37 Global Warming News Articles
for May of 2016
Click on the links below to get the full story from its source
5-31-16 World’s environment parliament agrees 25 steps to save the Earth
World’s environment parliament agrees 25 steps to save the Earth
A major meeting of world environment ministers has adopted resolutions to tackle global problems, but most of these are unlikely to usher in much change. A week-long meeting of 2500 delegates from 174 countries has wrapped up after adopting 25 resolutions on subjects ranging from green finance to the trade in endangered species. But the resolutions adopted at the headquarters of the UN Environmental Programme in Nairobi, Kenya, call for little in the way of new action, or fresh finances to tackle the world’s environmental messes.
5-31-16 Baking soda 'sponge' could capture carbon emissions
Baking soda 'sponge' could capture carbon emissions
Scientists in California are testing sponges made with the key ingredient of baking soda as a way of capturing carbon emissions. The researchers say that soda is more effective than current methods and less damaging to the environment. The team have already successfully trialled microcapsules filled with the substance. They believe that the baking soda approach could be 40% cheaper than existing technology. The burning of coal, gas and oil for energy production remains the single biggest source of the gas.
5-29-16 Pioneering geophysicist’s theory of peak oil still debated
Pioneering geophysicist’s theory of peak oil still debated
New biography examines career, politics of Marion King Hubbert. Geophysicist Marion King Hubbert’s decades-old prediction that U.S. oil production would peak and rapidly decline remains relevant to modern problems, a new book on Hubbert’s life asserts. In 1956, Marion King Hubbert predicted world oil production would peak in about 2000. Production has surpassed this forecast, reaching over 30 billion barrels in 2014. (Webmaster's comment: There's more oil than he predicted, but in the not-to-distant future he will be right! The earth does not have bottomless pits.)
5-27-16 Donald Trump would 'cancel' Paris climate deal
Donald Trump would 'cancel' Paris climate deal
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has said he would "cancel" the Paris climate deal in his first major speech on energy policy. More than 195 countries pledged to reduce carbon emissions in a landmark agreement last year. The billionaire businessman has said before there is no evidence that humans are responsible for climate change. (Webmaster's comment: Trump is an Enemy of Science and would ingore any finding that doesn't make more money for him or his already super rich friends.)
5-27-16 Trump would deliver fatal blow to fight against climate change
Trump would deliver fatal blow to fight against climate change
A Donald Trump presidency would disrupt the fight against climate change in a way that threatens to snuff out all hope, warns Matthew Nisbet. Donald Trump has just promised to “cancel the Paris climate agreement“, end US funding for United Nations climate change programmes, and rollback the “stupid” Obama administration regulations to cut power plant emissions. The Republican presidential candidate has often defied party orthodoxy on major issues, shocking conservatives with his off-the-cuff remarks. But his scripted speech yesterday to an oil industry meeting directly echoed the party’s line on climate change and energy. (Webmaster's comment: Just what we need! Another person not interested in facts, only interested in power!)
5-27-16 Exxon: An inconvenient truth
Exxon: An inconvenient truth
In the hot and humid conditions of downtown Dallas, the #Exxonknew ice sculpture - erected by environmental campaigners to suggest the company had known about the science of climate change but had failed to act - did not last too long. And the activists were hoping the same thing would happen to Exxon, a company that has fended off efforts to make it toe the line on climate change for a quarter of a century. The global giant has taken some hefty blows over the past 12 months. It is struggling to sell oil and gas in a flooded market, profits are the lowest in 13 years, and the company has lost its vaunted AAA investment rating, for the first time since the great depression. It is also facing investigations by a number of attorneys general. Exxon and others, green groups say, will be shown to have misled investors and the public about the true state of climate science and will be fined, condemned and buried in the very ground from which it extracts its evil fuels.
5-27-16 Australia removed from UN world heritage climate report
Australia removed from UN world heritage climate report
All references to climate change's impact on World Heritage sites in Australia have been removed from a United Nations report. A draft of the report contained a chapter on the Great Barrier Reef and references to Kakadu and Tasmania. But Australia's Department of the Environment requested that Unesco scrub these sections from the final version. A statement from the department said the report could have had an impact on tourism to Australia. It also said the report's title, Destinations at Risk, had "the potential to cause considerable confusion".
5-25-16 Exclusive: Effect of CO2 on warming is worse than we thought
Exclusive: Effect of CO2 on warming is worse than we thought
Recent record-breaking temperatures mean estimates of how much warming will result from CO2 emissions will have to be revised upwards, New Scientist can reveal. WE MAY be in for more global warming than we hoped, New Scientist can reveal. Over the past few years, a number of studies have concluded that a given level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere produces less warming than previously thought. This rare good news on climate made headlines around the world. But these studies were carried out towards the end of a period of little warming. Do the results still stand given the record warming in 2014, 2015 and 2016? To find out, New Scientist asked those behind the studies what would happen if the latest global temperature data was plugged into their models. One headline-making 2013 study had concluded that the immediate warming that would result from a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere would be around 1.3 °C – significantly less than most previous estimates. If correct, this would mean we still have a chance of limiting warming to below the “dangerous” point of 2 °C despite soaring CO2 levels. But this was before global temperatures shot past 1 °C above pre-industrial levels last year, as predicted by New Scientist in July 2015. If the 2013 study was repeated using that value, it would give an estimate for the immediate warming of 1.6 °C, says Piers Forster, one of the study’s authors based at the University of Leeds, UK. (Webmaster's comment: We ain't seen nothin yet!)
5-25-16 Climate-cooling aerosols can form from tree vapors
Climate-cooling aerosols can form from tree vapors
Pollution’s sulfuric acid not needed to make cloud-seeding particles in the air. Researchers created climate-cooling, cloud-seeding aerosols inside a cloud chamber without the sulfuric acid spewed by fossil fuel burning. The cooling effect of pollution may have been exaggerated. Fossil fuel burning spews sulfuric acid into the air, where it can form airborne particles that seed clouds and cool Earth’s climate. But that’s not the only way these airborne particles can form, three new studies suggest. Tree vapors can turn into cooling airborne particles, too. The discovery means these particles were more abundant before the Industrial Revolution than previously thought. Climate scientists have therefore overestimated cooling caused by air pollution, says atmospheric chemist Urs Baltensperger, who coauthored the three studies.
5-25-16 Exxon shareholders take 'small step forward' on climate
Exxon shareholders take 'small step forward' on climate
Exxon Mobil shareholders have rejected most proposals to increase reporting on climate change. But they accepted a resolution that could see a climate activist elected to the board in the future. Despite opposition from the board, just over 60% of investors backed the motion that would allow small shareholders to nominate anyone to join the board. Exxon said it would re-evaluate its policies. It was the first shareholder decision accepted by Exxon in 10 years.
5-25-16 Treating cows with antibiotics doubles dung methane emissions
Treating cows with antibiotics doubles dung methane emissions
Antibiotic-treated cows are bad news for climate and possibly ecosystems, because the drugs play havoc with microbes living inside dung beetles. Antibiotics given to cattle can have far-reaching effects in an ecosystem, changing the make-up of microbes in the guts of dung beetles and increasing methane emissions from faeces. Researchers have analysed dung and the ecosystem it supports from cattle given a course of the antibiotic tetracycline. Such antibiotics are commonly given to livestock to prevent diseases and stimulate growth, even though this can lead to the development of drug-resistant bacteria. The team found that the dung of treated cows produced nearly twice as much methane – an important greenhouse gas – as that of non-treated ones. “We were surprised to find such a big increase in methane emissions in dung,” says Tobin Hammer of the University of Colorado in Boulder. “We believe that the tetracycline treatment favours the growth of methanogenic archaea in the cows’ intestinal tract by reducing the bacteria in the gut.” The drugs also caused changes in the composition of microbes in the guts of beetles that fed on the dung. (Webmaster's comment: We should always be asking what else is affected by what want to do. The world's creatures have spent millions of years evolving beneficial relationships between different species. We can upset these benefical realtionships to our detriment unless we think ahead first.)
5-25-16 Cattle drugs could fuel climate change, study suggests
Cattle drugs could fuel climate change, study suggests
Dosing farm animals with antibiotics increases greenhouse gas emissions from cow dung, research suggests. Dung contaminated with the drugs released 1.8 times more methane. Scientists say the drugs boost methane production in cowpats - apparently by favouring antibiotic-resistant, methane-producing organisms in the gut. Antibiotics also change the microbes which inhabit dung beetles, although apparently with no adverse effects. The researchers say it’s proof that antibiotic use on farms has unintended, cascading effects on the environment.
5-24-16 Antibiotics in cattle leave their mark in dung
Antibiotics in cattle leave their mark in dung
Dosing cattle with antibiotics affects dung beetles and ups greenhouse gases emitted from cow dung, researchers suggest. Overuse of antibiotics in livestock can spread drug-resistant microbes — via farm workers or even breezy weather. But there’s more than one reason stay upwind of drugged cattle. Dung beetles (Aphodius fossor) make their living on cattle dung pats, which are rich in nutritious microbes. To investigate the effects of cattle antibiotics on this smaller scale, Tobin Hammer of the University of Colorado at Boulder and his colleagues studied the tiny communities around tetracycline-dosed and undosed cows. Compared with untreated cows' dung, microbes in dung produced by treated cows were less diverse and dominated by a genus with documented resistance, the researchers report May 25 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
5-24-16 Exxon Mobil faces 'change or die' moment on climate
Exxon Mobil faces 'change or die' moment on climate
Oil giant Exxon Mobil is facing unprecedented shareholder pressure on climate change. A significant group of shareholders are seeking to force Exxon Mobil to acknowledge the growing threat from climate change at the company's AGM on Wednesday. These investors want the world's biggest publicly traded oil company to support the goal of a 2C global temperature limit. Exxon Mobil is also being investigated for potential fraud by withholding information on the role of fossil fuels in driving up temperatures. The company says that the shareholder resolutions are unnecessary, while the investigations by several states are "politically motivated."
5-20-16 Zapping clouds with lasers could tweak planet’s temperature
Zapping clouds with lasers could tweak planet’s temperature
Future technology might allow manipulation of ice crystals to alter climate. Laser blasts might help scientists tweak Earth’s thermostat by shattering the ice crystals found in cirrus clouds. Zapping tiny ice particles in the lab forms new, smaller bits of ice, researchers report May 20 in Science Advances. Since clouds with more numerous, smaller ice particles reflect more light, the technique could combat global warming by causing the clouds to reflect more sunlight back into space, the scientists say.
5-20-16 India records its hottest day ever
India records its hottest day ever
A city in India's Rajasthan state has broken the country's temperature records after registering 51C, the highest since records began, the weather office says. The new record in Phalodi in the desert state comes amid a heatwave across India. The previous record for the hottest temperature stood at 50.6C in 1956. The heatwave has hit much of northern India, where temperatures have exceeded 40C (have exceeded 104 degrees fahrenheit) for weeks. (Webmaster's comment: 51C is a whopping 124 degrees fahrenheit. Try surviving that now and prepare for much worse.)
5-20-16 Giving miners false hope about coal
Giving miners false hope about coal
Technological change has shattered the newspaper industry, costing thousands of people their jobs, said David Horsey. But “neither I nor any of my journalist colleagues ever thought to ask a politician to save us,” prop up a dying industry, “and guarantee we’d not have to reinvent ourselves.” Yet that’s what coal miners are demanding of presidential candidates this year. Democrat Hillary Clinton recently enraged people connected to the coal industry in West Virginia by addressing a hard economic truth: Coal is in irreversible decline, losing its market to cheap, cleaner natural gas and renewables. She offered a $30 million plan to retrain miners for jobs in the growing alternative-energy sector—but they much preferred the pandering of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump. He told miners that as president, he’ll get rid of environmental regulations, “their industry will thrive, and their jobs will come back.” This is nonsensical. Coal is “dirty, unhealthy, dangerous, and anachronistic”—a prime driver of climate change, air pollution, and toxic mercury levels in fish. Coal miners “need to reinvent themselves” for the 21st century, instead of wishing someone would roll back the clock to the 19th.
5-19-16 Rocks record Totten Glacier's rapid retreat history
Rocks record Totten Glacier's rapid retreat history
Unchecked climate change could put Antarctica's huge Totten Glacier into an unstable configuration over the coming centuries, a study has warned. If that happens, the ice loss could push up global oceans by 2m, or more. The claim is based on an assessment of the rocks underlying the ice stream.
5-18-16 India’s drought foretells of greater struggles as climate warms
India’s drought foretells of greater struggles as climate warms
Cracked soils, farmer suicides and desperate migration are at odds with the country's image as an emerging economic and technological power, says T. V. Padma. India is in the grip of a severe drought as a result of two successive weak monsoons and a searing heatwave. Its reservoirs dipped to less than a fifth of their total capacity in May, and a quarter of the country’s 1.1 billion people are estimated to be affected in some way. Reports of parched, cracked soils, farmers’ suicides and desperate migration from Marathwada in the west of the country – one of the worst-hit regions – are at odds with the country’s image as an emerging economic and technological power, aspiring towards a trillion-dollar economy “with no poverty” by 2032. The hope is that this year’s monsoon, due to arrive in the first week of June, will turn things around. But many see the drought as a wake-up call for India, and a sign of things to come for the region as global warming takes hold. India’s economy still depends largely on monsoon rains, with two-thirds of its agricultural land fed by rain. Other parts of the country are irrigated but this is costing the country dearly, leading to rapidly depleting groundwater and declining water tables. (Webmaster's comment: The India government finances nuclear weapons, missiles, satellites and space exploration while half it's people still live as barbarians in the dark ages.)
5-18-16 The Arctic Ocean is about to get spicier
The Arctic Ocean is about to get spicier
Climate change will shift how ocean’s waters stack up. As the Arctic Ocean warms, temperature will play a larger role in determining the density of seawater. This change will allow saltier, warmer water to sit at the same depth as fresher, cooler water and will have implications for Arctic sea ice. Relative temperature and salinity variations within seawater of the same density. Warmer, saltier ocean water is considered spicy while cooler, fresher water is minty. As the region warms, however, temperature will have a stronger influence on Arctic seawater density than it does now. That change will mean warmer, saltier water will rise to the same depth as cooler, fresher water. The spiciness boost will make it more difficult for warm water to enter the deep ocean. With more heat held at the surface, the fate of sea ice is uncertain. The sea ice–growing season could be delayed each fall, but once the season progresses, lower ocean temperatures could boost sea ice. One thing is clear, says Yale University oceanographer Mary-Louise Timmermans, who coauthored the study: “The way the Arctic Ocean works will change.”
5-18-16 Agricultural emissions 'reality check'
Agricultural emissions 'reality check'
A new report says that global agricultural emissions must be slashed to prevent the planet warming by more than 2C over the next century. The current focus is on reducing emissions from transport and energy. But an international team of scientists argues that if farm-related emissions aren't tackled then the Paris climate targets will be breached. An estimated one-third of our greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture. (Webmaster's comment: More than 2C over the next century? We'll be over that by 2025! Scientists live in fear of saying how bad it's going to be and how fast that will happen.)
5-17-16 La Niña to give some relief from warming after hottest April yet
La Niña to give some relief from warming after hottest April yet
A cooling La Niña cycle is on the way, and it will give an insight into how much of the recent warming has been down to climate change. April was the seventh month in a row to smash global temperature records, but a brief respite could be on the horizon. Since October, every month has exceeded the 1951-1980 monthly global temperature average by more than 1 °C. The ongoing heat wave is being fuelled by a double whammy – background global warming and a strong El Niño cycle. “If you compare the temperatures of the last 12 months with the same stages of the last strong El Niño event in 1997 and 1998, it’s about 0.3 °C warmer this time round,” he says. “This is consistent with an overall warming trend.” However, the record run may be interrupted when La Niña, the opposite weather cycle to El Niño, kicks in towards the end of the year, he says.
5-16-16 April breaks global temperature record
April breaks global temperature record
April was the seventh month in a row that broke global temperature records, Nasa figures show. Last month smashed the previous record for April by the largest margin ever, the data show. That makes it three months in a row that the monthly record was broken by the largest margin ever. (Webmaster's comment: The data show huge hot areas over Northern Russian, Alaska, and Greenland. We're melting ice like never before.)
5-16-16 A Billion people face global flooding risk by 2060, charity warns
A Billion people face global flooding risk by 2060, charity warns
A British aid charity is warning that by 2060 more than a billion people worldwide will live in cities at risk of catastrophic flooding as a result of climate change. A study by Christian Aid says the US, China and India are among the countries most threatened. It says the Indian cities of Kolkata and Mumbai will be most at risk. The eight most vulnerable cities on the list are all in Asia, followed by Miami in the US.
5-16-16 Why cheap green energy could derail the renewable revolution
Why cheap green energy could derail the renewable revolution
Renewable energy sources are finally becoming competitive on price. Unfortunately that creates a serious problem, says Michael Le Page. “Germany had so much renewable energy on Sunday that it had to pay people to use electricity.” That was the striking headline on the Quartz news site last week. Excess electricity can overload a grid, so to even things out some big consumers were paid to up their energy use. Wind and solar provided 22 per cent of Germany’s electricity in 2015. That isn’t typical but it’s not the only place with too much energy at times. In Texas there is now so much wind energy that some firms give electricity away to households for free at night. It sounds like wonderful news. The cost of wind and solar is falling so dramatically that they are finally becoming competitive with other electricity sources. The tempting conclusion is that the days of fossil fuels are numbered. Clean, green energy is going to deliver cheaper power for us all. Problem solved? Maybe not!
5-13-16 Shrinking bird pays the bill for Arctic warming
Shrinking bird pays the bill for Arctic warming
A migratory bird has shrunk in stature as temperatures warm at its Arctic breeding ground, according to research. As a consequence of climate change, the red knot may have a lower survival chance on a different continent, say scientists. The shore bird breeds in the Arctic in the summer and flies to tropical habitats in winter. Scientists believe shrinkage in body size is a response to climate change in different animals.
5-12-16 Earlier ice melt in the Arctic cuts survival of birds in Africa
Earlier ice melt in the Arctic cuts survival of birds in Africa
Red knots are one of many animals shrinking in the face of climate change. This downsizing affects their feeding ability and means fewer survive. Warming climates are affecting the high-Arctic breeding grounds of red knots. That means these small shorebirds do not grow as big as they did 30 years ago – and this causes big problems when they reach their wintering grounds in Africa. The red knot is one of the planet’s great migrators, making epic journeys from the Arctic Ocean to the tropics and back every year. For more than 30 years, Jan van Gils at NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research and his colleagues have been marking and measuring knots each autumn at a migratory stopover in Poland. In years when the Arctic snowpack melted early, they found, juvenile birds weighed less and had shorter bills, probably because they hatched after the peak of insect abundance. nce the migrating knots reached their wintering grounds on the coast of Mauritania in west Africa, their shorter bills prove costly.
5-12-16 Ghana's coastal erosion: The village buried in sand
Ghana's coastal erosion: The village buried in sand
Fuveme is visibly shrinking: It is one of Ghana's coastal villages which are vanishing because of coastal erosion. What was once a thriving fishing community is now best reachable by boat because of rising sea levels. Waves have taken whole parts of the village with them into the sea. Local resident Frank Kofigah told me that the village was 5km (three miles) from the coast a few years ago. Now the waves are just a few metres away.
5-12-16 Cryosat spacecraft's ice vision is boosted
Cryosat spacecraft's ice vision is boosted
European scientists have found a way to super-charge their study of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, enabling them to recover 100 times more detail in areas known to be melting. European scientists have found a way to super-charge their study of the ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland. The novel technique boosts the data about height changes that are gathered by radar instruments on satellites. Known as swath altimetry, it permits researchers to see broader regions of the ice sheets in any one pass overhead, and at a much finer scale. Areas of melting or accumulation can now be investigated with 100 times more information.
5-10-16 A fifth of all plants threatened as habitats shrink worldwide
A fifth of all plants threatened as habitats shrink worldwide
Most types of plant communities have had their ranges changed by more than 10 per cent since 2001, with mangroves and coniferous forests taking the brunt. Plant habitats are changing – often shrinking – globally and more than 20 per cent of plant species are now at risk of extinction worldwide. That’s according to the first global assessment of the state of the world’s plants by London’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. The team used IUCN data to estimate the number of threatened plant species, and worked out the change in land cover by looking at satellite images taken between 2001 and 2012. Mangroves saw the greatest change, with more than a quarter of their area transformed over the decade – often to shrimp farms and golf courses. This was followed by tropical and subtropical coniferous forests, which saw a change of almost 25 per cent, also mainly loss. All other biome types, apart from desert and very dry shrubland, saw changes of more than 10 per cent.
5-9-16 Five Pacific islands vanish from sight as sea levels rise
Five Pacific islands vanish from sight as sea levels rise
Solomon Islands are taking the brunt of sea level rise, with five of them already submerged – a picture of what we can expect elsewhere by the end of the century. Five of the Solomon Islands have been swallowed whole by rising sea levels, offering a glimpse into the future of other low-lying nations. Sea levels in the Solomon Islands have been climbing by 7 millimetres per year over the last two decades, due to a double whammy of global warming and stronger trade winds. “It’s a perfect storm,” says Simon Albert of the University of Queensland. “There’s the background level of global sea-level rise, and then the added pressure of a natural trade wind cycle that has been physically pushing water into the Western Pacific.” The global rate of sea level rise is 3 millimetres per year, but is likely to accelerate to 7 by the end of the century, as rising temperatures melt ice sheets and cause thermal expansion of the oceans, Albert says. “All the projections show that in the second half of the century, the rest of the globe will reach the rate of sea level rise that the Solomon Islands is currently experiencing,” he says.
5-6-16 U.S. oil and gas boom behind rising ethane levels
U.S. oil and gas boom behind rising ethane levels
Up to 3 percent of emissions of the greenhouse gas come from single site centered in North Dakota. Flyovers of North America’s Bakken oil and gas field reveal that the region releases a significant amount of the world’s ethane emissions, a gas that can damage air quality and warm the climate. A single oil and gas field centered in North Dakota spews 1 to 3 percent of all global ethane emissions, about 230,000 metric tons annually. Based on that snapshot, researchers argue that the recent U.S. oil and gas boom is chiefly to blame for rising levels of ethane, a component of natural gas that can damage air quality and warm the climate. Flying air-sniffing planes over the Bakken shale in May 2014, atmospheric scientist Eric Kort of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and colleagues discovered that ethane emissions were 10 to 100 times larger than expected. The region has been a major contributor to a U-turn in ethane emissions, the researchers report online April 26 in Geophysical Research Letters. Global atmospheric ethane levels declined from 14.3 million tons in 1984 to around 11.3 million tons in 2010. In recent years, however, ethane levels have increased.
5-6-16 Canada’s huge wildfires may release carbon locked in permafrost
Canada’s huge wildfires may release carbon locked in permafrost
Fires like the one sweeping through Alberta may be the new normal and could speed climate change, perhaps increasing future fire risks. The effects may extend far beyond Canada and Alaska, because of the frozen organic matter under the forest permafrost. Wildfires can strip away the protective vegetative blanket and release all that stockpiled carbon into the atmosphere, says Merritt Turetsky, an ecosystem ecologist at the University of Guelph in Ontario. The thawing soil could also trigger microbial activity, releasing more carbon dioxide and methane. In other words, more wildfires can mean more greenhouse gases, accelerating the very climate change that may have helped kick off the fires in the first place — not to mention changing the equation for rest of the globe. “This is carbon that the ecosystem has not seen for thousands of years and now it’s being released into the atmosphere,” says Turetsky. “We need to start thinking about permafrost and we need to start thinking about deep carbon and everything we can do to inhibit the progression of climate change.”
5-5-16 Asian primates hit hard by ancient climate change
Asian primates hit hard by ancient climate change
Fossil finds may explain why humans evolved in Africa, not Asia. The fossils’ discoverers suspect dropping temperatures and declining rainfall around 34 million years ago changed the course of primate evolution in Asia. Fossil discoveries in southern China point to an evolutionary crossroads around 34 million years ago that resulted in humans evolving in Africa rather than Asia, scientists say. A sharply cooler and drier climate at that time, combined with upheavals of landmasses that forged the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau, destroyed many tropical forests in Asia. That sent surviving primates scurrying south, say paleontologist Xijun Ni of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and his colleagues. New Chinese finds provide the first fossil evidence that the forerunners of monkeys, apes and humans, also known as anthropoids, were then largely replaced in Asia by creatures related to modern lemurs, lorises and tarsiers, the researchers conclude in the May 6 Science.
5-5-16 'Perfect storm' of El Niño and warming boosted Alberta fires
'Perfect storm' of El Niño and warming boosted Alberta fires
El Niño and ongoing climate change have both contributed to the devastating Alberta wildfires according to experts. The weather phenomenon has caused much drier conditions than normal, leading to a massive increase in the number of fires in the province. Alberta has had 330 wildfires already this year, more than double the recent annual average. Global warming has also seen wildfire seasons lengthen considerably since 1979, according to studies.
5-5-16 North Pacific’s sea slug invasion linked to mystery ocean blob
North Pacific’s sea slug invasion linked to mystery ocean blob
A mass northern migration of colourful nudibranchs could signal the start of a decade-long climate shift across North America. Unusually warm waters in the Pacific Ocean are driving dozens of species of nudibranch – a photogenic type of sea slug – northward at a surprising pace. This could signal the beginning of a major climate shift in the region, says Jeffrey Goddard, a marine biologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Nine species were found further north than they had ever been seen before, such as Okenia rosacea – which usually lives south of San Francisco but was seen as far north as Oregon. The rest were spotted at or near the northernmost limits of their known range.Nudibranchs are excellent indicators of shifts in ocean temperatures and currents, Goddard says. They have long-lived planktonic larvae that are easily transported by currents, but fast-growing and short-lived adults. So when you see adults in a new place, you know they arrived recently.
5-2-16 Rain spawns more rain when it falls on ploughed land
Rain spawns more rain when it falls on ploughed land
As rain falls on soil it can loft tiny organic particles into the air, which help to form clouds and generate more rain. This could have consequences for climate models. Rain cleans the air, right? Wrong. On ploughed fields at least, rainfall flings up millions of microscopic organic particles – the remains of dead plants and animals. As well as affecting air quality, this rainfall-induced haze may help to seed clouds and generate more rain. Currently it is assumed that most airborne particles are lofted up by the wind, sea spray, or human activities such as tilling or transport and power plant emissions. Last year scientists showed rainfall could stir up particles from soil, by filming artificial rain in the lab. However, until now, no one had shown that it happened in the real world. In all cases they found that tiny, 0.5-micrometre-wide spherical particles containing carbon, oxygen and nitrogen made up between one third and two thirds of the airborne dust. The wind direction was different on each occasion, bringing in different bodies of air with very different properties, and so the common occurrence of the particles makes most sense if they come from the soil itself. So how does rain get particles aloft? Once rainfall starts to puddle, it dissolves organic matter from the soil. “Splashing of subsequent raindrops creates air bubbles, which rise upwards and burst, ejecting a fine mist of organic matter, which then dries into tiny solid spherical balls,” explains Laskin. Light or moderate rain is best; if the rain is too heavy it hits the puddle too hard and doesn’t generate as many air bubbles.