Archive for ‘Water’

Yellow sub finds clues to Antarctic glacier’s thaw

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

A yellow submarine has helped to solve a puzzle about one of Antarctica’s fastest-melting glaciers, adding to concerns about how climate change may push up world sea levels, scientists said on Sunday.

The robot submarine, deployed under the ice shelf floating on the sea at the end of the Pine Island Glacier, found that the ice was no longer resting on a subsea ridge that had slowed the glacier’s slide until the early 1970s.

Antarctica is key to predicting the rise in sea levels caused by global warming — it has enough ice to raise sea levels by 57 metres (187 ft) if it ever all melted. Even a tiny thaw at the fringes could swamp coasts from Bangladesh to Florida.

The finding from the 2009 mission “only adds to our concern that this region is indeed the ‘weak underbelly’ of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet”, co-author of the study Stan Jacobs at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory said in a statement.

West Antarctica’s thaw accounts for 10 percent of a recently observed rise in sea levels, with melting of the Pine Island glacier quickening, especially in recent decades, according to the study led by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Loss of contact with the subsea ridge meant that ice was flowing faster and also thawing more as sea water flowed into an ever bigger cavity that now extended 30 km beyond the ridge. The water was just above freezing at 1 degree Celsius (33.80F).


Satellite photographs in the early 1970s had shown a bump on the surface of the ice shelf, indicating the subsea ridge. That bump has vanished and the 7 metre (22 foot) submarine found the ridge was now up to 100 metres below the ice shelf.

Adrian Jenkins, lead author at BAS, said the study raised “new questions about whether the current loss of ice from Pine Island Glacier is caused by recent climate change or is a continuation of a longer-term process that began when the glacier disconnected from the ridge”.

Pierre Dutrieux, also at BAS, said the ice may have started thinning because of some as yet-unknown mechanism linked to climate change.

“It could be a shift in the wind, due to a change in climate, that pushed more warm water under the shelf,” he told Reuters.

The U.N. panel of climate scientists projected in 2007 that world sea levels could rise by between 18 and 59 cm (7-24 inches) by 2100, excluding risks of faster melting in Antarctica and Greenland.

Source: Yellow sub finds clues to Antarctic glacier’s thaw - AlertNet

Date: 20 June 2010

Arctic sea ice melting faster: Study

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Arctic sea ice melted 50% faster than the average rate during May 2010, with combined global land and ocean surface temperature being the warmest on record for the period from January-May, studies have suggested.

Research at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has shown that the combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the warmest on record for the period from January-May.

During May 2010, Arctic sea ice melted 50% faster than the average May melting rate, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Centre.

Source: Arctic sea ice melting faster: Study – economictimes.indiatimes

Date: 17 June, 2010

Scientist Takes Comprehensive Look at Human Impacts on Ocean Chemistry

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Numerous studies are documenting the growing effects of climate change, carbon dioxide, pollution and other human-related phenomena on the world’s oceans. But most of those have studied single, isolated sources of pollution and other influences.

Now, a marine geochemist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has published a report in the latest issue of the journal Science that evaluates the total impact of such factors on the ocean and considers what the future might hold.

“What we do on land — agriculture, fossil fuel combustion and pollution — can have a profound impact on the chemistry of the sea,” says Scott C. Doney, a senior scientist at WHOI and author of the Science report.

“A whole range of these factors have been studied in isolation but have not been put in a single venue.”

Doney’s paper represents a meticulous compilation of the work of others as well as his own research in this area, which includes ocean acidification, climate change, and the global carbon cycle.

He concludes that climate change, rising atmospheric carbon dioxide, excess nutrient inputs, and the many forms of pollution area “altering fundamentally the…ocean, often on a global scale and, in some cases, at rates greatly exceeding those in the historical and recent geological record.”

Source: Scientist Takes Comprehensive Look at Human Impacts on Ocean Chemistry – physorg

Date: 17 June, 2010

May 2010 was warmest on record – US govt data

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Last month was the warmest May on record, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said on Tuesday.

It was also the 303rd consecutive month that was hotter than the 20th century global average for that month, according to Deke Arndt, chief of the climate monitoring at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.

The long-term warming trend, along with reports that Arctic sea ice covered less of the ocean and snow covered less ground around the world in May, is consistent with the science of climate change, Arndt said.

Many climate scientists believe that Earth’s surface is warming, due in part to the emission of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide.

Source: May 2010 was warmest on record – US govt data – Reuters

Date: 16 June, 2010

Sperm whale faeces ‘helps oceans absorb CO2′

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Sperm whale faeces may help oceans absorb carbon dioxide from the air, scientists say.

Australian researchers calculate that Southern Ocean sperm whales release about 50 tonnes of iron every year.

This stimulates the growth of tiny marine plants – phytoplankton – which absorb CO2 during photosynthesis.

The process results in the absorption of about 400,000 tonnes of carbon – more than twice as much as the whales release by breathing, the study says.

The researchers note in the Royal Society journal Proceedings B that the process also provides more food for the whales, estimated to number about 12,000.

Phytoplankton are the basis of the marine food web in this part of the world, and the growth of these tiny plants is limited by the amount of nutrients available, including iron.
Faecal attraction

Over the last decade or so, many groups of scientists have experimented with putting iron into the oceans deliberately as a “fix” for climate change.

Not all of these experiments have proved successful; the biggest, the German Lohafex expedition, put six tonnes of iron into the Southern Ocean in 2008, but saw no sustained increase in carbon uptake.

Although 400,000 tonnes of carbon is less than one-ten-thousandth of the annual emissions from burning fossil fuels, the researchers note that the global total could be more substantial.

There are estimated to be several hundred thousand sperm whales in the oceans, though they are notoriously difficult to count; and lack of iron limits phytoplankton growth in many regions besides the Southern Ocean.

So it could be that whale faeces are fertilising plants in several parts of the world.

Crucial to the idea is that sperm whales are not eating and defecating in the same place – if they were, they could just be absorbing and releasing the same amounts of iron.

Releasing the iron here is ultimately good for the whales as well, say the researchers – led by Trish Lavery from Flinders University in Adelaide.

Phytoplankton are eaten by tiny marine animals – zooplankton – which in turn are consumed by larger creatures that the whales might then eat.

The scientists suggest a similar mechanism could underpin the “krill paradox” – the finding that the abundance of krill in Antarctic waters apparently diminished during the era when baleen whales that eat krill were being hunted to the tune of tens of thousands per year.

Source: Sperm whale faeces ‘helps oceans absorb CO2′ – BBC News UK

Date: 15 June 2010

Climate Change Increases Hazard Risk in Alpine Regions, Study Shows

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Climate change could cause increasing and unpredictable hazard risks in mountainous regions, according to a new study from the University of Exeter and Austrian researchers. The study analyzes the effects of two extreme weather events — the 2003 heatwave and the 2005 flood — on the Eastern European Alps. It demonstrates what impact events like these, predicted to become more frequent under a changing climate, could have on alpine regions and what implications these changes might have for local communities.

The mean summer temperatures during the 2003 heat wave in a large area of the European Alps exceeded the 1961-1990 mean by 3-5˚C. This triggered a record Alpine glacier loss that was three times above the 1980-2000 average. Furthermore, melting permafrost caused increased rock-fall activity.

The severe floods that occurred as a result of heavy rainfall in August 2005 were the most damaging for 100 years and led to high volumes of water and sediment being deposited downstream, causing an estimated €555 million worth of damage in Austria to buildings, railways, roads and industrial areas. In Switzerland, this has been estimated to have caused one quarter of all damage by floods, debris flows, landslides and rock falls recorded since 1972.

Source: Climate Change Increases Hazard Risk in Alpine Regions, Study Shows - Science Daily

Date: 15 June, 2010

As Humans Advance, Andean Glaciers Recede

Monday, June 14th, 2010

The spectacular glacier Number 15 of Antisana, one of the Ecuadorean capitals’ sources of potable water, lost at least 36 percent of its original mass in the last 50 years.

The Antisana is a snow-capped peak of the eastern branch of the Andes range whose three humps can be seen from Quito on clear days. It is located at the same latitude as the capital, 50 kilometres to the east.

Because of its strategic importance, it is the most studied of these Andean peaks. The glacier’s length is measured each year and its mass each month, as part of tracking efforts by France’s Institute of Research for Development (IRD), Ecuador’s National Meteorology and Hydrology Institute (INAMHI) and Quito’s Metropolitan Sewage and Potable Water Agency (EMAAP-Q).

Cotopaxi, one of the world’s highest active volcanoes, whose snow-covered cone can also be seen from Quito, lost 40 percent of its glacial mass between 1976 and 2006, said Bernard Francou, IRD representative in Ecuador, in a Tierramérica interview.

The studies by IRD and its local counterparts have shown that the same thing is happening to Ecuador’s glaciers as to those of the Real (Royal) 888 branch of the Andes, in Bolivia, and the Blanca range, in Peru and Colombia. They have lost 30 percent of their mass, on average.

In the case of glacier fields below 5,400 metres above sea level, the deterioration is greater, as is the case of Chacaltaya and Charquini in Bolivia, Broggi, Yanamarey and Pastoruri in Peru, and Carihuairazo in Ecuador, which scientists predict will disappear altogether within 10 to 20 years.

Source: As Humans Advance, Andean Glaciers Recede -

Date: 14 June, 2010

UN distributes food in drought-hit Eastern Syria

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

The World Food Programme has begun distributing rations to 190,000 people in Eastern Syria but another 110,000 in the drought-hit region still require emergency food aid, the U.N. body said on Sunday.

Droughts over the last three years and mismanagement of water resources have reduced large swathes of Eastern Syria to a wasteland, forcing up to one million people to flee to the outskirts of Damascus and other cities.

That has put further pressure on already stretched infrastructure in Syria, a major farm and commodities player in the Middle East until droughts forced the government to stop exporting wheat in 2007.

Source: UN distributes food in drought-hit Eastern Syria – AlertNet

Date: 13 June, 2010

Omani who scaled Everest raises concern about global warming

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Seeing is believing. We have heard a lot about global warming, but now an Omani mountaineer has witnessed it himself and brought his serious concerns to us all.

Omani adventurer Khalid Sulaiman Al Siyabi, who just returned from Nepal after summiting the Mount Everest, said that the biggest threat to the universe is the rapid CO2 emission resulting in ice-melting of the Himalayan mountains in Nepal.

In an interview with Khaleej Times in the capital, Al Siyabi gave details of his death-defying expedition and rapidly growing global warming.

Many countries could be on natural disaster threat because of the ice-melting of Himalaya.

“So far, we have learnt about ice-melting on mountains because of growing CO2 emissions but now I have experienced myself,” Al Siyabi said.

“I learnt a lot about eco-system and environment and we have to be very careful on what is happening around us. Global warming is really hitting us hard.

“I witnessed there a large amount of avalanches taking place around six to seven times a day,” Al Siyabi said.

“The ice is melting so fast, we need to think about it very seriously. We have to take initiatives for it and pay attention because whatever I have seen and experienced there, is precisely an eye-opener,” Al Siyabi said.

Al Siyabi defied all horrifying odds, hurdles and scaled Mount Everest, the highest mountain peak in the world at 8,848 metres above sea level.

Source: Omani who scaled Everest raises concern about global warming - Khaleej Times

Date: 11 June, 2010

Europe, US to see snowy, cold winters: expert

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Europe, North America and east Asia can expect more cold, moist and snowy winters such as the one just passed, a top scientist said Friday.

While it may seem counter-intuitive, warmer Arctic climes caused by climate change influence air pressure at the North Pole, shifting wind patterns in such a way as to boost cooling over adjacent swathes of the planet.

“Cold and snowy winters will be the rule rather than the exception,” said James Overland of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Continued rapid loss of ice will be an important driver of major change in the world’s climate system in the coming years, he said at an Oslo meeting of scientists reviewing research from the two-year International Polar Year 2007-2008.

The exceptionally chilly winter of 2009-2010 in temperate zones of the northern hemisphere were connected to unique physical processes in the Arctic, he said.

“The emerging impact of greenhouse gases in an important factor in the changing Arctic,” he explained in a statement.

“What was not fully recognized until now is that a combination of an unusual warm period due to natural variability, loss of sea ice reflectivity, ocean heat storage, and changing wind patterns all working together to disrupt the memory and stability of the Arctic climate system,” he said.

The region is warming more than twice as fast as the rest of the planet, a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification.

Resulting ice loss is significantly greater than earlier climate models predicted.

The polar ice cap shrank to its smallest surface since records have been kept in 2007, and early data suggests it could become even smaller this summer.

“It is unlikely that the Arctic can return to its previous condition,” Overland said. “The changes are irreversible.”

Source: Europe, US to see snowy, cold winters: expert – france24

Date: 11 June, 2010

Results 21-30 of overall 107
REPORTS see all

Reversing Meat-Eating Culture to Combat Climate Change


Livestock Production and Shorter-Lived Climate Forcers


Plant-Based Diets - A solution to our public health crisis


Leaders Preserving Our Future - Insights Paper - WPF - November 2010


Maintaining a Climate of Life - Summary Report


Livestock's Climate Impact


Livestock & Sustainable Food


Reducing Shorter-Lived Climate Forcers Through Dietary Change


The global cost of biodiversity loss: 14 trillion Euros? - EU Commission (2008)


Forests, Fisheries, Agriculture: A Vision for Sustainability (2009)



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