As climate changes, small increases in rainfall may cause widespread road outages
As more rain falls on a warming planet, a new computer model shows that it may not take a downpour to cause widespread disruption of road networks. The model combined data on road networks with the hills and valleys of topography to reveal "tipping points" at which even small localized increases in rain cause widespread road outages.
"To prepare for climate change, we have to know where flooding leads to the biggest disruptions in transportation routes. Network science typically points to the biggest interactions, or the most heavily traveled routes. That's not what we see here," said Jianxi Gao, an assistant professor of computer science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and lead author of the study. "A little bit of flood-induced damage can cause abrupt widespread failures." More
Record-Breaking Heat in Alaska Wreaks Havoc on Communities and Ecosystems
Alaska in March is supposed to be cold. Along the north and west coasts, the ocean should be frozen farther than the eye can see.
In the state’s interior, rivers should be locked in ice so thick that they double as roads for snowmobiles and trucks.
And where I live, near Anchorage in south-central Alaska, the snowpack should be deep enough to support skiing for weeks to come.
But this year, a record-breaking heatwave upended norms and had us basking in comfortable—but often unsettling—warmth.
Across Alaska, March temperatures averaged 11 degrees Celsius above normal. The deviation was most extreme in the Arctic where, on March 30, thermometers rose almost 22 degrees Celsius above normal—to 3 degrees. That still sounds cold, but it was comparatively hot. More
Amount of carbon stored in forests reduced as climate warms
Accelerated tree growth caused by a warming climate does not necessarily translate into enhanced carbon storage, an international study suggests.
The team, led by the University of Cambridge, found that as temperatures increase, trees grow faster, but they also tend to die younger. When these fast-growing trees die, the carbon they store is returned to the carbon cycle.
The results, reported in the journal Nature Communications, have implications for global carbon cycle dynamics. As the Earth's climate continues to warm, tree growth will continue to accelerate, but the length of time that trees store carbon, the so-called carbon residence time, will diminish. More
Indigenous Canadians in Water Crisis as Nestlé Drains a Million Gallons a Day From Their Land
It’s 2019, and if you don’t already know that the bottled water industry is one of the worst contributors to plastic pollution, where have you been? Single-use plastic bottles are meant to be recycled but often end up as microplastics in our oceans (and eventually our foods!). Reusing plastic water bottles can also be a health danger- since many forms of plastic can leach toxic chemicals into water over a period of time.
But quitting plastic water bottles isn’t only a step in the right direction for our planet and for your health, it could put pressure on water bottle corporations like Nestlé to stop taking advantage of natural resources which many people quite close to home barely get access to as it is. More
A man took a submarine to the deepest place on Earth — and found trash
On the deepest ocean dive ever made by a human inside a submarine, a Texas investor and explorer found something he could have found in the gutter of nearly any street in the world: trash.
Victor Vescovo, a retired naval officer, said he made the unsettling discovery as he descended nearly 10,928 metres (more than 10 kilometres) to a point in the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench — the deepest place on Earth. His dive took him 16 metres lower than the previous deepest descent in the trench in 1960.
On one occasion, he spent hours on the trench floor, viewing sea life ranging from shrimp-like arthropods with long legs and antennae, to translucent sea pigs, which are similar to sea cucumbers. More
Vital penguin breeding site in Antarctica drastically losing mating pairs
The second-largest emperor penguin breeding ground in Antartica has seen a drastic decline in mating pairs since 2016, according to a new study that has some scientists alarmed.
Halley Bay has historically been the annual mating home to anywhere from 15,000 to 24,000 penguin pairs, but in the past three years almost none of the mates have arrived, according to a study published in Wednesday’s Antarctic Science.
“We’ve never seen a breeding failure on a scale like this in 60 years,” said study author Phil Trathan, head of conservation biology at the British Antarctic Survey. “It’s unusual to have a complete breeding failure in such a big colony.” More
White people’s diets are killing the environment
White people are already accused of hogging the majority of jobs, film roles, and housing — and now they’re getting blamed for eating up Earth’s natural resources, too.
Caucasian populations are disproportionately contributing to climate change through their eating habits, which uses up more food — and emits more greenhouse gases — than the typical diets of black and Latinx communities, according to a new report published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology. More
When Ebola and other epidemics strike, a dysfunctional ‘outbreak culture’ hinders adequate response
When a deadly infectious disease takes hold in a population, outbreak responders do their best to save lives and stamp out the contagion. No matter the disease or the location – whether AIDS in the U.S., SARS in China, or cholera in Yemen or Haiti – the public narrative of an outbreak often unfolds in a familiar way.
An unruly and potentially fatal disease emerges and sets off a race against the clock to stop its spread, with limited or no certain treatment. Less widely known is the shared secret among outbreak responders: Bad behavior among their own ranks can consume undue energy amid an already frightening scenario. More
Avalanches Menace Colorado as Climate Change Raises the Risk
Against the backdrop of an 800-foot high mountain wall scarred by avalanches, Arapahoe Basin mountain operations director Tim Finnigan says he can't remember a cycle of winter storms and avalanches in Colorado as extreme as this.
In the past week, masses of snow sliding off mountains shut down ski resorts, damaged gas lines and buried cars on busy highways. Along Interstate 70—a key east-west corridor through the Rocky Mountains—massive clouds of pulverized snow moving at speeds of up to 200 mph pushed pickup trucks into the median and left the road covered with piles of compressed frozen snow as hard as concrete. More
What Russia's green snow reveals about the rise of pollution
Don’t eat yellow snow has always been good advice. To that we can now add warnings against green, pink, orange and black snow, as new evidence of our trashing of the planet is now being etched out on the most pristine of environments – our dwindling snow caps.
A spate of incidents in Russia has grabbed internet attention. Residents of Siberian towns watched with dismay as the snow around them turned green and black, with toxic emissions forcing some to wear masks. These seem to be connected to local factories, with a chrome plant in particular behind the green snow, and, as protests gather pace, the Putin government has come under pressure.
Snow pollution is not new. Campaigners have been warning for years of the dangers of dark snow, – black, brown and grey streaks across the ice that can be clearly seen from the air above Arctic regions – because of its effects on climate change. More
Australia doesn’t need to recycle
When a brave Queensland council decided to cut costs by dumping the contents of kerbside recycling bins into the local tip, they hit a raw public nerve.
Public anxiety about material waste, it seemed, trumped concerns about wasting taxpayers’ money.
In a matter of weeks, Ipswich Council was forced to reverse the decision, hiring a contractor to sort through tons of assorted pizza boxes, plastic tubs and beer bottles in the hope that some of it might be born anew. Good luck. The market for theoretically recyclable material in domestic waste has hit rock bottom, and is unlikely to recover. More
New Ocean Measurements Are Bad News
Oceans are heating up about 40% faster than previously measured, scientists say—which only seems to confirm the world's biggest headache. Published Thursday in Science, a review of recent studies says ocean temperatures are more in sync with dire climate model simulations than scientists knew.
The new measurements confirm that oceans could warm 1.5 degrees Celsius and rise almost a foot by 2100 from warming alone, with melting ice caps adding more, Scientific American reports. The studies rely on a network of floats measuring ocean temperatures around the world; the so-called Argo network, developed in the early 2000s, is considered better than the old method of ships dropping sensors into the ocean by copper wire, per the New York Times. More
Heat Waves Are Causing Mass Fish Deaths in Australia
Hundreds of thousands of native fish in Australia’s Darling River have died following a major outbreak of blue–green algae and some severe weather. Two mass die-offs have been reported near Menindee in western New South Wales—the first was late last year, and the second last week.
Outbreaks of blue–green algae (cyanobacteria), which thrive in warm water, are not uncommon during droughts. The algae did not directly cause the mass die-off; rapid cooling and intense rainfall might have disrupted the bloom and depleted the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water, killing the fish, said Anthony Townsend, a senior fisheries manager at the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, in a statement. More
The Marshall Islands: A nation that fears it’s on the brink of extinction
(MAJURO, Marshall Islands) — The Marshall Islands, a tiny nation of islands and atolls located between Hawaii and Australia, are in a fight for survival.
In a battle between man and nature, officials say climate change is threatening the islands’ existence. The most extreme predictions say that rising sea levels could make the nation uninhabitable as soon as 2030.
The capital city of Majuro is only 300 feet wide in most places, yet the thin strip of land is home to over 27,000 people. Charlotte Jack, one of the city’s residents, lives just steps from the water’s edge — her front yard is the ocean. At 16 years old, she has grown up feeling its fury made worse by unpredictable weather. More
Ancient graveyard of mummified penguins discovered in Antarctica worries scientists
Scientists have found troves of mummified penguins buried deep in the sediments of Long Peninsula, East Antarctica. Researchers reported the Adelie penguins probably perished in two die-offs caused by extreme climatic events that persisted over decades.
These weather conditions, they caution, may become more common as our planet warms.
"It is quite likely that global climate warming caused enhanced precipitation, which led to the tragedy," Liguang Sun of the University of Science and Technology of China—one of the authors of the research published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences—told Live Science. More
'Hyperalarming' study shows massive insect loss, which could devastate world's food supply
Insects around the world are in a crisis, according to a small but growing number of long-term studies showing dramatic declines in invertebrate populations.
The loss of insects and arthropods could further rend the rain forest's food web, causing plant species to go extinct without pollinators.
"If the tropical forests go it will be yet another catastrophic failure of the whole Earth system, that will feed back on human beings in an almost unimaginable way," said Brian Lister, a biologist at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York.
A new report suggests that the problem is more widespread than scientists realized. Huge numbers of bugs have been lost in a pristine national forest in Puerto Rico, the study found, and the forest's insect-eating animals have gone missing, too. More
The Chill of Solar Minimum
The sun is entering one of the deepest Solar Minima of the Space Age. Sunspots have been absent for most of 2018, and the sun’s ultraviolet output has sharply dropped. New research shows that Earth’s upper atmosphere is responding.
“We see a cooling trend,” says Martin Mlynczak of NASA’s Langley Research Center. “High above Earth’s surface, near the edge of space, our atmosphere is losing heat energy. If current trends continue, it could soon set a Space Age record for cold.”
These results come from the SABER instrument onboard NASA’s TIMED satellite. SABER monitors infrared emissions from carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitric oxide (NO), two substances that play a key role in the energy balance of air 100 to 300 kilometers above our planet’s surface. By measuring the infrared glow of these molecules, SABER can assess the thermal state of gas at the very top of the atmosphere–a layer researchers call “the thermosphere.” More
Is Africa becoming the world's dumping ground for dirty diesel vehicles?
Any child playing at the Uhuru garden — a recreation park in the middle of the Kenyan capital Nairobi — is oblivious to the health dangers in the air around him or her. But that air is laden with toxic pollutants, which have become a leading cause of respiratory disease in Kenyan cities.
According to the World Health Organization, 15,000 children under five died each day in 2016 due to respiratory disease.
But the vehicles that contribute a large part of that pollution trace a long path to Africa.
As emission regulations become stricter in the European Union, Japan, and the United States, cars no longer able to meet current standards are exported to other regions, including Africa. More
In 1973, an MIT computer predicted the end of civilization. So far, it's on target.
In 1973, a computer program was developed at MIT to model global sustainability. Instead, it predicted that by 2040 our civilization would end. While many in history have made apocalyptic predictions that have so far failed to materialize, what the computer envisioned in the 1970s has by and large been coming true. Could the machine be right?
Why the program was created
The prediction, which recently re-appeared in Australian media, was made by a program dubbed World One. It was originally created by the computer pioneer Jay Forrester, who was commissioned by the Club of Rome to model how well the world could sustain its growth. The Club of Rome is an organization comprised of thinkers, former world heads of states, scientists, and UN bureaucrats with the mission to “promote understanding of the global challenges facing humanity and to propose solutions through scientific analysis, communication, and advocacy.” More
Planet at Risk of Heading Towards Apocalyptic, Irreversible ‘Hothouse Earth’ State
This summer people have been suffering and dying because of heat waves and wildfires in many parts of the world. The past three years were the warmest ever recorded, and 2018 is likely to follow suit. What we do in the next 10-20 years will determine whether our planet remains hospitable to human life or slides down an irreversible path to what scientists in a major new study call “Hothouse Earth” conditions.
Hothouse Earth is an apocalyptic nightmare where the global average temperatures is 4 to 5 degrees Celsius higher (with regions like the Arctic averaging 10 degrees C higher) than today, according to the study, “Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene,” published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Sea levels would eventually be 10-60 meters higher as much of the world’s ice melts. In these conditions, large parts of the Earth would be uninhabitable. More
A dangerous parasitic illness spread by bugs that bite people's faces at night is spreading
The name "kissing bug" doesn't quite communicate the danger of the infection that insects with that moniker can spread.
These bloodsucking bugs, called triatomine bugs, spread a parasitic illness called Chagas disease. Left untreated, Chagas causes serious cardiac or intestinal complications in about 30% of patients, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These complications can lead to heart failure and sudden death.
Because many people don't show signs of infection, medical researchers have described Chagas as a "silent killer." More
Lost extinctions: When animals die off before science finds them
Certainly the majority of plants, animals, fungi, etc. that have become extinct died long before people, let alone scientists, got around to describing them.
Dinosaurs, the most famous of extinct animals, died off around 65 million years ago, before humans evolved and certainly before Linnaeus invented his way of scientifically classifying organisms. According to PBS, of all the organisms that ever ran, gasped, ate or simply grew in the soil, 99.9% are now extinct.
Oil spills, global climate change, over hunting, and starved feral cats have done a lot of damage, but not nearly that much. The fact is, like every person you now know; every species alive today will someday be dead. Species, like individuals, have lifespans. Just as we don’t use the argument, ‘they were eventually going to die anyway’ to justify the holocaust or school shootings, the rate of modern extinctions is inexcusable. A vast number of modern extinctions are the fault of humans, too. More
African activist: Climate change is fueling conflict, extremism
UNITED NATIONS — An African woman whose people are nomads constantly searching for food and water told Security Council members Wednesday they must consider climate change as a security risk that is fueling extremism, conflict and migration.
Hindou Ibrahim said in a speech to the council that climate change is affecting the daily lives of people in the vast Sahel region who depend on agriculture, fishing and livestock and are struggling to survive.
She said the scarcity of resources has fueled internal migration as well as migration through Africa to Europe, sparked local conflicts that become national and regional and led to the growth of terrorist groups. More
Orcas of the Pacific Northwest Are Starving and Disappearing
SEATTLE — For the last three years, not one calf has been born to the dwindling pods of black-and-white killer whales spouting geysers of mist off the coast in the Pacific Northwest.
Normally four or five calves would be born each year among this fairly unique urban population of whales — pods named J, K and L. But most recently, the number of orcas here has dwindled to just 75, a 30-year-low in what seems to be an inexorable, perplexing decline.
Listed as endangered since 2005, the orcas are essentially starving, as their primary prey, the Chinook, or king salmon, are dying off. Just last month, another one of the Southern Resident killer whales — one nicknamed “Crewser” that hadn’t been seen since last November — was presumed dead by the Center for Whale Research. More
The Cyclospora Parasite Outbreak: What You Need to Know
Two recent foodborne outbreaks were traced to a parasite, something that’s more common than many people may think.
Salads sold at McDonald's have been linked to 163 cases of cyclosporiasis, the illness caused by the parasite cyclospora, in 10 states, according to the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
McDonald’s said it stopped selling salads at about 3,000 locations, primarily in the Midwest, “out of an abundance of caution.” The fast-food chain also said it was changing its lettuce-blend distributor.
Earlier, the agencies reported that 227 people were sickened by the same parasite. The source was Del Monte vegetable trays sold at Midwestern gas stations in May and June. More
In a Rare Feat, Scientists Anticipate and Recover an Incoming Asteroid
We have swarms of scientists searching the skies for space oddities, but it’s rare that they actually find one in the act of plunging to Earth.
On June 23, a group of international geoscientists discovered a meteorite in Botswana that had been dwelling in space just weeks earlier. The fresh fragment broke off of asteroid 2018 LA as it plummeted to Earth on June 2, turning into a fiery meteor and exploding as it entered our atmosphere.
The geoscientists spent five days combing the land beneath the meteor’s impact area before finding the tiny meteorite — marking only the second time remnants from a predicted asteroid impact have been recovered. Since such freshly fallen meteorites are so uncommonly found, researchers now have the rare opportunity to study its properties and composition first-hand. More
There Was a Naked Protest Against Chemtrails
If you happened to be out in the Financial District yesterday around lunchtime, you might’ve seen some conspiracy-theory-activist-performance-art-nudity courtesy of Stop Spraying Us SF, a group committed to exposing the truth about “chemtrails” by going topless and writing “Stop Chemtrails/Geoengineering” on their legs.
Chemtrails, they believe are the hidden chemicals and biological agents in contrails, those white streaks left in the sky by airplanes. Stop Spray Us believes the government is deliberately spraying the public with these substances for reasons unknown, but probably really bad. More
American Cities That Will Soon Be Under Water
The steady rise in global surface temperatures, monitored since the 1880s, is largely attributed to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. With rising temperatures, the world’s ice has been melting and the sea level rising. As a result, barring major interventions, sooner or later thousands of coastal communities around the world will become uninhabitable.
The most recent assessment published this June in the science journal Nature found that Antarctica is melting at triple the rate it did in 2007 and previous projections may have underestimated the continent’s slow disappearance.
According to a 2017 study, if rising carbon emissions and ice sheet loss continue at their current rate, global sea levels could rise by an estimated 8 feet by the year 2100. And if, in the even more distant future, all of the Antarctic ice sheet — which comprises the vast majority of Earth’s freshwater supply — melts, sea levels would rise by approximately 200 feet. More
Flat-Earthers Explain Why We Don't Fall Off the Edge of Our Planet, and It Involves Pac-Man
More than 200 flat-Earth enthusiasts descended on West Midlands, England, this past weekend to "engage freely in deep and meaningful discussions," according to the Flat Earth Convention UK.
The Earth's glorious globular-ness was proved more than 2,000 years ago by the ancient Greeks, but there's a small subset of people who think the planet is a disk despite enjoying the downward pull of gravity that could only result from living on a sphere.
At this conference, they were presenting their scientific evidence for such a disk. One of the more interesting pieces of evidence came from speaker Darren Nesbit, who referred to the "Pac-Man effect" as the reason why planes don't fall off the edge of a flat Earth, according to the science news website Physics-Astronomy.org. When a plane or other object reaches the edge of the horizon, such as when Pac-Man reaches the end of the screen, that object will teleport from one side of the planet to the other, a la Pac-Man entering from the other side of the screen. More
Small Asteroid Strikes Africa Just Hours After It Was Spotted
A meteor lit up the sky over Botswana, Africa, early Saturday evening. Scientists discovered the six-foot-wide asteroid just hours before it reached Earth.
NASA tracks 90 percent of near-Earth objects that are larger than 150 meters (~460 feet) in diameter, which means it misses lots of the smaller ones until they’re close by. This most recent rock, called 2018 LA, was spotted on June 2 by the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona. At that point, the asteroid was almost as near as the moon, according to a release. Researchers realized it was on a collision course with Earth, and were able to predict a few locations over a large swath of the planet’s surface. Followup observations allowed astronomers to pinpoint a probable collision with southern Africa. More
Hawaiian National Park closed amid volcano eruption fears
A HAWAII volcano that has been oozing lava and burping steam for days may be gearing up for a huge eruption, scientists have warned, prompting the closure of Volcanoes National Park.
It is the newest threat from the Kilauea volcano, which began erupting last Thursday on the US state’s Big Island, the National Park Service said.
Scientists say lava levels in the crater are going down, meaning it might be clogging and building up for a mighty blast.
Movement of the molten rock opened space for lava at the summit to drain underground, reducing the height of a lava lake at the summit, according to the US Geological Survey. More
China needs more water. So it's building a rain-making network three times the size of Spain
China is testing cutting-edge defence technology to develop a powerful yet relatively low-cost weather modification system to bring substantially more rain to the Tibetan plateau, Asia’s biggest freshwater reserve.
The system, which involves an enormous network of fuel-burning chambers installed high up on the Tibetan mountains, could increase rainfall in the region by up to 10 billion cubic metres a year – about 7 per cent of China’s total water consumption – according to researchers involved in the project. More
Rise of drug resistant TB cases threatens Europe
Europe is in the grip of an alarming rise in the number of almost untreatable cases of tuberculosis with countries in the east particularly at risk, new data has shown.
Overall, the number of cases of the airborne lung disease has fallen in recent years but experts are becoming increasingly alarmed at how it is becoming resistant to many frontline antibiotics.
This rise in resistance is worrying, even in countries such as the UK where infection rates are relatively low, because of the high numbers of people moving around the region. More
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, full of ocean plastic, keeps growing
There's an 80,000-ton monster lurking in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and California and it's still getting bigger.
Arguably more frightening than any shark, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a rapidly growing hot spot for ocean plastic, carrying 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic in what is now the largest accumulation of ocean debris in the world, according to a new report Thursday in Scientific Reports.
The patch is now two times larger than the size of Texas, with bits of plastic and debris spread over more than 600,000 square miles of water, according to the three-year mapping effort from eight different organizations. More
The Paris Climate Accords Are Looking More and More Like Fantasy
Remember Paris? It was not even two years ago that the celebrated climate accords were signed — defining two degrees of global warming as a must-meet target and rallying all the world’s nations to meet it — and the returns are already dispiritingly grim.
This week, the International Energy Agency announced that carbon emissions grew 1.7 percent in 2017, after an ambiguous couple of years optimists hoped represented a leveling off, or peak; instead, we’re climbing again. Even before the new spike, not a single major industrial nation was on track to fulfill the commitments it made in the Paris treaty. To keep the planet under two degrees of warming — a level that was, not all that long ago, defined as the threshold of climate catastrophe — all signatory nations have to match or better those commitments. More
Once begun, there would be severe consequences to stopping climate intervention / geoengineering
Climate geoengineering -- a practice that might be carried out in the future to tone down the effects of global warming -- may do more harm than good once it had begun and then suddenly halted, a study published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution cautioned.
A team of researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey explained that climate geoengineering involved spraying a sulphuric acid cloud in the upper atmosphere in hopes of countering the effects of global warming. The researchers conceptualized a scenario where airplanes would spray five million tons of sulfur dioxide a year into the upper atmosphere at the Equator from 2020 to 2070. The experts inferred that the activity would result in an even sulfuric acid cloud distribution between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. More
US Navy's new high-speed warship USS Little Rock is FROZEN on the shores of Montreal and unable to set sail until the spring
The US Navy's newest littoral combat ship, the USS Little Rock, is stuck in ice in Montreal and will not be able to move until the spring thaw.
The USS Little Rock was commissioned on December 16 in Buffalo, New York, and scheduled to depart the following day for its home port at Mayport Naval Station in Jacksonville, Florida.
A sustained blast of Arctic air that extended from late December into January caused ice to form faster than normal within in the Seaway, according to the St Lawrence Seaway Management Corp.
The Seaway closed for the season on January 11 and will open again in March. More
Warm waters melting Antarctic ice shelves may have appeared for the first time in over 7,000 years
The vast expanse of the Antarctic is a region of the world particularly vulnerable to climate change, where ice loss has the potential to significantly increase sea levels.
Now, for possibly the first time in 7,000 years, a phenomenon known as “upwelling” (the upward flow of warmer ocean water to the surface), is thought to have caused recent ice shelf collapse around the continent – and the glacial thinning associated with it.
Ice shelves floating on water are the oceanic extension of land glaciers and ice sheets, and the primary region for ice loss. As these shelves break apart, the flow of continental ice held up behind them accelerates. More
Scientists Get Buried In Snow At Davos While Lecturing On Global Warming
Scientists have once again set up a mock Arctic base camp to educate world leaders about man-made global warming at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Climate scientists hope their mock camp illustrates how global warming could impact the Arctic, but the “Gore effect” may make it harder to get the message across. Davos has seen frigid temperatures along with about six feet of snow in the last six days.
There was so much snow, authorities evacuated some neighborhoods due to avalanche concerns. Global elites headed to the conference had to force their way through heavy snow drifts. More
2017 Was the Hottest Year Yet In the World's Oceans
Oceans aren't likely to cool any time soon, a new study finds.
In fact, 2017 was the warmest year on record in the ocean, according to researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Their findings indicate a "long-term warming trend driven by human activities."
The study measured the rising temperature of the ocean as a whole, but the Atlantic and Antarctic Oceans, they found, experienced the most warming.
The scientists looked at ocean temperature data that researchers from various institutions, including NOAA in the U.S., began collecting in the 1950s. Starting in the late 1990s, ocean temperatures began to take off. More
US cold snap was a freak of nature, quick analysis finds
WASHINGTON — Consider this cold comfort: A quick study of the brutal American cold snap found that the Arctic blast really wasn't global warming but a freak of nature.
Frigid weather like the two-week cold spell that began around Christmas is 15 times rarer than it was a century ago, according to a team of international scientists who does real-time analyses to see if extreme weather events are natural or more likely to happen because of climate change.
The cold snap that gripped the East Coast and Midwest region was a rarity that bucks the warming trend, said researcher Claudia Tebaldi of the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the private organization Climate Central. More
Sahara Desert covered in 15 inches of SNOW as freak weather blankets sand dunes
More than 15 inches (40cm) has blanketed sand dunes across the small town of Ain Sefra, Algeria.
It is the second time snow has hit in nearly 40 years, with a dusting also recorded in December 2016.
But this snowfall which hit on Sunday, is much deeper than the fleeting shower little more than a year ago.
Locals, who endure temperatures of 37C in summer, were stunned as dense snow settled on the town, known as ‘the gateway to the desert’. More
Massive storm roars into East Coast; record cold to follow
A massive winter storm roared into the East Coast on Thursday, dumping as much as 17 inches of snow in some areas and unleashing hurricane-force winds and historic flooding that closed schools and offices and halted transportation from the Carolinas to Maine.
Forecasters expected the storm to be followed immediately by a blast of face-stinging cold that could break records in more than two dozen cities and bring wind chills as low as minus 40 degrees this weekend.
Blizzard warnings and states of emergency were in wide effect, and wind gusts hit more than 70 mph in places. In parts of New England, snow fell as fast as 3 inches per hour. More
The Water Will Come: A Must-Read Book on Sea Level Rise
The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World—the title of Jeff Goodell’s new must-read book on sea level rise—says volumes.
Goodell, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and the author of the excellent 2011 book How to Cool the Planet: Geoengineering and the Audacious Quest to Fix Earth’s Climate, argues that there is little we can do to stop the inexorable rise of the world’s oceans due to human-caused global warming--though we may be able to slow the rate of sea level rise later in the century.
As one of the experts he interviews puts it, “Sea-level rise is like aging. You can’t stop it. You can only do it better or worse.” More
Fresh outbreak of bird flu detected in South Korea
South Korea's Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs on Saturday said it had detected a fresh outbreak of bird flu at a farm in the country's south and ordered the culling of 12,300 fowls as a preventive measure.
South Korean authorities said they were carrying out epidemiological investigations in the affected farms, situated some 300 km southwest of Seoul, to determine whether the detected H5 strain was highly pathogenic. The results were expected to come in by Tuesday, Yonhap news agency reported.
Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon urged the Ministry to use all available resources to prevent the spread of the virus, such as implementing a ban on moving livestock between places and disinfecting farms. More
Asteroid expected to make closest pass by Earth in over 40 years
A large flying object expected in December has caught NASA's attention, but it isn't Santa Claus' sleigh.
Instead, an asteroid called 3200 Phaethon is projected to come close enough to Earth that it's been classified as "potentially hazardous" by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center.
The asteroid has a diameter of about 3 miles, according to NASA, making it the third-largest "potentially hazardous" asteroid to pass by Earth. NASA expects Phaethon to be the closest to Earth on Dec. 16, when it's projected to be more than 6.4 million miles away. That's about 27 times the average distance between Earth and the moon, which is 238,855 miles. More
Red tide causing dead fish to wash up on Sanibel
People on a popular Lee County beach had to avoid dead fish. Florida Fish and Wildlife says toxic red algae is to blame for all the dead fish that washed up on Sanibel after they detected high levels of red tide along the Lee County coastline.
"It smells bad and the water is very murky," said Pam Boardman, who walked along the beach Tuesday. "Lots of dead sea life," she added.
People who visited the beach set up their umbrellas and chairs away from the dead fish.
"I've been coughing and sneezing a lot," said Julie Stevenson, while she was on the beach. More
Prince William warns that there are too many people in the world
Rapidly growing human populations risk having a "terrible impact" on the world, the Duke of Cambridge has warned.
The Duke said that as a result, wildlife was being put under "enormous pressure" and called for the issue to be addressed with renewed vigour.
His concerns echo those of his grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, who in 2011 advocated “voluntary family limitation" as a means of solving overpopulation, which he described as the biggest challenge in conservation.
His grandson, royal patron of the Tusk Trust, told the charity’s gala dinner in London that measures needed to be taken to save certain animal populations. More
Greenland ice sheet melting impacts global ocean currents
An unprecedented study has revealed the long term impact of the thinning Greenland ice sheet. Ocean data shows an increase in freshwater which will change the ecosystems of Greenland’s fjords and could ultimately alter ocean circulation patterns across the planet.
The rate at which Greenland’s ice sheet is melting has more than doubled since 2003.
Researchers from Aarhus University set out to determine how the melting ice affects coastal waters in Northeast Greenland. In coordination with the “Greenland Ecosystem Monitoring Program,” the researchers took annual measurements over a time period of 13 years. The measurements showed that fresh water from the ice sheet had accumulated in the surface layers of the ocean and flowed into the Greenland fjords. More
As Deadly Wildfires Rage in California, a Look at How Global Warming Fuels Decades of Forest Fires
In California, powerful winds and bone-dry conditions are fueling massive wildfires. A state of emergency has been declared in northern areas as the fires have left at least 17 people dead, destroying whole neighborhoods and forcing 20,000 people to evacuate their homes. The wildfires come after the U.S. Forest Service warned last year that an unprecedented 5-year drought led to the deaths of more than 100 million trees in California, setting the stage for massive fires.
Climate scientists believe human-caused global warming played a major role in the drought. We speak with Park Williams, bioclimatologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and co-author of a 2016 report showing that global warming is responsible for nearly half of the forest area burned in the western United States over the past three decades. More
There’s a Climate Bomb Under Your Feet
Long before most people ever heard of climate change, scientists divided a patch of Harvard University-owned forest in central Massachusetts into 18 identical 6-meter by 6-meter squares. A canopy of red maple and black oak trees hangs there, looming above the same stony soil tilled by colonial farmers. Rich in organic material, it was exactly what the researchers were looking for.
They broke the land up into six blocks of three squares each. In every block, one square was left alone, one was threaded with heating cables that elevated its temperature 9 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) above the surrounding area. The third square was threaded with cables but never turned on, as a control.
That was 26 years ago. The purpose was to measure how carbon dioxide may escape from the earth as the atmosphere warms. What they found, published yesterday in the journal Science, may mean the accelerating catastrophe of global warming has been fueled in part by warm dirt. More
Asteroid that just passed Earth this week may not miss next time
An asteroid that passed relatively close to the Earth on Thursday may not miss the planet when it returns in 2079, according to scientists. The asteroid, 2012 TC4, was just 27,000 miles from the surface of the Earth on its trip through space.
Rolf Densing heads the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany.
“It’s damn close,” Densing told The Telegraph. “The farthest satellites are 36,000 kilometers (22,400 miles) out, so this is indeed a close miss.”
When 2012 TC4 heads back in 2079, scientists have determined there is a possibly it will hit the Earth and have estimated the chances at about one in 750 that this collision will happen. While the asteroid is also set to return in 2019 and 2050, it is predicted to pass safely by in those years. More
Scientists Track Asteroid Flyby of Earth Set for Oct. 12
Teams of scientists from NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) that monitor the locations of near-Earth objects have been tracking asteroid 2012 TC4 with various instruments, including the ESA's Very Large Telescope Observatory.
Those observations have made it possible to better predict when the asteroid will make its flyby of Earth, and just how close it will get to the planet. Observing close flybys like this also helps prepare teams to detect a near-Earth asteroid whose course might pose a threat to Earth. 2012 TC4 will fly by Earth on Oct. 12 at a distance of about 27,000 miles (43,500 kilometers), or about one-eighth the distance to the moon. Previous observations suggested the space rock might come to within 4,200 miles (6,800 kilometers), according to a statement from NASA. More
Massive sunspots and huge solar flares mean unexpected space weather for Earth
If you still have your solar viewing glasses from the eclipse, now is a good time to slap them on and look up at the sun. You’ll see two big dark areas visible on our star.
These massive sunspots are regions of intense and complicated magnetic fields that can produce solar flares – bursts of high-energy radiation. You can just make them out with solar viewing glasses, but they’re better viewed through a solar telescope.
These two huge sunspots are currently causing quite a bit of consternation and interest. The solar storms they’ve sent toward Earth may affect communications and other technologies like GPS and radio signals. They’re causing amazing displays of the Northern and Southern Lights. And space weather scientists like us are excited because we wouldn’t normally expect this much activity from the sun at the moment. More
Hurricane Irma's force sucks shorelines bare, exposes sea beds
People in Florida and the Bahamas have looked on in disbelief as the force of Hurricane Irma appeared to suck shorelines bare and expose sea beds.
The hurricane, since downgraded to category one, submerged streets and knocked out power to millions in Miami, and threatened the highly populated Tampa Bay area with dangerous storm surges as it moved north.
Irma's powerful winds pulled water away from parts of the coast to feed the storm surges. Those areas experienced a "bulge" of ocean water — the low pressure and strong winds at the centre of the storm suck the air and water inwards, creating a massive build-up of water. More
Do Not Eat, Touch, Or Even Inhale the Air Around the Manchineel Tree
THROUGHOUT THE COASTS OF THE Caribbean, Central America, the northern edges of South America, and even in south Florida, there can be found a pleasant-looking beachy sort of tree, often laden with small greenish-yellow fruits that look not unlike apples.
You might be tempted to eat the fruit. Do not eat the fruit. You might want to rest your hand on the trunk, or touch a branch. Do not touch the tree trunk or any branches. Do not stand under or even near the tree for any length of time whatsoever. Do not touch your eyes while near the tree. Do not pick up any of the ominously shiny, tropic-green leaves. If you want to slowly but firmly back away from this tree, you would not find any argument from any botanist who has studied it. More
Eclipse 2017: The best and funniest reactions to the super rare phenomenon
Millions of Americans have gathered to witness the first coast-to-coast solar eclipse in nearly a century. No compatible source was found for this video.
Anticipation mounted on Monday when the eclipse's totality - the line of shadow created when the sun is completely obscured - hit the shore of Oregon and rapidly moved eastwards to South Carolina.
Many observers used high tech camera equipment to record the event. Others documented the eclipses's unusual effect on shadows and animals. More
Tardigrades: The last survivors on Earth
The new study published in Scientific Reports, has shown that the tiny creatures, will survive the risk of extinction from all astrophysical catastrophes, and be around for at least 10 billion years - far longer than the human race.
Although much attention has been given to the cataclysmic impact that an astrophysical event would have on human life, very little has been published around what it would take to kill the tardigrade, and wipe out life on this planet. The research implies that life on Earth in general, will extend as long as the Sun keeps shining. It also reveals that once life emerges, it is surprisingly resilient and difficult to destroy, opening the possibility of life on other planets.
Tardigrades are the toughest, most resilient form of life on earth, able to survive for up to 30 years without food or water, and endure temperature extremes of up to 150 degrees Celsius, the deep sea and even the frozen vacuum of space. The water-dwelling micro animal can live for up to 60 years, and grow to a maximum size of 0.5mm, best seen under a microscope. Researchers from the Universities of Oxford and Harvard, have found that these life forms will likely survive all astrophysical calamities, such as an asteroid, since they will never be strong enough to boil off the world's oceans. More
Al Gore: ‘There’s still time to avoid catastrophe’
Hollywood does sequels. Al Gore does sequels. His new Part 2, Paramount Pictures’ “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” opens in limited release July 28 then expands Aug. 4.
Last we saw our former VP he was hawking “An Inconvenient Truth.” Climate change. Energy revolution. Now — with cameras along — Big Daddy circled our globe educating us on oceans rising, Earth heating, politicians snoozing.
Al Gore: “Ten years ago we did ‘An Inconvenient Truth.’ Its predictions are coming true. Seas overflowing, storm changes, air changes, temperature rising, surges like superstorm Hurricane Sandy.
“There’s still time to avoid catastrophe. That means working faster. Learning. Buy the book. See the movie. Win conversations on the subject. Accelerate switches to alternate methods.” More
The sun is getting quiet and that could be bad news for Earth
The sun might soon batter us with a shower of deep space rays so intense, it could cause part of our atmosphere to collapse.
Space scientists reckon we are on the verge of a “deep solar minimum,” which is a period of low activity.
Unlike the name suggests, this could cause an outer layer of the atmosphere called the thermosphere to contract — and it’s not entirely clear what the effects of this could be on our planet.
Professor Yvonne Elsworth at the University of Birmingham in England believes that a “fundamental change in the nature of the [sun’s magnetic] dynamo may be in progress.” It’s backed up by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory’s daily snaps, which have shown a spotless sun for 44 days in a row. More
A deadly supervolcano lies under Yellowstone — here's what would happen if it erupted
Yellowstone National Park is best known for its Old Faithful geyser and its stunning wildlife.
But the national park also sits atop a supervolcano, simmering just under the surface. You can see some of the evidence of its active state in the hydrothermal activity that bubbles up, including Old Faithful, which shoots water every few hours.
Between June 12 and June 19, Yellowstone experienced an earthquake swarm of 464 events, the majority of which were magnitude 1 or below. The University of Utah, which monitors seismic activity in Yellowstone, noted that these swarms are common. More
Drugs found in Puget Sound salmon from tainted wastewater
Puget Sound salmon are on drugs — Prozac, Advil, Benadryl, Lipitor, even cocaine.
Those drugs and dozens of others are showing up in the tissues of juvenile chinook, researchers have found, thanks to tainted wastewater discharge.
The estuary waters near the outfalls of sewage-treatment plants, and effluent sampled at the plants, were cocktails of 81 drugs and personal-care products, with levels detected among the highest in the nation.
The medicine chest of common drugs also included Flonase, Aleve and Tylenol. Paxil, Valium and Zoloft. Tagamet, OxyContin and Darvon. Nicotine and caffeine. Fungicides, antiseptics and anticoagulants. And Cipro and other antibiotics galore. More
The Science Behind Arizona's Record-Setting Heat Wave
In the Arizona desert, as far back as weather records go, it's never been this hot for this long.
By early Monday afternoon, the temperature was 111 degrees in Tucson, the first in a forecasted series of a record-setting seven consecutive days with highs above 110, the longest streak in city history. (The previous record, should it fall, was six days in a row in 1994.)
In Phoenix, just to the north, temperatures were even hotter. Meteorologists there are expecting temperatures to run as high as 120 degrees on Tuesday and Wednesday, at the apex of the heat wave. The National Weather Service is calling the heat wave "extreme even by desert standards.". More
Mass Die-Off of Whales in Atlantic Is Being Investigated
Humpback whales have been dying in extraordinary numbers along the Eastern Seaboard since the beginning of last year. Marine biologists have a term for it — an “unusual mortality event” — but they have no firm idea why it is happening.
Forty-one whales have died in the past 15 months along the Atlantic coast from North Carolina to Maine. In a news conference on Thursday, officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries said that they had not identified the underlying reason for the mass death, but that 10 of the whales are known to have been killed by collisions with ships.
The agency is starting a broad inquiry into the deaths. More
Voice of The Southern: Annual flooding — the new normal?
The terms 50-year and 100-year flood have become obsolete. We, Southern Illinoisans, are now dealing with annual flooding.
That’s really not hyperbole. After torrential rains doused Southern Illinois earlier this month, both the Big Muddy and the Mississippi rivers posted near-record crests.
The Big Muddy crested at 40.5 feet, just below the record set in 2011. In the meantime, the Mississippi crested at 45.99 feet, the sixth highest level on record. The record was set last year. During 2011, a levee in Missouri was purposely breached in order to save Cairo from devastating floods. So, for those keeping score at home, that would be four 100-year floods in the past six years. More
Monster rats 'the size of cats' discovered on south London housing estate
Pest controller Lord Dean Burr made the shocking discovery when during an inspection of an estate in Tooting.
Lord Burr, 36, the self-proclaimed “People’s Lord” of Wimbledon, told the Daily Star were about 2ft in length.
He said the supersize rodents could have grown so big by feeding off smaller rats.
He told the newspaper: “Rats will eat mice and they will eat each other as and when they die. “So it’s possible that these rats got so big by attacking and eating smaller rats. More
Warmer-than-usual ocean waters this spring, tropical storms could come sooner and stronger in South Carolina
More tropical cyclones could stir off South Carolina's coast in the spring and early summer if the warmer-than-usual ocean waters follow their expected course, forecasters say.
The waters offshore, and in the Gulf of Mexico, could spur stronger storms during the heart of the summer hurricane season as well.
That's the unsettling reality for coastal residents and the entire state a year after Hurricane Matthew killed at least five people in South Carolina and caused more than $100 million in damage here. More
The naked sun: No sunspots observed for 15 days, longest streak in years
Between March 6 and March 21, the surface of the sun was devoid of the sunspot regions that normally sweep across it while the sun rotates.
The 15-day spotless streak was the longest in “many years”, NASA said. Sunspot regions can be points of reference for those watching the sun. Without them, NASA said, “any viewer would have a hard time telling that the sun was even rotating.”
The present absence of sunspots is happening as their overall numbers decline in the sun’s approach to its next “solar minimum,” when its irradiance or brightness reaches its lowest contemporary levels, which happens in about an 11-year cycle. More
We Now Know Why A Town’s Drinking Water Turned This Alarming Shade Of Pink
The tiny town of Onoway, Alberta has recently found fame for a bizarre and alarming reason.
The town’s residents (who number only 1,029) recently got an unwelcome surprise when they turned on their faucets.
The water coming out wasn’t crystal clear as it normally is. In fact, it was about as colorful as colors can get. As the tweet below notes, the water coming out wasn’t just pink, but “very, very pink.” More
A Taste For Pork Helped A Deadly Virus Jump To Humans
It was a balmy Sunday evening in early 1999, and Dr. Kaw Bing Chua hadn't had lunch or dinner.
There wasn't time to eat. Chua was chasing a killer. And he thought maybe he had finally tracked it down. He slid the slide under the microscope lens, turned on the scope's light and looked inside. "A chill went down my spine," Chua says. "The slide lit up bright green, like bright green lanterns."
Right there, in Chua's hands, was a virus the world had never seen before. And as he soon learned, it's also one of the most dangerous ones. Now Chua had enough of the virus to kill everyone in the lab. Maybe worse. More
In Somalia, Drought Leaves 110 Dead In Last 48 Hours
Mogadishu: Some 110 people have died in southern Somalia in the last two days from famine and diarrhoea resulting from a drought, the prime minister said on Saturday, as the area braces itself for widespread shortages of food.
In February, United Nations children's agency UNICEF said the drought in Somalia could lead to up to 270,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition this year.
"It is a difficult situation for the pastoralists and their livestock. Some people have been hit by famine and diarrhoea at the same time. In the last 48 hours 110 people died due to famine and diarrhoea in Bay region," Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire's office said in a statement. More
Lake worshipped by Incans now littered with trash
LAKE TITICACA, Peru — Tucked between snow-capped mountains, Lake Titicaca was once worshipped by the Incas, who proclaimed its deep blue waters the birthplace of the sun.
These days the shores of South America's largest lake are littered with dead frogs, discarded paint buckets and bags of soggy trash. Less visible threats lurk in the water itself: toxic levels of lead and mercury. The steady deterioration of the prized tourist destination has caused a rash of health problems among the 1.3 million people in Peru and Bolivia living near Lake Titicaca's polluted banks.
Untreated sewage water drains from two dozen nearby cities and illegal gold mines high in the Andes dump up to 15 tons of mercury a year into a river leading to the lake. More
Skeptical Climate Scientists Coming In From the Cold
In the world of climate science, the skeptics are coming in from the cold.
Researchers who see global warming as something less than a planet-ending calamity believe the incoming Trump administration may allow their views to be developed and heard. This didn’t happen under the Obama administration, which denied that a debate even existed. Now, some scientists say, a more inclusive approach – and the billions of federal dollars that might support it – could be in the offing.
“Here’s to hoping the Age of Trump will herald the demise of climate change dogma, and acceptance of a broader range of perspectives in climate science and our policy options,” Georgia Tech scientist Judith Curry wrote this month at her popular Climate Etc. blog. More
Travelling star heading towards Earth could cause DEVASTATING comet strikes as it passes by our sun
A star know to be on a collision course with our solar system will come even closer than first thought, a new study has discovered. Data captured by the European Space Agency's Gaia observatory has shown that hydrogen-burning main-sequence star Gliese 710 could come close enough to cause major comet strikes. As a result, it will appear as both the brightest and fastest object in the night sky.
Detailing their findings in a paper published by the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, co-authors Filip Berski and Piotr Dybcznski from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poland revealed the star's minimum distance to our solar system will be almost five times closer than previously thought. More
Scientists say the global ocean circulation may be more vulnerable to shutdown than we thought
Intense future climate change could have a far different impact on the world than current models predict, suggests a thought-provoking new study just out in the journal Science Advances. If atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were to double in the future, it finds, a major ocean current — one that helps regulate climate and weather patterns all over the world — could collapse. And that could paint a very different picture of the future than what we’ve assumed so far.
The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, or AMOC, is often described as a large oceanic conveyor belt. It’s a system of water currents that transports warm water northward from the Atlantic toward the Arctic, contributing to the mild climate conditions found in places like Western Europe.
In the Northern Atlantic, the northward flowing surface water eventually cools and sinks down toward the bottom of the ocean, and another current brings that cooler water back down south again. The whole process is part of a much larger system of overturning currents that circulates all over the world, from pole to pole. More
2016 was the Hottest Year on Record
WASHINGTON - Earth sizzled to a third-straight record hot year in 2016, government scientists said Wednesday. They mostly blame man-made global warming with help from a natural El Nino, which has since disappeared.
Measuring global temperatures in slightly different ways, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that last year passed 2015 as the hottest year on record. NOAA calculated that the average 2016 global temperature was 58.69 degrees (14.84 degrees Celsius) - beating the previous year by 0.07 degrees (0.04 Celsius).
NASA's figures, which include more of the Arctic, are higher at 0.22 degrees (0.12 Celsius) warmer than 2015. The Arctic "was enormously warm, like totally off the charts compared to everything else," said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies in New York, where the space agency monitors global temperatures. More
One of Earth's Most Dangerous Supervolcanoes Is Rumbling
A long-quiet yet huge supervolcano that lies under 500,000 people in Italy may be waking up and approaching a "critical state," scientists report this week in the journal Nature Communications.
Based on physical measurements and computer modeling, "we propose that magma could be approaching the CDP [critical degassing pressure] at Campi Flegrei, a volcano in the metropolitan area of Naples, one of the most densely inhabited areas in the world, and where accelerating deformation and heating are currently being observed," wrote the scientists—who are led by Giovanni Chiodini of the Italian National Institute of Geophysics in Rome. More
Sounding the Alarm: Comets Pose Threat to Earth, Too
SAN FRANCISCO — If your death-from-above musings focus solely on asteroids, you need to broaden your worried mind.
Comets can also deliver a heaping helping of calamity to Earth, and scientists and policymakers alike should start taking measures to combat the threat, said Joseph Nuth, a researcher at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
"Comets have largely been ignored by people that are interested in defending the planet," Nuth said during a news conference at the annual fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. More
World’s last wild frankincense forests are under threat
In a tradition dating to Biblical times, men rise at dawn in the rugged Cal Madow mountains of Somaliland in the Horn of Africa to scale rocky outcrops in search of the prized sap of wild frankincense trees.
Bracing against high winds, Musse Ismail Hassan climbs with his feet wrapped in cloth to protect against the sticky resin. With a metal scraper, he chips off bark and the tree’s white sap bleeds into the salty air. “My father and grandfather were both doing this job,” said Hassan, who like all around here is Muslim. “We heard that it was with Jesus.”
When dried and burned, the sap produces a fragrant smoke which perfumes churches and mosques around the world. Frankincense, along with gold and myrrh, was brought by the Three Kings as gifts in the Gospel account of the birth of Jesus. More
Goodbye World: We’ve Passed the Carbon Tipping Point For Good
It’s a banner week for the end of the world, because we’ve officially pushed atmospheric carbon levels past their dreaded 400 parts per million. Permanently.
According to a blog post last Friday from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, “it already seems safe to conclude that we won’t be seeing a monthly value below 400 ppm this year—or ever again for the indefinite future.” Their findings are based on weekly observations of carbon dioxide at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory, where climate scientists have been measuring CO2 levels since 1958.
What’s so terrifying about this number? For several years now, scientists have been warning us that if atmospheric carbon were allowed to surpass 400 parts per million, it would mark a serious “milestone.” In 2012, the Arctic was the first region on Earth to cross this red line. Three years later, for the first time since scientists had begun to record them, carbon levels remained above 400 parts per million for an entire month. More
All Queens Must Die
The cows were the first to go because cows are big, and killing them was easy. The ranchers on Santa Cruz Island had been killing cattle for more than a century already. Rounded up, marched onto ships and motored 20 miles across the Pacific to mainland California, the cows were slaughtered, just like they’d been slaughtered for a hundred years, or longer even. By the early 1980s, the cows were gone. So were nearly all the ranchers.
The sheep were trickier. There were a lot more of them, something like 40,000, grazing over 96 square miles of mountainous island covered in dense chaparral, little oak woodlands, deep canyons, towering cliffs, and some of the largest sea caves in the world. A great landscape to hide in. The Nature Conservancy — which owns about three-quarters of the island — set about eradicating the sheep in 1981. By 1989, the Conservancy had killed at least 37,000 of them, but some sheep survived on Santa Cruz into the ‘90s. More
Flooding of Coast, Caused by Global Warming, Has Already Begun
NORFOLK, Va. — Huge vertical rulers are sprouting beside low spots in the streets here, so people can judge if the tidal floods that increasingly inundate their roads are too deep to drive through.
Five hundred miles down the Atlantic Coast, the only road to Tybee Island, Ga., is disappearing beneath the sea several times a year, cutting the town off from the mainland.
And another 500 miles on, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., increased tidal flooding is forcing the city to spend millions fixing battered roads and drains — and, at times, to send out giant vacuum trucks to suck saltwater off the streets.
For decades, as the global warming created by human emissions caused land ice to melt and ocean water to expand, scientists warned that the accelerating rise of the sea would eventually imperil the United States’ coastline. More
Earth Just Narrowly Missed Getting Hit by an Asteroid
On Saturday, astronomers discovered a new asteroid, just a few hours before it almost hit us.
The asteroid is called 2016 QA2, and it missed the Earth by less than a quarter of the distance to the moon. That puts it about three times as far away from Earth as our farthest satellites. And we never saw it coming.
So how did 2016 QA2 sneak up on us like that? For this particular asteroid, the answer seems to be that it has a very peculiar orbit. It's highly elliptical, which means it can usually be found hanging out by either Mars or Venus, but rarely ends up near Earth. More
Black Lives Matter UK says climate change is racist
The Black Lives Matter movement may have started in the United States, but local versions are spreading across the world. And as the movement expands, so does the message.
In Britain on Tuesday, members of Black Lives Matter UK gained access to London City Airport, where they chained themselves together on the runway in protest. Flights into the capital were diverted for several hours. Nine activists were arrested.
It followed a similar demonstration on a road outside Heathrow, London’s largest airport, last month.
But while the activists at Heathrow emphasized police brutality, the group at City Airport wanted to highlight something else: climate change. A statement from the group said climate change has a disproportionate effect on people of color in the developing world. "Black people are the first to die, not the first to fly, in this racist climate crisis," the group said. More
Louisiana's vanishing island: the climate 'refugees' resettling for $52m
Wenceslaus Billiot, an 88-year-old native of Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana, remembers growing up on a much different island than the two-mile sliver of his ancestral home that remains today.
“When I was a kid I used to do trapping in the back,” he said, gesturing towards the back of the small, one-story house that stands elevated on stilts to escape the floods that roll in from the bayou after nearly every storm. “You could walk for a long time. Now, nothing but water.”
The back balcony overlooks a vast expanse of water leading to Terrebonne Bay and, further, the Gulf of Mexico – that now lies in his backyard.
Billiot and his equally sprightly 91-year-old wife, Denecia Naquin, are among the last remaining residents of this island, which has lost 98% of its land and most of its population to coastal erosion and rising sea levels since 1955. The population, which peaked at around 400, is now down to around 85. More
A lightning strike just killed 300 reindeer in Norway
More than 300 wild reindeer have been killed by a lighting strike in a Norwegian national park, and experts say they’ve never seen anything like it.
While details about the incident are still forthcoming, it’s suspected that the reindeer huddled together in the rain, and when the lightning hit, its energy travelled across the ground and up the animals' legs, killing them where they stood.
The victims belonged to Europe’s largest wild reindeer herd, numbering 10,000 or so in Norway's Hardangervidda national park - the largest high mountain plateau in northern Europe, spanning some 8,000 square kilometres (3,088 square miles). More
Scientists think they’ve just pinpointed the key driver of ice loss in Antarctica
The Antarctic Peninsula is headed for trouble — that much scientists know. Glaciers on the peninsula, which extends from the increasingly unstable West Antarctic region, have been retreating for decades, and some in the region have undergone particularly accelerated melting since the 1990s.
Until recently, many scientists assumed that a steady increase in air temperature around the peninsula, the product of global warming, was the primary cause behind most of the ice loss. But new research looking at the western side of the peninsula suggests that this may not be the case after all. A study published Thursday in the journal Science suggests that warm ocean water may be the biggest driver of glacial retreat in that region — and it’s a problem that may not be getting enough attention. More
Blastomycosis: Survivors of spore-borne illness tell harrowing tales
MANITOULIN—Seven years later, John Bowerman of Sheguiandah is still dealing with the affects of blastomycosis—a disease that left him hospitalized at Health Sciences North in Sudbury for over three months.
Following last week’s front page article, the first in a multi-story series on the subject of blastomycosis, Mr. Bowerman reached out to The Expositor, wanting to share the news that numerous dogs have also died as a result of the fungal infection (a fact this newspaper has reported in the past and which will be covered later in this series), noting that he himself is a survivor.
He said he did not know how he came in contact with the fungal spores but said he had helped a neighbour to plane lumber but that the wood had not been mouldy. This was in 2008. More
Ontario to spend $7-billion on sweeping climate change plan
The Ontario government will spend more than $7-billion over four years on a sweeping climate change plan that will affect every aspect of life – from what people drive to how they heat their homes and workplaces – in a bid to slash the province’s carbon footprint.
Ontario will begin phasing out natural gas for heating, provide incentives to retrofit buildings and give rebates to drivers who buy electric vehicles.
It will also require that gasoline sold in the province contain less carbon, bring in building code rules requiring all new homes by 2030 to be heated with electricity or geothermal systems, and set a target for 12 per cent of all new vehicle sales to be electric by 2025. More
Incoming asteroids could crumble harmlessly before they hit us
The skies may be safer than we assumed. Many asteroids are weak and brittle – which could be good news for us on Earth.
More than 90 per cent of asteroids and comets larger than a kilometre across in Earth’s neighbourhood have already been discovered, and scientists think the region is mostly clear of them.
Should one wander near to us, though, it could have devastating results. Scientists have ideas about how to push it away with thrusters or solar sails. However, the success of these plans depends on understanding what the rocks are made of and whether they might break apart. Space rocks fall to Earth as meteorites all the time, but few are recovered, so scientists are reluctant to crush them to study their contents and behaviour. Earth rocks usually serve as models instead. More
Portland Public Schools bans material that is skeptical on climate change
The Portland Public Schools Board on Tuesday decided to ban any classroom materials that cast doubt on climate change. The resolution passed unanimously and requires that textbooks and other material purchased by the district present climate change as a fact rather than theory.
Material will also need to present human activity as one of the phenomenon's causes.
In testimony to the board, Bill Bigelow, a former Portland teacher, told district officials that "we don't want kids in Portland learning material courtesy of the fossil fuel industry."
Bigelow said that material that treats climate change as anything other than fact is published by companies making concessions for fossil fuel companies. He pointed to words such as "might," "may" and "could" in educational materials. More
600 tons of melted radioactive Fukushima fuel still not found, clean-up chief reveals
The Fukushima clean-up team remains in the dark about the exact locations of 600 tons of melted radioactive fuel from three devastated nuclear reactors, the chief of decommissioning told the ABC’s Foreign Correspondent program in an exclusive interview.
The company hopes to locate and start removing the missing fuel from 2021, the Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) chief of decommissioning at Fukushima, Naohiro Masuda, revealed.
The fuel extraction technology is yet to be elaborated upon, he added.
Following the 2011 meltdown at Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant uranium fuel of three power generating reactors gained critical temperature and burnt through the respective reactor pressure vessels, concentrating somewhere on the lower levels of the station currently filled with water. More
Earth Was Struck By A 19-Mile Wide Asteroid That Would Have Caused ‘Cliffs To Crumble’
Earth has experienced the apocalypse more than once.
From the famous Chicxulub asteroid which wiped out the dinosaurs to the Ordovician–Silurian extinction which was reportedly caused by a devastating gamma ray burst from a hypernova explosion some 6,000 light years away. The fact that we’ve survived this long then is nothing short of a galactic roll of the dice.
New research suggests we’re even luckier than we thought as scientists are uncovering evidence of what would have been another cataclysmic event to take place on Earth. Scientists from the Australian National University have found evidence that around 3.45 billion years ago a titanic asteroid struck the Earth with enough destructive force that it would have made cliffs crumble. More
Love in the time of climate change: Grizzlies and polar bears are now mating
BARROW, Alaska — Most Alaskans and Canadians have a bear story — tales of fearsome grizzlies, even polar bears. But a mix of the two?
They’re known as pizzlies or grolars, and they’re a fusion of the Arctic white bear and their brown cousins. It’s a blend that’s been turning up more and more in parts of Alaska and Western Canada.
Last week, a strange-looking bear was shot by a hunter in Nunavut, a remote territory that curves around Canada’s Hudson Bay. Its head was large, like a grizzly’s, but its fur was white. The bear’s genetics were not tested, but Arctic researchers seem unified in their analysis: It’s a polar-grizzly mix. A hybrid. More
Changing climate: 10 years after An Inconvenient Truth
More than 25 years before the star-studded Los Angeles premiere of An Inconvenient Truth, glaciologist Lonnie Thompson was about as far away from the red carpet as possible. It was 1978, and high in the rugged Andes, Thompson and fellow scientists were witnessing the first glimpses of a pending worldwide disaster. Rising temperatures were melting ancient titans of ice and snow. Mammoth glaciers were disappearing at unprecedented rates and withering to the smallest sizes in millennia. The delicate balance of Earth’s climate was upset.
As research mounted, scientists around the world from fields as diverse as chemistry and astronomy were coming to grips with a newfound truth: Carbon dioxide spewed by fossil fuel burning and other greenhouse gases were warming the world at an alarming rate, potentially threatening the health and livelihoods of millions of people. Despite the gravity and urgency of their findings, the scientists’ warnings fell mostly on deaf ears for years. More
'Scarier than we initially thought': CDC sounds warning on Zika virus
WASHINGTON — Public health officials used their strongest language to date in warning about a Zika outbreak in the United States, as the Obama administration lobbied Congress for $1.9 billion to combat the mosquito-borne virus.
"Most of what we've learned is not reassuring," said Dr. Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Everything we look at with this virus seems to be a bit scarier than we initially thought."
As summer approaches, officials are warning that mosquito eradication efforts, lab tests and vaccine research may not be able to catch up. There are 346 cases of Zika confirmed in the continental United States — all in people who had recently traveled to Zika-prone countries, according to the most recent CDC report. Of those, 32 were in pregnant women, and seven were sexually transmitted. More
Uncertainties for asteroid 2013 TX68 Earth flyby
Astronomers haven’t exactly been biting their nails about asteroid 2013 TX68. Although the asteroid’s trajectory is highly uncertain, they’ve never thought the asteroid would hit Earth when it passes closest in early March.
Latest estimates say the asteroid will pass no closer than 19,000 miles (30,000 km).
By contrast, the moon’s distance is 250,000 miles (400,000 km). The space rock is currently approaching Earth from the sun’s direction, which makes it difficult to track it – and get a more exact orbital estimate – until it is closer to us and passes to the night sky between late February and early March.
Astronomers did make a step forward in refining the asteroid’s orbit when realized that this object – which was observed only briefly in 2013 before going into a region of the sky lit by the sun’s glare – was visible on some images a few days before it was officially detected on October 6, 2013. The new images let scientists roughly refine its trajectory, but just a bit. More
UN: 420,000 people die annually from foodborne diseases, over a quarter are young children
BERLIN — The World Health Organization says some 420,000 people die each year from foodborne diseases, with young children accounting for more than a quarter of all deaths.
The U.N. health agency says it estimates that about 600 million people fall ill annually after consuming tainted food.
The agency said Thursday that a comprehensive review of diseases caused by 31 types of bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins or chemicals found the highest burden in Africa and Southeast Asia. More
Aerosols are causing global warming on JUPITER: 'Fluffy' haze of particles is found to be heating the gas planet's atmosphere
Astronomers studying the atmosphere around the gas giant Jupiter believe they have finally solved the mystery about what keeps the planet's temperature regulated.
Using data from Nasa probes, the planetary scientists have found that the gases in Jupiter's atmosphere alone can't account for the planet's climate.
Instead, they now believe a thick haze of low density hydrocarbons interacts with solar energy in the atmosphere to regulate heat. The findings mean Jupiter's atmosphere is heated differently to Earth's, and could help us to understand the climate of other planets in the solar system, and beyond. More
Zika’s alarming spread: CDC investigates link to paralyzing condition, adds 8 countries to travel warning
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reported this week that a dozen cases of Zika virus have been confirmed in the United States, is expanding its advisory that pregnant women should avoid travel to countries currently seeing high rates of infection.
The agency's initial list contained 14 countries, but the CDC on Friday added eight more -- in South America, the Caribbean and Polynesia -- as places where the reach of the virus is growing.
The CDC now is working with authorities in Brazil to study a potential link between the mosquito-borne virus and a rare syndrome known as Guillain-Barré that can lead to paralysis. In Brazil, which is currently the epicenter of Zika, public health officials were already investigating a link between the virus and a rare birth condition called microcephaly. That country has seen nearly 3,900 suspected cases since October, with the babies involved suffering serious brain damage. More
The world faces widespread food shortages due to global warming: Crops will become scarce as droughts ravage Africa and Asia
Widespread water shortages caused by rising global temperatures could lead to food shortages and mass migration, an expert has warned.
The head of the World Meteorological Society, Michel Jarraud has warned that of all the threats posed by a warming climate, shrinking water supplies are the most serious. It is predicted that by 2025, some 2.8 billion people will live in 'water scarce' areas - a huge rise from the 1.6 billion who do now.
Parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia will be worst affected, with pockets of Australia, the US and southern Europe also predicted to suffer. More
Higher Levels Of Radiation From 2011 Japan Nuclear Accident Detected Offshore
Experts from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) reported on Thursday, Dec. 3, that higher levels of radiation were detected off the west coast of North America. The recent discovery was made years after the 2011 Japan nuclear accident.
The new report shows the rise of sampling areas where indications of contamination are present. Furthermore, the researchers were able to identify the highest level of radiation ever recorded from a sample obtained in an area 1,600 miles west of San Francisco.
Although the amount of radioactive cesium isotopes (approximately 264 gallons) is 50 percent larger than any other sample obtained along the West Coast, the number is still 500 times smaller than the safety limits for drinking water set by the government of the United States. The levels are also significantly lower than the limits that warrant concern for radiation exposure during water activities such as swimming and boating, among others. More
Human cases of 'rabbit fever' have jumped to highest mark since 1984, officials say
NEW YORK, N.Y. - Health officials are seeing an increase of a rare illness called rabbit fever that was beaten back decades ago.
In the last two decades, health officials saw an average of only about 125 cases each year of the illness — known to doctors as tularemia. But there have already been 235 cases this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday. That's the most since 1984.
Officials aren't sure why cases are up, but speculate that it may have to do with weather conditions that likely helped rodents — and the bacteria — thrive in certain states. At least 100 of this year's cases have been in four states — Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. Among those cases was an elderly man who died. More
Nuclear is not the answer to the climate crisis
Contrary to the article by James Hansen, Kerry Emanuel, Ken Caldeira and Tom Wigley (Nuclear power paves the only viable path forward on climate change, 3 December), many scientists around the world remain sceptical that nuclear is the answer, or even part of the answer, to climate change.
The academic authors have a fine record in identifying the causes and consequences of climate change, but their proposed solution simply doesn’t make sense. The main problem is that, contrary what many think, nuclear power is a poor method of reducing carbon emissions: its uranium ore and fuel processes have heavy carbon footprints. Indeed, of the ways to reduce carbon emissions in the energy sphere, nuclear is by far the most expensive in terms of pound per tonne of carbon saved. More
Nicaragua refuses to make climate pledge at Paris talks
It has been a while since the 6m people of Nicaragua did much to attract global attention.
But the Central American state burst on to the world stage at this week’s climate change conference in Paris when it became the first nation to declare it had no intention of publishing a national plan to combat global warming.
That would be “a path to failure” said Paul Oquist, Managua’s lead negotiator, explaining his country did not want to be a part of a process dooming the world to “the hell” of dangerous global warming.
More than 180 of the 195 countries involved in the Paris talks have volunteered a plan to combat climate change since March as part of an effort to forge a new global accord to stop global temperatures rising more than 2C from pre-industrial times. More