the Colorado River water management system, Lake Mead is filled to just 35 percent of capacity. More than 94 percent of the land area across nine western states is now affected by some level of drought, according to the September 23 report from the U.S. Drought Monitor ... NOAA Drought Task Force offered some context for the low water levels across the region. “Successive dry winter seasons in 2019-2020 and 2020-2021, together with a failed 2020 summer southwestern monsoon, led precipitation totals since January 2020 to be the lowest on record since at least 1895 over the entirety of the Southwest. At the same time, temperatures across the six states considered in the report (Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah) were at their third highest on record. Together, the exceptionally low precipitation and warm temperatures reduced snowpack and increased evaporation of soil moisture, leading to a persistent and widespread drought over most of the American West.“
https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/148861/lake-powell-reaches-new-low

Fires in the Amazon have already impacted 90% of plant and animal species
Since 2019, deforestation and fires have caused the Brazilian Amazon to lose about 10,000 square kilometers of forest cover per year – a high and alarming increase over the previous decade, when the annual reduction in forest area was close to 6,500 square kilometers, according to data from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE). However, until very recently, experts had measured only the vegetation in areas destroyed; never had the biodiversity loss caused by fires been assessed. A new scientific study published in Nature – “How deregulation, drought and increasing fire impact Amazonian biodiversity” – translates this impact into numbers: to a greater or lesser extent, 93 to 95% of 14,000 species of plants and animals have already suffered some kind of consequence of the Amazon’s fires. The study, which involved researchers from universities and institutions in the U.S., Brazil and the Netherlands, analyzed data on the distribution of fires in the Amazon between 2001 and 2019, when the region saw record rates of major fires, despite high rainfall.
https://news.mongabay.com/2021/09/fires-in-the-amazon-have-already-impacted-more-than-90-of-animal-and-plant-species-in-the-biome/

Climate change: EU-backed study shows alarming state of oceans
Ocean temperatures and water levels are continuing to rise as a result of human intervention.
The state of the world's oceans is worsening, according to an environmental report released on Wednesday by a European Commission-funded marine monitoring service ... The Copernicus Marine Environmental Monitoring Service report highlighted the speed of change in oceans due to human intervention ... "Climate change, pollution and overexploitation have caused unprecedented stress on the ocean," Karina von Schuckmann, chair of the Ocean State Report, said in a statement accompanying the report.
https://www.dw.com/en/climate-change-eu-backed-study-shows-alarming-state-of-oceans/a-59261525

Study: Increased heat-drought combinations could damage crops globally
Heat and drought events may coincide more often due to climate change, with negative consequences for agriculture, according to a new study. Crop yields often drop during hot growing seasons, and combined heat and drought can magnify the effect, say the authors. The study was just published in the journal Nature Food ... "Our study uncovers a new risk to crop production from climate warming that we believe is overlooked in current assessments. As the planet continues to warm, water and heat may get more strongly interrelated in many regions, making droughts hotter and heat waves drier," said lead author Corey Lesk, a researcher at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
https://phys.org/news/2021-09-heat-drought-combinations-crops-globally.html

Southwest U.S. drought, worst in a century, linked by NOAA to climate change
Human-caused climate change has intensified the withering drought gripping the Southwestern United States, the region's most severe on record, with precipitation at the lowest 20-month level documented since 1895, a U.S. government report said on Tuesday. Over the same period, from January 2020 through August 2021, the region also experienced the third-highest daily average temperatures measured since record-keeping began near the end of the 19th century, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) drought task force. The study warned that extreme drought conditions are likely to worsen and repeat themselves "until stringent climate mitigation is pursued and regional warming trends are reversed" ... The report focuses on drought in six states comprising the American Southwest, home more than 60 million people, but its implications stretch beyond that region, the authors said. "Half of the United States is in an unprecedented drought."
https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/southwest-us-drought-worst-century-linked-by-noaa-climate-change-2021-09-21/

With Climate Change, There May Be No Best Place to Live
If you’re looking to move somewhere in the U.S. to ride out the climate apocalypse, bad news: The list is growing shorter.
The heat wave of 2021 may eventually be viewed as a dividing line between the Before and After Times in the Northwest. “The problem with calling this a once-in-a-1000-year event is that the climate system is not in a balanced state,” the Oregon Climate Office tweeted in June. “The past is no longer a reliable guide for the future. These events are becoming more frequent and intense, a trend projected to continue.”
https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2021-09-19/neither-portland-maine-or-oregon-is-refuge-from-climate-change

As climate pledges fall short, U.N. predicts globe could warm by catastrophic 2.7 degrees Celsius
The United Nations warned Friday that based on the most recent action plans submitted by 191 countries to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the planet is on track to warm by more than 2.7 degrees Celsius by the end of the century — far above what world leaders have said is the acceptable upper limit of global warming ... U.N. Secretary General António Guterres in a statement said, “The world is on a catastrophic pathway to 2.7-degrees of heating.” He warned that “there is high risk of failure” at the coming climate summit.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/09/17/un-climate-2030-biden/

The Rate of Global Warming During Next 25 Years Could Be Double What it Was in the Previous 50
Former NASA climate scientist James Hansen ... expects reduced aerosol pollution to lead to a steep temperature rise
Plunging [aerosol masking] emissions from industrial sources, particularly shipping, could lead global temperatures to surge well beyond the levels prescribed by the Paris Climate Agreement as soon as 2040 ... doubling of the rate of global warming would put the planet in the fast lane of glacial melting, sea level rise and coral reef ecosystem die-offs, as well as escalating heatwaves, droughts and floods ... In Hansen’s latest warning, he said scientists are dangerously underestimating the climate impact of reducing sulfate aerosol pollution ... IPCC report also highlighted that declining aerosol pollution will speed warming.
https://insideclimatenews.org/news/15092021/global-warming-james-hansen-aerosols/

What Is ‘Fire Weather,’ and Why Is It Getting Worse?
A new study of the American West shows that climate change is driving more days that are hot, dry, and windy
"It's not just that it's hot. It's not just that it's dry. It's that all these conditions are happening at the same time ... there's very clearly an increase in these fire weather days that's been happening since the early 1970s across most of the western United States." Weber analyzed data from 225 weather stations from 17 western states going back to 1973, looking at temperature, humidity, and wind speeds, the three main variables that drive catastrophic fires ... the Southwest, in particular, has gotten much hotter and drier [plus] the region is seeing far more windy days, when an ignition is liable to turn into a speedy, intense blaze.
https://www.wired.com/story/what-is-fire-weather-and-why-is-it-getting-worse/
reporting on a study at https://medialibrary.climatecentral.org/uploads/general/FireWeatherReport2021.pdf

The amount of energy required by direct air carbon capture [DAC] proves it is an exercise in futility
Removing CO2 directly from the air requires almost as many joules as those produced by burning the fossil fuel in the first place
In 2020, the world used 462 exajoules (EJ) of energy from fossil fuels, which resulted in 32 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions. Capturing that carbon dioxide through DAC — which sucks the greenhouse gas out of the air — would require 448EJ, according to calculations by Australian maths-as-a-service company Keynumbers. That 448EJ is the equivalent of 124,444TWh — more than five times the annual global electricity consumption in 2020 (23,177TWh, according to Enerdata). And that doesn’t even include the energy that would be required to then transport and store the captured CO2 ... The world’s largest DAC facility, Climeworks’ $10m-15m Orca plant, was opened in Iceland last week, and is due to capture 4,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the air every year — the equivalent to the emissions from about 870 cars. The captured CO2 is then mixed with water and injected into basalt rock 1km underground, where it slowly turns into a solid carbonate mineral over a two-year [period]. So, theoretically, eight million such plants would be needed to capture the world’s annual carbon emissions, at a cost of $80trn-120trn.
https://www.rechargenews.com/energy-transition/the-amount-of-energy-required-by-direct-air-carbon-capture-proves-it-is-an-exercise-in-futility/2-1-1067588

Coral Reef Cover, Biodiversity, and Fish Catches Have Declined by Half Since the 1950s
[G]lobal coverage of living corals has declined by about half since the 1950s. So, too, has the capacity of coral reefs to provide ecosystem services ... catches of fishes on the coral reef reached its peak nearly two decades ago and has been in decline ever since despite an increase in fishing effort. The catch per unit effort (CPUE), often used as an indication of changes in biomass, is now 60% lower than it was in 1950.
https://scitechdaily.com/coral-reef-cover-biodiversity-and-fish-catches-have-declined-by-half-since-the-1950s/

Stunning photos show drought’s impact on huge California reservoir
The California drought has been brutal over the past few years, but to see just how devastating it has been, you need to see before-and-after pictures side by side. Bay Area News Group photojournalist Nhat V. Meyer went out to the San Luis Reservoir in Merced County this week and took pictures in approximately the same places that he did in January 2019. The reservoir is one of the largest in California. The results are startling.
https://www.mercurynews.com/2021/09/17/before-and-after-see-the-impact-of-the-california-drought-on-san-luis-reservoir/

Not a single G20 country is in line with the Paris Agreement
None of the world's major economies -- including the entire G20 -- have a climate plan that meets their obligations under the 2015 Paris Agreement, according to an analysis published Wednesday ... While many governments have committed to net zero, Hare said that without a real action soon, achieving net zero will be "virtually impossible."
https://edition.cnn.com/2021/09/15/world/climate-pledges-insufficient-cat-intl/index.html
see also https://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/sep/15/governments-falling-short-paris-climate-pledges-study

Animals died in 'toxic soup' during Earth's worst mass extinction: A warning for today
A recent study published by an international team of researchers including Professor and Head of the Department of Geosciences Tracy Frank and Professor Chris Fielding, both newly arrived at UConn, has identified a new cause of extinction during extreme warming events: toxic microbial blooms. In a healthy ecosystem, microscopic algae and cyanobacteria provide oxygen to aquatic animals as a waste product of their photosynthesis. But when their numbers get out of control, these microbes deplete free oxygen, and even release toxins into the water ... systems then seethed with algae and bacteria, delaying the recovery of animals for perhaps millions of years ... Today, humans have been following this recipe, and freshwater microbial blooms have been on the rise ... "The other big parallel is that the increase in temperature at the end of the Permian coincided with massive increases in forest fires. One of the things that that destroyed whole ecosystems was fire, and we're seeing that right now ... we are used to thinking in terms of timescales of years, maybe tens of years [but] the end-Permian mass extinction event took four million years to recover from. That's sobering," says Fielding.
https://phys.org/news/2021-09-animals-died-toxic-soup-earth.html

Climate Scientists Forecast High Temperatures Into the Fall
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center said during a news conference that the forecast for October called for above-normal temperatures across much of the country ... the withering drought that currently ranges from the West Coast through the Southwest, the Rockies, the Northern Plains and into Central Minnesota will likely expand eastward ... spreading to nearly all of Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska.
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/16/climate/climate-change-drought-temperature.html

Report: Climate change could see 200 million move by 2050
World Bank report published Monday examined how the impacts of slow-onset climate change such as water scarcity, decreasing crop productivity and rising sea levels could lead to millions of what it describes as “climate migrants” by 2050 ... Under the most pessimistic scenario, with a high level of emissions and unequal development, the report forecasts up to 216 million people moving ... regions are Latin America; North Africa; Sub-Saharan Africa; Eastern Europe and Central Asia; South Asia; and East Asia and the Pacific ... worst-case scenario is still plausible if collective action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and invest in development isn’t taken soon.
https://apnews.com/article/africa-climate-environment-and-nature-immigration-europe-69cada32a7c13f80914a2a7b48fb5b9c
reporting on a study at https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/36248

Why a Warming Arctic Has the U.S. Coast Guard Worried About the Rest of the Country
The Arctic is warming at roughly twice the rate as the rest of the world, and summer sea ice cover has declined to unprecedented lows [so] what would have been work for an icebreaker 40 years ago was largely smooth sailing this time around. [But] it’s likely to get a lot harder. “A warming Arctic means more work for the Coast Guard,” says Admiral Karl L. Schultz, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. And not just in the Arctic, but across the United States. “There is that old saying that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” he says. “Well, what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic” ... could start seeing consistently ice-free Arctic summers as early as 2035 [because] the more the ocean absorbs the sun’s rays, the warmer it gets, which in turn melts even more ice in a continuous feedback loop. The effect stays through the winter, resulting in a decline of multi-year ice [so] at the beginning of the following summer, there is even less of an ice base to start from ... the heat wave in the Pacific Northwest earlier this summer as well as the droughts and subsequent wildfires that have plagued the Southwest and California can be attributed to this effect. So too can the rapid intensification of Hurricane Ida and unusually wet summers on the east coast. So even though those extremes seem like polar opposites, they are, in fact, two manifestations of the same phenomenon ... A warming Arctic means the Coast Guard will be navigating a more challenging route, both north of the Arctic Circle as well as further afield.
https://time.com/6095064/arctic-climate-change-coast-guard/

Scientists scramble to harvest ice cores as glaciers melt
Late last year, German-born chemist Margit Schwikowski and a team of international scientists attempted to gather ice cores from the Grand Combin glacier, high on the Swiss-Italian border, for a United Nations-backed climate monitoring effort. In 2018, they had scouted the site by helicopter and drilled a shallow test core. The core was in good shape, said Schwikowski: It had well-preserved atmospheric gases and chemical evidence of past climates, and ground-penetrating radar showed a deep glacier. Not all glaciers in the Alps preserve both summer and winter snowfall; if all went as planned, these cores would have been the oldest to date that did, she said. But in the two years it took for the scientists to return with a full drilling set-up, some of the information that had been trapped in the ice had vanished. Freeze-thaw cycles had created icy layers and meltwater pools throughout the glacier, what another team member described as a water-laden sponge, rendering the core useless ... The mission on Grand Combin underscores the major challenge scientists face today in collecting ice cores: Some glaciers are disappearing faster than expected. The realization is prompting renewed urgency ... Almost all of the world’s glaciers are shrinking, according to the United Nations. In its most comprehensive climate report to date, published in August, the UN concluded that “human influence is very likely the main driver of the near-universal retreat of glaciers” ... The pace at which glaciers are losing mass is also increasing ... Another member of the Grand Combin expedition, Italian climate scientist Carlo Barbante, said the speed at which the ice on the Alpine massif had melted in the last few years was “much higher than it was before.”
https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/science/scientists-scramble-harvest-ice-cores-glaciers-melt-2021-09-13/

Pune: Low pollution during lockdown linked to warmer seas, say studies
Three recent studies [of aerosol masking] have linked last year’s Covid-19 lockdown in March to an abnormal increase in the surface temperatures of both water bodies. The IIT Bhubaneswar and IISER Pune study, exploring the impact of lockdown, said a decline in pollution aerosols over the Bay of Bengal last year caused the sea surface temperatures (SSTs) to warm ... “With a reduction in these aerosols during lockdown because there were less industrial and transport activities, more solar radiation could reach the ocean surface, causing the warming,” Vinoj said. “Pre-existing high summer SSTs, climate change enhanced ocean heat content and lockdown induced decline in aerosols and clouds, can be the perfect ingredients for intensification of any cyclonic activity.” Cyclones are much more likely to gather intensity over warmer waters. Heating of the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal is deeply connected to the recent intense cyclones and extreme rainfall events in India ... Kunal Chakraborty, senior scientist from INCOIS, said less pollution aerosols can reduce the deflection of solar radiation which then could have increased the temperature of the Indian Ocean during the lockdown period.
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/low-pollution-during-lockdown-linked-to-warmer-seas-studies/articleshow/86182276.cms

To limit warming to 1.5°C, huge amounts of fossil fuels need to go unused
A massive amount of fossil fuels will need to stay in the ground if the world is to reach its goal of limiting temperature increase to 1.5ºC, a new study shows. A paper from faculty members at the University College London uses modeling to decipher what would need to happen for a 50 percent chance of reaching this climate goal ... The study builds on a piece of research from 2015 that looked at the possibility of hitting the 2ºC goal. The earlier work used modeling to suggest that, globally, one-third of all oil reserves, half of gas reserves, and more than 80 percent of coal reserves need to remain unused to reach the goal. The new UCL paper’s recommendations are even stricter [saying] nearly 60 percent of existing oil and fossil methane gas and 90 percent of global coal reserves need to go unused through at least 2050—and this action would only yield a 50 percent chance of limiting global warming to 1.5ºC. [But] the necessary emission cuts have yet to materialize. For example, a 2019 UN report stated that the world’s governments expect to produce 120 percent more fossil fuels by 2030. “[T]he current and indicated fossil fuel trajectories globally are moving us in the wrong direction,” Welsby said.
https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/09/to-limit-warming-to-1-5oc-huge-amounts-of-fossil-fuels-need-to-go-unused/
reporting on a study at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-03821-8

The United States Isn’t Ready for the New Phase of Climate Change
For decades, scientists have warned that climate change would unleash ferocious natural disasters unlike anything in recorded human history [but decision-makers] treated climate-fueled disasters as the stuff of a distant future ... In 2021, however, the natural disasters long foretold by scientists arrived with a vengeance. Extreme weather events ... pummeled the globe, leaving swaths of destruction that underscored the grave inadequacy of vital systems and infrastructure ... It is past time to finally heed these calls to action. Climate change is an all-hands-on-deck problem, and escalating crises will not wait for Washington to adapt. Although the United States must continue to cut harmful pollution, it must also begin to prepare for the inevitable impacts of climate change.
https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2021-09-08/united-states-isnt-ready-new-phase-climate-change

Forget plans to lower emissions by 2050 – this is deadly procrastination
Dr. Peter Kalmus is a climate scientist at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and UCLA's Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science & Engineering
The world has by and large adopted “net zero by 2050” as its de facto climate goal, but two fatal flaws hide in plain sight within those 16 characters. One is “net zero.” The other is “by 2050”. These two flaws provide cover for big oil and politicians who wish to preserve the status quo. Together they comprise a deadly prescription for inaction and catastrophically high levels of irreversible climate and ecological breakdown ... To lower the odds of civilizational collapse, society must shift into emergency mode. It will be easy to tell when society has begun this shift: leaders will begin to take actions that actually inflict pain on big oil, such as ending fossil fuel subsidies and placing a moratorium on all new oil and gas infrastructure. Then rapid emissions descent could begin ... the speed and scale now required is staggering. There is no longer any incremental way out ... As a climate scientist, I am terrified by what I see coming. I want world leaders to stop hiding behind magical thinking and feel the same terror.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/sep/10/net-zero-2050-deadly-procrastination-fossil-fuels

Authorities race to contain deadly Nipah virus outbreak in India
Nipah is a zoonotic virus, or one that is transmitted from animals to humans. Transmission generally occurs when humans either come into direct contact with the animals, or through consumption of contaminated food. But a high number of human-to-human transmission cases of Nipah have also been reported. Fruit bats [are] the natural carriers of Nipah. They are known to transmit the virus to other animals including pigs, dogs, cats, goats, horses and sheep ... There is no cure or vaccine for Nipah ... up to 75% of Nipah infections prove fatal ... 2004 Bangladesh outbreak was traced back to humans consuming date palm sap that had been contaminated ... Nipah is considered less contagious than the coronavirus, but its much higher mortality rate, a longer incubation period of up to 45 days, and its ability to infect a much wider variety of animals all make Nipah a cause of significant concern for epidemiologists trying to predict and prevent the next pandemic ... as the climate warms and humans destroy more natural habitat of species like the fruit bats in Asia, opportunities for new zoonotic variants to emerge increase.
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/nipah-virus-outbreak-india-kerala/

For Russians, climate change is taking the ground beneath their feet
[D]amage to houses, roads and other infrastructure such as gas pipelines is becoming more frequent. When permafrost thaws, buildings are more likely to collapse ... Almost two-thirds of the ground area in Russia is [permafrost]. A large amount of animal and plant remains that have not yet been decomposed by microbes are contained in the frost. But in many regions, temperatures are rising and the frost is thawing ... In Russia alone, 20 per cent of all buildings and 19 per cent of infrastructure could be affected by global warming's consequences.
https://nordot.app/807553790163288064

Europe will miss its 2030 climate goal by 21 years at current pace
At the current pace, Europe will only reach its 2030 target for a 55 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases in 2051, a study by Enel Foundation and the European House-Ambrosetti said ... The study, presented on Saturday, said investments of around €3.6 trillion were needed across the bloc to reach 2030 goals ... at the current pace Europe would only reach its 2030 target of raising the share of renewable energy to 40 per cent of final consumption in 2043.
https://www.euronews.com/green/2021/09/06/europe-will-miss-its-2030-climate-goal-by-21-years-at-current-pace

Ida’s fatal power didn’t shock scientists who study how climate change primed the pump
”Ida fed on an extreme level of heat content in the Gulf of Mexico,” Michael Mann, a Penn State climate scientist and director of the school’s Earth System Science Center, said in an email. “That record heat is tied directly to human-caused warming. That heat favored the dramatic, rapid intensification of Ida. So in short, yeah — this is climate change” ... Scientists say the connection between warming and climate change is well understood. A warmer, moister atmosphere generates more energy for storms to feed on ... During Ida, the Schuylkill at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia rose to 16.28 feet. Flood stage is nine feet, and 14 feet is considered a major flood. The average flow at the location is 1,460 cubic feet per second. It reached a flow of 125,000 cubic feet per second on Thursday. Dozens of sewage and storm-water pipes overflowed, emptying untreated water directly into Philadelphia’s major waterways.
https://www.inquirer.com/science/climate/ida-climate-change-philadelphia-flooding-tornado-20210904.html

Extreme sea levels at different global warming levels
Here, we use a multimethod approach to describe changes in extreme sea levels driven by changes in mean sea level associated with a wide range of global warming levels, from 1.5 to 5 °C, and for a large number of locations, providing uniform coverage over most of the world’s coastlines. We estimate that by 2100 ~50% of the 7,000+ locations considered will experience the present-day 100-yr extreme-sea-level event at least once a year, even under 1.5C of warming, and often well before the end of the century.
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-021-01127-1

How easily the climate crisis can become global chaos
[O]ne of the greatest threats of climate change [is] extreme droughts and floods hitting multiple major grain-producing "breadbaskets" simultaneously. The scenario is similar to one outlined by insurance giant Lloyds of London in a "Food System Shock" report issued in 2015. Lloyds gave uncomfortably high odds of such an event occurring ... What’s more, these odds are steadily increasing as humans burn fossil fuels and pump more heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the air. A warming planet provides more energy to power stronger storms, and more energy to intensify droughts, heatwaves and wildfires when storms are not present ... If business-as-usual is allowed to continue, a civilization-threatening climate catastrophe will occur. Mother Nature’s primal fury of 2021 is just a preview of what is coming ... this year may well be the coolest year of the rest of our lives. Catastrophic extreme weather events will grow exponentially worse with 3 degrees Celsius of warming — the course we are currently on.
https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/570284-how-easily-the-climate-crisis-can-become-global-chaos

Permafrost Thaw in Siberia Creates a Ticking 'Methane Bomb' of Greenhouse Gases, Scientists Warn
Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, the study of satellite photos of a previously unexplored site in Siberia detected large amounts of methane being released from exposed limestone ... Another report echoes these anxieties. Published by the Climate Crisis Advisory Group (CCAG), it calls for a “global state of emergency” as temperatures continue to climb in Siberia and other Arctic regions. Permafrost covers 65 percent of Russian lands, but it’s melting fast. “Scientists have been shocked that the warm weather conducive to permafrost thawing is occurring roughly 70 years ahead of model projections,” the CCAG warning states [and] cautions that warming temperatures could be pushing the Arctic toward an “irreversible” tipping point, causing the release of methane and other gases, as well as crumbling infrastructure in Siberia, including dams and a nuclear power plant. “The story is simple,” the report concludes. “Climate change is happening faster than anticipated.”
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/ticking-timebomb-siberia-thawing-permafrost-releases-more-methane-180978381/

Weather disasters jump fivefold and will get worse: UN
Disasters caused by extreme weather have become much more frequent and costly since the 1970s ... according to a report published by the UN's World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on Wednesday. The report looked at damages and loss of life incurred through extreme climate and weather incidents between 1970 and 2019. Counting some 11,000 events, it noted that such disasters have increased fivefold in the past 50 years, largely due to climate change. On average, that comes out to one climate- or weather-related disaster per day. "The number of weather, climate and water extremes are increasing and will become more frequent and severe in many parts of the world as a result of climate change," WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said.
https://www.dw.com/en/weather-disasters-jump-fivefold-and-will-get-worse-un/a-59048127

The Middle East Is Becoming Literally Uninhabitable
As extreme temperatures and severe droughts ravaged the region, forests burned, and cities became islands of unbearable heat [but] this is just the start of a trend. The Middle East is warming at twice the global average and by 2050 will be 4 degrees Celsius warmer as compared with the 1.5 degree mark that scientists have prescribed to save humanity ... According to Germany’s Max Planck Institute, many cities in the Middle East may literally become uninhabitable ... the Middle East has overtaken the European Union in greenhouse gas emissions even though it is “particularly strongly affected” by climate change. “In several cities in the Middle East, temperatures have been soaring well in excess of 50 degrees Celsius,” Lelieveld said. “If nothing changes, cities may experience temperatures of 60 degrees Celsius in the future.”
https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/08/24/the-middle-east-is-becoming-literally-uninhabitable/

The Middle East is running out of water, and parts of it are becoming uninhabitable
The region has witnessed persistent drought and temperatures so high that they are barely fit for human life ... projections for the future of water here are grim ... "declining rainfall and increasing demand in these countries are causing many rivers, lakes, and wetlands to dry up" ... "The problem is, with this whole temperature rise, whatever rainfall will come will evaporate because it is so hot," Mansour Almazroui, director at the Center of Excellence for Climate Change Research at Saudi Arabia's King Abdulaziz University, told CNN. "The other thing is, this rain is not necessarily going to be usual rain. There's going to be extreme rainfall, meaning that floods like those happening in China, in Germany, in Belgium, these floods will be a big problem for the Middle East. This is really a big climate change issue."
https://edition.cnn.com/2021/08/22/middleeast/middle-east-climate-water-shortage-iran-urmia-intl/index.html

Wildfire smoke is transforming clouds, making rainfall less likely
[A]ccording to a study published recently in Geophysical Research Letters: Smoke particles make some clouds denser and more tightly packed with tiny droplets—a combination that means the water in them is less likely to fall as rain ... a feedback loop like this could make drought, and so fire cycles, worse ... smoke-induced drop in rainfall probably happens across much of the planet ... “Because of the extra heat the wildfires are more frequent. And because they’re more frequent, you get the drier [conditions], which means less precipitation.”
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/wildfire-smoke-is-transforming-clouds-making-rainfall-less-likely

Rain has fallen on the summit of Greenland’s huge ice cap for the first time on record
Scientists at the US National Science Foundation’s summit station saw rain falling throughout 14 August but had no gauges to measure the fall because the precipitation was so unexpected. Across Greenland, an estimated 7bn tonnes of water was released from the clouds. The rain fell during an exceptionally hot three days in Greenland when temperatures were 18C higher than average in places. As a result, melting was seen in most of Greenland ... Ted Scambos, a scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado [said] “What is going on is not simply a warm decade or two in a wandering climate pattern. This is unprecedented. We are crossing thresholds not seen in millennia, and frankly this is not going to change until we adjust what we’re doing to the air.”
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/aug/20/rain-falls-peak-greenland-ice-cap-first-time-on-record-climate-crisis

One in three trees face extinction in wild, says new report
Experts say 17,500 tree species are at risk - twice the number of threatened mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles combined. Conservation groups are calling for urgent protection efforts amid threats such as deforestation, logging and climate change. "We have nearly 60,000 tree species on the planet, and for the first time we now know which of these species are in need of conservation action, what are the greatest threats to them and where they are," said Dr Malin Rivers of the charity Botanic Gardens Conservation International in Kew, London.
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-58394215

Tennessee floods show a pressing climate danger across America: ‘Walls of water’
There is no place in the United States where you shouldn’t be resetting your expectations about Mother Nature disrupting your life,” said Roy Wright, president of the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety and former head of FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program. “Climate change has come barging through the front doors of America. For years, scientists have warned that humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions, primarily from burning fossil fuels, would raise the risk of flooding around the country ... climate change makes it possible even during a regular rainstorm.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/08/23/tennessee-floods-show-pressing-climate-danger-across-america-wall-water/

Wildfires Near Russia’s Nuclear Research Center Spark State of Emergency
Russian authorities have declared an interregional state of emergency as tough-to-contain forest fires threaten the country’s top-secret nuclear weapons research center ... the research center makes nuclear warheads and is believed to be developing Russia’s strategic missiles, including its highly touted hypersonic arsenal. Firefighters have struggled to contain the fires due to hard-to-reach terrain, dead wood that remained after the 2010 wildfires and poor weather conditions.
https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2021/08/24/wildfires-near-russias-nuclear-research-center-spark-state-of-emergency-a74878

Drought worsens in Southern California, with Ventura County in worst category
As sweltering drought conditions continue to worsen throughout California, Ventura and other Southern California counties have shifted from “extreme” to “exceptional” drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor Report ... Almost all of California is facing detrimental drought conditions, with 50 of the state’s 58 counties under a state of emergency amid excessive drought conditions ... Last week, the MWD issued a supply alert, calling on all of Southern California to conserve water amid the continued drought, a move that brings the state’s largest population center closer to tough water restrictions that have been imposed on communities elsewhere. The alert came one day after U.S. officials declared the first-ever water shortage on the Colorado River.
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-08-23/parts-of-southern-california-now-in-exceptional-drought

Climate crisis made deadly floods ‘up to nine times more likely’
The record-shattering rainfall that caused deadly flooding across Germany and Belgium in July was made up to nine times more likely by the climate crisis, according to research. The study also showed that human-caused global heating has made downpours in the region up to 20% heavier. The work reinforces the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s landmark report this month that there is “unequivocal” evidence that greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are the main cause of worsening extreme weather.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/aug/23/climate-crisis-made-deadly-german-floods-up-to-nine-times-more-likely

A billion children at ‘extreme risk’, says Unicef
Almost half the world’s 2.2 billion children are already at “extremely high risk” from the impacts of the climate crisis and pollution, according to a report from Unicef. The UN agency’s head called the situation “unimaginably dire”. Nearly every child around the world was at risk from at least one of these impacts today, including heatwaves, floods, cyclones, disease, drought, and air pollution, the report said. But 1 billion children live in 33 countries facing three or four impacts simultaneously. The countries include India, Nigeria and the Philippines, and much of sub-Saharan Africa.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/aug/20/a-billion-children-at-extreme-risk-from-climate-impacts-unicef

Climate change is driving the North Water Polynya toward collapse, study finds
The North Water Polynya [NOW] ... an area of year-round open water wedged between Greenland and Canada’s Ellesmere and Devon islands [is] heading toward another collapse — this time driven by human-caused climate warming, concludes a new study published in Nature Communications. The “unprecedented speed” of changes, the study warns, poses serious threats ... “On our present climate trajectory, the NOW will likely cease to exist as a globally unique ice-bounded open-water ecosystem, and a winter refuge for keystone High Arctic species,” the study says ... Two signs of instability can be readily witnessed through satellite observations. “One is that the ice arches are breaking up earlier than they used to, due to sea ice being thinner and warming temperatures, and the other is that they are failing to form at all some years.”
https://www.arctictoday.com/climate-change-is-driving-the-north-water-polynya-toward-collapse-study-finds

Biggest US reservoir declares historic shortage, forcing water cuts across west
Officials have declared a dire water shortage at Lake Mead, the US’s largest reservoir, triggering major water cuts in Arizona and other western states. The US Bureau of Reclamation’s first-ever declaration of a “tier 1” shortage represents an acknowledgment that after a 20-year drought, the reservoir that impounds the Colorado River has receded to its lowest levels since it was created in the 1930s. Already, the lake is at about 35% capacity [and] is projected to fall even lower by the end of the year, prompting cutbacks in January 2022, the Bureau of Reclamation announced Monday. Arizona will be hardest hit, losing nearly a fifth of the water it receives from the Colorado River. In Pinal county, farmers and ranchers will see the amount of water they get from the river drop by half next year, and disappear altogether by 2023 ... Lake Mead, which was formed after the construction of the Hoover Dam in the 1930s, has been declining faster than many experts predicted, amid a devastating drought and intense heatwaves ... the Colorado River system overall is now at half its capacity, according to the US interior department. The past 16 years have been the driest period the basin has seen in 1,200 years.
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/aug/16/lake-mead-drought-reservoir-water-level-cuts

Property insurers update risk modelling as Canada braces for climate impacts
The average annual cost of claims for property damage or losses due to severe weather has more than quadrupled over the last decade to about $2 billion, said Craig Stewart, the bureau's vice-president of federal affairs ... climate crisis is fuelling "more frequent, but also more severe weather events," Stewart said, pointing to flooding across Eastern Canada in recent years, higher-intensity tornadoes and dangerous wildfires on a nearly seasonal basis ... "Reinsurers have lost billions of dollars in this country over the last decade," Stewart said. "So they are upping their rates, insurers are paying more. And of course, that gets passed down in terms of increased premiums to customers."
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/property-insurance-climate-change-1.6141901

Turns Out a Wild Geoengineering Plan to Refreeze Arctic Sea Ice Isn't the Best Idea
As the world spins closer to climate catastrophe, fringe ideas are inching toward the mainstream ... including ones focused on saving polar ice by pumping massive amounts of seawater onto the surface of ice, where it will refreeze quicker and strengthen all icepack against melting. The refreezing idea has been proposed for both poles and would be massively expensive. But a new study shows that, in the Arctic, saving sea ice would do little to slow the climate crisis elsewhere. And it would unleash shocking and unintended consequences in the Arctic itself. The paper, published in Earth’s Futures on Thursday, takes its inspiration from a previous study that first raised the prospect of an Arctic geoengineering project. That study outlined a proposal to install wind turbines across the Arctic that would power pumps to draw water to the surface of the remaining sea ice ... the new paper picks up at that point [concluding] that the process would radically alter the climate in the Arctic while doing very little to fix the global climate overall.
https://gizmodo.com/turns-out-a-wild-geoengineering-plan-to-refreeze-arctic-1840270787

It’s official: July was Earth’s hottest month on record
Limits to Growth BAU July 2021 has earned the unenviable distinction as the world’s hottest month ever recorded, according to new global data released today by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. “In this case, first place is the worst place to be,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. “July is typically the world’s warmest month of the year, but July 2021 outdid itself as the hottest July and month ever recorded. This new record adds to the disturbing and disruptive path that climate change has set for the globe.” With last month’s data, it remains very likely that 2021 will rank among the world’s 10-warmest years on record, according to NCEI’s Global Annual Temperature Rankings Outlook. Extreme heat detailed in NOAA’s monthly NCEI reports is also a reflection of the long-term changes outlined in a major report released this week by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changeoffsite link. “Scientists from across the globe delivered the most up-to-date assessment of the ways in which the climate is changing,” Spinrad said in a statement. “It is a sobering IPCC report that finds that human influence is, unequivocally, causing climate change, and it confirms the impacts are widespread and rapidly intensifying.”
https://www.noaa.gov/news/its-official-july-2021-was-earths-hottest-month-on-record

The World’s Biggest Fires May Reach Moscow
The fires, which started in May in Yakutia, are now larger than all wildfires around the planet combined ... For months, Russian authorities have been saying that the situation was under control. Finally, on Thursday, the minister of Emergency Situations, Yevgeny Zinichev, traveled to the epicenter of the disaster in Yakutia and concluded: the fires will reach Moscow, if nobody stops them. There are more than 3,000 miles between Moscow and Yakutia ... Bagdan Bakaleiko, a Rain TV journalist covering the crisis in Yakutia, [said] “Firefighters tell us that everything that has never burnt before is burning now” ... this summer has been unusually hot, with unprecedented droughts and strong winds fueling the disaster ... other Russian regions are suffering from wildfires in the Urals, Far East and in the central parts of Russia. Earlier this month, wildfires spread in the national park of Republic of Mordovia, 352 miles from Moscow.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-worlds-biggest-fires-may-reach-moscow-thanks-to-vladimir-putin

California’s Dry Season Is Turning Into a Permanent State of Being
The Climate Prediction Center just issued a forecast water managers in the Western U.S. didn't want to hear. The latest report, released Thursday, puts the odds in favor of a second straight year of La Nina conditions in the Pacific Ocean. La Nina tends to steer the storm track north of California, leaving most of the state and the Southwest parched. Last year's La Nina is one of the reasons for the current drought ... "If we want to see improvement of the drought across the West, the last thing you want to see is a back-to-back La Nina,'' said Tom Di Liberto, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ... California has already suffered through two dry years, leaving the soil so parched that what little snow fell in the Sierra Nevada Mountains last winter either evaporated into the air this spring or sunk straight into the dirt, leaving little runoff for rivers and reservoirs. Even with average winter rain and snowfall, runoff would remain low just because the land is so dry ... most climate models don't predict more rain. To make matters worse, his tree-ring study showed that the 20th century was actually an unusually wet period. Our expectations of "normal" rainfall, in other words, have always been a little skewed ... "there aren't any models saying that water availability in the Southwest will get better with climate change," he said. "It's a case of less bad or more bad."
https://phys.org/news/2021-08-california-season-permanent-state.html

Heatwave Scorches Mediterranean in Latest Sign of Climate Change Impacts
A dangerous heatwave is sweeping across the Mediterranean, the latest in a series of recent extreme weather events that underscore the real-world impacts of climate change ... authorities across the Mediterranean are warning their populations to take precautions as temperatures soar ... comes just days after the world’s top climate scientists said in a landmark report that the past decade was most likely hotter than any period in the last 125,000 years and that global temperatures will only keep rising without drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Researchers found that climate change has caused heatwaves to become more frequent and intense across the world, leading to the deaths of vulnerable people ... “It’s a taste of things to come.”
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-08-12/mediterranean-heatwave-linked-to-climate-change

Dead zones spread along Oregon coast and Gulf of Mexico, study shows
Scientists recently surveyed the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico around Louisiana and Texas and what they discovered was a larger-than-average area of oxygen-depleted water – a “dead zone” where nothing can live. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists announced their findings this week: about 4m acres of habitat in the Gulf are unusable for fish and bottom-dwelling species ... this was a record year in Oregon as well: the dead zone emerged earlier this year than in the past 35 years. Dead zones develop when fertilizers and nutrients from farmland drain into oceans or lakes, creating an algae bonanza that eventually dies and decomposes. As the algae decomposes, it depletes the waters of oxygen, suffocating species that live in the area.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/aug/06/dead-zones-oregon-coast-gulf-mexico-study

Greenhouse gas emissions must peak within 4 years, says leaked UN report
Global greenhouse gas emissions must peak in the next four years, coal and gas-fired power plants must close in the next decade and lifestyle and behavioural changes will be needed to avoid climate breakdown, according to the leaked draft [of] the forthcoming third part of the landmark report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the first part of which was published on Monday, warning of unprecedented changes to the climate, some of them irreversible ... the leak reflected the concern of some of those involved in drawing up the document that their conclusions could be watered down before publication in 2022. Governments have the right to make changes to the “summary for policymakers”.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/aug/12/greenhouse-gas-emissions-must-peak-within-4-years-says-leaked-un-report

Earth is warming faster than previously thought, scientists say, and the window is closing to avoid catastrophic outcomes
"Bottom line is that we have zero years left to avoid dangerous climate change, because it's here," Michael E. Mann, a lead author of the IPCC's 2001 report, told CNN. Unlike previous assessments, Monday's report concludes it is "unequivocal" that humans have caused the climate crisis and confirms that "widespread and rapid changes" have already occurred, some of them irreversibly ... due in part to the breakneck pace at which the planet has been recently warming, faster than scientists have previously observed ... Dave Reay, the director of the Edinburgh Climate Change Institute, said world leaders "must have the findings of this report seared into their minds" at the November conference and take urgent action. "This is not just another scientific report," Reay said. "This is hell and highwater writ large" ... Michael Byrne, a climate researcher at the University of Oxford, said that's what's different about this report is "the effects of global warming are no longer in the distant future ... it's here."
https://edition.cnn.com/2021/08/09/world/global-climate-change-report-un-ipcc/index.html

Climate change: IPCC report is 'code red for humanity'
Human activity is changing the climate in unprecedented and sometimes irreversible ways, a major UN scientific report has said. The landmark study warns of increasingly extreme heatwaves, droughts and flooding, and a key temperature limit being broken in just over a decade. The report "is a code red for humanity", says the UN chief ... warming we've experienced to date has made changes to many of our planetary support systems that are irreversible on timescales of centuries to millennia. The oceans will continue to warm and become more acidic. Mountain and polar glaciers will continue melting for decades or centuries. "The consequences will continue to get worse ... for many of these consequences, there's no going back" ... pact aims to keep the rise in global temperatures well below 2C this century and to pursue efforts to keep it under 1.5C [but] new report says that under all the emissions scenarios considered by the scientists, both targets will be broken this century unless huge cuts in carbon take place.
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-58130705

Farm Bureau Survey: Drought Forces 85% Reduction
Nearly 80% of the [US] West, including North and South Dakota, is in severe drought. That percentage is even more staggering when compared to the 20% of the region that fell into the severe drought range this time last year ... In California, where 50 of the state’s 58 counties are under a drought state of emergency, Gov. Gavin Newsom has issued an executive order asking all Californians to voluntarily reduce water use ... water supplies for one-quarter of the state’s irrigated farmland has already been reduced by 95%, and more than half of that farmland is getting no surface water at all.
https://www.drovers.com/news/industry/farm-bureau-survey-drought-forces-85-reduction

Agriculture Is Killing Way More Bees Than We Realized, Huge Study Reveals
A new meta-analysis of dozens of published studies over the last 20 years looked at the interaction between agrochemicals, parasites and malnutrition on bee behaviors and health. Researchers found that when these different stressors interacted they had a negative effect on bees, greatly increasing the likelihood of death. The study published in Nature also found that pesticide interaction was likely to be "synergistic", meaning that their combined impact was greater than the sum of their individual effects. These "interactions between multiple agrochemicals significantly increase bee mortality," said co-author Harry Siviter, of the University of Texas at Austin.
https://www.sciencealert.com/huge-metastudy-says-pesticide-threat-to-bees-likely-underestimated

Global economic policies driving toward a climate crisis
The study, carried out by leading international academics and published in Nature Energy, shows that existing growth-driven economic scenarios rely heavily on increased energy use in the future, and the use of carbon capture and storage technologies which are as-yet untested on a commercial scale ... Existing scenarios of climate mitigation rely on unproven technologies and improved efficiency of our economies, but do not consider the need for societal and economic transformations. "Take for example the question of negative emissions. Most scenarios assume it is perfectly feasible to transform the land of the size of India into a bioenergy plantation yet find it impossible to assume that rich countries could at some point stop growing their economies, even though growth is proven to be a major driver of environmental impacts," says Giorgos Kallis, ICTA-UAB researcher and co-author of the study. Other strategies—such as direct air carbon capture and storage—consume massive amounts of electricity, creating difficulties in decarbonising energy supply.
https://phys.org/news/2021-08-global-economic-policies-climate-crisis.html

A critical ocean system may be heading for collapse due to climate change, study finds
Human-caused warming has led to an “almost complete loss of stability” in the system that drives Atlantic Ocean currents, a new study has found — raising the worrying prospect that this critical aquatic “conveyor belt” could be close to collapse. In recent years, scientists have warned about a weakening of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), which transports warm, salty water from the tropics to northern Europe and then sends colder water back south along the ocean floor ... the new analysis, published Thursday in the journal Nature Climate Change, draws on more than a century of ocean temperature and salinity data to ... suggest that the AMOC is running out of steam, making it more susceptible to disruptions that might knock it out of equilibrium ... If the circulation shuts down, it could bring extreme cold to Europe and parts of North America, raise sea levels along the U.S. East Coast and disrupt seasonal monsoons that provide water to much of the world. “This is an increase in understanding … of how close to a tipping point the AMOC might already be.”
http://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/08/05/change-ocean-collapse-atlantic-meridional
see also https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/aug/05/climate-crisis-scientists-spot-warning-signs-of-gulf-stream-collapse
reporting on a study at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-021-01097-4

Permafrost Thaw in Siberia Creates a Ticking ‘Methane Bomb’ of Greenhouse Gases, Scientists Warn
In recent years, climate scientists have warned thawing permafrost in Siberia may be a “methane time bomb” detonating slowly. Now, a peer-reviewed study using satellite imagery and a review by an international organization are warning that warming temperatures in the far northern reaches of Russia are releasing massive measures of methane—a potent greenhouse gas with considerably more warming power than carbon dioxide ... Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, the study of satellite photos of a previously unexplored site in Siberia detected large amounts of methane being released from exposed limestone.
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/ticking-timebomb-siberia-thawing-permafrost-releases-more-methane-180978381/

As wildfires worsen, more California farms are deemed too risky to insure
Insurance companies in California have taken a staggering blow from wildfires — the industry’s losses in 2017 and 2018 eclipsed its total profits from the previous 25 years — and have started to drop customers by the thousands ... foreshadows a larger confrontation over so-called managed retreat in one of the country’s all-important breadbaskets ... An estimated 400,000 residential customers received nonrenewal notices in 2018 and 2019, with numbers spiking by more than 200 percent in the most vulnerable counties in California. Thousands of commercial businesses and farms have also been dropped ... If an insurance company is paying out more money in claims than it is taking in from premiums, the logical solution is to raise premiums to cover the difference. When an insurance company drops thousands of customers, though, it is saying that it cannot raise prices high enough to turn a profit off those customers — saying, in other words, that their farms are impossible to insure.
https://grist.org/agriculture/as-wildfires-worsen-more-california-farms-are-deemed-too-risky-to-insure/

As drought worsens, regulators impose unprecedented water restrictions on California farms
Amid intensifying drought, state water regulators voted Tuesday to enact a drastic emergency order that will bar thousands of Californians — primarily farmers — from using stream and river water ... the scope of Tuesday’s order — which will apply to thousands of senior water rights across a wide swath of the state — is unprecedented, officials said. While the move has been protested by some farmers, irrigation districts and others, California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross called the decision “a necessary step,” saying the fact that senior water rights holders were included “speaks to the severity of the hydrology and what climate change has presented this year.”
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-08-03/water-regulators-impose-restrictions-on-california-farmers

Siberian heatwave led to new methane emissions, study says
The Siberian heatwave of 2020 led to new methane emissions from the permafrost ... fossil methane gas leaked from rock formations known to be large hydrocarbon reservoirs ... Prof Nikolaus Froitzheim, at Rhenish Friedrich Wilhelm University of Bonn, Germany, and who led the Siberian research, said: “We observed a significant increase in methane concentration starting last summer. This remained over the winter, so there must have been a steady steady flow of methane from the ground ... We don’t know how dangerous [methane releases] are, because we don’t know how fast the gas can be released. It’s very important to know more about it,” Froitzheim said. If, at some point in the future, large global temperature rises lead to a big volume being released, “this methane would be the difference between catastrophe and apocalypse” ... “We think that with this [heatwave], the surface became unstable, which released the methane,” Froitzheim said.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/aug/02/climate-crisis-siberian-heatwave-led-to-new-methane-emissions-study-says
reporting on a study at https://www.pnas.org/content/118/32/e2107632118

Yukon permafrost thaw reaching 'critical point' in some areas, says researcher
Permafrost in Canada's northwest is thawing much faster than researchers predicted 20 years ago, according to the president of the International Permafrost Association ... "In some places, the ground is reaching a critical point where it's very close to thawing out completely" ... Burn, a professor at Carleton University, has been studying permafrost in Yukon for four decades. In 2018, he was awarded the governor general's Polar Medal for his ongoing research work. He's become increasingly alarmed by what he's seen in recent years. It's not just that permafrost is thawing faster, but also that new things are happening as a result ... Burn thinks it's too late to turn things around. He says there's already too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and so it's impossible to "go back to some wonderful land that was there 200 years ago."
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/yukon-permafrost-thaw-infrastructure-chris-burn-1.6125023

As China Boomed, It Didn’t Take Climate Change Into Account. Now It Must.
China’s breakneck growth over the last four decades erected soaring cities where there had been hamlets and farmland ... Now those cities face the daunting new challenge of adapting to extreme weather caused by climate change, a possibility that few gave much thought to when the country began its extraordinary economic transformation. China’s pell-mell, brisk urbanization has in some ways made the challenge harder to face ... reflects a global trend that has seen deadly flooding recently in Germany and Belgium, and extreme heat and wildfires in Siberia. The flooding in China also highlights the environmental vulnerabilities that accompanied the country’s economic boom and could yet undermine it ... [the] question is whether it is too late. Even if countries like China and the United States rapidly cut greenhouse gases, the warming from those already emitted is likely to have long-lasting consequences.
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/26/world/asia/china-climate-change.html

The amount of Greenland ice that melted on Tuesday could cover Florida in 2 inches of water
It's the third instance of extreme melting in the past decade, during which time the melting has stretched farther inland than the entire satellite era, which began in the 1970s. Greenland lost more than 8.5 billion tons of surface mass on Tuesday, and 18.4 billion tons since Sunday, according to the Denmark Meteorological Institute ... "It's a significant melt," Ted Scambos, a senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado, told CNN. "July 27th saw most of the eastern half of Greenland from the northern tip all the way to the southern tip mostly melted, which is unusual." As human-caused climate change warms the planet, ice loss has increased rapidly ... "Overall, we're seeing that Greenland melts more often," said Scambos, who also authors the National Snow and Ice Data Center's Greenland updates. "In previous decades or centuries, it's extremely rare to get above freezing temperatures at the summit of Greenland" ... Scientists say the trends at which climate change is accelerating are quite clear, and that unless emissions are curbed, such extreme events will continue to occur more frequently.
https://edition.cnn.com/2021/07/29/us/greenland-ice-melting-climate-change/index.html

Adapt or die. That is the stark challenge to living in the new world we have made
David Wallace-Wells on the choices facing us now
From here, even an astonishing pace of decarbonisation will still deliver us a warmer world than we have today, full of more eye-opening extremes and more deeply disruptive disasters of the kind, we are learning this summer, that even the wealthiest and most climate-conscious countries are unprepared for. No one is. That is what Sadiq Khan, London’s mayor, meant when he wrote, with the capital inundated, that the city was now on the frontline of the climate emergency and it is the central lesson of the Met Office’s annual report on the state of the UK climate, which found that mild British weather was already a relic of a bygone era. The Climate Crisis Advisory Group, led by Sir David King, recently declared that greenhouse gas levels were already so high that they foreclosed a “manageable future for humanity”. “Nowhere is safe,” King said ... perhaps the most harrowing of this summer’s extreme weather events, even more than the model-breaking Pacific heat dome, was the devastating flooding in Henan province, China ... At the last count, 99 people died in the flooding, not to mention millions of chickens and other livestock. In Henan, all told, 2.59m acres of crops were damaged. The cost of the disaster, according to still-growing estimates, was more than $14bn (£10.7bn), of which only a small fraction would be covered by insurance ... even the world’s vanguard infrastructure – the built kind, the natural kind and the human kind – is failing the test of even today’s climate, which is the mildest and most benign we will ever see again.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/aug/01/adapt-or-die-that-is-the-stark-challenge-to-living-in-the-new-world-we-have-made

Earth's energy imbalance removes almost all doubt from human-made climate change
Researchers studying Earth's absorption of the sun's energy found a less than 1 percent probability that the recent changes occurred naturally. Stability in Earth's climate hinges on a delicate balance between the amount of energy the planet absorbs from the sun and the amount of energy Earth emits back into space. But that equilibrium has been thrown off in recent years — and the imbalance is growing, according to a paper published Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications. The changes to Earth's energy system have major ramifications for the planet's future climate and humanity's understanding of climate change. The Princeton University researchers behind the paper found that there's a less than 1 percent probability that the changes occurred naturally. The findings undercut a key argument used by people who do not believe human activity is responsible for the bulk of climate change to explain trends in global warming, demonstrating that the planet's energy imbalance cannot be explained just by Earth's own natural variations.
https://www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/earths-energy-imbalance-removes-almost-doubt-human-made-climate-change-rcna1562
reporting on a study at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-24544-4

Colorado River Basin Reservoirs Begin Emergency Releases To Prop Up A Troubled Lake Powell
Federal officials laid out details of how reservoirs upstream of Lake Powell will release water in an attempt to keep producing hydropower ... The releases will result in an additional drop of 4 feet in Flaming Gorge, 2 feet in Navajo and 8 feet in Blue Mesa. The water released from the upstream reservoirs is projected to raise Lake Powell by an additional 2.6 feet, according to Reclamation hydrologists. That should be enough of a buffer to maintain hydropower production in the short-term, said Christopher Cutler, manager for the agency’s water and power services division. If the basin’s dry conditions continue into 2022, the situation could become more dire. "There comes a point where we can't engineer our way out of this," Cutler said.
https://www.kunc.org/environment/2021-07-15/colorado-river-basin-reservoirs-begin-emergency-releases-to-prop-up-a-troubled-lake-powell

New climate models forecast a warming surge
A host of global climate models developed for the United Nations's next major assessment of global warming, due in 2021, are [now] running hotter than they have in the past. In earlier models, doubling atmospheric carbon dioxide over preindustrial levels led models to predict somewhere between 2°C and 4.5°C of warming once the planet came into balance. But in at least eight of the next-generation models, produced by leading centers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and France, that "equilibrium climate sensitivity" has come in at 5°C or warmer [in models] which in many cases simulate the Earth system better than ever before.
https://science.sciencemag.org/content/364/6437/222

Critical measures of global heating reaching tipping point, study finds
Overall, the study found some 16 out of 31 tracked planetary vital signs, including greenhouse gas concentrations, ocean heat content and ice mass, set worrying new records. “There is growing evidence we are getting close to or have already gone beyond tipping points associated with important parts of the Earth system,” said William Ripple, an ecologist at Oregon State University who co-authored the new research, in a statement ... “Policies to alleviate the climate crisis or any of the other threatened planetary boundary transgressions should not be focused on symptom relief but on addressing their root cause: the overexploitation of the Earth,” the report says.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/27/global-heating-critical-measures-tipping-point-study

Climate Migration Is Already Here And It's Going To Get Worse
A migration crisis is already underway, and it's caused, at least in part, by climate change, according to modeling by ProPublica and the New York Times Magazine. Their expert analysis shows that without the proper preparation and political will, it will continue to worsen ... a certain level of climate change is already baked into the system ... governments must restructure their thinking around climate change to focus not just on emissions, but also extreme weather response ... long-standing migration networks exist between the United States, Mexico and Central America [so] to prevent a migratory crisis on our southern border we [must] provide Central American countries with the foreign aid they need to mitigate climate change there.
https://www.wgbh.org/news/science-and-technology/2021/07/19/climate-migration-is-already-here-and-its-going-to-get-worse

Europe’s deadly floods leave scientists stunned
“We should not be seeing this number of people dying in 2021 from floods. It just should not be happening.” For years, scientists have warned climate change will mean more flooding in Europe and elsewhere. Warmer air holds more moisture, which can translate into heavier rainfall ... Some European rivers are already exhibiting climate-related changes, says Fred Hattermann, a hydrologist and flood expert at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research ... new research suggests such risks could grow if climate change slows the jet stream causing drenching rainstorms to linger longer over flood-prone landscapes. Storms that stall over Europe were once exceedingly rare. But according to a study published last month in Geophysical Research Letters, in a worst case scenario such storms could become as much as 14 times more common ... In the Netherlands, decades of preparation appear to have helped ... Dutch policies aimed at making “room for the river” have widened and deepened river channels, and set aside land where floodwaters can spread out. Those measures were projected to reduce flood peaks [and appear to be successful] “When we look at how bad the flooding is, it’s much less than what happened in the ’90s.”
https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/07/europe-s-deadly-floods-leave-scientists-stunned

Flash floods will be more common as climate crisis worsens, say scientists
Dr Jess Neumann, a hydrologist at the University of Reading, said: “Flooding from intense summer rainfall is going happen more frequently. No city, town or village is immune to flooding and we all need to take hard action right now if we are to prevent impacts from getting worse in the future.” Climate policy in the UK has focused on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, which is a primary concern, to reduce the human impact on the climate and ensure global heating does not reach catastrophic levels. But the government has also been warned frequently that measures to cope with the impacts of extreme weather are urgently needed ... Insurers are among those most concerned about the impacts of climate breakdown, and have warned that UK households and businesses in some areas could find themselves uninsurable if stronger action is not taken.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/26/flash-floods-will-be-more-common-as-climate-crisis-worsens-say-scientists-london-floods

Permafrost is ablaze with hundreds of wildfires in world’s coldest region
Wildfires on permafrost are ravaging Yakutia - or the Sakha Republic, the largest and coldest entity of the Russian Federation. The scale is mesmerising. There are some separate 300 fires, now covering 12,140 square kilometres - but only around half of these are being tackled, because they pose a threat to people. The rest are burning unchecked, with some of the world’s most remote wilderness destroyed by uncontrolled fires [in] an area almost the same size as India ... this year’s summer fire season was worse than 2020 ... in a region where winter temperatures can drop below minus 60C.
https://siberiantimes.com/other/others/features/permafrost-is-ablaze-with-hundreds-of-wildfires-in-worlds-coldest-region/

‘Record-shattering’ heat becoming much more likely, says climate study
The study is a stark new warning on the rapidly escalating risks the climate emergency poses to lives ... the world had yet to see anything close to the worst impacts possible, even under the global heating that had already happened. The research found that highly populated regions in North America, Europe and China were where the record-shattering extremes are most likely to occur.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/26/record-shattering-heat-becoming-much-more-likely-says-climate-study

World’s Food Supplies Get Slammed by Drought, Floods and Frost
Extreme weather is slamming crops across the globe ... Brazil’s worst frost in two decades brought a deadly blow to young coffee trees in the world’s biggest grower. Flooding in China’s key pork region inundated farms and raised the threat of animal disease. Scorching heat and drought crushed crops on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border. And in Europe, torrential rains sparked the risk of fungal diseases for grains and stalled tractors in soaked fields ... underscores what scientists have been warning about for years: Climate change and its associated weather volatility will make it increasingly harder to produce enough food for the world, with the poorest nations typically feeling the hardest blow ... “We’ve underestimated as a world is just how frequently” weather would start to have serious impacts. “Some communities are already living through the nightmares of climate change” ... extreme weather seems to be pounding almost every region of the globe.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-07-24/world-s-food-supplies-get-slammed-by-drought-floods-and-frost

How will the West solve a water crisis if climate change continues to get worse?
A study published in Science Magazine in 2020 warned that the West is exiting an unusually wet time in its history and heading toward an unusually dry time that could last years -- even centuries ... 42% of California's population is now under a drought emergency ... water levels in Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the country, hit historic lows [and] Lake Powell, the second-largest reservoir in the U.S., is seeing similar patterns. Lake Mead and Lake Powell will likely never refill to previously normal levels ... Farming uses the largest chunk of water supply, accounting for 80% of consumptive water use in the U.S. and more than 90% in many Western states ... "But if you don't have the water, then over the long term you just can't sustain it."
https://abcnews.go.com/US/west-solve-water-crisis-climate-change-continues-worse/story?id=78566068

Apocalypse Right Now
Heat waves are getting hotter. Forests are ablaze. Floods are obliterating. An iceberg nearly half the size of Puerto Rico broke off from Antarctica. Florida’s red tide has become more toxic because of pollution and climate change. They are responsible for killing 600 tons of marine life, leaving beaches strewn with reeking dead fish ... The heat wave that stunned the Pacific Northwest was followed by a bolt of lightning igniting the dry earth in Oregon. The Bootleg Fire has now devoured 400,000 acres, with flames so intense, they are creating their own weather ... when it comes to climate, the fear has a basis in reality. We should be scared out of our minds watching the weather run amok. “Everything we worried about is happening, and it’s all happening at the high end of projections, even faster than the previous most pessimistic estimates,” John Holdren, a professor of environmental policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, contended.
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/24/opinion/sunday/climate-change-floods-wildfires.html

What Climate Scientists Are Saying About This Catastrophic Summer
By all accounts, the climate crisis is already here. No one should be surprised by this. For decades, scientists have been ringing the alarm bell about anthropogenic climate change. Over 30 years ago, NASA scientist James Hansen told the U.S. Congress that the “greenhouse effect is here.” And long before then, in the 1800s, scientists like Svante Arrhenius calculated that doubling the amount of CO2 that was in the atmosphere in 1895 would lead to global warming of 5 to 6 degrees Celsius in average global temperatures. “That wasn’t too far off,” said Peter Kalmus, a climate scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory ... I asked several climate scientists how the constant onslaught of tragedy affects where they put us on the climate timeline. What they had to say was not particularly reassuring. “It’s already worse than what I imagined. I feel like the heat dome event in the Pacific Northwest moved up my sense of where we are at by about a decade, or even more,” said Kalmus. “I think a lot of my colleagues probably feel the same.”
https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2021/07/scientists-fast-climate-change-summer.html

A water crisis is creating nightmare conditions across the Middle East
[W]ater has been become a worryingly scarce resource as wars, crumbling infrastructure and, in some instances, unprecedented economic collapse, have led to rolling power outrages that have become disastrous when coupled with record high temperatures [and] will only get worse as the summer and the miseries drag on ... [UNICEF] warned that Lebanon’s water supply system is on the verge of complete collapse. In just a few weeks four million people, including one million refugees, are at risk of losing access to safe water ... the country’s economic collapse [is] among the world’s worst in the past 150 years. It has bankrupted the state ... Iranians had taken to the streets across dozens of towns due to the escalating drought, which environmentalists say the state has failed to handle, as temperatures have pushed towards 50C. Across the border in Iraq, water shortages have also driven people to the streets, particularly in the south of the country.
https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/opinion/water-crisis-iran-lebanon-climate-b1890133.html

CO2 emissions set to hit record levels in 2023 and there’s ‘no clear peak in sight,’ IEA says
IEA’s analysis notes that, as of the second quarter of this year, the world’s governments had set aside roughly $380 billion for “energy-related sustainable recovery measures.” This represents approximately 2% of recovery spending, it said. In a statement issued alongside its analysis, the IEA laid out a stark picture of just how much work needed to be done in order for climate related targets to be met. “The sums of money, both public and private, being mobilised worldwide by recovery plans fall well short of what is needed to reach international climate goals,” it said.
https://www.cnbc.com/2021/07/20/co2-emissions-will-hit-record-levels-in-2023-iea-says.html

Carbon capture is expected to [but likely will not] play a pivotal role in the race to net zero emissions
A report published by CIEL earlier this month concluded that these technologies are not only “ineffective, uneconomic and unsafe,” but they also prolong reliance on the fossil fuel industry and distract from a much-needed pivot to renewable alternatives. “The unproven scalability of CCS technologies and their prohibitive costs mean they cannot play any significant role in the rapid reduction of global emissions necessary to limit warming to 1.5°C ... Despite the existence of the technology for decades and billions of dollars in government subsidies to date, deployment of CCS at scale still faces insurmountable challenges of feasibility, effectiveness, and expense ... and has a history of over-promising and under-delivering.” In short, the study said reliance on CCS is “not a solution” to confronting the world’s climate challenge
https://www.cnbc.com/2021/07/20/climate-crisis-and-carbon-capture-why-some-are-worried-about-its-role.html

India: on the frontline of climate change
In the first seven months of this year alone the impoverished nation of 1.3 billion people has experienced two cyclones, a deadly glacier collapse in the Himalayas, a sweltering heatwave and killer floods ... 10,000 glaciers are receding ... Cyclones [are] becoming more frequent and severe as sea temperatures rise ... India's average temperature rose around 0.7C between the beginning of the 20th century and 2018 [and] will rise another 4.4C by 2100, according to a recent government report [yet] just five percent of Indian households have air conditioning ... already the world's third-largest carbon emitter ... climate change is making the monsoon stronger, according to a report from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in April [which] warned of potentially severe consequences for food, farming and the economy affecting nearly a fifth of the world's population.
https://phys.org/news/2021-07-india-frontline-climate.html

Glacier Ice Reveals Previously Unknown Viruses
Scientists who study glacier ice have found viruses nearly 15,000 years old ... at least 28 of them are novel. About half of them seemed to have survived at the time they were frozen not in spite of the ice, but because of it ... two previous studies have identified viruses in ancient glacier ice. In 2015, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that the 30,000 year old virus Mollivirus sibericum could still infect modern amoeba. In 2020, a preprint study of ice cores taken from a Tibetan glacier described ancient viruses in a melting glacier. "We know very little about viruses and microbes in these extreme environments, and what is actually there," senior author of the study glaciologist Lonnie Thompson clarifies. "The documentation and understanding of that is extremely important: How do bacteria and viruses respond to climate change?" In the worst-case scenario, meltwater from glaciers and ice caps could release harmful pathogens into the environment. Researchers have found still intact smallpox and the Spanish flu viruses in 100-year-old frozen tissue samples.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidbressan/2021/07/21/melting-glaciers-reveal-previously-unknown-viruses

Western Drought Has Lasted Longer than the Dust Bowl
Half of the U.S. population lives in a drought-stricken area ... “In Oregon, a wildfire the size of Los Angeles is burning now,” NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad said, referring to the Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon, which started July 6 and has burned an area that is actually about 20% larger than L.A.’s 503 square miles. “And this is only the start of the wildfire season out West” ... conditions have been building for over 20 years due to above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation. Drought conditions now afflict 96% of seven Western states — Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington — the highest percentage since record keeping began in 2000. “Starting around 2000 or the late 1990s, we’ve seen many years of below-normal precipitation,” said climatologist David Simeral of the Desert Research Institute.
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/western-drought-has-lasted-longer-than-the-dust-bowl/

Is any country installing renewables fast enough to reach climate goals?
The answer is a pretty clear "no." If we work backward from climate-stabilization scenarios, we'd need wind to roughly double its current rate, going from 0.6 percent to 1.2 percent. Based on the experience of several large countries, that would be the equivalent of reaching their maximum growth rate and then staying there. Solar would need to see its current global rate triple, with capacity additions equal to 1 percent of the electric supply every year. And both of those examples are based on the numbers for limiting climate change to 2ºC, when countries have agreed that 1.5ºC is a preferable goal ... As the authors of the paper put it, current scenarios that meet our climate goals require decades of growth in renewables at rates higher than those observed during the peak growth periods of most countries ... if countries aren't in the process of improving their policy situation, they either need to start pursuing alternatives (like efficiency and carbon capture [CCS]) or acknowledge that they don't actually intend to reach their commitments.
https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/07/renewable-growth-rates-arent-high-enough-to-reach-climate-goals/
reporting on a study at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41560-021-00863-0

‘No One Is Safe’: Extreme Weather Batters the Wealthy World
The week’s events have now ravaged some of the world’s wealthiest nations, whose affluence has been enabled by more than a century of burning coal, oil and gas — activities that pumped the greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that are warming the world ... “We’ve got to adapt to the change we’ve already baked into the system and also avoid further change by reducing our emissions, by reducing our influence on the climate,” said Richard Betts, a climate scientist at the Met Office in Britain and a professor at the University of Exeter. That message clearly hasn’t sunk in among policymakers, and perhaps the public as well, particularly in the developed world, which has maintained a sense of invulnerability ... because there aren’t political incentives to spend money on adaptation. “By the time they build new flood infrastructure in their community, they’re probably not going to be in office anymore,” said Samantha Montano, a professor of emergency management at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. “But they are going to have to justify millions, billions of dollars being spent.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/17/climate/heatwave-weather-hot.html

Top US scientist on melting glaciers: ‘I’ve gone from being an ecologist to a coroner’
Now an entomologist at the University of Montana, [Dr. Diana Six] has spent the last 30 years researching how bark beetles are decimating pine forests. But a constant, haunting depression has taken over her life. A recent trip to Glacier National Park spurred her to vent some of this emotion in a tweet that went viral and resonated with many: “Glacier National Park. 97F in June. Little snow left. 75F degree water. Glaciers disappearing. That is what we hear. But the worst is what most never see” ... the climate crisis isn’t just decimating glaciers ... “The ice is really just the canary in the coalmine. To have 97, 98 degrees in Glacier National Park for days on end is insane. This is not just some fluke ... When I went up Glacier with my students a few weeks ago, the flowers were curling up. At some of the lower elevations, glacier lilies were shriveled, lupins didn’t even open ... Any insects or birds that depend upon them, like bees or hummingbirds, are in trouble, their food is gone ... There have been total losses of a lot of baby birds this year. You see these ospreys and eagles sitting on top of the trees in their nests and those young, they just can’t take the heat ... People seem to think of extinctions as some silent, painless statistic. It’s not. You look at birds that can no longer find fish because they’ve moved too far off shore. They’re emaciated, they’re starving to death. We are at the point that there’s nothing untouched ... My whole life has been documenting how life works, how we can conserve species that are in trouble. I was no longer cataloging life and finding ways to prevent ecosystems from reaching tipping points. I had actually hit my own tipping point. Somewhere along the way, I had gone from being an ecologist to a coroner. I am no longer documenting life. I’m describing loss, decline, death.”
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/21/climate-crisis-glacier-diana-six-ecologist

Global satellite data shows clouds will amplify global heating
The research, by scientists at Imperial College London and the University of East Anglia, is the strongest evidence yet that clouds will amplify global heating over the long term, further exacerbating climate change. The results [are] published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences ... found it was very likely (more than 97.5% probability) that clouds will amplify global heating, by both reflecting less solar radiation and enhancing the greenhouse effect. These results also suggest that a doubling of CO2 concentrations will lead to around 3.2°C of warming. This is the highest confidence of any study so far, and is based on data from global observations, rather than local regions or specific cloud types.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/07/210719153522.htm
reporting on a study at https://www.pnas.org/content/118/30/e2026290118

Australia’s giant carbon capture project fails to meet key targets
The world’s largest carbon capture and storage [CCS] project has failed to meet a crucial target of capturing and burying an average of 80 per cent of the carbon dioxide produced from gas wells in Western Australia over five years. The energy giant Chevron agreed to the target with the West Australian government when developing its $54 billion Gorgon project to extract and export gas from fields off the WA coast ... the oil and gas industry and the federal government [declared] the success of carbon capture and storage to be crucial in tackling climate change while making use of fossil fuels ... project has been marked by delays, cost overruns [and] has never operated at full capacity ... Tim Baxter, a senior researcher with the Climate Council, said he was not aware of a single large carbon capture and storage project linked to fossil fuels in the world that had delivered on time, on budget, and capturing the agreed amount of carbon.
https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/australia-s-giant-carbon-capture-project-fails-to-meet-key-targets-20210719-p58b3i.html
see also https://reneweconomy.com.au/chevron-concedes-ccs-failures-at-gorgon-seeks-deal-with-wa-regulators/

‘It Is All Connected’: Extreme Weather in the Age of Climate Change
The images from Germany are startling and horrifying ... But in an era of climate change, extreme weather events are becoming more common ... “all major weather these days is being affected by the changes in climate,” said Donald J. Wuebbles, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Illinois ... warmer air holds more moisture, making it more likely that a specific storm will produce more precipitation. The world has warmed by a little more than 1 degree Celsius since the 19th century, when societies began pumping huge amounts of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. For every 1 Celsius degree of warming, air can hold 7 percent more moisture. As a result, said Hayley Fowler, a professor of climate change impacts at Newcastle University in England, “These kinds of storm events will increase in intensity” ... One effect in summer and fall, Dr. Fowler said, is that the high-altitude, globe-circling air current is weakening and slowing down. “That means the storms have to move more slowly,” Dr. Fowler said. The storm that caused the recent flooding was practically stationary, she noted. The combination of more moisture and a stalled storm system can lead to extra-heavy rains over a given area [so] extreme events like heat waves and pounding rains are likely to go on and on.
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/16/climate/europe-floods-climate-change.html

Methane Seeps Out as Arctic Permafrost Starts to Resemble Swiss Cheese
Deeply thawed pockets of permafrost, the research suggests, are releasing 17 percent of all the methane measured in the region, even though the emissions hotspots only make up 1 percent of the surface area ... peak concentrations of methane emissions were found to be 13 times higher than levels usually caused by bacterial decomposition—a well-known source of methane emissions from permafrost—which suggests the methane is likely [from geologic deposits and] will “increase emissions of geologic methane that is currently still trapped under thick, continuous permafrost, as new emission pathways open due to thawing permafrost,” the authors wrote in the journal Scientific Reports ... A 2012 [Alaska] study made similar findings near the edge of permafrost areas and around melting glaciers ... “Together, these studies suggest that the geologic methane sources will likely increase in the future as permafrost warms and becomes more permeable ... you do not have to completely thaw thick permafrost to increase these geologic methane emissions ... It is enough to warm permafrost and accelerate its thaw.”
https://insideclimatenews.org/news/19072017/arctic-permafrost-melting-methane-emissions-geologic-sources-study/
reporting on a study at https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/42/eabb6546

As Frozen Land Burns, Siberia Fears: ‘If We Don’t Have the Forest, We Don’t Have Life’
Last year, wildfires scorched more than 60,000 square miles of forest and tundra, an area the size of Florida. That is more than four times the area that burned in the United States during its devastating 2020 fire season. This year, more than 30,000 square miles have already burned in Russia, with the region only two weeks into its peak fire season. Scientists say that the huge fires have been made possible by the extraordinary summer heat in recent years in northern Siberia, which has been warming faster than just about any other part of the world [and] may potentially accelerate climate change by releasing enormous quantities of greenhouse gases ... Last year, the record-setting fires in the remote Siberian region of Yakutia released roughly as much carbon dioxide as did all the fuel consumption in Mexico in 2018 ... [Russia is] uniquely vulnerable, with two-thirds of its territory composed of permafrost.
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/17/world/europe/siberia-fires.html

Collapse Raises New Fears About Florida’s Shaky Insurance Market
The Surfside collapse ... adds to growing concern among economists about a new issue in the climate crisis: whether some parts of the United States are becoming too risky to insure, at least at a cost that most people can afford. That shift has already started. Days after the collapse, insurance companies sent letters threatening to cut off coverage to older buildings that did not pass mandatory safety inspections. In California, insurers have begun fleeing fire-prone areas; in other parts of the West, officials say they are seeing similar reports of insurers refusing to renew policies ... “It all comes down to profitability for the insurance companies” [who] have been losing money for years, and those losses were growing. Many insurers started dropping customers in high-risk areas, and refusing to take on new ones. In some parts of the state, it has become all but impossible for homeowners to buy private insurance ... Jim Gorman, CEO of American Property Insurance, said that since the building in Surfside collapsed, his company has started getting more calls from insurance brokers trying to find new coverage for clients that have either had their insurance canceled or seen their rates go up.
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/17/us/miami-building-collapse-condo-surfside.html

MIT Predicted in 1972 That Society Will Collapse [Middle Of] This Century. New Research Shows We’re on Schedule.
Limits to Growth BAU A remarkable new study by a director at one of the largest accounting firms in the world has found that [the 1972 Limits to Growth study] from MIT about the risk of industrial civilization collapsing appears to be accurate ... The controversial MIT analysis generated heated debate, and was widely derided at the time by pundits who misrepresented its findings and methods. But the analysis has [again] received stunning vindication [this time] from a study written by a senior director at professional services giant KPMG ... published in the Yale Journal of Industrial Ecology in November 2020 and is available on the KPMG website. It concludes that the current business-as-usual trajectory of global civilization is heading toward the terminal decline of economic growth within the coming decade - and at worst, could trigger societal collapse by around 2040 ... Previous studies [also showed] the model’s worst-case scenarios accurately reflected real-world developments. However, the last study of this nature was completed in 2014. Herrington’s new analysis ... found that the latest data most closely aligns with [BAU2 and CT] scenarios [which] “show a halt in growth within a decade or so from now,” the study concludes. “Both scenarios thus indicate that continuing business as usual, that is, pursuing continuous growth, is not possible.”
https://www.vice.com/en/article/z3xw3x/new-research-vindicates-1972-mit-prediction-that-society-will-collapse-soon
reporting on a study at https://advisory.kpmg.us/articles/2021/limits-to-growth.html
see also 'Limits to Growth' entries elsewhere on this page

Amazon rainforest now emitting more CO2 than it absorbs
The Amazon rainforest is now emitting more carbon dioxide than it is able to absorb, scientists have confirmed for the first time. The emissions amount to a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, according to a study. The giant forest had previously been a carbon sink, absorbing the emissions driving the climate crisis, but is now causing its acceleration, researchers said. Most of the emissions are caused by fires, many deliberately set to clear land ... “Imagine if we could prohibit fires in the Amazon – it could be a carbon sink,” said Gatti. “But we are doing the opposite – we are accelerating climate change.”
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/14/amazon-rainforest-now-emitting-more-co2-than-it-absorbs
reporting on a study at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-03629-6

Desert plant life in California disappearing due to climate change, UC Irvine study says
The steady decline of plants in Southern California’s portion of the Sonoran Desert ... is caused by climate change-driven heat increases, according to a new UC Irvine study. That area grew hotter by 3 degrees over the study period, 1984 to 2017, with vegetation decreasing an average of about 1% a year ... growing body of evidence that manmade climate change is reducing the amount of vegetation in drylands — primarily desert areas — worldwide, [and] 41% of the Earth’s land mass is drylands, according to the UCI report.
https://www.mercurynews.com/2021/07/13/desert-plant-life-disappearing-due-to-climate-change-uc-irvine-study-says/

Greenland could lose more ice this century than it has in 12,000 years
Greenland is on track to lose more ice this century than it has at any other point in the Holocene, the 12,000-year period in which human civilization has flourished, an alarming new study has found. The study, published today in the journal Nature, offers the latest evidence that Earth’s northernmost ice sheet, which contains enough frozen water to raise global sea levels by 24 feet, has entered a period of rapid decline and may melt away entirely if humanity continues burning fossil fuels at current levels. The research also puts to rest the notion that Greenland’s recent deterioration might be part of a natural cycle, by showing just how fast the current meltdown is compared with the ups and downs of the geologic past.
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/greenland-could-lose-more-ice-this-century-than-it-has-in-12000-years

Scorched, Parched, and Now Uninsurable: Climate Change Hits [California] Wine Country
If the heat and drought trends worsen, “we’re probably out of business,” said Cyril Chappellet, president of Chappellet Winery, which has been operating for more than half a century. “All of us are out business” ... [After the 2020 Glass Fire, the Green & Red winery’s] insurer wrote to the owners, Raymond Hannigan and Tobin Heminway, listing the changes needed to reduce its fire risk ... “We spent thousands and thousands of dollars upgrading the property,” Mr. Hannigan said. A month later, Philadelphia Insurance Companies sent the couple another letter, canceling their insurance anyway. The explanation was brief: “Ineligible risk — wildfire exposure does not meet current underwriting guidelines.” [They] have been unable to find coverage from any other carrier ... [Chappellet Winery] is one of the lucky ones — he still has insurance. It just costs five times as much as it did last year. His winery now pays more than $1 million a year, up from $200,000 before the [Glass] fire. At the same time, his insurers cut by half the amount of coverage they were willing to provide. “It’s insane,” Mr. Chappellet said. “It’s not something that we can withstand for the long term.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/18/climate/napa-wine-heat-hot-weather.html

As California wineries lose insurance, some fear this fire season will be their last
[Winemakers] are discovering that the one fallback they’d counted on — insurance in case their properties are damaged or destroyed by flames — is either impossible to get or exorbitantly expensive ... With a severe drought and a fire already sparking in early July, the insurance difficulties underscore a challenging reality: California wineries have very few ways to prepare for a worst-case wildfire scenario this year ... some carriers that cover wineries have simply withdrawn from the market ... The implications for an uninsured winery are far-reaching. Anyone with a mortgage on their property may be in violation of that agreement, because mortgages usually require insurance. And if a vintner decides to sell a property, the inability to insure the parcel may make it tough to find a buyer. Wineries are hardly the only entities facing wildfire-insurance woes in California. Many homeowners, too, have had trouble finding coverage through traditional insurance companies.
https://www.sfchronicle.com/food/wine/article/winery-fire-insurance-california-16304533.php

Trouble in Alaska? Massive oil pipeline is threatened by thawing permafrost
Thawing permafrost threatens to undermine the supports holding up an elevated section of the [Trans-Alaska] pipeline, jeopardizing its structural integrity and raising the potential of an oil spill in a delicate and remote landscape ... “This is a wake-up call,” said Carl Weimer, a special projects adviser for Pipeline Safety Trust, a nonprofit watchdog organization based in Bellingham, Washington. “The implications of this speak to the pipeline’s integrity and the effect climate change is having on pipeline safety in general” ... Richard Kuprewicz, president of Accufacts Inc., a pipeline consulting firm, said it wouldn’t be wise for pipeline operators to count on permafrost remaining solid in the same way as in the past. Assessing pipelines to determine if years-old structural designs can withstand the changing conditions and accelerated rate of permafrost thaw is prudent, he said. “Operators need to understand this new world being brought about by climate change,” he said. “What was true in the past may not be true today.”
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/trouble-alaska-massive-oil-pipeline-threatened-thawing-permafrost-n1273589

Combating ecosystem collapse from the tropics to the Antarctic
Collapsing ecosystems are a dire warning that nations face urgent and enormous challenges ... With the advent of the Sustainable Development Goals (United Nations, 2019) and the undertakings of the Paris Climate Agreement from 2016, there is an increasing expectation that urgent action will occur, despite indications that current progress is falling well short of meeting targets ... study reveals the manifestation of widespread, pervasive environmental degradation, and highlights global climate and regional human pressures acting together to erode biodiversity. The pressures identified are individually recognisable and universal in nature and impact. Urgent global recognition is required of both collapsing ecosystems and their detrimental consequences, especially in political and decision-making domains ... For instance, major disruption of food production and shortages of safe drinking water pose challenges for health and well-being, and have serious security implications. Pivotal for the future of life on Earth is a reduction of pressures that lead to ecosystem collapse, some of which can only be achieved through significant change in our collective behaviours.
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.15539

India's poor can't afford to beat the heat
Many here - and elsewhere in India - don't even have running water ... Only a lucky few have air conditioning, with most people using fans and cheaper air coolers - in between power cuts - and thick green curtains called tarpals to block out the sun. "Us poor are hit the hardest," said local resident Kuldeep Kaur ... Along the city's irrigation canals, boys and men young and old - but not women in socially conservative Rajasthan - cool off in the muddy water ... India's average temperature rose around 0.7 Celsius between the beginning of the 20th century and 2018. It is set to rise another 4.4 degrees by 2100, according to a recent government report.
https://gulfnews.com/world/asia/india/indias-poor-cant-afford-to-beat-the-heat-1.1625901233257

Thawing permafrost prompts Denali National Park to reimagine its future
In the 1950s, 75 percent of Denali had near-surface permafrost, which ... dropped to around 50 percent in the 2000s and is projected to drop to 6 percent by the 2050s ... mean annual air temperature increased by at least 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) from 2014 to 2019 in the study area when compared with the previous 30-year period, with a near 3.6°F (2°C) increase in Denali and most Arctic parks. The increase rose to around 5.4°F (3°C) in certain western coastal park areas ... “If the warm temperatures observed during 2014 to 2019 persist, there will be widespread degradation of permafrost in portions of these national parks and similar environments across Alaska,” the authors wrote. Projections show Denali temperatures will likely continue to rise.
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/thawing-permafrost-forces-denali-national-park-to-reimagine-its-future

How Bad Are U.S. Wildfires? Even Hawaii Is Battling a Surge.
Hawaii [is] increasingly vulnerable to wildfires. Heavy rains encourage unfettered growth of invasive species, like guinea grass, and dry, hot summers make them highly flammable. Similar to the American West, where dozens of large blazes have raged in recent weeks and fire seasons have grown worse over the years because of extreme weather patterns and climate change, about two-thirds of Hawaii faces unusually dry conditions this summer ... More than 60 percent of land across Hawaii is currently considered “abnormally dry” [and will likely] intensify this summer on the Big Island and some other parts of Hawaii.
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/05/us/hawaii-wildfires.html

Reservoirs are drying up as consequences of the Western [US] drought worsen
Many reservoirs are at or approaching historic low levels due to lackluster rainy seasons combined with increasing temperatures due to climate change. The drought crisis is perhaps most apparent in the Colorado River basin, which saw one of its driest years on record, following two decades of less-than-adequate flows. The nation’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead near Las Vegas, is at its lowest level since the lake filled after the construction of the Hoover dam in the 1930s ... California’s two largest reservoirs, Lake Shasta and Lake Oroville, are on track for potential record lows this summer, now at 37 percent and 31 percent of their total capacities, respectively. Amid a warm spring and early-season heat, mountain snowpack never made it into rivers and reservoirs — it simply seeped into bone-dry soils ... As the summer progresses, the levels will continue their decline.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2021/07/09/western-reservoirs-drought-california-nevada/

Scientists Studying Temperature at Which Humans Spontaneously Die With Increasing Urgency
Originally, conditions like this weren't expected until the mid 21st century, according to climate models. But they are actually already here. [A study] found over 7,000 instances of so-called "wet bulb" conditions, which can lead to human deaths. Wet bulb temperature is the point at which humidity and heat hit a point where evaporation due to sweat no longer works to cool a person. Most of these wet bulb conditions were concentrated in South Asia, the coastal Middle East, and southwest North America ... A growing number of other regions are nearing this point: The Southeast US, the Gulf of Mexico and Northern Australia.
https://www.vice.com/en/article/93ynm5/scientists-studying-temperature-at-which-humans-spontaneously-die-with-increasing-urgency

As Arctic melt sets early July record, hard times lie ahead for ice: Studies
Sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean hit a record low on Monday for this time of year ... situation in the Laptev Sea, one of the large marginal seas of the Arctic Ocean, has been bad. The Laptev has experienced record sea ice lows since last year ... the town of Oymyakon, Russia, considered the coldest inhabited place on Earth, reached 31.6 degrees Celsius (88.8 degrees Fahrenheit) on June 29, the hottest it’s ever been at this time of year ... researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute found that increasing air temperatures and the intrusion of warm water from the North Atlantic into the Barents and Kara Seas — a climate change-driven process known as Atlantification — are overpowering the ice’s ability to regrow in winter ... sea ice in coastal areas may be thinning at up to twice the pace as previously thought ... sea ice in these regions is not surviving the summer melt.
https://news.mongabay.com/2021/07/as-arctic-melt-sets-early-july-record-hard-times-lie-ahead-for-ice-studies/

The Era of Megafires
[I]t’s going to get worse, warn climate scientists, much worse. Temperatures will rise. Wildfires will become larger, more unpredictable ... “We will be hotter and we will be drier,” says Stephen Saunders, a former undersecretary in the Department of the Interior who was the lead author of that study. “If you have increased temperature and the same amount of precipitation, you will indeed be drier.” That observation is borne out last week by a PowerPoint presentation by Russ Schumacher, the Colorado state climatologist. The first slide shows standardized precipitation index for Colorado since 1900. There are periods of wet and periods of dry—including during the 21st century. But the [data] tells a very different story during the 21st century. There are no peaks in the 21st century; only valleys of drought ... There’s no escaping the rising temperatures. If the atmospheric emissions ended tomorrow, temperatures will continue rising for decades. “That is baked into our system,” says Veblen.
https://www.aspentimes.com/news/the-era-of-megafires/

‘We are entering uncharted territory’: Climate crisis made North America’s deadly heatwave ‘150 times more likely’
North America’s deadly heatwave, which smashed temperature records across Canada and the western US, was made at least 150 times more likely by the climate crisis ... new temperature records have left the scientists stunned. “It’s an extraordinary event,” Dr Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, a climate scientist and co-leader of the World Weather Attribution initiative, a group of researchers tracking the fingerprint of the climate crisis on extreme weather events, told a press briefing held on Wednesday. “Within our knowledge, this [heatwave] is basically impossible. It’s surprising and shaking that our theoretical picture of how heatwaves behave has been broken so [dramatically].” “We are entering uncharted territory,” added co-author Prof Sonia Seneviratne, a climate scientist at ETH Zurich in Switzerland.
https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/north-america-heatwave-climate-crisis-b1879763.html

‘Hanging on by a thread’: Canadian farmers hope for rain as canola, wheat wither
Hot, dry weather has swept through western North America, contributing to hundreds of deaths, igniting wildfires and roiling canola and wheat markets in one of the world’s most fertile regions ... Spring wheat, another major Canadian export, is also struggling on the Prairies and in North Dakota, the biggest U.S. producer of the crop. In that state, 50 percent of spring wheat is in poor or very poor condition as of July 4, according to the North Dakota Wheat Commission. Southwestern Manitoba is Canada’s ground zero for a drought that also stretches west across southern Saskatchewan and Alberta, according to the federal government’s Canadian Drought Monitor ... “We are right on the brink,” he said.
https://www.producer.com/news/hanging-on-by-a-thread-canadian-farmers-hope-for-rain-as-canola-wheat-wither/

Farmers and experts anticipate worst wheat harvest in years after extreme heat and drought levels fields
“This is probably going to be the worst harvest we’ve had for the 35 years we’ve been doing this,” Green said. Experts hold little to no optimism about this year’s wheat harvest after droughts during the spring and summer, and the record heat wave, shriveled fields in the Inland Northwest ... “We have had complete crop failures in Benton and Yakima counties,” said Michelle Hennings, executive director of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers ... “Almost every Pacific Northwest farm is in some kind of trouble.”
https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2021/jul/08/farmers-and-experts-anticipate-worst-wheat-harvest/

Utah’s Great Salt Lake has been shrinking for years. Now it faces a drought
For years the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi River has been shrinking. And a drought gripping the American west could make this year the worst yet ... Sailboats have been hoisted out of the water to keep them from getting stuck in the mud. More dry lakebed getting exposed could send arsenic-laced dust into the air that millions breathe. “A lot us have been talking about the lake as flatlining,” said Lynn de Freitas, the executive director of Friends of the Great Salt Lake. The lake’s levels are expected to hit a 170-year low this year. It comes as the drought has the US west bracing for a brutal wildfire season and coping with already low reservoirs.
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jul/06/utah-great-salt-lake-shrinking-drought

Thirsty Iran faced with scorching summer
The head of the National Center for Drought and Crisis Management Ahad Vazifeh warned recently that precipitation has declined by over 40 percent so far this year compared with Iran’s long-term average. This is expected to put further pressure on already-strained groundwater resources in a country that has been digging deeper and deeper wells. With summer already here, there are now fears of water cuts and rationing. Iranian media are replete with pleas for people to economize on the water as demand is expected to surge dramatically in the usually dry season.
https://www.tehrantimes.com/news/462780/Thirsty-Iran-faced-with-scorching-summer

Nitrous oxide, a powerful greenhouse gas, is on the rise from ocean dead zones
[S]ediments below oxygen-depleted waters are a significant source of nitrous oxide (N2O) ... a potent greenhouse gas, 300 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Global emissions of N2O are increasing as a result of human activities that stimulate its production. The oceans currently account for around 25 percent of global N2O emissions, and scientists are working to improve estimates of marine contributions. Most research has focused on oxygen minimum zones, which are known as hotspots of N2O emissions. Warming of the ocean due to climate change is driving the expansion of marine oxygen minimum zones globally. This has led to speculation that N2O emissions from the oceans will continue to increase and further accelerate climate change.
https://phys.org/news/2021-07-nitrous-oxide-powerful-greenhouse-gas.html

A hotter future is already here — and Canada is not ready
Two weeks ago, the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices released a report on the public health impacts of climate change and the need for action to adapt to a new reality of extreme threats ... "We are now committed to a certain degree of warming in the world because of the emissions of the past," Ryan Ness, the adaptation research director for the institute and co-author of the report, said in an interview on Friday. "So while, in the longer term, it's absolutely critical to reduce greenhouse gases as much as possible, as fast as possible, to keep things from getting even worse, there is a certain amount of climate change that we can no longer avoid. And the only way to really deal with that is to prepare, to adapt and to become more resilient to this change in climate" ... we no longer need to look to the future to imagine what that change could look and feel like. The climate crisis is here.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/climate-change-lytton-heat-wave-wildfires-1.6088767

‘A scourge of the Earth’: grasshopper swarms overwhelm US west
A massive population of grasshoppers is proliferating in the sweltering American west, where a deep drought has made for ideal conditions for grasshopper eggs to hatch and survive into adulthood. “I can only describe grasshoppers in expletives,” said Richard Nicholson, a cattle rancher in Fort Klamath, a small community in southern Oregon, who once recalled seeing grasshopper bands eat 1,000 acres a day and cover the ground like snow ... Oregon and Montana have been the hardest hit by the insatiable eaters, particularly in the arid eastern flank of both states. Thirteen other states are also facing grasshopper damage ... “The biggest biomass consumer in the country are not cattle, are not bison. They are grasshoppers,” said Helmuth Rogg, an entomologist and agricultural scientist who works for the Oregon department of agriculture.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/04/grasshopper-swarms-us-west-drought

World must remove 1 billion tonnes CO2 by 2025 to meet climate goal - report
“Without action to deliver 1 Gigatonne (Gt) of negative emissions globally by 2025, keeping global warming within the Paris Agreement target of 1.5°C cannot be achieved,” said the report by the Coalition for Negative Emissions (CNE), and consultancy firm McKinsey. It said countries will need to remove a billion tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere by 2025, if the Paris target is to be met, and more than one billion tonnes annually thereafter. The current pipeline of projects in development could remove only around 150 million tonnes of CO2 by 2025, well short of what’s needed, the report said.
https://www.reuters.com/world/world-must-remove-1-bln-tonnes-co2-by-2025-meet-climate-goal-report-2021-06-29/

Wild Weather Plagues North America Grain Crops as Demand Surges
The U.S. and Canada are seeing unusual variability in climate, with some crops withering from severe heat and drought while others see flooding. Meanwhile, demand is surging as economies recover from the coronavirus pandemic ... With output in major exporters like Brazil already diminished, the wild weather is contributing to more volatility in crop markets with canola prices hitting a record and spring wheat at multiyear highs. “Rain, hail, drought, we’ve had it all,” said April Hemmes, a fourth-generation farmer in north central Iowa. In the past, both drought and rainfall would normally be milder and more widespread. But the world’s climate is changing and getting more extreme.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-06-29/wild-weather-plagues-north-america-grain-crops-as-demand-surges

Power Grids Getting Fried by Heat in Preview of What’s to Come
Heat waves like the one hitting Oregon and Washington used to be rare, but extreme weather [is making them] more frequent ... “All your expectations about the conditions you’re going to face need to be adjusted, because of climate change,” Mike Jacobs, senior energy analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists, said ... “We saw our equipment get to its limits,” Heather Rosentrater, Avista’s senior vice president of energy delivery, said ... Nuclear reactors as well as sites that burn coal or natural gas all generate heat to produce electricity, and eventually must shed that heat. Many use water for cooling, but heat waves can drive up the water temperature ... these issues are going to be more common as climate change continues to disrupt weather patterns.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-06-29/power-grids-getting-fried-by-heat-in-preview-of-what-s-to-come

The scientists hired by big oil who predicted the climate crisis long ago
As early as 1958, the oil industry was hiring scientists and engineers to research the role that burning fossil fuels plays in global warming. The goal at the time was to help the major oil conglomerates understand how changes in the Earth’s atmosphere may affect the industry – and their bottom line. But what top executives gained was an early preview of the climate crisis, decades before the issue reached public consciousness. What those scientists discovered – and what the oil companies did with that information – is at the heart of two dozen lawsuits attempting to hold the fossil fuel industry responsible for their role in climate change. Many of those cases hinge on the industry’s own internal documents that show how, 40 years ago, researchers predicted the rising global temperatures with stunning accuracy ... "I was invited to join a research group at Exxon and one of my conditions to join was that we would publish our scientific research in peer-reviewed journals. It was a bunch of geeks trying to figure out how the planetary atmosphere works. We were doing very good work at Exxon. We had eight scientific papers published in peer-reviewed journals, including a prediction of how much global warming from carbon dioxide buildup would be 40 years later. We made a prediction in 1980 of what the atmospheric warming would be from fossil fuel burning in 2020. We predicted that it would be about one degree celsius. And it is about one degree celsius." (Dr Martin Hoffert, physicist and Exxon consultant from 1981 to 1987) ... "Most of the scientists at the time accepted that these types of changes in CO2 emissions were going to affect temperature and precipitation. The public did not, of course, and the industries did not, and the governments generally did not. But most of the scientific community was close to unanimous. It was nothing really new to any of us." (Steve Lonergan, 71, Exxon consultant 1989-90)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/02/scientists-climate-crisis-big-oil-climate-crimes

Arctic’s ‘last refuge’ for polar bears may be more vulnerable to climate crisis than first thought, study says
Sea ice in the region has already declined dramatically ... last 14 years have seen the 14 lowest Arctic sea ice levels since satellite records began ... the region is expected to act as a critical last refuge for mammals such as polar bears and walruses as sea ice disappears across much of the Arctic Ocean. However, last summer scientists observed an episode of extreme melting in this region, with sea ice levels falling to a record low of 50 per cent on 14 August ... results fit with what is known about how the climate crisis is driving unprecedented change in the Arctic, adds Prof Jonathan Bamber, a leading polar scientist from the University of Bristol who was not involved in the study. “Parts of the Arctic experienced record temperatures and wildfires in 2020. These extreme events have been predicted by climate models for some time as the Arctic warms at a rate more than twice the global average.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/arctic-last-ice-climate-change-b1876309.html

Running out of water: how climate change fuels a crisis in the US west
The American west is drying out as the region faces an unprecedented drought ... “There’s not enough water to go around, and that is going to be the case for the indefinite future,” said Jeff Mount, senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California Water Policy Center ... “We would catch more fish in one day back when I was a child than we do in the whole season now,” said Ron Reed, cultural biologist for the Karuk tribe. “When I was growing up, you could practically walk across the river on salmon” ... Water scarcity is becoming the new normal in the west, with multiple watersheds coping with extreme drought this year and chronically dry conditions for decades.
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jul/01/water-scarcity-climate-change-exacerbating-crisis

Arctic Circle land temperature reaches 48C during ‘persistent heatwave’ in Siberia
The European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service said land surface temperature “widely exceeded” 35C across the Russian region on the first day of summer. Siberia has been hit by wildfires and hotter than usual temperatures in recent years. Scientists found the heatwave experienced by the far northeastern region last year would have “effectively impossible” without the man-made climate crisis. It appears parts of Siberia in the Arctic Circle are once again recording record-breaking temperatures this year ... Last month, scientists called the heatwave gripping the Arctic “mindboggling” as temperature records in Siberia were once again broken. Temperatures rose above 30C in areas of the Arctic in May, which is much higher than the average for the time of year. Rising temperatures are causing ice and permafrost to melt, which causes previously trapped methane to be released into the atmosphere - which contributes to global warming.
https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/arctic-circle-summer-global-warming-b1875285.html

Climate Change Could Destroy America's Roads
Many roads aren't built to withstand extreme heat, an increasingly common occurrence in many parts of the country. As the Earth's temperature rises and extreme heat waves become more common, all kinds of formerly rare and manageable issues are becoming bigger problems. One example: roads getting so hot they jump up from the Earth, or "buckle," causing delays at best and closures requiring major repairs at worst ... road buckling is just the beginning of the potential problems climate change will have on American roads ... greater temperature fluctuations with more extremes on either end of the scale will stress pavement and make maintaining roads more difficult, more expensive, and vulnerable to major flaws that cause delays, increase vehicle maintenance costs, reduce fuel or electric-propulsion efficiency, and generally make our infrastructure worse.
https://www.vice.com/en/article/3aqpxn/roads-buckling-heatwave-climate-change

Nowhere is safe, say scientists as extreme heat causes chaos in US and Canada
Climate scientists have said nowhere is safe from the kind of extreme heat events that have hit the western US and Canada in recent days and urged governments to dramatically ramp up their efforts to tackle the escalating climate emergency. The devastating “heat dome” has caused temperatures to rise to almost 50C in Canada and has been linked to hundreds of deaths, melted power lines, buckled roads and wildfires. Experts say that as the climate crisis pushes global temperatures higher, all societies – from northern Siberia to Europe, Asia to Australia – must prepare for more extreme weather events ... the climate was being destabilised in part by the dramatic warming of the Arctic and said existing climate models were failing to capture the scale of what was happening. “Climate models are actually underestimating the impact that climate change is having on events like the unprecedented heatwave we are witnessing out west right now.”
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/01/nowhere-is-safe-say-scientists-as-extreme-heat-causes-chaos-in-us-and-canada

What’s causing the drought in the West — and why it’s so bad
Several Western states, including Arizona, California, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada and parts of Oregon and Colorado, are in the grips of a historic drought that has depleted key water sources to a frightening level as temperatures rise and wildfire risk increases. Many scientists are ringing alarm bells that it could mark a tipping point in the water crisis that threatens life in the West as we know it, particularly agriculture. “The word drought just doesn’t do it anymore,” said John Fleck, a professor in water policy at the University of New Mexico. “Drought implies a dry spell that ends with a wet spell. And climate change is fundamentally changing things” … The conditions seen across much of the West this summer are part of what some scientists have called a “megadrought” that started in the year 2000 ... “It’s one of the longest droughts that we’ve had in 100 years. The longest and the most severe,” said Brian Richter, president of Sustainable Waters. “It would have been bad even without climate change, but climate warming is accentuating it.”
https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/whats-causing-the-drought-in-the-west-and-why-its-so-bad

The looming Arctic collapse: more than 40% of north Russian buildings are starting to crumble
The melting of the permafrost is about to cause huge damage to buildings and infrastructure across the country Global warming is now leading to quick and irreversible change ... The country’s Minister of Natural Resources Aleksandr Kozlov confirms that more than 40 percent of all buildings in the North are now experiencing deformation in their building structure. And the construction of roads and railways is getting increasingly difficult ... melting ground is today the underlying reason for 23 percent of all technical system failure in the region, and up to 29 percent of oil and gas production facilities can no longer be operated.
https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/climate-crisis/2021/06/looming-arctic-collapse-more-40-north-russian-buildings-are-starting-crumble

Mountaintop Glacier Ice Is Disappearing In Tropics Globally
Glacier ice on the mountaintop now covers significantly less area in the tropical region compared to 50 years ago ... study was published in the journal Global and Planetary Change—a monthly peer-reviewed scientific journal. Researchers found that a glacier near Puncak Jaya, in Papua New Guinea, lost about 93% of its ice over a 38-year period from 1980 to 2018. In another instance between 1986 and 2017 the area covered by glaciers on top of Kilimanjaro in Africa decreased by nearly 71% ... shows that climate change is causing these glaciers, which have long been sources of water for nearby communities, to disappear and indicates that those glaciers have lost ice more quickly in recent years.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/dishashetty/2021/06/29/mountaintop-glacier-ice-is-disappearing-in-tropics-globally

Flesh-Eating Parasites May Be Expanding Their Range As Climate Heats Up
[Leishmania] parasites are currently endemic in Texas and Oklahoma, and new studies suggest that they might be present in other states, including Florida [and] may soon be on the rise: As climate change pushes rodent and sand fly habitat northward, scientists caution that in the future, an increasing number of U.S. residents could be exposed to different varieties of the flesh-eating parasite ... "It's a pretty striking difference for a disease that we used to think of as limited to South America now extending as far north as Canada," she said, "potentially within the next several decades."
https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/06/25/1009885640/flesh-eating-parasites-may-be-expanding-their-range-as-climate-heats-up

Rising greenhouse gases pose continued threat to Arctic ozone layer
The new findings call into question the commonly held assumption that ozone loss would grind to a halt in just a few decades following the 2010 global ban on the production of ozone depleting chemicals ... published in the journal Nature Communications ... data from the study showed the lowest Arctic polar vortex temperatures and the highest ozone losses on record in 2020, beating the previous records set nine years ago in 2011 ... the researchers confirmed that the Arctic is already experiencing a significant trend toward lower stratospheric temperatures and associated increases in ozone losses. What's more, their observations reveal that these trends are occurring at rate consistent with the fastest climate models.
https://phys.org/news/2021-06-greenhouse-gases-pose-threat-arctic.html

California Homeowners Insurance Could Be Ending For More Than 2.1 Million Residents
California’s moratorium on insurance companies dropping homeowners insurance is quickly coming to an end. The mortarium was put in place last year to give homeowners peace of mind as Governor Newsom declared states of emergencies for fires and other extreme weather. When this moratorium ends in November, more than 2.1 million residents could lose insurance on their homes ... Residents living in “high risk” areas are facing the consequences of having their home insurance dropped just because they live in a certain area. “This wildfire insurance crisis has been years in the making, but it is an emergency we must deal with now if we are going to keep the California dream of home ownership from becoming the California nightmare, as an increasing number of homeowners struggle to find coverage,” said Commissioner Lara, California’s insurance commissioner ... Residents will be stuck in these areas as they will not be able to sell their homes.
https://www.sandiegonewsdesk.com/2021/06/california-homeowners-insurance-could-be-ending-for-more-than-2-1-million-residents/

Crushing climate impacts to hit sooner than feared: draft UN report
Climate change will fundamentally reshape life on Earth ... Species extinction, more widespread disease, unliveable heat, ecosystem collapse, cities menaced by rising seas—these and other devastating climate impacts are accelerating and bound to become painfully obvious before a child born today turns 30 ... dangerous thresholds are closer than once thought, and dire consequences stemming from decades of unbridled carbon pollution are unavoidable in the short term ... a reality check against a slew of ill-defined net-zero promises by governments and corporations worldwide. The challenges it highlights are systemic, woven into the very fabric of daily life. They are also deeply unfair: those least responsible for global warming will suffer disproportionately, the report makes clear. And it shows that even as we spew record amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, we are undermining the capacity of forests and oceans to absorb them, turning our greatest natural allies in the fight against warming into enemies ... raising the question of whether humanity is sowing the seeds of its own demise. "Life on Earth can recover from a drastic climate shift by evolving into new species and creating new ecosystems," it says. "Humans cannot" ... on current trends, we're heading for three degrees Celsius [or higher] ... the world must face up to this reality and prepare for the onslaught, "Current levels of adaptation will be inadequate to respond to future climate risks," it cautions ... outlines the danger of compound and cascading impacts, along with point-of-no-return thresholds known as tipping points [where] a dozen temperature trip wires have now been identified in the climate system for irreversible and potentially catastrophic change ... in the more immediate future, some regions—eastern Brazil, Southeast Asia, the Mediterranean, central China—and coastlines almost everywhere could be battered by multiple climate calamities at once: drought, heatwaves, cyclones, wildfires, flooding ... simply swapping a gas guzzler for a Tesla or planting billions of trees to offset business-as-usual isn't going to cut it, the report warns. 
https://phys.org/news/2021-06-climate-impacts-sooner.html

Antarctic nearing climate disaster despite landmark historic treaty
As the planet heats up, glaciers whose collapse would deluge coastal cities from New York to Jakarta are melting and growing less stable ... current policies will heat the world by almost 3 C, according to Germany-based research group Climate Action Tracker. A study published in the journal Nature in May found that a global temperature rise of 3 C would lead to an "abrupt jump" in the pace of Antarctic ice loss that would, in turn, trigger "rapid and unstoppable" sea-level rise. A second study, published in June in the journal Science Advances, found that an ice shelf that supports the 175,000-square-kilometer (68,000-square-mile) Pine Island Glacier is breaking up into the water faster and faster. The glacier is responsible for more than a quarter of Antarctica's contribution to global sea level rise and will melt faster if it collapses into warm waters.
https://www.dw.com/en/antarctic-treaty-system-climate-change/a-57993681

Moscow sees hottest June day for 120 years with more to come
Moscow has sweltered through its hottest June day for 120 years after the temperature hit 34.7C with even hotter weather expected over the coming days. Russia’s weather service Roshydromet blamed climate change for the soaring temperatures ... Russia has set numerous records in recent years and in June 2020 registered 38C in the town of Verkhoyansk – the highest temperature recorded above the Arctic Circle since measurements began. The rising mercury levels have contributed to devastating floods and forest fires that have affected Siberia with increasing regularity. They are also contributing to the melting of permafrost, which covers about two-thirds of Russia’s large territory.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jun/23/moscow-sees-hottest-june-day-for-120-years-with-more-to-come

Fish are swimming to cooler waters as climate change heats our oceans
[T]he oceans absorb the majority of the excess heat in our climate system ... having a direct impact on fish populations, with those species which are able to move to new habitats now shifting into areas to the north or south where the temperatures better suit their metabolisms. The reason is that fish are particularly sensitive to changes in temperature, due to being cold-blooded animals. They also live in habitats close to their upper temperature limit, meaning that even a slight change in temperature can impact their ability to feed and breed.
https://www.euronews.com/green/2021/06/14/how-fish-are-swimming-to-cooler-waters-as-climate-change-heats-our-oceans

Wildfires erupt after hottest week in history across parts of the West ignited them
On Monday, 7 million people were under red flag warnings across six Western states where the combination of hot temperatures, wind gusts to 40 mph and bone-dry humidity lead to a critical fire threat ... With climate change making heat waves three times more likely compared to 100 years ago and contributing to the current 22-year megadrought, wildfire seasons are starting earlier and lasting longer into the year. As the gap closes, experts say there isn't so much a defined wildfire season in the West anymore, but instead it lasts year round.
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/weather/wildfires-erupt-after-hottest-week-history-across-parts-west-ignited-n1271603

Shocking scene as a major tree die-off hits East Bay parks
The East Bay Regional Park District said they began noticing "sudden tree mortality" in October 2020. Unlike years prior when certain species, like California oaks, were under siege, this year the die-off is affecting all kinds of trees. Eucalyptus, acacia, bay, pine and more are dying at alarming rates and filling the hills with dry tinder. In April, the park district said they've seen at least 1,000 acres of tree die-off, primarily in Redwood Regional Park, Tilden Park and Anthony Chabot Regional Park ... "The cause of tree mortality and dieback is not fully known but most likely has a direct correlation to drought caused by climate change."
https://www.sfgate.com/local/article/bay-area-drought-dead-trees-oaks-acacia-eucalyptus-16256034.php

‘It’s brutal’: Las Vegas cooks amid blazing heatwave – and it’s going to get worse
[T]emperatures in the desert city hovered close to historic highs, peaking at 116 degrees Fahrenheit (46.6 Celsius), and setting a new record for such dangerously hot weather so early in the year ... Heatwaves are not only getting hotter, they are also becoming more frequent ...  heat-related deaths are on the rise ... those exposed to high temperatures have higher rates of chronic kidney disease. Hot weather also adds to air quality issues, trapping harmful pollutants while spikes in energy use from air conditioning increase emissions. Studies show that heat affects the brain, slowing cognitive function ... Meanwhile, the construction continues. Housing developments in various stages of completion are on full display at the fringes of the city, and even on the hottest days, workers brave the elements to complete them. “It’s hard and it’s hot but if we don’t work we don’t get money,” said Ignacio Regrelar, who is finishing drywall on a development during the 116 degree day. He and his team work for 8 hours through the extreme heat. “The problem is, if the boss says he is ready, and you don’t do it, he will take other people,” he said.
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jun/19/las-vegas-heatwave-nevada-us-west-temperatures

The Record Temperatures Enveloping The West Are Not Your Average Heat Wave
"It's not only unusual for June, but it is pretty extreme even in absolute terms," says Daniel Swain, climate scientist at the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. Palm Springs, Calif., recently hit 123 degrees, equaling its highest recorded temperature. Phoenix reached a record 118 degrees, the earliest the city has hit that high a mark. Sacramento, Calif., set a new daily record of 109 degrees. The National Weather Service just extended its excessive heat warning through Sunday night in the Central Valley and parts of northern California. Denver this week hit 100 for three straight days, the earliest date of such a streak on record. And in the Plains, several cities including Omaha, Neb., set records. [The heat is] also coinciding with worsening record drought across big parts of the West. These two things, Daniel Swain says, are now making each other worse. "That's sort of the vicious cycle of drought and extreme heat in a warming climate," he says. The excessive heat and widening drought continues to elevate wildfire risk across much of the West. The number of new wildfires in the U.S. so far this year is at a 10-year high, signaling a long, potentially dangerous summer and fall for wildfires. Experts say this current heat dome is yet more evidence of the impact of human-caused climate change.
https://www.npr.org/2021/06/19/1008248475/the-record-temperatures-enveloping-the-west-is-not-your-average-heat-wave

California Walking a ‘Tight Rope’ as Hydropower Supply Fades
The catastrophic drought that’s gripping the U.S. West is claiming a new victim: the hydropower dams that much of the region depends on for electricity supplies ... at a time when electric grids across the West are already forecast to be stretched this summer as heat waves send power demand surging. With less hydropower, the challenge of meeting peak demand may get even tougher, especially in California [which] is already being swamped with demand as temperatures are forecast to exceed 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 Celsius) ... hydropower is down about 40% this month compared with June 2020, according to BNEF. At the Hoover Dam, on the Nevada-Arizona border, capacity has fallen about 25%, with the site’s reservoir at its lowest point since 1937 ... As of June 10, 85% of California was in extreme or exceptional drought. The parched conditions mean wildfire threat is high and farmers are struggling to irrigate crops ... the Pacific Northwest will also see a decline in electricity generated from conventional hydropower this year.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-06-15/california-is-walking-a-tight-rope-as-hydropower-supply-fades

Record heat bakes Middle East as temperatures top 125 degrees
Five countries joined the 50-degree Celsius club, which equates to 122 degrees Fahrenheit ... a full month before high temperatures reach their annual average peak ... temperatures hit 123.8 degrees in the United Arab Emirates. Iran also climbed to 123.8 degrees ... Kuwait, on the Persian Gulf, managed 123.6 degrees ... Oman logged a high of 122.2 degrees ... Pakistan did the same ... Following Saturday’s blowtorch, somehow Sunday turned it up a notch, when the mercury soared to an astonishing 125.2 degrees in United Arab Emirates, becoming both a monthly and record high. It’s also the hottest June temperature ever observed in the United Arab Emirates and ties the nation’s record ... This early-season scorcher is the result of building high pressure, also known as a heat dome. That kinks the jet stream northward and suppresses rain chances, allowing heat to become established while diverting cooling clouds, fronts and disturbances. It is worth noting that this heat dome isn’t particularly intense, yet temperatures are already at record values [due to] human-induced climate change [pushing] what might otherwise be more routine fluctuations into record territory. Heat extremes have already been documented dramatically increasing in frequency in the Middle East and North Africa. There is even research to suggest that parts of the Middle East might become uninhabitable.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2021/06/07/record-june-heat-wave-middle-east/

The Earth is now trapping an 'unprecedented' amount of heat, NASA says
The amount of heat Earth traps has roughly doubled since 2005, contributing to more rapidly warming oceans, air and land, according to new research from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "The magnitude of the increase is unprecedented," said Norman Loeb, a NASA scientist and lead author of the study, which was published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. "The Earth is warming faster than expected" ... "It is a massive amount of energy," said Gregory Johnson, an oceanographer for NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and co-author of the study ... That extra heat, especially in the oceans, will mean more intense hurricanes and marine heat waves. "I hope the heating doesn't keep going at this clip," Loeb said. "It's not good news."
https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/The-Earth-is-now-trapping-an-unprecedented-16252934.php
reporting on a study at https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2021GL093047

The Arctic’s ice is thinning faster than expected. It’s an ominous sign.
A group of British scientists has concluded that the Arctic’s coastal sea ice is thinning much faster than experts had previously estimated. ... The British team’s new calculations indicate that Arctic ice is thinning 70 to 100 percent faster — that is, at roughly double the rate — than previously thought. This finding is just another in a long string of warnings from scientists that many of global warming’s predicted effects may be occurring faster or in a more severe manner than anticipated.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/thinning-arctic-ice-is-yet-another-ominous-climate-signal/2021/06/04/78b5401c-c56d-11eb-9a8d-f95d7724967c_story.html

Irreversible warming tipping point possibly triggered, Arctic mission chief says
A tipping point for irreversible global warming may have already been triggered, the scientist who led the biggest-ever expedition to the Arctic warned Tuesday. “The disappearance of summer sea ice in the Arctic is one of the first landmines in this minefield, one of the tipping points that we set off first when we push warming too far,” said Markus Rex. “And one can essentially ask if we haven’t already stepped on this mine and already set off the beginning of the explosion.” Rex led the world’s biggest mission to the North Pole, an expedition involving 300 scientists from 20 countries. The expedition returned to Germany in October after 389 days drifting through the Arctic, bringing home devastating proof of a dying Arctic Ocean.
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/06/16/world/science-health-world/climate-change-tipping-point/

Leading scientists warn of global impacts as Antarctic nears tipping points
Expert Working Group of leading Antarctic scientists warns that climate change is pushing this remote polar region, which connects all our ocean basins and keeps our planet habitable, towards numerous tipping points with global ramifications for humanity and biodiversity ... The report, "Climate Change and Southern Ocean Resilience," the result of the Expert Working Group discussions, is a unique collaboration across scientific disciplines, and identifies key interconnected Southern Ocean processes that are being impacted by climate change, and which will result in widespread changes well beyond the Antarctic region.
https://phys.org/news/2021-06-scientists-global-impacts-antarctic-nears.html

UK warned it is unprepared for climate chaos
The UK is woefully unprepared to deal with changes occurring to the climate, government advisers say. A report by the independent Climate Change Committee predicts warming will hit the UK harder than first thought. It warns of more severe heatwaves, especially in big cities, and more intense rainfall, with an increased flood risk across most of the UK. It says homes, infrastructure and services must be made resilient to floods, heat and humid nights ... The committee, also known as the CCC, says the UK is even worse prepared than it was five years ago, at the time of its last report on the risks of climate change.
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-57487943

Lake Mead falls to lowest level since 1930s amid worsening drought
The record low is due to a combination of years of punishing drought that's worsening across the Southwest ... expected subsequent drops in the lake, are almost certain to trigger a federal "water shortage" declaration later this summer, which would set off cuts in water allocations to several states. Lake Mead, which sits along the border between Nevada and Arizona, is part of the vast Colorado River basin that provides water for agriculture and human consumption to seven states ... levels this low have not been seen since the reservoir was originally filled in 1937 ... region is currently in a longer-term "megadrought" that is the second-worst such event in at least 1,200 years [and] is likely to continue to intensify and expand across the West and Southwest throughout the summer.
https://www.axios.com/lake-mead-drought-record-0b2eac6a-6aac-4a81-8654-a03d00f309f9.html
see also https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jun/10/lake-mead-reservoir-drought-low

As early season heat roasts U.S., records tumble in Middle East
At the same time as much of the Lower 48 states are seeing temperatures soar through the 90s, an unusually severe early season heat wave has enveloped the Middle East and South Asia, prompting temperatures to spike above the 50°C (122°F) mark in at least five countries: Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Iran and Pakistan. Typically, the hottest time of year in the Persian Gulf region as well as Pakistan comes in July ... climate change could result in a Middle East that's virtually uninhabitable for several months a year by the middle of this century. Already, temperatures have flirted with such inhospitable levels.
https://www.axios.com/extreme-heat-records-us-middle-east-9b7f40b7-ac72-41ce-b71c-20e98f1290c5.html

Edge of Pine Island Glacier’s ice shelf is ripping apart, causing key Antarctic glacier to gain speed
For decades, the ice shelf helping to hold back one of the fastest-moving glaciers in Antarctica has gradually thinned. Analysis of satellite images reveals a more dramatic process in recent years: From 2017 to 2020, large icebergs at the ice shelf’s edge broke off, and the glacier sped up. Since floating ice shelves help to hold back the larger grounded mass of the glacier, the recent speedup due to the weakening edge could shorten the timeline for Pine Island Glacier’s eventual collapse into the sea ... “We may not have the luxury of waiting for slow changes on Pine Island; things could actually go much quicker than expected,” said lead author Ian Joughin, a glaciologist at the UW Applied Physics Laboratory. “The processes we’d been studying in this region were leading to an irreversible collapse, but at a fairly measured pace. Things could be much more abrupt if we lose the rest of that ice shelf.”
https://www.washington.edu/news/2021/06/11/edge-of-pine-island-glaciers-ice-shelf-is-ripping-apart-causing-key-antarctic-glacier-to-gain-speed/
reporting on a study at https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/7/24/eabg3080

Interacting tipping elements increase risk of climate domino effects under global warming
With progressing global warming, there is an increased risk that one or several tipping elements in the climate system might cross a critical threshold, resulting in severe consequences for the global climate, ecosystems and human societies ... we explicitly study the effects of known physical interactions among the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) and the Amazon rainforest [and] analyse the risk of domino effects being triggered ... We find that the interactions tend to destabilise the network of tipping elements.
https://esd.copernicus.org/articles/12/601/2021/

An Alaska glacier hurtles downhill in a rare exhibition of ‘this amazing science’
[This] began last fall some 12 miles uphill. That's where the glacier initially started sliding ... at speeds up to 100 times faster than normal ... [normally] the Muldrow moves only about three inches a day. Scientists estimate it is now gaining 30 to 60 feet daily ... across the Alaska Range, glaciers are losing mass because of climate change. "These are glaciers that are born in really tall mountains with really cold weather systems throughout a lot of the year," Young said. "In the past, they've had the opportunity to grow really large. In Alaska and everywhere else in the world, we're seeing volume loss and retreat in these glaciers as the summer season is getting longer and warmer and they are getting less snow throughout the course of the winter."
https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/alaska-glacier-surge-muldrow-climate/2021/06/04/dade503a-c315-11eb-9a8d-f95d7724967c_story.html

World leaders ‘ignoring’ role of destruction of nature in causing pandemics
The root cause of pandemics – the destruction of nature – is being ignored, scientists have warned ... the spillover of disease from animals to humans ... razing of forests and hunting of wildlife is increasingly bringing animals and the microbes they harbour into contact with people and livestock. About 70% of new infectious diseases have come from animals, including Covid-19, Sars, bird flu, Ebola and HIV. However, preventing this root cause of spillover is scarcely mentioned by leaders and authorities, said the scientists behind a new independent taskforce ... hosted by Harvard University in the US ... “Covid-19 was a warning shot from the whole of nature to our species,” said Aaron Bernstein, a doctor at Harvard’s Center for Climate, Health and the Global Environment who is leading the taskforce. “But so far world leaders are far from acting. You hear from [them] about the actions to supposedly prevent pandemics, but the idea of preventing their root causes is scarcely even mentioned.”
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jun/04/end-destruction-of-nature-to-stop-future-pandemics-say-scientists

Oregon fall firestorms cautionary tale in worsening drought
Pushed by unusually strong winds, fires ripped through temperate rainforest just a few minutes’ drive from the ocean, crept to within 30 miles (48 kilometers) of downtown Portland, leveled thousands of homes and businesses along Interstate 5 and wiped out communities that cater to outdoors enthusiasts. It was a wake-up call for the Pacific Northwest as climate change brings destructive blazes that feel more like California’s annual fire siege to wet places and urban landscapes once believed insulated from them. And as the U.S. West enters yet another year of drought, Oregon is now starting fire season amid some of the worst conditions in memory ... “I thought we still had a generation or so to get our ducks in a row to prepare for this, and these last couple fire seasons here have been a huge wake-up call that we are experiencing it now,” said [Larry O’Neill, Oregon’s state climatologist].
https://apnews.com/article/nv-state-wire-oregon-fires-climate-change-nm-state-wire-0fcfcde1ab4a5a9b05877e2c40547855

World’s soils ‘under great pressure’, says UN pollution report
The world’s soils, which provide 95% of humanity’s food, are “under great pressure”, according to a UN report on soil pollution. Soils are also the largest active store of carbon, after the oceans, and therefore crucial in fighting the climate crisis. But the report said industrial pollution, mining, farming and poor waste management are poisoning soils ... future for soils looks “bleak” ... A 2017 report found that a third of the planet’s land is severely degraded and that fertile soil was being lost at the rate of 24bn tonnes a year.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jun/04/soils-great-pressure-un-pollution-report-food-farming-mining
reporting on a study at http://www.fao.org/documents/card/en/c/cb4827en

Brazilian Amazon deforestation hits record for May
Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon reached a record for the month of May this year, the space research institute INPE said. A total of 1,180 square kilometers of the Amazon was lost in May, representing a 41 percent increase compared to the same month in 2020. It was the third straight month in which such a record was set and raises serious questions over President Jair Bolsonaro's commitments to protecting the rainforest.
https://phys.org/news/2021-06-brazilian-amazon-deforestation.html

Climate crisis will collapse our financial system, IMF official warns
Climate change could “absolutely” ignite a financial crisis, according to a top official from the International Monetary Fund [who] pointed to recent examples of extreme typhoons in the Bahamas and the Philippines causing immense economic ruin. In the US, meanwhile, historic snow storms in Texas caused billions of dollars of damage and killed numerous people. Officials within the US and top executives in the financial sector are beginning to take this message to heart. In a recent report, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission wrote that "climate change poses a major risk to the stability of the US financial system and to its ability to sustain the American economy”.
https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/climate-change-wall-street-imf-b1859419.html

‘Birthplace of Ice’ in Russia’s Arctic Sees Record-Breaking Start to Melting Season
In 2020 the Laptev Sea stayed ice-free until November for the first time in documented history. The sea, which plays a crucial role in generating ice coverage for the entire Arctic, has broken another record with its annual ice melt starting earlier in the spring than ever before. “We are off to a record-breaking start to the sea ice melt season in the Laptev Sea (again),” Labe tweeted, citing data from the U.S. National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC). The ice-free season in the Laptev Sea, located between the Kara and East Siberian seas, has grown longer in recent decades, a pattern that is likely to continue for the rest of the century.
https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2021/06/02/birthplace-of-ice-in-russias-arctic-sees-record-breaking-start-to-melting-season-a74079

Scientists Said The West Was Entering A Megadrought. Now It’s Twice As Bad
Lake Powell is within just a few feet of its low level ever observed ... California’s reservoirs are 50 percent lower than they should be at this time of year ... drought in the western US at historic levels. In [a 2020 study] scientists said the nearly two decades between 2000 and 2018 in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico was the driest such span since the late 1500s [but] in the past half year drought in the west has reached new levels that make the trend described in that study seem quaint. As of Tuesday, 26 percent of the western US is in exceptional drought status - the highest level of dryness - while 96 percent of the west is suffering from at least some level of drought ... [2000-2019] were dry enough to drive talk of a megadrought or even of “permanent drought” in the west. And now the extent of exceptional drought is more than double what was seen during that period.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/ericmack/2021/06/03/scientists-said-the-west-was-entering-a-megadrought-now-its-twice-as-bad/

A 20-Foot Sea Wall? Miami Faces the Hard Choices of Climate Change.
In Miami, the U.S. metropolitan area that is perhaps most exposed to sea-level rise, the problem is not climate change denialism. Not when hurricane season, which begins this week, returns each year with more intense and frequent storms. Not when finding flood insurance has become increasingly difficult and unaffordable ... South Florida, flat and low-lying, sits on porous limestone, which allows the ocean to swell up through the ground. Even when there is no storm, rising seas contribute to more significant tidal flooding, where streets fill with water even on sunny days. The expanding saltwater threatens to spoil the underground aquifer that supplies the region’s drinking water, and to crack old sewer pipes and aging septic tanks. It leaves less space for the earth to absorb liquid, so floodwaters linger longer, their runoff polluting the bay and killing fish. And that is just sea-level rise. Temperatures have gotten so sweltering over recent summers that Miami-Dade County has named a new interim “chief heat officer.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/02/us/miami-fl-seawall-hurricanes.html

Climate crisis is suffocating the world’s lakes, study finds
The climate crisis is causing a widespread fall in oxygen levels in lakes across the world, suffocating wildlife and threatening drinking water supplies ... new research shows that the decline in lakes has been between three and nine times faster in the past 40 years ... Rising temperatures driven by global heating is the main cause, because warmer water cannot hold as much oxygen. Furthermore, rising summer heat leaves the top layer of lakes hotter and less dense than the waters below, meaning mixing is reduced and oxygen supply to the depths falls ... The study, published in the journal Nature, analysed 45,000 dissolved oxygen and temperature profiles collected from nearly 400 lakes worldwide.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jun/02/climate-crisis-is-suffocating-the-worlds-lakes-study-finds

Satellites may have been underestimating the planet's warming for decades
The global warming that has already taken place may be even worse than we thought. That's the takeaway from a new study that finds satellite measurements have likely been underestimating the warming of the lower levels of the atmosphere over the last 40 years. Basic physics equations govern the relationship between temperature and moisture in the air, but many measurements of temperature and moisture used in climate models diverge from this relationship, the new study finds. That means either satellite measurements of the troposphere have underestimated its temperature or overestimated its moisture, study leader Ben Santer, a climate scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California, said in a statement ... The datasets that best followed the rules for water vapor and temperature ratios tended to be those showing the most warming.
https://www.livescience.com/satellites-underestimated-global-warming.html
reporting on a study at https://journals.ametsoc.org/view/journals/clim/aop/JCLI-D-20-0768.1/JCLI-D-20-0768.1.xml

Humans have ‘stressed out’ Earth far longer, and more dramatically, than realized
According to a research team led by Ondrej Mottl and Suzette G.A. Flantua of the University of Bergen in Norway, the vegetation of the planet began changing dramatically between 4,600 and 2,900 years ago, and it’s likely that the primary cause was human activity—agriculture, deforestation, and the use of fire to clear landscapes. “[H]umans likely impacted the planet strongly not just in recent decades or centuries, but thousands of years ago,” Mottl says of their research, published today in the journal Science. The landscape changes of the last century or two, as dramatic as they have been, appear to be continuations of trends several thousands of years in the making ... a 2019 study that surveyed 250 archaeologists about past human agricultural activity around the globe came to similar conclusions: By 3,000 years ago, much of the planet’s terrestrial surface had been markedly transformed by human activity. The lead author of that study, Lucas Stephens, an archaeologist and environmental policy expert at Duke University, says the two studies in tandem paint a compelling picture.
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/humans-have-stressed-out-earth-far-longer-and-more-dramatically-than-realized
reporting on a study at https://science.sciencemag.org/content/372/6544/860

Brazil’s Worst Water Crisis in 91 Years Threatens Power Supplies
“Brazil is going through the biggest water crisis of the past 91 years,” Energy Minister Bento Albuquerque said in a Thursday interview. The country of 212 million is hugely water dependent because as much as 70% of its energy mix depends on hydroelectricity, Albuquerque estimates. “This is very bad for a country that relies” so heavily on water for power, he said. Brazil is also a global agricultural powerhouse. Drought has now turned so severe that farmers are worried they’ll run out of the water reserves that help keep crops alive.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-05-28/brazil-s-worst-water-crisis-in-91-years-threatens-power-supplies

As rising 'heat shocks' ruin rice crops, Bangladesh faces hunger risk
Two days of sudden, intensely hot air that swept across the country in April disrupted the rice's growth ... The heat stress - caused by a mix of high temperatures, low rainfall and low humidity - ruined thousands of hectares of crops in Bangladesh's main rice-growing region this spring ... temperatures reached as high as 36 degrees Celsius (97 degrees Fahrenheit) for two consecutive days in early April ... more than 68,000 hectares of rice were either partially or completely destroyed over the two days, affecting more than 300,000 farmers and resulting in losses of an estimated 3.3 billion taka ($39 million). Bangladesh already faces increasingly extreme weather - including droughts, floods and storms ... Romij Uddin, an agronomy professor at Bangladesh Agricultural University, said heat stress on crops is directly linked to global warming and rice is particularly vulnerable to high temperatures.
https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2021/05/29/as-rising-heat-shocks-ruin-rice-crops-bangladesh-faces-hunger-risk

Follow the warning signs: California is facing a devastating drought.
Water from snowmelt that hydrologists had expected only a few weeks ago to replenish foothill reservoirs is vanishing. It’s being absorbed by the parched soil or dissipating into the thin mountain air ... Major Northern California reservoirs currently contain only half the water they normally do in late spring. It’s a warning sign of a potentially devastating new drought. More than that, it’s an undeniable mark of dramatic climate change. “The past two decades have been exceptionally warm and dry, and included the hottest drought — 2012-16 — in the state’s recorded history,” the PPIC report reads. “Warming is making droughts more intense” ... Both the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project have announced they intend to deliver only 5% of requested [agricultural water] this year ... farmers keep overpumping groundwater. Aquifers have been so raided that the land has sunk alarmingly in many places, cracking canals and ruining roads and bridges.
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-05-24/skelton-water-drought-newsom-budget-california

Experts predict Iraq-like weather for Spain in the near future
“Forget about the Iberian peninsula,” concluded a renowned German atmospheric physicist, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, in view of the extreme heat that the south of Europe will have to bear in the not-too-distant future ... Dominic Royé, a climatologist, postdoc researcher and lecturer at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain’s Galicia region, quotes Schellnhuber when discussing his latest article on heatwave projections ... published in the scientific journal Atmospheric Research. The article indicates a significant increase in the intensity, frequency, duration and impact of these extreme heat episodes ... “the worst summers so far will be ... considered cool by [our] children.”
https://english.elpais.com/spanish_news/2021-05-27/experts-predict-iraq-like-weather-for-spain-in-the-near-future.html
see also https://english.elpais.com/society/2021-05-18/global-warming-accelerates-in-spain-average-temperature-rises-13c-in-60-years.html
reporting on a study at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169809521002076

Arctic sea ice succumbs to Atlantification
With alarm bells ringing about the rapid demise of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean, satellite data have revealed how the intrusion of warmer Atlantic waters is reducing ice regrowth in the winter ... there is an undeniable trend of declining ice as climate change tightens its grip on this fragile polar region ... "Over the last decades we observed the tendency that the less ice you have at the beginning of the freezing season, the more it grows in the winter season. However, what we've found now is that in the Barents Sea and Kara Sea regions, this stabilizing effect is being overpowered by ocean heat and warmer temperatures that are reducing the ice growth in winter." This new process is called Atlantification, meaning that heat from the Atlantic Ocean carried to higher latitudes is causing the edge of the sea ice to retreat.
https://phys.org/news/2021-05-arctic-sea-ice-succumbs-atlantification.html

Canada Faces Mega-Hurricanes if Climate Change Pushes Storms North: Swiss Re Warns
Climate change is making hurricanes bigger and stronger, and it may soon push them farther north. Yet Canada’s homeowners, businesses and insurers underestimate that escalating risk, according to one of the world’s leading reinsurance firms ... as ocean surfaces warm, the frequency, duration and intensity of storms increase. That’s extending their range and making Canada, where just one or two tropical cyclones make landfall each year, more vulnerable, according to the Zurich-based company [Swiss Re], which provides reinsurance to 15% of the country’s insurance industry. “You have an increased likelihood of hurricanes making landfall further north and eventually making landfalls at higher latitudes than what we’ve ever seen before,” Monica Ningen, head of Swiss Re Canada, said in an interview.
https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/international/2021/05/21/615351.htm

3 Florida Insurers to Drop Thousands of Policies, Make Moves to Stay Afloat
More than 50,000 Florida policyholders will soon be looking for a new carrier for their homeowners insurance after three Florida-based companies were approved by the state regulator to drop the policies. The moves come just a few weeks before the official start of hurricane season ... insurers will remove the policies over the next 45 days ... The regulator’s actions are the most recent indicators of Florida’s stressed insurance marketplace that has been described as “spiraling towards collapse.”
https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2021/05/12/613541.htm

Trees Fell Faster in the Years Since Companies and Governments Promised to Stop Cutting Them Down
In the seven years since governments and corporations promised to stop deforestation, the clear cutting of critically important tropical forests has instead increased by more than 50 percent, a new report shows ... The research looks at the period, starting in 2014, when dozens of governments, organizations and companies signed onto the New York Declaration on Forests, a voluntary agreement to halve deforestation by 2020 and stop it altogether by 2030. The researchers found that, since those commitments, an area nearly twice the size of California has been cleared of trees, mostly for commercial agriculture, which is the largest driver of deforestation and the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions from land use.
https://insideclimatenews.org/news/19052021/deforestation-climate-change-forest-trends-companies-governments/

Arizona’s current historic drought may be ‘baseline for the future’
Arizona drought map 18 May 2021 Arizona and other Western states just lived through the driest year in more than a century, with no drought relief in sight in the near future, experts told a House panel Tuesday. The period from last April to this March was the driest in the last 126 years for Arizona and other Western states, witnesses said. It caps a two-decade stretch that was the driest in more than 100 years that records have been kept – and one of the driest in the past 1,200 years based on paleohydrology evidence, one official said. “We have never seen drought at the scale and intensity that we see right now, and it is possible that this may be the baseline for the future,” Elizabeth Klein, a senior counselor to the secretary of Interior, said in her testimony. More than half of Arizona is currently experiencing “exceptional” drought conditions, the most severe level of drought.
https://cronkitenews.azpbs.org/2021/05/25/arizonas-current-historic-drought-may-be-baseline-for-the-future/

Widespread Drought in Mexico
Nearly 85 percent of the country is facing drought conditions as of April 15, 2021. Large reservoirs across the country are standing at exceptionally low levels. Water levels have continued to decline. Villa Victoria [reservoir] is filled to about one third of its normal capacity. According to the newspaper El País, roughly 60 other large reservoirs, mostly in northern and central Mexico, were below 25 percent capacity ... According to Mexico’s National Meteorological Service, the northwest and northeast have recently moved from severe to extreme drought.
https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/148270/widespread-drought-in-mexico

Get Ready for Financial Shocks From Climate Change, Biden Tells Officials
Experts warn of two broad types of financial risk posed by a hotter planet: The growing cost to businesses and investors as climate-related disasters damage or destroy buildings, crops or supply chains; and the potential for a sudden drop in the value of companies that depend on fossil fuels, as governments or consumers embrace wind, solar and other sources of energy that do not produce the carbon emissions driving global warming ... “Our modern financial system was built on the assumption that the climate was stable,” Brian Deese, head of President Biden’s National Economic Council, said Thursday on a call with reporters. “It’s clear that we no longer live in such a world.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/20/climate/biden-climate-change-economy.html

Nations Must Drop Fossil Fuels, Fast, World Energy Body Warns
Nations around the world would need to immediately stop approving new coal-fired power plants and new oil and gas fields and quickly phase out gasoline-powered vehicles if they want to avert the most catastrophic effects of climate change, the world’s leading energy agency said Tuesday. In a sweeping new report, the International Energy Agency issued a detailed road map of what it would take for the world’s nations to slash carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050 ... first time the International Energy Agency has outlined ways to accomplish such drastic cuts in emissions. That’s significant, given the fact that the influential agency is not an environmental group but an international organization that advises world capitals on energy policy ... For now, the world remains off course. Last month, the agency warned that global carbon dioxide emissions were expected to rise at their second-fastest pace ever in 2021 ... half the emissions cuts by 2050 would come from technologies that are still in the demonstration or prototype stage, the report said.
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/18/climate/climate-change-emissions-IEA.html
see also https://www.iea.org/reports/net-zero-by-2050

Greenland ice sheet on brink of major tipping point, says study
Scientists say ice equivalent to 1-2 metres of sea level rise is probably already doomed to melt
A significant part of the Greenland ice sheet is on the brink of a tipping point, after which accelerated melting would become inevitable even if global heating was halted, according to new research ... The new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, used temperature records, ice cores, and modelling to reconstruct the ice sheet’s elevation and melting rates since 1880. Careful examination of the size and duration of changes during this time series revealed the warning signals of an imminent tipping point, by showing that the ice sheet’s ability to recover from melting is diminishing fast.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/may/17/greenland-ice-sheet-on-brink-of-major-tipping-point-says-study
reporting on a study at https://www.pnas.org/content/118/21/e2024192118

Blazes That Refuse to Die: ‘Zombie Fires’
According to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature, fires in far northern forests that smolder throughout the wet, cold winters and pop up again in the spring could become more common because of climate change ... Arctic is warming far faster than the rest of the planet, and warming is associated with summer temperature extremes, with fires covering large areas, and with deep burning. Those factors interconnect: High temperatures lead to longer fire seasons and larger burn areas as well as drier soils that are friendly to fire. And because the fires occur in peat and peat-like soils high in carbon content [which are very difficult to put out] their burning can emit disproportionately large amounts of carbon dioxide and methane that contribute to global warming. In Alaska, Dr. Veraverbeke noted, only 10 percent of carbon emissions from fires comes from trees; 90 percent comes from burning soil.
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/19/climate/climate-change-zombie-forest-fires.html
reporting on a study at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-03437-y

Few realistic scenarios left to limit global warming to 1.5°C
Of the over 400 climate scenarios assessed in the 1.5°C report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), only around 50 scenarios avoid significantly overshooting 1.5°C. Of those only around 20 make realistic assumptions on mitigation options, for instance the rate and scale of carbon removal from the atmosphere or extent of tree planting, a new study shows. All 20 scenarios need to pull at least one mitigation lever at 'challenging' rather than 'reasonable' levels, according to the analysis. Hence the world faces a high degree of risk of overstepping the 1.5°C limit ... The researchers drew from existing research to define bounds that delineate between the 'reasonable', 'challenging', and 'speculative' use of each of the levers by mid-century. The bounds quantify the range of emissions reduction potentials of each of the aggregate levers, which result from technological, economic, social and resource considerations ... Those scenarios classified by the analysis as unrealistically optimistic most frequently tend to over-estimate carbon capture and storage potentials.
https://phys.org/news/2021-05-realistic-scenarios-left-limit-global.html
reporting on a study at https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/abfeec

Study finds alarming levels of ‘forever chemicals’ in US mothers’ breast milk
A new study that checked American women’s breast milk for PFAS contamination detected the toxic chemical in all 50 samples tested, and at levels nearly 2,000 times higher than the level some public health advocates advise is safe for drinking water ... PFAS, or per and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of about 9,000 compounds that are used to make products like food packaging, clothing and carpeting water and stain resistant ... they do not naturally break down and have been found to accumulate in humans. They are linked to cancer, birth defects, liver disease, thyroid disease, plummeting sperm counts and a range of other serious health problems ... published on Thursday in the Environmental Science and Technology journal.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/may/13/pfas-forever-chemicals-breast-milk-us-study

Microplastics: A Threat for Male Fertility
One of the main consequences of industrialization is the production, use and discharge of several environmental pollutants that can result as harmful for animal, human and environmental health ... sunlight, wind, and wave action break down plastic waste into small particles ... These non-biodegradable materials can act as a vector for environmental pollutants, can be ingested by humans in food and water, and can enter and accumulate in human tissues with a possible risk for heath. Recent studies revealed the deleterious effects of MPs exposure in male reproduction and sperm quality, making them a potential hazard to reproductive success.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7967748/

U.S. has entered unprecedented climate territory, EPA warns
The destruction of year-round permafrost in Alaska, loss of winter ice on the Great Lakes and spike in summer heat waves in U.S. cities all signal that climate change is intensifying, the EPA said in its report ... which languished under the Trump administration for three years ... the nation has entered unprecedented territory, in which climate effects are more visible, changing faster and becoming more extreme ... Heat waves are occurring about three times more often than they did in the 1960s, the agency found ... Americans are blasting air conditioners to stay cool during the hot months, which has nearly doubled summer energy use over the past half-century and added even more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere ... in Alaska, permafrost has warmed since 1978. The biggest temperature increases were found in the northernmost reaches of the state.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/05/12/us-has-entered-unprecedented-climate-territory-epa-warns/

Asian Cities Face Greatest Environmental Risks, Report Shows
Of the 100 most vulnerable cities, 99 are in Asia, according to the report released on Thursday. Of those, 37 are in China and 43 are in India, the world’s first and third biggest emitters of greenhouse gases respectively. Globally, 1.5 billion people live in 414 cities that are at high risk from pollution, water shortages, extreme heat, natural hazards and the physical impacts of climate change.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-05-12/asian-cities-face-greatest-environmental-risks-report-shows
reporting on a study at https://www.maplecroft.com/insights/analysis/asian-cities-in-eye-of-environmental-storm-global-ranking/

Germany’s 2045 Net-Zero Goal Means Accepting Unpopular Technologies
Germany would have to phase out coal by the end of the decade — eight years earlier than planned — while boosting renewables to 70% of the country’s energy mix. Sales of new petrol and diesel cars will have to end by 2032. The amount of electricity generated will have to double as more of it is consumed by vehicles and used to create vast amounts of clean hydrogen. Germany will also have to do something it’s resisted in the past: deploy carbon-capture technology on a large scale. The industrial powerhouse will have to bury as much as 73 million tons of carbon dioxide annually by 2045, from approximately zero today.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-05-11/germany-s-2045-net-zero-goal-means-accepting-unpopular-technologies

German Climate Goals Need ‘Massive’ Cut in Industry CO2 by 2030
“In the industrial sector, the indicated reductions can only be achieved with massive decarbonization of industrial plants and processes,” according to the draft. “Given the lead times and investment cycles in the sector, these must be initiated immediately” ... [goal is] cutting emissions by 65% below 1990 levels by 2030. However, that would still not be compatible with the terms of the Paris Agreement.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-05-11/germany-s-climate-goals-require-massive-cut-in-industrial-co2

More than 60% of Russian territory is permafrost. Now it is melting
Across the country’s north, buildings, roads and industrial installations are slowly sliding into the ground ... “65 percent of Russia’s territory is located in the permafrost zone, but this is not mentioned in a single federal program document, despite the fact that the permafrost area is a vital component in the natural environment, of which the landscape, vegetation and coastline is dependent,” [Minister of Natural Resources Aleksandr] Kozlov says in a statement. The melting already has major consequences for people living in the region, he explains. “We see how the melting of the permafrost is triggering accidents at industrial and housing objects ... We have to protect the nature from environmental catastophe,” he says.
https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/climate-crisis/2021/05/more-60-russian-territory-permafrost-now-it-melting

Russia is to lose its permafrost, minister of natural resources warns
The phenomenon of permafrost - a several-metre-deep and hard frozen mix of soil, sand and ice, lying under cities, towns and vast unpopulated areas of Russian Arctic regions - is vanishing, Alexander Kozlov, Russian Minister of Natural Resources said. ‘Every such region understands what's coming to it in 20, 30 years. It’ll stop being northern (climate-wise) ... Russia has a vast Arctic zone, spreading about four million square kilometres along its northern border from the west to the extreme east. Almost 60% is permafrost ... Russian permafrost area is also the world’s biggest reservoir of organic carbon, which converts into a greenhouse gas including methane once it thaws.
https://siberiantimes.com/other/others/news/russia-is-to-lose-its-permafrost-minister-of-natural-resources-warns/

Rapid decline of China’s wetlands threatens mass extinction for rare birds
The destruction of China’s wetlands, which are critical stopping points for birds migrating as far away as the Arctic or the South Pacific, threatens mass extinctions of species across East Asia, new research has found ... The Coastal Wetland Conservation Blueprint report, a joint effort by the Paulson Institute, China’s forestry ministry and the Chinese Academy of sciences, says shrinking habitats are forcing migratory birds into smaller areas ... “protection of important natural capital such as wetlands is often lost to short-term economic gains,” the report said ... Half of the 10 most important wetlands on the Pacific-East Asia route are in China ... Since the 1950s, China’s coast has lost over half of its temperate wetlands, almost three quarters of its mangrove forests and around 80% of its coral reefs – all habitats important for migratory birds.
https://chinadialogue.net/en/nature/8253-rapid-decline-of-china-s-wetlands-threatens-mass-extinction-for-rare-birds

Stratospheric contraction caused by increasing greenhouse gases
Rising emissions of anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHG) have led to tropospheric warming and stratospheric cooling over recent decades. As a thermodynamic consequence, the troposphere has expanded and the rise of the tropopause, the boundary between the troposphere and stratosphere, has been suggested as one of the most robust fingerprints of anthropogenic climate change ... we show that [the stratosphere] has contracted substantially over the last decades, and that the main driver for this are increasing concentrations of GHG ... we show that this trend will continue ... its short emergence time (less than 15 years) makes it a novel and independent indicator of GHG induced climate change.
https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/abfe2b

One in four cities cannot afford crisis protection measures
One in four cities around the world lack the money to protect themselves against the ravages of climate breakdown, even though more than 90% are facing serious risks, according to research. Cities are facing problems with flooding, overheating, water shortages, and damage to their infrastructure from extreme weather, which is growing more frequent as the climate changes.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/may/12/one-in-four-cities-cannot-afford-climate-crisis-protection-measures-study

Study Warns of 'Rapid and Unstoppable' Sea Level Rise If World Misses Paris Climate Targets
A new study published Wednesday in the journal Nature [projects that] if planetary warming continues at its current rate — which is headed toward 3° Celsius above pre-industrial levels — Antarctic melting will reach a tipping point by 2060 ... "If the world warms up at a rate dictated by current policies we will see the Antarctic system start to get away from us around 2060 ... and once that is set in motion you can't reverse it."
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/05/05/study-warns-rapid-and-unstoppable-sea-level-rise-if-world-misses-paris-climate
reporting on a study at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-03427-0

Editorial: There is no drought
If ‘drought’ means a period of dry years followed by a return to the norm, California is not in drought. The current climate is the norm
Droughts are deviations from the norm. What we have now is no deviation. It is the norm itself. Our climate has changed ... ["Temporary drought"] is sometimes used to deny the epic and obvious change in our climate patterns, but that’s all wrong. Just as there is no temporary drought in the Sahara, where heat and dryness punctuated by flash flooding is the norm, there is no temporary drought in California. The years of steady and predictable water flow are over, and there is no sign of them coming back in our lifetimes. This is it. We have to build, and grow, and legislate, and consume for the world as it is, not as we may remember it.
https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2021-05-06/editorial-there-is-no-drought

Climate scientists: concept of net zero is a dangerous trap
[C]urrent consensus is that if we deploy so-called “carbon dioxide removal” techniques at the same time as reducing our burning of fossil fuels, we can more rapidly halt global warming. Hopefully around the middle of this century we will achieve “net zero” ... This is a great idea, in principle [but] the idea of net zero has licensed a recklessly cavalier “burn now, pay later” approach which has seen carbon emissions continue to soar ... it was becoming more and more difficult for economic-climate models to find viable pathways to avoid dangerous climate change [so,] long before the world would witness any such schemes, the hypothetical process had been included in climate-economic models. In the end, the mere prospect of carbon capture and storage gave policy makers a way out of making the much needed cuts to greenhouse gas emissions ... We struggle to name any climate scientist who at that time thought the Paris Agreement was feasible. We have since been told by some scientists that the Paris Agreement was “of course important for climate justice but unworkable” ... Instead of confronting our doubts, we scientists decided to construct ever more elaborate fantasy worlds in which we would be safe. The price to pay for our cowardice: having to keep our mouths shut about the ever growing absurdity of the required planetary-scale carbon dioxide removal.
https://theconversation.com/climate-scientists-concept-of-net-zero-is-a-dangerous-trap-157368

Climate Change Could Cut World Economy by $23 Trillion in 2050, Insurance Giant Warns
Rising temperatures are likely to reduce global wealth significantly by 2050, as crop yields fall, disease spreads and rising seas consume coastal cities [says] a report from Swiss Re, one of the world’s largest providers of insurance to other insurance companies ... During the past 40 years, the United States has experienced almost 300 weather and climate-related disasters that exceeded $1 billion in losses each, noted Donald L. Griffin, a vice president at the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, which represents insurance companies ... If climate change continues unabated, he said, the cost of insurance risks becoming too high in at-risk areas. “We can’t just continue to rebuild in the same way,” Mr. Griffin said.
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/22/climate/climate-change-economy.html

Why no action on climate change is not an option
While no country is immune to the adverse effects of climate change, some nations will suffer worse than others ... The Economics of Climate Change report pulls together information about the physical risks of wetter or drier climates, each country’s ability to adapt to these changes and the likely adverse impact of climate change on GDP ... "Our research is unique in that it explicitly simulates many uncertainties around the economic effects of climate change. What we found is that, over time, climate impacts could be a lot more severe than policymakers, fiscal authorities and central banks are currently taking into account." [says] Patrick Saner, Head of Macro Strategy at the Swiss Re Institute, and one of the report's authors.
https://www.swissre.com/risk-knowledge/mitigating-climate-risk/no-action-climate-change-not-option.html

America’s new normal: A degree hotter than two decades ago
NOAA-30yr America’s new normal temperature is a degree [F] hotter than it was just two decades ago ... not just hotter, but wetter in the eastern and central parts of the nation and considerably drier in the West than just a decade earlier ... the yearly normal temperature is now 53.3 degrees (11.8 degrees Celsius) based on weather station data from 1991 to 2020. That’s nearly half a degree warmer than a decade ago. Twenty years ago, normal was 52.3 degrees (11.3 degrees Celsius) based on data from 1971 to 2000.
https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-05-04/americas-new-normal-a-degree-hotter-than-two-decades-ago
reporting on a study at https://www.noaa.gov/news/new-us-climate-normals-are-here-what-do-they-tell-us-about-climate-change

As glaciers disappear in Alaska, the rest of the world’s ice follows
Nowhere in the world is losing glacier ice as rapidly as Alaska. This single region accounts for about a quarter of global mass loss, more than twice the share of other areas including the Greenland periphery and the Himalayas. That is a global concern because glacier loss is a bigger source of sea level rise than the polar ice sheets [and they] are a vital component of the Earth’s life-support system ... No longer does a glacier reach the Muir Inlet. “If John Muir went to some of the same places today, he wouldn’t even see a glacier. What would be write about? Open water and a young growth forest?” If this was just one bay, it would be no cause for concern. Glaciers have always gained in one valley and lost in another. The difference today, he said, is that all the glaciers in the region are declining at the same time ... the fall of [Taku glacier] the last hold-out against global warming was a sobering moment. “That makes the score climate change 250, alpine glaciers 0 ... they are all in retreat.” To varying degrees, the story is the same across the world ... Even the remote Antarctic is not immune. In January 2020, scientists at a polar research base detected black carbon that had floated across the Pacific from the record bushfires in Australia. This, however, pales into insignificance compared to the impact of warming air and oceans, which is eroding giant southern glaciers, such as Thwaites. If Thwaites and other Antarctic glaciers break into the ocean, sea levels would rise rapidly ... For Peito, the picture is dismal: “We keep updating the data, and the story keeps getting worse.”
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/may/01/as-glaciers-disappear-in-alaska-the-rest-of-the-worlds-ice-follows

Speed at which world’s glaciers are melting has doubled in 20 years
The melting of the world’s glaciers has nearly doubled in speed over the past 20 years and contributes more to sea-level rise than either the Greenland or Antarctic ice sheets, according to the most comprehensive global study of ice rivers ever undertaken ... Between 2000 and 2019, glaciers lost 267 gigatonnes (Gt) of ice per year, equivalent to 21% of sea-level rise, reveals a paper published in Nature. The authors said the mass loss was equivalent to submerging the surface of England under 2 metres of water every year. This was 47% higher than the contribution of the melting ice sheet in Greenland and more than twice that from the ice sheet in Antarctica. As a cause of sea-level rise, glacier loss was second only to thermal expansion, which is prompted by higher ocean temperatures ... The study uses historical NASA satellite data and new statistical methods to construct three-dimensional topographies going back 20 years and covering 99.9% of the world’s glaciers. The result is the most accurate and comprehensive assessment of the world’s 217,175 glaciers to date. Scientists said the precision of the data allowed them to be more certain than before that glacier loss is enormous and accelerating.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/apr/28/speed-at-which-worlds-glaciers-are-melting-has-doubled-in-20-years

Millions of Groundwater Wells Could Run Dry
Overpumping, drought and the steady influence of climate change are depleting groundwater resources all over the globe, according to new research. As much as 20% of the world’s groundwater wells may be facing imminent failure, potentially depriving billions of people of fresh water. “We found that this undesirable result is happening across the world, from the western United States to India,” said Debra Perrone, a water resources expert at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and co-author of the study. The research, published yesterday in the journal Science, pulled together construction records from 39 million wells scattered across 40 countries.
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/millions-of-groundwater-wells-could-run-dry/
reporting on a study at https://science.sciencemag.org/content/372/6540/418

Climate tipping points may have been reached already, experts say
Through decades of research, and now lived experience, it has become clear that the impacts of climate change will have drastic and far-reaching consequences on our planet. And while some of those consequences are predictable — like more extreme weather, sea-level rise and loss of biodiversity — the pace at which these unfold and their eventual severity hinge on what happens with key linchpins in the climate system, called tipping points ... In a 2019 paper, Professor Timothy Lenton, a global leader on the subject, identified nine climate tipping points [including] what he deems the three most critical tipping points: the Amazon rainforest, the West Antarctic ice sheet and the Gulf Stream system. Lenton highlights these three because the West Antarctic ice sheet may have already passed a tipping point; the Amazon because it is a crucial crucible of biodiversity and for its warehouse of carbon; and the Gulf Stream system because of its potential for profound changes with connected ramifications all around the planet. CBS News spoke to Lenton and several other scientists [and] their message was unanimous: Changes are happening faster than what was expected and the chance of hitting tipping points in the climate system, which just a decade ago appeared remote and far off, now seems much more likely and more immediate ... [Leading climate scientist Michael] Mann warns this is all happening much faster than projected. "The observations tell us we are about 50 years, or more, ahead of where the climate models say we should be at this point," he said.
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/climate-change-tipping-points-amazon-rainforest-antarctic-ice-gulf-stream/

Stinson Beach residents must reckon with abandoning their homes as sea levels rise
Studies show that numerous [posh] homes in Stinson Beach will flood with just one foot of sea rise, an unavoidable result of human-caused climate change. Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) projects that this will likely happen in under 20 years (the same data set shows a rise of nearly four feet by the end of the century) ... "Lots of people delighted with their beach house and their one-and-a-half-minute walk to the beach all of a sudden discovered that you wouldn't be able to get a permit, for anything," resident and HOA President Mike Matthews told the station. "That equates to 'can’t sell your house,' and that equates to loss of the value of it so there was an extreme reaction." This has resulted in a fight between residents and the California Coastal Commission on what to do with the at-risk homes, as the commission wants to let nature take its course and not build a sea wall ... The commission sees the loss of homes as inevitable and is advocating for a "managed retreat," meaning the homes in the low-lying areas will need to be moved or abandoned.
https://www.sfgate.com/local/article/2020-04-bay-area-sea-rise-stinson-beach-climate-16133384.php

There aren’t enough trees in the world to offset society’s carbon emissions – and there never will be
[E]arth’s land ecosystems can hold enough additional vegetation to absorb between 40 and 100 gigatonnes of carbon from the atmosphere. Once this additional growth is achieved (a process which will take a number of decades), there is no capacity for additional carbon storage on land. But our society is currently pouring CO2 into the atmosphere at a rate of ten gigatonnes of carbon a year.
https://theconversation.com/there-arent-enough-trees-in-the-world-to-offset-societys-carbon-emissions-and-there-never-will-be-158181
reporting on a study at https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/ffgc.2020.00058/full

A Massive Methane Reservoir Is Lurking Beneath the Sea
Methane in the Laptev Sea is stored in reservoirs below the sea’s submarine permafrost or in the form of methane hydrates — solid ice-like structures that trap the gas inside ... disintegrating hydrates and reservoirs can lead to sudden, eruptive releases. Methane has now started to escape as the Laptev’s submarine permafrost is thawed by the relative warmth of overlying seawater. With an even stronger greenhouse effect than carbon dioxide, methane releases into the atmosphere could substantially amplify global warming ... study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America in March. “The big finding was that we really have something that’s coming out from a deep pool,” said Steinbach. As the permafrost thaws, it opens up new pathways that allow methane to pass through. According to Gustafsson, this is worrying, as the pool likely contains more methane than is currently in the atmosphere.
https://eos.org/articles/a-massive-methane-reservoir-is-lurking-beneath-the-sea
reporting on a study at https://www.pnas.org/content/118/10/e2019672118

Aquatic Pollutants in Oceans and Fisheries
Exposures to environmental pollutants are adversely impacting fertility, behavior, and resilience ... Estimates indicate up to 80% of marine chemical pollution originates on land and the situation is worsening ... Endocrine disrupting chemicals, which are biologically active at extremely low concentrations, pose a particular long-term threat to fisheries ... pollutants such as mercury, brominated compounds, and plastics biomagnify in the aquatic food web and ultimately reach humans ... Oceans are warming and becoming more acidic ... Melting sea ice, glaciers and permafrost are increasing sea levels and altering ocean currents ... Increases in both de-oxygenated ‘dead zones’ and coastal algal blooms are being observed ... climate change is re-mobilizing historical contaminants from their ‘polar sinks’ ... Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) represent a long-term threat to all aquatic life. Exposure to EDCs disrupts an organism’s endocrine system by interfering with normal hormonal activity ... evident in fish, frogs, alligators, and ultimately in humans. In the most extreme cases, animals developed both male and female sexual characteristics making reproduction impossible. EDCs can affect the biological systems of all aquatic species ... Mercury is a potent neurotoxin and the accumulation of mercury can cause damage to fish brains. Mercury is also linked to reproductive impairment in many fish species ... Over 40% of insect species may be threatened with extinction.
https://ipen.org/transfer/embargo/aquatic_pollutants_in_oceans_and_fisheries_ipen-en.pdf

IEA issues 'dire warning' on CO2 emissions as it predicts 5% rise
Global CO2 emissions from energy are seen rising nearly 5% this year, suggesting the economic rebound from COVID-19 could be "anything but sustainable" for the climate, the International Energy Agency said ... largest single increase in more than a decade ... will likely be driven by a resurgence in coal use in the power sector ... Demand for all fossil fuels is on course to grow in 2021, with both coal and gas set to rise above 2019 levels. The expected rise in coal use dwarfs that of renewables by almost 60%, despite accelerating demand for solar, wind and hydro power.
https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/iea-issues-dire-warning-co2-emissions-it-predicts-5-rise-2021-04-20/
reporting on a study at https://www.iea.org/reports/global-energy-review-2021

‘Relentless’ climate crisis intensified in 2020, says UN report
There was a “relentless” intensification of the climate crisis in 2020, according to the UN’s World Meteorological Organization ... the temporary dip in carbon emissions due to lockdowns had no discernible impact on atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, the WMO report said. Last year was ranked as the hottest on record [and the decade] 2011-20 was the hottest on record. Extreme weather events broke records across the world ... Richard Allan, a professor of climate science at the University of Reading in the UK, said: “What is notable is an emerging picture that climate change is gathering pace: [ice is] melting more quickly and heat is accumulating more rapidly in the ocean, while CO2 increases, which are driving these changes, are becoming progressively larger over time.”
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/apr/19/relentless-climate-crisis-intensified-in-2020-says-un-report
reporting on a study at https://library.wmo.int/doc_num.php?explnum_id=10618

Early heatwaves in South Asia foreshadow an uncertain future for the region
[Karachi Pakistan temperature] rose to 44 degrees Celsius on April 3 ... Sardar Sarfaraz of the Pakistan Meteorological Department attributed the early arrival of the heatwave to the shattering of traditional weather patterns – a consequence of climate change ... In recent years, a spate of heatwaves has been recorded in Sindh province of southeast Pakistan. In 2015, Karachi’s heat index soared to 66 degrees Celsius, killing at least 1,200 people with 40,000 suffering from heatstroke and heat exhaustion [but a] study published by Geophysical Research Letters, a scientific journal, predicts that the worst is yet to come ... the study concludes that, even if global warming is contained at 1.5 degrees Celsius ... deadly heatwaves are likely to become more common across South Asia ... as “wet bulb” temperatures climb above 32 degrees Celsius ... The study notes that the impact of soaring temperatures will be felt most by labourers and industrial workers ...  in a region where 29% of the population – 216 million people – live in extreme poverty.
https://scroll.in/article/992163/early-heatwaves-in-south-asia-foreshadow-an-uncertain-future-for-the-region

The Ongoing Collapse of the World's Aquifers
All over the world geology is conspiring with climate change to sink the ground under humanity’s feet. More punishing droughts mean the increased draining of aquifers, and rising seas make sinking land all the more vulnerable to flooding. According to a recent study published in the journal Science, 1.6 billion people could be affected by subsidence [by 2040] ... “Aquifers will be depleted ... it's not possible to ask people who are in need of fresh water to stop using groundwater” ... At the end of the day, subsiding cities are up against unstoppable physical forces. “Geology is geology ... we can't do anything about that.”
https://www.wired.com/story/the-ongoing-collapse-of-the-worlds-aquifers/
reporting on a study at https://science.sciencemag.org/content/371/6524/34

The Dead Sea is dying. Drinking water is scarce. Jordan faces a climate crisis
In the last three decades, the Dead Sea’s level has fallen almost 100 feet. The rate of loss is accelerating ... Jordan’s perennial thirst is worsening. A virtually landlocked desert kingdom with few resources, the country’s yearly decrease in rainfall could lead to a 30% reduction by 2100, according to Stanford University’s Jordan Water Project. Jordan’s aquifers ... are being pumped at a furious pace, even as the pandemic has increased demand by 40% ... “The situation here is bleak,” says Water Ministry spokesman Omar Salameh ... a preview of what the region faces as a whole. Middle Eastern nations top the list of most water-stressed countries, the World Resources Institute says. The region is also a “global hotspot of unsustainable water use,” according to 2017 World Bank report.
https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-04-15/the-dead-sea-is-dying-drinking-water-is-scarce-jordan-faces-a-climate-crisis

The 'Heat Bombs' Destroying Arctic Sea Ice
A team led by physical oceanographers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography shows in a new study how plumes of warm water are flowing into the Arctic Ocean from the Pacific Ocean and accelerating sea ice melt from below [and] changing the nature of the Arctic Ocean faster than nearly any other place on Earth ... Warm, relatively salty water enters from the Pacific Ocean through the Bering Strait and then the Barrow Canyon off Alaska’s northern coast, which ... is dense enough to “subduct,” or dive beneath, the fresh Arctic surface layer [and create] pockets of very warm water that lurk below surface waters ... These pockets known as “heat bombs'' are just stable enough to be able to last for months or years, swirling far north beneath the main ice pack near the north pole, and destabilizing that ice as the heat in them gradually but steadily diffuses upwards to melt the ice.
https://scripps.ucsd.edu/news/heat-bombs-destroying-arctic-sea-ice

Long-term consequences of CO2 emissions
The oxygen content in the oceans will continue to decrease ... A new study published today in the scientific journal Nature Communications shows that this process will continue for centuries, even if all CO2 emissions and thus warming at the Earth's surface would be stopped immediately. "In the study, a model of the Earth system was used to assess what would happen in the ocean in the long term if all CO2 emissions would be stopped immediately," explains the author, Professor Andreas Oschlies from GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel. "The results show that even in this extreme scenario, the oxygen depletion will continue for centuries, more than quadrupling the oxygen loss we have seen to date in the ocean."
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/04/210416120005.htm

Just 3% of world’s ecosystems remain intact, study suggests
Just 3% of the world’s land remains ecologically intact with healthy populations of all its original animals and undisturbed habitat ... mainly in parts of the Amazon and Congo tropical forests, east Siberian and northern Canadian forests and tundra, and the Sahara ... Previous analyses have identified wilderness areas based largely on satellite images and estimated that 20-40% of the Earth’s surface is little affected by humans. However, the scientists behind the new study argue that forests, savannah and tundra can appear intact from above but that, on the ground, vital species are missing ... The new assessment combines maps of human damage to habitat with maps showing where animals have disappeared from their original ranges or are too few in number to maintain a healthy ecosystem.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/apr/15/just-3-of-worlds-ecosystems-remain-intact-study-suggests
reporting on a study at https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/ffgc.2021.626635/full

[US] Corn Belt Has Lost a Third of Its Topsoil
Crops hunger for the carbon-packed composition of rich topsoil. They need the nutrients and water that it stores, unlike the compacted, infertile soils that decades of conventional farming create ... agricultural soil erosion has been a problem for decades, but quantifying soil loss from a hundred years of farming and across multiple states has proven difficult. Now a study led by geomorphologist Evan Thaler and published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in February attempts to answer the elusive question of how much topsoil has been eroded in the Corn Belt, which stretches roughly from Ohio to Nebraska and produces 75 percent of the nation’s corn. The study estimated that about 35 percent of the region has lost its topsoil completely ... Rick Cruse, an agronomy professor at Iowa State University whose research on soil erosion includes remote sensing and satellite imagery, found Thaler’s results to be reasonable. “The technologies they used have been in the literature and have been developed for decades,” he says. “When I look at the landscape where they’re making these estimates, and look at the economic estimates they’ve generated, I have no pushback on what’s been done here.”
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/scientists-say-nations-corn-belt-has-lost-third-its-topsoil-180977485/

Epic drought means water crisis on Oregon-California border
The federally owned irrigation project will draw [only] 33,000 acre-feet of water from Upper Klamath Lake, which farmers said was roughly 8% of what they need in such a dry year. Water deliveries will also start June 1, two months later than usual ... “It just hasn’t rained or snowed this year. We all know how dry our fields are, and the rest of the watersheds are in the same boat,” Ben DuVal, president of the Klamath Water Users Association, told several dozen irrigators who gathered in Klamath Falls on Wednesday morning to hear the news. “We all know what this is going to mean to our farms, our families and our community as a whole.” ... Jay Weiner, an attorney for the Klamath Tribes, [said] “What we’re seeing with climate change increasingly — year after year after year — is that there is not enough water to go around. This crisis should not come as a surprise to anyone ... We have over-drafted our account, essentially, and now we have to deal with the consequences.”
https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/epic-drought-means-water-crisis-on-oregon-california-border/

US West prepares for possible 1st water shortage declaration
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released 24-month projections this week forecasting that less Colorado River water will cascade down from the Rocky Mountains through Lake Powell and Lake Mead and into the arid deserts of the U.S. Southwest and the Gulf of California. Water levels in the two lakes are expected to plummet low enough for the agency to declare an official shortage for the first time, threatening the supply of Colorado River water that growing cities and farms rely on. It comes as climate change means less snowpack flows into the river and its tributaries, and hotter temperatures parch soil and cause more river water to evaporate as it streams through the drought-plagued American West. The agency’s models project Lake Mead will fall below 1,075 feet (328 meters) for the first time in June 2021. That’s the level that prompts a shortage declaration under agreements negotiated by seven states that rely on Colorado River water: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming ... Arizona, Nevada and Mexico have voluntarily given up water under a drought contingency plan for the river signed in 2019. A shortage declaration would subject the two U.S. states to their first mandatory reductions. Both rely on the Colorado River more than any other water source.
https://apnews.com/article/arizona-colorado-lakes-water-shortages-colorado-river-09302e61c5e0ef051f50459f3dcb771f

Colorado River basin due for more frequent, intense hydroclimate events
In the vast Colorado River basin, climate change is driving extreme, interconnected events among earth-system elements such as weather and water ... "We found that concurrent extreme hydroclimate events, such as high temperatures and unseasonable rain that quickly melt mountain snowpack to cause downstream floods, are projected to increase and intensify within several critical regions of the Colorado River basin," said Katrina Bennett, a hydrologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and lead author of the paper ... The Los Alamos study looked at heat waves, drought, flooding, and low flows in climate scenarios taken from six earth-system models for the entire Colorado River basin. The basin spans portions of Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and California ... In every scenario, the number and magnitude of each type of extreme event increased on average across the Colorado River Basin for the future period compared to the historical period ... More than 40 million people depend on the Colorado River basin for water, and it directly supports $1.4 trillion in agricultural and commercial activity.
https://phys.org/news/2021-04-colorado-river-basin-due-frequent.html
reporting on a study at https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4441/13/7/978

Climate Change Threatens Russia With Billions in Annual Costs
Russia is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change. A significant part of its territory is in the Arctic, which is warming more than twice as fast as the rest of the world. That’s manifested in Siberia’s unusually high 2020 temperatures, two consecutive years of record wildfires and thawing permafrost ... Reinsurance [company] Aon Benfield estimated that June floods near Russia’s border with China in 2019 cost the nation more than $460 million. In total, major catastrophes may have led to just under $1 billion of losses in Russia that year, it said. “The heat wave in Siberia in 2020 and the corresponding widespread fires are renewed evidence of climate change,” said Ernst Rauch, chief climate and geoscientist at global reinsurance provider Munich Re. “We view with concern the thawing permafrost soils, which amplify global warming by releasing methane.”
https://www.bloombergquint.com/politics/climate-change-may-be-costing-russia-billions-every-year

California is poised for a catastrophic fire season. Experts say its plan isn’t nearly enough
Last year, the state saw five of the six largest fires in state history, after a lack of rain and a heat wave dried out fire-fueling vegetation across the region’s wildlands. This year is tied for the third-driest year in state history – and the desiccated landscape is primed to burn. “We’re definitely looking at a serious challenge ahead,” Field said. As the state heads into its dry, summer season, its reservoirs remain at about half capacity. The region is so dry that the chamise plants that cover the state’s chaparral landscape didn’t sprout or flower this year in some locations. Instead, the highly flammable vegetation has already started to dry out – transforming into kindling that could invite more destructive fires, earlier than usual.
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/apr/14/california-wildfire-season-2021

We Are Living in a Climate Emergency, and We’re Going to Say So
Signed By: Covering Climate Now, Scientific American, Columbia Journalism Review, The Nation, The Guardian, Noticias Telemundo, Al Jazeera, The Asahi Shimbun, La Repubblica
It’s time for journalism to recognize that the climate emergency is here. This is a statement of science, not politics. Thousands of scientists—including James Hansen, the NASA scientist who put the problem on the public agenda in 1988, and David King and Hans Schellnhuber, former science advisers to the British and German governments, respectively—have said humanity faces a “climate emergency.” Why “emergency”? Because words matter. To preserve a livable planet, humanity must take action immediately. Failure to slash the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will make the extraordinary heat, storms, wildfires and ice melt of 2020 routine and could “render a significant portion of the Earth uninhabitable,” warned the January Scientific American article.
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/we-are-living-in-a-climate-emergency-and-were-going-to-say-so/

Carbon dioxide levels in atmosphere reach record high
The data released by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography shows atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gas in March averaged 417.14 parts per million (ppm), a new record high. The UK’s Met Office predicts monthly concentrations of carbon dioxide, the main driver of rising temperatures and the climate crisis, will peak in 2021 at about 419.5 ppm ... Last year’s annual average figure was 413.94ppm – with 2021’s level forecast to be about 416.3ppm ... “It took over 200 years to increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by 25%, and just 30 years to reach 50% above pre-industrial levels.”
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/apr/07/carbon-dioxide-levels-in-atmosphere-reach-record-high

Half of global methane emissions come from aquatic ecosystems – much of this is human-made
In our paper published today in Nature Geoscience, we show as much as half of global methane emissions come from aquatic ecosystems ... Scientists had previously underestimated this global methane contribution due to underaccounting human-created and human-impacted aquatic ecosystems ... emissions from impacted, polluted and human-made aquatic ecosystems are higher than from more natural sites ... [we found] strong methane release from rice cultivation, reservoirs and aquaculture farms. Globally, rice cultivation releases more methane per year than all coastal wetlands, the continental shelf and open ocean together.
https://theconversation.com/half-of-global-methane-emissions-come-from-aquatic-ecosystems-much-of-this-is-human-made-156960
reporting on a study at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-021-00715-2

Despite pandemic shutdowns, carbon dioxide and methane surged in 2020
The global surface average for CO2, calculated from measurements collected at NOAA’s remote sampling locations, was 412.5 ppm in 2020, rising by 2.6 ppm during the year ... economic recession was estimated to have reduced carbon emissions by about 7 percent during 2020. Without the economic slowdown, the 2020 increase would have been the highest on record ... Since 2000, the global CO2 average has grown by 43.5 ppm, an increase of 12 percent ... CO2 is now comparable to where it was during the Mid-Pliocene Warm Period around 3.6 million years ago [when] sea level was about 78 feet higher than today, the average temperature was 7 degrees Fahrenheit higher than in pre-industrial times, and studies indicate large forests occupied areas of the Arctic that are now tundra ... annual increase in atmospheric methane for 2020 was 14.7 ppb, which is the largest annual increase recorded since systematic measurements began.
https://research.noaa.gov/article/ArtMID/587/ArticleID/2742/Despite-pandemic-shutdowns-carbon-dioxide-and-methane-surged-in-2020

Permafrost temperatures in Swiss Alps reach record highs
In 2019-2020 [winter] air temperatures were up to 1°C higher than average ... This, combined with a very warm spring, two summer heat waves, and the early arrival of snow at high altitudes in November 2019, resulted in warm permafrost conditions across the country ... the Swiss Permafrost Monitoring Network PERMOS documents changes in permafrost conditions in the Swiss Alps and draws on the expertise of six research institutes and universities in the country.
https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/permafrost-temperatures-in-swiss-alps-reach-record-highs/46513966

'This has never happened': California's only wildfire research center makes scary discovery
"Fire season 2021 is looking grim ... never seen April fuels look so dry"
"The lack of rain this season has severely impacted our chaparral live fuel moistures ... April is [historically] the highest FMC of the season." FMC refers to "fuel-moisture content" — a measure of the ratio of moisture to combustible material in plants that indicates how prone they are to burning ... This year the fuel-moisture content across the Santa Cruz Mountains is "the lowest we've observed" ... This finding comes a year after California saw its largest wildfire season in modern history with over 10,000 wildfires tearing through over 4.2 million acres ... Clements fears this [fire] season could be equally dire.
https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/fuel-moisture-content-California-wildfire-16087019.php

Climate change is a major threat to stability, spy agencies say
Climate change will lead to a less secure, more crisis-prone world that will strain global institutions, according to a major [US] national security assessment ... many systems large and small may fail under the increased stress. “Climate change will increasingly exacerbate risks to human and national security and force states to make hard choices and tradeoffs,” the report states [environment section begins on p 30] ... This is not your typical grim climate report projecting disaster in the year 2100, i.e. the distant future. Instead, the climate change we will see through midcentury is already baked into the climate system, thanks to how the oceans absorb and redistribute heat. Studies show that even if emissions are sharply reduced now we are still in for additional amounts of warming through mid-century, which will lead to more extreme weather events, sea level rise, and other effects.
https://www.axios.com/climate-change-national-security-intelligence-report-22a18eaa-f307-4d07-a149-6c565dd7337f.html
reporting on a study at https://www.dni.gov/files/ODNI/documents/assessments/GlobalTrends_2040.pdf

'Immediate and drastic.' The climate crisis is seriously spooking economists
With those floods, wildfires and hurricanes occurring more frequently, the financial toll from the climate crisis is expected to rise dramatically: Economic damage from climate change is projected to reach $1.7 trillion per year by 2025 and surge to roughly $30 trillion annually by 2075 under most scenarios, according to consensus forecasts included in the survey.
https://edition.cnn.com/2021/03/30/economy/climate-crisis-economy/index.html

Evidence of Antarctic glacier's tipping point confirmed for first time
Researchers have confirmed for the first time that Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica could cross tipping points, leading to a rapid and irreversible retreat which would have significant consequences for global sea level ... Such a retreat, once started, could lead to the collapse of the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which contains enough ice to raise global sea level by over three metres. While the general possibility of such a tipping point within ice sheets has been raised before, showing that Pine Island Glacier has the potential to enter unstable retreat is a very different question. Now, researchers from Northumbria University have shown, for the first time, that this is indeed the case. Their findings are published in leading journal, The Cryosphere.
https://phys.org/news/2021-04-evidence-antarctic-glacier.html
reporting on a study at https://tc.copernicus.org/articles/15/1501/2021/

Australian Academy of Science: The risks to Australia of a 3°C warmer world
The planet is well on the path to devastating climate change. In 2019, Australia’s warmest year on record, average surface temperatures were 1.1°C above the pre-industrial period. Australia has warmed on average by 1.4°C since national records began in 1910. Current global and Australian policies to reverse this trend are inadequate ... If the international community fails to meet the emission reduction targets under the UNFCCC Paris Agreement, this will result in a global mean surface temperature increase of approximately 3°C or more by mid to late century ... Limiting climate change to 1.5°C is now virtually impossible.
https://www.science.org.au/supporting-science/science-policy-and-analysis/reports-and-publications/risks-australia-three-degrees-c-warmer-world

Fire and flood: 'Whole areas of Australia will be uninsurable'
After the events of the past two years, that question – what is going to happen with insurance? – is proving increasingly significant ... the size of the loss incurred by IAG and Suncorp alone was so great the companies burned through their catastrophe allowances and had to draw on their reinsurance contracts – the insurance for insurers – prompting the world’s largest reinsurer, Swiss Re, to publicly lash the companies for consistently failing to predict the cost of natural disasters. Viewed over time, the impact is stark ... “People will become more aware about climate risk and will be more likely to move, but in reality people can’t afford to move their house and they get stuck there” ... during that hearing, the industry largely accepted that a world 2C hotter on average was now locked in, a position outlined in IAG’s report on climate change. “A 2C target is therefore unlikely to be achieved and will therefore significantly increase the risk for catastrophic events, even compared to 1.5C warming,” the report said.
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/apr/02/fire-and-flood-whole-areas-of-australia-will-be-uninsurable

‘Record-breaking’ temperatures to engulf Southwest, with ‘critical’ fire weather conditions possible
Record-breaking temperatures to engulf Southwest The National Weather Service is warning of “critical fire weather conditions,” the exceptional early-season heat combining with single-digit humidity to transform the already-parched landscape into a tinder box. Most of the Southwest is already in the midst of an “exceptional” drought, the highest tier on a six-step scale. Signs point to the drought continuing to worsen with time with an anomalously hot and dry summer expected. The desert Southwest is still running dry from a virtually nonexistent monsoon last summer — a pronounced reduction and, in some cases, a total absence of the warm-season showers and thunderstorms that make up most of the region’s annual rainfall ... Since World War II, the average date of Phoenix’s first 100-degree reading has shifted earlier by about three weeks [and] 100-degree days are sticking around about 10 days later. All told, that’s nearly a month more triple-digit heat than was typical just 70 years ago ... this is the time of year when the stage is being set for just how bad the fires will eventually get. “The fuels are prepared now,” Benedict said.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2021/04/02/record-southwest-temperatures-fire-weather

Toxic impact of pesticides on bees has doubled, study shows
The toxic impact of pesticides on bees and other pollinators has doubled in a decade, new research shows, despite a fall in the amount of pesticide used. Modern pesticides have much lower toxicity to people, wild mammals and birds and are applied in lower amounts, but they are even more toxic to invertebrates. The study shows the higher toxicity outweighs the lower volumes, leading to a more deadly overall impact on pollinators ... The scientists said their work contradicts claims that declines in the amount of pesticides used is reducing their environmental impact. The research also shows that the toxic impact of pesticides used on genetically modified crops remains the same as conventional crops, despite claims that GM crops would reduce the need for pesticides.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/apr/01/toxic-impact-of-pesticides-on-bees-has-doubled-study-shows

Tropical species are moving northward in U.S. as winters warm
Notwithstanding last month’s cold snap in Texas and Louisiana, climate change is leading to warmer winter weather throughout the southern U.S., creating a golden opportunity for many tropical plants and animals to move north, according to a new study appearing this week in the journal Global Change Biology. Some of these species may be welcomed, such as sea turtles and the Florida manatee, which are expanding their ranges northward along the Atlantic Coast. Others, like the invasive Burmese python — in the Florida Everglades, the largest measured 18 feet, end-to-end —maybe less so. Equally unwelcome, and among the quickest to spread into warming areas, are the insects, including mosquitoes that carry diseases such as West Nile virus, Zika, dengue and yellow fever, and beetles that destroy native trees.
https://news.berkeley.edu/story_jump/tropical-species-are-moving-northward-as-winters-warm/
reporting on a study at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.15563

Destruction of world's forests increased sharply in 2020
According to data from the University of Maryland and the online monitoring platform Global Forest Watch, the loss was well above the average for the last 20 years, with 2020 the third worst year for forest destruction since 2002 when comparable monitoring began. The losses were particularly severe in humid tropical primary forests, such as the Amazon, the Congo and south-east Asia. These forests are vital as carbon sinks in the regulating the global climate, as well as for their irreplaceable ecosystems. Losses from this type of forest alone amounted to 4.2m hectares (10.4m acres), equivalent to the annual carbon dioxide emissions of more than 575m cars, according to the World Resources Institute (WRI), which compiled the report.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/mar/31/destruction-of-worlds-forests-increased-sharply-in-2020-loss-tree-cover-tropical
see also https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-03-31/forest-destruction-surged-in-2020-even-as-global-economy-slowed

The Earliest Cherry Blossom Season in 1,200 Years Is Here Due to Climate Change
In 2021, after an unusually warm spring, Kyoto has burst into color far sooner than expected. To date, this is the earliest cherry blossoms in the city have bloomed in more than 1,200 years. We know that because imperial court documents and ancient diary entries on the nation's cherry blossom festivals can be traced back to 812 CE. In all that time, the earliest blooming date was March 27 in the year 1409 ... When scientists graph Kyoto's full bloom dates over time, they look remarkably like the hockey stick shape of global warming itself.
https://www.sciencealert.com/japan-s-cherry-blossoms-burst-into-color-sooner-than-they-have-in-1-200-years

Hail to be more frequent in Australia, more severe worldwide
The study, published in Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, found the effects of climate change on hailstorms are likely to vary markedly by region, with a general expectation that hailstorm frequency will increase in Australia and Europe and decrease in East Asia and North America, while hailstorm severity will increase in most regions ... “We know with climate change that we are going to have more moisture in the atmosphere and that leads to more instability in the atmosphere, so we expect there will be more tendency for thunderstorms to occur,” Dr Raupach said ... Hailstorms are dangerous and costly phenomena. Severe hail on October 31 which struck areas of Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast has produced more than 33,500 insurance claims so far, with losses estimated at $805 million, the Insurance Council of Australia says.
https://www.insurancenews.com.au/local/hail-to-be-more-frequent-in-australia-more-severe-worldwide

Global Warming Is 'Fundamentally' Changing The Structure of Our World's Oceans
The research published in the journal Nature looked at 50 years of data and followed the way in which surface water "decouples" from the deeper ocean. Climate change has disrupted ocean mixing, a process that helps store away most of the world's excess heat and a significant proportion of CO2. Water on the surface is warmer – and therefore less dense – than the water below, a contrast that is intensified by climate change. Global warming is also causing massive amounts of fresh water to flush into the seas from melting ice sheets and glaciers, lowering the salinity of the upper layer and further reducing its density. This increasing contrast between the density of the ocean layers makes mixing harder, so oxygen, heat and carbon are all less able to penetrate to the deep seas ... lead author Jean-Baptiste Sallee of Sorbonne University and France's CNRS national scientific research center [said] while scientists were aware that this process was under way, "we here show that this change has occurred at a rate much quicker than previously thought: more than six times quicker."
https://www.sciencealert.com/fundamental-changes-to-our-oceans-are-occurring-much-faster-than-we-thought

Erosion of global functional diversity across the tree of life
Mapping extinction risk within [more than 75,000 species of plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish] showed that larger species with slower pace of life are universally threatened. Simulated extinction scenarios exposed [that this is] particularly severe for mammals and amphibians. Considering the disproportionate importance of the largest species for ecological processes, our results emphasize the importance of actions to prevent the extinction of the megabiota.
https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/7/13/eabf2675

Atmospheric drying will lead to lower crop yields, shorter trees across the globe
Atmospheric drying ... is predicted to amplify even more in the coming decades as climate change intensifies. In a new paper published in the journal Global Change Biology, research from the University of Minnesota and Western University in Ontario, Canada, outlines global atmospheric drying significantly reduces productivity of both crops and non-crop plants, even under well-watered conditions. The new findings were established on a large-scale analysis covering 50 years of research and 112 plant species ... "An increase in vapor pressure deficit places greater demand on the crop to use more water ... We believe a climate change-driven increase in atmospheric drying will reduce plant productivity and crop yields."
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-03/uom-adw030821.php

At Least 25% Of Marine Mammals Are Heading For Extinction, Study Finds
A newly published study from the University of Exeter has revealed that at least 25% of marine mammals are classified as threatened of extinction ... Not only are 25% classified as being vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered on the IUCN Red List, but 98% of marine mammal species are at some level of risk in 56% of the ocean.
https://www.unilad.co.uk/animals/at-least-25-of-marine-mammals-are-heading-for-extinction-study-finds/
reporting on a study at https://www.int-res.com/articles/esr2021/44/n044p291.pdf

Oil and natural gas production emit more methane than previously thought
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is underestimating methane emissions from oil and gas production in its annual Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks, according to new research from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). The research team found 90 percent higher emissions from oil production and 50 percent higher emissions for natural gas production than EPA estimated in its latest inventory. The paper is published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.
https://phys.org/news/2021-03-oil-natural-gas-production-emit.html

Intensity of tropical cyclones is probably increasing due to climate change
Researchers at Princeton University, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the University of East Anglia (UEA) examined more than 90 peer-reviewed articles to assess whether human activity is influencing tropical cyclones, including tropical storms, hurricanes and typhoons. The studies showed growing evidence that climate change is probably fuelling more powerful hurricanes and typhoons, a trend that is expected to continue as global temperatures rise.
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-03/uoea-iot032521.php

Direct observations confirm that humans are throwing Earth's energy budget off balance
Climate modeling predicts that human activities are causing the release of greenhouse gases and aerosols that are affecting Earth's energy budget. Now, a NASA study has confirmed these predictions with direct observations for the first time: radiative forcings are increasing due to human actions, affecting the planet's energy balance and ultimately causing climate change. The paper was published online March 25, 2021, in the journal Geophysical Research Letters ... The team found that human activities have caused the radiative forcing on Earth to increase by about 0.5 Watts per square meter from 2003 to 2018. The increase is mostly from greenhouse gases emissions from things like power generation, transport and industrial manufacturing. Reduced reflective aerosols are also contributing to the imbalance.
https://phys.org/news/2021-03-humans-earth-energy.html

Carbon emissions slow, but not nearly fast enough
[O]nly 64 countries have cut their carbon emissions in the years since 195 nations delivered the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015: these achieved annual cuts of 0.16bn tonnes in the years since. But emissions actually rose in 150 nations, which means that overall from 2016 to 2019 emissions grew by 0.21bn tonnes, compared with the preceding five years, 2011-2015. And, say British, European, Australian and US scientists in the journal Nature Climate Change, the global pause during the pandemic in 2020 is not likely to continue. To make the kind of carbon emissions cuts that will fulfill the promise made in Paris to contain global heating to “well below” 2°C by 2100, the world must reduce carbon dioxide emissions each year by one to two billion tonnes. That is an annual increase of ten times the cuts achieved so far by only 64 out of 214 countries.
https://climatenewsnetwork.net/carbon-emissions-slow-but-not-nearly-fast-enough/

Deadly Heat Waves Will Be Common In South Asia, Even At 1.5 Degrees Of Warming
[H]eat stress will become commonplace across South Asia, according to the new study in Geophysical Research Letters ... They estimated the wet bulb temperature residents will experience ... wet bulb temperature of 32 degrees Celsius (89.6 degrees Fahrenheit) is considered to be the point when labor becomes unsafe, and 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) is the limit to human survivability – when the body can no longer cool itself. Their analysis suggests at 2 degrees of warming, the population’s exposure to unsafe labor temperatures will rise more than two-fold, and exposure to lethal temperatures rises 2.7 times.
https://news.agu.org/press-release/deadly-heat-waves-will-be-common-in-south-asia-even-at-1-5-degrees-of-warming/

Russia forecasters warn over Siberia forest fires
Devastating forest fires have ripped across Siberia with increasing regularity over the past few years ... Roman Vilfand, head of science at Russia's weather service, said the whole country would see above-average temperatures from April to September [which] "naturally transform themselves into a fire hazard," Vilfand said, noting that Krasnoyarsk will also see rainfall deficiency. "The problem of precipitation deficiency is not only a problem of this year, it is a climatic problem" ... Russia has set numerous heat records in recent years, with the first half of 2020 seeing the warmest temperatures since the country began weather observations. Asked if Russia will see its winters shrink in the coming years due to warming temperatures, Vilfand noted that while that is already happening, the main challenge of global warming is dealing with increasingly cataclysmic weather events. "The number of dangerous phenomena has doubled over the last quarter of a century. Not by 5 percent, not by 10 percent, but doubled," he said.
https://phys.org/news/2021-03-russia-siberia-forest.html

Arctic methane release due to melting ice is likely to happen again
Beneath the cold, dark depths of the Arctic ocean sit vast reserves of methane. These stores rest in a delicate balance, stable as a solid called methane hydrates, at very specific pressures and temperatures ... New research, published on today in Geology, indicates that during the last two global periods of sea-ice melt, the decrease in pressure [due to melting ice] triggered methane release from buried reserves. Their results demonstrate that as Arctic ice, such as the Greenland ice sheet, melts, similar methane release is likely and should be included in climate models.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/03/210322135221.htm

Source apportionment of methane escaping the subsea permafrost system in the outer Eurasian Arctic Shelf
The East Siberian Arctic Shelf holds large amounts of inundated carbon and methane (CH4). Holocene warming by overlying seawater, recently fortified by anthropogenic warming, has caused thawing of the underlying subsea permafrost ...  all three isotope systems are consistent with methane release from an old, deep, and likely thermogenic pool to the outer Laptev Sea.
https://www.pnas.org/content/118/10/e2019672118

One of Earth’s giant carbon sinks may have been overestimated - study
Soils and the plants that grow in them absorb about a third of the carbon emissions that drive the climate crisis ... Rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere can increase plant growth and, until now, it was assumed carbon storage in soils would increase too. But the study, based on over 100 experiments, found the opposite. When plant growth increases, soil carbon does not ... “We found that when rising CO2 increases plant growth, there is a decrease in soil carbon storage. That’s a very important conclusion,” said César Terrer, who led the research while at Stanford University in the US. He said that if soils do absorb less in future, “the speed of global warming could be higher”.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/mar/24/soils-ability-to-absorb-carbon-emissions-may-be-overestimated-study
reporting on a study at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-03306-8

What if the Perfect Climate Fix Can’t Arrive in Time?
[New no-carbon technology scenarios] take too long to stop emissions now. Trees don't reach canopy-height overnight. By 2080, new forests could draw 6 gigatons of CO₂ out of the air, or about 16% of 2019 emissions. Not too shabby! But not enough and not soon enough ... “The system is great for showing the lack of silver bullets,” said Glen Peters, research director of the Center for International Climate Research in Oslo ... Andrew Jones, co-director of Climate Interactive, says that often lost in political debates about competing climate solutions is how quickly they cut CO2 ... The problem is, as Jones put it, "the energy system turns like an ocean liner, not like a sports car."
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-03-23/what-if-the-perfect-climate-fix-can-t-arrive-in-time

Hurricanes Will Drive More Migrants to Border, Climate Change and Immigration Experts Say
Experts believe that worsening hurricanes in the future may create even more "climate refugees" ... tropical storms are expected to become more frequent and powerful, according to projections released in September 2020 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ... Current U.S. policy doesn't count environmental devastation as a reason for accepting refugees ... farmers and other citizens migrate elsewhere as they face resulting massive crop losses and food shortages ... By the year 2050, as many as 1.5 billion people around the world could be displaced as a result of climate change.
https://www.newsweek.com/hurricanes-will-drive-more-migrants-border-climate-change-immigration-experts-say-1577946

Arctic warming causing heatwaves in India
The deadly heat waves occurring in India are linked to the increasing temperatures in the Arctic region due to global warming, says a study conducted by researchers from India and Brazil ... results are worrying the scientists since the arctic region in the recent decades has been warming up at an alarming rate with an increase in temperature more than twice as fast as the global average. The study titled 'Large-scale connection to Deadly Indian Heatwaves' was published in the Quarterly Journal of Royal Meteorology.
https://english.madhyamam.com/india/arctic-warming-causing-heatwaves-in-india-779339
reporting on a study at https://rmets.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/qj.3985

As Arctic Sea Ice Hits Annual Maximum, Concern Grows Over Polar Ice Loss: Studies
This year ranks as the 7th lowest maximum extent since the satellite record began in 1978. Last year was the hottest on record, and, accordingly, sea ice saw its second lowest extent at the September minimum. This winter might indicate a modest recovery — but there’s a caveat: winter maximums seem to have little correlation to summer minimums. And, moreover, the ice in the Arctic is thin. “Volume keeps going down,” says Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center ... both polar regions continue losing ice fast, with the biggest losses, thus far, occurring at sea. In a recent study published in The Cryosphere, University of Leeds researchers found that global ice loss had increased at a record rate.
https://earth.org/as-arctic-sea-ice-hits-annual-maximum-concern-grows-over-polar-ice-loss/

Meltdown – The Permafrost that Holds the Arctic Together is Falling Apart
As permafrost scientist Steve Kokelj of the Northwest Territories Geological Survey put it, “When permafrost thaws, we’re losing the glue that holds the landscape together” ... the western Arctic and sub-Arctic are heating up twice as fast as the global average [with] worldwide repercussions ... permafrost is a glimpse of the past: plants and animals that died long ago, compressed by the clamp of time but not necessarily decomposed because of the freezer-like conditions that have remained in high-latitude ground since the last ice age ... nearly half of Canada and almost a quarter of the northern hemisphere rests on permafrost [and] “There is much, much, much more activity now within the past 15 years than we can find in the record of the previous 10,000” ... as permafrost thaws and breaks open, the carbon-rich organic material that has been locked away, for some 10,000 years in the western Arctic or even 100,000 in parts of Siberia, becomes fuel ... Without oxygen, such as under lakes and ponds, they belch methane, which isn’t as long-lived in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide but is about 30 times more effective as a heat-trapper over 100 years. Carbon dioxide, on the other hand, can remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years. Increasingly, researchers are detecting nitrous oxide from cracks in the ground created as permafrost thaws; as a greenhouse gas, it is nearly 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide over 100 years ... All of this means that permafrost thaw is a much more alarming global threat than previously anticipated.
https://www.thearcticinstitute.org/meltdown-permafrost-arctic-together-falling-apart/

Submarine Permafrost Has Been Overlooked as a Major Source of Greenhouse Gases, Scientists Warn
Scientists have found that permafrost buried beneath the Arctic Ocean [are] a major source of greenhouse gases not currently included in climate projections that could have a significant impact on climate change in the longer-term. The amount of carbon locked into submarine permafrost is more than humans have released into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution ... The study estimates that permafrost beneath the Arctic Ocean has been slowly thawing since the end of the last glacial period, some 14,000 years ago, in what scientists call a “natural response to deglaciation.” The frozen sediment and soil currently releases 140 million tons of carbon dioxide and 5.3 million tons of methane into the atmosphere each year — roughly equal to the yearly emissions of Spain. But the researchers said anthropogenic global warming will likely accelerate this greenhouse gas release.
https://e360.yale.edu/digest/submarine-permafrost-has-been-overlooked-as-a-major-source-of-greenhouse-gases-scientists-warn

Siberia's warming shows climate change has no winners
Global warming [was supposed to be] something of a boon for Russia, where 55% to 65% of the country is covered in permafrost. It is estimated that 60% of the country's oil and 90% of its natural gas, as well as deposits of nonferrous metals and gold, lie under this thawing part of the planet ... 140,000 sq. km of Russia, about the size of Greece, was lost to fire in 2020. Most of that was in once-frozen areas. When covered with snow in winter, the fires seem to be extinguished. However, the peat in the ground continues to smolder, and in summer it ignites on the surface ... [Greenhouse gases] are released by fires and other events, further accelerating global warming. The world's permafrost zones are thought to contain twice the amount of carbon that is in the atmosphere ... collapse [at a Siberian power plant] occurred because the ground loosened as the permafrost thawed. It has been reported that one-fifth of [Siberian infrastructure] will be affected by 2050 ... Although it was supposed to be a global warming "winner," Russia has become an unexpected climate change victim.
https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Comment/Siberia-s-warming-shows-climate-change-has-no-winners

The Threat of Cascading Extinctions on Earth Could Be Greater Than We Thought
[R]esearchers have found that the species we see as most valuable and worth protecting often aren't the 'threads' most critical to maintaining the complex ecological webs we rely on. Ecologist Aislyn Keyes from the University of California and colleagues used data from three coastal food webs to simulate a dozen extinction sequences to gain a better understanding of how the connections anchor ecosystem services and the stability of the entire webs themselves [and found that] "species playing supporting roles in services through interactions are critical to the robustness of both food webs and services." This means that ecosystem services are under greater threat than anticipated because more species support these services than we've accounted for ... This research was published in Nature Communications.
https://www.sciencealert.com/humans-may-be-impacted-by-ripples-of-cascading-extinctions-sooner-than-expected/amp

Over 10 million displaced by climate disasters in six months: report
About 10.3 million people were displaced by climate change-induced events such as flooding and droughts in the last six months, the majority of them in Asia, a humanitarian organisation said on Wednesday. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said about 2.3 million others were displaced by conflict in the same period, indicating the vast majority of internal displacements are now triggered by climate change. Though the figures cover only a six-month period from September 2020 to February 2021, they highlight an accelerating global trend of climate-related displacement.
https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN2B90Z8

Reproductive Problems in Both Men and Women Are Rising at an Alarming Rate
[R]eproductive problems in males are increasing by about 1 percent per year in Western countries. This “1 percent effect” includes the rates of declining sperm counts, decreasing testosterone levels and increasing rates of testicular cancer, as well as a rise in the prevalence of erectile dysfunction. On the female side of the equation, miscarriage rates are also increasing by about 1 percent per year in the U.S., and so is the rate of gestational surrogacy. Meanwhile, the total fertility rate worldwide has dropped by nearly 1 percent per year from 1960 to 2018 [which] adds up to more than 10 percent per decade and more than 50 percent over 50 years. When you consider that sperm counts declined by 50 percent in just 40 years, as Shanna's meta-analysis published in a 2017 issue of the journal Human Reproduction Update showed, it’s difficult to deny or discount how alarming this is. [These] are largely driven by a common cause: the presence of hormone-altering chemicals.
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/reproductive-problems-in-both-men-and-women-are-rising-at-an-alarming-rate/

Plummeting sperm counts, shrinking penises: toxic chemicals threaten humanity
[A]n environmental and reproductive epidemiologist at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York finds that sperm counts have dropped almost 60% since 1973. Following the trajectory we are on, Swan’s research suggests sperm counts could reach zero by 2045 ... The chemicals to blame for this crisis are found in everything from plastic containers and food wrapping, to waterproof clothes and fragrances in cleaning products, to soaps and shampoos, to electronics and carpeting ... “In some parts of the world, the average twentysomething woman today is less fertile than her grandmother was at 35,” Swan writes. In addition to that, Swan finds that, on average, a man today will have half of the sperm his grandfather had.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/mar/18/toxic-chemicals-health-humanity-erin-brokovich

Sydney's Warragamba Dam overflows and mid north coast evacuated amid wild weather
Swathes of suburban Sydney were on alert for dangerous flooding after the city’s main dam spilled over on Saturday, with severe storms across New South Wales also triggering a mini-tornado, evacuations, and hampering coronavirus vaccine delivery. Warragamba Dam spilled over at about 3pm on Saturday and daily rainfall records for parts of the mid north coast for March were broken ... Saturday’s wild weather occurred in areas marked by droughts and bushfires in recent years, with Sydney’s water levels dropping so low in 2019 that water restrictions were triggered, while Port Macquarie, Taree and areas of the north coast experienced the early brunt of the Black Summer bushfires.
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/mar/20/nsw-floods-sydney-battered-by-rain-and-mid-north-coast-evacuated-amid-wild-weather

Eight States Are Seeding Clouds to Overcome Megadrought
But there is little evidence to show that the process is increasing precipitation
Boosting snowpack is being pursued with growing urgency. Much of the western U.S. has been gripped by drought for the last 20 years. Scientists recently concluded that the past two decades represent the driest span in the region since at least the late 1500s. This “megadrought” has been heavily influenced by climate change ... Flow has dwindled on major water systems like the Rio Grande and the Colorado River, which each supply water to millions of people ... [In this seeding study] scientists estimated that around 286 Olympic swimming pools’ worth of snow fell from the clouds they seeded ... But experts also advise keeping expectations in check. The science so far suggests that cloud seeding is far from a silver bullet when it comes to dealing with drought. “As we’ve shown in the paper, we cannot really generate an awful lot of snow,” Friedrich said. “We can generate snow, but not that we can really overcome a drought situation.”
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/eight-states-are-seeding-clouds-to-overcome-megadrought/

Spring Outlook: Drought to persist, expand in U.S. West and High Plains
Nearly one-half of the country — stretching from the Pacific Coast to the Great Plains and upper Midwest — is currently experiencing moderate to exceptional drought conditions, and that is expected to continue and expand, according to NOAA’s U.S. Spring Outlook released today ... For April through June, warmer-than-normal temperatures are favored for the entire contiguous U.S. with the exception of Western Montana, northern Idaho, and parts of Oregon and Washington. Hawaii, western and northern Alaska are also forecast to see above-normal temperatures.
https://www.noaa.gov/media-release/spring-outlook-drought-to-persist-expand-in-us-west-and-high-plains

European summer droughts since 2015 unprecedented in past two millennia
An international team, led by the University of Cambridge, studied the chemical fingerprints in European oak trees to reconstruct summer climate over 2,110 years ... drought conditions since 2015 suddenly intensified, beyond anything in the past two thousand years. This anomaly is likely the result of human-caused climate change and associated shifts in the jet stream. The results are reported in the journal Nature Geoscience ... "These tree-ring stable isotopes give us a far more accurate archive to reconstruct hydroclimate conditions in temperate areas, where conventional tree-ring studies often fail," said co-author Professor Jan Esper from the University of Mainz, Germany.
https://phys.org/news/2021-03-european-summer-droughts-unprecedented-millennia.html

New Mexico’s Coming Megadrought Highlights Farmers’ Control of Water
The upcoming season highlights a difficult reality in this state: Farming and ranching to pay the bills could become an unsustainable way of life in New Mexico, as the water supply dwindles ... While agriculture’s economic impact in New Mexico is usually just a few percent a year, it’s by far the largest consumer of water — irrigation accounted for 76% of water withdrawals ... The disparity between agriculture’s economic impact and water usage is common throughout the West, and Pegram said water law has perpetuated this trend ... Albuquerque, as well as Santa Fe, purchase water from the Colorado River Basin [and] “If we didn’t have that water, things would be even much worse” [but] the state is unable to store any more water from the river due to restrictions under the Rio Grande Compact, which governs water apportioning among Colorado, New Mexico and Texas. Even if the state got out of those restrictions, she said, it owes a debt of 100,000 acre feet of water — enough to flood about that many football fields a foot deep — downstream to Texas. Climatic trends don’t bode well for New Mexico.
https://capitalandmain.com/new-mexicos-coming-megadrought-0308

Changing Lengths of the Four Seasons by Global Warming
[S]ummer in the Northern Hemisphere mid‐latitudes has lengthened, whereas winter has shortened, accompanied by shorter spring and autumn. Such changes in lengths and onsets can be mainly attributed to greenhouse‐warming. Even if the current warming rate does not accelerate, [under] the business‐as‐usual scenario, summer is projected to last nearly half a year, but winter less than two months by 2100.
https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/2020GL091753

Is this the end of forests as we've known them?
These trees are dying without humans laying a hand on them, at least physically, and they are not resprouting. Forests cover 30% of the planet’s land surface, and yet, as humans heat the atmosphere, some locations where they would have grown now appear too dry or hot to support them ... In the Amazon, some experts warn that a forest mortality tipping point is looming. The boreal forests of Siberia are under attack from higher temperatures. Temperate European forests thought to be less vulnerable to climate change are showing worrying symptoms ... forests ringing the northerly parts of the globe are in fact projected to experience the greatest warming of all. In central Siberia, conifers are already dying at greater rates ... increasingly there are worries that if forests die back they will switch from storing carbon to emitting it [which] helps explain why much-touted proposals to plant millions of trees to suck up carbon and ameliorate the climate crisis are encountering skepticism; they won’t work if conditions on Earth don’t allow for forests to reproduce and thrive.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/mar/10/is-this-the-end-of-forests-as-weve-known-them

Humans are responsible for destroying or degrading two-thirds of the Earth's tropical rainforests, according to new study
The world's dependence on coal, farming, soy, palm oil and mining has resulted in two-third's of Earth's tropical rainforests being completely destroyed, and the remaining ecosystems being put "closer to a tipping point," the report, published Tuesday, says ... "the remaining tropical rainforests are either severely damaged or increasingly fragmented ... Humans are chopping these once vast and impenetrable forests into smaller and smaller pieces, undermining their ability to store carbon, cool the planet, produce rain and provide habitats."
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/tropical-rainforests-reduced-by-two-thirds-by-humans/

Amazon rainforest now appears to be contributing to climate change
For years, researchers have expressed concern that rising temperatures, drought, and deforestation are reducing the capacity of the world’s largest rainforest to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere ... [New research] published today in Frontiers in Forests and Global Change, estimates that atmospheric warming from all of these sources combined now appears to swamp the forest’s natural cooling effect. “Cutting the forest is interfering with its carbon uptake,” says lead author Kristofer Covey, a professor of environmental studies at New York’s Skidmore College. “But when you start to look at these other factors alongside CO2, it gets really hard to see how the net effect isn’t that the Amazon as a whole is really warming global climate.” [Results] make clear that focusing on a single metric - CO2 - simply doesn’t paint an accurate picture. “As important as carbon is in the Amazon, it’s not the only thing that’s going on,” says Tom Lovejoy, a senior fellow in biodiversity with the United Nations Foundation ... Resource extraction, damming rivers, and the conversion of forest for soybean and livestock production all alter the natural systems in a variety of ways. But most serve to warm the climate.
https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/environment-and-conservation/2021/03/amazon-rainforest-now-appears-to-be-contributing-to-climate
reporting on a study at https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/ffgc.2021.618401/full

Global heating pushes tropical regions towards limits of human livability
“If it is too humid our bodies can’t cool off by evaporating sweat,” said Yi Zhang, a Princeton University researcher who led the new study, published in Nature Geoscience. “High body core temperatures are dangerous or even lethal.” The research team looked at various historical data and simulations to determine how wet-bulb temperature extremes will change as the planet continues to heat up, discovering that these extremes in the tropics increase at around the same rate as the tropical mean temperature. This means that the world’s temperature increase will need to be limited to 1.5C to avoid risking areas of the tropics exceeding 35C in wetbulb temperature, which is so-called because it is measured by a thermometer that has its bulb wrapped in a wet cloth, helping mimic the ability of humans to cool their skin by evaporating sweat. Dangerous conditions in the tropics will unfold even before the 1.5C threshold, however, with the paper warning that 1C of extreme wet-bulb temperature increase “could have adverse health impact equivalent to that of several degrees of temperature increase”. The world has already warmed by around 1.1C on average due to human activity and although governments vowed in the Paris climate agreement to hold temperatures to 1.5C, scientists have warned this limit could be breached within a decade. This has potentially dire implications for a huge swathe of humanity. Around 40% of the world’s population currently lives in tropical countries, with this proportion set to expand ... The study is just the latest scientific warning over severe dangers posed by heat. Extreme heatwaves could push parts of the Middle East beyond human endurance, scientists have found, with rising temperatures also posing enormous risks for parts of China and India.
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/mar/08/global-heating-tropical-regions-human-livability

Higher dykes won't save NL from climate change consequences
With the world seeming to be heading towards global warming of 3 degrees Celsius, the Netherlands will be facing some very major consequences ... [Netherlands Meteorological Institute] director Gerard van der Steenhoven told NOS that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius may already be impossible. A recent study showed that global warming resulting from emissions from the past may have been greatly underestimated. Areas that warm more slowly, such as the Southern Ocean, will eventually catch up and can amplify global warming. A warming of 2.3 degrees could already be inevitable, and that doesn't even account for future greenhouse gas emissions ... soil continues to settle and subside, and half of the Netherlands becoming deeper and deeper ... the drainage results in salt seawater being sucked in under the dykes has major consequences for agriculture.
https://nltimes.nl/2021/03/13/higher-dykes-wont-save-nl-climate-change-consequences

Endocrine disruptors threatens semen quality
Epidemiologists analyzed the potential impact of endocrine disruptors on semen quality of men whose mothers were working at the early stages of their pregnancy. Their results, published in the journal Human Reproduction, show that men who have been exposed in utero to products known to contain endocrine disruptors are twice more likely to have semen volume and total sperm count per ejaculation below the reference values set by the WHO ... "In our study, the products most associated with these anomalies were pesticides, phthalates and heavy metals" ... "the results could explain, at least in part, the low semen quality."
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/03/210319125459.htm

Antarctic Peninsula warming up due to heat in Tasman Sea
The ever-increasing warming of the [Antarctic Peninsula] - and the whole of Antarctica at large - is a major concern plaguing climatologists all over the world. Commenting on the serious implications of this rapid rise in temperature and sea levels and the importance of the findings of their study [published in Nature Communications], Dr. Inoue says, "Antarctic warming accelerates Antarctic ice sheet melting and contributes to the rise in sea levels across the world. Therefore, knowledge of the mechanisms of the melting of the Antarctic ice sheet would help scientists, policymakers, and administrations to devise measures for people who will be most affected by the rising sea levels."
https://phys.org/news/2021-03-antarctic-peninsula-due-tasman-sea.html

Arctic Ocean Was Much Warmer Than Average During February Temperatures in the Arctic Ocean, an area that has a significant influence on the world’s weather, were much warmer last month than the average for the past two decades. Northeastern Canada and Greenland were also much warmer-than-average for February, according to a report Monday by Europe’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-03-08/arctic-ocean-was-much-warmer-than-average-during-february

Inaction leaves world playing ‘Russian roulette’ with pandemics, say experts
The coronavirus that causes Covid-19 is thought to have jumped from wild bats to humans and about two-thirds of diseases that infect humans start in other species, including the influenza, HIV, Zika, West Nile and Ebola viruses. The increasing destruction of nature by farming, logging and the wild animal trade has brought people and their livestock into closer contact with wildlife and led to a great increase in diseases crossing from animals to people in recent decades. “The Covid-19 vaccines will help rescue us from this current mess, but it won’t do a thing to protect us from the next pandemic’” said Aaron Bernstein at the TH Chan school of public health at Harvard University ... In October, the world’s leading scientists said the world was in an “era of pandemics” and that diseases would emerge more often, spread more rapidly, kill more people and affect the global economy with more devastating impact than ever before, unless the devastation of the natural world ends.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/mar/09/inaction-leaves-world-playing-russian-roulette-pandemics-experts

Scientists blow up decades of thinking on why hurricanes are becoming more deadly
Understood as a naturally occurring phenomenon, the [Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation was thought to] cycle through warm and cool phases every 20-40 years, which accounts for seasonal hurricane activity. New research posits that there is no AMO at all, however, and that changes in hurricane activity within the Atlantic are directly related to human-caused climate change. Published in the journal Science, a team of researchers argue that the AMO is not an entity in and of itself; rather, it is a manifestation of the effects of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, or fossil fuels emitted into the atmosphere from human activity. In short, the AMO is not responsible for varying hurricane activity — humans are ... When greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere, they also include sulphate aerosols, which are fine solid particles that have the ability to block light. Greenhouse gases and carbon emissions may work to trap heat in the atmosphere, causing spikes in global temperatures, but the accompanying [aerosol masking] particles actually block light from entering the atmosphere, resulting in a cooling effect. This fluctuation in sporadic cooling and warming runs parallel to the assumed effects of the AMO.
https://thehill.com/changing-america/sustainability/climate-change/542298-scientists-blow-up-decades-of-thinking-on-why

Humans, not nature, are the cause of changes in Atlantic hurricane cycles, new study finds
[I]n a newly released paper in the journal Science, the [previously believed natural] Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation may have been dealt a deadly blow ... AMO is very likely an artifact of climate change ... if true, this discovery means that during the 20th century and beyond, humans — not natural variability — have been the main driving force in the up-and-down cycles of hurricane activity in the Atlantic Ocean.  
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/climate-change-atlantic-hurricane-activity-cycles/

Butterfly numbers plummeting in US west as climate crisis takes toll
[B]utterfly species that dot the US west are being cut down by the climate crisis, new research has found, with rising temperatures helping cause a steep decline in butterfly numbers over the past 40 years. There has been a 1.6% reduction in the total number of butterflies observed west of the Rocky Mountain range each year since 1977, researchers calculated, which amounts to a staggering loss of butterflies over the timespan of the study period ... The research, published in Science, analyzed citizen-gathered sightings of butterflies in 72 locations spanning all of the western US states. In all, more than 450 butterfly species were included in the study. [Findings are] consistent with the rate of decline of other insects found by researchers in different places around the world.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/mar/04/butterfly-numbers-plummeting-us-west-climate-crisis

The collapse of Northern California kelp forests will be hard to reverse
[T]he area covered by kelp forests off the coast of Northern California has dropped by more than 95 percent ... have been replaced by 'urchin barrens,' where purple sea urchins cover a seafloor devoid of kelp and other algae ... Published March 5 in Communications Biology, the study shows that the kelp forests north of San Francisco were resilient to extreme warming events in the past, surviving other strong marine heatwaves and El Niño events. But the loss of a key urchin predator, the sunflower sea star, due to sea star wasting disease left the kelp forests of Northern California without any predators of sea urchins, which are voracious grazers of kelp.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/03/210305080126.htm

In February the US experienced record cold temperatures while much of the planet hit all-time highs
While some of the coldest weather in a century was gripping millions of Americans for over a week in February, large areas of the globe were basking in the warmest weather ever observed during winter ... outside of the US, record warm temperatures for February outpaced the cold records by more than 4 to 1, according to data from NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information ... Hamburg Germany experienced temperatures one would expect in mid-June ... record warmth was observed at numerous locations across Sweden, Poland, Slovakia, Austria and Slovenia ... in the wine-growing hills of eastern France, the community of Lons-le-Saunier soared more than 20 degrees Fahrenheit above seasonal averages ... Beijing was experiencing temperatures one would expect in the month of May ... North and South Korea recorded their hottest February day ... the fact that much of the rest of the world saw much higher than normal temperatures should come as no surprise. As globally-averaged temperature increases as a result of human-caused climate change, record warm temperatures have been outpacing record cold temperatures by more than 2-1 in recent decades.
https://edition.cnn.com/2021/03/02/weather/record-temperatures-february-us-world/index.html

Russian researchers: Average Arctic temperature could increase 20°С by century's end
According to the Russian Marchuk Institute of Numerical Mathematic, climate gas emissions are leading to a continued rapid temperature increase in the northernmost part of the planet. By the end of the century, average temperatures in the central parts of the Arctic could be 20°С higher than what is considered normal for the region ... “Even in a situation where the world community by 2050 reaches a zero-emission target for climate gases into the atmosphere, the Arctic will in any case be 2-3 degrees higher than today because of the inertia of the climate system” ... The Marchuk Institute of Numerical Mathematic is part of the Russian Academy of Science and has modeling of climate change scenarios as one of its main research areas.
https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/climate-crisis/2021/03/russian-researchers-average-arctic-temperature-could-increase-20-degs

European companies on 2.7°C warming path
A €4 trillion mismatch is forming between bank lending that aims to be ‘Paris-aligned’ and the market for this corporate lending in Europe, according to new analysis from EU-funded non-profit CDP Europe and global management consulting firm Oliver Wyman. Running hot: accelerating Europe's path to Paris, released today, estimates that 95% of all corporate lending in Europe comes from banks with a Paris-alignment ambition. But under 1 in 10 European companies so far have emissions targets aligned with Paris’ well-below 2°C goal – meaning banks financing these companies are far from Paris-aligned today. The research is based on nearly 1,000 European companies worth around 80% of Europe’s market value ... report authors also modeled three potential scenarios for 2030, setting out alternative rates of acceleration in corporate target-setting. Based on this, capping warming at 1.5°C would take an 8x increase in the current ambition level of European corporates on emissions ... The new report is presented today at the CDP Europe Awards, held with the European Investment Bank on Euronews, where speakers include Angela Merkel and the European Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and the Capital Markets Union.
https://www.cdp.net/en/articles/media/running-hot-cdp-europe-report-release

CO2 emissions: nations' pledges 'far away' from Paris target, says UN
If all of the national pledges submitted so far were fulfilled, global emissions would be reduced by only 1% by 2030, compared with 2010 levels. Scientists have said a 45% reduction is needed in the next 10 years to keep global heating to no more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, in line with the Paris agreement. Patricia Espinosa, the executive secretary of UN Climate Change, said: “We are very far away from a pathway that will meet the Paris agreement goal. We are collectively walking into a minefield blindfolded. The next step could be disaster.”
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/feb/26/co2-emissions-nations-pledges-far-away-from-paris-target-says-un

Australian scientists sound alarm on ecosystem collapse
The 38 eminent scientists, from 29 universities and organisations, say they have observed signs of Austafter Arctic permafrost releases more carbon dioxide than once believedralian ecosystem decline and collapse all over the country, from tropical savannahs and rainforests to coral reefs, deserts and even Antarctic environments. Their stark findings were published on Friday in the journal Global Change Biology. Their collaboration began when Dr Dana Bergstrom, from the Australian Antarctic Division, documented rapid, widespread plant dieback in the subantarctic tundra of remote Macquarie Island, and wondered if it was happening elsewhere. Despite working in very different regions and landscapes, scientists all over Australia are observing signs of collapse in 19 ecosystems, said co-author Dr Justine Shaw from the University of Queensland. All of the ecosystems, with the exception of the subtropical rainforests of coastal New South Wales, were found to have a low likelihood of recovery.
https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/australian-scientists-sound-alarm-on-ecosystem-collapse-20210226-p5762n.html
reporting on a study at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.15539

Heat record: Earliest ever "spring" week in NL
Wednesday marked the fourth consecutive day-heat record broken at the national weather station in De Bilt ... first ever winter with five days of maximums above 15 degrees in the Netherlands. And the high temperatures mean that this week will get the "spring" label - the earliest one ever measured ... The previous record for number of "mild days", with maximums above 15 degrees, dated from 2019 with four days. In the previous century, there were never more than three mild days in the winter. This is also the earliest spring week ever recorded. "On average, the first spring week starts around 29 March. In the previous climate period this was 3 days later, in the middle of the last century around 10 April, and at the beginning of the last century the average was around 13 April," Wilfred Janssen of Weerplaza said ... Last year, 13 heat records were set in De Bilt, and one single cold record. "The fact that more heat records than cold records are being broken is due to global warming. Without warming, the ratio between heat records and cold records would be virtually the same," Weerplaza meteorologist Raymond Klaassen said.
https://nltimes.nl/2021/02/25/heat-record-earliest-ever-spring-week-nl

Gulf Stream system at weakest in a millennium due to climate change
Using sediment data and temperature records to map historical trends, a study in Nature Geoscience found the Gulf Stream system, also known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (Amoc), is travelling at its slowest rate in the last millennium. “This is highly likely to be caused by our greenhouse gas emissions, because there is no other plausible explanation for this slowdown,” said Stefan Rahmstorf, one of the authors and head of earth system analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “It is exactly what the climate models have been predicting for decades” ... A separate study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that if the pace of global warming accelerates, this could cause the Gulf Stream to shut down entirely.
https://www.ft.com/content/589d034a-ee9d-4c74-b20b-4b750c2d904d

German forest decline hits record levels
Forests in Germany "are sick" and deteriorated at record levels in 2020, the agriculture minister said, commenting on an annual forest report released on Wednesday ... More trees died in Germany in 2020 than in any other previous year. Just 21% of trees under observation had an intact canopy — an indication of how healthy a tree is ... A bark beetle infestation was the main cause for spruce tree deaths in the country. This was made worse due to a dry summer that enabled the beetles to get deep into barks. The report also blamed storms, drought and forest fires in the past three years for massively damaging German forests.
https://www.dw.com/en/german-forest-decline-hits-record-levels/a-56680590

World risks ‘collapse of everything’ without strong climate action, Attenborough warns Security Council
More collective action is needed to address the risks climate change poses to global peace and security, the UN Secretary-General told a high-level Security Council debate on Tuesday [and] Sir David Attenborough issued a sobering warning to leaders. “If we continue on our current path, we will face the collapse of everything that gives us our security: food production, access to fresh water, habitable ambient temperature, and ocean food chains,” he said, adding “and if the natural world can no longer support the most basic of our needs, then much of the rest of civilization will quickly break down.”
https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/02/1085452

Climate crisis hits 'worst case scenario' levels – Environment Agency head
Sir James Bevan says extreme flooding in UK indicates urgent need for change if humanity is to survive The climate emergency is already hitting “worst case scenario” levels that if left unchecked will lead to the collapse of ecosystems, with dire consequences for humanity, according to the chief executive of the Environment Agency ... “Much higher sea levels will take out most of the world’s cities, displace millions, and make much of the rest of our land surface uninhabitable or unusable,” Bevan told the annual conference of the Association of British Insurers. “Much more extreme weather will kill more people through drought, flooding, wildfires and heatwaves than most wars have. “The net effects will collapse ecosystems, slash crop yields, take out the infrastructure that our civilisation depends on, and destroy the basis of the modern economy and modern society. “If [this] sounds like science fiction let me tell you something you need to know. This is that over the last few years the reasonable worst case for several of the flood incidents the EA has responded to has actually happened, and it’s getting larger.”
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/feb/23/climate-crisis-hitting-worst-case-scenarios-warns-environment-agency-head

California's iconic redwoods, sequoias and Joshua trees threatened by climate change
California's iconic coastal redwoods, some standing since before Julius Caesar ruled Rome, are in a fight for their lives. They are increasingly threatened by wildfires that are larger and more intense due to the impact of human-caused climate change. And it's not just the redwoods — giant sequoias and Joshua trees are also in trouble ... the experts who know and love these trees are genuinely worried about their future. Last year, 4.2 million acres burned in California's worst fire season on record. Scientists say as the climate warms these fires will grow bigger at an accelerating pace ... Since 2000, the western U.S. has been experiencing a megadrought, one of its worst droughts in 1,200 years. On top of that, since 1970, summers in California have warmed by 2 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit. These types of climate conditions, warmer and drier, set the stage for a longer fire season with larger, more intense fires.
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/climate-change-california-redwood-sequoia-joshua-trees/

Taiwan's chip industry under threat as drought turns critical
Taiwan's tech manufacturers fear their output is under threat from the island's worst drought in decades, risking more turmoil for global supply chains already strained by shortages of semiconductors and other key components. Taiwan's government will on Thursday further tighten water use in several cities that are home to a cluster of important manufacturers ... Chip production requires massive amounts of water, but reservoirs in Taiwan are critically low and authorities have already cut supplies to agriculture to support industrial and residential use. The water concerns come as the chip sector battles worldwide shortages.
https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Tech/Semiconductors/Taiwan-s-chip-industry-under-threat-as-drought-turns-critical2

Newly identified greenhouse gas with no known use an ‘early warning’
An international network of climate scientists has detected increasing atmospheric concentrations of three ozone-depleting substances, which are also greenhouse gases, that have no known uses ... Researchers from the Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment (Agage) network believe the ‘unexpected’ emissions of three HCFCs are by-products from other processes. This means that there are no public inventories or emission reports available for them ... two of gases, HCFC-133a and HCFC-31, are known compounds that are likely produced during the manufacture of refrigerants [and the third gas] HCFC-132b had not previously been detected in the atmosphere, although it is likely produced in a similar way to the other two compounds ... "This adds yet another new greenhouse gas to the already wide spectrum of man-made contributions to the atmosphere. In addition, this particular one is an HCFC and therefore also harmful to the life-protecting ozone layer," says Johannes Laube, an atmospheric chemist based at the Jülich Research Centre in Germany, who was not involved in the project.
https://www.chemistryworld.com/news/newly-identified-greenhouse-gas-with-no-known-use-an-early-warning/4013263.article#/

1 in 5 deaths globally caused by fossil fuel pollution, a new study reveals
More than eight million people died as a result of breathing in minute particulate matter from burning fossil fuels in 2018, according to research from Harvard University, in collaboration with the University of Birmingham, the University of Leicester and University College London ... As well as confirming that regions with the worst air pollution have the highest rates of mortality, the study, published in the journal Environmental Research, found that the number of deaths in these regions had been underestimated ... North America, Europe and Asia were also shown to suffer more deaths from particulates than previously thought. Overall, the study found higher mortality rates among people who suffered long-term exposure to fossil-fuel emissions, even at comparatively low levels.
https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/02/fossil-fuel-pollution-one-in-five-deaths-globally/
reporting on a study at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0013935121000487

UN: Huge changes in society needed to keep nature, Earth OK
Humans are making Earth a broken and increasingly unlivable planet through climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. So the world must make dramatic changes to society, economics and daily life, a new United Nations report says. Unlike past U.N. reports that focused on one issue and avoided telling leaders actions to take, Thursday’s report combines three intertwined environment crises and tells the world what’s got to change. It calls for changing what governments tax, how nations value economic output, how power is generated, the way people get around, fish and farm, as well as what they eat. “Without nature’s help, we will not thrive or even survive,” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said ... “In the end it will hit us,” said biologist Thomas Lovejoy, who was a scientific advisor to the report. “It’s not what’s happening to elephants. It’s not what’s happening to climate or sea level rise. It’s all going to impact us” ... In another break, this report gives specific solutions that it says must be taken. This report uses the word “must” 56 times and “should” 37 times. There should be 100 more because action is so crucial, said former U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres, who wasn’t part of the report. “Time has totally ran out. That’s why the word ‘must’ is in there,” Figueres said.
https://apnews.com/article/un-climate-change-environment-crisis-df5f89784ec92aaf8a855f88bdd753c9

An unusual Ocean anomaly is being detected in the Gulf Stream, not seen in at least 150 years
The Gulf Stream is a strong ocean current that brings warmer water up from the Gulf of Mexico into the Atlantic Ocean. It extends all the way up the eastern coast of the United States, where it starts to turn towards northwest Europe [and] helps to warm the western European countries ... temperature signature of the warm Gulf Stream area and cold North Atlantic is one of the strongest indicators that the AMOC is weakening. There are also direct observations being made with instruments, which objectively confirmed that the North Atlantic circulation is indeed on the decline ... most probable [cause] is the induction of the freshwater into the North Atlantic from sea ice melt in Greenland and the Arctic ... Winters would become more severe in Europe and the United States. Of course, this is not something that would/will happen overnight ... But what can happen almost overnight, are strong storms and hurricanes. And the Gulf Stream and the AMOC play an important role in these events, especially for the United States.
https://www.severe-weather.eu/global-weather/gulf-stream-amoc-ocean-anomaly-united-states-europe-fa

Unfortunate timing and rate of change may be enough to tip a climate system
Imagine abrupt shifts of the tropical monsoons, reductions in Northern Hemisphere rainfall, and strengthening of North Atlantic storm tracks within decades. These are some of the impacts that climate scientists expect if the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), which redistributes heat from equatorial regions to the Northern Hemisphere, suddenly tips into a dormant state as a result of global warming. The consequences would drastically alter conditions for agriculture, biodiversity, and the economy in large parts of the World. A model study by Johannes Lohmann and Peter D. Ditlevsen from Physics of Ice, Climate, and Earth, The Niels Bohr Institute, the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, now suggests the AMOC, and potentially other climate sub-systems approaching tipping points might tip long before anticipated because of rate-induced tipping. The work, published today in PNAS is part of the TiPES project funded by the EU Horizon 2020.
https://phys.org/news/2021-02-unfortunate-climate.htmlafter Arctic permafrost releases more carbon dioxide than once believed

2020, a year of slowdowns, but not for global warming
Last year wasn’t business as usual. But while our livelihoods were disrupted by an ongoing health and economic crisis, our planet’s climate continued on its warming course, with particularly high levels throughout the last decade ... In 2020, the global climate was 0.6 C warmer than averages between 1981-2010 and around 1.25 C above pre-industrial levels, according to new data from the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) and a recent report from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). The year also wrapped up the hottest decade registered, of which the last six years were the warmest ever.
https://www.euronews.com/2021/01/29/2020-a-year-of-slowdowns-but-not-for-global-warming

Very few of world’s rivers undamaged by humanity, study finds
Rivers in which fish populations have escaped serious damage from human activities make up just 14% of the world’s river basin area, according to the most comprehensive study to date. Scientists found that the biodiversity of more than half of rivers had been profoundly affected ... Rivers and lakes are vital ecosystems. They cover less than 1% of the planet’s surface, but their 17,000 fish species represent a quarter of all vertebrates, as well as providing food for many millions of people. Healthy rivers are also needed to supply clean water. Other recent research has shown that global populations of migratory river fish have plunged by a “catastrophic” 76% since 1970, with a 93% fall in Europe. Large river animals have fared worst ... The research, published in the journal Science, examined almost 2,500 rivers in all parts of the world, except the polar regions and deserts.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/feb/18/very-few-of-worlds-rivers-undamaged-by-humanity-study-finds

Study Warns Emissions Cuts Must Be 80% More Ambitious to Meet Even the Dangerously Inadequate 2°C Target
A new study warns that countries' pledges to reduce planet-heating emissions as part of the global effort to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement must be dramatically scaled up to align with even the deal's less ambitious target of keeping temperature rise below 2°C—though preferably 1.5°C—by the end of the century. A pair of researchers at the University of Washington found that the country-based rate of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions cuts should increase by 80% beyond current nationally determined contributions (NDCs)—the term for each nation's pledge under the Paris agreement—to meet the 2°C target. The study, published Tuesday in the journal Communications Earth & Environment, adds to the mountain of evidence that since the Paris agreement—which also has a bolder 1.5°C target—was adopted in late 2015, countries around the world have not done enough to limit human-caused global heating. "On current trends, the probability of staying below 2°C of warming is only 5%."
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/02/11/study-warns-emissions-cuts-must-be-80-more-ambitious-meet-even-dangerously

How fires have spread to previously untouched parts of the world
Wildfires are spreading to fuel-abundant regions of the world that used to be less prone to burning ... Experts believe the changing fire patterns are driven by human factors: global heating, which is creating more tinderbox conditions in forests, and land conversion, which is turning grasslands into farm fields, conurbations and roads ... [In Australia] “There is no question that climate change was a very significant factor in the extreme fire activity of the last season. We have always had droughts and heatwaves leading to extreme fire weather conditions, but our background long-term temperature trend is now 1C over the pre-industrial level, with much hotter and longer heatwaves than before, and consistent with the temperature elevation, our droughts are now hotter leading to drier fuels more able to burn quickly” ... [In California] “The confluence of increased fuel in a warmer and drier climate has certainly contributed to the very large increase in forested burned area in parts of the western US” ... [In Europe] “There is consensus among fire researchers that climate change is extending the dry season and contributing to megafires.”
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2021/feb/19/how-fires-have-spread-to-previously-untouched-parts-of-the-world

'Turkey’s Maldives' Lake Salda faces drought threat
[Lake Salda] in western Turkey’s Burdur province may join other famous lakes that are drying up. Recent rainfall and snowfall apparently were not sufficient to restore the lake to its former glory ... “The lake’s main source of water is from a nearby mountainous area, which serves as a ski resort. Snowfall there feeds the after Arctic permafrost releases more carbon dioxide than once believedwater, but we do not see enough snowfall there.”
https://www.dailysabah.com/turkey/turkeys-maldives-lake-salda-faces-drought-threat/news

Warming Seas Are Accelerating Greenland’s Glacier Retreat
A new study published in Science Advances has quantified, for the first time, how the warming coastal waters are impacting Greenland’s glaciers ... the bigger they are, the faster they melt. And the culprit is the depth of the fjord they occupy: Deeper fjords allow in more warm ocean water than shallow fjords, hastening the undercutting process ... previous observations have shown that the ice sheet has been out of balance since the 1990’s: Melt has accelerated and calving has increased. In other words, the rate of ice being lost to the ocean is exceeding the supply from the ice sheet. This is causing the ice sheet to shrink and the glaciers to retreat toward land ... These findings suggest that climate models may underestimate glacial ice loss by at least a factor of two if they don’t account for undercutting by a warm ocean.
https://scitechdaily.com/nasas-omg-warming-seas-are-accelerating-greenlands-glacier-retreat/
reporting on a study at https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/7/1/eaba7282

Increasing hurricane intensity around Bermuda linked to rising ocean temperatures
New research shows that hurricane maximum wind speeds in the subtropical Atlantic around Bermuda have more than doubled on average over the last 60 years due to rising ocean temperatures in the region ... The study, published in Environmental Research Letters, also develops a predictor for the intensity of hurricanes moving through the Bermuda area using the average upper ocean temperature in the top 50m layer.
https://phys.org/news/2021-02-hurricane-intensity-bermuda-linked-ocean.html
reporting on a study at https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/abe493

‘Incredibly destructive’: Canada’s Prairies to see devastating impact of climate change
As the climate continues to warm at an alarming rate, experts warn if dramatic steps to mitigate global warming are not taken, the effects in Canada’s Prairie region will be devastating to the country’s agriculture sector. According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, the country is warming, on average, about double the global rate ... “(In Canada) we are looking at about 6.4C degrees of warming this century, which isn’t much less than one degree per decade, which is just a terrifying rate of warming,” Darrin Qualman, the director of climate crisis policy and action at the National Farmer’s Union said. Qualman said there is “massive change coming” to Canada’s Prairies, which will be “incredibly destructive.”
https://globalnews.ca/news/7610723/climate-change-canada-prairies/

Arctic permafrost releases more CO2 than once believed
There may be greater CO2 emissions associated with thawing Arctic permafrost than ever imagined. An international team of researchers has discovered that soil bacteria release CO2 previously thought to be trapped by iron. The finding presents a large new carbon footprint that is unaccounted for in current climate models ... The amount of carbon stored in permafrost is estimated to be four times greater than the combined amount of CO2 emitted by modern humans ... iron was believed to bind carbon even as permafrost thawed. The new result demonstrates that bacteria incapacitate iron's carbon trapping ability, resulting in the release of vast amounts of CO2 [previously thought to be bound]. This is an entirely new discovery ... The study has just been published in Nature Communications.
https://www.science.ku.dk/english/press/news/2021/arctic-permafrost-releases-more-co2-than-once-believed/
reporting on a study at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-20102-6

Methane Is Blowing More Holes in the Arctic
“These craters represent an Earth system process that was previously unknown to scientists,” Sue Natali, Arctic program director at Woodwell Climate Research Center and co-author on the study, said ... Entire lakes have disappeared, draining out completely as the permafrost—frozen ground made of soil, rocks, and water—that forms their outer edges and bottoms melted away amid rising temperatures. Huge swaths of the region have also become greener because higher air and soil temperatures have increased plant growth. Due to permafrost thaw and ice melt, parts of the region are also sinking ... As the planet continues to warm, the researchers expect these changes will occur more quickly. That includes the methane explosions, since they’re more likely to occur when the ground’s pressure rises or ice on the ground thaws and breaks suddenly.
https://earther.gizmodo.com/methane-is-blowing-more-holes-in-the-arctic-1846242991

The Same Deadly Vitamin Deficiency Is Ravaging All Kinds of Animals
Thiamine originates in the lowest levels of the food web, where particular species of bacteria, phytoplankton, fungi, and plants synthesize the compound [which] then passes through the food chain and eventually finds its way into every animal and plant on Earth ... Without enough thiamine, cellular-level functioning begins to fail. Affected animals behave abnormally, suffer neurological and reproductive disorders, and can eventually die ... Dale Honeyfield, who worked with the U.S. Geological Survey as a research chemist and has studied thiamine deficiency since the mid-1990s [said] “Humans are somehow involved ... Thiamine deficiency is really an indicator that we have an ecosystem that is disrupted” ... “It’s very eye-opening that the lack of a simple vitamin can cause complete collapse of populations in vast areas,” says Donald Tillitt, an environmental toxicologist with the U.S. Geological Survey ... “If there’s no synthesis going on at the bottom, then there’s no source to feed up through to the top predators,” Honeyfield says.
https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2021/01/vitamin-b1-thiamine/617884/
and https://www.hakaimagazine.com/features/the-oceans-mysterious-vitamin-deficiency/

Avoiding a ‘Ghastly Future’: Hard Truths on the State of the Planet
In the 1960s, humans took about three-quarters of what the planet could regenerate annually. By 2016 this rose to 170 percent, meaning that the planet cannot keep up with human demand ... Humans have altered about 70 percent of Earth’s land surface and ocean. Wetlands have lost 85 percent of their natural area; kelp forests have lost 40 percent; seagrass meadows are disappearing at 1 percent per year; the ocean’s large predatory fish are two-thirds gone; coral reefs have lost half their living mass. Agriculture has halved the weight of living vegetation on land, driving a diversity loss of 20 percent; 40 percent of extant plants are currently endangered. Farmed animals and humans now constitute 96 percent of all land vertebrates; only around 5 percent are wild, free-living animals. The world’s wild populations of birds, mammals, fishes, reptiles, and amphibians have declined by an average of nearly 70 percent in just the last 50 years ... These disruptions and declines have caused the deterioration of soil, air, and water quality; pollination; carbon sequestration; and human health. Other things have increased: floods, fires, the number of malnourished people, plastic pollution, general toxification, and infectious epidemics.
https://e360.yale.edu/features/avoiding-a-ghastly-future-hard-truths-on-the-state-of-the-planet
reporting on a study at https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fcosc.2020.615419/full

Climate change could leave millions at risk in Tunisia and Egypt
Rising global temperatures, driven mainly by greenhouse gas emissions, will result in millions being displaced from the coastal cities of North Africa, according to a study published in the Nature Research Journal ... coastal cities in the Gulf of Tunis, which have a population of more than 2 million, are at higher risk from rising sea levels ... Egypt, which is the Arab world's most populous nation, is another country that the report says is at a “very high risk” from population displacement as a result of rising sea levels.
https://www.trtworld.com/magazine/climate-change-could-leave-millions-at-risk-in-tunisia-and-egypt-43891

California rains starting later, extending fire season: study
California’s rainy season now starts a month later than it did decades ago, prolonging the state’s destructive wildfire season into November, the American Geophysical Union said on Thursday, citing new research ... Rainfall is becoming more concentrated in the months of January and February, the study found, suggesting more irrigation will be needed in the drought-stricken state. The study was published last month in AGU’s journal Geophysical Research Letters.
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-california-wildfires/california-rains-starting-later-extending-fire-season-study-idUSKBN2A431J

Why call recent disasters ‘natural’ when they really aren’t?
Wildfires, storms, and viruses now are exacerbated by climate change. Perhaps we should call them what they are: disasters of our own making.
[Recently] the mercury in Death Valley hit 130°F, the highest temperature ever reliably recorded on Earth. A hotter, drier California is much more likely to burst into flames. The Gulf too is heating up, with dangerous consequences. Hurricanes draw their energy from the warmth of the surface waters and so are becoming stronger and more apt to intensify ... By cutting down forests and digging mines and building cities, we’ve transformed half of the ice-free land on Earth. (Indirectly, we’ve altered half of what remains.) With our fertilizer plants, we fix more nitrogen than all terrestrial ecosystems combined; with our plows and bulldozers, we move around more earth than all the world’s rivers and streams. In terms of biomass, the numbers are staggering. People now outweigh wild mammals by a ratio of more than 8 to 1. Add in our domesticated animals (mostly cows and pigs), and the ratio’s almost 23 to 1 ... And then there’s COVID-19. Pathogens have, presumably, been jumping between animals and humans for as long as both have been around. But for most of human history, such “spillover events” were limited in their impact. Infected populations didn’t move very far or very fast. [But with jet travel] within a month of the first confirmed cases in central China, COVID had reached at least 26 other countries ... the trend lines are clear. As people increasingly destroy other animals’ habitats and move species around the world, outbreaks of novel diseases will become more common ... David Quammen has put it this way: “We disrupt ecosystems, and we shake viruses loose from their natural hosts. When that happens, they need a new host.” Often, that new host is going to be us.
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2021/03/why-call-recent-disasters-natural-when-they-really-are-not/

Melting glaciers, rising seas: Approaching climate tipping points
Glaciers have shrunk at high speed during the last 30 years, raising fears of future land loss and more climate refugees.
The first global ice-loss survey released recently found that melting of the ice sheets accelerated so much during the past 30 years that it is now in line with the worst-case scenarios outlined by scientists. There was a stunning exchange on the recent Outrage and Optimism podcast which rendered host Christiana Figueres, one of the architects of the Paris Agreement, speechless. She was told by leading climate scientist Johan Rockström, the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, that we have already gone beyond some key tipping points. Losing the resilience of the planet was the nightmare that is keeping scientists awake at night, Rockström said.
https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2021/2/5/melting-glaciers-rising-seas-climate-tipping-points

The Terrifying Warning Lurking in the Earth’s Ancient Rock Record
Today, humans are injecting CO2 into the atmosphere at one of the fastest rates ever ... All of recorded human history—at only a few thousand years, a mere eyeblink in geologic time—has played out in perhaps the most stable climate window of the past 650,000 years. We have been shielded from the climate’s violence by our short civilizational memory, and our remarkably good fortune. But humanity’s ongoing chemistry experiment on our planet could push the climate well beyond those slim historical parameters, into a state it hasn’t seen in tens of millions of years, a world for which Homo sapiens did not evolve ... The planet today is not yet in equilibrium with the warped atmosphere that industrial civilization has so recently created ... The transition will be punishing in the near term and the long term, and when it’s over, Earth will look far different from the one that nursed humanity. This is the grim lesson of paleoclimatology ... let us take a trip back into deep time, a journey that will begin with the familiar climate of recorded history and end in the feverish, high-CO2 greenhouse of the early age of mammals, 50 million years ago. It is a sobering journey, one that warns of catastrophic surprises that may be in store.
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2021/03/extreme-climate-change-history/617793/

Increasing risk of floods as glaciers recede in Central Andes
A researcher at the University of Huddersfield has examined the rate at which glaciers have been retreating in the Central Andes and says further monitoring is needed to address the growing risk of ‘Glacial Lake Outburst Floods’ to communities located downstream from glacierised areas. Dr Ryan Wilson is a Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography from the Department of Biological and Geographical Sciences at the University of Huddersfield and has recently completed a project funded by the UK's leading public funder of environmental science, the National Environment Research Council. The research was a collaboration between experts from six countries ... Dr Wilson and the team explain the findings of the research in an article published by the peer-reviewed Journal of Glaciology ... The team were joined by researchers from Chile’s Centre for Ecosystem Research in Patagonia and the University of Concepción as well as experts from the universities of Aberystwyth and Exeter.
https://www.hud.ac.uk/news/2021/february/flood-risk-as-glaciers-recede-in-chile/

Economics' failure over destruction of nature presents ‘extreme risks’
The world is being put at “extreme risk” by the failure of economics to take account of the rapid depletion of the natural world and needs to find new measures of success to avoid a catastrophic breakdown, a landmark review has concluded. Prosperity was coming at a “devastating cost” to the ecosystems that provide humanity with food, water and clean air, said Prof Sir Partha Dasgupta, the Cambridge University economist who conducted the review. Radical global changes to production, consumption, finance and education were urgently needed, he said. The 600-page review was commissioned by the UK Treasury, the first time a national finance ministry has authorised a full assessment of the economic importance of nature.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/feb/02/economics-failure-over-destruction-of-nature-presents-extreme-risks

COVID-19 lockdowns temporarily raised global temperatures
[Lockdowns led to] "decline in emissions from the most polluting industries, and that had immediate, short-term effects on temperatures," said NCAR scientist Andrew Gettelman, the study's lead author. "Pollution cools the planet, so it makes sense that pollution reductions would warm the planet." Temperatures over parts of Earth's land surface last spring were about 0.1-0.3 C warmer than would have been expected with prevailing weather conditions, the study found. The effect was most pronounced in regions that normally are associated with substantial emissions of aerosols, with the warming reaching about 0.37 C over much of the United States and Russia ... Although the research illustrates how aerosols counter the warming influence of greenhouse gases, Gettelman emphasized that emitting more of them into the lower atmosphere is not a viable strategy for slowing climate change. "Aerosol emissions have major health ramifications," he said. "Saying we should pollute is not practical."
https://phys.org/news/2021-02-covid-lockdowns-temporarily-global-temperatures.html

Sea level likely to rise faster than previously thought
Researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen have constructed a new method of quantifying just how fast the sea will react to warming. Their comparison of sea-level responsiveness in models with historical data shows that former predictions of sea level have been too conservative, so the sea will likely rise more and faster than previously believed. The result is now published in the European Geosciences Union journal Ocean Science.
https://phys.org/news/2021-02-sea-faster-previously-thought.html

Southern France set to sizzle, says new climate change study
Even if humanity manages to modestly reduce greenhouse gas emissions -- which so far has only happened during a raging pandemic or a global recession -- France as a whole is on track to heat up nearly three degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by about 2070, Meteo France said in a report. And if carbon pollution continues unabated, average annual temperatures across the nation will, by century's end, soar 4.5C beyond that benchmark. That is verging on an unliveable world, a raft of climate studies have shown. With just over 1C of warming so far, the planet has seen a sharp crescendo in deadly extreme weather, including heatwaves and megastorms made more destructive by rising seas.
https://www.france24.com/en/france/20210202-southern-france-set-to-sizzle-says-new-climate-change-study

Further drop in Lake Mead water level could trigger water shortage declaration
A study released in January from the Bureau of Reclamation projects Lake Mead's water level to currently be at 1,085 feet. However, if Lake Mead's elevation is projected to be below 1,075 feet in August then a shortage condition will be declared in the Lower Basin for the first time in January 2022 ... Under a shortage condition, water allotments to Arizona would be reduced by 320,000 acre-feet, Nevada by 13,000 acre-feet, and Mexico by 50,000 acre-feet ... in September 2020, the Bureau of Reclamation released models that suggested looming shortages in Lake Powell and Lake Mead were more likely than previously thought between expanding cities and prolonged drought.
https://www.ktnv.com/news/further-drop-in-lake-mead-water-level-could-trigger-water-shortage-declaration

World is at its hottest for at least 12,000 years – study
The planet is hotter now than it has been for at least 12,000 years, a period spanning the entire development of human civilisation, according to research. Analysis of ocean surface temperatures shows human-driven climate change has put the world in “uncharted territory”, the scientists say. The planet may even be at its warmest for 125,000 years, although data on that far back is less certain. The research, published in the journal Nature, reached these conclusions by solving a longstanding puzzle known as the “Holocene temperature conundrum” ... Jennifer Hertzberg, of Texas A&M University in the US, said: “By solving a conundrum that has puzzled climate scientists for years, Bova and colleagues’ study is a major step forward. Understanding past climate change is crucial for putting modern global warming in context.”
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jan/27/climate-crisis-world-now-at-its-hottest-for-12000-years

The Big Thaw
As the climate warms, how much, and how quickly, will Earth's glaciers melt?
When President Taft created Glacier National Park in 1910, it was home to an estimated 150 glaciers. Since then the number has decreased to fewer than 30, and most of those remaining have shrunk in area by two-thirds. Fagre predicts that within 30 years most if not all of the park's namesake glaciers will disappear. "Things that normally happen in geologic time are happening during the span of a human lifetime," says Fagre. "It's like watching the Statue of Liberty melt" ... Everywhere on Earth ice is changing. The famed snows of Kilimanjaro have melted more than 80 percent since 1912. Glaciers in the Garhwal Himalaya in India are retreating so fast that researchers believe that most central and eastern Himalayan glaciers could virtually disappear by 2035. Arctic sea ice has thinned significantly over the past half century ... There are no words to describe how much, and how fast, the ice is changing. Researchers long ago predicted that the most visible impacts from a globally warmer world would occur first at high latitudes: rising air and sea temperatures, earlier snowmelt, later ice freeze-up, reductions in sea ice, thawing permafrost, more erosion, increases in storm intensity. Now all those impacts have been documented.
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/big-thaw/

Deep water temperatures hit 'scary' highs in Gulf of St. Lawrence
A decade-long warming trend in the Gulf of St. Lawrence continued in 2020 with deep waters reaching record highs, according to ocean climate data released Tuesday by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Water temperatures at depths of 200, 250 and 300 metres were higher than any measured in the Gulf since records started in 1915 ... "It is scary to me because we're completely outside of the known envelope," Peter Galbraith, a longtime federal research scientist, said in an interview.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/record-high-water-temperatures-gulf-st-lawrence-1.5889072

Alpine plants face extinction as melting glaciers force them higher, warns study
‘Escalator to extinction’ means aggressive species will eventually take over, threatening the entire mountain ecosystem
Alpine flowers could go extinct after glaciers disappear as more competitive species colonise terrain higher up the mountain, new research has warned. Glaciers are retreating at historically unprecedented rates, exposing new land for plants to grow, which benefits delicate alpine species in the short term. However, these early pioneers – some of which are endemic – soon become endangered as more aggressive species take over, driving them out of their remaining habitat and decreasing overall biodiversity, according to the paper published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jan/29/global-heating-alpine-plants-extinction-melting-glaciers-aoe

Global shark and ray population crashed more than 70% in past 50 years – study
“The decline isn’t stopping, which is a problem,” said Nathan Pacoureau, a researcher at Simon Fraser University in Canada who was lead author of the study, published in Nature. “Everything in our oceans is so depleted now. We need proactive measures to prevent total collapse, this should be a wake up call for policy makers.” Using a raft of previous studies and catch data, the researchers compiled the first global census for shark and ray species, finding there has been an overall 71% decline since 1970.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jan/27/sharks-rays-global-population-crashed-study

Ancient food scraps prove northern Australia is now the driest it’s ever been
Archaeologists have used food scraps from the earliest Australians to discover the northern part of the country is experiencing its driest period for 65,000 years ... they had samples of [pandanus] shells being eaten and discarded at the site from 65,000 years ago up until recently ... “People have been eating the same nut at the same place for 65,000 years, which is fantastic for scientists, because you can make direct comparisons,” Dr Florin said ... “We’re now able to read the changing rainfall record through time and match this to the amazing strategies that were developed by Aboriginal people to cope with a dramatically changing landscape,” Professor Clarkson said. The research has been published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.
https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/ancient-food-scraps-prove-northern-australia-is-now-the-driest-it-s-ever-been-20210125-p56wqi.html

Arabian Gulf experiencing longest recorded meteorological drought over last two decades
The Arabian Gulf has been experiencing the longest recorded meteorological drought over the last two decades, with temperatures in the region being on the rise since 1998, a top climate expert said today. “The general pattern of the climate in the region is warming. There is warming over the seas and sea surfaces, a rise in maximum temperatures and drying precipitation. In addition, there has been an increase in the number of Category 4 and 5 severe tropical cyclones, which is critical when we look at the economy,” warned Dr Said Alsarmi, meteorological expert at the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) secretariat.
https://gulfnews.com/uae/arabian-gulf-experiencing-longest-recorded-meteorological-drought-over-last-two-decades-1.76727771

Our world is losing ice at record rate
A paper, published today in [the European Geophysical Union’s journal] The Cryosphere, describes how a team of researchers [found] that the rate at which Earth has lost ice has increased markedly within the past three decades, from 0.8 trillion tonnes per year in the 1990s to 1.3 trillion tonnes per year by 2017. To put this into perspective, one trillion tonnes of ice can be thought of as a cube of ice measuring 10x10x10 km, which would be taller than Mount Everest. The research shows that overall, there has been a 65% increase in the rate of ice loss over the 23-year survey ... Lead author Thomas Slater, a research fellow at Leeds’ Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling, said, “Although every region we studied lost ice, losses from the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets have accelerated the most. The ice sheets are now following the worst-case climate warming scenarios set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Sea-level rise on this scale will have very serious impacts on coastal communities this century.”
https://www.esa.int/Applications/Observing_the_Earth/CryoSat/Our_world_is_losing_ice_at_record_rate
reporting on a study at https://tc.copernicus.org/articles/15/233/2021/

After Alarmism
At current emissions levels, the planet will entirely exhaust the carbon budget for 1.5 degrees in just seven years — stay merely level, in other words, and we’ll burn through the possibility of a relatively comfortable endgame within the decade ... To decarbonize fast enough to give the planet a decent chance of hitting that 1.5-degree target without any negative emissions would require getting all the way to net-zero emissions by around 2035. Simply running the cars and furnaces and fossil-fuel infrastructure that already exists to its expected retirement date would push the world past 1.5 degrees—without a single new gasoline SUV hitting the road, or a single new oil-heated home being built, or a single new coal plant opened. A two-degree target, by contrast, yields a much longer timeline, requiring the world to achieve net-zero by 2070 or 2080 [but] it won’t be enough. It can’t be, because we are too far along. There is no solution to global warming, no going back. Achieving a two-degree goal, by rates of decarbonization only dreamed of a decade ago, would deliver a world that looked then quite unforgivably brutal — and should today, too ... African diplomats have wept at climate conferences at what [2C] would mean for the fate of their continent, calling it “certain death”; island nations have called it “genocide” ... cities in South Asia and the Middle East that are today home to many millions would become so hot during summer that it often wouldn’t be possible to walk around outside without risking death by heatstroke. “It is a totally different world,” Figueres told me. “It’s two completely different worlds from the point of view of human misery ... it will be unmanageable for any social system in any country to deal with the increased poverty and the increased migration pressure that a two-degree world will bring” ... If fires in the American West are, in a best-case scenario, going to grow sixfold, Americans living there can’t count on a project of decarbonization alone to protect them. If Calcutta will see, at two degrees, a hundred days of lethal heat each year, stabilizing warming at merely that level isn’t going to do the trick ... And yet, this is the [best case] face of the new world.
https://nymag.com/intelligencer/article/climate-change-after-pandemic.html

The Ongoing Collapse of the World's Aquifers
[G]eology is conspiring with climate change to sink the ground under humanity’s feet. More punishing droughts mean the increased draining of aquifers, and rising seas make sinking land all the more vulnerable to flooding. According to a recent study published in the journal Science, in the next two decades, 1.6 billion people could be affected by subsidence, with potential loses in the trillions of dollars ... As the growing human population and more intense droughts brought on by climate change are putting ever more stress on water supplies, land is subsiding all over the world ... Subsidence is uniquely sensitive to climate change—at least indirectly. On a warmer planet, droughts are longer and more intense. “This is very important,” says Herrera-García. [Because] Dry reservoirs will lead cities to pump even more water out of their aquifers, and once you collapse the structure of an aquifer by neatly stacking those plates of clay grains, there’s no going back. For the 1.6 billion people potentially affected by subsidence—and that’s just by the year 2040—the consequences could be dire.
https://www.wired.com/story/the-ongoing-collapse-of-the-worlds-aquifers/

The Great Lakes just set a record for lack of ice
According to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL), the Great Lakes total ice coverage right now is sitting at 3.9%. This same time last year, it was sitting at 11.3%, and the year before at 18.5%. The previous record low for this date was 5% back in 2002 ... With no real robust areas of cold air in the future, the long-term forecast for Great Lakes ice coverage also looks meek. "The Great Lakes region is experiencing warmer-than-usual weather, and the max ice cover is projected to be 30%, way below the average of 53%," Wang said. That means by the end of winter, less than one-third of the Great Lakes will be covered by ice. In order to build significant ice over the lakes, a blast of cold air needs to settle in -- but the long-term forecast does not reflect that ... Current temperature above the lakes only tell a portion of the story. Last summer, the Great Lakes were exceptionally warm, and bodies of water retain heat much longer than land. Lakes Michigan, Erie, Huron and Ontario were each about 5-10 degrees above average. Even Lake Superior was at least 5 degrees above average.
https://edition.cnn.com/2021/01/22/weather/great-lakes-record-lack-of-ice/index.html

Southern Ocean waters are warming faster than thought, threatening Antarctic ice
The Southern Ocean is one of the most important yet least explored and understood regions of the planet when it comes to determining how global warming may affect the future of humanity ... scientists have learned more about the fragility of large parts of the Antarctic ice sheet, since glaciers extending into the ocean are being eroded by relatively mild waters below. Like removing a doorstop, the collapse of these ice shelves can free up inland ice to move into the ocean, raising global sea levels and harming coastal communities. Now a new study, published Thursday in the journal Nature Communications, finds that beneath the surface layer of waters circling Antarctica, the seas are warming much more rapidly than previously known. Furthermore, the study concludes, this relatively warm water is rising toward the surface over time, at a rate three to 10 times what was previously estimated. This means that there is a greater potential for the waters of the Southern Ocean, which are absorbing vast quantities of added heat and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as a result of human activities, may soon help destabilize parts of the Antarctic Ice Sheet.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2021/01/21/southern-ocean-warming-antarctica/

Iqaluit sets record high temperature for Jan. 19, reaching 0.5 C
Temperatures have been unseasonably balmy by Iqaluit standards this winter ... "it's like a different world. If that's not a heat wave then I don't know what is," [David Phillips, a senior climatologist with Environment Canada] said. "That's something that is quite exceptional and as I say, you've got temperatures this week that are like a dozen to two dozen degrees warmer than they should be for this time of the year." Phillips says it's alarming how long this warm spell has lasted. If the rest of this month continues on a warm streak, Phillips says December and January's average temperatures will be the warmest on record. He adds that what's exceptional is not the odd warm days necessarily, but the relentlessness of the warmth ...  it's been going on since late November, throughout December and into January ... "You can look out your window and see climate change, the ice disappearing … the permafrost is not what it used to be, it's not as deep — you're seeing, clearly, evidence of a runaway kind of climate." In any case, he says it's consistent with what can be expected in the future. "It's almost like a … dress rehearsal for something you're going to see more of in the years to come as the climate really warms up in the North," he said ... Phillips says he's looked at temperatures across the entire Arctic and "they're all balmy ... much milder, maybe 10 to 12 degrees, maybe not as dramatic as Iqaluit, but they clearly are several, several degrees warmer than you'd expect for this time of the year."
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/iqaluit-sets-record-high-temperature-for-jan-19-reaching-0-5-c-1.5882621

Quarter of known bee species have not been recorded since 1990
The number of wild bee species recorded by an international database of life on Earth has declined by a quarter since 1990, according to a global analysis of bee declines. Researchers analysed bee records from museums, universities and citizen scientists collated by the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, (GBIF) a global, government-funded network providing open-access data on biodiversity. They found a steep decline in bee species being recorded since 1990, with approximately 25% fewer species reported between 2006 and 2015 than before the 1990s ... A separate series of scientific studies into global insect declines this month warned that the abundance of insects was falling by 10-20% each decade, an “absolutely frightening” loss that threatened to “tear apart the tapestry of life.”
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jan/22/quarter-of-known-bee-species-have-not-been-recorded-since-1990

Climate change will be sudden and cataclysmic. We need to act fast
Discussing the World Economic Forum Global Risks Report 2021 (see next entry below)
[W]e know from multidisciplinary scientific evidence - from geology, anthropology and archaeology - that climate change is not incremental ...  [the carbon cycle] could trigger suddenly in response to gradual warming. These are tipping points that once passed could fundamentally disrupt the planet and produce abrupt, non-linear change in the climate ...Where the tipping points form a domino-like cascade, where breaching one triggers breaches of others, creating an unstoppable shift to a radically and swiftly changing climate ... We need to act now on our climate. Act like these tipping points are imminent. And stop thinking of climate change as a slow-moving, long-term threat that enables us to kick the problem down the road.
https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/01/climate-change-sudden-cataclysmic-need-act-fast/

World Economic Forum Global Risks Report 2021
Among the highest likelihood risks of the next ten years are extreme weather, climate action failure and human-led environmental damage; as well as digital power concentration, digital inequality and cybersecurity failure. Among the highest impact risks of the next decade, infectious diseases are in the top spot, followed by climate action failure and other environmental risks ... the most imminent threats – those that are most likely in the next two years – include employment and livelihood crises, widespread youth disillusionment, digital inequality, economic stagnation, human-made environmental damage, erosion of societal cohesion, and terrorist attacks ... Climate change—to which no one is immune—continues to be a catastrophic risk ... A shift towards greener economies cannot be delayed until the shocks of the pandemic subside. “Climate action failure” is the most impactful and second most likely long-term risk identified.
https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-risks-report-2021

Why we can’t plant our way out of climate change
[T]he benefit of any individual hectare of planted trees is limited and is no replacement for reducing gross emissions [because] any given hectare of forest eventually becomes saturated with carbon. Once a forest reaches maturity, the net amount of CO2 it sucks out of the atmosphere starts to decline. "As older trees start falling over, they're releasing carbon dioxide as they decompose, and so forests become a source of greenhouse gas emissions at the same time as they continue to sequester. You get a balance, it starts to reach an equilibrium." Plantation forests fare no better ... Another risk to forest carbon is global warming itself ... as temperatures rise, plants begin to expel carbon dioxide faster and absorb it more slowly. In a quickly warming world, some forests may soon become net sources of CO2.
https://www.newsroom.co.nz/why-we-cant-plant-our-way-out-of-climate-change

Earth to reach temperature tipping point in next 20 to 30 years, new study finds
Earth's ability to absorb nearly a third of human-caused carbon emissions through plants could be halved within the next two decades at the current rate of warming, according to a new study in Science Advances [due to] a critical temperature tipping point beyond which plants' ability to capture and store atmospheric carbon decreases as temperatures continue to rise ... "every biological process has a range of temperatures at which it performs optimally, and ones above which function deteriorates ... we wanted to ask, how much can plants withstand?" This study is the first to detect a temperature threshold for photosynthesis from observational data at a global scale [and] found that temperature "peaks" for carbon uptake are already being exceeded in nature.
https://phys.org/news/2021-01-earth-temperature-years.html
reporting on a study at https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/7/3/eaay1052

As the Arctic melts, a regime shift is taking place
Where there was once ice, there is now open ocean ... [Plankton] has increased in abundance in the Arctic by more than 50 per cent since the 1990s ... the waters should be freezing solid, yet, incredibly, vast areas remain open ocean ... there had never been so little sea ice since records began in the 1970s. More troubling, the NSIDC says the areas of open ocean are much warmer than the surrounding ice ... in the 1980s, an average of one-third of the sea ice was more than four years old. Today, less than 2 per cent of the sea ice is that old ... As the white, heat-reflecting ice melts, it is replaced by dark blue water that absorbs more heat. That heat warms the air and the whole region warms up. The faster the region warms, the less ice forms. The more it melts, the more it warms and the more it melts. It is called Arctic amplification, and it is why the Arctic is warming faster than any other place on Earth.
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-13/regime-shift-is-taking-place-as-arctic-sea-ice-melts/12956328

Russia has never been this hot
The year 2020 became the by far warmest ever in 130 years of measurements ... all of the country’s eight federal districts had a record-beating year. The only exception was the district of North Caucasus where the average temperature was the third highest ... biggest deviations were found in the Arctic, where average temperature were 5-7 degrees higher than normal ... In the Arctic, the year ended with severe cold. But just few weeks earlier, a series of smashing heat records were set. In early December, the average temperatures along major parts of the Russian Arctic coast were up to 15 °C above normal. And in November the deviation from normality in the region was set to 12 °C.
https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/climate-crisis/2021/01/russia-has-never-been-hot

The plug keeping the Arctic’s oldest ice in place is getting leaky
This area [north of Greenland] measuring hundreds of thousands of square kilometers and now nicknamed the Last Ice Area, holds much of the Arctic’s remaining multi-year ice ... is shrinking as sea and air temperatures rise, the result of global warming. Even so, scientists have remained hopeful the ice here could persist. But those hopes may be dashed by the results of a paper published in the most recent edition of the journal Nature Communications. The decline, according to the findings, is as much as double the rate of sea ice being lost in other parts of the Arctic Ocean, due to more ice being drained from the area through the Nares Strait ... The ice that is typically lost through the Nares Strait flows out during the summer. The rest of the year, ice dams, known as ice arches because of their shape, at the northern and southern ends of the strait prevent this from happening. However, the length of time each year that ice is being held back is remarkably shorter than in the past ... And the research suggests that the pace of change is accelerating ... Moore theorizes that the reason for the shorter period is that ice has become thinner and less stable. That the process is continuing, the paper concludes, does not bode well ... Doing anything to reverse the situation directly, according to Moore, is unfeasible. “The scale is so huge and the region is so remote. The only thing we can do is cool the planet down. Then the arches will hopefully naturally form again.”
https://www.arctictoday.com/the-plug-keeping-the-arctics-oldest-ice-in-place-is-getting-leaky/

An unusually strong warm wave heads for the Siberian Arctic Ocean, raising surface temperatures more than 20 degrees above normal
Looking at the temperature anomalies for January so far, we can see a large area of warmer than normal temperatures over the Arctic region. Temperatures over the Kara Sea region are more than 20°C above the long-term normals ...  this “heatwave” is set to continue in the coming days.On Monday, the large cyclonic system over the North Pole will blow the warm anomalies further into the Arctic circle, towards the East Siberian Sea. On Tuesday, the strong anomalies will reach further east, enveloping the entire east Arctic Ocean. At this point, the strongest temperature anomalies remain over 20°C above the long-term average.
https://www.severe-weather.eu/global-weather/arctic-circle-unusual-temperature-wave-january-2021-fa/

Upper ocean temperatures hit record high in 2020
Even with the COVID-19-related small dip in global carbon emissions due to limited travel and other activities, the ocean temperatures continued a trend of breaking records in 2020. A new study, authored by 20 scientists from 13 institutes around the world, reported the highest ocean temperatures since 1955 from surface level to a depth of 2,000 meters. The report was published on January 13 in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences and concluded with a plea to the policymakers and others to consider the lasting damage warmer oceans can cause as they attempt to mitigate the effects of climate change. "Over 90% of the excess heat due to global warming is absorbed by the oceans, so ocean warming is a direct indicator of global warming."
https://eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-01/ioap-uot011021.php

Climate change is hitting the Colorado River 'incredibly fast and incredibly hard'
“Climate change is drying out the headwaters ... We're really seeing the effects of climate change hit locally in the Upper Basin incredibly fast and incredibly hard” ... Arizona, California and Nevada could demand the Upper Basin send their allotted water downstream under the obligations of the 1922 Colorado River Compact ... What’s increasingly clear is that the status-quo methods of managing the river are on a collision course with worsening scarcity ... The Colorado River and its tributaries provide for about 40 million people and farmlands from Wyoming to the U.S.-Mexico border. Demands for water have outstripped the available supply for many years. Most of the river’s delta in Mexico was transformed into a dusty stretch of desert decades ago ... board member of California’s Imperial Irrigation District [said] there is a priority system that shouldn’t be changed. “The fact is that we were here first. We established a right to this ... it was their choice to build a Phoenix or a Las Vegas in the middle of the most arid places in the country.” Arizona gets nearly 40% of its water from the Colorado River ... climate science show[s] the effects of warming are here for good and will be severe.
https://www.azcentral.com/in-depth/news/local/arizona-environment/2021/01/01/colorado-rivers-headwaters-climate-change-drives-efforts-adapt/6461183002/

Climate change has cost the U.S. billions of dollars in flood damage, study finds
Intensifying rainfall fueled by climate change has caused nearly $75 billion in flood damage in the U.S. in the past three decades, Stanford University researchers confirmed in a new study Monday. The findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shed light on the ongoing debate on how climate change has impacted growing costs of flooding and the heightened risk homeowners, builders, banks and insurers face as global temperatures continue to rise. The losses resulting from worsening extreme rains comprise nearly one-third of the total financial cost from flooding in the U.S. between 1988 and 2017, according to the report, which analyzed climate and socioeconomic data in order to quantify the relationship between changing historical rainfall trends and historical flood costs ... shows that past climate change has already cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars, just due to flood damages alone.
https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/11/climate-change-has-cost-the-us-billions-of-dollars-in-flood-damage.html

Insect populations suffering death by 1,000 cuts, say scientists
Insect populations are suffering “death by a thousand cuts”, with many falling at “frightening” rates that are “tearing apart the tapestry of life”, according to scientists behind a new volume of studies ... 12 new studies are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Nature is under siege [and] most biologists agree that the world has entered its sixth mass extinction event,” concludes the lead analysis in the package.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jan/11/insect-populations-suffering-death-1000-cuts-scientists

Climate chaos batters global insurance industry
As the world digests the news that 2020 was the joint hottest year on record, two reports attempt to assess how many billions of dollars are being lost as a result of an ever-warming planet [though] “these estimates are based only on insured losses, meaning the true financial costs are likely to be higher”, the report says ... Swiss Re is one of the world’s biggest insurance groups. Its preliminary estimate of global insurance losses as a result of both what it terms natural catastrophes and man-made disasters in 2020 [are] up 40% on the previous year. 
https://climatenewsnetwork.net/climate-chaos-batters-global-insurance-industry/

Record broken for number of billion-dollar US weather and climate disasters in 2020
U.S. weather and climate disasters hit an all-time high in 2020 with 22 separate catastrophes that cost more than $1 billion each ... “2020 is the sixth consecutive year (2015-2020) in which 10 or more billion-dollar weather and climate disaster events have impacted the United States,” the report says ... "The number and cost of weather and climate disasters are increasing in the United States ... climate change is playing an increasing role in the increasing the frequency of some types of extremes that lead to billion-dollar disasters," NOAA climatologist Adam Smith told The Hill.
https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/533366-record-broken-for-number-of-billion-dollar-weather-and-climate

Drought is the sleeper weather story you’ll hear more about in 2021
Drought is an insidious climate threat — by the time it has a hold of a region, impacts on ecosystems and water supplies can be locked in. It may not grab extreme weather headlines like the disrupted polar vortex or record hurricane season, but drought during 2020 and heading into 2021 is a looming story likely to grow in importance ... A total of 49 percent of the Lower 48 states were in moderate to exceptional drought conditions as of Dec. 29, with dry conditions extending north into Alberta.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2021/01/07/drought-expands-north-america

Amazon ecosystem could collapse in less than 50 years
"The messages here are stark. We need to prepare for changes in our planet's ecosystems that are faster than we previously envisaged," said Professor John Dearing of the University of Southampton, who led the study published in the journal Nature Communications ... While large ecosystems take longer to reach their tipping point because of their size, once this point is reached, the deterioration occurs at a faster pace than smaller systems, the study found.
https://www.dw.com/en/amazon-ecosystem-could-collapse-in-less-than-50-years/a-52716809

Amazon Rainforest Will Collapse by 2064, New Study Predicts
A new report for Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development concluded that the Amazon rainforest will collapse and largely become a dry, shrubby plain by 2064. Development, deforestation and the climate crisis are to blame, study author and University of Florida geologist Robert Toovey Walker found.
https://www.ecowatch.com/amazon-rainforest-collapse-2649776959.html
reporting on a study at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00139157.2021.1842711

Baby sharks emerge from egg cases earlier and weaker in oceans warmed by climate crisis
“This is a huge red flag for us,” said Dr Jodie Rummer, an associate professor at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University and a co-author on the study ... In normal temperatures, the sharks emerged from the egg cases after 125 days. But in 31C waters, they emerged after 100 days ... the results of the study, published Tuesday in the journal Scientific Reports, presented a “worrying future” because many sharks were already under threat ... “They’re pretty tough ... If they can’t hack it, then we have big problems ... climate change is affecting even the toughest little sharks.”
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jan/12/baby-sharks-emerge-from-egg-cases-earlier-and-weaker-in-oceans-warmed-by-climate-crisis

More Than Two Degrees of Climate Warming Is Already Locked In, New Study Finds
Existing greenhouse gases will eventually push the climate into more than two degrees [Celsius] of warming, according to a study published in Nature Climate Change [which analyzed] "committed warming," or the amount of warming that would occur if atmospheric greenhouse gases were paused at their current concentrations. Previous estimates had put committed warming at around 1.4 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels [however] those estimates were based on faulty assumptions about Earth's climate system, the paper authors argued ... The researchers estimated that a likely total of 2.3 degrees Celsius of warming is now locked in, about a full degree above the previous estimate ... "If we continue to emit greenhouse gases at the rate we currently are, then we will blow through the 1.5 and two degree Celsius limits possibly within a few decades."
https://www.ecowatch.com/greenhouse-gases-paris-agreement-2649767807.html
reporting on a study at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-020-00955-x

The polar vortex is splitting in two, which may lead to weeks of wild winter weather
A dramatic spike in temperatures is occurring at high altitudes above the North Pole, where the air is thin and typically frigid ... may have profound influences on the weather in the United States and Europe, possibly increasing the potential for paralyzing snowstorms and punishing blasts of Arctic air ... If the polar vortex is strong and stable, as it was last winter, that cold air will stay bottled up over the Arctic, and snow chances may be few and far between for regions such as the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. But when the polar vortex weakens and wobbles off the pole, pieces of it can split off and swirl southward, affecting the United States, Europe and Asia. And that’s exactly what’s begun to happen.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2021/01/05/polar-vortex-split-cold-snow/

Climate Change Threatens Glaciers in Afghanistan
“Almost 14 percent of the total area of glaciers was lost between 1990 and 2015, a direct result of climate change” ... From the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan and the Tian Shan in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and China, stretching southeast to the eastern Himalayas of Nepal, Pakistan and India, is the area known as the High Mountain Asia Region, says the export. The report says that it contains one of the highest concentrations of snow and glaciers outside the polar regions on the planet. It is the source of South Asia’s freshwater; meltwater from the snow and glaciers feeds the ten largest river systems in Asia, which together support some 1.3 billion people in their downstream basin areas, in India, China, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, says the report.
https://tolonews.com/node/169105

France's largest glacier is sliding down due to global warming
France's largest glacier once looked so mighty sliding down the granite slopes of the Mont Blanc ... Today, the Mer de Glace remains the biggest glacier in France, and the second largest in the Alps. But it’s also become a symbol of the rapid pace of global warming. Mont Blanc is heating up more than twice as fast as the rest of the world. The Mer de Glace has been shrinking since the beginning of the 20th century, but the loss has accelerated over the past two decades.
https://www.thestar.com.my/lifestyle/travel/2021/01/04/france039slargest-glacier-is-sliding-down-due-to-global-warming

Bolivia's Tuni glacier is disappearing, and so is the water it supplies
Bolivia’s Tuni glacier is disappearing faster than initially anticipated, according to scientists in the Andean nation, a predicament that will likely make worse water shortages already plaguing the capital La Paz, just 60 km away. Scientists from the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés (UMSA), who monitor the Tuni and other regional glaciers, told Reuters the once sprawling glacier had been reduced to just one square kilometer. Where once they had predicted it would last through 2025, now they say its disappearance is imminent.
https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-bolivia-environment-glacier-idUKKBN29929U

10 steamy signs in 2020 that climate change is speeding up
Climate change has been simmering since the Industrial Revolution, but 2020 was a year that really drove home how fast it's accelerating. We blazed past ominous milestones that were supposed to take decades to arrive, broke records every month, and watched the frozen North melt even faster than anticipated. From record wildfires to a bumper crop of hurricanes to melting poles, here are some of the biggest signs in 2020 that climate change is speeding up.
https://www.livescience.com/climate-change-worsening-2020.html

Study: Warming already baked in will blow past climate goals
The amount of baked-in global warming, from carbon pollution already in the air, is enough to blow past international agreed upon goals to limit climate change, a new study finds [unless] the world quickly stops emitting extra greenhouse gases from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas ... For decades, scientists have talked about so-called “committed warming” or the increase in future temperature based on past carbon dioxide emissions ... But Monday’s study in the journal Nature Climate Change [concludes] the carbon pollution already put in the air will push global temperatures to about 2.3 degrees Celsius (4.1 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming since pre-industrial times ... “If we don’t [get to net zero carbon emissions soon] we’re going to blow through (climate goals) in a few decades,” Dessler said. “It’s really the rate of warming that makes climate change so terrible ... a few degrees over 100 years is really bad.”
https://apnews.com/article/climate-climate-change-pollution-3f226aed9c58e36c69e7342b104d48bf

Seven years to ground zero for the climate crisis?
Within the next seven years, the world could undergo irretrievable change. It could emit enough greenhouse gases from fossil fuel combustion to cross the threshold for dangerous global heating ... last year alone, scientists found that conditions initially proposed as the unlikely “worst case outcome” are already taking shape. On the evidence of the latest study in the journal Climate Dynamics, however, they now have even less time in which to enforce dramatic cuts to fossil fuel use. [The researchers] based their simulation not on the theoretical relationships suggested by atmospheric physics but on historical climate data. “Our approach allows climate sensitivity and its uncertainty to be estimated from direct observations with few assumptions,” said Raphaël Hébert, once of McGill University in Montreal and now at the Alfred-Wegener Institute in Potsdam, Germany.
https://climatenewsnetwork.net/seven-years-to-ground-zero-for-the-climate-crisis/

Study pins toxic algae blooms at Oregon’s southern border on climate change
New research from West Coast oceanographers provides insight into the cause of toxic algae blooms that caused shellfish closures and marine mammal deaths near the Oregon-California border. The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Climate, shows climate change and a 2013-2015 Pacific Ocean heatwave, often called “the blob,” have together increased the growth of toxic algae off the coastline from Cape Mendocino, California to Cape Blanco, Oregon. “The 2015 warm anomaly populated or seeded this new site, which now is a new source of toxin to contaminate shellfish on our coast,” said Dr. Vera Trainer, a research oceanographer at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center and the study’s lead author.
https://www.opb.org/article/2021/01/02/study-pins-toxic-algae-blooms-at-oregons-southern-border-on-climate-change/

Planet-warming trend continues: 2020 closes hottest decade on record – UN weather agency
Since the 1980s each decade has been warmer than the previous one. And because of record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the trend is expected to persist. In particular, carbon dioxide is driving the planet to future warming because it remains in the atmosphere for many decades. According to WMO’s Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update,  there is a one-in-five chance that the average global temperature will temporarily exceed 1.5 °C by 2024
https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/12/1080882

Mass die-off of birds in south-western US 'caused by starvation'
The [September 2020] mass die-off of thousands of songbirds in south-western US was caused by long-term starvation, made worse by unseasonably cold weather probably linked to the climate crisis, scientists have said ... migratory birds “falling out of the sky” ... “They became so emaciated they actually had to turn to wasting their major flight muscles.”
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/dec/26/mass-die-off-of-birds-in-south-western-us-caused-by-starvation-aoe

Carbon Capture Is Not a Climate Savior
Existing “carbon capture” technologies and techniques can today capture only 0.1 percent of global emissions. Banking on them to pick up the slack amounts to a big gamble ... Removing just a single metric gigaton of carbon per year would require a land area bigger than Texas. Stabilizing temperatures at the same level through BECCS alone, per many IAMs, is estimated to require a landmass five times the size of India ... direct-air capture technologies have their own feasibility and affordability issues. For one, they depend on an enormous amount of electricity; if the grid powering DAC is still carbon-intensive, its carbon savings look a lot more ambiguous. And if such technologies are patented by private companies, onerous intellectual property statutes could make it virtually impossible for them to proliferate widely.
https://newrepublic.com/article/160754/carbon-capture-not-climate-savior

A groggy climate giant: subsea permafrost is still waking up after 12,000 years
[T]he researchers estimated that the subsea permafrost region currently traps 60 billion tons of methane and contains 560 billion tons of organic carbon in sediment and soil. For reference, humans have released a total of about 500 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution ... subsea permafrost is already releasing substantial amounts of greenhouse gas. However, this release is mainly due to ancient climate change rather than current human activity. They estimate that subsea permafrost releases approximately 140 million tons of CO2 and 5.3 million tons of CH4 to the atmosphere each year [but this] could increase substantially ... under a business-as-usual scenario, warming subsea permafrost releases four times more additional CO2 and CH4 compared to when human emissions are reduced to keep warming less than 2°C.
https://ioppublishing.org/news/a-groggy-climate-giant/
reporting on a study at https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/abcc29

Sea-level rise from climate change could exceed the high-end projections, scientists warn
The new paper, titled "Twenty-first century sea-level rise could exceed IPCC projections for strong-warming futures," takes issue with that upper estimate, saying it is likely too low. The paper was published by a who's who of the most well known glaciologists and sea-level rise experts ... "a world in which warming exceeds 4º Celsius [7.2º Fahrenheit] presents a much more challenging situation [with] reactions and feedbacks in the atmosphere-ocean-ice systems that cannot be adequately modeled at present" ... sea-level rise has been running on the high end of IPCC projections for decades ... actual measurements are above the top end of past expectations ... substantial sea-level rise is already baked in, regardless of whether we stop global warming ... as we emerged from the last Ice Age, sea level rose at remarkable rates — as fast as 15 feet per century at times ... to reduce the potential impacts, it is better to be prepared for a worst-case scenario.
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/climate-change-rising-sea-levels-worst-case-projections/

The stormy, fiery year when climate disasters wouldn't stop
"Nature is sending us a message. We better hear it," United Nations Environment Programme Director Inger Andersen told The Associated Press in an interview. "Wherever you go, whatever continent, we see Nature socking it at us" ... Extremes, including heat waves and droughts, hit all over the world. Siberia reached a record 100 degrees (38 degrees Celsius) as much of the Arctic was 9 degrees (5 degrees Celsius) warmer than average and had an exceptionally bad wildfire season ... The pace of disasters is noticeably increasing, said disaster experts and climate scientists.
https://phys.org/news/2020-12-stormy-fiery-year-climate-disasters.html

Forests in Brazil emitting more carbon than they absorb due to climate change: Study
Tropical forests in Brazil have begun to release more carbon than they absorb as the warming climate kills more of the trees, researchers said ... forests in southeastern Brazil have been progressively absorbing less carbon while releasing more over time, with the region transitioning "from a carbon sink to a carbon source" in 2013, according to a study published Friday in Science.
https://abcnews.go.com/International/forests-brazil-emitting-carbon-absorb-due-climate-change/story?id=74716578

Hunting for 'Disease X'
Humanity faces an unknown number of new and potentially fatal viruses emerging from Africa's tropical rainforests, according to Professor Jean-Jacques Muyembe Tamfum, who helped discover the Ebola virus in 1976 and has been on the frontline of the hunt for new pathogens ever since. "We are now in a world where new pathogens will come out ... that's what constitutes a threat for humanity." ... Experts say the rising number of emerging viruses is largely the result of ecological destruction and wildlife trade ... "If you go in the forest ... you will change the ecology; and insects and rats will leave this place and come to the villages ... so this is the transmission of the virus, of the new pathogens" ... in most of the scientific publications there is an assumption that there will be more contagions coming as humans continue to destroy wilderness habitats. It's not an "IF" it's a "WHEN".
https://edition.cnn.com/2020/12/22/africa/drc-forest-new-virus-intl/index.html

Virologist Marion Koopmans warns that we need to brace ourselves for the next pandemic
“We have to invest now to arm ourselves against another outbreak” ... In addition to being a professor of virology, Koopmans is a member of the Outbreak Management Team and an advisor to the World Health Organization and the European Commission. She emphasizes the importance of science ... Once the coronavirus is under control, we should “not go back to normal,” urges Koopmans. “We should not make that mistake. I hope that we will think about our own role in the origin of pandemics, that due to climate change, deforestation, and our way of life, viruses are spreading more and more.”
https://nltimes.nl/2020/12/19/virologist-marion-koopmans-warns-need-brace-next-pandemic

A 'frozen rainforest' of microscopic life is melting Greenland's ice sheet
"Until recently people have thought of glaciers and ice sheets ... as being relatively lifeless places," says Cook, a British glaciologist. "But when you look under a microscope, the Greenland ice sheet in particular, and other glaciers, reveal themselves to be a frozen rainforest of biodiversity." ... The spreading algae boosts ice melt, releasing more water and nutrients held in the ice, which in turn promotes algae growth -- a process Cook describes as a "vicious feedback cycle." ... adds to a growing body of evidence that ice sheet melt rates have been underestimated.
https://edition.cnn.com/2020/12/14/world/microscopic-life-melting-greenland-ice-sheet-c2e-spc-intl/index.html

Delayed Arctic ice advance tracked back to atmospheric conditions near Alaska months prior
“Global warming is going on, so the global mean surface air temperature is increasing, but compared to that trend, the Arctic is warming twice or more as fast” ... Despite ideal atmospheric conditions for sea ice formation, researchers recorded that the water surface remained unusually warm and ice-free ... remarkable even in an era of climate change turning extreme weather into regular events ... The unusual atmospheric blocking in September and remarkably delayed sea ice formation in November occurred during a year with a neutral PDO index. The study of Kodaira’s team also showed that seawater temperatures increase by a full 1 degree Celsius during a positive phase of PDO index. If atmospheric blocking were to occur simultaneously with a positive PDO index, researchers predict sea surface temperatures in the Arctic could rise by approximately 2 degrees Celsius, dramatically reducing — not just delaying — annual sea ice growth.
https://www.u-tokyo.ac.jp/focus/en/press/z0508_00154.html

Everest’s Rongbuk Glacier Continues to Shrink
The Rongbuk Glacier is located in the Himalaya of southern Tibet [and] is a primary source of water for major Asian rivers such as the Indus and Yangtze, so its seasonal melt is essential to millions of people in India and China ... the Middle Rongbuk Glacier has lost over 90 metres in depth and retreated two kilometres. In 2007, American mountaineer David Breashears compared the glacier in a 1921 photograph to what he saw before him. The great amounts of ice were gone, replaced by the mountain’s rocky shell.
https://explorersweb.com/2020/12/15/everests-rongbuk-glacier-continues-to-shrink/

Increased Heat From Arctic Rivers Is Melting Sea Ice in the Arctic Ocean and Warming the Atmosphere
A new study shows that increased heat from Arctic rivers is melting sea ice in the Arctic Ocean and warming the atmosphere. The study published recently in Science Advances [shows that] major Arctic rivers contribute significantly more heat to the Arctic Ocean than they did in 1980 ... much more river heat energy enters the atmosphere than melts ice or heats the ocean. Since air is mobile, this means river heat can affect areas of the Arctic far from river deltas. The impacts were most pronounced in the Siberian Arctic, where several large rivers flow onto the relatively shallow shelf region extending nearly 1,000 miles offshore ... Rivers are just one of many heat sources now warming the Arctic Ocean. The entire Arctic system is in an extremely anomalous state as global air temperatures rise and warm Atlantic and Pacific water enters the region, decaying sea ice even in the middle of winter.
https://scitechdaily.com/increased-heat-from-arctic-rivers-is-melting-sea-ice-in-the-arctic-ocean-and-warming-the-atmosphere/

Antarctica’s Melting Ice Shelves Are Dangerous
As meltwater rushes through the cracks in the Antarctic ice shelves, it can destroy the ice shelves in minutes or hours. This is amplified by the warming atmosphere, and as the warming continues, this phenomenon may happen more often than not. A study published back in August ... suggested that around 50% to 70% of the ice shelves holding Antarctic glaciers in place could become weak and even collapse ... meltwater “can punch through the ice to the ocean in a matter of minutes to hours, as long as there’s enough water available to keep on filling the crevasse and keep up the pressure,” adding that “the crack in the ice then fills up with ocean water.” This could lead to the shelf breaking apart, which is what scientists believe happened to an ice shelf named Larsen B — it lost 1,255 square miles of ice over a period of a few weeks in 2002.
https://cleantechnica.com/2020/12/12/antarcticas-melting-ice-shelves-are-dangerous/

"Alarming" and "extraordinary" rate of change as the Arctic warms, NOAA report says
The Arctic is warming and changing rapidly, with record or near-record conditions documented across the region in 2020. That's according to an international team of 133 researchers from over a dozen countries who contributed to the 15th annual NOAA Arctic Report Card, released on Tuesday. The report is a comprehensive year-in-review of Arctic conditions — what NOAA calls vital signs — that characterize the health and stability of the Arctic ecosystem ... in recent years the transformation has been occurring at a breakneck speed [due to] human-caused climate change ... the Arctic will not be settling into a "new normal," or back to what used to be considered normal, anytime soon, because the only constant at the moment in the Arctic is change.  
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/climate-change-arctic-noaa-report-card

Three Signs a ‘New Arctic’ Is Emerging
Temperatures are rising, ice is melting, snow is disappearing and the region’s delicate ecosystems are rapidly evolving. It’s already not the same place it was a few decades ago, and it won’t be the same place a few more decades into the future. That’s the stark conclusion of this year’s Arctic Report Card, an annual update on the Arctic climate from NOAA ... “Nearly everything in the Arctic, from ice and snow to human activity, is changing so quickly that there’s really no reason to think that in 30 years much of anything will be as it is today.” 
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/three-signs-a-new-arctic-is-emerging/

Newly Identified Jet-Stream Pattern Could Imperil Global Food Supplies
A new study finds a 20-fold increase in the risk of simultaneous heat waves in major crop-producing regions when the pattern is in place An April 26 paper ... found that the 2018 extremes were associated with a particular mode of “stuck in place” jet stream behavior—one that has increased in frequency and persistence in recent decades. A just-published December 9 follow-up study ... found that stuck jet stream patterns like seen in 2018 are prone to bringing simultaneous heat waves and associated drought conditions to multiple important grain-producing regions of the world ... a number of other studies have found evidence of an increase in stuck jet stream patterns in recent years [finding that] our future climate is likely to bring a significant increase in stuck summertime jet stream patterns capable of bringing a rise in extreme destructive weather events like we experienced in 2018 [and] will bring a significant threat to global food security.
https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/eye-of-the-storm/newly-identified-jet-stream-pattern-could-imperil-global-food-supplies/

Global human-made mass exceeds all living biomass
We find that Earth is exactly at the crossover point; in the year 2020 (± 6), the anthropogenic mass, which has recently doubled roughly every 20 years, will surpass all global living biomass. On average, for each person on the globe, anthropogenic mass equal to more than his or her bodyweight is produced every week. This quantification of the human enterprise gives a mass-based quantitative and symbolic characterization of the human-induced epoch of the Anthropocene.
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-3010-5
see also https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2020/12/human-made-materials-now-equal-weight-of-all-life-on-earth/

European colonization accelerated erosion tenfold
In a paper published today in Nature Communications, the researchers show how humans have altered the North American landscape at a rate far in excess of what nature alone can achieve ... "when European colonizers started farming in North America there was an increase in erosion. This led to the deposition of large amounts of river and floodplain sediment, known as alluvium ... an order of magnitude jump in rates of alluvium deposition soon after Europeans arrived" ... "for the past 40,000 years, rates of alluvium accumulation hardly changed at all and the landscape was quite stable. It was only in the last 200 years that the rates suddenly increased."
https://phys.org/news/2020-12-european-colonization-erosion-tenfold.html

Bacteria release climate-damaging carbon from thawing permafrost
"With permafrost thaw, microbes become active and are able to decompose the peat," says Professor Kappler ... The research team examined how much organic material was bound to reactive iron minerals [and] found that microorganisms are apparently able to use the iron as a food source, thereby releasing the bound organic carbon into the water in the soil. That means the rusty carbon sink cannot prevent the organic carbon from escaping from the thawing permafrost. Based on data available from elsewhere in the northern hemisphere, researchers expect their findings will be applicable for permafrost environments worldwide.
https://phys.org/news/2020-12-bacteria-climate-damaging-carbon-permafrost.html

How Climate Change Is Ushering in a New Pandemic Era
“We have entered a pandemic era,” wrote Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases ... Through intensive agriculture, habitat destruction, and rising temperatures, we are forcing creatures to [move] to more hospitable environments ... During this wild exodus, these animals are likely to bump into new animals and humans they have never crossed paths with before ... encounters where viruses jump species and new diseases are often born. The vast majority of the new infectious diseases that have emerged in recent decades have come [in this way] ... What’s next? “It’s really a roll of the dice” ... an estimated 1.7 million currently undiscovered viruses are thought to exist in mammal and avian hosts. Of these, more than 800,000 could have the ability to infect humans.
https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/climate-change-risks-infectious-diseases-covid-19-ebola-dengue-1098923/
see also https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-52775386

Investors can now trade water futures
Futures tied to the Nasdaq Veles California Water Index, which measures the volume-weighted average price of water, began trading under the ticker NQH2O on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Monday. Water has never been traded this way before ... the new futures market could also invite speculation from financial players, including hedge funds ... California's water market is four times larger than in any other state ... Sounds a bit dystopian? Perhaps. At the end of the day, water is just another scarce resource ... two-thirds of the world's population will face water shortages by 2025. Experts think the California index, as well as the new futures, could only be the first of its kind, with more local indexes to come as water scarcity is forcing innovation in the field.
https://edition.cnn.com/2020/12/07/investing/water-futures-trading/index.html
see also https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-12-06/water-futures-to-start-trading-amid-growing-fears-of-scarcity

Melting of Antarctica’s Larsen C Ice Shelf at 40-year record high, study says
The unprecedented melt at Larsen C, which is Antarctica’s fourth-largest ice shelf, coincided with record-breaking summer temperatures at a weather station in the Antarctic Peninsula, the research says ... Dr Suzanne Bevan, a research officer at Swansea University in Wales and lead author of the new research, which is published in the Cryosphere journal [said] “Repeated years of melt similar to 2019/2020 would cause melt ponds to become widespread across the shelf. This was the scenario that led to the collapse of Larsen B in 2002.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/antarctica-ice-shelf-larsen-c-melt-b1642993.html
reporting on a study at https://tc.copernicus.org/articles/14/3551/2020/tc-14-3551-2020-discussion.html

Last Month Was the Hottest November Ever
This past November was the hottest ever recorded [at] close to 0.8° Celsius above the average temperature between 1981 to 2010 ... “These records are consistent with the long-term warming trend of the global climate,” said Carlo Buontempo, director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service. “All policy-makers who prioritize mitigating climate risks should see these records as alarm bells.” Global temperatures from January to October were already 1.2°C above pre-industrial levels, according to the World Meteorological Organization. No matter what happens over the rest of the year, this decade will be the hottest on record, with the warmest six years all happening since 2015.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-12-07/last-month-was-the-hottest-november-ever

Deep Frozen Arctic Microbes Are Waking Up
In the last 10 years, warming in the Arctic has outpaced projections so rapidly that scientists are now suggesting that the poles are warming four times faster than the rest of the globe ... Permafrost covers 24 percent of the Earth’s land surface, and the soil constituents vary with local geology. Arctic lands offer unexplored microbial biodiversity and microbial feedbacks, including the release of carbon to the atmosphere. In some locations, hundreds of millions of years’ worth of carbon is buried. The layers may still contain ancient frozen microbes, Pleistocene megafauna and even buried smallpox victims ... Organisms that co-evolved within now-extinct ecosystems from the Cenozoic to the Pleistocene may also emerge and interact with our modern environment in entirely novel ways ... With the coalescence of microbes reawakening from the deep and surface conditions unprecedented in human history, it is challenging to assess risks accurately ... one thing is clear: as climate change warms this microbial repository during the 21st century, the full range of consequences is yet to be told.
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/deep-frozen-arctic-microbes-are-waking-up/

Climate change threatens 'most Alps glaciers'
Up to 92% of glaciers in the Alps could be lost by the end of the century due to climate change, say researchers. The mountain range's 4,000 glaciers include popular skiing resorts such as Zermatt in Switzerland and Tignes in France. The findings by Aberystwyth University suggest those ski resorts' glaciers would be all but gone. Water run-off, storage and Alpine eco-systems would also be affected ... by 2050 almost all the glaciers below 3,500 metres in the Alps are likely to have melted.
https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-55206215

The glaciers of the Greenland Ice Sheet are running away
Greenland’s massive ice sheet will continue shrinking even if snowfall rates return to the higher levels of decades ago, when the ice sheet was stable, a new study shows. Rates of ice loss climbed dramatically in the early 2000s before settling at a higher, sustained state of decline. For each kilometer that Greenland’s glaciers retreat, their rate of ice loss speeds up by 4 to 5 percent—a bleak trend that will accelerate sea-level rise ... it will continue to shrink, according to new research published in Communications Earth and Environment ... These glaciers act like dams that control how much ice flows into the ocean, said Michael Wood, a postdoctoral researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who was not involved in the study. “What’s happened is that a lot of those dams have burst.” The new study, he said, shows this process “is fully or mostly responsible for the extra ice flooding into the ocean.” As Greenland’s thick shield of ice melts, it is the single largest contributor to global sea level rise.
https://news.mongabay.com/2020/12/the-glaciers-of-the-greenland-ice-sheet-are-running-away/

[Canada Northwest Territories] temperatures soar above zero, breaking a record and causing some problems
Norman Wells hit a tropical 11.1 C ... Wrigley also hit 11 degrees Thursday, while Fort Simpson, Sambaa K'e and the South Slave region all saw temperatures above zero. "It's not normal," said Gruben, commenting on the heavy rain he was seeing in Tuktoyaktuk.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/nwt-temperatures-soar-above-zero-1.5827852

Researchers Connect Antarctic Melt and Northern Hemisphere Sea Level Shift
Climate researchers discovered that changes in Northern Hemisphere sea levels contribute to the shrinking of the Antarctic ice sheet, according to a study published in Nature on Nov. 25 ... expands the scientific understanding of the global interconnectedness of climate change ... the team’s findings highlight the importance of considering the “bigger picture” of regional warming. “The implication of this study is that under our warming world, we have now two remaining ice sheets in Greenland and in the Southern Hemisphere,” Han said. “Once an ice sheet in one hemisphere starts to go, then the ice sheet in the other hemisphere is also in danger.”
https://www.thecrimson.com/article/2020/12/4/sea-level-ice-sheet-research/

An escape route for seafloor methane
[H]igh pressure and low temperature of these deep-sea environments should create a solid frozen layer that would be expected to act as a kind of capstone, preventing gas from escaping. So how does the gas get out? A new study helps explain how and why columns of the gas can stream out of these formations, known as methane hydrates. Using a combination of deep-sea observations, laboratory experiments, and computer modeling, researchers have found phenomena that explain and predict the way the gas breaks free from the icy grip of a frozen mix of water and methane. The findings are reported today in the journal PNAS ... not only does the frozen hydrate formation fail to prevent methane gas from escaping into the ocean column, but in some cases it actually facilitates that escape.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201130155832.htm

Global soils underpin life but future looks ‘bleak’, warns UN report
Global soils are the source of all life on land but their future looks “bleak” without action to halt degradation, according to the authors of a UN report. A quarter of all the animal species on Earth live beneath our feet and provide the nutrients for all food. Soils also store as much carbon as all plants above ground and are therefore critical in tackling the climate emergency. But there also are major gaps in knowledge, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) report, which is the first on the global state of biodiversity in soils. The report was compiled by 300 scientists, who describe the worsening state of soils as at least as important as the climate crisis and destruction of the natural world above ground ... “few things matter more to humans because we rely on the soil to produce food. There’s now pretty strong evidence that a large proportion of the Earth’s surface has been degraded as a result of human activities” ... The main causes of damage to soils are intensive agriculture, with excessive use of fertilisers, pesticides and antibiotics killing soil organisms and leaving it prone to erosion. The destruction of forests and natural habitats to create farmland also degrades soil.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/dec/04/global-soils-underpin-life-but-future-looks-bleak-warns-un-report

Western monarch butterfly numbers critically low for second straight year
The latest annual count of western monarch butterfly numbers at their overwintering sites on California’s Pacific coast has revealed a second consecutive tally of less than the critical threshold of 30,000. The group behind the count says that figure may be the tipping point for the species, below which the population decline would accelerate into a downward spiral. A major threat to the butterflies is the loss of suitable habitat ... “For an animal that ranges across the entire West and has historically been in the millions, we just don’t know how low it can go ... If they do collapse it would look like a downward spiral of the population … it would never really recover” ... The world is facing an insect apocalypse, and monarch butterflies are no exception. Monarch populations have been declining for decades, threatened by insecticides, climate change, parasites and diseases spread by agriculture, and habitat loss.
https://news.mongabay.com/2020/02/western-monarch-butterfly-numbers-critically-low-for-second-straight-year/

The Rising Tide Underfoot
Changing sea levels are pushing groundwater into new and problematic places
The broken water main, likely corroded from the rising salty groundwater, was just the latest indicator that climate change is striking Honolulu — and urban coastal environments everywhere — in unanticipated ways. “Sea level rise does not look like the ocean coming at us,” says Dolan Eversole, the Waikīkī Beach management coordinator with the University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program (Hawai‘i Sea Grant). “It looks like the groundwater coming up.” Rising groundwater has the potential to debilitate many low-elevation coastal cities worldwide ... One threat posed by rising groundwater that receives little attention is its ability to dislocate industrial contaminants ... the ground beneath Honolulu is riddled with decommissioned storage tanks that still hold petroleum or other toxic contents ... Currently, no building regulations or construction codes are in place to address sea level or groundwater rise ... But the recent scale of flooding during big tides, exacerbated by groundwater flooding in unexpected places, has begun to convince many of the coming reality. Locals will eventually start asking what’s going to be done about it. And, says Usagawa, “We better have a plan in place.”
https://www.hakaimagazine.com/features/the-rising-tide-underfoot/

Beautiful Yet Unnerving Photos of the Arctic Getting Greener
A third of the carbon stored in the soils of the world is in the Arctic permafrost ... as the Arctic warms, the period between when the snow melts and when it returns is getting longer, so plants are greening up earlier in the year ... as temperatures rise, taller shrub species are becoming more abundant, trapping thicker layers of snow [which] prevents the chill of winter from penetrating the soil enough to keep it frozen. And that’s a problem, because if the permafrost doesn’t get cold enough to stay frozen—well, permanently—it will start to release that trapped carbon dioxide and methane, an extremely potent greenhouse gas.
https://www.wired.com/story/beautiful-yet-unnerving-photos-of-the-arctic-getting-greener/
reporting on a study at https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/abbf7d

19% of Antarctic ice sheet surface melted in past 20 years: report
Over the 1999-2019 period, more than 2.63 million square kilometers of the Antarctic ice sheet surface had experienced observable melting, which is nearly one-fifth of the total area, said the MOST 2020 annual report of remote sensing monitoring on the global ecological environment ... the melting conditions of the Antarctic ice sheet surface will continue to increase, especially in West Antarctica and Antarctic Peninsula. Its impact on the sea level rise will become significant.
https://news.cgtn.com/news/2020-11-29/19-of-Antarctic-ice-sheet-surface-melted-in-past-century-report-VOw8A1z0bu/index.html

Top official: This is what Arctic climate change will cost Russia
Unprecedented warming in the far north is having its toll on Russian towns, industry and infrastructure, and consequences could be dire unless the temperature increase is halted, the Russian Ministry of the Far East and Arctic makes clear. According to Deputy Minister Krutikov, the direct damage inflicted on installations in the region could amount to 9 trillion rubles (€99 billion) ... The Russian part of the Arctic is the part of the planet with the most dramatic warming. Over the last decades, the average temperature has increased by more than five degrees Celsius [with] grave effects on the permafrost that is melting rapidly across the region. The year 2020 has beaten most temperature records.
https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/climate-crisis/2020/11/top-official-what-arctic-climate-change-will-cost-russia

"Take action" or face a grim future, warns climate scientist after a year locked in Arctic ice
It was a scientific mission on an unprecedented scale, and the people who took part say their findings should serve as a warning that if action isn't taken, humans in every corner of the world will pay the price ... Dr. Alison Fong told CBS News that she and her colleagues on the Polarstern were "looking at creating a whole picture of what the Arctic is going to do in the coming years." The picture that emerged [is] devastating proof, the scientists say, of a dying Arctic Ocean ... "We know that what we have done [has] caused an increase in temperature and carbon dioxide on Earth, and that causes warming, and that ... is causing major changes to the way the climate functions." Scientists say it's fueling intensified wildfires in the U.S., stronger hurricanes, and more extreme floods and drought around the world.  
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/climate-warming-arctic-ice-scientists-spent-year-locked-in-ice-polarstern-research-mission

Witnessing ice habitat collapse in the Arctic
Over a 2-day period at the end of July 2020, the Milne Ice Shelf underwent fracturing and collapse, losing 43% of its vast expanse ... one of many recent events along Canada's far northern coastline ... considered the ultimate refuge for ice-dependent species in the rapidly warming North ... Ward Hunt Ice Shelf, the largest platform of thick landfast ice in Arctic Canada, experienced several fracturing events in recent decades ... The lake dammed by the Milne Ice Shelf, with its distinctive microbial community is the last of this ecosystem type in Canada and may be similarly close to disappearance.
https://science.sciencemag.org/content/370/6520/1031

Record-shattering Warmth Pushes Arctic Temperatures to 12 Degrees F Above Normal
Temperatures last weekend across the entire Arctic basin hit 12 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, scientists announced, with some areas measuring as high as 30 degrees F or more above the norm. These extraordinary temperatures come on the heels of an exceptionally warm summer and fall in the Arctic that saw temperatures exceed 100 degrees F above the Arctic Circle in Siberia and cause an unprecedented delay in the Arctic Ocean refreezing this autumn ... rapidly disappearing sea ice, the volume of which has decreased by two-thirds in the past 40 years, is enabling the dark waters of the Arctic Ocean to absorb heat in the summer and then radiate it back into the atmosphere until deep into the fall ... Siberia’s extreme heat in 2020 would have been effectively impossible without human-caused climate change.
https://e360.yale.edu/digest/record-shattering-warmth-pushes-arctic-temperatures-to-12-degrees-f-above-normal

Growing ‘heat blob’ from Atlantic driving sea ice loss in Arctic, study says
An underwater heat blob from the Atlantic is delivering more and more warmth to the Arctic, causing sea ice to rapidly melt, a study has found ... likely playing a major role in the warming of the Arctic Ocean and the rapid disappearance of Arctic sea ice ... Arctic sea ice reached its second-lowest level on record this September and took much longer than usual to begin refreezing for the winter. In addition, the last 14 years have seen the 14 lowest levels of Arctic sea ice in the modern satellite record. Ocean heat is not the only contributor to Arctic sea ice melt. Air temperatures are rising twice as fast in the Arctic than the global average. In some parts of the Arctic, temperature rise is four times higher than the global average.
https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/arctic-sea-ice-atlantic-ocean-b1760392.html

Sydney records hottest November night on record
Sydney has recorded its hottest November night on record, with daytime temperatures expected to hit 40C on Sunday ... heat has prompted the New South Wales Fire Service to issue a total fire ban for most of the eastern and northeastern parts of the state. Temperatures over the weekend have also soared in other parts of the country including South Australia and Victoria.
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55118406

‘Feedback Loop’ in Central East Asia Threatens Disturbing Changes to Mongolia's Climate
New research published today in Science is painting an alarming picture of the current climate situation ... heatwaves and droughts in the region are happening more often ... current climate situation in the region has no precedent ... the new paper reached this conclusion after analyzing tree-rings, which document droughts and heatwaves dating back to the mid-18th century ... The kind of climate that’s being predicted, in which the region will suffer though even more heatwaves and droughts, could make the region as dry and barren as parts of the U.S. southwest.
https://earther.gizmodo.com/feedback-loop-in-central-east-asia-threatens-disturbi-1845761575

More than 3 billion people affected by water shortages, data shows
Water shortages are now affecting more than 3 billion people around the world ... About 1.5 billion people are suffering severe water scarcity or even drought ... UN warned on Thursday that billions of people would face hunger and widespread chronic food shortages as a result of failures to conserve water resources, and to tackle the climate crisis.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/nov/26/more-than-3-billion-people-affected-by-water-shortages-data-shows

Solar geoengineering may not prevent strong warming from direct effects of CO2 on stratocumulus cloud cover
[W]e demonstrate that solar geoengineering ... does not mitigate risks to the climate system ... clouds thin as greenhouse gases build up, even when warming is modest ... can eventually lead to breakup of the clouds, triggering strong [5°C] global warming, despite the solar geoengineering.
https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/11/10/2003730117
see also https://www.sciencealert.com/solar-geoengineering-won-t-be-able-to-hold-off-global-warming-forever-scientists-warn

Everest region glaciers thinning at high altitudes
The behavior of glaciers around Mount Everest over the last six decades is now revealed in research published today in the multidisciplinary journal One Earth. The project [is] part of the 2019 National Geographic and Rolex Perpetual Planet Everest Expedition ... Dr. Owen King, of the School of Geography and Sustainable Development at the University of St Andrews, who led the study said: "Our results show that ice mass loss rates have consistently increased since the early 1960s and are now similar to the average global rate of ice loss, despite the regions extreme elevation."
https://phys.org/news/2020-11-everest-region-glaciers-thinning-high.html

Methane Hits Record High in Atmosphere as Fossil Fuel Companies Diverge
World Meteorological Organization [said] methane reached a new high in 2019 and has increased 161% above preindustrial levels “due to increased emissions from anthropogenic sources,” including the fossil fuel industry. Roughly 60% of methane emitted into the atmosphere comes from man-made sources, like the development of fossil fuels, landfills, biomass burning and agriculture, the WMO report said. According to Brownstein, methane emission estimates based on engineering calculations by industry often understate the true amount of emissions coming from oil and gas operations.
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/methane-hits-record-high-in-atmosphere-as-fossil-fuel-companies-diverge/

CO2 hits new record despite Covid-19 lockdowns
Climate-heating gases have reached record levels in the atmosphere despite the global lockdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the UN’s World Meteorological Organization has said ... WMO report said the monthly average CO2 for September at the benchmark station of Mauna Loa in Hawaii was 411.3ppm, up from 408.5ppm in September 2019 ... CO2 in the atmosphere is now 50% higher than in 1750, before the Industrial Revolution. CO2 traps two-thirds of the heat retained on the Earth’s surface by greenhouse gases, and this warming effect has increased by 45% since 1990.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/nov/23/climate-crisis-co2-hits-new-record-despite-covid-19-lockdowns

Shocking temperatures across the Arctic
Heating is continuing to accelerate at an unprecedented speed in the north. The anomaly high temperatures this weekend are following a row of bad news this autumn. November 21 came with temperatures 10-12°C higher than normal 30 years ago, according to the Climate Change Institute with the University of Maine. For the entire Arctic, the heat was on average 6,7°C higher than normal. A belt of warm air is currently stretching from northern Greenland across the North Pole to the Laptev and East Siberian Seas north of the Russian mainland. Northeast of Svalbard via Franz Josef Land to Severnaya Zemlya see similar heat.
https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/climate-crisis/2020/11/shocking-temperatures-across-arctic

Slight Arctic Warming Could Trigger Abrupt Permafrost Collapse – Study
A few degrees of warming in the Arctic could trigger an abrupt thaw of the permafrost [per a] study published Friday in the Science Advances journal ... “Arctic warming by only a few degrees may suffice to abruptly activate large-scale permafrost thawing,” the study's authors wrote. The warming works like “a sensitive trigger for a threshold-like permafrost climate change feedback ... Our study indeed suggests that abrupt permafrost thawing represents a tipping point in the climate system.”
https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2020/10/20/slight-arctic-warming-could-trigger-abrupt-permafrost-collapse-study-a71805

Bubbling methane craters and super seeps - is this the worrying new face of the undersea Arctic?
Scientists have shared the first results of a trip to the world’s largest deposit of subsea permafrost and shallow methane hydrates. Fields of methane discharge continue to grow all along the East Siberian Arctic Ocean Shelf, with concentration of atmospheric methane above the fields reaching 16-32ppm. This is up to 15 times above the planetary average ... A second discovery is pockmarks and craters sunk deep in shelf sediments of both the Laptev and East Siberian seas, actively venting bubbles and strong methane signals ... The expedition mapped over 1,000 large seep fields (areas of massive methane discharge over 100 metres or 328 ft) and mega seep fields, each over 1,000 metres in linear dimension.
https://siberiantimes.com/other/others/news/bubbling-methane-craters-and-super-seeps-is-this-the-worrying-new-face-of-the-undersea-arctic/

Slew of rapidly intensifying hurricanes portends trouble in a warming world
Rapid intensification typically occurs in high-end hurricanes that reach Category 3 or above. Scientists now say this is happening more frequently, as storms are given a turbo boost from rising ocean temperatures ... According to Kerry Emanuel, a hurricane scientist at MIT, the 2020 Atlantic season provides a warning: The increasing tendency for hurricanes to rapidly intensify is a better gauge for how climate change is influencing them rather than how strong they ultimately get ... Based on recent peer-reviewed studies he co-wrote, meteorologist Jim Kossin of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), said it’s clear that the odds of a storm rapidly intensifying have increased compared with what they were just a few decades ago.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2020/11/18/hurricane-season-rapid-intensification/

Scientists link record-breaking hurricane season to climate crisis
“The warmer ocean waters that climate change brings are expected to make the stronger storms stronger and make them rapidly intensify more frequently and at a greater rate,” said Dr Jeff Masters, a meteorologist and contributor to Yale Climate Connections. “These things have already been observed, particularly in the Atlantic, and it’s going to be increasingly so in coming decades” ... “I don’t see a lot of options for Central America to deal with the global warming issue,” said Masters. “There are going to be a lot migrants and in fact, a lot of the migration that’s already happening in recent years is due to the drought that started affecting Central America back in 2015.”
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/nov/15/scientists-link-record-breaking-hurricane-season-to-climate-crisis

We’re already past critical climate tipping points. Here’s why we still need to cut emissions now
If every country in the world cuts global greenhouse gas emissions to zero ... even if they managed to do it by the end [of] 2020 the planet would still keep warming for hundreds of years ... humans would have had to stop all emissions sometime between 1960 and 1970 to stop the global temperature and sea levels from continuing to rise. The study, published in Scientific Reports, modeled the global climate from 1850 to the year 2500, and found that we’ve already passed critical tipping points. The permafrost in the Arctic—which holds nearly twice as much carbon as the atmosphere now—is starting to melt, releasing both CO2 and methane, locking it into a cycle of warming even if emissions stop.
https://www.fastcompany.com/90574545/were-already-past-critical-climate-tipping-points-heres-why-we-still-need-to-cut-emissions-now

More avoidable pandemics await a heedless world
Covid-19 is an instance of a disease transferred from wild mammals to humans [and such diseases] threaten to arrive more often, spread more rapidly, do more damage to the global economy, and kill more people ... A new report by a team of 22 global experts warns that Covid-19 is at least the sixth global health pandemic since the Great Influenza Epidemic of 1918: all had their origins in microbes carried by animals, and all were awakened and spread by human interaction with the wilderness ... “The same human activities that drive climate change and biodiversity loss also drive pandemic risk through their impacts on our environment. Changes in the way we use land; the expansion and intensification of agriculture; and unsustainable trade, production and consumption disrupt nature and increase contact between wildlife, livestock, pathogens and people. This is the path to pandemics.”
https://climatenewsnetwork.net/more-avoidable-pandemics-await-a-heedless-world/

Carbon dioxide removal sucks
Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) systems - touted as techno-fixes for global warming - usually put more greenhouse gases into the air than they take out, a recent study has confirmed. Carbon capture and storage (CCS), which grabs carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by coal or gas fired power stations, and then uses it for enhanced oil recovery (EOR), emits between 1.4 and 4.7 tonnes of the gas for each tonne removed, the research shows. Direct air capture (DAC), which sucks CO2 from the atmosphere, emits 1.4-3.5 tonnes for each tonne it recovers, mostly from fossil fuels used to power the handful of existing projects. If DAC was instead powered by renewable electricity – as its supporters claim it should be – it would wolf down other natural resources. And things get worse at large scale. To capture 1 gigatonne of CO2 (1 GtCO2, just one-fortieth of current global CO2 emissions) would need nearly twice the amount of wind and solar electricity now produced globally ... Claims made that CCS could be “green” – by generating the energy from biofuels, and/or storing the carbon instead of using it for oil production – do not stand up to scrutiny either.
https://theecologist.org/2020/nov/13/carbon-dioxide-removal-sucks

An earth system model shows self-sustained melting of permafrost even if all man-made GHG emissions stop in 2020
The risk of points-of-no-return which, once surpassed, lock the world into new dynamics, have been discussed for decades ... In this paper we report that in the ESCIMO [Earth System Chemistry Integrated Model] climate model the world is already past a point-of-no-return for global warming. In ESCIMO we observe self-sustained melting of the permafrost for hundreds of years, even if global society stops all emissions of man-made GHGs immediately ... the result of a continuing self-sustained rise in the global temperature. This warming is the combined effect of three physical processes: (1) declining surface albedo (driven by melting of the Arctic ice cover), (2) increasing amounts of water vapour in the atmosphere (driven by higher temperatures), and (3) changes in the concentrations of the GHG in the atmosphere (driven by the absorption of CO2 in biomass and oceans, and emission of carbon (CH4 and CO2) from melting permafrost) ... To stop the self-sustained warming in ESCIMO, enormous amounts of CO2 have to be extracted from the atmosphere.
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-75481-z

Record November warmth at Svalbard
“It is the highest temperature officially recorded in Svalbard during November,” says Climate Scientist Ketil Isaksen with the Norwegian Meteorological Institute ... peak temperature last night reached 9,2 °C ... Historically, average November temperature for Longyearbyen is a low of -10,1 °C and high of -5,1 °C. The sun is now under the horizon for a Polar Night that last until early March. Last night’s heat follows a pattern of extreme temperatures for the European and Russian Arctic this summer and fall. Average temperature at the Russian archipelago of Severnaya Zemlya north of the Siberian mainland was as much as ten degrees Celsius warmer than normal in October. In July, Longyearbyen at Svalbard had new heat record ever for the Norwegian Arctic with 21,7°C.
https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/climate-crisis/2020/11/record-november-warmth-svalbard

Hurricanes are staying stronger even over land as oceans warm from climate change, study finds
[A] new study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, shows that storms such as Michael that extend their damaging path far inland are becoming more likely to occur as ocean temperatures increase in response to human-caused global warming ... whereas a storm occurring 50 years ago held onto just 24 percent of its intensity after spending 24 hours over land, that has now doubled, to 48 percent ... the slower decay rate, which exposes inland areas to greater wind and flood damage, is correlated with how quickly ocean temperatures are increasing.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2020/11/11/hurricanes-weaken-slowly-landfall/

Wildfires Are Close to Torching the Insurance Industry in California
A severe hazard zone for fires is similar to a severe hazard zone for floods. The government draws the boundaries, and any new developments within them are required to submit to unforgiving building codes and are subject to steep risk-based increases to their insurance premiums. This is the kind of thing that determines where people try to build and live ... Climate change is making wildfires more extreme. Scientifically, that argument is settled. Researchers have shown that human-induced temperature and humidity changes in the first decade-and-a-half of the 21st century led to a 75% increase in Western forest area with high potential for fires ... The financial fallout was unprecedented. From 1964 to 1990, the American insurance industry paid less than $100 million a year toward wildfire losses, on average. In the next two decades, that figure jumped to an average $600 million annually. From 2011 to 2018, it was almost $4 billion a year ... the [2017-18] seasons wiped out more than a quarter-century of underwriting profits for the California insurance market ... other states are close behind. Sapsis says he’s gotten calls from several other Western states after unprecedented fires this year consumed more than 700,000 acres in Washington and more than 1 million acres in Oregon. Risk analytics company Verisk Analytics Inc. estimates that more than 4.5 million U.S. properties are at high to extreme wildfire risk, but this number is very likely to rise, and quickly, even in places that used to be essentially immune ... In California, nonrenewals of home insurance policies climbed 31% from 2018 to 2019, with ZIP codes that had a “moderate to very high fire risk” seeing a 61% uptick, according to a recent report from the California Department of Insurance. This change caused more residents to turn to the FAIR Plan, a Los Angeles-based association of insurers that provides fire insurance as a [very expensive] “last resort.” The number of policies issued under FAIR climbed 36% last year and more than doubled in higher-risk areas, according to state insurance regulators. Insurers insist that unless they’re able to raise their rates in California to account for future risk, they’ll stop writing policies.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-11-10/wildfires-are-torching-california-s-insurance-industry-amid-climate-change

Devastating 2020 Atlantic hurricane season breaks all records
There have been so many big storms in 2020 that meteorologists exhausted their English-language list of names and had to turn to the Greek alphabet ... The frequency of major storms making damaging landfall is the “big story for 2020” in terms of the hurricane season, said Phil Klotzbach, an atmospheric scientist at Colorado State University ... well beyond the bounds of normal expectations ... “Rapid intensification seems to be the name of the game right now,” Trepanier said. “We should expect to see events intensify quickly when conditions are as warm as they are presently” ... climate scientists warn there will be more and stronger hurricanes as the world heats up further.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/10/devastating-2020-atlantic-hurricane-season-breaks-all-records

Chinese glaciers melting at 'shocking' pace, scientists say
Glaciers in China's bleak Qilian mountains are disappearing at a shocking rate as global warming brings unpredictable change and raises the prospect of crippling, long-term water shortages ... Equally alarming is the loss of thickness, with about 13 meters (42 feet) of ice disappearing as temperatures have risen, said Qin Xiang, the director at the monitoring station. "The speed that this glacier has been shrinking is really shocking," Qin told Reuters on a recent visit to the spartan station in a frozen, treeless world, where he and a small team of researchers track the changes ... since the 1950s, average temperatures in the area have risen about 1.5 Celsius, Qin said, and with no sign of an end to warming, the outlook is grim for the 2,684 glaciers in the Qilian range.
https://edition.cnn.com/2020/11/09/china/china-glaciers-melting-climate-change-intl-hnk/index.html

Climate change ‘bigger risk than Covid’, says Andrew Bailey
The Governor of the Bank of England warns the climate threat is more complex than the financial crisis too
Climate change poses a bigger risk to the world than the coronavirus pandemic or the financial crisis, Andrew Bailey has warned, ordering banks to act now to protect themselves and the economy. The Governor said the Bank of England and financial markets must all take radical steps to analyse the scale of the challenges ahead, identify the risks facing them, and work out how to avoid disaster.
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/11/09/climate-change-bigger-risk-covid-says-andrew-bailey/

Rivers melt Arctic ice, warming air and ocean
A new study shows that increased heat from Arctic rivers is melting sea ice in the Arctic Ocean and warming the atmosphere. The study published this week in Science Advances [shows that] major Arctic rivers contribute significantly more heat to the Arctic Ocean than they did in 1980 ... "If Alaska were covered by 1-meter thick ice, 20% of Alaska would be gone," explained Igor Polyakov, co-author and oceanographer at the University of Alaska Fairbanks' International Arctic Research Center and Finnish Meteorological Institute ... The impacts were most pronounced in the Siberian Arctic, where several large rivers flow onto the relatively shallow shelf region extending nearly 1,000 miles offshore ... All these components work together, causing positive feedback loops that speed up warming in the Arctic. "It's very alarming because all these changes are accelerating," said Polyakov. "The rapid changes are just incredible in the last decade or so."
https://phys.org/news/2020-11-rivers-arctic-ice-air-ocean.html

Emerald ash borer puts trees on path to functional extinction
Emerald ash borer, a beetle native to northeast Asia, was first detected in Michigan in 2002. Its western range has reached South Dakota in the north down to Texas in the south. It's in every state east of that line except for Mississippi and Florida ... "negative population trajectories on plots that have been invaded for more than 10 years," according to the authors' findings, which will be published in the January issue of Forest Ecology and Management. "This trend suggests that ash will continue to decline in abundance and may become functionally extinct across the invaded range of emerald ash borer."
https://phys.org/news/2020-11-emerald-ash-borer-trees-path.html

Severe forest fires have increased eightfold in western US since 1985, study finds
The rise in area burned by high-severity fires is linked to hotter and drier weather across the region, said scientists. Researchers expect the frequency of blazes will continue to increase as such conditions are becoming more likely and more extreme as a result of the climate crisis ... Published in Geophysical Research Letters, the research looks specifically at how the area burned by high-severity fires has changed across the western US, rather than just how the total number of all fires has changed.
https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/forest-fires-wildfires-climate-crisis-california-b1591680.html

Germany is already two degrees warmer
Climate researcher Stefan Rahmstorf explains why it is already warmer than is often stated
The answer is simple: The German Weather Service gives the linear trend [but] if you describe a non-linear development, that doesn't make sense ... model simulations with climate models suggest a non-linear course of global temperature - which also agrees well with the observed temperature course ... The graph confirms that we have already had two degrees Celsius warming ... two degrees global warming means three or even four degrees warming for most land areas, with correspondingly more serious consequences for our well-being. (translated from German)
https://www.spektrum.de/kolumne/deutschland-ist-schon-zwei-grad-waermer/1786148

Warming of 2°C would release billions of tons of soil carbon
Global soils contain two to three times more carbon than the atmosphere, and higher temperatures speed up decomposition -- reducing the amount of time carbon spends in the soil ... The new international research study, led by the University of Exeter, reveals the sensitivity of soil carbon turnover to global warming and subsequently halves uncertainty about this in future climate change projections. The estimated 230 billion tonnes of carbon released at 2°C warming (above pre-industrial levels) is more than four times the total emissions from China, and more than double the emissions from the USA, over the last 100 years.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201102072915.htm

Depths of the Weddell Sea are warming five times faster than elsewhere
Over the past several decades, the world's oceans have absorbed more than 90 percent of the heat trapped in the atmosphere by greenhouse-gas emissions, effectively slowing the rise in air temperatures around the globe. In this regard, the Southern Ocean is pivotal [because] it absorbs roughly three-fourths of the heat. Until recently, very little was known about what happens to this heat ... researchers have produced the only time series of its kind on the South Atlantic and the Weddell Sea, which has now allowed them to precisely reconstruct the warming ... Once the heat reaches the depths of the Weddell Sea, the major bottom water currents distribute it to all ocean basins. "Our time series confirms the pivotal role of the Southern Ocean and especially the Weddell Sea in terms of storing heat in the depths of the world's oceans" ... If the warming of the Weddell Sea continues unchecked, he explains, it will have far-reaching consequences not only for the massive ice shelves on the southern coast of the Weddell Sea, which extend far out into the ocean, and as such, for sea-level rise in the long term, but also for the conveyor belt of ocean circulation as a whole.
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-10/awih-dot102020.php

In the Arctic, 'everything is changing,' massive animal tracking study finds
Animals across the Arctic are changing where and when they breed, migrate and forage in response to climate change, says a new study unveiling the massive scale of the change ... "There's changes everywhere you look — everything is changing," said Gil Bohrer, corresponding author of the new study published online Thursday in the journal Science.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/arctic-animal-archive-climate-1.5790992

"Insanely Warm" Arctic Ocean Waters Are Delaying Freeze-Up and Pouring Heat Into the Atmosphere In September, Arctic sea ice reached its second lowest extent on record. Now, in one significant way, the situation has only gotten worse. With the onset of winter, large swaths of Arctic waters that should be frozen over by now remain ice-free. As a result, the extent of the ice is currently running at record lows for this time of year. "The main factor is ocean heat," says Walt Meier, a senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center. In September, sea surface temperatures in the Laptev Sea off Siberia climbed higher than 5 degrees Celsius, or 41 degrees Fahrenheit. "That’s insanely warm for the Arctic Ocean, especially in that region, far away from any warmer inflow from the Atlantic or Pacific," he says.
https://www.discovermagazine.com/environment/insanely-warm-arctic-ocean-waters-are-delaying-freeze-up-and-pouring-heat

'Sleeping giant' Arctic methane deposits starting to release, scientists find
Scientists have found evidence that frozen methane deposits in the Arctic Ocean – known as the “sleeping giants of the carbon cycle” – have started to be released over a large area of the continental slope off the East Siberian coast ... sediments in the Arctic contain a huge quantity of frozen methane and other gases – known as hydrates. Methane has a warming effect 80 times stronger than carbon dioxide over 20 years. The United States Geological Survey has previously listed Arctic hydrate destabilisation as one of four most serious scenarios for abrupt climate change ... raises concerns that a new tipping point has been reached that could increase the speed of global heating ... The 60-member team on the Akademik Keldysh believe they are the first to observationally confirm the methane release is already under way across a wide area of the slope.
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/oct/27/sleeping-giant-arctic-methane-deposits-starting-to-release-scientists-find

Globalized economy making water, energy and land insecurity worse: study
Over the past several decades, the worldwide economy has become highly interconnected through globalisation [which] allows companies to make their products almost anywhere in the world in order to keep costs down ... the researchers have quantified the global water, land and energy use of 189 countries and shown that countries which are highly dependent on trade are potentially more at risk from resource insecurity, especially as climate change continues to accelerate and severe weather events such as droughts and floods become more common.
https://phys.org/news/2020-10-globalized-economy-energy-insecurity-worse.html

New Climate Warnings in Old Permafrost: 'It’s a Little Scary Because it’s Happening Under Our Feet.'
The study, published today in Science Advances, shows that only a few degrees of warming in the Arctic is enough "to abruptly activate large-scale permafrost thawing," suggesting a "sensitive trigger" for greenhouse gas emissions from thawing permafrost ... "We're very, very close, and when it does, a lot of dramatic things will happen to landscapes and infrastructure, including roads and oil and gas developments. We will see huge changes."
https://insideclimatenews.org/news/16102020/permafrost-study-arctic-ocean-climate-change

Arctic Sea Ice is not freezing In October for the first time since measurements began
The sea ice is refreezing back, but at a much slower rate than normal ... Comparing the years by the current date, we are well the lowest for this time of year ... [growth] rate was rather weak and is not increasing with time ... the east Arctic Ocean is unusually warm and prevents fast sea-ice expansion ... the Laptev Sea has been at record low levels for quite some time now. In the previous decade, the Laptev Sea has been entirely frozen over by this time of year, while this year it [has virtually no ice] ... the Arctic is not as cold as it is supposed to be ... overall Arctic temperatures are getting warmer.
https://www.severe-weather.eu/news/arctic-ocean-sea-ice-2020-jet-stream-effect-winter-fa/

Dwindling Arctic Sea Ice and Impacts to Permafrost Health
Permafrost refers to frozen ground, which covers nearly one-fourth of the Northern Hemisphere landmass. Arctic sea ice supports the resilience of permafrost, which impacts multiple climate pathways. A study at the University of Oxford determined that past permafrost thaws correlated to time periods with ice-free summers ... With concern over nearing Arctic “ice-free” summers, and significant permafrost loss, it is important to understand and communicate the potentially expansive effects this occurrence could present ... sea ice and permafrost loss appears inevitable ... Arctic communities are already feeling the impacts of climate change, and immediate action is necessary to lessen and slow the progression.
https://www.thearcticinstitute.org/dwindling-arctic-sea-ice-impacts-permafrost-health/

The World’s Largest Tropical Wetland Has Become an Inferno
This year, roughly a quarter of the vast Pantanal wetland in Brazil, one of the most biodiverse places on Earth, has burned in wildfires worsened by climate change ... The wetland, which is larger than Greece and stretches over parts of Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia, also offers unseen gifts to a vast swath of South America by regulating the water cycle upon which life depends. Its countless swamps, lagoons and tributaries purify water and help prevent floods and droughts ... But this year, drought worsened by climate change turned the wetlands into a tinderbox ... “The extent of fires is staggering,” said Douglas C. Morton, who leads the Biospheric Sciences Laboratory at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and studies fire and food production in South America. “When you wipe out a quarter of a biome, you create all kinds of unprecedented circumstances” ... “We are digging our grave,” said Karl-Ludwig Schuchmann, an ecologist with Brazil’s National Institute of Science and Technology.
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/10/13/climate/pantanal-brazil-fires.html

Impacts of Climate Change as Drivers of Migration
[E]nvironmental migration is already here ... analysts have identified changes to the climate as a major driver of migration from sub-Saharan Africa to Europe as well as a factor for some of the movements from Central America to the United States in recent years ... cascading impacts on ice sheets, ecosystems, and productive systems that will fundamentally alter habitability when spread over the entire land surface of the planet. The effects will not be spread evenly, and already high latitudes are warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world while drylands are expanding ... Climate can be seen as the envelope in which all economic activities take place, and these changes could spell significant disruptions for modern society.
https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/impacts-climate-change-drivers-migration

Alarm as Arctic sea ice not yet freezing at latest date on record
For the first time since records began, the main nursery of Arctic sea ice in Siberia has yet to start freezing in late October. The delayed annual freeze in the Laptev Sea has been caused by freakishly protracted warmth in northern Russia and the intrusion of Atlantic waters, say climate scientists who warn of possible knock-on effects across the polar region. Ocean temperatures in the area recently climbed to more than 5C above average, following a record breaking heatwave and the unusually early decline of last winter’s sea ice ... sea-ice extent in the Laptev Sea, which usually show a healthy seasonal pulse, appear to have flat-lined. As a result, there is a record amount of open sea in the Arctic.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/22/alarm-as-arctic-sea-ice-not-yet-freezing-at-latest-date-on-record

Even if deniers don’t recognize the cost of climate change, insurance companies do
Reinsurance companies who underwrite retail insurers simply can’t afford to ignore the link between warming temperatures and ever-more-expensive, ever-more-costly catastrophes caused by superstorms, wildfires, inland and coastal flooding. Risks have increased, financial losses multiply, so up goes the price of reinsurance. The Sun Sentinel reported last week that 46 Florida property insurance companies suffered combined losses of about $400 million a year from 2016 to 2019. The companies lost $454 million in just the first six months of 2020 with an expectation of even more brutal numbers when the stormy third quarter results are calculated. The Sun Sentinel reported that reinsurers had jacked up underwriting rates by 20% to 30% earlier this year and plan another hefty jump in 2021. Consumers face increases of 30% to 40%.
https://www.theinvadingsea.com/2020/10/19/even-if-deniers-dont-recognize-the-cost-of-climate-change-insurance-companies-do/

Vast majority of Europe's key habitats in poor or bad condition – report
80% of key habitats are rated as being in poor or bad condition across the continent, in the State of Nature in the EU 2013-2018 assessment by the European Environment Agency. Just under half of all bird species are thriving, at 47%, but this is a decline of five percentage points since 2015, showing that the trend is going in the wrong direction.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/oct/19/vast-majority-europe-key-habitats-poor-bad-condition-report

There was no ice on the water, says captain of tall ship Sedov about Arctic voyage
The Sedov on Tuesday passed the southern tip of archipelago Novaya Zemlya and is expected in Murmansk in the course of the week. The voyage would have been unthinkable only few years ago. But this year’s unprecedented low levels of sea-ice has made sailing on the route smooth and easy. According to the expedition diary, there has hardly been minus degrees during the voyage and sea-ice has hardly been spotted.
https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/climate-crisis/2020/10/there-was-no-ice-water-says-captain-tall-ship-sedov-about-arctic-voyage

Sea 'Boiling' with Methane Discovered in Siberia: 'No One Has Ever Recorded Anything like This Before'
Scientists in Siberia have discovered an area of sea that is "boiling" with methane, with bubbles that can be scooped from the water with buckets. Researchers on an expedition to the East Siberian Sea said the "methane fountain" was unlike anything they had seen before, with concentrations of the gas in the region to be six to seven times higher than the global average. The team, led by Igor Semiletov, from Tomsk Polytechnic University in Russia, traveled to an area of the Eastern Arctic previously known to produce methane fountains. They were studying the environmental consequences of permafrost thawing beneath the ocean.
https://www.newsweek.com/methane-boiling-sea-discovered-siberia-1463766

Arctic researcher warns the 'the ice is dying' after landmark expedition
"This world is threatened. We really saw how the ice is disappearing," said Markus Rex, leader of the largest-ever Arctic expedition ... Rex, an atmospheric scientist with the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, Germany, said researchers pushed boundaries and battled the extreme landscape to gather data that "will change climate research forever" ... While years of analysis of the data lay ahead, Rex said researchers are already alarmed by the evidence they've gathered. "The ice is dying," Rex said ... researchers witnessed wide areas of open water that should have been covered in thick ice. Even at the North Pole, the ice was melting and had holes, sending a clear message of the consequences of climate change. "It was very evident, you could see it all around," he said.
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/arctic-researcher-warns-ice-dying-after-landmark-expedition-n1243073

Great Barrier Reef has lost half of its corals since 1995
Scientists found all types of corals had suffered a decline across the world's largest reef system. The steepest falls came after mass bleaching events in 2016 and 2017. More mass bleaching occurred this year. "There is no time to lose - we must sharply decrease greenhouse gas emissions ASAP," the researchers said. The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, was conducted by marine scientists at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Queensland.
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-54533971

As Waters Warm, Ocean Heatwaves Are Growing More Severe
Water, covering two-thirds of the Earth’s surface, absorbs more than 90 percent of the energy from climate change ... That warming is ramping up: 2019 saw warmer oceans than any year on record ... One study showed that the count of annual marine heatwave days increased globally by over 50 percent from 1925 to 2016, with heatwaves becoming 34 percent more frequent and lasting 17 percent longer ... Another study showed that by 2100, no matter whether humanity follows a high emissions path or a low one, the oceans will be in a “near-permanent heat-wave state” ... The hints that heatwaves can trigger tipping points are disturbing. This means a single heatwave “can have ecosystem impacts that resonate for decades,” says NOAA’s Elliot Hazen.
https://e360.yale.edu/features/as-waters-warm-ocean-heatwaves-are-growing-more-severe

Carbon capture 'moonshot' moves closer, as billions of dollars pour in
Carbon capture is a controversial idea, attacked as a costly distraction from stopping emissions occurring in the first place. But last month, the International Energy Agency said ... it would be “virtually impossible” for the world to hit climate targets without capturing and storing emissions generated from factories, power plants, transportation and other sources. The transition to renewable energy, such as solar and wind, would not cut emissions in time ... Carbon capture is still in its infancy – there are only about 20 projects in commercial use worldwide, according to the IEA – but billions of dollars in investment is flowing into the sector ... “Carbon capture and storage is not a solution to the climate crisis, it is part of the problem,” said Karen Orenstein, the climate and energy programme director at Friends of the Earth. “This extraordinarily expensive pipe dream is just false rhetoric propagated by the fossil fuel industry in an attempt to save itself.”
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/oct/07/carbon-capture-moonshot-moves-closer-as-billions-of-dollars-pour-in

Himalayan glaciers melting because of high-altitude dust
Dust, climate change and air pollution are triple threat to water source for a billion people
Prior to the study, which is published in the journal Nature Climate Change, experts did not believe dust to be a significant driver of snowmelt in the region ... Though dust is a natural part of Earth’s systems, the amount of it in the atmosphere has steadily increased since the Industrial Revolution, when humans expanded into desert areas and broke through surface crust that held large amounts of dust in place. The darker or dustier an object is, the more heat it absorbs ... “In theory, we have two ways to limit the dust that ends up in High Mountain Asia. We can weaken the west wind in the high atmosphere or make the Middle East green. But either way is difficult, probably more difficult than reducing greenhouse gases emissions.”
https://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/dust-in-the-wind-is-making-himalayan-glaciers-melt
reporting on a study at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-020-00909-3

Fifth of countries at risk of ecosystem collapse, analysis finds
Trillions of dollars of GDP depend on biodiversity, according to Swiss Re report
One-fifth of the world’s countries are at risk of their ecosystems collapsing because of the destruction of wildlife and their habitats, according to an analysis by the insurance firm Swiss Re. Natural “services” such as food, clean water and air, and flood protection have already been damaged by human activity. More than half of global GDP – $42tn (£32tn) – depends on high-functioning biodiversity, according to the report, but the risk of tipping points is growing ... “A staggering fifth of countries globally are at risk of their ecosystems collapsing due to a decline in biodiversity and related beneficial services,” said Swiss Re, one of the world’s biggest reinsurers and a linchpin of the global insurance industry. “If the ecosystem service decline goes on [in countries at risk], you would see then scarcities unfolding even more strongly, up to tipping points,” said Oliver Schelske, lead author of the research.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/oct/12/fifth-of-nations-at-risk-of-ecosystem-collapse-analysis-finds
reporting on a study at https://www.swissre.com/media/news-releases/nr-20200923-biodiversity-and-ecosystems-services.html

California wildfires spawn first ‘gigafire’ in modern history
California’s extraordinary year of wildfires has spawned another new milestone – the first “gigafire”, a blaze spanning 1m acres, in modern history ... fire heads a list of huge fires that have chewed through 4m acres of California this year, a figure called “mind-boggling” by Cal Fire and double the previous annual record. Five of the six largest fires ever recorded in the state have occurred in 2020 ... Vast, out-of-control fires are increasingly a feature in the US west due to the climate crisis ... “If you don’t like all of the climate disasters happening in 2020, I have some bad news for you about the rest of your life,” said Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist at Texas A&M University.
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/oct/06/california-wildfires-gigafire-first

The West’s Infernos Are Melting Our Sense of How Fire Works
42,000-foot plumes of ash. 143-mph firenadoes. 1,500-degree heat. These wildfires are a new kind of hell on earth, and scientists are racing to learn its rules.
By the time California’s 2018 fire season was over, it had burned more than 1.6 million acres to become the most destructive on record—a title it maintained for slightly less than 20 months, when it was overtaken not by the 2020 fire season but by a mere four weeks in late summer 2020 ... The final elephant in the room, of course, is climate change—and the likelihood that it is already pushing even our current nightmares toward holocausts beyond imagining ... climate-change patterns suggest we are headed for ever-less winter snowfall in the West, with hotter summers, ever-worsening droughts, and ever-more acute spells of extreme fire weather—long periods of dry heat that bake moisture out of grass and trees, combined with winds ferocious enough to whip even a small spark into a conflagration ... every future fire season in the American West is likely to be worse than the last, on average. “How do you adapt to that? It’s not just California,” he says. “It would be the whole West Coast and the Rockies and parts of Canada and Alaska all going off on a regular basis.”
https://www.wired.com/story/west-coast-california-wildfire-infernos/

California fire season shatters record with more than 4 million acres burned
California’s biggest wildfire season reached a new milestone Sunday, with state officials announcing that the state has now surpassed 4 million acres burned, more than double the state’s previous record ... the sheer magnitude is staggering. Of the 20 largest wildfires in California’s history, five burned within the space of a couple of months this year.
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-10-04/california-fire-season-record-4-million-acres-burned

Exxon’s Plan for Surging Carbon Emissions Revealed in Leaked Documents
[I]nternal documents show for the first time that Exxon has carefully assessed the direct emissions it expects from the seven-year investment plan adopted in 2018 by Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods. A chart in the documents lists Exxon’s direct emissions for 2017—122 million metric tons of CO₂ equivalent—as well as a projected figure for 2025 of 143 million tons ... The internal estimates reflect only a small portion of Exxon’s total contribution to climate change. Greenhouse gases from direct operations, such as those measured by Exxon, typically account for a fifth of the total at a large oil company; most emissions come from customers burning fuel in vehicles or other end uses, which the Exxon documents don’t account for.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-05/exxon-carbon-emissions-and-climate-leaked-plans-reveal-rising-co2-output

Antarctic Peninsula at warmest in decades: study
2020 is the hottest in the Antarctic Peninsula in the past three decades, a study by the University of Santiago de Chile out Friday found ... "more than 2 degrees Celsius over typical values," climatologist Raul Cordero said in a statement released by the Chilean Antarctic Institute (INACH) ... He called that fact "alarming," since it could indicate that the rapid rate of ocean warming observed in the area at the end of the 20th century is resuming.
https://phys.org/news/2020-10-antarctic-peninsula-warmest-decades.html

As cities bake on a warming planet, insurers cook up heatwave cover
Longer and hotter heatwaves driven by climate change are becoming an increasingly dangerous - and costly - menace ... But a new way to cut the financial risks is emerging: heatwave insurance ... a wider range of heat insurance offerings - likely aimed initially at city authorities or similar government buyers around the world - are now being explored as the risks and costs of heatwaves rise ... Michael Spranger, of the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF), said insurance cannot fix the problem of heatwaves, which will increase in frequency if climate-heating emissions continue to rise. But “insurance helps to absolve some of the financial consequences”, said Spranger.
https://www.reuters.com/article/heatwave-insurance-climatechange/analysis-as-cities-bake-on-a-warming-planet-insurers-cook-up-heatwave-cover-idUKL8N2GS56K

Two-fifths of plants at risk of extinction, says report
New estimates suggest two-fifths of the world's plants are at risk of extinction. The assessment of the State of the World's Plants and Fungi is based on research from more than 200 scientists in 42 countries.
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-54344309

Antarctic sea ice may not cap carbon emissions as much as previously thought
Scientists thought that the vast swaths of sea ice around Antarctica can act as a lid for upwelling carbon [but] researchers at MIT have now identified a counteracting effect that suggests Antarctic sea ice may not be as powerful a control on the global carbon cycle as scientists had suspected. In a study published in the August issue of the journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles, the team has found that ... this shading effect is almost equal and opposite to that of sea ice's capping effect. Taken together, both effects essentially cancel each other out.
https://phys.org/news/2020-10-antarctic-sea-ice-cap-carbon.html

Extreme Heat And Extreme Drought Are Occurring Together With Terrifying Frequency
A new study found that these two hazards are occurring concurrently with startling frequency in recent years, a combination that will put enormous strain on regions already facing long-term worries over dangers like wildfires and dwindling resources ... California saw five of its six largest wildfires on record in just the last couple of months. The five fires combined were responsible for consuming more than 2.2 million acres of land.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/dennismersereau/2020/09/26/extreme-heat-and-extreme-drought-are-occurring-together-with-terrifying-frequency/

Increasingly extreme autumn wildfire conditions in California due to climate change
[I]s climate change contributing to California’s escalating wildfire crisis? ... yes: we found that climate change has already more than doubled the frequency of extreme autumn wildfire conditions in California over the past ~40 years ... large increase in both mean and extreme fire weather conditions was driven by a combination of warming temperature and decreased precipitation.
https://weatherwest.com/archives/7550

New Study Shows a Vicious Circle of Climate Change Building on Thickening Layers of Warm Ocean Water
A new study shows more heat is building up in the upper 600 feet of the ocean than deeper down. That increasingly distinct warm layer on the surface can intensify tropical storms, disrupt fisheries, interfere with the ocean absorption of carbon and deplete oxygen ... The research suggests that some of the worst-case global warming scenarios outlined in major international climate reports can't be ruled out ... If the current slows, more hot water could build up along the East Coast of the United States, leading to more coastal heat waves and rising sea levels. And if less warm water is transported northward, the climate in northwestern Europe would become more volatile ... Equally important is how the layering affects the amount of carbon dioxide going into the ocean. For now, oceans take up about a quarter of the CO2 emissions from human activity, "but prospects are for less of that as time goes on" ... the effect on hurricanes is also clear. The heat in the top 300 to 400 feet of the ocean is what fuels tropical storms. Strong storms churn up the ocean, bringing colder water to the surface that can limit strengthening, or even weaken a storm. But nowadays, "that cold water is warmer than it used to be," which enables storms to build and maintain intensity," he said. "This is why hurricanes are bigger and longer-lasting and more intense than before."
https://insideclimatenews.org/news/28092020/ocean-stratification-climate-change

Yukon River, beset by salmon woes and mercury threats, signals broader Arctic climate change
The Yukon River fall chum salmon run has been the lowest on record, according to federal officials. There is not even enough chum salmon to allow for subsistence harvests ... Thaw of permafrost in the California-sized Yukon River basin is threatening to loosen long-frozen mercury that exists naturally in the soil, studies have shown. There are signs that mercury levels are already increasing as the climate warms and permafrost thaws ... Long-term climate warming is demonstrated in the expanding ice-free seasons on the Yukon and other Alaska rivers, which have cascading effects. The free-flowing waters allow more heat to be carried into the riverbanks, hastening the thaw that is releasing sequestered mercury and changing the water’s chemistry in other ways.
https://www.arctictoday.com/yukon-river-beset-by-salmon-woes-and-mercury-threats-signals-broader-arctic-climate-change/

New study warns: We have underestimated the pace at which the Arctic is melting
Over the past 40 years, temperatures have risen by one degree every decade, and even more so over the Barents Sea and around Norway's Svalbard archipelago, where they have increased by 1.5 degrees per decade throughout the period. This is the conclusion of a new study published in Nature Climate Change. "Changes are occurring so rapidly during the summer months that sea ice is likely to disappear faster than most climate models have ever predicted."
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-08/uoc-nsw082620.php

Melting Antarctic ice will raise sea level by 2.5 metres – even if Paris climate goals are met, study finds
Even if temperatures were to fall again after rising by 2C (3.6F), the temperature limit set out in the Paris agreement, the ice would not regrow to its initial state, because of self-reinforcing mechanisms that destabilise the ice, according to the paper published in the journal Nature. “The more we learn about Antarctica, the direr the predictions become,” said Anders Levermann, co-author of the paper from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “We get enormous sea level rise [from Antarctic melting] even if we keep to the Paris agreement, and catastrophic amounts if we don’t.”
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/sep/23/melting-antarctic-ice-will-raise-sea-level-by-25-metres-even-if-paris-climate-goals-are-met-study-finds

'Worst-case' CO2 emissions scenario is best for assessing climate risk and impacts to 2050
The RCP 8.5 C02 emissions pathway, long considered a "worst case scenario" by the international science community, is the most appropriate for conducting assessments of climate change impacts by 2050, according to a new article published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences ... the paper argues that is actually the closest approximation of both historical emissions and anticipated outcomes of current global climate policies, tracking within 1% of actual emissions. "Not only are the emissions consistent with RCP 8.5 in close agreement with historical total cumulative CO2 emissions (within 1%), but RCP 8.5 is also the best match out to mid-century under current and stated policies ... Not using RCP8.5 to describe the previous 15 years assumes a level of mitigation that did not occur, thereby skewing subsequent assessments by lessening the severity of warming and associated physical climate risk."
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-08/whrc-ce073020.php

Ocean acoustics confirm rising sea temperatures
Sound waves [underwater] speed depends on the temperature of the water in which they travel. In a new study published in Science ... Wenbo Wu, a geophysicist at Caltech, and his collaborators discovered that they could use a natural source to record sound waves: earthquakes ... the study’s results confirm what climate scientists already know: The ocean is heating up ... “It’s a big problem ... even the ocean — Earth’s vast thermal reservoir, covering 70% of the planet — is starting to feel the heat."
https://temblor.net/earthquake-insights/ocean-acoustics-confirm-rising-sea-temperatures-11777/

Edge of Arctic sea-ice never seen this far north
After a record warm summer, bad records for the sea-ice follows. Especially so north of Norway and Russia, according to recognized National Snow & Ice Data Center with the University of Colorado. The Center’s latest satellite studies ... have never seen a greater loss rate any other year for the same week ... The Norwegian Meteorological Institute confirms the dramatic developments in September in the European Arctic waters.
https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/climate-crisis/2020/09/edge-arctic-sea-ice-never-seen-far-north

Fierce, frequent, climate-fueled wildfires may decimate forests worldwide
“When you get these large areas burned there are no surviving trees to reseed these areas,” said Jon Keeley, a research scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey. “It is causing a shift from forest to other vegetation types, mostly shrublands and grasslands.” ... Scientists in Australia are already seeing evidence that fire is reshaping landscapes ... Even more worrying, scientists say, is an apparent increase in wildfires in the Siberian Arctic, which can thaw permafrost and release climate-warming methane from the frozen land.
https://www.reuters.com/article/usa-wildfires-climatechange-idUSL2N2GI22T

Humans Wiped Out Two-Thirds of the World’s Wildlife in 50 Years
In half a century, human activity has decimated global wildlife populations by an average of 68 percent. The study ... found that populations in Latin America and the Caribbean fared the worst, with a staggering 94 percent decline in population ... habitat destruction caused by humans [is] the main threat to the world’s biodiversity ... the ever-growing population of humans has led to an “ecological imbalance,” where society requires more resources to survive than can be produced. 
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/humans-wiped-out-two-thirds-worlds-wildlife-50-years-180975824/

Wildfires, hurricanes and vanishing sea ice: the climate crisis is here
[S]cientists say this year’s sequence of natural disasters and record temperatures have exceeded their worst fears. “We were speculating 40 years ago about things that might happen, and I don't think that any of us expected that in our lifetimes, we would see these things unfolding,” said Chris Rapley, a 73-year-old professor of climate science at University College London. “It has become a real problem of today, rather than a predicted problem of tomorrow.” The natural disasters have brought home the great economic and social costs of a hotter planet ... “All of these things that are happening, are predicted consequences of climate change,” said Philip Duffy, head of the Woodwell Climate Research Center in Massachusetts. “People ask if this is the new normal, and I say, no, it will keep getting worse, as long as we keep adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.”
https://www.ft.com/content/6a6bab93-21fc-4bd6-b309-86e394e3869b

British Military Prepares for Climate-Fueled Resource Shortages
The British government is planning for the inevitability of a catastrophic rise in global temperatures of nearly 4 degrees Celsius due to business-as-usual carbon emissions. The revelation comes from new research commissioned by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) in November 2019 to inform the MOD’S climate change strategy ... notable is that the report to the MOD doesn’t treat this as merely one potential worst-case scenario out of many, for the purpose of contingency planning. Instead, it puts forward the scenario unequivocally as an outcome which the UK government should simply expect to happen ... the report warns that as early as 2030, the world would face a perfect storm of food, water and energy crises ... What the MOD report neglects to acknowledge is that a 3.5°C global temperature rise represents the level of warming we would see if governments meet the inadequate emissions goals they signed up to under the Paris agreement. But as a team of climate policy scholars recently observed: “All major industrialized countries are failing to meet the pledges they made to cut greenhouse-gas emissions.” This means that the catastrophic scenario expected by the MOD could still be conservative.
https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/ep4w5j/british-military-prepares-for-climate-fueled-resource-shortages

Risk of Colorado River shortage is on the rise, could hit within 5 years, officials say
The risks of water shortages continue to grow along the Colorado River, which supplies about 40 million people from Wyoming to Arizona. Federal water managers released projections Tuesday showing higher odds of shortages occurring within the next five years. The Colorado River is in the 21st year of a severe drought that’s being compounded by hotter temperatures influenced by climate change, and the river’s flows have increasingly been insufficient to meet all the demands of cities and farms across the region ... the Bureau of Reclamation’s latest projections show that in a scenario of continuing drought between now and 2025, the chances of Lake Mead falling into a shortage has increased to nearly 80% ... Water deliveries were reduced last year to Arizona and Nevada under those states’ agreement with California ... Arizona gets nearly 40% of its water from the Colorado River. The state will see its water take reduced by 6.9% of its total allotment for a second year in 2021.
https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-environment/2020/09/16/risks-water-shortage-loom-along-colorado-river-officials-warn/5804337002/

Russia’s permafrost is melting
A large share of Russia’s oil, gas, diamonds and metals are produced in cities that sit on the permafrost. And thousands of kilometres of roads, rails and pipelines could sink into a bog, while some of the buildings and processing plants will simply fall over if the ground melts ... these regions are key to Russia’s economy, producing the bulk of its raw materials that account for almost half of the country’s GDP ... The total value of all these fixed assets – buildings, factories, pipelines, roads, etc. – in just the nine most at risk regions is $1.29 trillion, or about 17% of Russia’s entire fixed assets [and] about a sixth are in immediate danger from the subsidence of the ground if it melts ... [plus] there is some 1 trillion tonnes of CO2 locked up in the permafrost [and] if the ground temperature reaches zero degrees then all that CO2 gas could be released ... Permafrost occupies nearly 65% of the territory of the Russian Federation.
https://www.intellinews.com/russia-s-permafrost-is-melting-190398/

Ice shelves propping up two major Antarctic glaciers are breaking up and it could have major consequences for sea level rise
The Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers, which sit side by side in West Antarctica on the Amundsen Sea, are among the fastest changing glaciers in the region, already accounting for 5% of global sea level rise. Scientists say the glaciers are highly sensitive to climate change. A new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday, found that the glaciers are weakening at their foundations and this damage over the past few decades is speeding up their retreat and the possible future collapse of their ice shelves ... damage sped up dramatically in 2016. Similarly, the damage to Thwaites Glacier began moving further upstream in 2016 and fractures rapidly started opening up near the glacier's grounding line ... the process is creating a feedback loop -- where the weakening ice shelf is speeding up the damage to the glacier's vulnerable shear margins, which in turn leads to more damage and disintegration of the ice shelf ... These recent findings from Antarctica show that the glaciers are "weakening from all angles," Lhermitte said.
https://edition.cnn.com/2020/09/15/weather/antarctica-pine-island-thwaites-glacier-climate-intl-hnk/index.html

Huge cavities threaten glacier larger than Great Britain
British scientists have mapped cavities half the size of the Grand Canyon that are allowing warm ocean water to erode the vast Thwaites glacier in the Antarctic, accelerating the rise of sea levels across the world. Like decay in a tooth, the channels of warm water are melting the ice from below, threatening the stability of a glacier that is larger than Great Britain ... The results were published this week in the Cryosphere journal ... Over the past 30 years, ice loss from Thwaites and its neighbouring glaciers has increased more than fivefold.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/sep/09/cavities-threaten-glacier-great-britain-thwaites

The Arctic Is Shifting to a New Climate Because of Global Warming
The effects of global warming in the Arctic are so severe that the region is shifting to a different climate, one characterized less by ice and snow and more by open water and rain, scientists said Monday. Already, they said, sea ice in the Arctic has declined so much that even an extremely cold year would not result in as much ice as was typical decades ago. Two other characteristics of the region’s climate, seasonal air temperatures and the number of days of rain instead of snow, are shifting in the same way ... sea ice has declined by about 12 percent per decade since satellite measurements began in the late 1970s, and the 13 lowest sea-ice years have all occurred since 2007 ... scientists have known for a long time that fundamental changes were occurring in the region. “We know what used to be,” Dr. Kay said. “We call it the ‘new Arctic’ because it’s not the same.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/14/climate/arctic-changing-climate.html

ProPublica/NY Times: Climate Change Will Force a New American Migration
Across the United States, some 162 million people - nearly 1 in 2 - will most likely experience a decline in the quality of their environment, namely more heat and less water ... Policymakers, having left America unprepared for what’s next, now face brutal choices about which communities to save - often at exorbitant costs - and which to sacrifice ... At least 28 million Americans are likely to face megafires like the ones we are now seeing in California, in places like Texas and Florida and Georgia. At the same time, 100 million Americans - largely in the Mississippi River Basin from Louisiana to Wisconsin - will increasingly face humidity so extreme that working outside or playing school sports could cause heatstroke. Crop yields will be decimated from Texas to Alabama and all the way north through Oklahoma and Kansas and into Nebraska ... From Maine to North Carolina to Texas, rising sea levels are not just chewing up shorelines but also raising rivers and swamping the subterranean infrastructure of coastal communities, making a stable life there all but impossible ... even far inland, saltwater will seep into underground drinking-water supplies ... Hurricane Andrew reduced parts of [Florida] cities to landfill and cost insurers nearly $16 billion in payouts. Many insurance companies, recognizing the likelihood that it would happen again, declined to renew policies and left the state. So the Florida Legislature created a state-run company to insure properties itself, preventing both an exodus and an economic collapse by essentially pretending that the climate vulnerabilities didn't exist. As a result, Florida’s taxpayers by 2012 had assumed liabilities worth some $511 billion - more than seven times the state’s total budget ... in Santa Rosa [California], houses are being rebuilt in the very same wildfire-vulnerable zones that proved so deadly in 2017 ... 70% more buildings in the United States were vulnerable to flood risk than previously thought ... a new class of dangerous debt - climate-distressed mortgage loans - might already be threatening the financial system. Lending data analyzed by Keenan and his co-author, Jacob Bradt, for a study published in the journal Climatic Change in June shows that small banks are liberally making loans on environmentally threatened homes, but then quickly passing them along to federal mortgage backers. At the same time, they have all but stopped lending money for the higher-end properties worth too much for the government to accept, suggesting that the banks are knowingly passing climate liabilities along to taxpayers as stranded assets. Once home values begin a one-way plummet, it’s easy for economists to see how entire communities spin out of control ... A Dust Bowl event will most likely happen again. Crop yields will drop sharply with every degree of warming ... the future looks like this: With time, the bottom half of the country grows inhospitable, dangerous and hot. Something like a tenth of the people who live in the South and the Southwest - from South Carolina to Alabama to Texas to Southern California - decide to move north in search of a better economy and a more temperate environment. Those who stay behind are disproportionately poor and elderly ... The most affected people, meanwhile, will pay 20% more for energy, and their crops will yield half as much food or in some cases virtually none at all. That collective burden will drag down regional incomes by roughly 10%, amounting to one of the largest transfers of wealth in American history, as people who live farther north will benefit from that change and see their fortunes rise. The millions of people moving north will mostly head to the cities of the Northeast and Northwest.
https://www.propublica.org/article/climate-change-will-force-a-new-american-migration
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/09/15/magazine/climate-crisis-migration-america.html

New Climate Maps Show a Transformed United States [with table of all US counties ranked by climate risk]
Under even a moderate carbon emissions scenario (known as RCP 4.5), by 2070 much of the Southeast becomes less suitable and the [habitability] niche shifts toward the Midwest. In the case of extreme warming (represented as RCP 8.5), the niche moves sharply toward Canada, leaving much of the lower half of the U.S. too hot or dry for the type of climate humans historically have lived in. Both scenarios suggest massive upheavals in where Americans currently live and grow food ... under the RCP 8.5 scenario, between 2040 and 2060 extreme temperatures will become commonplace in the South and Southwest ... humidity and heat will collide to form “wetbulb” temperatures that will disrupt the norms of daily existence ... by 2050, parts of the Midwest and Louisiana could see conditions that make it difficult for the human body to cool itself for nearly one out of every 20 days in the year ... some parts of the U.S. will see a number of issues stack on top of one another.
https://projects.propublica.org/climate-migration/

Summer was hottest on record in Northern Hemisphere
The Northern Hemisphere experienced its warmest summer on record, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Monday ... surpassing both 2019 and 2016 which were previously tied for hottest, the NOAA said in a statement ... For the world as a whole, it was the second-hottest August in the 141-year record behind August 2016. "Globally, the 10 warmest Augusts have all occurred since 1998 — with the five warmest occurring since 2015," the NOAA added.
https://www.euronews.com/2020/09/14/summer-was-hottest-on-record-in-northern-hemisphere
see also https://www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/northern-hemisphere-summer-was-hottest-record-scientists-say-n1240049

World fails to meet a single target to stop destruction of nature – UN report
The world has failed to meet a single target to stem the destruction of wildlife and life-sustaining ecosystems in the last decade, according to a devastating new report from the UN on the state of nature ... The Global Biodiversity Outlook 5, published before a key UN summit on the issue later this month, found that despite progress in some areas, natural habitats have continued to disappear, vast numbers of species remain threatened by extinction from human activities, and $500bn (£388bn) of environmentally damaging government subsidies have not been eliminated.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/sep/15/every-global-target-to-stem-destruction-of-nature-by-2020-missed-un-report-aoe
see also https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction/a-54932895

Arctic sea ice melt marks a new polar climate regime
From the deck of a research ship under a bright, clear sky, “ice pilot” Paul Ruzycki mused over how quickly the region was changing since he began helping ships spot and navigate between icebergs in 1996. “Not so long ago, I heard that we had 100 years before the Arctic would be ice free in the summer,” he said. “Then I heard 75 years, 25 years, and just recently I heard 15 years. It’s accelerating” ... the long-frozen region is already shifting to an entirely new climate regime, marked by the escalating trends in ice melt, temperature rise and rainfall days, according to new research published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change. Those findings, climate scientist Laura Landrum said, were “unnerving.” All three variables — sea ice, temperatures and rainfall — are now being measured well beyond the range of past observations. That makes the future of the Arctic more of a mystery. “The new climate can’t be predicted by the previous climate,” Landrum explained.
https://www.arctictoday.com/arctic-sea-ice-melt-marks-a-new-polar-climate-regime/

Will Extreme Weather Keep Getting Worse? Scientists Say Yes.
One by one, climate and disaster records and milestones have been shattered in 2020 ... Scientists and climate experts resoundingly agree that we're likely to see more years like 2020, with more intense, destructive and deadly weather events. "These are all things we should expect to see more and more of as climate change takes a deeper hold on our climate and on the extremities that it creates in our weather," Jeff Schlegelmilch, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University [said]. These extremes are being driven by temperature increases brought on by global warming due to greenhouse gas emissions. Things like heat, drought and fire are especially influenced by climate change ... Many of the phenomena happening now have been predicted for years by agencies like NASA, NOAA and the United Nations, as well as researchers and scientists around the world ... "It seems like this is what we always were talking about a decade ago," North Carolina State climatologist Kathie Dello told the Associated Press. "A lot of people want to blame it on 2020, but 2020 didn't do this" ... "It’s going to get a lot worse," Georgia Tech climate scientist Kim Cobb told the AP. "I say that with emphasis because it does challenge the imagination. And that’s the scary thing to know as a climate scientist in 2020."
https://weather.com/news/climate/news/2020-09-11-extreme-weather-climate-change-disasters-wildfires-flooding-hurricanes

Warmth shatters section of Greenland ice shelf
A big chunk of ice has broken away from the Arctic's largest remaining ice shelf - 79N, or Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden - in north-east Greenland. The ejected section covers about 110 square km; satellite imagery shows it to have shattered into many small pieces. The loss is further evidence say scientists of the rapid climate changes taking place in Greenland.
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-54127279

Heatwaves are becoming more deadly as nights warm faster than days
The U.S. this summer has experienced stifling hot temperatures that have set all-time records and put millions of people under excessive heat warnings ... The stifling heat is becoming more dangerous with climate change. One reason is because global heating is not occurring evenly: Lower nighttime temperatures that typically provide critical relief from the hot days are disappearing. Summer night temperatures are warmer now, and they are warming at a faster rate than daytime temperatures, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This marks a dangerous and potentially deadly combination of high daytime and high nighttime temperatures that doesn’t give the human body a chance to cool down during the night.
https://www.cnbc.com/2020/09/12/climate-change-why-heatwaves-are-more-deadly-as-nights-warm-faster.html

The Arctic is burning like never before — and that’s bad news for climate change
Peatlands are carbon-rich soils that accumulate as waterlogged plants slowly decay, sometimes over thousands of years. They are the most carbon-dense ecosystems on Earth; a typical northern peatland packs in roughly ten times as much carbon as a boreal forest. When peat burns, it releases its ancient carbon to the atmosphere, adding to the heat-trapping gases that cause climate change. Nearly half the world’s peatland-stored carbon lies between 60 and 70 degrees north, along the Arctic Circle. The problem with this is that historically frozen carbon-rich soils are expected to thaw as the planet warms, making them even more vulnerable to wildfires and more likely to release large amounts of carbon ... peatlands, unlike boreal forest, do not regrow quickly after a fire, so the carbon released is permanently lost to the atmosphere ... the shift has already arrived, says Amber Soja, an environmental scientist who studies Arctic fires at the US National Institute of Aerospace in Hampton, Virginia. “What you would expect is already happening,” she says. “And in some cases faster than we would have expected.”
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02568-y

Earth barreling toward 'Hothouse' state not seen in 50 million years
[The paper] details Earth's climate swings across the entire Cenozoic era — the 66 million-year period that began with the death of the dinosaurs and extends to the present epoch of human-induced climate change ... the current pace of anthropogenic global warming far exceeds the natural climate fluctuations ... human greenhouse gas emissions are causing temperatures to rise to an extent not seen in tens of millions of years. This rise is well beyond the natural variations triggered by Earth's changing orbit, the researchers concluded. And if current greenhouse emissions hold steady, the climate could skyrocket back to levels not seen since the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum [16C above modern levels].
https://www.livescience.com/oldest-climate-record-ever-cenozoic-era.html
see also https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/earth-hasnt-warmed-this-fast-in-tens-of-millions-of-years/
reporting on a study at https://science.sciencemag.org/content/369/6509/1383

Humans exploiting and destroying nature on unprecedented scale – report
Wildlife populations are in freefall around the world, driven by human overconsumption, population growth and intensive agriculture, according to a major new assessment of the abundance of life on Earth. On average, global populations of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles plunged by 68% between 1970 and 2016 ... The research is one of the most comprehensive assessments of global biodiversity available and was compiled by 134 experts from around the world. It found that from the rainforests of central America to the Pacific Ocean, nature is being exploited and destroyed by humans on a scale never previously recorded.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/sep/10/humans-exploiting-and-destroying-nature-on-unprecedented-scale-report-aoe

Ocean carbon uptake widely underestimated
The world's oceans soak up more carbon than most scientific models suggest, according to new research. Previous estimates of the movement of carbon (known as "flux") between the atmosphere and oceans have not accounted for temperature differences at the water's surface and a few metres below. The new study, led by the University of Exeter, includes this—and finds significantly higher net flux of carbon into the oceans. It calculates CO2 fluxes from 1992 to 2018, finding up to twice as much net flux in certain times and locations, compared to uncorrected models.
https://phys.org/news/2020-09-ocean-carbon-uptake-widely-underestimated.html

Massive release of methane gas from the seafloor discovered for the first time in the Southern Hemisphere
Gas hydrate is an ice-like substance formed by water and methane at depths of several hundred meters at the bottom of our oceans at high pressure and low temperatures. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, roughly 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and it is estimated that methane frozen in these sediments constitute the largest organic carbon reservoir on Earth. The fact that methane gas has now started leaking out through gas hydrate dissociation is not good news for the climate. "It has been estimated that there [is] more organic carbon in the form of methane in hydrates than in all fossil fuels combined. The leakage of methane could lead to a feedback loop in which the ocean warming melts gas hydrates resulting in the release of methane from the ocean floor into the water. The warmer it gets, the more methane leaks out," explains Marcelo Ketzer, professor of environmental science at Linnaeus University.
https://phys.org/news/2020-09-massive-methane-gas-seafloor-southern.html

New study reveals cracks beneath giant, methane gushing craters
A paper published in Science in 2017 described hundreds of massive, kilometer–wide, craters on the ocean floor in the Barents Sea. Today more than 600 gas flares are identified in and around these craters, releasing the greenhouse gas steadily into the water column. Another study, published in PNAS, mapped several methane mounds, some 500m wide, in the Barents Sea. The mounds were considered to be signs of soon-to-happen methane expulsions that have created the said craters. The most recent study in Scientific Reports looks into the depths far beneath the sediment in the ocean floor and reveals the geological structures that have made the area prone to crater formation and subsequent methane expulsions. “It turns out that this area has a very old fault system – essentially cracks in bedrock that likely formed 250 million years ago. Craters and mounds appear along different fault structures in this system. These structures control the size, placement, and shape of the craters. The methane that is leaking through the seafloor originates from these deep structures and is coming up through these cracks.”
https://cage.uit.no/2020/06/03/new-study-reveals-cracks-beneath-giant-methane-gushing-craters/

Intense heat wave breaks numerous records, fuels dangerous fires across California
An intense heat wave broiled large swaths of California on Saturday, shattering numerous records, causing thousands to lose power and fueling several brush fires that were threatening communities from Yucaipa to the Sierra foothills ... The heat, combined with bone-dry conditions, helped several huge fires explode out of control Saturday, with firefighters struggling to keep up. A brush fire in the Sierra National Forest consumed more than 36,000 acres in just hours and threatened numerous mountain communities ... The new blazes came as 12,400 firefighters continued to fight 22 large fires that have together scorched more than 1.5 million acres since they were sparked by a series of dry lightning strikes last month. The National Weather Service has issued a red-flag warning, which indicates critical fire weather conditions ... “You never read very much about low temperature records ... Whenever there’s a record, it’s always a new high.”
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-09-05/heres-where-record-breaking-heat-is-forecast

Wildfires Hasten Another Climate Crisis: Homeowners Who Can’t Get Insurance
As wildfires burn homes across California, the state is also grappling with a different kind of climate predicament: How to stop insurers from abandoning fire-prone areas, leaving countless homeowners at risk. Years of megafires have caused huge losses for insurance companies, a problem so severe that, last year, California temporarily banned insurers from canceling policies on some 800,000 homes in or near risky parts of the state. However, that ban is about expire and can’t be renewed, and a recent plan to deal with the problem fell apart in a clash between insurers and consumer advocates. Insurers are widely expected to continue their retreat, potentially devastating the housing market if homes become essentially uninsurable. “The marketplace has largely collapsed” in those high-risk areas, said Graham Knaus, executive director of the California State Association of Counties, which has pushed state officials to address the problem. “It’s a very large geographic area of the state that is facing this.” The insurance crisis is making California a test case for the financial dangers of climate change nationwide, as wildfires, floods and other disasters create economic shocks well beyond the physical damage of the disasters themselves. Those changes have already started to affect home prices, the mortgage industry and the bond market ... data suggests that insurers have continued to drop customers ... there are physical and political limits to how much governments can do to reduce that risk, which means insurance will become more expensive. “It’s only going to get worse.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/02/climate/wildfires-insurance.html

Zombie fires spark record Arctic CO2 emissions
This summer’s carbon emissions from Arctic wildfires were a third higher than last year’s previous record levels, research suggests. The atmospheric monitoring service Copernicus says the fires which blazed during summer’s heatwaves are a cause for concern. They say some so-called zombie fires are smouldering through the winter in peat below the frozen surface. These underground fires then re-ignite surface vegetation in the Spring. This spells double trouble: not just CO2 emissions from the burning vegetation, but also from the peat which is naturally a store for CO2 ... "The Arctic is in meltdown. Large areas are burning in front of our eyes.”
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-54013966

Winter sea ice in Bering Sea reached lowest levels in millennia - study
The Bering Sea ice cover during the winters of 2018 and 2019 hit new lows not seen in thousands of years, scientists reported on Wednesday, adding to concerns about the accelerating impact of climate change in the Arctic ... the scientists were able to estimate atmospheric and ocean conditions that would have affected rainfall and sea ice over some 5,500 years, according to the study published in the journal Science Advances ... "Obviously, if we lose the sea ice you are completely changing the temperatures of the Arctic," said Julienne Stroeve, a climatologist with National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Boulder Colorado not involved in the study. "If you lose it all, you're going to warm up the region even faster" ... The study noted that changes in sea ice appeared to lag at least several decades behind changes in atmospheric greenhouse gases. That implies that the recent lows in winter sea ice were a response to greenhouse gas levels decades ago.
https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/reuters/winter-sea-ice-in-bering-sea-reached-lowest-levels-in-millennia---study/46008626

Canada endangered species face 'staggering losses'
Canadian wildlife at risk of extinction has undergone "staggering" losses over the past 50 years, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) conservation group says. In a report, the charity says that species at risk of global extinction have seen their Canadian populations fall by over 40% between 1970 and 2016. Populations of species that are at risk of extinction in Canada itself fell even more dramatically - by 59%. The report said human activity was mostly to blame.
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-54004835

Queen of the Dolomites glacier could vanish within 15 years
The largest and most symbolic glacier in the Dolomites could vanish within 15 years because of global heating, Italian scientists have warned. The 3343m Marmolada, located on the border of the Trentino and Veneto regions and known as the Queen of the Dolomites, has already lost more than 80% of its volume over the last 70 years.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/sep/01/marmolada-queen-of-dolomites-glacier-could-vanish-within-15-years

Ice Sheet Melting Is Perfectly in Line With Our Worst-Case Scenario, Scientists Warn
The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, which hold enough frozen water to lift oceans 65 metres, are tracking the UN's worst-case scenarios for sea level rise, researchers said Monday ... would have a devastating impact worldwide, increasing the destructive power of storm surges and exposing coastal regions home to hundreds of millions of people to repeated and severe flooding ... nearly three times more than mid-range projections from the IPCC's last major Assessment Report ... A new generation of climate models that better reflects how ice sheets, the oceans and the atmosphere interact will underpin the IPCC's next major report, which will be completed next year ... In another study published earlier this month in The Cryosphere, a journal of the European Geosciences Union, Slater and colleagues calculated that Earth's ice masses ... lost nearly 28 trillion tonnes of mass between 1994 and 2017 ... rate of ice loss, they found, has increased nearly 60 percent [during] that time period.
https://www.sciencealert.com/ice-sheet-melting-is-perfectly-in-line-with-our-worst-case-scenario-scientists-warn
reporting on a study at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-020-0893-y

Arctic wildfires emit 35% more CO2 so far in 2020 than for whole of 2019
The latest data, provided by the EU’s Copernicus atmosphere monitoring service, shows that up to 24 August 245 megatonnes of CO2 had been released from wildfires this year. The figure for the whole of last year was 181 megatonnes ... Dr Thomas Smith, assistant professor in environmental geography at the London School of Economics, said 2019 had already been an anomalous year in the Arctic circle. “We have seen two years of anomalously high activity” ... Smith also warned that some fires were destroying ancient peat bogs containing carbon that has accumulated over thousands of years, a process similar to fossil fuel burning. Analysis performed by Smith, covering May and June of this year, suggested that about 50% of the fires in the Arctic Circle were burning on peat soils.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/aug/31/arctic-wildfires-emit-35-more-co2-so-far-in-2020-than-for-whole-of-2019

Giant new 50-metre deep 'crater' opens up in Arctic tundra [many photos]
The recently-formed new hole or funnel is the latest to be seen in northern Siberia since the phenomenon was first registered in 2014. It was initially spotted by chance from the air by a Vesti Yamal TV crew en route from an unrelated assignment. A group of scientists then made an expedition to examine the large cylindrical crater which has a depth of up to 50 metres. Such funnels are believed to be caused by the build up of methane gas in pockets of thawing permafrost under the surface.
https://siberiantimes.com/other/others/news/giant-new-50-metre-deep-crater-opens-up-in-arctic-tundra/
see also https://phys.org/news/2020-06-methane-scientists-gaping-permafrost-crater.html
see also: similar hole on Mars https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap200301.html

Rampant destruction of forests ‘will unleash more pandemics’
Rampant deforestation, uncontrolled expansion of farming and the building of mines in remote regions – as well as the exploitation of wild animals as sources of food, traditional medicines and exotic pets – are creating a “perfect storm” for the spillover of diseases from wildlife to people ... Almost a third of all emerging diseases have originated through the process of land use change ... five or six new epidemics a year could soon affect Earth’s population ... tens of millions of hectares of rainforest and other wild environments are being bulldozed every year to cultivate palm trees, farm cattle, extract oil and provide access to mines and mineral deposits. This leads to the widespread destruction of vegetation and wildlife that are hosts to countless species of viruses and bacteria, most unknown to science. Those microbes can then accidentally infect new hosts, such as humans and domestic livestock.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/aug/30/rampant-destruction-of-forests-will-unleash-more-pandemics

Everything Is Unprecedented. Welcome To Your Hotter Earth
The upshot of climate change is that everyone alive is destined to experience unprecedented disasters. The most powerful hurricanes, the most intense wildfires, the most prolonged heat waves and the most frequent outbreaks of new diseases are all in our future. Records will be broken, again and again ... Climate scientist Camilo Mora of the University of Hawaii says if our collective future were a movie, this week would be the trailer. "There is not a single ending that is good," he says. "There's not going to be a happy ending to this movie." Mora was an author of a study examining all the effects of climate change. The researchers concluded that concurrent disasters will get more and more common as the Earth gets hotter.
https://www.kpcw.org/post/everything-unprecedented-welcome-your-hotter-earth

Half of Antarctic ice shelves could collapse in a flash, thanks to warming
At least half of the ice shelves on the continent are vulnerable to this process, a new study suggests. These floating ice sheets ring Antarctica's glaciers and prevent them from sliding into the ocean. Without these icy barriers, glaciers would flow more quickly into the water, causing the continent to shrink and accelerating sea level rise. The new study, published today (Aug. 26) in the journal Nature, suggests that about 50% to 70% of ice shelves that hold Antarctic glaciers in place could become weak and potentially collapse with surges of meltwater ... The melt water "can punch through the ice to the ocean in a matter of minutes to hours, as long as there's enough water available to keep on filling the crevasse and keep up the pressure," Dow said. "The crack in the ice then fills up with ocean water," and the shelf may begin to break apart ... some scientists predict that climate change may drive massive hydrofracturing events within a matter of decades, according to a 2015 report in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.
https://www.livescience.com/antarctic-ice-shelf-cracks-melting.html

Meltwater may fracture Antarctic ice shelves and speed sea level rise
Almost two-thirds of the ice shelves crucial to stopping the collapse of Antarctica’s ice sheets are at risk of fracturing by water, according to an analysis that warns of “major consequences” for sea level rise from the vulnerability. Most of the continent’s ice is held back from the ocean by buttressing, floating tongues, known as ice shelves. These are melting from below due to warming oceans, but scientists are also striving to better understand how meltwater on top of the shelves affects them.
https://www.newscientist.com/article/2252946-meltwater-may-fracture-antarctic-ice-shelves-and-speed-sea-level-rise/

Growing underwater heat blob speeds demise of Arctic sea ice
Summer ice covers half the area it did in the 1980s, and because it is thinner, its volume is down 75%. With the Arctic warming three times faster than the global average, most scientists grimly acknowledge the inevitability of ice-free summers ... Unlike the Atlantic or Pacific oceans, the Arctic gets warmer as it gets deeper ... at greater depths sits a warm blob of salty Atlantic water, thought to be safely separated from the sea ice. As the reflective ice melts, however, it is replaced by darker water, which absorbs more of the Sun’s energy and warms. Those warming surface waters are likely migrating down into the blob ... With enough heat to melt the Arctic’s ice three to four times over, the blob could devour the ice from below [as] the blob, usually found 150 meters below or deeper, has recently moved up to within 80 meters of the surface ... “This heat has become, regionally, the key forcing for sea ice decay” ... The invasion shows no sign of stopping.
https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/08/growing-underwater-heat-blob-speeds-demise-arctic-sea-ice

Ice melting fast below East Antarctica's Shirase Glacier tongue
Scientists from Hokkaido University identified an unusual hot-spot of sub-glacier melting in East Antarctica. Their findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, could further understandings and predictions of sea level rise caused by mass loss of ice sheets from the southernmost continent ... "Our data suggests that the ice directly beneath the Shirase Glacier Tongue is melting at a rate of seven to 16 meters (23 - 52 feet) per year," says Assistant Professor Daisuke Hirano of Hokkaido University's Institute of Low Temperature Science ... "This is equal to or perhaps even surpasses the melting rate underneath the Totten Ice Shelf, which was thought to be experiencing the highest melting rate in East Antarctica."
http://www.digitaljournal.com/tech-and-science/science/ice-melting-fast-below-east-antarctica-s-shirase-glacier-tongue/article/576847

Species 'pushed out of the tropics' by climate change
The world's tropical regions are home to the widest range of plants and animals, but research from The University of Queensland reveals that climate change is pushing species away, and fast ... 69 percent of the tropical species show, on average, negative responses to temperature increases ... "Waterbirds can be observed relatively easily, offering an early proxy for climate change impacts on other species. They help us assess the status of biodiversity in wetland ecosystems, which has been lost at higher rates than other ecosystems." Dr. Amano said he hoped this evidence would help strengthen the case for real action on a warming climate. The research has been published in Nature Climate Change.
https://phys.org/news/2020-08-species-tropics-climate.html

Climate change is causing more rain in the North. That’s bad news for permafrost
“Thawing is happening even faster than we thought,” said Thomas Douglas, an environmental engineer with the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory and lead author of the study. “We’ve had these crazy wet summers. It’s gonna be bad for permafrost.” The study, published in Nature’s Climate and Atmospheric Science journal, found that between 0.6 and 0.8 centimetres of permafrost thawed for every centimetre of above-average rainfall in Alaska between 2013 and 2017.
https://thenarwhal.ca/climate-change-rain-arctic-permafrost-thaw/

Greenland's ice sheet melted away at record levels in 2019, scientists fear it will continue
Greenland's ice sheet lost a record amount of mass in 2019 ... That loss of 532 gigatonnes of ice — equivalent to about 66 tonnes of ice for each person on Earth — was 15 per cent more than the previous record in 2012. [Greenland's ice] holds enough water to raise sea levels by at least 6 metres if it were to melt away entirely. The study added to evidence that Greenland's icy bulk has been melting more quickly than anticipated due to global warming. Another study last week indicated the island was no longer getting enough annual snowfall to replace ice lost to melting and calving at the edges of glaciers.
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-21/study-finds-greenlands-ice-sheet-saw-record-mass-loss-in-2019/12581428

Pliocene and Eocene provide best analogs for near-future climates
We compare climates of the coming decades with climates drawn from six geological and historical periods spanning the past 50 million years. Our study suggests that climates like those of the Pliocene will prevail as soon as 2030 CE and persist under climate stabilization scenarios. Unmitigated scenarios of greenhouse gas emissions produce climates like those of the Eocene ... mean global surface temperature is expected to rise by 0.3 °C to 4.8 °C relative to 1986–2005 CE averages.
https://www.pnas.org/content/115/52/13288

Mark Lynas’s ‘Final warning’ on climate: ‘It’s all on us, here, now,’ says reviewer
Lynas Final Warning The motto for 21st-century climate science might be, “That happened faster than I expected” ... Lynas’s essential new book, Our Final Warning: Six Degrees of Climate Emergency (HarperCollins-Fourth Estate, 2020) [is] an update of his 2007 book Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, also a must-read for anyone concerned about the future of our civilization and our planet. Both books give us a ladder of chapters, each reporting findings for what scientists expect to happen at a given level of global warming. Lynas starts with one degree above pre-industrial temperatures, a level not reached in 2007 but passed in 2016. He continues through two, three ... up to six degrees, a planet so catastrophically different from the present that science can barely imagine it ... In his 2007 chapter on three degrees of warming, Lynas wrote about monster storms. A fine writer, he brought the science alive with a vivid description of an imaginary 2045 hurricane dumping enormous amounts of rain on – well, a random American city, he picked Houston. In his present book, he repeats the description, now moved up to the one-degree chapter, to remind us of what already happened in 2017 when hurricane Harvey devastated Houston ... at three degrees above our grandparents’ climate, it’s hard to see how the world could sustain a broadly prosperous and tolerant civilization such as many now enjoy. At four degrees, maintaining any kind of civilization at all becomes problematic. And it’s more likely than not that today’s young people will experience such global temperatures (or worse) in their lifetimes ... The world has temporized for so long that decisive action must begin – ahem, twenty years ago ... even if nations all meet their pledges for the Paris Climate Agreement (which few of them are doing), our destiny is three degrees or more ... It sounds like we’ve wandered into a science-fiction movie. But it’s just geophysics.
https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2020/08/mark-lynas-final-warning-on-climate-its-all-on-us-here-now/

Colorado Wildfires Are Climate Change ‘In The Here And Now’ — And A Sign Of Summers To Come
So far, 2020 is Colorado’s third driest year on record and the 12th warmest, according to the state climatologist. Nearly a fourth of the state is in an extreme drought, and more than 175,000 acres have burned this summer ... Colorado climate scientists say we should expect more summers like these, and worse if carbon emissions aren’t reduced. “What we're seeing here is indicative of the fact that when the hot, dry years come around, they're hotter than most of the time when they've occurred in the past,” state climatologist Russ Schumacher said. “And that's pretty well in line with what climate projections have been saying for some time. ... the frequency of these kinds of summers where we get in these hot, dry conditions is probably going to increase. When the pattern sets up for these hot, dry periods of time, they're going to be more intense.” 
https://www.cpr.org/2020/08/20/colorado-wildfires-climate-change-drought-snowpack/

Warming Greenland ice sheet passes point of no return
Nearly 40 years of satellite data from Greenland shows that glaciers on the island have shrunk so much that even if global warming were to stop today, the ice sheet would continue shrinking. The finding, published in the journal Nature Communications Earth and Environment, means that Greenland's glaciers have passed a tipping point ... Before 2000, the ice sheet would have about the same chance to gain or lose mass each year. In the current climate, the ice sheet will gain mass in only one out of every 100 years ... even if humans were somehow miraculously able to stop climate change in its tracks, ice lost from glaciers draining ice to the ocean would likely still exceed ice gained from snow accumulation, and the ice sheet would continue to shrink.
https://phys.org/news/2020-08-greenland-ice-sheet.html

Expedition shares scary photos from the North Pole
Loose and weak ice with lots of melt ponds, partly open water, and no signs of multiyear ice. The powerful photos from the MOSAiC expedition reaching the North Pole on August 19 show the dramatic impact of climate changes
The expedition ship Polarstern sailed from the northern Fram Strait between Greenland and Svalbard to the North Pole this week. “I’m very surprised to see how soft and easy to traverse the ice up to 88° North is this year, having thawed to the point of being thin and porous,” said Captain Thomas Wunderlich. “Even after passing 88° North we mostly maintained a speed of 5-7 knots; I’ve never seen that so far north,” the Polarstern captain said. “The current situation is historic.” ... The MOSAiC expedition is the largest science voyage into polar waters in history. Hundreds of researchers from 20 countries are involved gathering data aimed at getting a much better understanding of the Arctic climate impact ... A study published last week in the journal Nature Climate Change could tell the serious negative path for Arctic summer sea ice. The study points to exactly what can be seen on the photos from this August’s MOSAiC voyage.
https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/2020/08/mosaic-climate-expedition-shares-scary-photos-north-pole

California’s Heat Wave Just Set a Global Temperature Record
It was a California weekend for the history books, adding to 2020’s global tally of extremes — including fires, heatwaves and tropical storms. This year has arguably offered a glimpse into the future of our climate-changed world. But as far as the Golden State is concerned, that future may be here — now. “These are things we have in the projections for mid-century, not 2020,” said Nik Steinberg, head of research at Moody’s Four Twenty Seven, an analytics company that provides climate risk assessments for business and government. “They are becoming part of the norm and happening much quicker than anticipated” ... These weather patterns are likely to be more common as the jet stream, that river of air that circles the globe, becomes weaker. Why is it weakening? The difference between summer temperatures at the equator and the North Pole is shrinking ... “Climate change is catching up to us,” Moody’s Steinberg said. “There is no denying that.”
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-08-18/californians-sweat-in-the-dark-underneath-a-weakened-jet-stream

Antarctica’s Ice Shelves Have Lost Millions of Metric Tons of Ice
Antarctic ice shelves have lost nearly 4 trillion metric tons of ice since the mid-1990s, scientists say. Ocean water is melting them from the bottom up, causing them to lose mass faster than they can refreeze. That's according to a new study analyzing satellite data from 1994 to 2018. The results were published yesterday in the journal Nature Geoscience. That spells bad news for the hundreds of glaciers spread out along the Antarctic coastline ... Research suggests that the continent is losing billions of tons of ice each year.
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/antarcticas-ice-shelves-have-lost-millions-of-metric-tons-of-ice/

Warming Tropical Soil Emits Unexpectedly Large Amounts of CO2, New Study Finds
One of the concerns about a warming planet is the feedback loop that will emerge. That is, as the planet warms, it will melt permafrost, which will release trapped carbon and lead to more warming and more melting. Now, a new study has shown that the feedback loop won't only happen in the nether regions of the north and south, but in the tropics as well, according to a new paper in Nature ... When they heated the soil 4 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, they found that the soil released 55 percent more carbon dioxide than the control soil.
https://www.ecowatch.com/tropical-soil-warming-carbon-emissions-2646968008.html

Scientists mapped the world’s frozen peatlands – what they found was very worrying
Large areas of perennially frozen (permafrost) peatlands are thawing, causing them to rapidly release the freeze-locked carbon back into the atmosphere ... peatlands cover approximately 3.7 million square kilometres [and store as much carbon] as is stored in all the world’s forests and trees together ... There are no geoengineering solutions that can be deployed in these vast and remote areas.
https://www.zmescience.com/ecology/map-frozen-peatlands-023432/

Last decade was Earth's hottest on record as climate crisis accelerates
Every decade since 1980 has been warmer than the preceding decade, with the period between 2010 and 2019 the hottest yet ... The increase in average global temperature is rapidly gathering pace ... The past six years, 2014 to 2019, have been the warmest since global records began, a period that has included enormous heatwaves in the US, Europe and India, freakishly hot temperatures in the Arctic, and deadly wildfires ... The report, compiled by 520 scientists from more than 60 countries and published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, outlines the myriad ways that rising temperatures are altering the planet and human life.
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/aug/12/hottest-decade-climate-crisis-2019

New study warns: We have underestimated the pace at which the Arctic is melting
Temperatures in the Arctic Ocean between Canada, Russia and Europe are warming faster than researchers' climate models have been able to predict [is] the conclusion of a new study published in Nature Climate Change ... "we have been clearly underestimating the rate of temperature increases in the atmosphere nearest to the sea level, which has ultimately caused sea ice to disappear faster than we had anticipated," explains Jens Hesselbjerg Christensen, a professor at the University of Copenhagen's Niels Bohr Institutet (NBI) and one of the study's researchers ... Until now, climate models predicted that Arctic temperatures would increase slowly and in a stable manner. However, the researchers' analysis demonstrates that these changes are moving along at a much faster pace than expected.
https://phys.org/news/2020-08-underestimated-pace-arctic.html

NASA/NOAA Satellites Observe Surprisingly Rapid Increase in Scale and Intensity of Fires in Siberia
Abnormally warm temperatures have spawned an intense fire season in eastern Siberia this summer ... around half of the fires in Arctic Russia this year are burning through areas with peat soil—decomposed organic matter that is a large natural carbon source. Warm temperatures (such as the record-breaking heatwave in June) can thaw and dry frozen peatlands, making them highly flammable. Peat fires can burn longer than forest fires and release vast amounts of carbon into the atmosphere ... fires in Arctic Russia released more carbon dioxide (CO2) in June and July 2020 alone than in any complete fire season.
https://scitechdaily.com/nasa-noaa-satellites-observe-surprisingly-rapid-increase-in-scale-and-intensity-of-fires-in-siberia/

Pools of Water Atop Sea Ice in the Arctic May Lead it to Melt Away Sooner Than Expected
The thickening atmospheric stew of greenhouse gases is punching holes in Arctic sea ice, leading it to crumble at a rapidly increasing rate. Last spring, ponds of meltwater on the ice sped the melting of the glossy shield that reflects incoming heat from the sun back to space. By July, the ice had dwindled to a record low extent for that month ... The loss of sea ice buffers is probably also speeding up the melting of land-based ice sheets and glaciers that flow into the ocean.
https://insideclimatenews.org/news/10082020/arctic-sea-ice-melt-pools-warming-climate

While we fixate on coronavirus, Earth is hurtling towards a catastrophe worse than the dinosaur extinction
Before industrial times began at the end of the 18th century, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere sat at around 300 parts per million ... In February [2020] atmospheric carbon dioxide reached 414.1 parts per million. Total greenhouse gas level – carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide combined – reached almost 500 parts per million of carbon dioxide-equivalent ... annual carbon dioxide emissions are now faster than after both the asteroid impact that eradicated the dinosaurs (about 0.18 parts per million CO2 per year), and the thermal maximum 55 million years ago (about 0.11 parts per million CO2 per year).
https://theconversation.com/while-we-fixate-on-coronavirus-earth-is-hurtling-towards-a-catastrophe-worse-than-the-dinosaur-extinction-130869

NOAA's Annual Greenhouse Gas Index (AGGI)
The AGGI in 2019 was 1.45, which means that we’ve turned up the warming influence by 45% since 1990. It took ~240 years for the AGGI to go from 0 to 1, i.e., to reach 100%, and 29 years for it to increase by another 45%. In terms of CO2 equivalents, the atmosphere in 2019 contained 500 ppm, of which 410 is CO2 alone. The rest comes from other gases.
https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/aggi/

Trends in global CO2 and total greenhouse gas emissions
In 2018, the growth in total global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (excluding those from land-use change) resumed at a rate of 2.0% ... emissions of methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) increased by 1.8% and 0.8%, respectively. Global emissions of fluorinated gases (so-called F-gases) continued to grow by an estimated 6% in 2018, thereby also contributing to the 2.0% growth in total GHG emissions.
https://www.pbl.nl/sites/default/files/downloads/pbl-2020-trends-in-global-co2-and-total-greenhouse-gas-emissions-2019-report_4068.pdf

The next virus pandemic is not far away
Scientists blame the increase in the spillover of pathogens from animals on two trends: rapid globalisation and humanity’s cavalier interaction with nature. This means disease outbreaks and pandemics are likely to emerge regularly unless the trends can be checked or reversed, they warn. “The coronavirus pandemic is completely unsurprising,” said Aaron Bernstein, director of the Center for Climate, Health and Global Environment at Harvard University. “We knew before this happened that two-thirds, if not three-quarters, of emerging infections were occurring because of the spillover of pathogens from wild animals into people.” Dr Bernstein said the primary reason for the crossover was the change in how people engaged with nature, such as rapid deforestation and the global wildlife trade ... Construction of logging roads to extract timber created access to deeply forested areas previously largely untouched by humans, bringing them into contact with disease-carrying wildlife. Displacement of animals that lived in those forests also forced them to find new habitats, increasing the chance of them spreading pathogens to other species, including humans ... “Knowing the frequency with which new viruses are occurring and what climate change does to animal ecosystems, it’s safe to assume we’re likely to have more of these,” said Helene Gayle, chief executive of the Chicago Community Trust and a former government health official at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
https://www.ft.com/content/dc33f21b-740f-4be8-9947-b47439f557d2

Extreme droughts in central Europe likely to increase sevenfold
Extreme droughts are likely to become much more frequent across central Europe, and if global greenhouse gas emissions rise strongly they could happen seven times more often, new research has shown. The area of crops likely to be affected by drought is also set to increase, and under sharply rising CO2 levels would nearly double in central Europe... The paper is published on Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports. The study adds to an increasing body of research showing the impacts of global heating on Europe. Previous studies have suggested that southern and central Europe will experience more drought, with one study projecting that European cities will become much hotter, with London forecast to have a climate more like Barcelona by 2050 and southern and central European cities seeing more extreme levels of heat.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/aug/06/co2-extreme-droughts-in-central-europe-likely-to-increase-seven-fold

New Zealand's melting glaciers show the human fingerprints of climate change
New research just published in the journal Nature Climate Change has found that extreme melting of the country’s glaciers in 2018 was at least ten times more likely to have happened because of human-caused global heating. Loss of ice across New Zealand’s glaciers in 2011, which was another extreme melt year, was six times more likely because of the planet’s warming, the study found, caused by an accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere mostly from burning fossil fuels ... “When I started as a glaciologist I thought things happened slowly but this was like taking a laser gun and just taking out all the snow and ice … it points to a bleak future for glaciers.”
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/aug/04/theres-still-a-choice-new-zealands-melting-glaciers-show-the-human-fingerprints-of-climate-change

The Worst-Case Scenario for Global Warming Tracks Closely With Actual Emissions
[A] new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences argues that the high-end projection for greenhouse gas concentrations is still the most realistic for planning purposes through at least 2050, because it comes closest to capturing the effects "of both historical emissions and anticipated outcomes of current global climate policies, tracking within 1 percent of actual emissions" ... The worst-case pathway (RCP 8.5) would result in warming of more than 8 degrees Fahrenheit (4.3 Celsius) by 2100, probably killing nearly all the world's reefs and definitely pushing vast areas of polar ice sheets to melt ... "What happened over the last 15 years has been about exactly right compared to what was projected by RCP 8.5" ... the study grew out of some work his research institution was doing with the McKinsey Global Institute exploring the socioeconomic consequences of global warming out to about 2040 or 2050.
https://insideclimatenews.org/news/03082020/climate-change-scenarios-emissions
reporting on a study at https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/07/30/2007117117

Canada's last intact Arctic ice shelf collapses, losing 40% of area in two days
The last fully intact ice shelf in the Canadian Arctic has collapsed, losing more than 40 percent of its area in just two days at the end of July, researchers said Thursday ... “Entire cities are that size. These are big pieces of ice,” said Luke Copland, a glaciologist at the University of Ottawa who was part of the research team studying the Milne Ice Shelf. The shelf’s area shrank by about 80 square kilometers. By comparison, the island of Manhattan in New York covers roughly 60 square kilometers ... “We saw them going, like someone with terminal cancer. It was only a matter of time,” said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado.
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/08/07/world/science-health-world/canada-arctic-ice-shelf/

Peat fires, like those raging in Siberia, will become more common in Canada
The notion of wildfires in Siberia, an area known for its blustery, snow-capped landscapes, seems counterintuitive. The recent blazes have been driven by a record heat wave in the Russian Arctic, but ... they're actually peat fires, a natural phenomenon that scientists have only recently begun to understand ... Peat, the moist, mossy substance that covers the ground in most Arctic ecosystems and Canadian boreal forests, is made up of decomposing biomass from plants, animals and microbes ... "For thousands of years, [peat] has been a natural stockpile of carbon — removing carbon and keeping it out of the atmosphere" ... But as a result of climate change, peatlands are becoming hotter and drier, and thus more susceptible to the type of blazes we're witnessing in Siberia ... Peat fires not only release CO2, but other, more potent greenhouse gases such as methane ... A study published earlier this year in the journal Nature showed that peatlands in Canada are drying up ... peat fires happen largely underground [so] can be "very hard to extinguish ... can creep underground and pop back up along your control lines."
https://www.cbc.ca/radio/whatonearth/peat-fires-like-those-raging-in-siberia-will-become-more-common-in-canada-1.5670662

Hot ocean waters along East Coast are drawing in ‘weird’ fish and supercharging hurricane season
Ocean temperatures along the East Coast are near or above their warmest levels on record for this time of year ... helping to fuel the busiest Atlantic hurricane season on record ... Due to human-caused buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, marine heat waves have increased dramatically ... oceans are absorbing the vast majority of the extra heat pumped into the climate by the highest levels of greenhouse gases in human history, and marine heat waves and altered ocean currents are just some of the consequences ... Warm waters are oozing north farther than they have in modern records, says Kris Karnauskas, a professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at the University of Colorado [who] showed that water temperatures as high as 82F (28C) were about as far north as they've been since such data began in 1982. This is just above the temperature threshold for fueling and sustaining hurricanes [and] are fueling what is the most active hurricane season on record to date.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2020/07/31/marine-heat-wave-hurricanes/

Extensive gas leaks in the North Sea: Abandoned wells
At abandoned oil and gas wells in the North Sea, considerable quantities of the potent greenhouse gas methane escape uncontrolled into the water. These leaks account for the dominant part of the total methane budget of the North Sea.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/07/200730113055.htm

Fears grow for Brazilian Amazon after thousands of fires in July
The number of forest fires in the Brazilian Amazon rose 28% last month compared to July 2019 ... even more worrying for researchers because 2019 was a devastating year for the Amazon, provoking protests around the world ... Bolsonaro administration has cut the budget, staff and programmes of Brazil's environmental agency, Ibama. “Everything that worked was thrown out the window,” Erika Berenguer, an ecologist specialising in the Amazon who does research at the universities of Oxford and Lancaster, told AFP.
https://www.euronews.com/2020/08/02/fears-grow-for-brazilian-amazon-as-thousands-of-fires-burn-in-july

Alaska Enveloped in Siberia Wildfire Smoke as Heatwave Causes Irreversible Damage to Permafrost
The damage being caused by Siberia's ongoing heatwave may be causing irreversible damage to the landscape, causing the loss of permafrost that in some cases has been frozen for thousands of years. The heatwave, which has lasted for months, has exacerbated the wildfires burned across the country. Greenpeace Russia estimates that over 19 million hectares of land has now burned since the start of the year—equivalent to an area bigger than Greece. On Monday, Russia's state run news agency Tass said the area of forest on fire has more than doubled in a week ... Siberia's latest heatwave has been attributed to climate change. A report published earlier this month found anthropogenic warming had made the prolonged heat 600 times more likely.
https://www.newsweek.com/alaska-smoke-siberia-fire-permafrost-damage-1521711

'Everything is burning': Argentina's delta fires rage out of control
A raging fire described as “completely out of control” is threatening one of South America’s major wetland ecosystems. The fire has been burning for months now, and is visible from the balconies of luxury apartments along the shoreline of the Paraná River in Argentina’s central city of Rosario ... “Everything is burning, it’s completely out of control ... Once a fire reaches that scale, it becomes virtually impossible to stop.” The Paraná is South America’s second largest river after the Amazon and the eighth longest river in the world ... the real problem is that 2020 has been one of the driest of recent years.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/30/argentina-delta-fires-rage-out-of-control-parana-river

Loss of bees causes shortage of key food crops, study finds
Of seven studied crops grown in 13 states across America, five showed evidence that a lack of bees is hampering the amount of food that can be grown ... researchers found that wild native bees contributed a surprisingly large portion of the pollination despite operating in intensively farmed areas largely denuded of the vegetation that supports them. Wild bees are often more effective pollinators than honeybees but research has shown several species are in sharp decline ... as farming becomes more intensive to churn out greater volumes to feed a growing global population, tactics such as flattening wildflower meadows, spraying large amounts of insecticide and planting monocultural fields of single crops are damaging the bee populations crucial for crop pollination.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/29/bees-food-crops-shortage-study

A Front-Row Seat for the Arctic’s Final Summers With Ice
Scientists are certain that the Arctic ice is disappearing. The shrinking ice cap accelerates warming globally ... Nearly every dramatic, headline-grabbing effect of climate change, from alarming coastal erosion to intense and frequent fires, is already happening in the Arctic, at a fast pace and at a giant magnitude ... only two or three decades ago the summer navigation period in the Russian Arctic lasted just 80 days a year. “Now, it's 120, and most recently even as many as 150 days” ... The Arctic is currently on track to record the lowest-ever ice coverage for the whole season ... The heat is speeding up the thawing of permafrost, the frozen ground that covers much of Russia’s Siberia, Alaska in the U.S. and the Yukon territories in Canada. When permafrost thaws, the organic matter that has been stored there since the ice age releases greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.
https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2020-arctic-sea-ice-crossing/

Germany's forests decimated by insects, drought
Around 32 million cubic meters (1,130 million cubic feet) of wood damaged by insects had to be removed from Germany's forests in 2019, the Federal Statistical Office reported Monday. That total is three times higher than the 11 million cubic meters that was destroyed in 2018, and an almost sixfold increase on the 6 million cubic meters felled due to pests in 2017. "In recent years, the native forests have suffered from drought and hot spells," the Wiesbaden-based statisticians said ... Experts have warned that climate change and the proliferation of insects like the bark beetle are having a catastrophic impact on native forests. "This combination did not exist before," Michael Müller, forest protection expert at the Technical University of Dresden, said. "We are currently experiencing the most serious forest damage … since the beginning of regulated sustainable forest care and management, so more than 200 years ago."
https://www.dw.com/en/germany-forest-dying/a-54330242

Many freshwater fish species have declined by 76 percent in less than 50 years
The global assessment, described as the first of its kind, found that populations of migratory freshwater fish have declined by 76 percent between 1970 and 2016—a higher rate of decline than both marine and terrestrial migratory species. “We think migratory freshwater fish might be in even greater peril” than the dramatic drop the report indicates, says the report’s lead author, Stefanie Deinet of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). “Adding currently missing information from tropical regions where threats of habitat loss and degradation, overexploitation, and climate change have been increasing, will surely bend the curve of loss downwards.” ... The report points to habitat degradation, alteration, and loss as the largest threat to all migratory fish. Increasingly, dams and other river barriers block fish from reaching their mating or feeding grounds, thereby disrupting their life cycles.
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2020/07/migratory-freshwater-fish-decline-globally/
reporting on a study at https://www.worldfishmigrationfoundation.com/living-planet-index-2020

Scientists measure Amazon drought and deforestation feedback loop: Study
While it is now well accepted that Amazon rainforest deforestation directly contributes to worsening droughts in the region, and vice versa, a recent study published in Environmental Research Letters has attempted to calculate the exact percentages of this knock-on effect for the first time. A deadly trifecta of deforestation, drought, and escalating global climate change — each impacting the others — threatens to pull the plug on the region’s plentiful precipitation, possibly crashing the biome since the Amazon rainforest depends on its rain cycle to survive and thrive. It’s a phenomenon scientists call a positive feedback loop: deforestation causes drought, which in turn, worsens deforestation, and so on, intensifying the effect. The study concluded that deforestation causes 4% of drought, while drought accounts for 0.13% of deforestation per millimeter of rain in the Amazon biome. This means that if rainfall in the region decreases by 200 millimeters (7.9 inches), it would then trigger an additional 26% increase in deforestation, according to the findings.
https://news.mongabay.com/2020/07/scientists-measure-amazon-drought-and-deforestation-feedback-loop-study/

Deforestation and world population sustainability: a quantitative analysis
[C]atastrophic collapse in human population, due to resource consumption, is the most likely scenario of the dynamical evolution based on current parameters ... the probability that our civilisation survives itself is less than 10% in the most optimistic scenario ... we have a few decades left before an irreversible collapse of our civilisation [and making this even worse] it is unrealistic to think that the decline of the population in a situation of strong environmental degradation would be a non-chaotic and well-ordered decline. This consideration leads to an even shorter remaining time ... the resulting mean-times for a catastrophic outcome to occur, which are of the order of 2–4 decades, make [it] hard to imagine, in absence of very strong collective efforts, big changes of these parameters to occur in such time scale.
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-63657-6

Scientists successfully revive 100m-year-old microbes from the sea
Scientists have successfully revived microbes that had lain dormant at the bottom of the sea since the age of the dinosaurs, allowing the organisms to eat and even multiply after eons in the deep. Their research sheds light on the remarkable survival power of some of Earth’s most primitive species, which can exist for tens of millions of years with barely any oxygen or food before springing back to life in the lab ... URI Graduate School of Oceanography professor and study co-author Steven D’Hondt said the microbes came from the oldest sediment drilled from the seabed. “In the oldest sediment we’ve drilled, with the least amount of food, there are still living organisms, and they can wake up, grow and multiply,” he said.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/28/scientists-successfully-revived-mesozoic-era-microbes-from-the-sea

The Great Climate Migration
According to a pathbreaking recent study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the planet could see a greater temperature increase in the next 50 years than it did in the last 6,000 years combined. By 2070, the kind of extremely hot zones, like in the Sahara, that now cover less than 1 percent of the earth’s land surface could cover nearly a fifth of the land, potentially placing one of every three people alive outside the climate niche where humans have thrived for thousands of years ... People are already beginning to flee ... Drought helped push many Syrians into cities before the war, worsening tensions and leading to rising discontent; crop losses led to unemployment that stoked Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt and Libya; Brexit, even, was arguably a ripple effect of the influx of migrants brought to Europe by the wars that followed. And all those effects were bound up with the movement of just two million people. As the mechanisms of climate migration have come into sharper focus — food scarcity, water scarcity and heat — the latent potential for large-scale movement comes to seem astronomically larger ... in South Asia, where nearly one-fourth of the global population lives. The World Bank projects that the region will soon have the highest prevalence of food insecurity in the world ... If past patterns are a measure, many will settle in India’s Ganges Valley; by the end of the century, heat waves and humidity will become so extreme there that people without air-conditioning will simply die. If it is not drought and crop failures that force large numbers of people to flee, it will be the rising seas ... projections show high tides subsuming much of Vietnam by 2050 - including most of the Mekong Delta, now home to 18 million people - as well as parts of China and Thailand, most of southern Iraq and nearly all of the Nile Delta, Egypt’s breadbasket. Many coastal regions of the United States are also at risk ... with every degree of temperature increase, roughly a billion people will be pushed outside the zone in which humans have lived for thousands of years.
co-published at https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/07/23/magazine/climate-migration.html
and https://features.propublica.org/climate-migration/model-how-climate-refugees-move-across-continents/

After 40 years, researchers finally see Earth’s climate destiny more clearly
It seems like such a simple question: How hot is Earth going to get? Now, in a landmark effort, a team of 25 scientists has significantly narrowed the bounds on this critical factor, known as climate sensitivity. The assessment, conducted under the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and publishing this week in Reviews of Geophysics, relies on three strands of evidence: trends indicated by contemporary warming, the latest understanding of the feedback effects that can slow or accelerate climate change, and lessons from ancient climates. They support a likely warming range of between 2.6°C and 3.9°C.
https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/07/after-40-years-researchers-finally-see-earths-climate-destiny-more-clearly

Climate Change Poses ‘Systemic Threat’ to the Economy, Big Investors Warn
Climate change threatens to create turmoil in the financial markets, and the Federal Reserve and other regulators must act to avoid an economic disaster, according to a letter sent on Tuesday by a group of large investors. “The climate crisis poses a systemic threat to financial markets and the real economy, with significant disruptive consequences on asset valuations and our nation’s economic stability,” reads the letter, which was signed by more than three dozen pension plans, fund managers and other financial institutions that together manage almost $1 trillion in assets.
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/21/climate/investors-climate-threat-regulators.html

First active leak of sea-bed methane discovered in Antarctica
The first active leak of methane from the sea floor in Antarctica has been revealed by scientists ... Vast quantities of methane are thought to be stored under the sea floor around Antarctica. The gas could start to leak as the climate crisis warms the oceans ... The release of methane from frozen underwater stores or permafrost regions is one of the key tipping points that scientists are concerned about, which occur when a particular impact of global heating becomes unstoppable ... The research, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, reports the discovery of the methane seep at a 10-metre (30ft) deep site known as Cinder Cones in McMurdo Sound.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/22/first-active-leak-of-sea-bed-methane-discovered-in-antarctica

Most polar bears to disappear by 2100, study predicts
By as early as 2040, it is very likely that many polar bears will begin to experience reproductive failure, leading to local extinctions, according to a study published in Nature Climate Change ... “It’s important to highlight that these projections are probably on the conservative side,” said Steven Amstrup, chief scientist for Polar Bears International and a co-author of the study ... “The impacts we project are likely to occur more rapidly than the paper suggests.”
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/20/most-polar-bears-to-disappear-by-2100-study-predicts-aoe

Smooth Handfish Extinction Marks a Sad Milestone
For the first time the IUCN Red List has officially declared a marine fish alive in modern times to be extinct
The smooth handfish was once common enough to be one of the first fish species described by European explorers in Australia ... Red List guidelines officially define “extinct” as meaning “there is no reasonable doubt that the last individual has died.” Edgar and the members of Australia's National Handfish Recovery Team were forced to that conclusion earlier this year, and the Red List placed it in the extinct category. Scientists are unsure exactly what finished off the species, but others in the region are threatened by trawl fishing, pollution and climate change.
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/smooth-handfish-extinction-marks-a-sad-milestone

World’s largest plant survey reveals alarming extinction rate
The world’s seed-bearing plants have been disappearing at a rate of ... up to 500 times higher than would be expected as a result of natural forces alone, according to the largest survey yet of plant extinctions ... survey included more plant species by an order of magnitude than any other study [yet the] study’s numbers are almost certainly an underestimate of the problem [because] some plant species are “functionally extinct” [meaning they] are present only in botanical gardens or in such small numbers in the wild that researchers don't expect the population to survive.
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01810-6

Siberian Wildfires Cover Area Larger Than Greece
Using satellite data, Greenpeace Russia estimated that 19 million hectares (47 million acres) burned across Russia's forests, steppes and fields from January to mid-July. The country of Greece, by comparison, is more than 13 million hectares in size ... Russia's Federal Forestry Agency has identified 10.1 million hectares of wildfires raging across the country since the start of the year. More than half of the blazes were located in forests and over 90% burned in Siberia and the Russian Far East ... Last year’s wildfires in Siberia burned across an area the size of Belgium at their peak and emitted the equivalent of Sweden’s total annual carbon dioxide emissions in one month alone. Experts warn that this year’s blazes, some of which may be remnants from last summer which survived through a historically warm and dry winter, could become the most destructive in history.
https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2020/07/20/siberian-wildfires-cover-area-larger-than-greece-greenpeace-a70929

Climate change: Siberian heatwave 'clear evidence' of warming
The Arctic is believed to be warming twice as fast as the global average. An international team of climate scientists, led by the UK Met Office, found the record average temperatures were likely to happen less than once every 80,000 years without human-induced climate change. That makes such an event "almost impossible" had the world not been warmed by greenhouse gas emissions, they conclude in the study. The scientists described the finding as "unequivocal evidence of the impact of climate change on the planet".
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-53415297

Arctic sea ice is in a downward spiral, and may break a record in 2020
If one were to design a weather pattern that’s most efficient at ridding the Arctic of its increasingly fragile ice cover during the region’s summer melt season, it would look like what occurred earlier in the month — clear skies, above-average air temperatures, a high-pressure system across the Central Arctic, and an ongoing heat wave and wildfires in Siberia. A recent study concluded that the unusual warmth in Siberia could not have happened in the absence of human-caused global warming. Sea ice loss accelerated in early- to mid-July, bringing sea ice extent — which measures the area of ocean where there’s some ice cover, down to record-low levels for this time of the year. As of Saturday, the Arctic as a region had an ice extent that was about 193,000 square miles below the previous record low for the date ... the result of the Siberian heat streak that has lasted from January through June, and into July ... “I do have a feeling we are on track to reach a new record low for September ... weather patterns could change and slow the ice melt, but given how warm the first part of July was over most of the Arctic Ocean, I’m not so sure we can stop the inevitable.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2020/07/20/arctic-sea-ice-is-downward-spiral-may-break-record-2020/

China Floods Call Into Question Sustainability Of Massive Three Gorges Dam
Parts of China are literally up to their eyeballs in water, in what the Chinese government is calling a once in 100 years flood. The Three Gorges Dam, built to stop these things, is now in the spotlight. The Three Gorges Dam is the world’s largest hydroelectric power station, with an installed capacity of 22,500 megawatts of power generation. The thing is, that the power station is down the Yangtze River from a handful of other dams that exist at a higher elevation than the Three Gorges. And because of the floods and problems at those dams upstream, Three Gorges is buckling under the strain of massive flows of water ... All told, more than 400 Yangtze tributary rivers have overflowed.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2020/07/20/china-floods-calls-into-question-sustainability-of-massive-three-gorges-dam/

Climate change: Summers could become 'too hot for humans'
When the [wetbulb temperature] reaches 29C, for example, the recommendation is to suspend exercise for anyone not acclimatised ... As global temperatures rise, more intense humidity is likely as well which means more people will be exposed to more days with that hazardous combination of heat and moisture. Prof Richard Betts of the UK Met Office has run computer models which suggest that the number of days with a WBGT above 32C are set to increase ... "This climate change will be a bigger monster and we really need a coordinated effort across nations to prepare for what is to come. If not, there'll be a price to be paid."
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-53415298

Alberta farmers bracing for worst harvest in 18 years: ‘The damage is done’
Farmers in parts of Alberta say their crops are under water and are bracing for a devastating harvest. It has been so wet, many fields look more like lakes. John Guelly, a farmer in Westlock County, said even if his wheat and canola crops do dry out — it’s too late ... Northeast of Edmonton near Redwater and in Thorhild County, crops are also under water ... This year’s poor conditions comes after a difficult growing season in 2019.
https://globalnews.ca/news/7175003/alberta-farmers-2020-harvest-weather-hail-rain/

Great Lakes water temperatures blowing away records
You don't expect to see 75 or even 80-degree water in the Great Lakes in early July or, in most years, anytime. But an exceptionally hot weather pattern has pushed water temperatures in most of the lakes to the highest levels on record so early in the summer. Over lakes Erie and Ontario, the water is the warmest it has been since the records began, and could warm more in the coming weeks. The abnormally warm waters, consistent with climate change trends in recent decades, could compromise water quality and harm marine life in some areas ... Buffalo hit at least 90 degrees on eight straight days ending Friday, its longest streak ever observed. Muskegon, Mich., on the shores of Lake Michigan, also notched its longest 90-degree streak ... The record-setting waters this July fit into the recent warming trend observed over the Great Lakes tied to climate change.
https://www.dailyherald.com/news/20200714/great-lakes-water-temperatures-blowing-away-records

Soaring methane emissions threaten to put climate change goals out of reach
Global emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, have soared over the past decade, according to two new studies ... "This completely overshoots our budget to stay below 1.5 to 2 degrees of warming," said Benjamin Poulter, a research scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Poulter is an author on both studies published Tuesday, one in the journal Earth System Science Data and the other in the journal Environmental Research Letters ... Another author on both studies, Rob Jackson, a professor of Earth system science at Stanford University, said the amount of methane released into the atmosphere since 2000 is roughly equivalent to adding 350 million more cars on the road ... "Methane doesn't last as long in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, but it's much more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide," Poulter said, which makes the gas a key factor in global warming.
https://www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/soaring-methane-emissions-threaten-put-climate-change-goals-out-reach-n1233831
see also https://earth.stanford.edu/news/global-methane-emissions-soar-record-high

The Arctic Ocean is dominated by a strong high-pressure system, rapidly melting the sea ice
Currently, the Arctic sea ice extent and volume are near or at record lowest values in the modern records ... high-pressure system has been previously present over the Siberian sector since at least early May, and has contributed to record high temperatures over Siberia and also the surrounding Polar regions ... latest data reveals rapid sea ice loss over the Arctic ... Contrary to popular belief, the Arctic sea ice is rather thin, ranging from a few centimeters to only a few meters at best ...  weakening or reversing of the Transpolar drift system permanently could reduce the ice cap growth in winter. That would mean lower sea ice extent going into spring and summer, increasing the chances for a Blue Ocean Event. That is a complete absence of sea ice over the Arctic Ocean, with less than 1 million square kilometers of sea ice area.
https://www.severe-weather.eu/global-weather/arctic-ocean-ice-melt-transpolar-fa/

Fracking Firms Fail, Rewarding Executives and Raising Climate Fears
Oil and gas companies in the United States are hurtling toward bankruptcy at a pace not seen in years ... in the wake of this economic carnage is a potential environmental disaster — unprofitable wells that will be abandoned or left untended, even as they continue leaking planet-warming pollutants ... as these businesses collapse, millions of dollars have flowed to executive compensation. Whiting Petroleum, a major shale driller in North Dakota that sought bankruptcy protection in April, approved almost $15 million in cash bonuses for its top executives six days before its bankruptcy filing. Chesapeake Energy, a shale pioneer, declared bankruptcy last month, just weeks after it paid $25 million in bonuses to a group of executives ... Almost 250 oil and gas companies could file for bankruptcy protection by the end of next year, more than the previous five years combined ... Even before the current downturn, methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, was being released from production sites in America’s biggest oil field at more than twice the rate previously estimated ... estimates this year by researchers examining the immense oil fields of Texas and New Mexico suggest a substantial increase in methane concentrations.
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/12/climate/oil-fracking-bankruptcy-methane-executive-pay.html

A water crisis looms for 270 million people as South Asia’s glaciers shrink
[M]ost water in the Indus, which flows west from Mount Kangrinboqe, comes from the snows and glaciers of the Himalaya, the Karakoram, and the Hindu Kush ... Downstream, in the plains of Pakistan and northern India, the world’s most extensive system of irrigated agriculture depends on the Indus. The glaciers that feed it are a lifeline for some 270 million people. Most of those glaciers are now shrinking ... Humans already use 95 percent of the Indus, and the population of the basin is growing fast ... Given the region’s “high baseline water stress and limited government effectiveness,” it is “unlikely that the Indus ... can sustain this pressure.” Pakistan will suffer most ... India, Pakistan, and China have huge populations and abundant reasons to protect their resources. All three have nuclear weapons. We think of climate change as happening in increments, almost imperceptibly. But along the Indus, it could trigger a conflict that changes the world overnight.
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2020/07/water-crisis-looms-for-270-million-people-south-asia-perpetual-feature/

The Pandemic Experts Are Not Okay
Many of them told me that they feel duty-bound and grateful to be helping their country at a time when so many others are ill or unemployed. But they're also very tired, and dispirited by America’s continued inability to control a virus that many other nations have brought to heel. As the pandemic once again intensifies, so too does their frustration and fatigue. America [faces] a drought of expertise, as the very people whose skills are sorely needed to handle the pandemic are on the verge of burning out ... “running on fumes” ... Throughout March and April, she got two hours of sleep a night. Now she’s getting four. And yet “I always feel like I'm never doing enough ... I could sleep for two weeks and still feel this tired. It’s embedded in us at this point.” But the physical exhaustion is dwarfed by the emotional toll of seeing the imagined worst-case scenarios become reality. “One of the big misconceptions is that we enjoy being right ... We'd be very happy to be wrong, because it would mean lives are being saved” ... A pandemic would have always been a draining ordeal. But it is especially so because the U.S., instead of mounting a unified front, is disjointed, cavalier, and fatalistic ... “Someone said to me, ‘I hope you're getting tons of support. But there’s no feasible thing that anyone could do to make this better, no matter how much they love you. The mental toll isn’t something you can easily share.”
https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/07/pandemic-experts-are-not-okay/613879/

Never-before-seen bacteria kills 60,000 fish in California
In measures that are hard not to compare the coronavirus pandemic ravaging America, around 3 million rainbow trout and other species have been quarantined as scientists try to understand the novel pathogen that has resisted treatments to cure it. Fish pathologists do not know where the bacteria came from in the first place. “Honestly, we’re learning new things about this every single day,” Jay Rowan, an environmental program manager for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, told the Daily Press. Treatments attempting to rid the hatcheries of the infection have so far been largely futile.
https://www.sfgate.com/outdoors/article/New-bacteria-disease-kills-thousands-of-fish-in-CA-15394901.php

Climate Change Tracker: Heatwaves rising around the world
The increasing frequency of heatwaves has long been seen as a signature of global heating, and we have seen exactly that in the past few years around the world ... A new study published in Nature Communications on 3 July, titled Increasing Trends In Regional Heatwaves, finds that heatwaves across the world have increased in terms of both frequency and length since the 1950s. The cumulative heat of extreme heat events has also increased, ranging from 1-4.5 degrees Celsius per decade for 70 years. In some parts of the world, it has increased by almost 10 degrees Celsius per decade. 2019 was the second hottest year on record since 1850 and this year is on course to becoming the hottest year ever.
https://www.livemint.com/mint-lounge/features/climate-change-tracker-heatwaves-rising-around-the-world-11594354150715.html

Extreme heat and rain: Thousands of weather stations show there's now more of both, for longer
A major global update based on data from more than 36,000 weather stations around the world confirms that, as the planet continues to warm, extreme weather events such as heatwaves and heavy rainfall are now more frequent, more intense, and longer ... When we compare 1981-2010 with 1951-80, the increase is substantial ... devastating impacts for human health, particularly for older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions. Excessive heat is not only an issue for people living in cities but also for rural communities that have already been exposed to days with temperatures above 50C.
https://phys.org/news/2020-07-extreme-thousands-weather-stations-longer.html

There’s no quick fix for climate change
Scientists looked for a ‘shortcut’ and didn’t find one
It could take decades before cuts to greenhouse gases actually affect global temperatures, according to a new study. 2035 is probably the earliest that scientists could see a statistically significant change in [the rate of increasing] temperature — and that’s only if humans take dramatic action to combat climate change ... policymakers need to be ready for the long haul, and we're all going to need to be patient while we wait for the changes we make now to take effect. “I foresee this kind of train wreck coming where we make all this effort, and we have nothing to show for it,” says lead author of the study, Bjørn Samset. “This will take time” ... The first line of the new study, published today in the journal Nature Communications, reads: “This paper is about managing our expectations.”
https://www.theverge.com/21315822/climate-change-global-temperature-study-decades-fix

Intense Arctic Wildfires Set a Pollution Record
Intense wildfires in the Arctic in June released more polluting gases into the Earth’s atmosphere than in any other month in 18 years of data collection ... The last time fires in the Arctic were this intense or released such a large volume of emissions was last year, which itself set a record. “Higher temperatures and drier surface conditions are providing ideal conditions for these fires to burn and to persist for so long over such a large area,” Mark Parrington, a fire specialist at the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, which issued the report, said in a statement. Exceptionally high temperatures in Russia’s Far North are also a harbinger of an unusually hot year worldwide.
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/07/climate/climate-change-arctic-fires.html

Arctic Oil Infrastructure Faces Climate Karma
Temperatures at Nizhnyaya Pesha, some 840 miles (1,352 km) northeast of Moscow and just 12 miles from Arctic Ocean coast, reached 86F (24C) in early June — a disaster for anyone worried about the planet's future. Further to the east and further inland, things got even hotter ... part of a heatwave that has persisted since the end of last year ... rising Arctic temperatures strike at the heart of the Russian economy, which is largely built upon the extraction of oil and gas. Rising temperatures are melting the permafrost and impairing its ability to support structures built on it. The changes threaten the “structural stability and functional capacities” of oil industry infrastructure” ... “45% of the oil and natural gas production fields in the Russian Arctic are located in the highest hazard zone” ... temperature changes that weren't generally forecast to occur until the end of the century ... what’s true in the Arctic north of Russia may also hold in the Arctic north of the Americas. Most of Alaska is underlain by permafrost ... The risks that bedevil oil and gas infrastructure are no less severe [in Alaska, where the US plans to open a] region of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska to new oil and gas development. Doing so is meant to be a boon to U.S. oil independence and Alaska’s state budget [but] it could also be a curse ... If the northern latitudes continue warming as they are, the implications will be grave for all of us.
https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-07-05/siberia-heatwave-climate-change-really-is-big-oil-industry-risk

Climate crisis: Thawing Arctic permafrost could release deadly waves of ancient diseases, scientists suggest
[A] devastating heatwave has seen temperatures in Siberia reach a record 38C (100.4F), meanwhile, vast fires are burning ... As climate scientists ponder whether these extremes portend the dawn of a terrifying new era of supercharged heat in the Arctic, the planet also remains gripped by the coronavirus pandemic. It is at this pivotal moment a startling new risk could also be unleashed upon the world – one which binds together both the implications of an overheating planet and the tragedy of a highly contagious disease. Scientists have said the rapidly warming climate in the far north risks exposing long-dormant viruses, which may be tens or even hundreds of thousands of years old, and have been frozen in the permafrost in the Arctic. Due to the rapid heating – the Arctic is warming up at least twice as fast as the rest of the world – the permafrost is now thawing for the first time since before the last ice age, potentially freeing pathogens the like of which modern humans have never before grappled with. Jean Michel Claverie, a virologist at Aix-Marseille University [said] “There are extremely good papers that say yes, you can revive bacteria from deep permafrost” ...  Dr Claverie said the risk was not only due to the thawing permafrost, but also due to the increased human and animal activity in areas which have long been very sparsely populated ... “if you put a human in a place with frozen viruses associated with pandemic, then those humans could be infected and replicate the virus and start a new pandemic.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/permafrost-release-diseases-virus-bacteria-arctic-climate-crisis-a9601431.html

Climate crisis: Government not on track to meet net zero targets and risks are ‘bigger than coronavirus’
An inquiry into the government’s progress on reaching net zero emissions by 2050 has been told the UK is “clearly not” making sufficient progress to hit the legally binding target ... Expert witness Lord Deben, chair of the Committee on Climate Change, warned the government: “In almost every sector we are failing ... we are not reaching anywhere near the levels we have to. The government is not on track to meet the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, both of which of course are statutory requirements” ... BEIS inquiry was warned the environmental and economic impact of the government not hitting its own targets would be catastrophic.
https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/government-net-zero-targets-beis-inquiry-climate-crisis-coronavirus-a9598156.html

Despite the warnings, we're heading into a climate catastrophe utterly ill-prepared. Remind you of anything?
[In] the annual report of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) to the UK parliament ... was the advice that the government needed to start preparing for a 4C temperature rise. This is a terrifying change from the previous advice to prepare for a 2C rise. Why terrifying? As Professor Kevin Anderson, a leading climate scientist at the University of Manchester, said: “There is a widespread view that a 4C future is incompatible with an organised global community, is likely to be beyond adaptation and be devastating to the majority of ecosystems” ... the report was blunt on the failure of Boris Johnson‘s government to implement almost any of its recommendations made last year on how to get to zero carbon ... On the climate threat, we are exactly where we were last winter in relation to the impending pandemic: woefully unprepared and with a government refusing to implement the advice being given to protect us.
https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/climate-change-commitee-report-4c-warming-fossil-fuels-crisis-a9597511.html

Ocean Water Is Hurricane ‘Fuel’ - It’s Currently High Octane
According to the National Weather Service - Key West, July 1st marked the 46th daily warm minimum temperature record that was tied with or set during the first half of 2020. The same office also tweeted on July 2nd, “It also marks the 10th consecutive such record” ... water temperature at Virginia Key, Florida on July 2nd was the hottest recorded at that site (92.5 degrees F) ... the Atlantic hurricane season “fuel” is currently high octane.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/marshallshepherd/2020/07/03/ocean-water-is-hurricane-fuelits-currently-high-octane/

60% of fish species could be unable to survive in current areas by 2100 – study
In a study of nearly 700 fresh and saltwater fish species, researchers examined how warming water temperatures lower water oxygen levels ... “if we let global warming persist, it can get much worse,” said Hans-Otto Pörtner, a climatologist who co-authored the study published in the journal Science ... this assessment was conservative – it does not take into account other climate crisis factors that could affect marine life, like ocean acidification, that could amplify the effects on sensitive populations. “Some tropical fish are already living in zones at their uppermost tolerance ... Humankind is pushing the planet outside of a comfortable temperature range and we are starting to lose suitable habitat.”
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/02/fish-species-survival-climate-warming-study

'Nowhere to hide': South Pole warms up with climate change a factor
The South Pole, the most remote part of the planet, has been warming at triple the global average ... The findings, published Tuesday in the Nature Climate Change journal ... For the 1989-2018 period, the mercury rose [at] three times the global warming rate, the researchers found.
https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/nowhere-to-hide-south-pole-warms-up-with-climate-change-a-factor-20200629-p55797.html

Coronavirus: This is not the last pandemic
We have created "a perfect storm" for diseases from wildlife to spill over into humans and spread quickly around the world, scientists warn. Human encroachment on the natural world speeds up that process. This outlook comes from global health experts who study how and where new diseases emerge ... "In the last 20 years, we've had six significant threats - SARS, MERS, Ebola, avian influenza and swine flu," Prof Matthew Baylis from the University of Liverpool told BBC News. "We dodged five bullets but the sixth got us. And this is not the last pandemic we are going to face."
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-52775386

Could invasive alien species cause another coronavirus?
Invasive alien species are increasing the threat of emerging infectious diseases, a new study from a global research team has warned ... numbers of invasive alien species are rapidly increasing, with more than 18,000 currently listed around the world. The study was published last week in the journal Biological Reviews. Professor Laura Meyerson, who researches invasion biology and restoration ecology at the University of Rhode Island and was part of the global study, said that it’s highly likely the number is much greater. “These are the ones that we’ve detected and recorded,” Prof. Meyerson told The Independent. “But there are a lot of species that are introduced and become established that we don't even notice” ... last year, the Trump administration cut the budget of the National Invasive Species Council (NISC) by 50 per cent. Their annual budget, reportedly $1m, Prof Meyerson said, is a small price to pay “when we know invasions cause $100bn a year in damage”. She said that the threat of invasive species, in terms of policy and financial resources, needed to be elevated to “a biosecurity issue”. “It’s costing us hundreds of millions of dollars and it’s harming our health,” she said. “Covid-19 is an invasive species issue. We knew what to do and we didn’t do it.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/stop-the-wildlife-trade-invasive-species-climate-crisis-disease-coronavirus-a9598966.html

Signs of Drought in European Groundwater
For the third year in a row, Europe is facing potential water woes. According to the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), meteorological drought conditions started in eastern Europe in early spring 2020 and migrated across the continent with drier-than-normal weather in April and May. Tributaries and main stems of some of the continent’s rivers—such as the Elbe, Warta, and Danube—fell below normal seasonal flow ... all of this occurred as 2020 continued to be one of the hottest years on record globally.
https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/146888/signs-of-drought-in-european-groundwater

Record Temperatures and Record Low Sea Ice in Siberian Arctic
Western Siberia recorded its hottest spring on record this year ... The ice along the shores of Siberia has the appearance of Swiss cheese right now in satellite images, with big areas of open water that would normally still be covered. The sea ice extent in the Laptev Sea, north of Russia, is the lowest recorded for this time of year since satellite observations began ... a big concern is warming permafrost ... When permafrost thaws under homes and bridges, infrastructure can sink, tilt and collapse. Alaskans have been contending with this for several years. Near Norilsk, Russia, thawing permafrost was blamed for an oil tank collapse in late May that spilled thousands of tons of oil into a river. Thawing permafrost also creates a less obvious but even more damaging problem. When the ground thaws, microbes in the soil begin turning its organic matter into carbon dioxide and methane. Both are greenhouse gases that further warm the planet ... also raises the risk of wildfires.
https://www.maritime-executive.com/editorials/record-temperatures-and-record-low-sea-ice-in-siberian-arctic

Fivefold growth of forest fires in Siberia reported
Forest fires in Siberia have grown nearly fivefold over the past week. The fires come amid a notable heat wave in parts of the sprawling region. A high temperature of 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 F) was reported a week ago in the town of Verkhoyansk ... hottest day ever recorded in the Arctic ... 1.15 million hectares (2.85 million acres) were burning in Siberia in areas that cannot be reached by firefighters.
https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/fivefold-growth-forest-fires-siberia-reported-71490782

Rapid Arctic meltdown in Siberia alarms scientists
Wildfires are raging amid record-breaking temperatures. Permafrost is thawing, infrastructure is crumbling and sea ice is dramatically vanishing ... Shifts that once seemed decades away are happening now, with potentially global implications. “We always expected the Arctic to change faster than the rest of the globe,” said Walt Meier, a senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder. “But I don’t think anyone expected the changes to happen as fast as we are seeing them happen.” ... The temperatures occurring in the High Arctic during the past 15 years were not predicted to occur for 70 more years ... “When we develop a fever, it’s a sign. It’s a warning sign that something is wrong and we stop and we take note ... Literally, the Arctic is on fire. It has a fever right now, and so it’s a good warning sign that we need to stop, take note and figure out what’s going on.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/rapid-arctic-meltdown-in-siberia-alarms-scientists/2020/07/03/4c1bd6a6-bbaa-11ea-bdaf-a129f921026f_story.html

Siberian Fires Have Released a Record Amount of Carbon This Year
Siberia has been the most abnormally hot place on Earth all year ... As a result of the widespread fire activity, the region has sent carbon streaming into the atmosphere ... highest level of carbon emissions from Siberian fires on record ... roughly equivalent to the entire annual emissions of Portugal ... aren't just burning forest (though they are doing that). They’re also burning through the tundra north of the Arctic Circle ... The fact that fires are burning in the tundra is a huge cause for concern, because the area contains vast stores of carbon-rich landscapes that include peatlands and frozen (for now) soil known as permafrost. Fires have been known to overwinter in peatlands, smoldering underground only to explode in the spring and summer. At least some of the fires in Siberia have done that ... “The thawing of permafrost is increasing the potential fuel loading for fires ... I have a new dataset from [the National Snow and Ice Data Center] that also confirms that many of these fires are burning on supposedly ‘continuous permafrost extent with high ground ice content.’ Given that this ground should be frozen or at least boggy all year round, it should not be available to burn. But it is burning, which implies that it has thawed out and has dried.”
https://earther.gizmodo.com/siberian-fires-have-released-a-record-amount-of-carbon-1844245153

New Data Reveals Hidden Flood Risk Across America
Across much of the United States, the flood risk is far greater than government estimates show, new calculations suggest, exposing millions of people to a hidden threat — and one that will only grow as climate change worsens ... homeowners, builders, banks, insurers and government officials nationwide have been making decisions with information that understates their true physical and financial risks ... climate change has worsened the dangers ... a vast increase in risk compared with official estimates.
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/06/29/climate/hidden-flood-risk-maps.html

Arctic sea ice witnessed massive decline in 2019: Scientists
The National Centre of Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) has found a dramatic decline in the Arctic sea ice due to global warming ... NCPOR noted that the largest decline in Arctic sea ice in the past 41 years happened in July 2019. Between 1979 and 2018, the sea ice has been declining at a rate of -4.7 per cent per decade, while its rate was found to be -13 per cent in July 2019. "The sea-ice loss at this rate, concerning all the lives on earth, can have a catastrophic impact due to rising global air temperature and slowing down of global ocean water circulation," Avinash Kumar, a senior scientist at NCPOR, who is involved in the research, said ... the loss of ice cover in the Arctic sea has had strong feedback effects on other components of the climate system ... volume of ice formation during winters is unable to keep pace with the volume of ice loss during summers.
https://www.indiatvnews.com/science/arctic-sea-ice-witnessed-massive-decline-in-2019-scientists-629136

Glaciers in Sikkim are melting fast, so are in other regions
Among the most dramatic evidence that Earth’s climate is warming is the dwindling and disappearance of mountain glaciers around the world. Scientists from Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology have found that glaciers in Sikkim are melting at a higher magnitude as compared to other Himalayan regions. The study ... revealed that glaciers in Sikkim have retreated and de-glaciated significantly.
http://tehelka.com/glaciers-in-sikkim-are-melting-fast-so-are-in-other-regions/

Stocks of vulnerable carbon twice as high where permafrost subsidence is factored in
New research from a team at Northern Arizona University suggests that subsidence ... is causing deeper thaw than previously thought and making vulnerable twice as much carbon as estimates that don't account for this shifting ground. These findings, published this week in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, suggest traditional methods of permafrost thaw measurement underestimate the amount of previously-frozen carbon unlocked from warming permafrost by over 100 percent ... Due to the widespread nature of subsidence—about 20 percent of the permafrost zone is visibly subsided, and contains approximately 50 percent of all carbon stored in permafrost—failing to account for subsidence could lead to significant underestimates of future carbon release in global climate change projections.
https://phys.org/news/2020-06-stocks-vulnerable-carbon-high-permafrost.html

The Ticking Time Bomb of Arctic Permafrost
Arctic communities have long known that warming temperatures will undermine buildings, roads, and other infrastructure [but] communities don't have time to wait for research to catch up ... Permafrost is “the glue that holds northern ecosystems together,” said Turetsky, but climate change is thawing wide swaths of it.
https://eos.org/articles/the-ticking-time-bomb-of-arctic-permafrost

Study: Pace of Warming is Set to Accelerate in the Deep Ocean
A new study published in Nature Climate Change suggests that the deep ocean may not be as invulnerable to warming as once thought. By looking at the pace and horizontal movement of temperature rise over time (climate velocity), a team led by Isaac Brito-Morales of the University of Queensland predicted that life in the deep ocean will experience accelerated change in the second half of this century, even under a best-case climate action scenario. According to the study, the mesopelagic - the region between 200-1000 meters in depth - will be most affected, especially in high latitudes. This band could experience temperature changes at a rate four times higher than surface waters ... The study's most concerning finding is that these deep-ocean temperature shifts will likely occur even if society takes aggressive climate action in line with the Paris Climate Accord.
https://maritime-executive.com/article/study-pace-of-warming-is-set-to-accelerate-in-the-deep-ocean

Rising Tides, Troubled Waters: The Future of Our Ocean
Until now, the ocean has been the hero of the climate crisis — about 90 percent of the additional heat we’ve trapped from burning fossil fuels has been absorbed by it. But the heat the ocean absorbed has not magically vanished — it’s just stored in the depths [and] will continue to seep out for centuries to come, slowing any human efforts to cool the planet ... We are dumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere about 10 times faster than volcanoes did 250 million years ago, which cooked the planet, triggering the End-Permian extinction that wiped out 96 percent of the species on Earth and turned the ocean into a lifeless, slimy Jacuzzi. “No one knows where our modern experiment with geochemistry will lead, but in the End-Permian, massive injections of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere led straight to the cemetery.”
https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/oceans-and-climate-change-2020-report-jeff-goodell-967980/

More than 58 000 ha (143 000 acres) of rice damaged as 'worst' drought in history hits Mekong Delta
The increase in saline intrusion was due to the water shortage from the upper Mekong River. During the 2019/20 dry season, the water to the Mekong Delta was lower than that in previous years, affecting 10 out of 13 provinces in the region. The area affected by salinity was 1.68 million ha (4.15 million acres) ... due to prolonged drought, 96 000 families or about 430 000 individuals suffered water shortage for daily living ... Landslides occurred in many areas in the Mekong Delta as drought and prolonged shortage of water resulted in low water levels on the canals ... Nguyen considered the drought and saltwater intrusion in the 2019/20 dry season as the most severe in history.
https://watchers.news/2020/06/23/mekong-delta-worst-drought-history/

Glacial retreat in European Alps
A team of researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) has now investigated changes to the area and height of all glaciers in the European Alps over a 14 year period in their recent study. The result: approximately 17 percent of the entire volume of the ice has been lost since the start of the new millennium. The findings were published in the journal Nature Communications ... meltwater from Alpine glaciers accounts for a considerable portion of water runoff in large European river systems during the summer months.
https://www.miragenews.com/glacial-retreat-in-european-alps/

A Record Number of Bees Died Last Summer
According to the preliminary results of the University of Maryland’s annual survey, U.S. beekeepers lost 43.7% of their honey bees from April 2019 to April 2020. That’s the second highest rate of decline the researchers’ have observed since they started the survey in 2006. Striking summertime losses drove this high annual rate of loss ... The study is the latest in a slew of research showing that bees in the U.S. are under threat. Another February report found that due to climate breakdown, bumblebee populations’ chance of survival in any given place declined by an average of over 30 percent over the course of just one human generation.
https://earther.gizmodo.com/a-record-number-of-bees-died-last-summer-1844120999

Study shows today's atmospheric carbon dioxide levels greater than 23 million-year record
The team used the fossilized remains of ancient plant tissues to produce a new record of atmospheric CO2 that spans 23 million years of uninterrupted Earth history. They have shown elsewhere that as plants grow, the relative amount of the two stable isotopes of carbon, carbon-12 and carbon-13 changes in response to the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. This research, published this week in Geology, is a next-level study measuring the relative amount of these carbon isotopes in fossil plant materials and calculating the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere under which the ancient plants grew. Furthermore, Schubert and colleagues' new CO2 "timeline" revealed no evidence for any fluctuations in CO2 that might be comparable to the dramatic CO2 increase of the present day, which suggests today's abrupt greenhouse disruption is unique across recent geologic history.
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-06/gsoa-sst060120.php

COVID-19 is the quiz, climate change the final exam
Nations like South Korea, New Zealand, and Taiwan, which studied for the quiz and heeded the expertise of their tutors (i.e., scientists), have done much better on the quiz than nations that rejected the expertise of their scientists – like the U.S. and Brazil ... government officials have sought to shift the blame, including, in particular, silencing scientists attempting to communicate their evidence-based science ... While the stakes for flunking the COVID-19 quiz have been crushing – over 425,000 people dead globally by mid-June, economies crippled, and an as-yet unrealized catastrophe looming for many nations in the developing world – the cost of failing our inevitable collective climate change final exam will be apocalyptic for civilization. When the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica melt, the forests of the Amazon transition to scrubland, and vast swaths of once-fertile land become inhospitable desert, there will be no climate change vaccine that will suddenly bring an end to these essentially irreversible catastrophes ... Science governs the rules of the final exam, and ignoring and suppressing the information scientists give about our upcoming final exam ensures we will fail it.
https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2020/06/commentary-covid-19-is-the-quiz-climate-change-the-final-exam/

Government report forecasts worrying climate change outlook for India
Casting dark clouds on India's climate change assessment, a government report has said the nation's average temperature by the end of this century could be as much as 4.4 deg C higher than the 1976-2005 average. India's average temperature, it adds, has already increased by around 0.7 deg C between 1901 and 2018, mainly due to greenhouse gas emissions ... warns of a high likelihood of more frequent droughts ... This first-of-its-kind comprehensive climate change assessment for India, authored by scientists at Pune's Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, added that these rapid climatic changes will put increasing stress on the country's natural ecosystems, agricultural output and freshwater resources, and also cause greater damage to infrastructure.
https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/south-asia/government-report-forecasts-worrying-climate-change-outlook-for-india

100 degrees Fahrenheit! Eastern Siberian town shatters record for hottest-ever temperature inside Arctic Circle
The small town of Verkhoyansk, home to 1,000 people in Russia's Yakutia region, broke the record on Saturday for the highest temperature ever recorded within the Arctic Circle, hitting a maximum of 38 degrees Celsius.
https://www.rt.com/russia/492463-siberia-hot-temperature-record/

Rising Seas Threaten an American Institution: The 30-Year Mortgage
The change has already begun. It’s not only along the nation’s rivers and coasts where climate-induced risk has started to push down home prices ... as the world warms, that long-term nature of conventional mortgages might not be as desirable as it once was, as rising seas and worsening storms threaten to make some land uninhabitable ... In 2016, Freddie Mac’s chief economist at the time, Sean Becketti, warned that losses from flooding both inland and along the coasts are “likely to be greater in total than those experienced in the housing crisis and the Great Recession.” If climate change makes coastal homes uninsurable, Dr. Becketti wrote, their value could fall to nothing [and after that] “What happens when the water starts lapping at these properties, and they get abandoned?”
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/19/climate/climate-seas-30-year-mortgage.html

Ocean acidification will be worse than expected in the Arctic
In the coming decades, the Arctic Ocean will absorb significantly more carbon dioxide than what has been predicted by current climate models, according to new research from the University of Bern. The increased rate of ocean acidification, combined with other rapidly changing chemical conditions ... could threaten the entire Arctic food web all the way up to fish and marine mammals. The study is published in the journal Nature.
https://www.earth.com/news/ocean-acidification-will-be-worse-than-expected-in-the-arctic/
see also https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/06/200617145947.htm

Coastal erosion on Yukon’s only Arctic island exposes looming climate threat
Permafrost holds huge stores of carbon —  it’s made up of layers of compounded plant and animal matter that’s been encased in the ice-sediment mix for thousands of years. In a frozen state, this carbon-rich matter doesn’t decay to create carbon dioxide. But as permafrost meets warmer temperatures and crashing waves, a thaw follows, allowing carbon dioxide to be produced. Along the coast and in nearshore waters, this production is happening at a faster rate than on land, researchers have found ...  there is twice the amount of carbon in permafrost than currently in the atmosphere [and] the average rate of coastal erosion in the Arctic is 0.5 metres per year, Lantuit said. And notably, 34 per cent of the earth’s coastlines are found in the Arctic. “If it goes to one metre per year, which is now in the realm of real possibility for the Arctic, it sounds like little, but it’s going to be 100 per cent more carbon released into the ocean, mathematically,” Lantuit said. “The magnitude of change is enormous.”
https://thenarwhal.ca/erosion-yukons-arctic-island-exposes-looming-climate-threat/

Huge forest fires put health at risk
Siberia—Russia's northernmost region—is experiencing wildfires after record spring heat, with temperatures sometimes exceeding 30 degrees in May and an average of 10 degrees above seasonal standards ... "They have the potential to accelerate warming in the Arctic, which is already heating up much more quickly than the rest of the planet. The vast Arctic peatlands, which are sustained by permafrost, are now thawing. This can release huge amounts of carbon back into the atmosphere. Peat is also flammable. Once ignited by a lightning strike, it can burn for weeks to months. The embers can even survive the winter, reigniting a large fire the following summer. Fires have a dual effect: as well as melting permafrost directly, they also darken the surface. This further accelerates the melting of permafrost and ice because a darker surface absorbs more of the sun's heat. Decaying peatlands can also emit large quantities of methane, which is a very potent greenhouse gas."
https://phys.org/news/2020-06-huge-forest-health.html

Carbon emission from permafrost soils underestimated by 14%
According to a University of Michigan study, organic carbon in thawing permafrost soils flushed into lakes and rivers can be converted to carbon dioxide by sunlight, a process known as photomineralization. The research, led by aquatic geochemist Rose Cory, has found that organic carbon from thawing permafrost is highly susceptible to photomineralization by ultraviolet and visible light, and could contribute an additional 14% of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Her team’s study is published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. “Only recently have global climate models included greenhouse gases from thawing permafrost soils. But none of them contain this feedback pathway,” said Cory, an associate professor of earth and environmental sciences.
https://news.umich.edu/carbon-emission-from-permafrost-soils-underestimated-by-14/

Emissions from 13 dairy firms match those of entire UK, says report
The biggest dairy companies in the world have the same combined greenhouse gas emissions as the UK, the sixth biggest economy in the world, according to a new report. The analysis shows the impact of the 13 firms on the climate crisis is growing, with an 11% increase in emissions in the two years after the 2015 Paris climate change agreement, largely due to consolidation in the sector ... The report [is] by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) in the US.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jun/15/emissions-from-13-dairy-firms-match-those-of-entire-uk-says-report

Climate worst-case scenarios may not go far enough, cloud data shows
Modelling results from more than 20 institutions are being compiled for the sixth [IPCC] assessment. Compared with the last assessment in 2014, 25% of them show a sharp upward shift from 3C to 5C in climate sensitivity ... This has shocked many veteran observers [because] climate sensitivity above 5C would reduce the scope for human action to reduce the worst impacts of global heating ... Worst-case projections in excess of 5C have been generated by several of the world’s leading climate research bodies [yet] climate models might still be underestimating the problem because they did not fully take into account tipping points in the biosphere.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jun/13/climate-worst-case-scenarios-clouds-scientists-global-heating

The vultures aren't hovering over Africa – and that's bad news
In the early 1990s, observers in India began to notice that vultures, which usually gathered in huge flocks around animal carcasses, were declining at an unprecedented rate ... from 1992 to 2007, India’s most common three vulture species declined by between 97% and 99.9%. The consequences were catastrophic: only once the vultures had gone did people realise the crucial job they had been doing in clearing up the corpses of domestic and wild animals. Rotting carcasses contaminated water supplies, while rats and feral dogs multiplied, leading to a huge increase in the risk of disease for humans. More than a decade after the crisis began, the key cause was confirmed. Asia’s vultures were feeding on animal carcasses containing diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory drug routinely given to domestic cattle but poisonous to birds. Now, a similar story is unfolding in Africa, which is home to 11 of the world’s 16 old world vulture species.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jun/13/the-vultures-arent-hovering-over-africa-and-thats-bad-news-aoe

Climate crisis to blame for $67bn of Hurricane Harvey damage – study
At least $67bn of the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey in 2017 can be attributed directly to climate breakdown, according to research that could lead to a radical reassessment of the costs of damage from extreme weather ... Conventional economic estimates attributed only about $20bn of the destruction to the direct impacts of global heating [but] in a study published in the journal Climatic Change, researchers used the emerging science of climate change attribution to calculate the odds of such a hurricane happening naturally or under increased carbon dioxide levels, and applied the results to the damage caused. Similar methods were used in a separate study, published last month in the same journal, that found that droughts in New Zealand between 2007 and 2017 cost the economy about NZ$4.8bn, of which $800m was directly linked to climate change ... researchers say the new tools are a more accurate way of estimating the economic damage caused by climate breakdown.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/12/climate-crisis-to-blame-for-67bn-of-hurricane-harvey-damage-study

Warning from eco inspectors: more tundra oil reservoirs could collapse
Russian Environmental Control Authority calls on Nornickel ... to close down a major fuel storage park and empty the reservoirs According to Rosprirodnadzor, the environmental catastrophe happened after the concrete foundation on which the reservoir rests began to sink. Following the sinking, the bottom of the reservoir detached from its walls whereupon the diesel oil spilled into the surroundings ... On site are another four similar reservoirs, three of which are in operation ... the environmental watchdog now warns that the remaining reservoirs could ultimately get the same fate as the first collapsed tank ... The Russian Arctic has over many years been among the regions in the world with the most rapid warming, and climate changes in the area are today increasingly dramatic. Among the changes unfolding is a rapid reduction of the permafrost, which results in major risks for settlements, industry and infrastructure in the region.
https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/ecology/2020/06/warning-eco-inspectors-more-tundra-oil-reservoirs-could-collapse

Mutated coronavirus shows significant boost in infectivity
A tiny genetic mutation in the SARS coronavirus 2 variant circulating throughout Europe and the United States significantly increases the virus’ ability to infect cells, lab experiments performed at Scripps Research show. “Viruses with this mutation were much more infectious than those without the mutation in the cell culture system we used ,” says Scripps Research virologist Hyeryun Choe, PhD, senior author of the study ... Now undergoing peer review, it is being posted prior to publication to the pre-print site bioRxiv, and released early, amid news reports of its findings.
https://www.scripps.edu/news-and-events/press-room/2020/20200612-choe-farzan-coronavirus-spike-mutation.html

Up to 45 percent of SARS-CoV-2 infections may be asymptomatic, new analysis finds
The findings, recently published in Annals of Internal Medicine, suggest that asymptomatic infections may have played a significant role in the early and ongoing spread of COVID-19 and highlight the need for expansive testing and contact tracing to mitigate the pandemic. “The silent spread of the virus makes it all the more challenging to control,” says Eric Topol, MD, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute and professor of Molecular Medicine at Scripps Research. “Our review really highlights the importance of testing. It’s clear that with such a high asymptomatic rate, we need to cast a very wide net, otherwise the virus will continue to evade us” ... suggests that asymptomatic individuals are able to transmit the virus for an extended period of time, perhaps longer than 14 days. The viral loads are very similar in people with or without symptoms.
https://www.scripps.edu/news-and-events/press-room/2020/20200609-oran-asymptomatic-infection.html

Mediterranean Sea Without Mediterranean Climate May Be A Thing, New Study Finds
Global warming is making Mediterranean’s signature climate harsher ... management consulting firm McKinsey has just released the latest of its case studies on climate risk, focusing on the Mediterranean communities and economies ... “By 2050, many parts of the Mediterranean, including agricultural lands, are expected to see drought condition for at least six months of the year on average” ... They chose the Mediterranean because of its exposure to extreme weather events. The region is indeed expected to see particularly strong increases in drought and heat, which make it one of the leading-edge examples of climate change risk.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/emanuelabarbiroglio/2020/06/11/mediterranean-sea-without-mediterranean-climate-may-be-a-thing-new-study-finds/

Temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius reported above Arctic Circle
BBC Weather reported the temperature today at Nizhnyaya Pesha, an area of Russia about 1,300km north of Moscow. It follows a recent heatwave in the region, with temperatures soared to 10 degrees Celsius above average in Siberia last month, when the world experienced its warmest May on record. Large swathes of Siberia have been unusually warm for several months running, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service.
https://www.thejournal.ie/climate-change-arctic-30-degrees-weather-5118623-Jun2020/

Once-in-a-1,000-year snow melt floods hydropower plant on Russia’s far northern coast
There were more melting permafrost problems for Russia’s energy infrastructure after the TGK1 power station on the Far Northwest coast reported on June 9 that two of its hydropower units were flooded with “abnormal water inflow” due to melting snow ... The flooding at TGK1 follows an oil spill in the mining town of Norilsk on Russia’s Far North coast last week that was the worst in the country's history and has been declared a national emergency. Norilsk is also in a permafrost region.
https://www.intellinews.com/once-in-a-1-000-year-snow-melt-floods-hydropower-plant-on-russia-s-far-northern-coast-185003/

Carbon Dioxide Concentrations Break 417ppm For The First Time In History
In May, the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawai'i recorded a seasonal peak in the atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) of 417.1 parts per million (ppm). This is the highest monthly reading of atmospheric CO2 ever recorded ... The cause, undisputably, is human-made emissions from energy production, transportation, and industry ... “Progress in emissions reductions is not visible in the CO2 record,” Pieter Tans, a senior scientist with NOAA’s Global Monitoring Laboratory, said in a statement. “We continue to commit our planet – for centuries or longer – to more global heating, sea-level rise, and extreme weather events every year.” ... “People may be surprised to hear that the response to the coronavirus outbreak hasn’t done more to influence CO2 levels,” said geochemist Ralph Keeling, who runs the Scripps Oceanography program at Mauna Loa. “But the buildup of CO2 is a bit like trash in a landfill. As we keep emitting, it keeps piling up.”
https://www.iflscience.com/environment/carbon-dioxide-concentrations-break-417ppm-for-the-first-time-in-history/

'Mass mortality event' devastates Sydney's coastal ecosystems
Researchers for The Abyss Project, a commercial and scientific group of divers, say the coast and estuaries have suffered a "mass mortality event", potentially the worst in decades ... species down to as deep as eight metres heavily affected by a sequence of changed water quality and conditions ... Salinity in shallow estuaries rose as freshwater inflows dropped with the drought, and then the bushfires brought additional nitrogen and phosphorous - including from fire retardants - that spurred cyanobacteria growth. The big storms provided the final blow for much of the aquatic life ... increasing climate stresses in the future could "just decouple everything" in the marine ecosystems around Sydney and beyond.
https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/mass-mortality-event-devastates-sydney-s-coastal-ecosystems-20200605-p54zyo.html

Ice Melt Accelerating, Causing Depletion of Freshwater Resources
Seven of the regions that dominate global ice mass losses are melting at an accelerated rate, a new study shows, and the quickened melt rate is depleting freshwater resources that millions of people depend on. The impact of melting ice in Greenland and Antarctica on the world’s oceans is well documented. But the largest contributors to sea level rise in the 20th century were melting ice caps and glaciers located in seven other regions: Alaska, the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, the Southern Andes, High Mountain Asia, the Russian Arctic, Iceland and the Norwegian archipelago Svalbard. The five Arctic regions accounted for the greatest share of ice loss. And this ice melt is accelerating, potentially affecting not just coastlines but agriculture and drinking water supplies in communities around the world, according to the study by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory; the University of California, Irvine; and the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.
https://scitechdaily.com/ice-melt-accelerating-causing-depletion-of-freshwater-resources/

More Extreme Waves Tipped to Erode Coastlines as Planet Warms
“An increase in the risk of extreme wave events may be catastrophic, as larger and more frequent storms will cause more flooding and coastline erosion,” according to Professor Ian Young, University of Melbourne infrastructure engineering researcher. New Zealand’s west coast, Tasmania, the southern tip of South America and parts of the Canadian coastline are among the most at-risk areas. The research was led by the University of Melbourne’s school of engineering and published in Science Advances.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-06-11/more-extreme-waves-tipped-to-erode-coastlines-as-planet-warms

Ireland bans hosepipe use as dry spring parches Emerald Isle
Six-week garden-hose ban after the country renowned for rainy weather experienced one of the driest springs on record Ireland’s weather office, Met Eireann, says the country experienced its driest May since 1850. Some areas had the driest spring ever recorded, with the capital, Dublin, receiving less than a third of its usual spring rainfall. Drier-than-normal weather is expected to continue into the summer ... The company said that as lockdown eases and businesses reopen, demand for water “is being exacerbated by warm weather and the widespread emergence of drought conditions.”
https://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/ireland-bans-hosepipe-dry-spring-parches-emerald-isle-71148865

Giant diesel spill in Russia offers glimpse of Arctic’s future
Investigators have determined that the leakage of of 20,000 tons of diesel (about 150,000 barrels) from a reservoir at a power plant in Russia’s Far North was caused by damage from thawing permafrost - just the latest sign of the catastrophic effects climate change is having in the Arctic ... With temperatures rising at twice the global average rate in the Arctic Circle, the frozen ground is thawing and causing cracks in roads and buildings. About half of Russia, the world’s largest country, is covered with permafrost ... A heat wave in Siberia resulted in temperatures as high as 10 degrees Celsius above the May average in some areas ... 1,700 gigatons of carbon dioxide is trapped in permafrost, or twice the amount currently in the atmosphere. “Permafrost contains organic matter that never decomposed, so when it thaws, that organic matter starts decomposing, bacteria eat it and in the process they release greenhouse gases, mainly methane and carbon dioxide ... All of that accelerates global warming.”
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/06/08/world/science-health-world/giant-diesel-spill-russia-offers-glimpse-arctics-future

Borrowed time: Climate change threatens U.S. mortgage market
"Everyone is exposed" as taxpayer-backed loans and insurance face a coming storm
U.S. taxpayers could be on the hook for billions of dollars in climate-related property losses as the government backs a growing number of mortgages on homes in the path of floods, fires and extreme weather ... the government’s biggest housing subsidies — mortgage guarantees and flood insurance — are on course to hit taxpayers and the housing market as the effects of climate change worsen ... National Bureau of Economic Research working paper in February concluded that homes in flood plains are overvalued by $34 billion because homebuyers don’t fully price in the high risk of climate-related disasters.
https://www.politico.com/news/2020/06/08/borrowed-time-climate-changemortgage-market-304130

As Pakistan glacier melt surges, efforts to cut flood risk drag
Pakistan has more glaciers than anywhere except the polar regions. But climate change is "eating away Himalayan glaciers at a dramatic rate", a study published last year in the journal Science Advances noted. As glacier ice melts, it can collect in large glacial lakes, which are at risk of bursting their through banks and creating deadly flash floods downstream, in places like Hassanabad. More than 3,000 of those lakes had formed as of 2018, with 33 of them considered hazardous and more than 7 million people at risk downstream, according to UNDP ... melting is likely to pick up over the summer months, he said, noting that “June to September will be dangerous”, particularly after a winter of heavy snowfall.
https://indianexpress.com/article/world/as-pakistan-glacier-melt-surges-efforts-to-cut-flood-risk-drag-6448218/

Europe’s Most Important River Dangerously Low As Summer Starts
Germany’s Rhine River is entering dry summer months with water levels at their lowest in two decades ... After spring showers failed to show in Germany, the official water level at Kaub — a key chokepoint near Frankfurt — dropped to around 1 meter on June 3 ... fears of a repeat of disruption seen in 2018 when waters fell so low the river became impassable to industrial ships, severing downriver factories from North Sea ports ... Forecasters have warned that Europe faces a tinder-dry summer ... Rhine waters have dropped 40% since the start of April.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-06-06/europe-s-most-important-river-dangerously-low-as-summer-starts

Sunbathing in Siberia: global heatwave rings alarm bells
Sunbathing is not the first thing that comes to mind when considering Siberia, the vast, sparsely populated Russian region stretching up to the Arctic that is, for much of the year, covered in snow. Yet recently this icy realm of birch forests and prison camps has been baking under an unprecedented heatwave – and people have been soaking up the rays on their rooftops. “I’m Siberian-born and lived here for 60 years. I don’t remember a single spring like this,” said journalist Sergey Zubchuk ... temperatures were as high as 35C, about twice the average high in May.
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/sunbathing-in-siberia-global-heatwave-rings-alarm-bells-htltg56km

Peatland drainage in Southeast Asia adds to climate change
In less than three decades, most of Southeast Asia's peatlands have been wholly or partially deforested, drained, and dried out. This has released carbon that accumulated over thousands of years from dead plant matter, and has led to rampant wildfires that spew air pollution and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The startling prevalence of such rapid destruction of the peatlands, and their resulting subsidence, is revealed in a new satellite-based study conducted by researchers at MIT and in Singapore and Oregon. The research was published in the journal Nature Geoscience ... "Thirty years ago, or even 20 years ago, this land was covered with pristine rainforest with enormous trees," Harvey says, and that was still the case even when he began doing research in the area. "In 13 years, I've seen almost all of these rainforests just removed. There's almost none at all anymore."
https://phys.org/news/2020-06-peatland-drainage-southeast-asia-climate.html

New study reveals cracks beneath giant methane gushing craters
[There are] hundreds of massive, kilometer-wide craters on the ocean floor in the Barents Sea. Today, more than 600 gas flares have been identified in and around these craters, releasing the greenhouse gas steadily into the water column ... The most recent study in Scientific Reports looks into the depths far beneath these craters ... "It turns out that this area has a very old fault system—essentially, cracks in bedrock that likely formed 250 million years ago ... the methane that is leaking through the seafloor originates from these deep structures."
https://phys.org/news/2020-06-reveals-beneath-giant-methane-gushing.html

Only a fifth of ice-free land on Earth has very little human influence
After excluding the estimated 10 per cent of Earth that is currently ice-covered land such as Antarctica and most of Greenland, or glaciers elsewhere in the world [researchers] found that [only] 21 per cent of the remaining land on Earth has very low human influence ... “A global human influence map is critical to understand the extent and intensity of human pressures on Earth’s ecosystems.”
https://www.newscientist.com/article/2245343-only-a-fifth-of-ice-free-land-on-earth-has-very-little-human-influence/
reporting on a study at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/gcb.15109

Arctic Circle As Hot As Hong Kong Average Temperatures
In the last week of May, parts of the Arctic Circle recorded temperatures on par with the average monthly temperature in Hong Kong. North Central Siberia, for instance, saw temperatures climb as high as 26 degrees Celsius. Scientists have raised concerns about thawing Arctic permafrost that will release stored greenhouse gases, further accelerating the rate of global heating ... temperatures have been inching higher and higher every year as global heating continues unabated ...  could mean the thawing of Arctic permafrost – the permanently frozen soil located across the Arctic region that stores massive amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Once melted, these gases will be unlocked and released into the atmosphere in a process called “carbon feedback”, exacerbating what is already a severe climate crisis.
https://www.greenqueen.com.hk/parts-of-arctic-circle-were-as-hot-as-hong-kong-average-temperatures-may-2020/

Coronavirus is an ‘SOS signal for the human enterprise’
The coronavirus pandemic is an “SOS signal for the human enterprise”, according to a leading economist and the United Nation’s environment chief ... ongoing destruction of nature has been blamed as the fundamental driver of diseases that cross from wildlife into humans. In April, the world’s leading biodiversity experts said even more deadly disease outbreaks were likely unless the destruction is halted. Dasgupta is leading a major review on the economics of biodiversity for the UK government, due to be published later in 2020, and Anderson is an adviser ... “Covid-19 is an SOS signal for the human enterprise, bringing into sharp focus the need to live within the planet’s ‘safe operating space’, and the disastrous environmental, health and economic consequences of failing to do so,” said Dasgupta and Anderson.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/05/coronavirus-is-an-sos-signal-for-the-human-enterprise

High Temperatures Set Off Major Greenland Ice Melt — Again
A significant melt event is unfolding in Greenland this week. With temperatures nearly 20 degrees Fahrenheit higher than usual in some areas, the southern part of the ice sheet is melting at its highest rate this season ... Early melting this spring, low snowpack in some areas and the potential for strong high-pressure weather systems later this summer have all raised red flags. Scientists are paying close attention after last summer’s record-breaking ice loss—an event scientists expect to occur more frequently as the Arctic continues to warm.
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/high-temperatures-set-off-major-greenland-ice-melt-again/

Here be methane: Scientists investigate the origins of a gaping permafrost crater
Permafrost, which amounts to two thirds of the Russian territory, is a huge natural reservoir of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. As the Arctic warms and permafrost degrades due to climate change, scientists are concerned that this methane may start leaking into the atmosphere in massive amounts, further exacerbating global warming. Right now methane is already quietly seeping from underground in the Arctic ... "Cryovolcanism [is] an explosion involving rocks, ice, water and gases that leaves behind a crater. It is a potential threat to human activity in the Arctic, and ... also contribute to the rising concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere."
https://phys.org/news/2020-06-methane-scientists-gaping-permafrost-crater.html

‘Collapse of civilisation is the most likely outcome’: top climate scientists
Australia’s top climate scientist says “we are already deep into the trajectory towards collapse” of civilisation, which may now be inevitable because 9 of the 15 known global climate tipping points that regulate the state of the planet have been activated ... “Given the momentum in both the Earth and human systems, and the growing difference between the ‘reaction time’ needed to steer humanity towards a more sustainable future, and the ‘intervention time’ left to avert a range of catastrophes in both the physical climate system (e.g., melting of Arctic sea ice) and the biosphere (e.g., loss of the Great Barrier Reef), we are already deep into the trajectory towards collapse. That is, the intervention time we have left has, in many cases, shrunk to levels that are shorter than the time it would take to transition to a more sustainable system” ... This is not a unique view – leading Stanford University biologists, who were first to reveal that we are already experiencing the sixth mass extinction on Earth, released new research this week showing species extinctions are accelerating in an unprecedented manner, which may be a tipping point for the collapse of human civilisation ... “[T]his is an existential threat to civilization,” they wrote. “No amount of economic cost–benefit analysis is going to help us ... The evidence from tipping points alone suggests that we are in a state of planetary emergency: both the risk and urgency of the situation are acute.” Steffen is also the lead author of the heavily cited 2018 paper, Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene, where he found that “even if the Paris Accord target of a 1.5°C to 2°C rise in temperature is met, we cannot exclude the risk that a cascade of feedbacks could push the Earth System irreversibly onto a ‘Hothouse Earth’ pathway” ... Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director emeritus and founder of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, believes if we go much above 2°C we will quickly get to 4°C anyway because of the tipping points and feedbacks, which would spell the end of human civilisation ... Schellnhuber, one of the world’s leading authorities on climate change, said that if we continue down the present path “there is a very big risk that we will just end our civilisation." 
https://voiceofaction.org/collapse-of-civilisation-is-the-most-likely-outcome-top-climate-scientists/

Australia among global 'hot spots' as droughts worsen in warming world
The world's major food baskets will experience more extreme droughts than previously forecast as greenhouse gases rise, with southern Australia among the worst-hit, climate projections show. Scientists at the Australian National University and the University of NSW made the findings after running the latest generation of climate models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Future drought changes were larger and more consistent, the researchers found.
https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/australia-among-global-hot-spots-as-droughts-worsen-in-warming-world-20200601-p54ydh.html

Australia’s Water Is Vanishing
Murray-Darling Basin is supposed to be Australia’s agricultural heartland [but] today the Murray-Darling is at the leading edge of something very different: a series of crises that could soon envelop river systems in Africa, South Asia, and the American West, as temperatures rise and economies compete for strained supplies. The area has spent most of the past several years in a drought so savage that it completely dried out sections of the Darling for months at a time ... an historic shift driven by man-made climate change, with less-predictable rainfall reducing the amount of water flowing into the system and higher temperatures rapidly evaporating what does arrive ... predictions indicate that, as the planet warms, the basin’s droughts will only grow longer and more severe.
https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2020-australia-drought-water-crisis/

High Risk of Widespread Wildfires Across Europe This Year, EU Says
The European Union expects dry weather to cause unusually widespread wildfires in Europe over the coming months, including in the central and northern regions that tend to be less at risk, the EU's crisis management commissioner said on Tuesday. After above-average European spring temperatures, forest fires have already broken out in recent days in Sweden and northern France, data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) show. This is in addition to fires in Italy and Portugal, which are vulnerable because of their warmer climate. The Commission, the EU executive arm, expects the situation will get much worse over Europe's summer.
https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2020-06-02/high-risk-of-widespread-wildfires-across-europe-this-year-eu-says

Summers are growing longer due to climate change, while winters are dramatically shrinking
The Earth is warming and disturbing the balance of the seasons ... most locations globally, including in the United States and Canada, have seen their summer season lengthen and the winter season shrink ... finding of longer summers and shorter winters is consistent with the findings of a March study from the Australia Institute, titled Out of Season. It conducted a similar analysis, focused on Australia, examining changes in the seasons over two consecutive 20-year time spans. Like the analysis performed here, it found a dramatic increase in the length of summer and decrease in the length of winter between the two periods.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2020/06/01/summers-are-growing-longer-due-climate-change-while-winters-dramatically-shrink/

Football pitch-sized area of tropical rainforest lost every six seconds
Nearly 12m hectares of tree cover was lost across the tropics, including nearly 4m hectares of dense, old rainforest that held significant stores of carbon and had been home to a vast array of wildlife, according to data from the University of Maryland. Beyond the tropics, Australia’s devastating bushfires led to a sixfold increase in tree cover loss across the continent in 2019 ... loss of trees in the tropics was the third worst recorded since data was first collected in 2002, trailing behind only 2016 and 2017. The heaviest reduction continues to be in Brazil, which accounted for more than a third of all humid tropical forest loss.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jun/02/football-pitch-area-tropical-rainforest-lost-every-six-seconds

The sixth mass extinction is happening faster than expected. Scientists say it's our fault
The sixth mass extinction is not a worry for the future. It's happening now, much faster than previously expected, and it's entirely our fault ... the findings published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) show that the rate at which species are dying out has accelerated in recent decades ... Later this year, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity is expected to set new global goals to combat the ongoing biodiversity crisis in the coming decades. At a 2010 summit in Japan, the United Nations set similar targets. But the world failed to meet most of those 2020 goals and now faces unprecedented extinction rates, threatened ecosystems and severe consequences for human survival.
https://edition.cnn.com/2020/06/01/world/sixth-mass-extinction-accelerating-intl/index.html
reporting on a study at https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/05/27/1922686117

The Rush to Sock Away Glacier Ice Before It All Melts
From the Alps to the Andes, glaciers that have stood for thousands of years are melting. And as the ice disappears, so does a unique archive. Locked within are traces of the atmosphere as it was when the glacier formed: bubbles of gas that indicate past levels of carbon dioxide, sulphur and nitrogen pollutants, and even specks of pollen. For scientists interested in ecosystems and climate, glacier ice is a vital repository of clues. It’s probably too late to save most of the glaciers outside the polar regions ... “We need to preserve these really important archives, because they are melting away,” Margit Schwikowski, an environmental chemist at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland, says. “It’s really obvious if you go to the glaciers that they are suffering. It’s happening everywhere on Earth.”
https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2020/05/glacier-melt-antarctica-vault/612343/

Tanker crosses Russian Arctic route without icebreaker assistance
The sea ice along the Russian Arctic coast is quickly vanishing as temperatures in the region have been reaching record highs. With the retreating ice comes tanker traffic ... earliest east-bound shipment on the route ever for this kind of vessel ... now only one-year old ice along the whole route contrary to last year when a belt of multi-year old ice covered parts of the East Siberian Sea ... Ice layers on the Northern Sea Route have shrunk dramatically over a number of years.
https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/industry-and-energy/2020/05/tankers-cross-russian-arctic-route-without-icebreaker-assistance

It Hit 80 Degrees in the Arctic This Week
A little farther south, in Siberia — you know, the region of world we reference when we want to connote something cold — it was 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Arctic sea ice in the neighboring Kara Sea took the deepest May nose dive ever recorded ... an explosive heat wave that has rippled across the Arctic this week. Models forecast temperatures there will be as much as 36 degrees Fahrenheit above normal for this time of year ... wildfires continue to spread ... other seas that ring the Arctic have also been losing ice ... Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the globe, and what’s happening there is unprecedented.
https://earther.gizmodo.com/it-hit-80-degrees-in-the-arctic-this-week-1843606717

Climate change in deep oceans could be seven times faster by middle of century, report says
Rates of climate change in the world’s ocean depths could be seven times higher than current levels by the second half of this century even if emissions of greenhouse gases were cut dramatically ... In the new research, scientists looked at a measure called climate velocity – the speed at which species would need to move to stay within their preferred temperature range as different ocean layers warm. The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, found different parts of the ocean would change at different rates as the extra heat from increasing levels of greenhouse gases moved through the vast ocean depths.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/may/26/climate-change-in-deep-oceans-could-be-seven-times-faster-by-middle-of-century-report-says

Arctic Permafrost Moving Toward Crisis, Abrupt Thaw a Growing Risk: Studies
Until recently, scientists assumed global permafrost wouldn’t lose more than 10% of its carbon, and that this would occur over a drawn-out timescale. But when they pooled observations from more than 100 Arctic field sites in the Permafrost Carbon Network, they found that the permafrost likely released ... double that of past estimates ... In a 2015 study, scientists found that for every one degree C rise in Earth’s average temperature, permafrost may release the equivalent of 4 to 6 years-worth of oil, coal and natural gas emissions ...  when that carbon is released into the atmosphere it can come out as either carbon dioxide (C02) or methane (CH4), depending on whether the carbon stores were subject to aerobic or anaerobic respiration. The danger here: methane is far more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2.
https://earth.org/arctic-permafrost-abrupt-thaw-a-risk/
reporting on a study at https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/12/eaaw9883

Antarctic Ocean Reveals New Signs of Rapid Melt of Ancient Ice, Clues About Future Sea Level Rise
A study released today suggests that some of the continent's floating ice shelves can, during eras of rapid warming, melt back by six miles per year, far faster than any ice retreat observed by satellites. As global warming speeds up the Antarctic meltdown, the findings "set a new upper limit for what the worst-case might be," said lead author Julian Dowdeswell, director of the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge.
https://insideclimatenews.org/news/28052020/antarctic-ocean-ice-melt-climate-change
see also https://phys.org/news/2020-05-antarctic-ice-sheets-capable-retreating.html

Short-term tests validate long-term estimates of climate change
For a doubling of CO2 concentration from pre-industrial levels, some models predict an alarming long-term warming of more than 5 °C. But are these estimates believable? Writing in the Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, Williams et al have tested some of the revisions that have been made to one such model ... they support the estimates [and] carry a far-reaching message: we cannot afford to be complacent. It seems that cloud adjustment to climate change is not going to give us breathing space. Instead, we need to redouble our efforts to cut emissions.
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-01484-5

The Climate Crisis May Kickstart an El Niño System in the Indian Ocean for the First Time in Over 20 000 Years
Currently, the Indian Ocean sees little change in temperature year-on-year; the west-to-east winds tend to keep conditions stable. However, the models show that the climate crisis may reverse these winds, completely altering weather patterns in the region. The study shows that the rising temperatures of today are affecting the Indian Ocean in a similar way as the glaciers did tens of thousands of years ago. This could lead to increased flooding in some areas to longer dry spells in others, affecting massive parts of the world already feeling the effects of the crisis, as seen recently with the bushfires in Australia.
https://earth.org/el-nino-indian-ocean/

Climate change is turning parts of Antarctica green, say scientists
The British team behind the research believe these blooms will expand their range in the future because global heating is creating more of the slushy conditions they need to thrive. In some areas, the single-cell life-forms are so dense they turn the snow bright green and can be seen from space ... “This could potentially form new habitats. In some place, it would be the beginning of a new ecosystem,” said Matt Davey of Cambridge University, one of the scientists who led the study.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/20/climate-change-turning-parts-antarctica-green-say-scientists-algae

More dams will collapse as aging infrastructure can’t keep up with climate change
The collapse of two Michigan dams on Tuesday following heavy rainfall has triggered concerns over how precarious dam infrastructure in the U.S. is inadequate to handle severe weather. Aging dams will increasingly fail as climate change makes extreme precipitation and storms more frequent and intense, scientists warn. “A lot of the country’s infrastructure systems were built during a time when these kind of weather events were considered rare and didn’t present a significant threat,” said Hiba Baroud, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Vanderbilt University. “But things have changed. The climate has changed. These dams are aging and need to be maintained, upgraded and in the most extreme cases, the entire design must be revisited,” Baroud continued. “Otherwise, the situation like in Michigan will become more frequent in the future.” The 91,000 dams in the U.S. earned a “D” for safety in a 2017 report from the American Society of Civil Engineers.
https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/21/more-dams-will-collapse-as-aging-infrastructure-cant-keep-up-with-climate-change.html

Dam Failure Threatens a Dow Chemical Complex and Superfund Cleanup
Floodwaters from two breached dams in Michigan on Wednesday flowed into a sprawling Dow chemical complex and threatened a vast Superfund toxic-cleanup site downriver, raising concerns of wider environmental fallout from the dam disaster and historic flooding. The compound ... also houses the chemical giant’s world headquarters ...  floodwaters had reached the Dow site’s outer boundaries and had flowed into retaining ponds ...  contaminated sediments on the river floor could be stirred up by the floodwaters, spreading pollution downstream and over the riverbanks ... the Dow complex has manufactured a range of products including Saran Wrap, Styrofoam, Agent Orange and mustard gas. Over time, Dow released chemicals into the water, leading to dioxin contamination stretching more than 50 miles along the Tittabawassee and Saginaw Rivers and into Lake Huron ... The threat to the Dow complex highlights the risks to Superfund and other toxic cleanup sites posed by the effects of climate change, which include more frequent and severe flooding. A federal report published last year found that 60 percent of Superfund sites overseen by the E.P.A., or more than 900 toxic sites countrywide, are in areas that may be affected by flooding or wildfires, both hazards that may be exacerbated by climate change.
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/20/climate/michigan-dam-dow-chemical-superfund.html

America’s Patchwork Pandemic Is Fraying Even Further
Meanwhile, most states have begun lifting the social-distancing restrictions that had temporarily slowed the pace of the pandemic, creating more opportunities for the virus to spread. Its potential hosts are still plentiful: Even in the biggest hot spots, most people were not infected and remain susceptible. Further outbreaks are likely ... Americans should expect neither a swift return to normalcy nor a unified national experience, with an initial spring wave, a summer lull, and a fall resurgence. “The talk of a second wave as if we’ve exited the first doesn’t capture what’s really happening,” says Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security ... the COVID-19 pandemic is most like a very rapid version of climate change—global in its scope, erratic in its unfolding, and unequal in its distribution. And like climate change, there is no easy fix. Our choices are to remake society or let it be remade, to smooth the patchworks old and new or let them fray even further.
https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/05/patchwork-pandemic-states-reopening-inequalities/611866/

The coronavirus recession will become a long depression unless federal policymakers act now
By mid-April, the labor market had shed more than 20 million jobs, by far the most dramatic job loss on record—about two and a half times the job loss of the entire Great Recession. And the situation continues to deteriorate ... even though that is the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression, it is not actually reflecting all coronavirus-related job losses. In fact, only about half of people who are out of work as a result of the virus are showing up as unemployed ...  if the federal government doesn’t act, then those furloughs will turn into permanent layoffs and the country will face an extended period of high unemployment.
https://www.epi.org/blog/the-coronavirus-recession-will-become-a-long-depression-unless-federal-policymakers-act-now/

Epidemiologists brace for 2nd wave of COVID-19 — and it may come in September
"Until we get the vaccine, I don't think we can really avoid the second wave," said Rama Nair, an expert in epidemiology with 40 years' experience as a teacher and researcher ... The curve of infections "hasn't flattened because it's gone through our community, it's flattened because we've distanced. We've slowed it down," Manuel said ... "There is potentially a tsunami happening," said the professor, who models infectious diseases. His estimates, like other epidemiological models, predict another wave of COVID-19 by late summer.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/second-wave-covid-19-1.5570905

The Arctic Is Unraveling as a Massive Heat Wave Grips the Region
The warmth is helping to spread widespread wildfires and to kickstart ice melt season early, both ominous signs of what summer could hold ... Russia had its hottest winter ever recorded, driven largely by Siberian heat. That heat hasn’t let up as the calendar turns to spring. In fact, it’s intensified and spread across the Arctic. Last month was the hottest April on record for the globe, driven by high Arctic temperatures that averaged an astounding 17 degrees Fahrenheit (9.4 degrees Celsius) above normal ... Martin Stendel, a climate scientist at the Danish Meteorological Institute, told the Washington Post that the mid-May warmth is “quite extraordinary...there is no similar event so early in the season.” Siberia has been one of the blistering hot spots on the globe all year, and heat is pushing out of the region and traversing the Arctic ... [also] massive wildfires raging in Siberia. The region has quietly been ablaze since last month, and flames have continued to spread across millions of acres. While most have burned below the Arctic Circle—or 66.5 degrees North—the warmth has allowed at least some flames to spread north of it.
https://earther.gizmodo.com/the-arctic-is-unraveling-as-a-massive-heat-wave-grips-t-1843519435

‘We Need to Hear These Poor Trees Scream’: Unchecked Global Warming Means Big Trouble for Forests
New studies show drought and heat waves will cause massive die-offs, killing most trees alive today. The study, published April 17 in the journal Science, reviewed the last 10 years of research on tree mortality, concluding that forests are in big trouble if global warming continues at the present pace. Most trees alive today won't be able to survive in the climate expected in 40 years ... "The review ends on a hard note, with high confidence that we're going to have a lot of impacts with hotter droughts in the future," he said. Mass forest die-offs will proliferate and expand. The trend toward more extreme heat waves and droughts is lethal for forests ... At the current pace of warming, much of the world will be inhospitable to forests as we know them within decades.
https://insideclimatenews.org/news/24042020/forest-trees-climate-change-deforestation

Hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones are becoming stronger, according to a new NOAA study
Hurricanes, typhoons, and tropical cyclones worldwide are becoming stronger and potentially more deadly as the globe warms due to the climate crisis, according to a new study ... A current example of what the study says is happening more frequently can be found in the Bay of Bengal, where Super Cyclone Amphan has reached the top of the scale ... the strongest storm on record in the Bay of Bengal, according to data from the US Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
https://edition.cnn.com/2020/05/18/weather/climate-change-hurricane-tropical-cyclone/index.html

Dangerous humid heat extremes occurring decades before expected
Climate models project[ed] that combinations of heat and humidity could reach deadly thresholds for anyone spending several hours outdoors by the end of the 21st century. However, new research says these extremes are already happening — decades before anticipated — due to global warming to date. The study, “The emergence of heat and humidity too severe for human tolerance,” published today in Science Advances shows for the first time that some locations have already reported combined heat and humidity [wetbulb] extremes above humans’ survivability limit. Dangerous extremes only a few degrees below this limit have occurred thousands of times globally ... “I believe that humid heat is the most underestimated direct, local risk of climate change,” said Radley Horton, a Columbia University professor and lead of NOAA's Urban Northeast RISA team who co-authored the study. “As with sea level rise and coastal flooding, we are already locked into large increases in the frequency and intensity of extreme humid heat events, and the risk is much larger than most people appreciate.”
https://research.noaa.gov/article/ArtMID/587/ArticleID/2621/Dangerous-humid-heat-extremes-occurring-decades-before-expected
reporting on a study at https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/19/eaaw1838

Heat and Humidity Are Already Reaching the Limits of Human Tolerance
As heat waves grow hotter and more frequent, research has suggested some places will begin to see events that reach that limit of human tolerance in the coming decades. But now a new study shows they already have. The findings, published on Friday in Science Advances, underscore the need to rapidly curtail emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases and develop policies that will help vulnerable populations stay cool. High temperatures prompt the human body to produce sweat, which cools the skin as it evaporates. But when sky-high humidity is also involved, evaporation slows down and eventually stops. That point comes when the so-called the wet-bulb temperature—a measure that combines air temperature and humidity—reaches 35 degrees Celsius ... [this study] found that extreme humid heat occurs twice as often now as it did four decades ago and that the severity of this heat is increasing. Many places have hit wet-bulb temperatures of 31 degrees C and higher. And several have recorded readings above the crucial 35C mark ... in the same places that earlier modeling studies had identified as future hotspots.
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/heat-and-humidity-are-already-reaching-the-limits-of-human-tolerance/

Climate change makes repeat 'Dust Bowl' twice as likely
Due to global warming, the United States is today more than twice as likely to endure a devastating "dust bowl" scenario than during the Great Depression ... the signature of human-induced climate change is unmistakable ... "If extreme heatwaves and drought reduce the vegetation as they did in the 1930s, heatwaves could become even stronger" ... A study last month in the journal Science concluded that the western United States has likely entered a period of megadrought—the fourth in 1,200 years—that could last decades, even a century. Globally, 19 out of 20 of the warmest years on record have occurred this century.
https://phys.org/news/2020-05-climate-bowl.html

'Promiscuous treatment of nature' will lead to more pandemics – scientists
Deforestation and other forms of land conversion are driving exotic species out of their evolutionary niches and into manmade environments, where they interact and breed new strains of disease, the experts say. Three-quarters of new or emerging diseases that infect humans originate in animals, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but it is human activity that multiplies the risks of contagion.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/may/07/promiscuous-treatment-of-nature-will-lead-to-more-pandemics-scientists

Stuck at home, Europeans face a summer of sweltering temperatures and drought, scientists predict
Hotter and drier weather is highly likely to stretch across key agricultural regions in the European Union, potentially compounding drought conditions that have been made worse by climate change ... According to EU studies published last month, persistent drought that’s stressing production of crops like wheat and corn is threatening to disrupt food output ... Europeans won’t be alone in feeling record summer temperatures ... large sections of the U.S. east and west coasts will record well-above-average temperatures in July.
https://fortune.com/2020/05/16/europe-summer-2020-drought-heat-wave-forecast/

The arctic melts when plants stop breathing
The vapor that plants emit when they breathe serves to lower land surface temperature ... the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration closes the pores (stomata) of plants in high-latitude areas and reduces their transpiration, which ultimately accelerates Arctic warming ... During [photosynthesis] the stomata of leaves open to absorb CO2 in the air and release moisture [but] when the CO2 concentration rises, plants can absorb enough CO2 without opening their stomata widely. If the stomata open narrowly, the amount of water vapor released also decreases. When this transpiration of plants declines, the land temperature rapidly rises under greenhouse warming. Recently, such a decrease in transpiration has been cited as one of the reasons for the surge in heat waves in the northern hemisphere.
https://phys.org/news/2020-05-revolt-arctic.html

Can't 'See' Sea Level Rise? You're Looking in the Wrong Place
An eroding beach can lose several feet of sand a year ... since it occurs relatively slowly, it can be easy to think it’s not happening. But as oceanographer and climate scientist Josh Willis of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, told me, if you’re not seeing it, you’re just not looking in the right place. “Each year, global warming is currently adding about 750 gigatonnes of water to the ocean ... that flood that you used to be protected from is now wiping you out” ... In many places, sea level rise has rendered sea walls erected decades ago to handle 100-year floods inadequate ... “We’ve had such a large amount of sea level rise in the past century that we’re now nearing a tipping point,” said Ben Hamlington, a research scientist in JPL’s Sea Level and Ice Group.
https://climate.nasa.gov/blog/2974/cant-see-sea-level-rise-youre-looking-in-the-wrong-place/

Record global carbon dioxide concentrations despite COVID-19 crisis
Over the past few weeks there have been many reports of localized air quality improvements [but] no one should think that the climate crisis is therefore over ... owing to anthropogenic CO2 emissions (emissions from human activities), CO2 concentrations are not only increasing, but accelerating [even as] vehicular and air traffic, as well as industrial activity, has reduced sharply in most parts of the world since January 2020.
https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/record-global-carbon-dioxide-concentrations-despite-covid-19-crisis

Drop in pollution may bring hotter weather and heavier monsoons
With fewer [aerosol masking] particles and polluting gases to hinder its path, more sunlight is able to reach the Earth’s surface. Earlier this year, scientists confirmed that cleaner skies in recent decades have caused a brightening of the Earth’s surface ... “Aerosols can scatter and absorb radiation. They can also modify clouds to make them more reflective and longer lived,” explains Laura Wilcox, a climate scientist at the University of Reading. Unlike carbon dioxide, aerosols only hang around in the atmosphere for a week or two, meaning that any reduction in pollution will be quickly felt. “With smaller amounts of aerosol in the atmosphere we will already be seeing more solar radiation reaching the surface, and thus potentially warmer surface temperatures in regions that usually have high levels of air pollution,” says Wilcox ... In the most extreme scenarios (with rapid increases in air quality) their results suggest the hottest day of the year may be up to 4C hotter by 2050, with around one third of that increase due to cleaner skies.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/13/drop-in-pollution-may-bring-hotter-weather-and-heavier-monsoons

The Planet Is Probably in Worse Shape Than We Can Even Predict
The first climate models, developed in the 1960s, were eerily accurate: They correctly predicted how much hotter the world would be today given the increase in greenhouse gas emissions [but] today’s climate models might not be as good at predicting the next fifty years [because] the facts on the ground are changing so fast ... “If you watch how the reports have changed,” said Jessica Hellman, the director of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, “more of our errors have tended to be underestimations of how bad things could be.” Some of the newest climate models, generated last year with the most detailed data to date, reveal a hotter, less-predictable future. “I think there does seem to be a change in this new generation of models — and it could be really bad, bad news,” said Kate Marvel, a climate scientist at Columbia University and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/ep4gyw/the-planet-is-probably-in-worse-shape-than-we-can-even-predict

As ice melts, emperor penguins march toward extinction
What the emperor penguins won’t easily get used to is diminishing—and possibly disappearing—sea ice, which provides a stable breeding platform and base from which they can hunt for food in surrounding waters ... “Under a business-as-usual scenario, emperor penguins are marching towards extinction,” says Stéphanie Jenouvrier, a seabird biologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. Her team’s research indicates that if carbon emissions remain unchecked, 80 percent of the emperor colonies could be gone by 2100, leaving little hope for the species’ survival. Average global temperature is on track to increase by three to five degrees Celsius (5.4 to nine degrees Fahrenheit) by then.
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2020/06/as-ice-melts-emperor-penguins-march-toward-extinction-feature/

California’s mountain snow cover is vanishing a month early, in a worrying setup for fire season
On Monday, California fire officials gathered to launch the state’s annual Wildfire Preparedness Week. The message they delivered was clear: Summer 2020 would not mimic summer 2019, when wildfires mostly remained small and manageable into August. “Last year you’ll remember we had a lot of snow in the mountains, a lot of late-season rain, and we had a slow start to our fire season,” Cal Fire Director Thom Porter said at the news event. “That’s not going to be the same this year.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2020/05/08/california-snowpack-fire-season/

Sierra snow pack is 3% of May average: Here's what that means
At Phillips Station off U.S. 50 near Sierra-at-Tahoe, they found the snow was 3% of its average for the date. The finding is yet another indicator of this year's dry winter. In contrast, the measurement taken at this spot at this time in 2019 was 188% of average ... readings from stations across the entire length of the Sierra [show] the statewide snowpack is 37% of average, compared to 144% last year. These numbers may sound a little more promising, but, "Obviously it was a dry year," Orrock said. The Sierra snowpack is one of California's most important water sources.
https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Sierra-snow-pack-survey-Phillips-Station-15238494.php

‘Summer is not going to make this go away’: Temperature has little or no impact on spread of coronavirus, new study suggests
Scientists say warm weather is unlikely to greatly hamper the spread of coronavirus ... Dr Peter Juni, of the University of Toronto, said in a press release that the team found little or no link between infection spread and temperature or latitude, and only a weak association with humidity.
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/coronavirus-summer-temperature-warm-hot-spread-study-pandemic-a9506201.html
reporting on a study at https://www.cmaj.ca/content/cmaj/early/2020/05/08/cmaj.200920.full.pdf

Potentially fatal combinations of humidity and heat are emerging across the globe
The study identifies thousands of previously rare or unprecedented bouts of extreme heat and humidity in Asia, Africa, Australia, South America and North America, including in the U.S. Gulf Coast region. Along the Persian Gulf, researchers spotted more than a dozen recent brief outbreaks surpassing the theoretical human survivability limit. The outbreaks have so far been confined to localized areas and lasted just hours, but they are increasing in frequency and intensity, say the authors. The study appears this week in the journal Science Advances. "Previous studies projected that this would happen several decades from now, but this shows it's happening right now ... The times these events last will increase, and the areas they affect will grow in direct correlation with global warming." ... Prior studies suggest that even the strongest, best-adapted people cannot carry out normal outdoor activities when the wet bulb hits 32 C, equivalent to a heat index of 132 F. Most others would crumble well before that. A reading of 35 C -- the peak briefly reached in the Persian Gulf cities -- is considered the theoretical survivability limit ... many people in the poorer countries most at risk do not have electricity, never mind air conditioning. There, many rely on subsistence farming requiring daily outdoor heavy labor. These facts could make some of the most affected areas basically uninhabitable.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/05/200508145333.htm

Record temperatures and dry weather have sparked more than a dozen wildfires in Florida
Florida is known for its hot weather, but this year has been exceptionally torrid. In April, South Florida hit June-like temperatures ... All that heat has resulted in wildfires, with the Florida Panhandle among the hardest hit areas. Last week, blazes prompted evacuations and road closures, including sections of Interstate 10 near Pensacola ... A lack of rain across Florida has also contributed to the wildfires. So far this year, Orlando and West Palm Beach are 7 inches below normal for rainfall. Daytona and Fort Myers are not far behind, with deficits hovering around 6 inches.
https://edition.cnn.com/2020/05/10/weather/record-temperatures-florida-wildfires/index.html

Juneau hits record high and Fairbanks hits 70 degrees for the first time this year
The Juneau Airport reached 76 degrees as of 3 p.m. on Saturday. This is not only the first 70 degree or higher temperature for the year, it also breaks the previous May 9 record of 73 degrees set in 2014 ... Fairbanks International Airport also reached 70 degrees for the first time this year ... On average, Anchorage sees its first 70 degrees temperature around June 6.
https://www.ktuu.com/content/news/Juneau-hits-record-high-and-Fairbanks-hits-70-degrees-for-the-first-time-this-year-570343371.html

A Pandemic That Cleared Skies and Halted Cities Isn’t Slowing Global Warming
In some ways, the dire lockdowns undertaken to stop Covid-19 have fast-forwarded us into an unlikely future—one with almost impossibly bold climate action taken all at once, no matter the cost. Just months ago it would have been thought impossible to close polluting factories virtually overnight and slash emissions from travel by keeping billions at home. Now we know that clear skies and silent streets can come about with shocking speed ... Global demand for energy is set to fall by 6%, seven times the decline seen after the global financial crisis of 2008, according to the IEA’s forecast. In absolute terms the drop is unprecedented—the equivalent to losing the entire energy demand of India for one year ... [But] what makes the breathtaking, planetary-scale transformations wrought by the pandemic so unsettling is that none of it registers in the biggest picture. The photographs of clear skies, the charts of falling emissions, the change in daily behavior by billions of people—none of this will slow the dangerous pace of global warming ... Even a 10% drop in emissions from this year would still translate to an increase of 2 ppm in the CO₂ count ... “Because of the inertia in the climate system, even if we were to significantly reduce or stop our emissions today, you would still see the increase in temperatures expected for the next 20 years almost unaffected” ... If an unprecedented event sweeps the planet and inadvertently reduces emissions by more than modern-day humans have ever managed to do intentionally [yet the climate still deteriorates], what does that mean for our climate goals?
https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2020-how-coronavirus-impacts-climate-change/

The Congo rainforest is losing ability to absorb carbon dioxide. That’s bad for climate change.
Scientists have determined that trees in the Congo Basin of central Africa are losing their capacity to absorb carbon dioxide, raising alarms about the health of the world’s second-largest contiguous rainforest and its ability to store greenhouse gases linked to climate change. A study published Wednesday in the journal Nature ... [suggested] that the decline in Africa may have been underway for a decade ... The study predicts that by 2030, the African jungle will absorb 14 percent less carbon dioxide than it did 10 to 15 years ago. By 2035, Amazonian trees won’t absorb any carbon dioxide at all, the researchers said. By the middle of the century, the remaining uncut tropical forests in Africa, the Amazon and Asia will release more carbon dioxide than they take up — the carbon “sink” will have turned into a carbon source ... The findings contradict models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and governments around the world, which predicted that the Congo Basin rainforest would continue to absorb carbon for many decades to come.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/the-congo-rainforest-is-losing-its-ability-to-absorb-carbon-dioxide-thats-bad-for-climate-change/2020/03/03/3363d218-5ca9-11ea-9055-5fa12981bbbf_story.html

With world distracted, the Amazon rainforest continues to burn
Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon hit a new high in the first four months of the year, according to data released Friday by Brazil’s National Space Research Institute ... 1,202 square kilometres of forest – an area more than 20 times the size of Manhattan – was wiped out in the Brazilian Amazon from January to April, it found. That was a 55 per cent increase from the same period last year, and the highest figure for the first four months of the year since monthly records began ... driven by record wildfires that raged across the Amazon from May to October, in addition to illegal logging, mining and farming on protected lands.
https://www.scmp.com/news/world/americas/article/3083623/world-distracted-amazon-rainforest-continues-burn

Heat and Humidity Near the Survivability Threshold: It’s Already Happening
Bolstering a decade of research on the risks of unprecedented heat and humidity from human-caused climate change, a new study finds evidence for more than a dozen cases of heat-humidity combinations that could be deadly if experienced for more than a few hours ... The study focuses on observations of wetbulb temperature, an indicator of how much a person would be able to cool off by sweating ... human skin temperature averages close to 35°C (95°F), wetbulb temperatures above that value would in theory prevent people from dispelling internal heat and potentially lead to fatal consequences within a few hours ... 14 examples of [brief] 35°C wet-bulb readings that have already occurred since 1979 in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates ... Extrapolating from the relationship between global warming and increasing wetbulb temperatures over the past four decades, the authors find that dangerous wetbulb readings will continue to spread across vulnerable parts of the world, affecting millions more people, as human-caused climate change unfolds. “The most important takeaway is the steepness of the trends ... It didn’t matter what level of extremeness we looked at or what part of the world—the trends were upward and very steep across all of those levels.”
https://www.wunderground.com/cat6/heat-and-humidity-near-the-survivability-threshold-its-already-happening
reporting on a study at https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/19/eaaw1838

Unsuitable for 'human life to flourish': Up to 3B will live in extreme heat by 2070, study warns
If global warming continues unchecked, the heat that's coming later this century in some parts of the world will bring "nearly unlivable" conditions for up to 3 billion people, a study released Monday said. The authors predict that by 2070, much of the world's population is likely to live in climate conditions that are "warmer than conditions deemed suitable for human life to flourish." ... exposed to average annual temperatures warmer than nearly anywhere today, the study said ... The study, which was prepared by an international research team of archaeologists, ecologists and climate scientists, was published Monday in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
https://usatoday.com/story/news/world/2020/05/04/world-heat-conditions-unlivable-global-warming-unabated/3063849001/

Facts: Global Temperature
Nineteen of the 20 warmest years all have occurred since 2001, with the exception of 1998. The year 2016 ranks as the warmest on record. (Source: NASA/GISS). This research is broadly consistent with similar constructions prepared by the Climatic Research Unit and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/global-temperature/

Unprecedented Clear Skies Drove Remarkable Melting in Greenland
In terms of melting, 2019 was one of the worst years for the Greenland Ice Sheet since measurements began ... there was a surface mass loss anomaly of about 320 gigatons of ice—enough water to fill 128 million Olympic-sized swimming pools. Lead author of the new study Marco Tedesco, a climate scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said that unusual atmospheric conditions in 2019 were important contributors to this record-breaking loss ... Eric Rignot, a glaciologist at the University of California, Irvine, not involved in the study, said that an enormous amount of the Greenland Ice Sheet is at high risk of melting. If this high-risk ice melted, he said, it would be enough to raise sea levels by 3 meters, or nearly 10 feet. In an even more severe scenario, if the entire ice sheet melted, sea level would rise by 7 meters, or nearly 23 feet, which would be catastrophic for many coastal cities ... “The two largest melt events in the past 500 years were recorded in 2012 and 2019,” he said. “This is telling us something.”
https://eos.org/articles/unprecedented-clear-skies-drove-remarkable-melting-in-greenland

How Climate Change Is Contributing to Skyrocketing Rates of Infectious Disease
Over the past few decades, the number of emerging infectious diseases that spread to people ... has skyrocketed. A new emerging disease surfaces five times a year. One study estimates that more than 3,200 strains of coronaviruses already exist among bats, awaiting an opportunity to jump to people. The diseases may have always been there ... But until now, the planet’s natural defense systems were better at fighting them off. Today, climate warming is demolishing those defense systems, driving a catastrophic loss in biodiversity that, when coupled with reckless deforestation and aggressive conversion of wildland for economic development, pushes farms and people closer to the wild and opens the gates for the spread of disease ...  it’s only a matter of time before other exotic animal-driven pathogens are driven from the forests of the global tropics to the United States or Canada or Europe because of the warming climate.
https://www.propublica.org/article/climate-infectious-diseases

Climate Change Could Reawaken Indian Ocean El Niño
Global warming is approaching a tipping point that during this century could reawaken an ancient climate pattern similar to El Niño in the Indian Ocean ... Computer simulations of climate change during the second half of the century show that global warming could disturb the Indian Ocean’s surface temperatures, causing them to rise and fall year to year much more steeply than they do today. The seesaw pattern ...  could emerge as early as 2050. The results, which were published May 6 in the journal Science Advances, build on a 2019 paper by many of the same authors ... “Greenhouse warming is creating a planet that will be completely different from what we know today, or what we have known in the 20th century.”
https://news.utexas.edu/2020/05/06/climate-change-could-reawaken-indian-ocean-el-nino/

Why permafrost thawing in the Arctic matters to the whole planet
“A quarter of the lands in the Northern Hemisphere are underlain by permafrost, ground that’s perpetually frozen and has been in many cases for thousands of years,” he says. That permafrost stores an enormous amount of carbon because it holds so much organic matter. But as the climate warms, some permafrost is starting to thaw. “As that ground thaws, all of a sudden, microorganisms become active and they degrade that plant matter, that animal matter in the soil,” Kelly says. “And in that degradation process, it releases carbon dioxide and methane to the atmosphere.” That speeds up global warming, which could cause even more permafrost to thaw, accelerating the dangerous cycle. Kelly says it’s just one example of how the Arctic can affect the global climate. “The Arctic is, seemingly, to a lot of people’s minds, just this distant, not very consequential part of the world,” he says. “But it turns out it’s hugely consequential.”
https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2020/05/why-permafrost-thawing-in-the-arctic-matters-to-the-whole-planet/

Warming Caused a Glacier in Alaska to Collapse
At the time, scientists were unsure what triggered these sudden events. But a recent study offers some new insight. An unusually warm summer melted large volumes of ice in 2013. The meltwater pooled behind the cold tongue of ice at the front of the glacier, exerting more and more pressure as it built up. Finally, the pressure became too much. The tongue broke away from the rock below, and the ice went cascading down the mountain. The summer of 2015 was also warmer than average, although not so warm as 2013. But in its weakened state, the glacier was primed to crumble again ... these kinds of events could become a bigger threat as temperatures rise around the globe.
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/warming-caused-a-glacier-in-alaska-to-collapse/

Locusts, pandemics, floods: East Africa can’t catch a break
Already struggling with the twin crises of the coronavirus pandemic and a biblical scourge of locusts, the region is now being lashed by exceptionally heavy rainfall, causing floods that threaten life and livelihood from Ethiopia to Tanzania ... the trifecta of tribulations may well add up to a fourth: food scarcity ...  locusts are “invading the Eastern Africa region in exceptionally large swarms like never seen before.” The swarms are a product of climate change: Unusually wet weather over the past 18 months created perfect breeding conditions.
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2020/05/02/commentary/world-commentary/locusts-pandemics-floods-east-africa/

Grain price: Driest start to spring in western Europe
The European Commission released its crop monitoring bulletin on April 27, in which it reported that “western Europe had one of the driest starts to spring since 1979” ... Rain deficits were shown in large areas across mainland Europe and south-east England. Poland, Ukraine and Romania have had dry conditions since the end of winter.
https://www.agriland.co.uk/farming-news/grain-price-driest-start-to-spring-in-western-europe/

We Don't Want to Alarm Anyone, But a Large Amount of Siberia Is on Fire Right Now
Ten times as much territory was ablaze on April 27 compared to the same time last year ...  the fires have originated from a variety of sources, including out-of-control agricultural fires, arson, and untended campfires ... Currently, the area is undergoing unusually hot weather and strong winds, which as we saw earlier this year in Australia is a dangerous combination. NASA reports that winds on April 23 caused many of the fires used by locals to dry out grass to spread uncontrolled ... This is likely only the start of another intense fire season across the Northern Hemisphere.
https://www.sciencealert.com/so-i-don-t-want-to-alarm-anyone-but-a-huge-amount-of-siberia-is-on-fire

Ocean acidification prediction now possible years in advance
Previous studies have shown the ability to predict ocean acidity a few months out, but this is the first study to prove it is possible to predict variability in ocean acidity multiple years in advance ... researchers were able to capitalize on historical forecasts from a climate model developed at the National Center for Atmospheric Research [and] found that the climate model forecasts did an excellent job at making predictions of ocean acidity in the real world.
https://phys.org/news/2020-05-ocean-acidification-years-advance.amp

A New Model Is Predicting “One of the Most Active Atlantic Hurricane Seasons on Record”
The latest predictions come from Pennsylvania State University’s Earth System Science Center. Scientists there are calling for 20 named storms in the Atlantic this year (the 30-year average is 12) ... Models from Colorado State University, AccuWeather, the Weather Channel and the University of Arizona are also projecting above average numbers of storms (16, 14 to 18, 18, and 19, respectively).
https://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2020/04/30/active-hurricane-season-2020-forecast/

Alarm over deaths of bees from rapidly spreading viral disease
A viral disease that causes honey bees to suffer severe trembling, flightlessness and death within a week is spreading exponentially in Britain ...  Piles of dead individuals are found outside hives with whole colonies frequently wiped out by the disease. A team of scientists led by Prof Giles Budge of Newcastle University identified clusterings of the disease, with cases concentrated among apiaries run by professional beekeepers rather than amateur keepers.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/may/01/alarm-over-deaths-of-bees-from-rapidly-spreading-viral-disease

Warmest Oceans on Record Adds to Hurricanes, Wildfires Risks
Parts of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans all hit the record books for warmth last month ... “The entire tropical ocean is above average,” said Michelle L’Heureux, a forecaster at the U.S. Climate Prediction Center ...  the five warmest years in the world’s seas, as measured by modern instruments, have occurred over just the last half-dozen or so years. It’s “definitely climate-change related,” said Jennifer Francis, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-18/warmest-oceans-on-record-could-set-off-a-year-of-extreme-weather

Pacific Ocean 'blobs' will escalate loss of fish stocks, study says
A new study co-authored by a University of BC researcher predicts increased death rates for Pacific fish stocks from marine heat waves ... by 2050 the large masses of warm water may double the impact of climate change on species that are highly valued for fisheries ... "This is not a one-off event," said Cheung, who is the Canada research chair in ocean sustainability at the UBC Institute for Oceans and Fisheries.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/ubc-research-blob-marine-heat-waves-climate-change-fish-stocks-decline-cheung-1.5540702

Climate crisis will make insurance unaffordable for people who need it most
The climate crisis will make insurance unaffordable for many people, particularly those in regional areas, as the damage from extreme weather events increases ... calls for an urgent independent inquiry into the cost of insurance in light of heightened risks linked to global heating ... Murich Re, the world’s largest reinsurance company, last year told the Guardian that climate change could make cover for ordinary people unaffordable as it attributed US$24bn of losses from the Californian wildfires on human-induced heating.
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/apr/28/climate-crisis-will-make-insurance-unaffordable-for-people-who-need-it-most

British wildfires are getting more frequent. Here's what that means
According to the European Commission, which monitors wildfire activity through its European Forest Fire Information System, there were 79 fires larger than 25 hectares in 2018, rising to 137 fires in 2019. (Compare that to the years 2011 to 2017 when there were fewer than 100 fires altogether.) ... “Wildfires are moving north ... Northern France, Germany, Netherlands and Scandinavia are all seeing them. In a matter of years the UK will be ill prepared to handle wildfires.”
https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/environment-and-conservation/2020/04/british-wildfires-are-getting-more-frequent-heres-what-that

Wildfires in Siberia Bring More Challenges to Locked Down Area
Wildfires in Siberia, Russia, are bringing even more misery to an area which is already on lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. On April 23, 2020, strong winds helped to push fires set by locals to dry grass out of control. The regions of Kemerovo and Novosibirsk among others have been the hardest hit to date. Nine Siberian regions have been affected by these wildfires.
https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/goddard/2020/wildfires-in-siberia-bring-more-challenges-to-locked-down-area

Super-Polluting Methane Emissions Twice Federal Estimates in Permian Basin, Study Finds
The findings, published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, reaffirm the results of a recently released assessment and further call into question the climate benefits of natural gas. Using hydraulic fracturing, energy companies have increased oil production to unprecedented levels in the Permian basin in recent years. Methane, or natural gas, has historically been viewed as an unwanted byproduct to be flared, a practice in which methane is burned instead of emitted into the atmosphere.
https://insideclimatenews.org/news/22042020/permian-basin-methane-emissions-texas-new-mexico

Amazon Deforestation Accelerates as Coronavirus Pandemic Hinders Enforcement
With hundreds of environmental enforcement agents sidelined by the pandemic, deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon has increased to its fastest pace in years—and the season when clearing typically accelerates hasn’t even begun yet. Satellite data collected by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research from August 2019 through March show 2,031 square miles of new clearings, nearly the size of Delaware. The newly deforested area is 71% larger than the previous high for the equivalent period, which was recorded in 2016 and 2017.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/amazon-deforestation-accelerates-as-coronavirus-pandemic-hinders-enforcement-11587586399

Germany concerned at possibility of third straight drought year
Germany’s agriculture minister said on Wednesday she is concerned about the impact of continued dry weather on crops and that a third drought year could hit farms “incredibly hard”. Germany suffered droughts in 2018 and 2019 which caused harvest damage and loss of income, Agriculture Minister Julia Kloeckner said in a statement. The ground remains unusually dry.
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-harvest-drought/germany-concerned-at-possibility-of-third-straight-drought-year-idUSKCN2241NZ

Will the next great pandemic come from the permafrost?
In a 2017 paper, a team of Belgian researchers describe the threats to human health from microbes that were previously frozen in permafrost. “Over the past few years, there has been increasing evidence that the permafrost is a gigantic reservoir of ancient microbes or viruses that may come back to life” ... Evolutionary ecologist Ellen Decaestecker, who co-authored the 2017 paper, says the increasing encroachment of people into natural areas worldwide is presenting new opportunities for health crises. “We are changing the environment very fast at this moment in terms of habitat fragmentation and climate change ...The chance that [an outbreak] happens as a result of the combination of these factors is quite high.”
https://thenarwhal.ca/next-great-pandemic-permafrost/

Halt destruction of nature or suffer even worse pandemics, say world’s top scientists
The coronavirus pandemic is likely to be followed by even more deadly and destructive disease outbreaks ... most comprehensive planetary health check ever undertaken, which was published in 2019 by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) [said] human society was in jeopardy from the accelerating decline of the Earth’s natural life-support systems. In an article published on Monday, with Dr Peter Daszak, who is preparing the next IPBES assessment, they write: “Rampant deforestation, uncontrolled expansion of agriculture, intensive farming, mining and infrastructure development, as well as the exploitation of wild species have created a ‘perfect storm’ for the spillover of diseases.”
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/27/halt-destruction-nature-worse-pandemics-top-scientists

Slower-moving hurricanes will cause more devastation as world warms
A slow-moving tropical cyclone [does] more damage, because they batter structures for longer ... [This study] saw a marked slowdown as the world warms [which] will increase the risk of storms causing extreme flooding that, among other things, could break dams and spread pollution from factories and farms.
https://www.newscientist.com/article/2241444-slower-moving-hurricanes-will-cause-more-devastation-as-world-warms/
reporting on a study at https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/17/eaaz7610

Flooding will affect double the number of people worldwide by 2030
“[T]he numbers will be catastrophic,” according to the report. A total of 221 million people will be at risk, with the toll in cities costing $1.7tn yearly. When WRI first developed its flood modeling tool in 2014, the predictions felt “like a fantasy”, said Charlie Iceland, director of water initiatives at WRI. “But now we’re actually seeing this increase in magnitude of the damages in real time” ... Floods are getting worse because of the climate crisis, decisions to populate high-risk areas and land sinkage from the overuse of groundwater.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/23/flooding-double-number-people-worldwide-2030

Relentless record heat roasts south Florida while most of the Gulf Coast also is cooking
South Florida, in particular, has turned downright hot, obliterating long-standing records. On Monday, Miami experienced its hottest April day recorded, soaring to 97 degrees. Meteorologists say the steamy weather is linked to abnormally warm temperatures in the adjacent waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean and a persistent high pressure zone heating the air. But both the extent and intensity of the warmth is unprecedented in many areas and would likely not be happening without the influence of human-induced climate change ... Virtually every coastal city in the Florida Panhandle and peninsula has seen its warmest or second-warmest start to the year on record [and] most Gulf Coast areas have seen one of their top five warmest years.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2020/04/22/record-april-heat-miami-florida-gulf-coast/

Ice-free Arctic summers now very likely even with climate action
There is a risk the Arctic could be ice-free even in the dark, cold winter months, a possibility described as “catastrophic” ... “Alarmingly the models repeatedly show the potential for ice-free summers in the Arctic Ocean before 2050, almost irrespective of the measures taken to mitigate the effects of climate change,” said Ed Blockley, who leads the UK Met Office’s polar climate programme and was one of the team behind the new research. “The signal is there in all possible futures. This was unexpected and is extremely worrying.” The new research, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, uses the latest generation of climate models from 21 research institutes from around the world.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/21/ice-free-arctic-summers-now-very-likely-even-with-climate-action

An extraordinary “heatwave” will enter the Arctic region, raising temperatures more than 20°C above the long-term average
A remarkable situation is developing in the polar regions, as a strong pressure anomaly will transport warm air into the Arctic, rising temperatures into positive numbers over the North Pole, boosting the ice melt season ... The most important feature is the strong high pressure over Siberia. Together with the low-pressure system over the North Pole, they will create a “highway” from the south, transporting unseasonably warm temperatures directly north into the Arctic. But as the warmer air moves into the polar region, it pushes the colder air out of the way, into North America.
https://www.severe-weather.eu/global-weather/april-strong-arctic-warming-event-fa/

Will Florida be lost forever to the climate crisis?
From sea level rise to habitat loss, the effects of the climate crisis are on the verge of making south Florida uninhabitable
Few places on the planet are more at risk from the climate crisis than south Florida, where more than 8 million residents are affected by the convergence of almost every modern environmental challenge – from rising seas to contaminated drinking water, more frequent and powerful hurricanes, coastal erosion, flooding and vanishing wildlife and habitat.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/21/florida-climate-crisis-sea-level-habitat-loss

Extreme winters in Switzerland are becoming more frequent
[T]his winter became the warmest on record in Switzerland ... Comparing the pre-industrial period of 1871-1900 to the current period of 1991-2020, Swiss winters have become almost 2°C milder. In their 2019/2020 climate bulletin MeteoSwiss infers that the increase in the standard winter temperature, the extreme winters above 0°C, and the disappearance of really cold winters are clear signals of ongoing climate change.
https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/climate-change_extreme-winters-in-switzerland-are-becoming-more-frequent/45691658

Scientists confirm dramatic melting of Greenland ice sheet
The ice sheet melted at a near record rate in 2019, and much faster than the average of previous decades. Figures have suggested that in July alone surface ice declined by 197 gigatonnes – equivalent to about 80 million Olympic swimming pools ... climate models of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have not taken into account such unusual conditions. If such high pressure zones become a regular annual feature, future melting could be twice as high as currently predicted, a result that could have serious consequences for sea level rise.
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/apr/15/scientists-confirm-dramatic-melting-greenland-ice-sheet

Rapid deforestation of Brazilian Amazon could bring next pandemic: Experts
Nearly 25,000 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Brazil, with 1,378 deaths as of April 15, though some experts say this is an underestimate. Those figures continue growing, even as President Jair Bolsonaro downplays the crisis, calling it “no worse than a mild flu,” and places the economy above public health. Scientists warn that the next emergent pandemic could originate in the Brazilian Amazon if Bolsonaro’s policies continue to drive Amazon deforestation rates ever higher. Researchers have long known that new diseases typically arise at the nexus between forest and agribusiness, mining, and other human development.
https://news.mongabay.com/2020/04/rapid-deforestation-of-brazilian-amazon-could-bring-next-pandemic-experts/

Climate Change Is Stoking What May Be a Long-Term Megadrought in Western U.S.
Warming temperatures from human-produced climate change have exacerbated an otherwise moderate drought in the western United States and northwestern Mexico, leading to the worst two decades of drying in more than 400 years, argues a paper published in the journal Science on Thursday. The researchers found that the drying from 2000 to 2018 was on par with the driest 19-year periods found in tree-ring records over the last 1,200 years. What’s more, they add, this region could already be in the type of megadrought that can last for decades ... The team behind the study includes scientists from NOAA, NASA and four universities.
https://weather.com/news/climate/news/2020-04-16-climate-change-stoking-long-term-megadrought-western-us
reporting on a study at https://science.sciencemag.org/content/368/6488/314

2020 expected to be Earth's warmest year on record, scientists say
Federal scientists announced Thursday that 2020 has nearly a 75% chance of being the warmest year on record for the planet Earth ... Even if 2020 ends up not being the warmest year, NOAA said there's a 99.9% chance that 2020 will end among the five warmest years on record.
https://usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/04/16/global-warming-2020-expected-warmest-year-record-noaa-said/5144767002/

This is likely the last generation to see the Great Barrier Reef as humans have known it
For 500,000 years, the Great Barrier Reef has grown steadily in the cool, clear waters off Australia. But after surviving five glacial periods, the reef’s billions of inhabitants may not survive humanity. On March 26, the Reef endured its third major bleaching event in five years. Many of its corals sustained massive bleaching, even in the southern portion relatively untouched during the previous events.
https://qz.com/1834588/andrea-dutton-on-great-barrier-reef-as-humans-have-known-it-ending/

US to have major floods on daily basis unless sea-level rise is curbed – study
Flooding events that now occur in America once in a lifetime could become a daily occurrence along the vast majority of the US coastline if sea level rise is not curbed ... Within 30 years from now, these now-rare flooding events will become annual occurrences for more than 70% of the locations along the US coast according to the research published in Scientific Reports ... disruption caused by frequent flooding will threaten the habitability of much of the US coastline as it is already widely projected to do to many low-lying islands in the Pacific.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/16/us-climate-change-floods-sea-level-rise

Methane Levels Reach an All-Time High
Methane is roughly 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, and while it stays in the atmosphere for only around a decade, as opposed to centuries, like CO2, its continued rise poses a major challenge to international climate goals. “Here we are. It’s 2020, and it’s not only not dropping, it’s not level. In fact, it’s one of the fastest growth rates we’ve seen in the last 20 years,” said Drew Shindell, a climate scientist at Duke University.
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/methane-levels-reach-an-all-time-high/

Catastrophe 'a matter of time': Spring brings more fears for Missouri River flooding
The forecast is a veritable index of meteorological plagues: above-normal rainfall; greater than normal spring runoff; thoroughly saturated soils; and an aging system of nearly a thousand levees where nobody knows how many were damaged last year and in previous floods or how many were repaired ... “Some of them have been repaired, but from a total system perspective, I don’t think any of them are whole,” said Jud Kneuvean, the district’s chief of emergency management.
https://usatoday.com/story/news/2020/04/11/weather-forecast-rain-missouri-river-flooding/2963875001/

Wildlife Collapse From Climate Change Is Predicted to Hit Suddenly and Sooner
Scientists found a “cliff edge” instead of the slippery slope they expected.
The study predicted that large swaths of ecosystems would falter in waves, creating sudden die-offs that would be catastrophic not only for wildlife, but for the humans who depend on it. “For a long time things can seem OK and then suddenly they’re not,” said Alex L. Pigot, a scientist at University College London and one of the study’s authors. “Then, it’s too late to do anything about it because you’ve already fallen over this cliff edge.” ... When they examined the projections, the researchers were surprised that sudden collapses appeared across almost all species — fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals — and across almost all regions. 
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/15/climate/wildlife-population-collapse-climate-change.html

Entire Ecosystems Could Abruptly Go Extinct Within This Decade
Biodiversity loss is like a game of Jenga – if the world crosses certain temperature thresholds and enough species in an ecosystem die out, the whole structure can collapse. The authors found that due to the climate crisis, ecosystems could abruptly cross those thresholds in a matter of years ... many species within specific ecosystems will be subject to unprecedented temperatures at the same time, creating an “abrupt” disruption that could upend ecosystems completely ... "once temperatures rise to levels a species has never experienced, scientists have very limited evidence of their ability to survive.”
https://www.gizmodo.co.uk/2020/04/entire-ecosystems-could-abruptly-go-extinct-within-this-decade
see also https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/08/wildlife-destruction-not-a-slippery-slope-but-a-series-of-cliff-edges
reporting on a study at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2189-9 (see next entry)

The projected timing of abrupt ecological disruption from climate change
Here we use annual projections (from 1850 to 2100) of temperature and precipitation across the ranges of more than 30,000 marine and terrestrial species to estimate the timing of their exposure to potentially dangerous climate conditions. We project that future disruption of ecological assemblages as a result of climate change will be abrupt, because within any given ecological assemblage the exposure of most species to climate conditions beyond their realized niche limits occurs almost simultaneously. Under a high-emissions scenario (representative concentration pathway (RCP) 8.5), such abrupt exposure events begin before 2030 in tropical oceans and spread to tropical forests and higher latitudes by 2050 ... These results highlight the impending risk of sudden and severe biodiversity losses from climate change and provide a framework for predicting both when and where these events may occur.
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2189-9

New, larger wave of locusts threatens millions in Africa
Billions of the young desert locusts are winging in from breeding grounds in Somalia in search of fresh vegetation springing up with seasonal rains ... UN Food and Agriculture Organization has called the locust outbreak, caused in part by climate change, “an unprecedented threat” to food security and livelihoods. Its officials have called this new wave some 20 times the size of the first ... likely will be another new round of swarms in late June and July, coinciding with the start of the harvest season, the agency said.
https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/new-larger-wave-of-locusts-threatens-millions-in-africa

Animal Viruses Are Jumping to Humans. Forest Loss Makes It Easier.
The destruction of forests into fragmented patches is increasing the likelihood that viruses and other pathogens will jump from wild animals to humans, according to a study from Stanford University published this month ... the United States has its own example of an animal-borne disease linked to patchwork woodlands close to suburban and rural communities: Lyme disease, which spreads from wildlife to humans by ticks. “We see the animals as infecting us, but the picture that’s coming from the study and other studies is we really go to the animals,” said Dr. Lambin. “We intrude on their habitats.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/09/climate/animals-humans-virus-covid.html

Lockdowns can't end until Covid-19 vaccine found, study says
Countries wanting to end the lockdown and allow people to move about and work again will have to monitor closely for new infections and adjust the controls they have in place until there is a vaccine against Covid-19 ... researchers warn, if normal life is allowed to resume too quickly and the lifting of controls is too extensive, the reproductive number will rise again. Governments will need to keep a close watch on what is happening, they say.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/08/lockdowns-cant-end-until-covid-19-vaccine-found-study-says

New study helps improve accuracy of future climate change predictions
The study has raised serious doubts of the likely impact of human-led interventions involving [aerosol masking geoengineering] to counteract climate change ... air pollution serves as condensation points for cloud droplets leading to more solar reflectance. This has led many to believe that fossil fuel emissions and other air pollutions may off-set global warming [but the new research] "means that recent theories that increased sulphate production can decrease the impact of climate change need to be reconsidered."
https://phys.org/news/2020-04-accuracy-future-climate.html

NASA Satellite Data Show 30 Percent Drop In Air Pollution Over Northeast U.S.
Over the past several weeks, NASA satellite measurements have revealed significant reductions in air pollution over the major metropolitan areas of the Northeast United States. Similar reductions have been observed in other regions of the world. These recent improvements in air quality have come at a high cost, as communities grapple with widespread lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders as a result of the spread of COVID-19.
https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2020/drop-in-air-pollution-over-northeast

Earth scorched in the first 3 months of 2020
The American economy has seriously sputtered during the coronavirus pandemic, but the planet's relentless warming trend hasn't. After Earth experienced its second-hottest year in 140 years of record-keeping in 2019, the first few months of this year have either broken historic monthly records, or come close. January 2020 was the warmest January on record. February 2020 was the second hottest such month on record. And on Monday, the European Union's climate monitoring agency EU Copernicus reported that March 2020 was "on par" with the second and third warmest Marches on record. Earth's warming atmosphere is reacting to a skyrocketing rise of the potent greenhouse gas carbon dioxide — now at its highest levels in at least 800,000 years, but more likely millions of years ... It's already likely that 2020 will end up as one of the warmest years on record ... The last decade, before the coronavirus pandemic began, was the warmest decade ever recorded.
https://mashable.com/article/climate-change-2020-records/

2019 atmospheric methane increase greatest in five years
The average level of methane in the atmosphere increased last year by the highest amount in five years, according to preliminary data released Sunday. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that the average level of methane in the atmosphere increased by 11.54 parts per billion (ppb) in 2019 over the level of methane in the atmosphere in 2018.
https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/491424-2019-atmospheric-methane-increase-greatest-in-five-years

Michigan’s record-high water levels collide with coronavirus
Officials in Michigan are warning that attempts to curb the coronavirus pandemic could have serious consequences for relief and repairs during what is expected to be another tumultuous spring flooding season. High water levels are expected to cause severe flooding, shoreline erosion, and road and infrastructure damage even worse than was seen last year, the Detroit Free Press reported. By February, the water level of every one of the Great Lakes except Lake Ontario had reached a record high. Several places, including Ford Field Park in Dearborn, have been inundated.
https://dailyreporter.com/2020/04/06/michigans-record-high-water-levels-collide-with-coronavirus/

Russia’s Leading Climate Change Expert Gives Sober Prognosis
Apart from Russia warming at 2.5 times the global average since the 1970s, Kattsov said a more dangerous phenomenon has been the increase in temperature variability - meaning more frequent spikes and troughs in hotter or colder directions. This trend is more damaging than gradual warming ... Another ticking time-bomb is the melting permafrost, which covers nearly two thirds of Russia’s territory. As the permafrost melts, infrastructure like roads, pipes, heating systems and houses is likely to be ravaged. Meanwhile, large concentrations of methane and carbon trapped in the permafrost are expected to be released.
https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2020/04/03/russias-leading-climate-change-expert-gives-sober-prognosis-a69822

North Atlantic's capacity to absorb CO2 overestimated, study suggests
The North Atlantic may be a weaker climate ally than previously believed, according to a study that suggests the ocean’s capacity to absorb carbon dioxide has been overestimated ...  discovery is likely to force a negative revision of global climate calculations, say the authors of the NASA-backed study ... “It will require more than just a small tweak.”
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/03/oceans-capacity-to-absorb-co2-overestimated-study-suggests

The abnormal new normal: confronted by a cluster of threats this summer, is Antarctica at a tipping point?
Antarctica today confronts a cluster of threats – all man-made – that it is ill-equipped to withstand. Early this year, Antarctic summer temperatures spiked to improbable new heights, vaulting above 20 degrees: T-shirt weather. Glaciers on the west of the continent shrank at record rates ... Almost a quarter of the rapidly thinning West Antarctic ice sheet is believed to be unstable, and satellites in late March revealed that the East Antarctic ice sheet – the larger of the two – is increasingly vulnerable ... grave fears of an approaching tipping point.
https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/the-abnormal-new-normal-confronted-by-a-cluster-of-threats-this-summer-is-antarctica-at-a-tipping-point-20200227-p5450p.html

Data shows the worsening trend of California wildfires
“The main finding is that the recent severe fires in California — including the Thomas fire in 2017 and the Camp fire in 2018 — are part of a trend in California over the past four decades,” said Andrew Plantinga, an economics professor at UC Santa Barbara’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management. “The trend is toward more wildfires that burn larger areas and cause more damage.” The number of acres burned per year has not only been increasing, the report found, it is also accelerating.
https://wildfiretoday.com/2020/03/31/data-shows-the-worsening-trend-of-california-wildfires/

Coronavirus and climate change: The pandemic is a fire drill for our planet's future
[T]he global high-tech society we've built over the last 100 years is actually a series of networks laid on top of one another ... So how robust or resilient are these networks? ... Suddenly all of these systems that were invisible just a month ago are standing in front of us in sharp relief. Some are even blinking red with warning. The warnings must be taken seriously, as studies of multilayered networks show they can be fragile ... Like this pandemic, climate change is also going to push on the networks that make up our civilization ... Climate change will mean one emergency after another, year after year, as heat waves, floods, fire and storms blow cascades of failures through our systems.
https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/coronavirus-climate-change-pandemic-fire-drill-our-planet-s-future-ncna1169991

Rare ozone hole opens over Arctic — and it’s big
A vast ozone hole — likely the biggest on record in the north — has opened in the skies above the Arctic. It rivals the better-known Antarctic ozone hole that forms in the southern hemisphere each year. Record-low ozone levels currently stretch across much of the central Arctic ... an extraordinary atmospheric phenomenon that will go down in the record books. 
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00904-w

Less ice, more methane from northern lakes: A result from global warming
Shorter and warmer winters lead to an increase in emissions of methane from northern lakes, according to a new study by scientists in Finland and the US. Longer ice-free periods contribute to increased methane emissions. In Finland, emissions of methane from lakes could go up by as much as 60%. An international study by scientists from Purdue University in the US, the University of Eastern Finland, the Finnish Environment Institute and the University of Helsinki published in Environmental Research Letters significantly enhances our current knowledge of methane emissions from boreal lakes.
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-03/uoef-lim032620.php

There are diseases hidden in ice, and they are waking up
Frozen permafrost soil is the perfect place for bacteria to remain alive for very long periods of time, perhaps as long as a million years. That means melting ice could potentially open a Pandora's box of diseases. The temperature in the Arctic Circle is rising quickly, about three times faster than in the rest of the world. As the ice and permafrost melt, other infectious agents may be released. "Permafrost is a very good preserver of microbes and viruses, because it is cold, there is no oxygen, and it is dark," says evolutionary biologist Jean-Michel Claverie ... In a 2014 study, a team led by Claverie revived two viruses that had been trapped in Siberian permafrost for 30,000 years [and when] they were revived, the viruses quickly became infectious ... Claverie says viruses from the very first humans to populate the Arctic could emerge.
http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20170504-there-are-diseases-hidden-in-ice-and-they-are-waking-up

'We should start thinking about the next one': Coronavirus is just the first of many pandemics to come, environmentalists warn
The novel coronavirus will not be the last pandemic to wreak havoc on humanity if we continue to ignore links between infectious diseases and destruction of the natural world, environmental experts have warned ... Dr Samuel Myers, principle research scientist at Harvard’s Department of Environmental Health and director of the Planetary Health Alliance, told The Independent: “Human incursions into wildlife habitat bring people into closer proximity with wildlife populations ... animals are an enormous reservoir of pathogens, many of which we haven’t yet been exposed to ... It’s a combination of the size of the human ecological footprint and globalization. Once a pathogen has made that jump from animals to humans, it has the capacity to spread around the globe very quickly” ... Sweeping change is needed including making the crucial link between human health and conservation of the planet. Dr Sala said: “They are not disconnected. There is no sustainable human health without a healthy ecosystem.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/coronavirus-uk-pandemics-environmentalists-warning-a9413996.html

Coronavirus: Air pollution and CO2 fall rapidly as virus spreads
Levels of air pollutants and warming gases over some cities and regions are showing significant drops as coronavirus impacts work and travel. Researchers in New York told the BBC their early results showed carbon monoxide mainly from cars had been reduced by nearly 50% compared with last year ... With global economic activity ramping down as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, it is hardly surprising that emissions of a variety of gases related to energy and transport would be reduced ... They have also found that there was a 5-10% drop in CO2 over New York and a solid drop in methane as well ... With aviation grinding to a halt and millions of people working from home, a range of emissions across many countries are likely following the same downward path.
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-51944780

Global warming will bring more heatwaves, droughts, hurricanes and storms than we think
There will be many more heatwaves, droughts, hurricanes and storms in the coming years than we bargained for, researchers are warning. Scientists are radically underestimating the frequency of future extreme weather events because they have relied too heavily on historical data to guide their assumptions ... The study, published in the journal Science Advances, used the number of actual extreme weather events between 2006 to 2017 to assess how accurate predictions in papers written 1961 to 2005 had been. It found most of the studies - which largely relied on historical data - were way off in their predictions of extreme weather.
https://inews.co.uk/news/environment/global-warming-warning-heatwaves-droughts-hurricanes-storms-2498663

Great Barrier Reef suffers third mass coral bleaching event in five years
“We know this is a mass bleaching event and it’s a severe one.” It follows the worst outbreaks of mass bleaching on record killing about half the shallow water corals on the world’s biggest reef system in 2016 and 2017 ... “Pretty much everything [in the shallows] is bleached. There wasn’t a lot of difference between the species and there is quite a lot of mortality” ... A five-yearly report by the major marine park authority last year found the reef’s outlook had deteriorated from poor to very poor.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/25/great-barrier-reef-suffers-third-mass-coral-bleaching-event-in-five-years

The US Midwest readies for flooding as it copes with coronavirus outbreak
Up to 23 states are set to experience moderate to severe flooding in the spring ... NOAA expects an ongoing rainfall, a highly-saturated soil and above-normal precipitations in the coming months, especially in the Mississippi River basin, the Missouri River basin and the Red River of the North. Any substantial local rainfall could cause flooding in these areas, already experiencing a high level of soil moisture ... “The current situation with COVID-19 presents us a fight on two fronts: one front, we have the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and on the other, what promises to be a very active spring 2020 flood season.”
https://www.zmescience.com/science/the-us-midwest-readies-for-flooding-as-it-copes-with-coronavirus-outbreak/

'Time is fast running out': World Meteorological Organization warns climate efforts are falling short
The world is significantly falling short when it comes to efforts to curb climate change, according to a new report released Tuesday by the World Meteorological Organization. The intergovernmental organization’s assessment evaluated a range of so-called global climate indicators in 2019, including land temperatures, ocean temperatures, greenhouse gas emissions, sea-level rise and melting ice. The report finds that most of these indicators are increasing, which means the planet is veering way off track in trying to control the pace of global warming.
https://www.nbcnews.com/science/science-news/time-fast-running-out-world-meteorological-organization-warns-climate-efforts-n1154701

Grace gravity mission captures Greenland ice loss
Greenland shed an extraordinary 600 billion tonnes of ice by the end of summer last year ... analysis appearing in the journal Geophysical Research Letters ... Across the entire period of the two missions - 2002 to 2019 - Greenland has lost some 4,550 billion tonnes of ice, an average of 268 billion tonnes annually, which puts the scale of last summer into further context.
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-51954988

Amazon rainforest reaches point of no return
The impact on the Amazon is catastrophic, Nobre says. “Half of the Amazon rainforest to the east is gone – it’s losing the battle, going in the direction of a savanna. “When you clear land in a healthy system, it bounces back. But once you cross a certain threshold, a tipping point, it turns into a different kind of equilibrium. It becomes drier, there’s less rain. It’s no longer a forest ... We used to say the Amazon had two seasons: the wet season and the wetter season. Now, you have many months without a drop of water.”
https://climatenewsnetwork.net/rainforest/

Planet's largest ecosystems collapse faster than previously forecast
Scientists from the University of Southampton, the School of Oriental and African Studies and the University of Bangor studied data on the transformations of 40 natural environments on land and in waters ... The findings, published in the scientific journal Nature Communications, can be explained by the fact larger ecosystems are made up of more compartments, or sub-systems, of species and habitats. This modular set up provides resilience against stress initially; however once a certain threshold has been passed, the same modularity causes the rate at which the ecosystem unravels to accelerate. This means that ecosystems that have existed for thousands of years could collapse in less than 50.
https://phys.org/news/2020-03-planet-largest-ecosystems-collapse-faster.html

Arctic tundra is 80 per cent permafrost. What happens when it thaws?
The tundra of the western Canadian Arctic has long been carpeted in cranberries, blueberries, cloudberries, shrubs, sedges, and lichen that have provided abundant food for grizzly bears, caribou, and other animals. Now, however, as permafrost thaws and slumping expands, parts of that landscape are being transformed into nothing but mud, silt, and peat, blowing off massive amounts of climate-warming carbon that have been stored in the permafrost for millennia. If this had happened in an urban area, it would have resulted in dozens of buildings being swallowed up. If it had happened along a pipeline right-of-way, it might have resulted in an environmental disaster ... an estimated 2.5 million square miles of permafrost — 40 per cent of the world’s total — could disappear by the end of the century, with enormous consequences. The most alarming is expected to be the release of huge stores of greenhouse gases, including methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide that have remained locked in the permafrost for ages. Pathogens will also be released.
https://thenarwhal.ca/arctic-tundra-is-80-per-cent-permafrost-what-happens-when-it-thaws/

Polar ice caps melting six times faster than in 1990s
The polar ice caps are melting six times faster than in the 1990s, according to the most complete analysis to date. The ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica is tracking the worst-case climate warming scenario set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), scientists say.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/11/polar-ice-caps-melting-six-times-faster-than-in-1990s

Emissions: world has four times the work [over] one-third of the time
We draw our conclusions from a synthesis of all ten editions of the Emissions Gap Report produced by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Each year for the past decade, this report has examined the difference between what countries have pledged to do individually to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, and what they need to do collectively to meet agreed temperature goals — the ‘gap’. Our analysis shows that the gap has widened by as much as four times since 2010. There are three reasons for this. First, global annual greenhouse-gas emissions increased by 14% between 2008 and 20186. This means that emissions now have to decline faster than was previously estimated, because it is cumulative emissions that determine the long-term temperature increase. Second, the international community now agrees that it must ensure a lower global temperature rise than it decided ten years ago, because climate risks are better understood. And third, countries’ new climate pledges have been insufficient ... The gap is so huge that governments, the private sector and communities need to switch into crisis mode, make their climate pledges more ambitious and focus on early and aggressive action. Otherwise, the Paris agreement’s long-term goals are out of reach. We do not have another ten years.
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00571-x

Six Unfolding Climate Scenarios That Keep Security Experts Up At Night
When the Center for Climate and Security released its threat assessment last week in Washington DC, its director asked the experts what keeps them up at night. What emerged was a list of nightmare scenarios most striking because many are already happening:
1 Sudden Sea Level Rise: within a couple of decades [from] black-swan incidents [like] ice sheet collapsing
2 The Growing Non-ecumene: we're going to have unlivable spaces where people currently live
3 Fragile And Failed States: climate-linked effects will likely add to the list of fragile and failed states
4 Collapse Of Democracy And Relations: climate change will lead to migration, countries respond with nationalist movements
5 Nuclear Accidents: nuclear technology in the hands of countries that have not been reliable actors
6 Pandemics And Other Wild Cards: with global order already under stress, a wild card like coronavirus creates more disorder
These nightmare scenarios align with the world’s current trajectory—a 4C increase in average global surface temperature.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2020/03/02/six-unfolding-climate-scenarios-that-keep-security-experts-up-at-night/

This winter in Europe was hottest on record by far, say scientists
This winter has been by far the hottest recorded in Europe, scientists have announced, with the climate crisis likely to have supercharged the heat. The EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service ... said the average temperature for December, January and February was 1.4C above the previous winter record, which was set in 2015-16. New regional climate records are usually passed by only a fraction of a degree. Europe’s winter was 3.4C hotter than the average from 1981-2010.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/05/truly-extreme-winter-2019-20-in-europe-by-far-hottest-on-record

Dramatic cuts to air pollution in Europe and Asia could speed up climate change in the short term and lead to heatwaves and heavier rainfall - but 'doing nothing would be worse' [aerosol masking]
Experts from the University of Reading found that cutting pollution in areas with heavy industry would lead to short term temperature spikes and heavier rainfall [due to a decrease in] polluting particles currently reflecting a certain amount of sunlight and stopping it from reaching the ground ... In a series of studies scientists predict a rapid increase in European and Asian heatwaves by 2050 as air pollution is cut sharply in Asia ... already seeing some changes in temperatures over parts of Asia as industry slows down due to Coronavirus in China. He said with fewer planes not flying and factories not running there are fewer heavy polluting particles entering the atmosphere - and then reflecting the sunlight away ... The effect of particle pollution on the atmosphere can already be seen in observations over Europe and China.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8074749/Cuts-air-pollution-SPEED-climate-change-short-term.html

Tropical forests losing their ability to absorb carbon, study finds
Tropical forests are taking up less carbon dioxide from the air, reducing their ability to act as “carbon sinks” ... “We’ve found that one of the most worrying impacts of climate change has already begun,” said Simon Lewis, professor in the school of geography at Leeds University, one of the senior authors of the research. “This is decades ahead of even the most pessimistic climate models.” ... The uptake of carbon from the atmosphere by tropical forests peaked in the 1990s when about 46bn tonnes were removed from the air, equivalent to about 17% of carbon dioxide emissions from human activities. By the last decade, that amount had sunk to about 25bn tonnes, or just 6% of global emissions ... The study, published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, tracked 300,000 trees over 30 years, providing the first large-scale evidence of the decline in carbon uptake by the world’s tropical forests.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/04/tropical-forests-losing-their-ability-to-absorb-carbon-study-finds

How climate change is making record-breaking floods the new normal
Extreme flooding will continue to be concentrated in regions where humans have built on floodplains or low-lying coastal regions. As global warming increases the likelihood for more extreme weather events to occur, risks will expand beyond the high-risk areas known today. More extreme flooding must be expected ... The reality is that this is the world we live in with 1.1oC of warming. These records temperatures, record floods are not anomalous, they are the beginning of a new norms, and the new records will continue to be exceeded, year after year.
https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/how-climate-change-making-record-breaking-floods-new-normal

Stony Corals Seem to Be Preparing for a Mass Extinction, Scientists Report
New research shows that stony corals around the world are hunkering down into survival mode as they prepare for a mass extinction event, according to a new study published in Scientific Reports. The international research team ... noticed a suite of behaviors that correspond to a survival response commensurate with how they behaved during the last mass extinction ... "It was incredibly spooky to witness how corals are now exhibiting the same traits as they did at the last major extinction event," said Gruber, in a statement put out by the CUNY Advanced Science Research Center. "Corals seem to be preparing to jump across an extinction boundary, while we are putting our foot further on the pedal."
https://www.ecowatch.com/corals-mass-extinction-2645381071.html
see also https://www.newsweek.com/fossil-corals-mass-extinction-1490202

Record-Breaking Warm Weather Expected Around Globe As Human-Caused Climate Crisis Now As Powerful As El Niño's Effects, Says WMO
As countries accustomed to cold, snowy winters reported record-breaking warm weather this season, meteorological experts on Monday predicted that temperatures over the next several months will also be warmer than usual ... "Even ENSO neutral months are warmer than in the past, as air and sea surface temperatures and ocean heat have increased due to climate change," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas in a statement. "The signal from human-induced climate change is now as powerful as that from a major natural force of nature."
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/03/02/record-breaking-warm-weather-expected-around-globe-human-caused-climate-crisis-now

Arctic may see 'ice-free' summers in as few as 15 years, study says
A study suggests that the Arctic "may be essentially ice-free during summer within 15 years." The study used statistical models to predict the future amount of Arctic ice, which suggested that the Arctic could be ice-free in the summer during the decade of the 2030s ... The study was conducted by scientists at NOAA, the University of Washington, and the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies ... the results of the study indicate that there is room for improvement in sea-ice models – and that the ice may disappear even more quickly than current models suggest. "Climate models may be collectively underestimating the rate of change,” the authors write in the study. The study was published in the journal Climate.
https://usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/03/01/arctic-sea-ice-arctic-could-ice-free-summer-few-15-years/4905785002/

Wettest February Ever, And Nearly The Warmest On Record
February 2020 was the wettest February in Dutch history. An average of 142 millimeters of rain fell across the country, while 55 millimeters is normal for the Netherlands in February, according to Weeronline. The month was also exceptionally mild, going into the books as the second warmest February since temperature measurements started in 1901.
https://nltimes.nl/2020/02/27/wettest-february-ever-nearly-warmest-record

Carbon Dioxide Levels in the Atmosphere Hit Highest Level in 3 Million Years
According to a recent National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report, the last time carbon dioxide levels were this high was 3 million years ago "when temperature was 2°–3°C (3.6°–5.4°F) higher than during the pre-industrial era, and sea level was 15–25 meters (50–80 feet) higher than today." That period, the Pliocene Era, is unrecognizable from today. Giant camels walked around on the ice-free land above the Arctic Circle, as NBC News reported ... "We've done in a little more than 50 years what the earth naturally took 10,000 years to do," said Siegert to NBC News. Elevated concentrations of carbon dioxide are a hallmark of the climate crisis since they are associated with higher temperatures, melting ice and sea level rise, among other effects.
https://www.ecowatch.com/carbon-dioxide-levels-atmosphere-2645274429.html

Dramatic ocean changes are coming ‘a couple decades too early,’ scientists say
Arctic ocean temperatures are rising at rates faster than previously thought by the scientific community. That’s the finding of a new study from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, which shows warming waters having an effect on everything from sea ice growth to marine ecosystems ... For UAF oceanography professor Seth Danielson, the record low sea ice and record high ocean temperatures of the last couple years came as a shock. “It was a bit surprising because we felt like it came a couple decades too early" ... Danielson says that the rapid changes to Arctic marine ecosystems are happening in real time, as researchers are studying them. He says these changes likely aren’t going anywhere. “It’s not gonna be too long before these extremely low-ice years that we’ve just had in the last couple years will be what we consider to be the norm,” Danielson said ... The paper was published this month in the Nature Climate Change scientific journal.
http://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/02/24/dramatic-ocean-changes-are-coming-a-couple-decades-too-early-scientists-say/
see also https://www.arctictoday.com/a-radical-transformation-of-the-pacific-arctic-appears-to-be-underway-a-new-study-finds/

Climate Change Will Turn These Common Foods Toxic
With proper preparation, the toxin, hydrogen cyanide, can be flushed out with water. But in the face of agricultural crisis, drought, and poverty, people are forced to choose between going hungry and adhering to these preparations ... All these factors, and especially drought, are predicted to get worse with climate change ... [in] barley, millet, flax, maize, sorghum, cherries, and apples there is the potential for an accumulation of toxins due to loss of water and erratic weather events ... with drought, they slow down or stop this conversion, which leads to a nitrate buildup ... If a human eats large amounts of nitrate, it can “stop red blood cells from transporting oxygen in the human body,” Yale360 reported.
https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/epgmqw/climate-change-could-lead-to-toxic-food-cassava

Glaciers are disappearing faster than a few years ago
The glaciers are melting seven times faster compared with readings taken during the 1990s. This situation will become worse as sea levels continue to rise. In 2019 Digital Journal presented research that showed global sea levels are set to continue to rise, even if carbon emissions pledges formed as part of the Paris climate agreement are put in place and the environmental goal of a leveling out of global temperatures is achieved ... The new data reveals the extent of the risk to Greenland’s glaciers and provides a new basis for climate scientists to assess more accurately the quantity of meltwater that the Greenland Ice Sheet is losing each year. The research has been published in the journal Nature Geoscience.
http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/environment/glaciers-are-disappearing-faster-than-a-few-years-ago/article/567592

Fates of humans and insects intertwined, warn scientists
Experts call for solutions to be enforced immediately to halt global population collapses
The researchers said solutions were available and must be implemented immediately ... invertebrates must no longer be neglected by conservation efforts, which tend to focus on mammals and birds. The alert has been published as two articles in the Biological Conservation journal ... in a repeat of the failure of politicians to respond to scientific warnings about climate change, the cautious, scientific language used has not produced an appropriate response from governments ... “Scientists are now turning up the heat on insect declines in the hope that politicians will understand the urgency and the link to human survival, and will take action before it is too late.”
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/feb/20/fates-humans-insects-intertwined-scientists-population-collapse
reporting on a study at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320719317823

Humanity’s Methane Problem Could Be Way Bigger Than Scientists Thought
Fossil-fuel production may be responsible for much more atmospheric methane than scientists previously thought, according to new research published today in the journal Nature ... challenging how much of the total comes from natural versus industrial sources, an important distinction for policy-makers. Conventional wisdom has held until now that fossil sources emit roughly 50 million tons of methane. The new paper’s estimate is dramatically smaller: Just 5 million tons, at most, come from natural sources, or “seeps,” the study says. “If it's not coming from seeps, then it's coming from fossil-fuel operations,” says Rob Jackson, a Stanford professor of Earth system science who wasn’t involved in the study. “There's really no other explanation for it. It's kind of a zero-sum game.” ... The Nature paper builds on earlier work suggesting that natural methane emissions may be dramatically lower than previously indicated.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-02-19/new-research-says-humans-may-have-an-even-bigger-methane-problem
reporting on a study at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-1991-8

JP Morgan economists warn of 'catastrophic' climate change
Human life "as we know it" could be threatened by climate change, economists at JP Morgan have warned. In a hard-hitting report to clients, the economists said that without action being taken there could be "catastrophic outcomes" ... While JP Morgan economists have warned about unpredictability in climate change before, the language used in the new report was very forceful. "We cannot rule out catastrophic outcomes where human life as we know it is threatened," JP Morgan economists David Mackie and Jessica Murray said ... To mitigate climate change net carbon emissions need to be cut to zero by 2050. To do this, there needed to be a global tax on carbon, the report authors said. But they said that "this is not going to happen anytime soon" ... "It is a global problem but no global solution is in sight," the report added.
https://www.bbc.com/news/business-51581098

It’s the Warmest Winter Ever and It’s the North Pole’s Fault
With just weeks left to go, the world is heading toward the warmest winter ever recorded as a strange brew of weather patterns at the top of the world combines with the mercury-boosting influence of climate change ...  with temperatures 3° Celsius higher than the 20th century average across the contiguous U.S., the uniqueness of the pattern is expected to spark an avalanche of new research into its cause. If the trend continues through Feb. 29, when winter ends for meteorologists, it will set a global high for the season in U.S. records going back 141 years. “What really jumps out is not a particular hot spot,” said Bob Henson, a meteorologist with the Weather Underground, an IBM company. “But the sheer breadth of the warmth.” ... “We are still in the early days of an evolving climate era,” Henson said. “The climate will keep changing under our feet as we try to get our arms around it.”
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-02-21/it-s-the-warmest-winter-ever-and-it-s-the-north-pole-s-fault

Climate change ‘is happening now’
It was raining again on Monday in Oslo, where no snow has fallen in January for the first time since measurements began ... “I keep waiting for winter to come, but it hasn’t,” Ketil Isaksen, a researcher at the state Meteorologic Institute in Oslo told news bureau NTB on January 20. A week later, it still hasn’t, and he’s worried, not just for the ski season that’s being ruined in many areas around southern Norway. Everything from the permafrost on Svalbard to Norway’s flora and fauna north to south is under threat ... “The tendency is clear: Autumn is longer and spring comes earlier.” 
https://www.newsinenglish.no/2020/01/27/climate-change-is-happening-now/

Locust Swarms Ravaging East Africa Are the Size of Cities
A devastating pest outbreak is threatening millions of people with hunger.
The United Nations has warned of an unprecedented threat to food security in a part of the world where millions already face hunger. And the situation will probably get worse before it gets better. Experts say the outbreak—the worst in recent memory—is caused by an increased number of cyclones. If the weather trends continue, there may be more to come. “There is a link between climate change and the unprecedented locust crisis plaguing Ethiopia and East Africa,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said. “Warmer seas mean more cyclones generating the perfect breeding ground for locusts. Today the swarms are as big as major cities and it is getting worse by the day.” The number of locusts in East Africa could expand 500 times by June, the UN's Food & Agriculture Organization said last month.
https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2020-africa-locusts/

Extreme weather could bring next recession
Physical climate risk from extreme weather events remains unaccounted for in financial markets. Without better knowledge of the risk, the average energy investor can only hope that the next extreme event won't trigger a sudden correction, according to new research from University of California, Davis. The paper, "Energy Finance Must Account for Extreme Weather Risk," was published Feb. 17 in the journal Nature Energy. "If the market doesn't do a better job of accounting for climate, we could have a recession—the likes of which we've never seen before," said the article's author, Paul Griffin, an accounting professor at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management. The central message in his latest research is that there is too much "unpriced risk" in the energy market. "Unpriced risk was the main cause of the Great Recession in 2007-2008," Griffin said.
https://phys.org/news/2020-02-extreme-weather-recession.amp
reporting on a study at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41560-020-0548-2

Yes, 1.5 Degrees Celsius Is Long Gone as a Climate Change Target
Realistically, we might manage to top out below 2.5°C, but only if we (a) get lucky and invent something spectacular or (b) give up and start spraying sulfates in the atmosphere. Is this really so hard to admit? All it takes is a quick look at the most basic CO2 emissions chart to see that there’s no reason at all to believe that emissions are suddenly going to start plummeting anytime in next few years ...  I’d add one more truth bomb to this: It’s time to stop blaming Republicans for this state of affairs. Don’t get me wrong: Republicans are obviously lying about climate change for partisan purposes ... But even if Republicans were fully on board with a serious climate plan, it would have only the smallest effect. The USA line in the chart above might be slightly lower than it is. But not a lot. After all, even the biggest plans from Democrats wouldn’t make more than a small dent in that line. And it wouldn’t make any dent at all in the lines that really matter: the ones for China, India, and the rest of the developing world. Those are going up like a rocket, and until that turns around we’ll never make any serious progress on climate change.
https://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2020/01/yes-1-5-degrees-celsius-is-long-gone-as-a-climate-change-target/

Hundreds of thousands of mussels cooked to death on New Zealand beach in heatwave
The mass die-off in Northland was sparked by “an exceptional period of warm weather” combined with low tides in the middle of the day, which had exposed the shellfish, said Dr Andrew Jeffs, a marine scientist from the University of Auckland. He said more marine life would soon be affected by climate change, and there was little that that could be done to protect the vulnerable shellfish ... Scientists had observed mussels suffering under changing weather conditions for a decade, but conditions were now getting more intense and devastating for the animals. “I think we’re going to see entire communities of marine creatures change,” said Jeffs.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/18/hundreds-of-thousands-of-mussels-cooked-to-death-on-new-zealand-beach-in-heatwave

Rising seas already overwhelm the Bay Area. Time is running out for California to act
The fate of Foster City and the rest of the Bay Area was front and center last week as state lawmakers grappled with the many threats California must confront as the ocean pushes farther inland ... Homes are flooding and critical roads and infrastructure are already mere feet from toppling into the sea, they said, but cities up and down the coast have been paralyzed by the difficult choices ahead. More than $150 billion in property could be at risk of flooding by 2100 — the economic damage far more destructive than from the state’s worst earthquakes and wildfires.
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-02-11/foster-city-sea-level-rise

Is global climate solidarity impossible?
Although plenty of people around the world still refuse to accept climate science, denial is not the main obstacle impeding the urgent global action needed to save the planet. The bigger problem is that the economic measures that could prevent catastrophic climate change are political non-starters ... Unless and until that changes, an existential crisis of our own making will only worsen.
https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/global-climate-solidarity-impossible-by-willem-h-buiter-1-2020-02

Lobster, Ticks, Sea Levels Indicate Warming Climate In New England
Biological markers are the easiest way to show a changing climate. For instance, many New Englanders have been keeping long records of when lakes freeze, or when fruit ripens. Both of these metrics back up the temperatures. At Moosehead Lake in Maine, the trend is both for later ice-in and earlier ice-out. Locally at Blue Hill, the date of the first ripe blueberries continues to come earlier. If you spend time outdoors, you are probably aware of the increase in ticks. In the past few years, the Lone Star tick has managed to make southern New England home, thanks to our less harsh climate. If you’re out on the water, the changes are significant. Lobster habitat has moved well northward as they search for cooler waters. Blue crabs are around in increasing numbers as they expand from the mid-Atlantic. Fishermen reported tropical mahi-mahi as far north as Buzzard’s Bay in August 2018.
https://boston.cbslocal.com/2020/01/20/new-england-climate-change-ticks-lobster/

Another record temperature recorded in Brussels on Sunday
This news comes alongside reports that Belgium has become systematically warmer and winters gradually drier from the 17th century, according to research by the VUB research group Analytical, Environmental and Geochemistry (AMGC) ... The next five years could be the warmest ever recorded, according to a British weather service. The Met Office says there is a risk the average temperature on Earth could rise by 1.5°C by 2024 ... “The latest forecasts for the next five years suggest temperatures will continue to go up, in accordance with higher levels of greenhouse gases,” said forecaster Doug Smith.
https://www.brusselstimes.com/belgium/95445/another-record-temperature-recorded-in-brussels-on-sunday/

Climate change: Clean tech 'won't solve warming in time'
Breakthrough technologies such as carbon capture and hydrogen cannot be relied on to help the UK meet its climate change targets, a report says. The government had hoped that both technologies would contribute to emissions reductions required by 2050. But the report’s authors say ministers should assume that neither carbon capture and storage (CCS) nor hydrogen will be running "at scale" by 2050. They say the government must start a debate on other, controversial steps ...  report comes from a government-funded consortium of academics from Cambridge, Oxford, Nottingham, Bath and Imperial College London.
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-51389404

The world is failing to ensure children have a 'liveable planet', report finds
Every country in the world is failing to shield children’s health and their futures from intensifying ecological degradation, climate change and exploitative marketing practices, says a new report. The report says that despite dramatic improvements in survival, nutrition, and education over the past 20 years, “today’s children face an uncertain future”, with every child facing “existential threats” ... The commission, convened by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations children’s agency Unicef, and medical journal the Lancet, calls for radical changes to protect children’s health and futures from the intensifying climate emergency.
https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/feb/19/the-world-is-failing-to-ensure-children-have-a-liveable-planet-report-finds
reporting on a study at https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(19)32540-1/fulltext

Birds Are Vanishing From North America
The analysis, published in the journal Science, is the most exhaustive and ambitious attempt yet to learn what is happening to avian populations. The results have shocked researchers and conservation organizations. In a statement on Thursday, David Yarnold, president and chief executive of the National Audubon Society, called the findings “a full-blown crisis” ... the new study, based on a broad survey of more than 500 species, reveals steep losses even among such traditionally abundant birds as robins and sparrows ... “We were stunned by the result — it’s just staggering,” said Kenneth V. Rosenberg, a conservation scientist at Cornell University and the American Bird Conservancy, and the lead author of the new study. “It’s not just these highly threatened birds that we’re afraid are going to go on the endangered species list,” he said. “It’s across the board” ... Europe is experiencing a similar loss of birds, also among common species, said Dr. Gaston, of the University of Exeter. “The numbers are broadly comparable,” he said.
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/19/science/bird-populations-america-canada.html

Second Year of Major Spring Floods Forecast for U.S. Heartland
Flooding that overwhelmed much of the interior United States is expected to resume in the next three months and soak communities along the Mississippi River and in the Great Plains for a second consecutive spring ... Extreme wet conditions in 2019, which were consistent with predictions of climate change, caused billions of dollars of damage and led farmers to avoid planting on 20 million acres ... Sections of the James River in South Dakota have been above flood level for 11 consecutive months. Major flooding also is expected along the Mississippi River in Minneapolis and at various points in Iowa and Illinois, and in North Dakota along the Red River of the North, the National Weather Service says.
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/second-year-of-major-spring-floods-forecast-for-u-s-heartland/

Torrential rain hits Southeast as forecast warns of major spring flooding
A week of torrential downpours is underway across the Southeast and lower Mississippi Valley. With saturated ground and swollen rivers, the three-month outlook calls for the likelihood of major river flooding this spring in some of the same areas hard hit by last year's historic floods. The combination of a stalled front, strong Pacific jet stream and near-record atmospheric moisture levels Monday prompted NOAA's Weather Prediction Center to warn of the "high risk" of life-threatening flash flooding.
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/rain-flooding-alabama-southeast-mississippi-valley-this-week/

Ballard Locks dam sees highest water flow ever recorded
Ballard Locks dam had the highest water flow ever measured since recordings began in 1946 ... between Feb. 7 to 9, the peak inflow was 15,000 – 16,000 cubic feet per second (cfs).
http://www.myballard.com/2020/02/11/ballard-locks-dam-sees-highest-water-flow-ever-recorded/

Green-Up Happening Weeks Early In Southeast
Parts of the southeastern United States are greening up far ahead of schedule ... So far this year, 2020, observers in the Southeast have noted vegetation greening up as early as 24 days ahead of schedule in Charlottesville, Virginia. The spring leaf out has arrived 20 days early in Knoxville, Tennessee and 18 days early in Nashville, according to www.usanpn.org. The leaf out has also arrived about 10 days early in Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington according to the website ...  Areas near the Gulf of Mexico are experiencing a bloom one to two weeks early.
https://www.weathernationtv.com/news/green-up-happening-weeks-early-in-southeast/

Amazon deforestation for January hits record
More than 280 square kilometers (110 square miles) were cleared, an increase of 108 percent ... The sharp increase overlapped the first year in office of President Jair Bolsonaro, a climate change skeptic who has eased restrictions on exploiting the Amazon's vast riches ... On Wednesday, Bolsonaro unveiled a sweeping plan for the Amazon rainforest that would open indigenous lands to mining, farming and hydroelectric power projects. Many NGOs said this would further increase deforestation.
https://phys.org/news/2020-02-amazon-deforestation-january.html

What starts in the Amazon doesn’t stay there: Fires melting Andes glaciers
Fires in the Amazon may be melting Andean mountain glaciers at an increased rate, according to a study published in Scientific Reports. Smoke plumes billow from Amazon forest fires and travel with the wind, carrying aerosols such as black carbon to settle upon the surfaces of mountain glaciers, darkening snow. As a result, the snow’s albedo — the amount of light and radiation reflected from the surface — is reduced as absorption is increases. With less sunlight reflected, the glacial energy balance is disrupted and the glacier melts more rapidly ... The phenomenon may be relatively new, as the Amazon rainforest historically was too wet to burn significantly; climate change coupled with deforestation has caused it to grow increasingly dryer over recent years ... A survey of other tropical Andean glaciers found that nearly half of all glacial area has vanished since 1975, with over 80% disappearing in areas below 5,000 meters.
https://news.mongabay.com/2020/01/what-starts-in-the-amazon-doesnt-stay-there-fires-melting-andes-glaciers/
reporting on a study at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-53284-1

Measuring the Carbon-Dioxide Cost of Last Year’s Worldwide Wildfires
Last year’s mammoth wildfires in the Amazon, Indonesia, and the Arctic Circle triggered a global conversation about the environmental and economic consequences of climate change. So it was with shock and still-raw emotion that, as 2020 began, the world absorbed the images of Australia’s devastating bush fires. These enormous blazes—some the size of a small country—aren’t just destroying native forests and vulnerable animal species. They’re also releasing billions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, potentially accelerating global warming and leading to even more fires ... What made 2019 extraordinary wasn’t the overall number of fires, or total fire emissions, but where they happened and how intense they were. Scientists were baffled to record fires burning in some parts of Siberia and Alaska for longer than they’d ever seen ... Scientists were alarmed because what was burning in Indonesia included not only forests, but also peat, which can smolder underground at very low temperatures. It makes fires hard to extinguish and almost impossible to detect from satellite pictures, in turn making it difficult to accurately calculate CO2 emissions. To make matters worse, peat fires release carbon that’s been stored underground for tens of thousands of years ... “The predictions were already there,” Parrington says of last year’s fire season. “We already had studies showing if it becomes drier and hotter in places like the Arctic, at some point there will be fires on a bigger scale than we’ve seen in a long time.”
https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2020-fire-emissions/

NASA Flights Detect Millions of Arctic Methane Hotspots
In a new study, scientists with NASA's Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment [flew] over some 20,000 square miles (30,000 square kilometers) of the Arctic landscape in the hope of detecting methane hotspots. The instrument did not disappoint ... The paper, titled "Airborne Mapping Reveals Emergent Power Law of Arctic Methane Emissions," was published Feb. 10 in Geophysical Research Letters ... the methane hotspots were mostly concentrated within about 44 yards (40 meters) of standing bodies of water, like lakes and streams ... "we found abrupt thawing of the permafrost right underneath the hotspot," said Elder. "It's that additional contribution of permafrost carbon - carbon that's been frozen for thousands of years - that's essentially contributing food for the microbes to chew up and turn into methane as the permafrost continues to thaw."
https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=7598

Earth just had hottest January since records began, data shows
Last month was the hottest January on record over the world’s land and ocean surfaces, with average temperatures exceeding anything in the 141 years of data held by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ... past five years and the past decade are the hottest in 150 years of record-keeping, an indication of the gathering pace of the climate crisis ... Meanwhile, the Antarctic has begun February with several temperature spikes. The southern polar continent broke 20C (68F) for the first time in its history on 9 February, following another previous high of 18.3C just three days previously. Scientists called the readings “incredible and abnormal” ... planet-warming emissions from human activity are not showing any sign of decline, let alone the deep cuts needed to meet the 2C goal and address the climate crisis.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/feb/13/january-hottest-earth-record-climate-crisis

Preventing the death of the world’s rivers
[W]e are rapidly destroying the planet’s river systems, with serious implications for our economies, societies and even our survival. China is a case in point. Its dam-building frenzy and overexploitation of rivers are wreaking environmental havoc on Asia, destroying forests, depleting biodiversity and straining water resources ... The Mekong River is running at a historically low level ... other countries, from Asia to Latin America, have also been tapping long rivers for electricity generation ... diversion of water for irrigation is also a major source of strain on rivers. In fact, crop and livestock production absorbs almost three-quarters of the world’s freshwater resources, while creating runoff that, together with industrial waste and sewage discharge, pollutes those very resources ... almost two-thirds of the world’s long rivers have been modified, and some of the world’s longest—including the Nile and the Rio Grande—now qualify as endangered ... strain water resources, destroy ecosystems and threaten human health ... aquatic ecosystems have lost half of their biodiversity since the mid-1970s, and about half of all wetlands have been destroyed ... In the US, almost half of rivers and streams are considered to be in poor biological condition ... In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro has relaxed environmental rules in the name of economic growth. Among the casualties is the Amazon River ... The world’s rivers are under unprecedented pressure from contamination, damming and diversion.
https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/preventing-the-death-of-the-worlds-rivers/

Car ‘splatometer’ tests reveal huge decline in number of insects
Two scientific studies of the number of insects splattered by cars have revealed a huge decline in abundance at European sites in two decades. The research adds to growing evidence of what some scientists have called an “insect apocalypse”, which is threatening a collapse in the natural world that sustains humans and all life on Earth. A third study shows plummeting numbers of aquatic insects in streams.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/feb/12/car-splatometer-tests-reveal-huge-decline-number-insects

Bumblebee Decline Linked With Extreme Heat Waves
Climate chaos is wiping out important pollinators and hastening the loss of global biodiversity, a new study says. [N]ew research by scientists at the University of Ottawa suggests that extreme heat waves have already driven some local North American and European bumblebee populations to the edge of extinction. Measurements of bumblebee species over time "provide evidence of rapid and widespread declines across Europe and North America," the authors of the study wrote. More frequent extreme heat waves with temperatures higher than bees can tolerate help explain the "widespread bumblebee decline," they added ... "Bumblebees are disappearing from areas eight times as fast as they are recolonizing others ... They are the best pollinators in wild landscapes and really important for crops like tomatoes, squash and berries" ... The research "adds to a growing body of evidence for alarming, widespread losses of biodiversity and for rates of global change that now exceed the critical limits of ecosystem resilience."
https://insideclimatenews.org/news/05022020/bumblebee-climate-change-heat-decline-migration
see also https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/feb/06/bumblebees-decline-points-to-mass-extinction-study

Peru’s Peatlands Could Greatly Accelerate Global Warming
Scientists have discovered that this Kentucky-size territory contains an enormous underground cache of carbon, in the form of peat—partially decomposed plant matter. Katherine Roucoux, principle investigator of Andueza’s research, says keeping that carbon in the ground “is a very important thing.” If the peat dries, it will decompose—or catch fire—releasing huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere ... An event two decades ago on the other side of the globe alerted scientists to just how greatly peatlands can exhale carbon when they are developed. In 1997—and again in 2015—huge tracts of peat in Indonesia went up in flames. Palm oil farms had drained the perpetually soggy, carbon-rich soil, and dry peat burns easily ... the 1997 conflagration gave off between three billion and almost 10 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide.
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/perus-peatlands-could-greatly-accelerate-global-warming/

Samples from famed 19th century voyage reveal ‘shocking’ effects of ocean acidification
Scientists have known for years that ... acidic waters eat away at the calcium carbonate shells and exo-skeletons of organisms from crabs to corals and make it harder for them to build such structures in the first place. But [they] haven’t been able to examine the long-term impacts of acidification in the open ocean—until now ... on average, all modern specimens had thinner shells than the historic specimens, up to 76% thinner in N. dutertrei, they reported last week in Scientific Reports. Some modern specimens had shells so thin that the team was unable to image some portions ... the researchers say ocean acidification is likely to blame.
https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/02/plankton-shells-have-become-dangerously-thin-acidifying-oceans-are-blame

Government Agency Warns Global Oil Industry Is on the Brink of a Meltdown
[T]he increasingly unsustainable economics of the oil industry could derail the global financial system within the next few years. The new report is published by the Geological Survey of Finland (GTK), which operates under the government’s Ministry of Economic Affairs. GTK is currently the European Commission’s lead coordinator of the EU’s flagship mineral resources database and modeling system ... The peer-reviewed report [concludes] that the economic viability of the entire global oil market could come undone within the next few years [leading to] another financial crash as oil markets become unstable, most likely within half a decade ... Although the world therefore needs to urgently transition away from fossil fuels, it may well be too late to do so in a way that avoids an economic crisis.
https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/8848g5/government-agency-warns-global-oil-industry-is-on-the-brink-of-a-meltdown
see also https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/peak-shale-will-send-oil-prices-sky-high-2020-02-07
reporting on a study at http://tupa.gtk.fi/raportti/arkisto/70_2019.pdf

Bumblebees' decline points to mass extinction – study
Bumblebees are in drastic decline across Europe and North America owing to hotter and more frequent extremes in temperatures, scientists say ... rates of decline appear to be “consistent with a mass extinction.”
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/feb/06/bumblebees-decline-points-to-mass-extinction-study
reporting on a study at https://science.sciencemag.org/content/367/6478/685

Why Clouds Are the Key to New Troubling Projections on Warming
An apparently settled conclusion about how sensitive the climate is to adding more greenhouse gases has been thrown into doubt by a series of new studies from the world’s top climate modeling groups. The studies have changed how the models treat clouds, following new field research. They suggest that the ability of clouds to keep us cool could be drastically reduced as the world warms — pushing global heating into overdrive ... Real-world data from satellites suggests that the modelers’ predictions may already be coming true. Norman Loeb of NASA’s Langley Research Center has shown that a sharp rise in global average temperatures since 2013 has coincided with a decline in cloud cover over the oceans.
https://e360.yale.edu/features/why-clouds-are-the-key-to-new-troubling-projections-on-warming

Multiple eco-crises could trigger 'systemic collapse': scientists
Overlapping environmental crises could tip the planet into "global systemic collapse," more than 200 top scientists warned Wednesday. Climate change, extreme weather events from hurricanes to heatwaves, the decline of life-sustaining ecosystems, food security and dwindling stores of fresh water ... topped the list both in terms of likelihood and impact, according to scientists surveyed by Future Earth, an international research organisation. In combination, they "have the potential to impact and amplify one another in ways that might cascade to create global systemic collapse," a team led by Maria Ivanova, a professor at the Center for Governance and Sustainability at the University of Massachusetts, said in a 50-page report.
https://phys.org/news/2020-02-multiple-eco-crises-trigger-collapse-scientists.html
see also https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/feb/06/humanity-under-threat-perfect-storm-crises-study-environment

Wildlife emerging months earlier than normal as winters 'lost' to climate change
Analysis of the conditions in 2019 found that all but one of the 50 spring [indicators] were early last year, amid warmer winter temperatures ... many species are losing their seasonal cues as winters warm and seasons shift. Some could be tempted out of hibernation too soon, and be hit by plummeting temperatures amid increasingly erratic weather, while some birds appeared to be breeding too late.
https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/british-wildlife-early-winter-climate-change-butterfly-newt-blackbird-a9315941.html

The world’s oceans are speeding up — another mega-scale consequence of climate change
Three-quarters of the world’s ocean waters have sped up their pace in recent decades, scientists reported Wednesday, a massive development that was not expected to occur until climate warming became much more advanced ... joining revelations about massive coral die-offs, upheaval to fisheries, ocean-driven melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, increasingly intense ocean heat waves and accelerating sea level rise ... this represents an enormous change and a tremendous input of wind energy ... the change was expected to peak at the end of this century, after vastly more warming than has happened so far. This suggests the Earth might actually be more sensitive to climate change than our simulations can currently show.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2020/02/05/worlds-oceans-are-speeding-up-another-mega-scale-consequence-climate-change/
reporting on a study at https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/6/eaax7727

Sea level rise accelerating along US coastline, scientists warn
The pace of sea level rise accelerated at nearly all measurement stations along the US coastline in 2019, with scientists warning some of the bleakest scenarios for inundation and flooding are steadily becoming more likely. Of 32 tide-gauge stations in locations along the vast US coastline, 25 showed a clear acceleration in sea level rise last year, according to researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (Vims) ... The gathering speed of sea level rise is evident even within the space of a year, with water levels at the 25 sites rising at a faster rate in 2019 than in 2018.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/feb/03/sea-level-rise-accelerating-us-coastline-scientists-warn

January 2020 warmest on record: EU climate service
[January 2020] was the warmest January on record globally, while in Europe temperatures were a balmy three degrees Celsius above the average January from 1981 to 2010, the European Union's climate monitoring system reported Tuesday. Across a band of countries stretching from Norway to Russia, temperatures were an unprecedented 6C above the same 30-year benchmark, Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) reported in a statement. New temperature highs—monthly, yearly, decadal—have become commonplace due to the impact of climate change, caused mainly by the burning of fossil fuels, scientists say. The five last years have been the hottest on record, as was the ten-year period 2010-2019.
https://phys.org/news/2020-02-january-warmest-eu-climate.html

Thanks to clouds, latest climate models predict more global warming than their predecessors
Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Leeds and Imperial College London have found that the latest generation of global climate models predict more warming in response to increasing carbon dioxide than their predecessors. These refined models represent aspects of Earth’s climate better than previous models, suggesting that these warmer predictions may be more realistic ... The research appears in the current issue of Geophysical Research Letters.
https://www.llnl.gov/news/thanks-clouds-latest-climate-models-predict-more-global-warming-their-predecessors
reporting on a study at https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/2019GL085782

Arctic permafrost thaw plays greater role in climate change than previously estimated
Abrupt thawing of permafrost will double previous estimates of potential carbon emissions from permafrost thaw in the Arctic, and is already rapidly changing the landscape and ecology of the circumpolar north ... new study distinguishes between gradual permafrost thaw, which affects permafrost and its carbon stores slowly, versus more abrupt types of permafrost thaw. Some 20% of the Arctic region has conditions conducive to abrupt thaw [which] is a large emitter of carbon, including the release of carbon dioxide as well as methane, which is more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. That means that even though at any given time less than 5% of the Arctic permafrost region is likely to be experiencing abrupt thaw, their emissions will equal those of areas experiencing gradual thaw ... published today in Nature Geoscience. "Forests can become lakes in the course of a month, landslides occur with no warning, and invisible methane seep holes can swallow snowmobiles whole." ... the first paper to pull together the wide body of literature on past and current abrupt thaw across different types of landscapes ... "The impacts from abrupt thaw are not represented in any existing global model and our findings indicate that this could amplify the permafrost climate-carbon feedback by up to a factor of two."
https://phys.org/news/2020-02-arctic-permafrost-greater-role-climate.html

Climate Models Are Running Red Hot and Scientists Don’t Know Why
The simulators used to forecast warming have suddenly started giving us less time.
There are dozens of climate models, and for decades they’ve agreed on what it would take to heat the planet ... Then last year these same models [that] have successfully projected global warming for a half century sent future projections upward at an unheard-of rate ... Climate models have been doing a fine job projecting warming for a long time. A recent study [showed] 14 of 17 past projections turned out to be consistent with the measured path of global average temperatures ... one factor [that] might have caused the recent unusual results [is] new cloud and aerosol settings ... “What really scares me is that our model looked better for some really good physical reasons,” he said. “So we can't throw them out yet” ... climate-modeling groups will peruse each other’s results to figure out how seemingly good improvements in cloud and aerosol science may have pushed the models into hotter states.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-02-03/climate-models-are-running-red-hot-and-scientists-don-t-know-why
see also https://phys.org/news/2019-12-cooling-role-particulate-earth-stronger.html
see also https://www.zmescience.com/science/global-warming-faster-93252342/

Scientists alarmed to discover warm water at "vital point" beneath Antarctica's "doomsday glacier"
While researchers have observed the recession of the Thwaites Glacier for a decade, this marks the first time they detected the presence of warm water ... "The fact that such warm water was just now recorded by our team along a section of Thwaites grounding zone where we have known the glacier is melting suggests that it may be undergoing an unstoppable retreat that has huge implications for global sea-level rise," David Holland, director of New York University's Environmental Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and NYU Abu Dhabi's Center for Global Sea Level Change, which conducted the research, said in the news release.
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/climate-change-thwaites-melting-scientists-warm-water-antarctica-doomsday-glacier/
see also https://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/news/2020/january/scientists-find-record-warm-water-in-antarctica--pointing-to-cau.html
reporting on a study at https://thwaitesglacier.org/projects/melt

Australia’s Marine Animals Are the Fires’ Unseen Victims
More than 17.1 million hectares of land have burned across the country, with the worst fires currently raging in New South Wales and Victoria ... Though Australia is in the midst of a massive drought, when the rain inevitably returns—as it already has in some regions—this organic matter will rush into rivers and flow into coastal lakes, estuaries, and seagrass and seaweed beds ... The free-flowing silt will get into fish’s gills and block sunlight that seagrass and seaweed beds need for photosynthesis, effectively strangling them ... The slurry of potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen will also cause algae in the water to bloom. The algae will consume the oxygen in the water, suffocating species that rely on it ... Some of these effects are already being felt.
https://truthout.org/articles/australias-marine-animals-are-the-fires-unseen-victims/

After California wildfires, insurance companies drop some homeowner policies
In 2017, California wildfires cost insurance companies $13 billion. That’s $4 billion more than the cost of the prior 10 years combined. In 2018, the costs grew even higher. Dave Jones, a former insurance commissioner of California, says these skyrocketing costs affect homeowners. “When risks get too extreme for insurance companies, they do two things,” he says. “One is they raise the price of their product to reflect that risk, and second, they begin to write less insurance for that risk.”
https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2020/01/after-california-wildfires-insurance-companies-drop-some-homeowner-policies/

“A Trillion Trees” is a great idea—that could become a dangerous climate distraction
We’d have to plant and protect a massive number of trees for decades to offset even a fraction of global emissions. And years of efforts can be nullified by droughts, wildfires, disease, or deforestation elsewhere ... the US produced about 5.8 billion tons of emissions across the economy last year. Absent other climate policies, that’d suggest we need to dedicate nearly 155 million hectares (371 million acres), or well over twice the area of Texas. The problem is, the US and most nations don’t have vast amounts of suitable land sitting around. And converting it comes at a cost to farming, food production, logging, and other uses. Indeed, a report last week by the Committee on Climate Change concluded the United Kingdom would need to commit a fifth of its farmland to dedicated carbon storage, on top of many other efforts, for the nation to reach its target of net zero emissions by 2050.
https://www.technologyreview.com/s/615102/tree-planting-is-a-great-idea-that-could-become-a-dangerous-climate-distraction/

Arctic on red alert as lands grow greener
As Arctic summer temperatures warm, plants are responding. Snow is melting earlier and plants are coming into leaf sooner in spring. Tundra vegetation is spreading into new areas and where plants were already growing, they are now growing taller ... Researchers from Europe and North America are finding that the Arctic greening observed from space is caused by more than just the responses of tundra plants to warming on the ground ... The paper, published in Nature Climate Change, was funded in part by the National Geographic Society and government agencies in the UK, North America and Europe, including NASA’s Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE) and the UK's Natural Environment Research Council.
https://www.ed.ac.uk/news/2020/arctic-on-red-alert-as-lands-grow-greener
reporting on a study at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-019-0688-1

African countries to bear the brunt of climate change: FAO
African countries that are still in their development phase and over reliant on agriculture for survival will be the hardest hit by the effects of climate change, drastically reducing yields and also threatening food security, a report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says ... The United Nations organisation responsible for food security also reiterated the need for Third World countries to be better equipped for their agriculture to survive.
https://southerntimesafrica.com/site/news/african-countries-to-bear-the-brunt-of-climate-change-fao

Ladakh's Melting Glaciers Ring A Warning Bell, Why Indo-Gangetic Plain Is In Danger Zone
World Economic Forum shared its Global Risks Report 2020 ... Himalayas is ground zero [where] less snowfall and heavy rainfall contribute to erratic climatic conditions ... nearly 40 per cent of the world’s population depends directly or indirectly on mountain resources for water supply [and] in the Indo-Gangetic plain, home to over 400 million people, that source is the Himalayas ... in Davos, in the Swiss Alps, over the course of the last week, the world’s business and political leaders deliberated on how to address the climate crisis. Typically, nothing tangible came out, despite climate change being the key theme. “We will be destroyed by climate change, not the planet. This will be for us a clear indication that we absolutely need to change course. Humankind has declared a war on nature and nature is striking back in a very violent way,” UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said rather dejectedly.
https://www.outlookindia.com/magazine/story/sports-news-ladakhs-melting-glaciers-ring-a-warning-bell-why-indo-gangetic-plain-is-in-danger-zone/302705

Methane hotspots where the siberian arctic sea 'boils' studied by scientists
In a study published in Science Advances, a team of researchers led by Brett Thornton, from Stockholm University, went on a two-month expedition to the Arctic to take measurements of methane coming from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, off the Russian and Alaskan coasts ... "The problem is, if this huge amount of methane is coming out of the sea, then we are missing a major part of the global methane emissions, and our understanding of global methane is wrong," Thornton said. "But many land stations making measurements of methane around the Arctic Ocean haven't seen large increases of methane that would be expected from large sea emissions. So what is actually happening?"
https://www.newsweek.com/methane-bubbles-boil-sea-arctic-1484666

World's Oldest Rainforest Is Being Cooked to Death by Climate Change, Authorities Warn
A statement issued Monday by the management authority for the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area warns that site, which spans 450 kilometers (280 miles) along Australia’s northeast coast, is experiencing “accelerating decline” as a result of human-caused climate change ... the world’s oldest rainforest; a relic of the Gondwana forest that spanned parts of Australia and Antarctica some 50 million years ago ... “This is occurring now, not in the future, and requires an immediate response,” the board wrote in the statement.
https://earther.gizmodo.com/worlds-oldest-rainforest-is-being-cooked-to-death-by-cl-1834411328

English councils set to miss carbon emission targets
The findings make it “inconceivable” that they will become carbon neutral within 30 years, as the government has mandated ... Despite 78% of councils in the survey saying they are planning towards net zero operation by 2050, 47% say they do not have a strategy in place to reduce the carbon emissions from housing, offices and other buildings.
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/jan/27/english-councils-set-to-miss-carbon-emission-targets

Global heating may lead to wine shortage
Researchers looked at the land suitable for 11 popular varieties of wine grape and found that 2C (3.6F) of warming above pre-industrial levels – a rise the world is on track to exceed – would result in a 56% loss of suitable land within current wine-growing regions compared with the 1970s, before the most serious impacts of global heating.
https://www.theguardian.com/food/2020/jan/27/global-heating-may-lead-to-wine-shortage-vineyard

Race to exploit the world’s seabed set to wreak havoc on marine life
Jouffray is the lead author of an analysis, published last week in the journal One Earth ... which paints an alarming picture of the impact of future exploitation of the oceans. This threat comes not just from seabed mining – which is set to expand dramatically in coming years – but from fish farming, desalination plant construction, shipping, submarine cable laying, cruise tourism and the building of offshore wind farms. This is “blue acceleration”, the term that is used by Jouffray and his co-authors to describe the recent rapid rise in marine industrialisation, a trend that has brought increasing ocean acidification, marine heating, coral reef destruction, and plastic pollution in its wake.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/25/race-for-seabed-threat-to-oceans

Pacific Ocean’s rising acidity causes Dungeness crabs’ shells to dissolve
The Pacific Ocean is becoming so acidic it is starting to dissolve the shells of a key species of crab, according to a new US study. Scientists found that the Dungeness crab, one of the most valuable species for recreational and commercial fisheries, is starting to weaken as its larvae are affected by rising ocean acidity. The study was published in the Science of the Total Environment academic journal and funded by the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/28/crabs-shells-dissolve-acidity-pacific-ocean

2018's Four Corners drought directly linked to human-caused climate change
Climate scientists from UC Santa Barbara's geography department have now distilled just how strong an effect human-induced warming had on that event. Their findings appear in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society ... 60 to 80% of the region's increased potential for evaporation stemmed from human-induced warming alone, which caused additional warming of 2 degrees Celsius ... These findings are a conservative estimate of climate change's influence on the drought, according to Williams. For one, the study only considered the impact human-induced warming had on temperatures. Climate change may also have influenced the region's low rainfall. What's more, there are strong feedback cycles between the atmosphere and the land, which the study left out.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/01/200123152606.htm

Humans risk living in an empty world, warns UN biodiversity chief
The warning comes on the eve of the Davos World Economic Forum, where biodiversity loss has been highlighted as the third biggest risk to the world in terms of likelihood and severity this year, ahead of infectious diseases, terror attacks and interstate conflict. The ongoing destruction of life-supporting ecosystems such as coral reefs and rainforests means humans risk living in an “empty world” with “catastrophic” consequences for society.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/20/humans-risk-living-in-an-empty-world-warns-un-biodiversity-chief-aoe

Arctic sea ice can't 'bounce back'
The study examined whether past ice changes north of Iceland were "forced" (caused by events such as volcanic eruptions and variations in the sun's output) or "unforced" (part of a natural pattern) ... "There is increasing evidence that many aspects of our changing climate aren't caused by natural variation, but are instead 'forced' by certain events," he said. "Our study shows the large effect that climate drivers can have on Arctic sea ice, even when those drivers are weak as is the case with volcanic eruptions or solar changes. Today, the climate driver isn't weak volcanic or solar changes -- it's human activity, and we are now massively forcing the system."
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/01/200121112913.htm

NOAA Gets Go-Ahead to Study Controversial Climate Plan B
Government climate scientists will study two geoengineering proposals to counteract global warming
One [approach] is to inject sulfur dioxide or a similar aerosol into the stratosphere to help shade the Earth from more intense sunlight. It is patterned after a natural solution: volcanic eruptions, which have been found to cool the Earth by emitting huge clouds of sulfur dioxide. The second approach would use an aerosol of sea salt particles to improve the ability of low-lying clouds over the ocean to act as shade ... the results likely wouldn’t be immediate ... might take until the next century to complete the cooling ... There would be drawbacks, he noted ... “When you put aerosols up into the atmosphere, it ... opens up this whole menu of things that you’d have to worry about.”
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/noaa-gets-go-ahead-to-study-controversial-climate-plan-b/

Planet Just Had Costliest Decade for Global Natural Disasters: Insurance Industry Report
The economic losses from 2010–2019, according to Aon's Weather, Climate & Catastrophe Insight: 2019 Annual Report, hit nearly $3 trillion ... "Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the last decade of natural disasters was the emergence of previously considered 'secondary' perils—such as wildfire, flood, and drought—becoming much more costly and impactful" ... Aon's report comes a week after scientists confirmed 2019 was the second-warmest year on record and ended the warmest decade on record.
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/01/22/planet-just-had-costliest-decade-global-natural-disasters-insurance-industry-report

A ‘Green Swan’ is the next economic nightmare
The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) — known as the central bank for central banks — said in a paper titled “The Green Swan” that climate-related events could be the source of the next financial crisis ... “The increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events could trigger non-linear and irreversible financial losses. In turn, the immediate and system-wide transition required to fight climate change could have far-reaching effects potentially affecting every single agent in the economy and every single asset price.” ... In Deutsche Bank's outline of economic history over the last few centuries, growth has been the tide that lifts all boats, a “game changer for health and living standards.” But if climate change makes a sustainable path forward for growth untenable, then our modern societal organization around this economic policy could be upended. “Such sacrifices may shock citizens and be difficult to administer in democracies ... The problem for the environmental lobby is that a world without economic growth may create a damaging backlash against such climate policies. Nevertheless, the problem with the status quo is that the irreversible damage to our planet will increase.” On the one hand, modern civilization is screwed. On the other hand, modern civilization is screwed.
https://finance.yahoo.com/news/why-economists-worry-reversing-climate-change-is-hopeless-morning-brief-110537963.html
reporting on a study at https://www.bis.org/publ/othp31.htm

Widespread Melt on the George VI Ice Shelf
These images were acquired on January 19, 2020, by the Operational Land Imager on Landsat 8. Christopher Shuman, a University of Maryland, Baltimore County glaciologist based at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, noticed the melt in the Landsat images. He noted: “It is the only complete view of such a widespread surface melt event on the George VI Ice Shelf captured in the nearly 50-year-long Landsat record.” Alison Banwell, a glaciologist at the University of Colorado Boulder who currently has a three-year fieldwork project on the shelf, noticed the melt in images acquired that same day with the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2 satellite. “This is the biggest melt event we know to have occurred on the George VI ice shelf,” she said. “What’s worrying is if George VI looks like this, other ice shelves on the peninsula probably have plenty of meltwater too,” Banwell said. “And those ice shelves are less stable.”
https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/146189/widespread-melt-on-the-george-vi-ice-shelf

Scientists Highlight A Catastrophe Taking Place With UK’s Plankton
60 years of data show 70% of the vital ocean plankton have simply vanished
Yet they alone as the grass of ocean pastures are what feed all fish, or what few fish can survive on these UK ocean pastures that have become ever more desolate ocean deserts ... The study was written by world-leading researchers [and] forms part of the MCCIP Report Card 2020, which summarizes 26 individual, peer-reviewed scientific reports to provide detailed evidence of observed and projected climate change impacts.
https://russgeorge.net/2020/01/20/uk-reports-70-of-uk-plankton-has-gone-missing/

Geographers find tipping point in deforestation
University of Cincinnati geography researchers have identified a tipping point for deforestation that leads to rapid forest loss ... deforestation occurs comparatively slowly until about half of the forest is gone. Then the remaining forest disappears very quickly. The study was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters ...  it's possible that development such as logging roads or drainage required to clear forest makes continued change that much easier.
https://phys.org/news/2020-01-geographers-deforestation.html

2019 A Record Breaking Typhoon Year For West Pacific Ocean
2018 was a record year as far as Typhoons are concerned. However, 2019 set a new mark surpassing the previous year’s records not only in number but it has also been the costliest Pacific season on record. 2019 has been rated as above average year with 29 tropical storms, out of which 17 became Typhoons and four became Super Typhoons. Another record breaking incident occurred on the first day of 2019 itself, when the first named storm Pabuk was formed [and the final] named storm of 2019 was Phanfone dissipated on Dec 29.
https://www.skymetweather.com/content/global-news/2019-a-record-breaking-typhoon-year-for-west-pacific-ocean/

[New Zealand] Farmers' funds run dry, families struggle, as drought threatens eastern Northland
Extremely dry conditions across all of Northland are costing farmers hundreds of thousands of dollars and driving families to extreme measures to save precious water. The region has just experienced its hottest and driest year, breaking 16 records in 2019. The start of 2020 has also seen extremely dry conditions across Northland, said Ben Noll, a meteorologist and forecaster for The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research. "We're now seeing the emergence of meteorological drought conditions for eastern Northland," he said. "It's the compounding effect of several seasons in a row with below normal rainfall and lack of soil moisture that leads us to this point."
https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/118969814/farmers-funds-run-dry-families-struggle-as-drought-threatens-eastern-northland

Zimbabwe’s national grain stocks dwindle
Zimbabwe’s Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR) is down to below 100,000 tons of the staple maize from the mandatory 500,000 tons following a drought last year, a cabinet minister said Wednesday ... Zimbabwe’s consumes about 1.8 million tons of grain annually, but produced less than 800,000 tons last season due to the impact of drought and Cyclone Idai.
https://www.newsghana.com.gh/zimbabwes-national-grain-stocks-dwindle/

Premier declares Northern Cape disaster area due to drought
[South Africa's Northern Cape] province has officially been declared a disaster area due to drought - just as another municipality battles crippling water shortages, with its dam water levels below 23% of capacity ... [And] municipal manager Charl du Plessis announced that the drought-stricken Eastern Cape municipality was extending a declaration of a state of disaster.
https://www.iol.co.za/news/politics/premier-declares-northern-cape-disaster-area-due-to-drought-41148947

Eight million salmon killed in a week by sudden surge of algae in Norway
Deaths come weeks after similar incident in Scotland: ‘We’re all pretty worried’
A sudden surge in algae has killed at least eight million salmon in one week across Norwegian fish farms, the state-owned Norwegian Seafood Council has said. The enormous algal blooms, due to recent warm weather, have spread rapidly around Norway’s northern coast, sticking to fishes’ gills and suffocating them. Wild fish can swim away from the lethal clouds of aquatic organisms, but farmed fish are trapped. The algae is continuing to spread, the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries said ... There are now no commercial wild salmon fishing stations operating in the UK due to the collapse in numbers. “There’s basically no fish stocks left on the west coast. It’s become almost a marine desert, and the use of these chemicals (from the salmon farming industry) has not helped the situation.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/salmon-farming-norway-algae-killed-fishing-seafood-council-a8925581.html

[Nebraska] As A New Flood Season Nears, Some Towns Still Can't Pay To Fix Damages From 2019
Adams said repairs haven’t been made yet to the town’s levee system, which puts him and neighboring farmers at risk to flood again this year ... Peru isn’t the only community on the hook ... Gering-Ft. Laramie Irrigation Tunnel collapsed in western Nebraska last July, leaving over a hundred thousand crop acres to shrivel in the sun for two months ... Adams wanted me to see his grain bins. He warned me of the indescribable smell of rotten corn, which remains beyond language. They look like an art installation: a collection of cartoonishly bent metal flanked by 150,000 bushels of moldy blue-grey kernels ... "You think everything's good, you're at a peak, you've made contacts, you've talked to congressional people, and you think things are going to happen,” Adams said. “And then all of a sudden, nothing does, and you're down in a valley. So you know, it's kind of a little roller coaster.”
http://netnebraska.org/article/news/1204020/new-flood-season-nears-some-towns-still-cant-pay-fix-damages-2019

Where nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 300-times stronger than CO2, is being emitted
Until the launch of the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-5P satellite in 2017, it was difficult to track NOx precisely. But now scientists are getting their first detailed looks at data collected by the satellite. Sensors onboard Sentinel-5P can capture NOx emissions at a resolution of 7 km ... The next generation of satellites from the European Space Agency and private firms may even be able to identify NOx from individual factories and power plants.
https://qz.com/1745204/maps-of-nitrous-oxide-emissions-a-potent-greenhouse-gas/

CFCs responsible for half of Arctic sea-ice loss
Halogenated compounds played a major role in global warming and Arctic sea ice loss in the late-20th century, a new study has found. Organic halogen compounds are known to have depleted atmospheric ozone concentrations, famously contributing to the ozone hole over the Antarctic. But until now, few studies have examined their other effects on climate, beyond their impact on stratospheric ozone. Now, an investigation led by Columbia University geophysicist Lorenzo Polvani has revealed the extent to which ozone-depleting substances (ODS) contributed to temperature rises and sea-ice loss in the Arctic by direct radiative warming, between 1955 and 2005. On a molecule-by-molecule basis, halogenated organic compounds trap much more heat in the atmosphere than most other known compounds. For example dichlorodifluoromethane (CFC-12) has a global warming potential almost 11,000 times that of carbon dioxide. This means that, although ODS might exist in much smaller atmospheric concentrations than other greenhouse gases, their impact can be just as significant.
https://www.chemistryworld.com/news/cfcs-responsible-for-half-of-arctic-sea-ice-loss/4011037.article

Why economists worry that reversing climate change is hopeless
The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) — known as the central bank for central banks — said in a paper titled “The Green Swan” that climate-related events could be the source of the next financial crisis ... "The increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events could trigger non-linear and irreversible financial losses ... potentially affecting every single agent in the economy and every single asset price” ... our modern societal organization around this economic policy could be upended. “We think we will soon enter a stage where there will be a realization of the immense economic and personal trade-offs we will collectively have to make ... Such sacrifices may shock citizens and be difficult to administer in democracies [and] may create a damaging backlash against such climate policies. Nevertheless, the problem with the status quo is that the irreversible damage to our planet will increase.”
https://finance.yahoo.com/news/why-economists-worry-reversing-climate-change-is-hopeless-morning-brief-110537963.html

Study finds shocking rise in levels of potent greenhouse gas
Efforts to reduce levels of one potent greenhouse gas appear to be failing, according to a study. Scientists had expected to find a dramatic reduction in levels of the hydrofluorocarbon HFC-23 in the atmosphere after India and China, two of the main sources, reported in 2017 that they had almost completely eliminated emissions. But a paper published in the journal Nature Communications says that by 2018 concentrations of the gas – used in fridges, inhalers and air conditioners – had not fallen but were increasing at a record rate ... Scientists say the fact they found emissions had risen is a puzzle and could have implications for the Montreal protocol, an international treaty that was designed to protect the stratospheric ozone layer. Kieran Stanley, the lead author of the study, said that although China and India were not yet bound by the agreement, their reported reduction would have put them on course to be consistent with it. “Our study finds that it is very likely that China has not been as successful in reducing HFC-23 emissions as reported,” he said.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/21/study-finds-shock-rise-in-levels-of-potent-greenhouse-gas-hfc-23

Climate change won’t result in a new normal but in constant, horrifying new disasters
At an intense level of combined heat and humidity—a “wetbulb” reading of 35 degrees Celsius, hotter and more humid than humans have ever experienced—the air will become so muggy that people can’t sweat and their organs begin to shut down. A healthy person sitting outside could eventually overheat and die, even if they’re resting in the shade. And by 2030, there’s a chance that this type of deadly heat wave could hit regions in India where as many as 200 million people live. A new report from McKinsey Global Institute looks at the risk of extreme heat in India along with eight other case studies of the potential physical risks of climate change over the next three decades ... For more than 10,000 years, and the entire history of human civilization, the climate has been relatively stable. Now it is not ... It’s not that we’re moving to a “new normal” but to a world where the climate is constantly changing ... “A stable climate really drives how we design the world around us,” says Krishnan. “And that could now put systems at risk around the world.” ... Globally, the researchers looked at 105 countries, and found that by 2030, all of them would face an increased risk of at least one major impact. Millions of lives could be at risk, along with trillions of dollars’ worth of economic activity and capital.
https://www.fastcompany.com/90452018/climate-change-wont-result-in-a-new-normal-but-in-constant-horrifying-new-disasters
reporting on a study at https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/sustainability/our-insights/climate-risk-and-response-physical-hazards-and-socioeconomic-impacts

Were other humans the first victims of the sixth mass extinction?
Nine human species walked the Earth 300,000 years ago. Now there is just one ... the extinctions’ timing suggests they were caused by the spread of a new species, evolving 260,000-350,000 years ago in Southern Africa: Homo sapiens. The spread of modern humans out of Africa has caused a sixth mass extinction, a greater than 40,000-year event extending from the disappearance of Ice Age mammals to the destruction of rainforests by civilisation today. But were other humans the first casualties?
https://theconversation.com/were-other-humans-the-first-victims-of-the-sixth-mass-extinction-126638

World needs to prepare for 'millions' of climate displaced: U.N.
The world needs to prepare for millions of people being driven from their homes by the impact of climate change, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said on Tuesday. Speaking to Reuters at the World Economic Forum, Filippo Grandi said a U.N. ruling this week meant those fleeing as a result of climate change deserved international protection, and that it had broad implications for governments. The U.N. Human Rights Committee made the landmark ruling on Monday.
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-davos-meeting-refugees/world-needs-to-prepare-for-millions-of-climate-displaced-u-n-idUSKBN1ZK1Q2

Pyrenees glaciers to disappear within 30 years, scientists warn
Glaciers have already shrunk by half in the past 20 years in the mountains on the border between France and Spain, according to a new report by scientists who monitor them for the local environmental group Moraine. “Pyrenean glaciers are doomed,” said Pierre René, an expert on glaciers.
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/01/19/pyrenees-glaciers-disappear-within-30-years-scientists-warn/

An intensifying climate crisis threatens more than half of the world’s GDP, research claims
Over half of the world’s gross domestic product is exposed to risks from nature loss ... The report, which was produced by the World Economic Forumin in collaboration with PwC UK, found that $44 trillion of economic value generation — more than half of the world’s GDP — is “moderately or highly dependent on nature and its services and is therefore exposed to nature loss.” Policymakers and business leaders from around the world are due to arrive in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum on Monday. The annual January get-together is scheduled to focus on the intensifying climate crisis.
https://www.cnbc.com/2020/01/19/davos-climate-crisis-threatens-more-than-half-of-the-worlds-gdp-wef-says.html

Climate threats now dominate long-term risks, survey of global leaders finds
Climate-change-related threats such as extreme weather, large-scale biodiversity losses and a failure of political leaders to slow planetary heating are now the top long-term risks facing the globe, business and other leaders said on Wednesday. An annual risk survey published ahead of the World Economic Forum next week put climate threats ahead of risks ranging from cyberattacks and pandemics to geopolitical conflict and weapons of mass destruction for the first time ... Peter Giger, chief risk officer for the Zurich Insurance Group, warned that "the longer we wait (to tackle climate change), the more painful the transition will be" because of the rapid plunge in emissions that delay would necessitate. He pointed to the rapid disappearance of insect species around the world, including those that pollinate 75% of the world's crops, as a result of climate change and other pressures. If insects and the pollination services they provide disappear, "that's a catastrophic outcome" for food security and for business.
http://news.trust.org/item/20200115150054-km9of/

Study Confirms Climate Models are Getting Future Warming Projections Right
In a study accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, a research team led by Zeke Hausfather of the University of California, Berkeley, conducted a systematic evaluation of the performance of past climate models. The team compared 17 increasingly sophisticated model projections of global average temperature developed between 1970 and 2007 with actual changes in global temperature observed through the end of 2017 ... “The results of this study of past climate models bolster scientists’ confidence that both they as well as today’s more advanced climate models are skillfully projecting global warming,” said study co-author Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies in New York.
https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2943/study-confirms-climate-models-are-getting-future-warming-projections-right/

New Climate Models Show That Clouds Could Screw the Paris Agreement
In a new study published in Geophysical Research Letters, researchers examined the sensitivity of more than two dozen new climate models. If the models are right, the goals laid out in the Paris Climate Agreement to cap global warming could be out of reach ... in new climate models, this [cloud] effect isn’t as powerful in cooling the Earth as scientists once thought. At the same time, models also predict that Earth will have fewer and thinner low-level clouds, particularly in the mid-latitude Southern Hemisphere. Thick, fluffy clouds low in the atmosphere help block sunlight from Earth and protect it from some warming, so losing cloud coverage means losing that protection.
https://earther.gizmodo.com/new-climate-models-show-that-clouds-could-screw-the-par-1841000435

Beetles and fire kill dozens of 'indestructible' giant sequoia trees
Giant sequoia trees, the largest living organisms on the planet – some more than three millennia old – have started dying from beetle attacks linked to the climate emergency ... The deaths have challenged age-old assumptions about the tree, which only grows on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada and is fabled for its near-indestructibility ... “It’s unheard of. It’s never happened before,” said Dr Christy Brigham, chief of resource management and science for Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, who oversees the welfare of ecosystems in the parks.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/18/beetles-and-fire-kill-dozens-of-california-indestructible-giant-sequoia-trees-aoe

Federal study links climate change, giant sequoia deaths
Once regarded as virtually indestructible, some of California's giant sequoia trees are succumbing to the effects of high heat and climate change ... unprecedented combination of drought, fire and beetle infestation, all linked to a warming climate. That's according to the preliminary results of a joint study by the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey ... Earlier studies have warned that the trees, which are native to California's Sierra Nevada, face a double risk from rising temperatures and a declining snowpack. And a 2012 study in the journal Science found that 100- to 300-year-old trees were on the front lines of a changing climate, dying at high rates around the world partly because of hotter and drier weather.
https://www.eenews.net/stories/1062150049

Global warming cited as Antarctica's chinstrap penguin population drops by half
"They come back to the same place to nest every year, which means we can really keep tabs on their populations," explains Alex Borowicz, a researcher at Stony Brook University. "By observing penguins and trying to figure out what makes their populations work, we can get an idea of the health of this whole area" ... One nearby island, actually called Penguin Island, has seen its chinstrap population plunge by 75 percent over the past four decades. The numbers have dropped across the region as average temperatures have soared ... "It's very dramatic to have a wildlife population decline by 50% - an unexploited wildlife population. They're not hunted."
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/global-warming-cited-as-antarctica-chinstrap-penguin-population-drops-by-half/

All-time record as dam after dam overflows in January
[The dams of Cyprus] have never overflowed so early in the year, the Water Development Department said on Wednesday as two more of the largest reservoirs reached full capacity and water flooded over the dam walls. Kouris and Evretou reservoirs overflowed between Tuesday and Wednesday while Kalavassos residents woke up to find a river where a road had been ... Τhe Polemidia reservoir overflowed on Wednesday for the second year in the row. Several smaller reservoirs, mainly in Paphos, have also reached capacity in recent days ... According to senior engineer at the WDD Marios Hadjicostis this is the first time that water reserves have been so high in January, forcing dam after dam to overflow.
https://cyprus-mail.com/2020/01/08/all-time-record-as-dam-after-dam-overflows-in-january-updated

Mount Everest is melting fast, satellite images reveal
According to what the researchers have found, glaciers surrounding Mount Everest have lost far more ice than once thought. Researchers have generated a digital surface-elevation models of the glaciers ... the glaciers along Mount Everest's flanks had shrunk significantly from the top down and this happened in between 1962 to 2018.
https://www.indiatvnews.com/science/mount-everest-is-melting-satellite-photos-show-580085

Earth's oceans are hotter than ever — and getting warmer faster
The world's oceans hit their warmest level in recorded history in 2019, according to a study published Monday that provides more evidence that Earth is warming at an accelerated pace. The analysis, which also found that ocean temperatures in the last decade have been the warmest on record, shows the impact of human-caused warming on the planet's oceans and suggests that sea-level rise, ocean acidification and extreme weather events could worsen as the oceans continue to absorb so much heat ... the rate of ocean warming accelerated from 1987 to 2019 to nearly 4½ times the rate of warming from 1955 to 1986 ...  the study [was] published Monday in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences.
https://www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/earth-s-oceans-are-hotter-ever-getting-warmer-faster-n1114811

Arctic methane levels reach new heights
Latest data released by a US institution, the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL), sounds afresh alarm bells for the Artic and climate change. It adds further evidence corroborating an earlier hypothesis that predicts a catastrophic release of methane in the coming decades due to thawing Arctic permafrost ... To spot methane levels breaking the 2000ppb mark so sharply in this fragile region is unprecedented ... "This increase is very bad news for climate change as methane is such a strong climate forcer."
https://eandt.theiet.org/content/articles/2019/09/arctic-methane-levels-reach-new-heights-data-shows

'Scale of This Failure Has No Precedent': Scientists Say Hot Ocean 'Blob' Killed One Million Seabirds
On the heels of new research showing that the world's oceans are rapidly warming, scientists revealed Wednesday that a huge patch of hot water in the northeast Pacific Ocean dubbed "the blob" was to blame for killing about one million seabirds. The peer-reviewed study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, was conducted by a team of researchers at federal and state agencies, conservation groups, and universities ... "The magnitude and scale of this failure has no precedent," lead author John Piatt, a research biologist at the U.S. Geological Survey's Alaska Science Center and an affiliate professor at the University of Washington, said in a statement.
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/01/16/scale-failure-has-no-precedent-scientists-say-hot-ocean-blob-killed-one-million

The Panama Canal is running out of water
“Historically, the months of October and November are the rainiest,” says Ricaurte Vásquez, administrator of the canal, at a press conference. But last year the rain in the Canal Basin was 34 per cent and 27 per cent below its historic average in October and November respectively, he said. At the same time, temperature rise has led to a ten per cent rise in evaporation from the reservoirs which supply the canal. All this spells trouble for the system of waterways and artificial reservoirs that have been developed to support the canal’s lock mechanism, which requires millions of gallons of fresh water pouring into it to transfer ships across. The worry is that the nearby Gatún reservoir now has too low a reserve of water to face the dry season, which is just beginning now and, in a worst case scenario, could last as late as July.
https://www.wired.co.uk/article/panama-canal-climate-change

Australians could become 'climate refugees' due to rising global temperatures
Australia could become so hot and dry that the country's residents could become climate refugees. That's the view of acclaimed US climatologist and geophysicist Michael Mann who's in Australia studying climate change ... "It is conceivable that much of Australia simply becomes too hot and dry for human habitation," said Dr Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. "In that case, yes, unfortunately, we could well see Australians join the ranks of the world's climate refugees."
https://7news.com.au/news/climate-change/australians-may-become-climate-refugees-c-648335

BlackRock’s Larry Fink: Risks from climate change are bigger than the 2008 financial crisis with no Fed to save us
BlackRock chief Larry Fink is warning that the financial risks of climate change are bigger than any crisis he’s experienced in his career on Wall Street. Fink, whose BlackRock has nearly $7 trillion in assets under management, used his annual letter to the world’s biggest companies to sound the alarm. “We don’t have a Federal Reserve to stabilize the world like in the five or six financial crises that occurred during my 40 years in finance. This is bigger .... Climate change has become a defining factor in companies’ long-term prospects.”
https://www.cnbc.com/2020/01/14/larry-fink-risk-from-climate-change-bigger-than-2008-financial-crisis.html

Atlantic circulation collapse could cut British crop farming
Such a collapse—a climate change "tipping point"—would leave Britain cooler, drier and unsuitable for many crops, the study says ...  The point of this detailed study was to discover how stark the impacts of AMOC collapse could be. The study follows a recent paper by Lenton and colleagues warning of a possible "cascade" of inter-related tipping points ... AMOC collapse and the resulting temperature drop could lead to a host of other economic costs for the UK ... The paper, published in the inaugural issue of the journal Nature Food, is entitled: "Shifts in national land use and food production in Great Britain after a climate tipping point."
https://phys.org/news/2020-01-atlantic-circulation-collapse-british-crop.html

Climate change: Australia fires will be 'normal' in warmer world
UK scientists say the recent fires in Australia are a taste of what the world will experience as temperatures rise. Prof Richard Betts from the Met Office Hadley Centre said we are "seeing a sign of what would be normal conditions under a future warming world of 3C" ... Their study looked at 57 research papers published since the last major review of climate science came out in 2013. All the studies in the review showed links between climate change and the increased frequency or severity of fire weather.
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-51094919

The gathering firestorm in southern Amazonia
Wildfires, exacerbated by extreme weather events and land use, threaten to change the Amazon from a net carbon sink to a net carbon source ...  climate projections suggest that Amazon fire regimes will intensify under both low- and high-emission scenarios. Our results indicate that projected climatic changes will double the area burned by wildfires ...  Aggressive efforts to eliminate ignition sources and suppress wildfires will be critical to conserve southern Amazon forests.
https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/2/eaay1632

Ocean temperatures hit record high as rate of heating accelerates
The heat in the world’s oceans reached a new record level in 2019, showing “irrefutable and accelerating” heating of the planet. The world’s oceans are the clearest measure of the climate emergency because they absorb more than 90% of the heat trapped by the greenhouse gases emitted by fossil fuel burning, forest destruction and other human activities. The new analysis shows the past five years are the top five warmest years recorded in the ocean and the past 10 years are also the top 10 years on record ... Hotter oceans lead to more severe storms and disrupt the water cycle, meaning more floods, droughts and wildfires, as well as an inexorable rise in sea level. Higher temperatures are also harming life in the seas ... The analysis, published in the journal Advances In Atmospheric Sciences, uses ocean data from every available source.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/13/ocean-temperatures-hit-record-high-as-rate-of-heating-accelerates

Greenland’s Ice Melt Rate Has Now Accelerated To A Whopping 234 Billion Tons Of Ice Lost Per Year
When scientists in the 1990s measured the amount of ice melting off the Greenland Ice Sheet, they observed it losing 25 billion tons of ice per year. Now a consortium of 89 polar scientists from 50 scientific institutions assessed the current rate of ice loss ...  The results of this study, recently released in Nature, show that between 1992 and 2018, Greenland lost 3.8 trillion tons of ice. This means that Greenland’s current rate of ice loss has accelerated from 25 billion to 234 billion tons per year, a whopping nine times increase in faster melt rate.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/lauratenenbaum/2020/01/12/greenlands-ice-melt-rate-has-now-accelerated-to-a-whopping-234-billion-tons-of-ice-lost-per-year/

Nearly half of Singapore's butterfly species are extinct: Study
Almost half of Singapore's native butterfly species have disappeared over the past 160 years, with the loss of specific plants and deforestation being key drivers of the local extinctions. Of the 236 butterfly species thought to be locally extinct, 132 are known species such as the green dragontail and chocolate tiger butterflies. There are 413 native species of butterflies in Singapore.
https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/environment/study-nearly-half-of-spores-butterfly-species-extinct

Australia’s Wildfire Catastrophe Isn’t the “New Normal.” It’s Much Worse Than That.
“There is no precedent for the scale and speed at which these brushfires are spreading ... we’re being given a vision for our future if we don’t act on climate ... These are what keep us up at night as climate scientists,” says Michael Mann.
https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2020/01/michael-mann-australias-wildfires-podcast-climate-change/

Australia Shows Us the Road to Hell
[S]cientific persuasion is running into sharply diminishing returns. Very few of the people still denying the reality of climate change or at least opposing doing anything about it will be moved by further accumulation of evidence ... climate action will have to offer immediate benefits to large numbers of voters, because policies that seem to require widespread sacrifice would be viable only with the kind of political consensus we clearly aren’t going to get.
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/09/opinion/australia-fires.html

Arctic ice melt makes permafrost vulnerable
The absence of sea ice in the Arctic is closely connected to the melting of permafrost, according to a new study. Permafrost contains massive amounts of carbon which are likely to be released as climate change heats up the world ... disappearance of Arctic summer ice will speed up the loss of this permanently frozen ground ... frozen regions of Siberia, Canada, Greenland and Alaska store about double the amount of carbon that's up in the atmosphere. But as the Earth warms, and the soils starts to get hotter, the microbes become active and the greenhouse gases drift upwards ... The research team anticipates that in the decades to come, the Arctic will become free of summer sea ice and the direct heating and insulation from the snow will accelerate the collapse of permafrost ... The study has been published in the journal Nature.
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-51024844

India suffers hottest decade on record
The last decade was India’s hottest on record with the national weather office calling the impact of global warming “unmistakable” ... suffering devastating floods, dire water shortages and baking temperatures. The southern city of Chennai last year declared “day zero” as taps ran dry ... India’s five warmest years on record all fell in the last decade.
https://tribune.com.pk/story/2132040/3-india-suffers-hottest-decade-record/

Antarctic Waters: Warmer with More Acidity and Less Oxygen
The increased freshwater from melting Antarctic ice sheets plus increased wind has reduced the amount of oxygen in the Southern Ocean and made it more acidic and warmer, according to new research led by University of Arizona geoscientists ... The research is the first to incorporate the Southern Ocean’s increased freshwater plus additional wind into a climate change model ... Previously, global climate change models did not predict the current physical and chemical changes in the Southern Ocean, said Russell, who holds the Thomas R. Brown Distinguished Chair in Integrative Science ... The team’s paper, “Importance of wind and meltwater for observed chemical and physical changes in the Southern Ocean,” was published in Nature Geoscience.
https://uanews.arizona.edu/story/antarctic-waters-warmer-more-acidity-and-less-oxygen

West’s ‘Dust Bowl’ Future now ‘Locked In’, as World Risks Imminent Food Crisis
Research sponsored by global credit ratings agency Moody’s concludes that by the end of century, parts of the US and Europe are now bound to experience severe reductions in rainfall equivalent to the American ‘dust bowl’ of the 1930s ... ‘locked in’ as a consequence of carbon emissions which we have already accumulated into the atmosphere ... risks of a global food crisis in coming decades, such as a multi-breadbasket failure ... heightened risk of droughts in the 2020s means that a global food crisis could be imminent ... The report is designed to inform financial investors of unavoidable impacts due to previous carbon emissions, as well as likely dangers from continuing emissions. “We are already locked into substantial impacts because past emissions will continue to contribute to warming regardless of any emission reductions made today” concludes the report ... compelling evidence points to significant near-term risks that could even erupt within a few years.
https://www.resilience.org/stories/2020-01-06/wests-dust-bowl-future-now-locked-in-as-world-risks-imminent-food-crisis/
reporting on a study at http://427mt.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Demystifying-Scenario-Analysis_427_2019.pdf

2019 in climate science: A continued warming trend and 'bleak' research
The last six years have been the six hottest globally ever recorded by humans ... risks of severe climate change impacts will grow as global temperatures warm ... countries’ planned fossil fuel extraction efforts will far overshoot the Paris climate targets, consistent with a pathway of more than 3C hotter than pre-industrial temperatures ... "anthropogenic global warming is not only unparalleled in terms of absolute temperatures, but also unprecedented in spatial consistency” ... the arrival of Europeans in the Americas in 1492 and the subsequent large-scale massacres of native populations (an estimated 56 million deaths by 1600, shrinking the indigenous population 90%) had a detectable influence on the global climate [leading] to “5 ppm CO2 additional uptake into the land surface in the 1500s compared to the 1400s [and] a human-driven global impact on the Earth System in the two centuries prior to the Industrial Revolution” ... “dramatic rates of decline that may lead to the extinction of 40% of the world’s insect species” ... “a net loss approaching three billion birds, or 29% of 1970 abundance” ... Himalayan glaciers have been losing ice at a rate twice as fast as they had in the prior 25 years ... Antarctica has been losing ice at a rate six times faster than during the 1980s ... Climate scientists’ findings and reports increasingly raise the alarm of a “climate emergency.”
https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2020/01/2019-in-climate-science-a-continued-warming-trend-and-bleak-research/

Spain set for record temperatures in 2020 as summer heatwave predicted
According to weather analyst for Spain David Pinkitt, ” I see this year Spain having the warmest summer ever on record, where temperatures inland could possibly peak at 48/49c” around July and August” ... 2020 will see a longer period of heatwave through the summer similar to what’s happening in Australia at present” ... will cause great concern in Spain as reservoir levels due to a lack of rain fall through both the autumn and winter in 2019 are at low levels
https://www.euroweeklynews.com/2020/01/07/spain-set-for-record-temperatures-in-2020-as-summer-heatwave-predicted/

Urgent new ‘roadmap to recovery’ could reverse insect apocalypse
The world must eradicate pesticide use, prioritise nature-based farming methods and urgently reduce water, light and noise pollution to save plummeting insect populations, according to a new “roadmap to insect recovery” compiled by experts ... advocates immediate action on human stress factors to insects which include habitat loss and fragmentation, the climate crisis, pollution, over-harvesting and invasive species. Phasing out synthetic pesticides and fertilisers used in industrial farming and aggressive greenhouse gas emission reductions are among a series of urgent “no-regret” solutions to reverse what conservationists have called the “unnoticed insect apocalypse” ... scientists must urgently establish which herbivores, detritivores, parasitoids, predators and pollinators are priority species for conservation, according to a new paper published in Nature Ecology & Evolution ... The paper comes amid repeated warnings about the threat of human-driven insect extinction causing a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/06/urgent-new-roadmap-to-recovery-could-reverse-insect-apocalypse-aoe

Most ice on Earth is very close to melting conditions
Measuring ice melt and the unprecedented changes in our cryosphere – the frozen parts of the planet which regulate the climate by reflecting the sun’s heat – is crucial for understanding future situations ... most ice on Earth is very close to melting conditions, a few degrees below 0°C, and thus reacts very sensitively to changes in air temperatures. Small temperature changes can trigger melt and (large) environmental changes. Sea level change through increased melt of glaciers and ice sheets is certainly the most far-reaching effect of ice melt on Earth ...
https://horizon-magazine.eu/