global warming new

Cyprus. Cuba. Turkey. Canada. Northern Ireland. Antarctica. All recorded their hottest-ever temperatures in the last two years, and according to a new study, more such extremes are coming.

A Reuters report said:

In the next three decades, “record-shattering” heat waves could become two to seven times more frequent in the world than in the last 30 years, scientists report in a study published Monday (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-021-01092-9) in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Beyond 2050, if current greenhouse gas emissions trends continue, such record-breaking heat waves could be three to 21 times more frequent, the study found.

Even with the records seen in 2021, “we haven’t seen anything close to the most intense heat waves possible under today’s climate, let alone the ones we expect to see in the coming decades,” said co-author Erich Fischer, a climate scientist at ETH Zurich.

For the study, the researchers used climate modeling to calculate the likelihood of record-breaking heat that lasted at least seven days and far surpassed earlier records.

Communities preparing for climate change need to be preparing for such extremes, he said.

“Every time record temperatures or precipitation go well beyond what we’ve experienced during our lifetime, that’s usually when we’re unprepared and the damage is largest,” Fischer said.

Last month’s Canadian heat wave killed hundreds of people and reached 49.6 Celsius – an eye-popping 4.6 degrees Celsius above the country’s previous record, set in 1937.

“We should no longer be surprised if we see records smashed by large margins,” Fischer said.

If greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are aggressively cut, the likelihood of heat waves would remain high but the chances of exceeding records would eventually fall over time, the study suggests.

The new research shows that “we must expect extreme event records to be broken – not just by small margins, but quite often by very large ones,” climate scientist Rowan Sutton at the University of Reading’s National Centre for Atmospheric Science said in a statement.

“This highlights the huge challenge to improve preparedness, build resilience and adapt society to conditions that have never previously been experienced,” Sutton said.

The study was released as scientists with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change begin two weeks of virtual meetings https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-climate-change-ipcc-idUKKBN2EW0CK) to finalize their next global climate science assessment.

Critical measures of global heating reaching tipping point

Another report said:

A new study tracking the planet’s vital signs has found that many of the key indicators of the global climate crisis are getting worse and either approaching, or exceeding, key tipping points as the earth heats up.

Overall, the study found some 16 out of 31 tracked planetary vital signs, including GHG concentrations, ocean heat content and ice mass, set worrying new records.

“There is growing evidence we are getting close to or have already gone beyond tipping points associated with important parts of the Earth system,” said William Ripple, an ecologist at Oregon State University who co-authored the new research, in a statement.

“The updated planetary vital signs we present largely reflect the consequences of unrelenting business as usual,” said Ripple, adding that “a major lesson from Covid-19 is that even colossally decreased transportation and consumption are not nearly enough and that, instead, transformational system changes are required.”

While the pandemic shut down economies and shifted the way people think about work, school and travel, it did little to reduce the overall global carbon emissions. Fossil fuel use dipped slightly in 2020, but the authors of a report published in the journal BioScience say that carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide “have all set new year-to-date records for atmospheric concentrations in both 2020 and 2021”.

In April 2021, carbon dioxide concentration reached 416 parts per million, the highest monthly global average concentration ever recorded. The five hottest years on record have all occurred since 2015, and 2020 was the second hottest year in history.

The study also found that ruminant livestock, a significant source of planet-warming gases, now number more than 4 billion, and their total mass is more than that of all humans and wild animals combined. The rate of forest loss in the Brazilian Amazon increased in both 2019 and 2020, reaching a 12-year high of 1.11 million hectares deforested in 2020.

Ocean acidification is near an all-time record, and when combined with warmer ocean temperatures, it threatens the coral reefs that more than half a billion people depend on for food, tourism dollars and storm surge protection.

However, there were a few bright spots in the study, including fossil fuel subsidies reaching a record low and fossil fuel divestment reaching a record high.

In order to change the course of the climate emergency, the authors write that profound alterations need to happen. They say the world needs to develop a global price for carbon that is linked to a socially just fund to finance climate mitigation and adaptation policies in the developing world.

The authors also highlight the need for a phase-out and eventual ban of fossil fuels, and the development of global strategic climate reserves to protect and restore natural carbon sinks and biodiversity. Climate education should also be part of school curricula around the globe, they say.

“Policies to alleviate the climate crisis or any of the other threatened planetary boundary transgressions should not be focused on symptom relief but on addressing their root cause: the overexploitation of the Earth,” the report says. Only by taking on this core issue, the authors write, will people be able to “ensure the long-term sustainability of human civilization and give future generations the opportunity to thrive”.

Scientists find new way to spot tropical forests reaching deadly ‘tipping point’

With the world’s humid tropical forests under threat due to changing land use and climate change, scientists have created a new technique to monitor which are at most risk.

A new “tropical forest vulnerability index” (TFVI) could help researchers to monitor forests via satellite data – allowing researchers to focus their efforts on the most-threatened areas.

Tropical rainforests are hovering on the edge of a deadly “tipping point”, NASA experts believe.

Sassan Saatchi of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said: “Frequent droughts, higher temperature, and longer dry seasons, along with increasing pressures from deforestation and degradation in the last two decades, have pushed the tropical rainforests to the verge of a tipping point.

“What we predicted using climate models a decade ago, we are observing on the ground. Now is the time to do something and not later.

“This work takes advantage of a suite of satellite observations made for the past few decades to show how and where the tipping points may be reached and to help policymakers plan for conservation and restoration of these forests.”

Saatchi and his colleagues set out to develop a unique vulnerability index that could work across all rainforests based on observations of climate and vegetation from satellites.

The new index combines numerous measurements and indicators of forest ecological functions and services, including carbon and water fluxes and biodiversity.

It also allows researchers to identify and monitor areas with increasing vulnerability or potential threats before it is too late.

Their studies have shown that different regions of the tropics are responding differently to climate threats, with some regions showing more apparent resilience than others.

For instance, forests in the Americas appear to be more vulnerable to stresses than those in Africa, where they are showing relative resilience to changing climate.

In Asia, tropical forests appear more vulnerable to land use and fragmentation.

Saatchi said: “The findings show that the vulnerability of rainforests is much larger than predicted in the past, and areas that are disturbed or fragmented have almost no resilience to climate warming and droughts.”

“In addition, the results of our study suggest that rainforests are losing their capacity to cycle carbon and water as before. This is occurring gradually at the continental scale and more rapidly at the regional scale, with significant implications for the global carbon sink and climate.”

The TFVI was developed by many scientists and conservationists assembled by the National Geographic Society and Rolex and therefore represents a consensus approach from the broader community, Saatchi notes.

The hope is that a larger global community of scientists and policymakers, particularly in tropical countries, will now make use of the index to systematically assess the vulnerability of rainforest resources.


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