Showing all posts tagged: climate change

Ocean heat absorption highest in waters around Antarctica

12 September 2022

While all the world’s oceans are absorbing some degree of heat, and somewhat moderating the rate of global warming, the Southern Ocean, being the waters that generally surround Antarctica, is soaking up the most excess warmth.

Ocean warming buffers the worst impacts of climate change, but it’s not without cost. Sea levels are rising because heat causes water to expand and ice to melt. Marine ecosystems are experiencing unprecedented heat stress, and the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events is changing. Yet, we still don’t know enough about exactly when, where and how ocean warming occurs.

Even if carbon dioxide emissions ceased overnight, it could thousands of years for heat trapped in the oceans to be released again.

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Greenland ice cap melt inevitable sea levels may rise 27cm

31 August 2022

We’re passed the time for warnings… a significant increase in sea levels is unavoidable, with the melting of the Greenland ice cap expected to add twenty-seven centimetres to global ocean tidemarks. It could be a whole lot more if (or when) other ice masses melt:

Major sea-level rise from the melting of the Greenland ice cap is now inevitable, scientists have found, even if the fossil fuel burning that is driving the climate crisis were to end overnight. The research shows the global heating to date will cause an absolute minimum sea-level rise of 27cm (10.6in) from Greenland alone as 110tn tonnes of ice melt. With continued carbon emissions, the melting of other ice caps and thermal expansion of the ocean, a multi-metre sea-level rise appears likely.

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Climate change aggravates the spread of infectious diseases

15 August 2022

In the same week a reminder that climate change exasperates the emergence and spread of infectious diseases is issued, news that polio has been detected in New York sewage, and an instance of a virus, Langya henipavirus, spreading from animals to humans in China, are reported. This on top, of course, of COVID, and the more recent Monkeypox outbreak.

The continual release of greenhouse gases (GHGs) is escalating several climatic risks, which, in turn, worsen human pathogenic illnesses. The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic, which amply demonstrated the social upheaval driven by infectious diseases, offers alarming hints to the possible outcomes of impending health crises caused by climate change.

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Forests now cover two percent of Iceland thanks to replanting

22 July 2022

In the distant past, forests and trees covered large parts of Iceland, about forty percent of the country. But when permanent settlers arrived over a thousand years ago, much of this growth was cleared to make way for agriculture and grazing, and firewood. Efforts to replant trees since the 1990s though have seen forest areas return to two percent of the country today.

That number may not seem like much, but since 1990, the surface area covered by forest or shrubs in Iceland has increased more than six times over – from 7,000 hectares to 45,000. In 20 years, the number is expected to be 2.6%.

Every little bit helps. It’s a hopeful reminder that it’s not too late to take steps of any sort to deal with climate change.

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Don’t plant trees to combat climate change plant mini-forests

15 July 2022
Urban mini forest, photo by uniquedesign52

Image courtesy of 二 盧/uniquedesign52.

Planting trees is one way of mitigating the impact of climate change, but planting mini-forests is a more effective alternative, says American nature and conservation writer Hannah Lewis.

Mini-forests are more likely to nurture ecosystems, rather than single trees planted here and there, and, as a result, live longer. And better still, mini-forests can be established anywhere, even in densely populated urban areas, where there’s even a few spare square metres of land available.

A mini-forest is a small ecologically robust forest that can be planted by communities in parks and cities, in schoolyards and churchyards, and beside busy roads. It’s flipped traditional landscaping on its head. You get more biodiversity and a different appearance. It’s a dense band of multi-layer trees as opposed to the elegant but less ecologically useful line of single species down the side of the street.

Lewis’ call is based on the work of late Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki, who advocated the planting of small forests with native species, as a way of fostering the emergence of ecosystems.

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Human tolerance to high temperature, humidity, lower than thought

2 July 2022

New research from Pennsylvania State University (PennState) shows human tolerance to temperatures — in situations where humidity is at one hundred percent — isn’t as high as previously thought. And that’s for younger people in good health.

For those not in that category, temperatures of 31°C (wet-bulb) would be far too high. Such temperatures are a regular occurrence in many parts of the world, certainly areas of Australia during the height of summer, so temperatures in the high thirties, or even forties, with one hundred percent humidity, pose a danger for just about everyone.

But in their new study, the researchers found that the actual maximum wet-bulb temperature is lower — about 31°C wet-bulb or 87°F at 100% humidity — even for young, healthy subjects. The temperature for older populations, who are more vulnerable to heat, is likely even lower.

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Space bubbles a Dyson sphere like solution to global warming?

15 June 2022

Dyson spheres are hypothetical mega-structures highly advanced planetary civilisations might construct around their host star to harness as much solar energy as possible to power their needs. Seen from a distance, a Dyson sphere would look like a massive shell almost completely encompassing a star.

It’d be like constructing a giant display case for the Sun. Needless to say building a Dyson sphere is no small undertaking, and would require an enormous quantity of resources, technological smarts, plus an unprecedented level of international cooperation. A single superpower could not take on an engineering feat of this scale alone, it’d be a team effort.

Dyson spheres have been in the news relatively recently. Fluctuations in the light of Tabby’s Star, located about 1,470 light-years from Earth, were puzzling astronomers, and the existence of a Dyson sphere was advanced as a possible explanation, though later ruled out.

While Dyson spheres, something late British American mathematician and physicist Freeman Dyson first wrote about in 1960, are unlikely to feature in our future anytime soon, the concept may help us combat global warming.

A team of MIT scientists have devised a solar filter of sorts, they call space bubbles. In short, a small structure made up of numerous of these space bubbles could be used to form a shield, deflecting a small, though sufficient amount of solar radiation away from the Earth.

The MIT scientists propose placing the space bubbles at the Lagrange point between the Earth and the Sun. Put simply, a Legrange point, is an area between two celestial objects, say the Earth and the Sun, where the gravity of both objects balance each other. For example if a satellite were placed at this Legrange point, it would stay put, and wouldn’t fall towards either the Earth or Sun.

Once in place, the space bubbles would act like an eclipsing body, in this case permanently blocking, or more like filtering, a small amount of the Sun’s rays reaching the Earth. While the proportion of solar radiation “blocked” would be minuscule, the MIT team say if just under two percent of “incident solar radiation” was deflected, current global warming could be fully reversed.

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Earth’s climate change black box

9 December 2021

An aircraft’s black box contains data that may help investigators piece together what caused an accident, and hopefully ensure there isn’t a repeat of whatever went wrong. What then to make of Earth’s Black Box? It is a quadrilateral-like shaped structure that will stand in a geologically stable location, on the west coast of Tasmania, and collect climate data. Like an aircraft flight recorder, the information Earth’s black box stores is intended to one day guide a future civilisation, should global warming spell the demise of ours. Thank you, and have a nice day.

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Burning, a documentary by Eva Orner

9 November 2021

Burning (trailer) is a documentary by Los Angeles based Australian filmmaker Eva Orner about the Black Summer bush fires that ravaged parts of Australia in 2019 and 2020. The two-minute trailer is shocking, but being in the path of the flames must have been terrifying. Burning is scheduled for release later this month.

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