Spiking Temperatures in the Arctic Startle Scientists

A spate of extreme warmth in the Arctic over the past two months has startled scientists, who warn that the high temperatures may lead to record-low ice coverage next summer and even more warming in a region that is already among the hardest hit by climate change.

In mid-November, parts of the Arctic were more than 35 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than observed averages, scientists said, and at the pole itself, mean temperatures for the month were 23 degrees above normal. Although conditions later cooled somewhat, the extreme warmth is expected to return, with temperatures forecast to be as much as 27 degrees above normal beginning Thursday.

Jeremy Mathis, who directs the Arctic Research Program for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the warmth had led to a later than usual “freeze-up” of ice in the Arctic Ocean. That in turn may lead to record-low ice coverage in the spring and summer, which could lead to more warming because there will be less ice to reflect the sun’s rays and more darker, exposed ocean to absorb them.

“We’re going to be watching the summer of 2017 very closely,” Dr. Mathis said in an interview.

Read more here: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/21/science/arctic-global-warming.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fearth

Life in China, Smothered by Smog

Parts of China have for days been experiencing smog so thick that highways and businesses have been shut down, and dozens of flights have been canceled. Amid dangerously unhealthy air quality levels, people in Beijing and elsewhere in the country tried to go about their daily routines.

The Associated Press reported 460 million people were affected by a “red alert” issued by the government last week.

Schools canceled classes on Monday because of the red alert. But in the town of Linqi, one school decided not to cancel its exams, and at least 400 children sat outside amid the heavy smog.

Smog is not uncommon in China, especially in the winter. In December 2015, the government declared its first “red alert” in Beijing, part of a new emergency plan for air pollution. At the time, residents complained of the inconvenience such an alert brought as schools, highways and some factories were shut down.

Find more here: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/22/world/asia/china-smog-toxic.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fearth


Climate change could have devastating impact on global fisheries

If climate change continues unchecked and the global temperature increases by more than the Paris agreement target of 1.5 C, it is certain to have a dire impact on fish catches, a new study has found.

Fishing is a major commercial industry and source of food for many people around the world, particularly in temperate regions. However, as more carbon dioxide is pumped into the atmosphere, it causes the temperature of the world’s oceans to rise. This can create less-than-ideal conditions for fish and marine life.

Instead of living in an unfriendly environment, the fish will start to migrate to the cooler waters near the poles.

This will leave temperate regions at the equator and up to 25 degrees latitude both north and south, without the fish they so depend on.

The study, published in the journal Science, used a numerical model to calculate what would happen in a “business-as-usual” scenario where the planet continues to warm 3.5 C above the average. What they found was a major disruption of marine life.

Read more here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/global-climate-goals-save-fisheries-1.3909494?utm_content=buffer54830&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Χιόνια στη Σαχάρα μετά από 37 χρόνια

Ερασιτέχνης φωτογράφος απαθανάτισε το σπάνιο φαινόμενο της χιονόπτωση στην έρημο Σαχάρα, το οποίο είχε να συμβεί 40 σχεδόν χρόνια.

Σύμφωνα με τον independent, ο Karim Bouchetata αποτύπωσε τα χιόνια στη μικρή πόλη Ain Sefra στην Αλγερία, η οποία βρίσκεται στα βουνά Άτλας στη βόρεια πλευρά της ερήμου.

Δες τις φωτογραφίες εδώ: http://www.avgi.gr/article/10937/7756143/chionia-ste-sachara-meta-apo-37-chronia

Strategies for Combatting Deforestation

The impact of deforestation has its own set of social, environmental and ecological consequences. Deforestation not only disrupts communities and ancient homelands for indigenous peoples, it also destroys the complex natural ecosystems that thrive in them.

Trees also take water out of the atmosphere and in doing so, regulate the water cycle. By cutting trees down, the soil is deprived of this water causing it to become arid (ironic given that 80% of deforestation is to make way for farmland). Chopping down vast tracts of forests also destabilises soils which form a natural barrier against flooding.

Here some strategies for tackling deforestation. The potential effectiveness of each is of course open to interpretation and there is obviously a lot of overlap in, and interdependence between them. Their individual effectiveness can be greatly boosted by an approach that utilises multiple strategies.

  • Leveraging the Power of the Market
  • Political Activism
  • Consumer Pressure
  • Strengthening Existing Institutions
  • Planting new forests
  • Promoting sustainable practices

Check this out, for more details: http://blueandgreentomorrow.com/features/strategies-combatting-deforestation/

Marking the One Year Anniversary of the Paris Climate Change Agreement Celebration and Reality Check

One year after the world adopted the Paris Climate Change Agreement, climate action across governments, business and societies continues to scale new heights. The challenge now is to take this to an even higher scale with a speed and an urgency that reflects the scientific reality.

“2016 was an extraordinary year in many ways. In less than 12 months the Paris climate agreement entered into force and almost weekly, more countries ratify. Meanwhile nations, cities, regions, businesses and investors continue to signal their unwavering support through practical action, shifts in investments and ever more ambitious pledges, “said Patricia Espinosa, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

This urgency and this action needs not only to continue but to go to scale and gather ever more speed over 2017 and the years and decades to come—because current ambition still falls short of what is needed. In 2016 the UN’s World Meteorological Organization announced world-wide average temperatures had risen 1-degree Celsius in 2015 and that concentrations of the key greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, reached past the significant milestone of 400 parts per million in the atmosphere over the entire year, “she added.

Learn more here: http://newsroom.unfccc.int/paris-agreement/paris-agreement-anniversary/

Smoggy Beijing, under alert, orders factories to shut or cut output

Beijing’s city government ordered 1,200 factories near the Chinese capital, including a major oil refinery run by state oil giant Sinopec, to shut or cut output on Saturday after authorities issued the highest possible air pollution alert.

On Friday, China’s environmental watchdog issued a five-day warning about choking smog spreading across the north and ordered factories to shut, recommended residents stay indoors and curbed traffic and construction work.

Red alerts are issued when the air quality index (AQI), a measure of pollutants in the air, is forecast to break 200 for more than four days in succession, surpass 300 for more than two days or overshoot 500 for at least 24 hours.

The Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Centre showed an air quality reading of 297 by Saturday afternoon as haze started to envelop the capital, after an earlier reading of around 120. Levels in the 301-500 band are considered hazardous to health.

Traffic on the city’s roads was lower than usual as residents complied with limits on car use and many of the city’s 22 million residents sat out the haze at home.

Read more here: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-pollution-idUSKBN146032?utm_campaign=trueAnthem:+Trending+Content&utm_content=5855460f04d301452db3f5d7&utm_medium=trueAnthem&utm_source=twitter


How to rehab our soil for a changing climate

“Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too.”

This year’s message from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization for World Food Day is timely as the planet emerges from yet another summer of record heat. With changing climates and increasingly frequent extreme weather events, the world is facing real challenges with food production, exacerbated by the declining capacity of soils to hold water, buffer temperature shocks and supply nutrients to food crops.

In global climate negotiations and agreements, agriculture is listed primarily as a victim of adverse climate impacts.

While this is true, it is equally important to recognize that food production is also a major contributor to climate change. The silver lining? Recognizing that food production is a major emitter of greenhouse gases could open a new range of solutions to climate change.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, over a 20-year period, agriculture accounts for about 22 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. This makes agriculture the largest contributing sector to climate change. In comparison, industry emits 20 percent of greenhouse gases, electricity and heat production 17 percent and other energy-related activities another 17 percent.

Read more here: https://www.greenbiz.com/article/how-rehab-our-soil-changing-climate

‘Giuseppe’: The Computer Program Tackling Food Insecurity

Reports state that to feed the estimated 9 billion people that will exist by 2050, we will have to nearly double the current output of food, feed and fiber.

A Chilean start-up is tackling the global food insecurity problem by using groundbreaking artificial intelligence technology that can recreate animal-based foods and various ingredients using nothing other than plant products.

Giuseppe, as the computer software is known, combines science and technology to produce plant-based versions of traditional foods that try to remain as closely linked to people’s eating habits as possible.

The software, developed by Chilean company NotCo, was derived from an algorithm that studied the molecular makeup of different foods and plants. It would then use machine-based learning to ascertain which combinations of plants would produce the desired foods while maintaining natural tastes and textures, based on an extensive molecular database collected by the company.

They have already approached Coca Cola and chocolate manufacturer Hershey’s to discuss creating new versions of chocolate and soda.

Read more here: http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Giuseppe-The-Computer-Program-Tackling-Food-Insecurity-20161206-0001.html

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Science just gave us more proof that destroying the environment can spread diseases to humans

In a new study, scientists have demonstrated — yet again — the alarming effects of environmental change on the spread of infectious disease. It’s the latest link in a long chain of research suggesting that deforestation and other land-use changes can be major drivers of everything from malaria to the Zika virus, which the World Health Organization recently noted is a public health threat that’s “here to stay.”

Many previous studies have focused on how changes to the environment can create landscapes that are more suitable for disease-carrying organisms, like mosquitoes, or bring them into closer contact with humans. For instance, research suggests that deforestation in Malaysia has brought human communities closer to forest-dwelling macaques — and now, people in these communities are starting to come down with a form of malaria usually found only in monkeys. And another study found that dams in South Africa, which can create standing water for mosquitoes to breed in, have caused a spike in malaria rates.

The new study, just out Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, takes a slightly different tack. It focuses on the way land-use changes can alter an ecosystem’s food chain — and the disease-causing bacteria that lurk within it. It finds that a certain amount of environmental degradation can actually be a boon for lower-level members of the food chain, who serve as the bacteria’s primary hosts.

The study focuses on a species of bacteria called Mycobacterium ulcerans, which is responsible for a skin disease known as the Buruli ulcer. While treatable with antibiotics and sometimes even surgery, according to the World Health Organization, the painful ulcers caused by the disease can also lead to scarring and disfigurement. It tends to be found in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, South America and the Western Pacific. In 2014, 2,200 new cases were reported.

Read more here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/12/08/science-just-gave-us-more-proof-that-destroying-the-environment-can-spread-diseases-to-humans/?utm_source=rss_energy-environment&utm_term=.8f015fd932b3