Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Biggest Walrus Gathering Recorded as Sea Ice Shrinks

October 5, 2014

Scientists have photographed the largest gathering of Pacific walruses ever recorded, on a beach in northern Alaska.

mass-walrus-gathering

It’s hardly the first big walrus gathering to be documented. But scientists say the size of the gatherings are growing as climate change melts Arctic sea ice, depriving walruses of their sunning platforms of choice.

As the ocean heats up due to global warming, Arctic sea ice has been locked in a downward spiral. Since the late 1970s, the ice has retreated by 12 percent per decade. Learn more here.

Climate changing more rapidly than at any point on record

July 19, 2014

A new look at the “vital signs” of Earth’s climate reveals a stark picture of declining health. As global temperatures rise, so do sea level and the amount of heat trapped in the ocean’s upper layers. Meanwhile, mountain glaciers and Arctic sea ice are melting away beneath an atmosphere where concentrations of three key planet-warming greenhouse gases continue to rise.

Data shows that the climate is changing more rapidly now than it has at any time in the historical record!!! Learn more here.

As a whole, the world’s glaciers—such as Italy’s Careser Glacier, seen here in August 1933 (top) and August 2012 (bottom)—have lost ice for the last 23 years in a row.

As a whole, the world’s glaciers—such as Italy’s Careser Glacier, seen here in August 1933 (top) and August 2012 (bottom)—have lost ice for the last 23 years in a row.

Strange that Australia’s carbon tax, one of the world’s landmark attempts to stop climate change, is officially no more. More here.

Earth’s giant game of Tetris

April 24, 2014

There’s a game of Tetris happening on a global scale: The playing space is planet Earth, and all those pesky, stacking blocks represent carbon dioxide — a greenhouse gas that is piling up ever more rapidly as we burn the fossil fuels that run our cars, factories and power plants.

Power the world with solar power alone

March 22, 2014

Solar energy, radiant light and heat from the sun, is harnessed using a range of ever-evolving technologies.

You hear a lot about solar power, but right now, solar covers only about 0.3%, or 1/300th or the world’s energy consumption.

It’s also amazing how little of the Earth’s surface you’d need to cover with solar panels to power the entire world.

Solar area required

World’s biggest wind turbine

March 29, 2013

Why do people say “don’t look down”? Just imagine what you would be missing if the photographer who took this picture had had similar qualms.

World's biggest wind turbine

The ants on the ground are working on a Siemens SWT-6.0-154 offshore wind turbine, a giant new machine that is being put through its paces at a wind turbine testing facility in Østerild, Denmark.

The turbine boasts the world’s largest rotor with blades 75 metres long, each as big as the wings of the world’s largest aircraft, the Airbus 380. The machine’s ground-to-tip height is 197 metres, more than twice that of the Big Ben clock tower in London.

The rationale for building bigger turbines is simple: longer blades harvest more energy from the wind. Siemens says the new turbine can generate 6 megawatts, enough to power 5500 households. That is 1000 times more energy per year than the firm’s first generation of wind turbines, which it built 30 years ago with rotor blades just 5 metres long. Learn more here.

Record Heat Puts New Colors on the Australian Map

January 10, 2013

Australia’s “dome of heat” has become so intense that the temperatures are rising off the charts – literally.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s interactive weather forecasting chart has added new colours – deep purple and pink – to extend its previous temperature range that had been capped at 50 degrees.

New BOM map with purple

The range now extends to 54 degrees (that is 129.2 degrees Fahrenheit) – well above the all-time record temperature of 50.7 degrees reached on January 2, 1960 at Oodnadatta Airport in South Australia – and, perhaps worringly, the forecast outlook is starting to deploy the new colours. Learn more here.

Demand for water outstripping supply

December 11, 2012

Almost one-quarter of the world’s population lives in regions where groundwater is being used up faster than it can be replenished, concludes a comprehensive global analysis of groundwater depletion.

Across the world, human civilizations depend largely on tapping vast reservoirs of water that have been stored for up to thousands of years in sand, clay and rock deep underground. These massive aquifers — which in some cases stretch across multiple states and country borders — provide water for drinking and crop irrigation, as well as to support ecosystems such as forests and fisheries.

Yet in most of the world’s major agricultural regions, including the Central Valley in California, the Nile delta region of Egypt, and the Upper Ganges in India and Pakistan, demand exceeds these reservoirs’ capacity for renewal. Learn more here.

October Was 332nd Consecutive Globally Warm Month

November 21, 2012

Twenty-seven or younger? Then you’ve never experienced a month in which the global temperature has been colder than average, according to the latest data from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The average temperature across land and ocean surfaces during October was 14.63°C. This is 0.63°C above the 20th century average and ties with 2008 as the fifth warmest October on record. This is the 332nd consecutive month with an above-average temperature.

This is global data, of course, and the pattern is rather more complex at a local level. In fact, the average monthly temperature in Britain in October was 1.3 degrees Celsius below average, making it the coldest October since 2003. Scotland had its coldest October since records began in 1910.

But this was outweighed by the rest of the world, including central and southeastern Europe. Croatia was 1.1 to 1.6 degrees Celsius above the 1961-to-1990 average, and Moldova was even hotter: 2.5 to 3.5 degrees Celsius above average.

You can find full information about the state of the climate in October 2012 over on NOAA’s website.

Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided

November 20, 2012

The World Bank has warned the planet is on track to warm by four degrees Celsius this century – causing increasingly extreme heat waves, lower crop yields and rising sea levels – unless significant action is taken to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Scientists say global warming must be kept within two degrees of pre-industrial temperatures to give the world the best chance of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change.

It says that if current promises by nations to curb emissions are met then it is most likely there will be more than three degrees warming. However, under that scenario it warns there is also a 20 per cent likelihood that four degrees of warming will occur by 2100.

If current promises are not met, then the world is “plausibly” on a path to warm by four degrees this century, possibly as early as 2060, the bank says.

The report, titled Turn Down the Heat (executive summary), says if the world experiences four degrees of warming it would:

* See a 150 per cent increase in ocean acidity, leading to the extinction of some sensitive coral reef ecosystems.

* Result in sea-level rise of 0.5 to 1 metres by 2100, with more in following centuries, affecting low-lying islands and coastal communities.

* Lead to more extreme heatwaves, reduced run-off into major rivers and a significant decline in biodiversity, all risking the support systems of humans.

The report says the full impact on human development of a four-degree-hotter world is unknown, making it is unclear whether humanity would be able to adapt.

This new report from the World Bank reminds us that climate change is happening – now. The evidence is clear. No country is immune. If we mobilise today, we can make a difference tomorrow. Learn more here, here, here or here.

Extinction killed off some 90 percent of species

November 16, 2012

Extinctions during the early Triassic period left Earth a virtual wasteland, largely because life literally couldn’t take the heat, a new study suggests.

Between 247 to 252 million years ago, Earth was reeling from a mass extinction called the end-Permian event. The die-off had wiped out most life on Earth, including most land plants. The planet was baking, and life at the Equator struggled to survive.

Plants gobble up carbon dioxide, which warms the planet. So without them, Earth became like a runaway greenhouse, it started to get out of control.

The few life-forms that had survived the Permian extinction—such as hardier snails and clams—died in the deadly heat, leaving Earth a virtual “dead zone” for five million years. Learn more here.


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