Tag Archives: Weather

Stormier weather ahead raises fishing risks

A warmer world means stormier weather ahead, and ever-greater dangers for those who work in the world’s commercial fishing fleets.

LONDON, 2 July, 2018 – Here is the shipping forecast for the next two centuries: there’s stormier weather ahead. Typhoons will be on the increase in the east China Sea. There will be a greater frequency of post-monsoon storms in the Arabian Sea.

The forecast for the Mediterranean is somewhat milder: storms could be reduced over the next 200 years. But the outlook for the northeast Atlantic is not good: autumn and winter storms are likely to increase, both in number and in intensity, off the coasts of the UK, Ireland and France.

And the impact on the fishing industry could, say the authors of a new study, be catastrophic.

Around 38 million people worldwide already engage in capture fishing, according to a study in Nature Climate Change. They regularly, the scientists say, “risk their lives in one of the most dangerous jobs on Earth.”

And as a consequence of climate change driven by global warming, fuelled by profligate combustion of fossil fuels that increase the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, fishing is about to become even more dangerous.

“Storms are a threat to fishermen’s safety, productivity, assets and jobs and to the health of billions of people”

Global warming has already begun to affect commercial fishing. As waters warm, fish begin to shift their grounds, both in the warmer seas and in the colder waters that have supported fishing industries for centuries, with troubling consequences both for international tensions  and for future diets.

The researchers report that although warming could certainly alter the potential fish catch over the next 50 to 100 years, “changing storminess has the potential to cause more immediate and catastrophic impacts.”

And they argue that once researchers understand better how the fisheries industry and community cope with stormy weather, there might be ways to adjust practices and safeguard both lives and livelihoods.

Between them, capture fisheries – with trawls, seine nets and long lines – and aquaculture, or fish farming, support the livelihoods of 12% of the global population. Fish provide more than 3 billion people with around one-fifth of their animal protein: there is a lot at stake.

Fish at risk

And storms are a threat not just to fishing crews but to the fish as well. Warming waters change the composition of submarine populations and in effect gradually alter the local ecosystems. But severe storms can displace whole fish populations, interfere with the dispersal of the larvae that will become fish, and even destroy the habitat that fish depend upon.

The scientists want to see a co-ordinated examination of the hazards ahead, drawing upon expertise from psychologists, anthropologists and economists as well as marine scientists and climatologists.

“Storms are a threat to fishermen’s safety, productivity, assets and jobs and to the health of billions of people around the world who rely on fish for their daily nutrition,” said Nigel Sainsbury, a social scientist at the University of Exeter, UK, who led the study.

“Changing storminess could have serious consequences for vulnerable coastal communities around the world. Conducting research in this area is critical to support the adaptation of fisheries to climate change.” – Climate News Network

A warmer world means stormier weather ahead, and ever-greater dangers for those who work in the world’s commercial fishing fleets.

LONDON, 2 July, 2018 – Here is the shipping forecast for the next two centuries: there’s stormier weather ahead. Typhoons will be on the increase in the east China Sea. There will be a greater frequency of post-monsoon storms in the Arabian Sea.

The forecast for the Mediterranean is somewhat milder: storms could be reduced over the next 200 years. But the outlook for the northeast Atlantic is not good: autumn and winter storms are likely to increase, both in number and in intensity, off the coasts of the UK, Ireland and France.

And the impact on the fishing industry could, say the authors of a new study, be catastrophic.

Around 38 million people worldwide already engage in capture fishing, according to a study in Nature Climate Change. They regularly, the scientists say, “risk their lives in one of the most dangerous jobs on Earth.”

And as a consequence of climate change driven by global warming, fuelled by profligate combustion of fossil fuels that increase the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, fishing is about to become even more dangerous.

“Storms are a threat to fishermen’s safety, productivity, assets and jobs and to the health of billions of people”

Global warming has already begun to affect commercial fishing. As waters warm, fish begin to shift their grounds, both in the warmer seas and in the colder waters that have supported fishing industries for centuries, with troubling consequences both for international tensions  and for future diets.

The researchers report that although warming could certainly alter the potential fish catch over the next 50 to 100 years, “changing storminess has the potential to cause more immediate and catastrophic impacts.”

And they argue that once researchers understand better how the fisheries industry and community cope with stormy weather, there might be ways to adjust practices and safeguard both lives and livelihoods.

Between them, capture fisheries – with trawls, seine nets and long lines – and aquaculture, or fish farming, support the livelihoods of 12% of the global population. Fish provide more than 3 billion people with around one-fifth of their animal protein: there is a lot at stake.

Fish at risk

And storms are a threat not just to fishing crews but to the fish as well. Warming waters change the composition of submarine populations and in effect gradually alter the local ecosystems. But severe storms can displace whole fish populations, interfere with the dispersal of the larvae that will become fish, and even destroy the habitat that fish depend upon.

The scientists want to see a co-ordinated examination of the hazards ahead, drawing upon expertise from psychologists, anthropologists and economists as well as marine scientists and climatologists.

“Storms are a threat to fishermen’s safety, productivity, assets and jobs and to the health of billions of people around the world who rely on fish for their daily nutrition,” said Nigel Sainsbury, a social scientist at the University of Exeter, UK, who led the study.

“Changing storminess could have serious consequences for vulnerable coastal communities around the world. Conducting research in this area is critical to support the adaptation of fisheries to climate change.” – Climate News Network

Turbulent California weather in prospect

Turbulent California faces a future of parched croplands and then flooded townships. Climate scientists call such things whiplash events.

LONDON, 3 May, 2018 – Life is about to become uncomfortable for 40 million people in turbulent California. The  citizens of the golden state face a future of extremes, according to new research.  The number and severity of floods will grow. But so will the number of extended and severe droughts.

The backcloth to California’s climate – the overall annual precipitation – may not change greatly as the world, and the US with it, warms as a consequence of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel combustion on a global scale.

What instead will happen is that droughts will last longer, and when the rain arrives it will fall much more heavily.

“These are actually huge changes occurring: they are just on opposite ends of the spectrum,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “If you only look for shifts in average precipitation, you’re missing all of the important changes in the character of precipitation.”

More probable

Dr Swain and colleagues report in the journal Nature Climate Change that they made mathematical simulations of the future pattern of the state’s climate as ever greater ratios of carbon dioxide drive global warming and potentially catastrophic climate change.

Even with small changes in overall precipitation, the probability of what they call “whiplash events” – shifts from extreme drought to devastating flood – grows measurably.

The state experienced a four-year drought between 2012 and 2016, and then what they call “an extraordinarily high number of atmospheric river storms” in the winter of 2016-2017. Roads and bridges were washed away by floods and mudslides, and after a dam failed almost 250,000 people were evacuated from their homes. And, the researchers promise, the pattern will continue into the future.

Once again, such studies deliver cumulative confidence: in the last few years scientists have repeatedly, and using separate approaches, confirmed the dangers of climate extremes in California.

They have linked devastating drought to human-induced climate change; they have warned that such droughts could be “the new normal” for citizens; and that when the rains fall, they will bring ever more flooding.

”These are actually huge changes occurring: they are just on opposite ends of the spectrum”

The double impact of warming atmosphere and warming oceans means that more water will be deposited when the rains do arrive. And, say the researchers, the chance of a catastrophic flood to match the 1862 calamity that destroyed one-third of the state’s taxable land will grow three or fourfold.

If it happened again – after 150 years of population growth – it could be a trillion dollar disaster, and millions would have to abandon their homes.

“We may be going from a situation where an event as big as 1862 was unlikely to occur by the end of the century to a situation where it may happen more than once,” said Dr Swain.

“People tend not to die in droughts in places with a developed economy. People do still die in floods. It happened this year and last year in California. During an event of a magnitude similar to the 1862 flood, a lot of lives would be at risk.” – Climate News Network

Turbulent California faces a future of parched croplands and then flooded townships. Climate scientists call such things whiplash events.

LONDON, 3 May, 2018 – Life is about to become uncomfortable for 40 million people in turbulent California. The  citizens of the golden state face a future of extremes, according to new research.  The number and severity of floods will grow. But so will the number of extended and severe droughts.

The backcloth to California’s climate – the overall annual precipitation – may not change greatly as the world, and the US with it, warms as a consequence of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel combustion on a global scale.

What instead will happen is that droughts will last longer, and when the rain arrives it will fall much more heavily.

“These are actually huge changes occurring: they are just on opposite ends of the spectrum,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “If you only look for shifts in average precipitation, you’re missing all of the important changes in the character of precipitation.”

More probable

Dr Swain and colleagues report in the journal Nature Climate Change that they made mathematical simulations of the future pattern of the state’s climate as ever greater ratios of carbon dioxide drive global warming and potentially catastrophic climate change.

Even with small changes in overall precipitation, the probability of what they call “whiplash events” – shifts from extreme drought to devastating flood – grows measurably.

The state experienced a four-year drought between 2012 and 2016, and then what they call “an extraordinarily high number of atmospheric river storms” in the winter of 2016-2017. Roads and bridges were washed away by floods and mudslides, and after a dam failed almost 250,000 people were evacuated from their homes. And, the researchers promise, the pattern will continue into the future.

Once again, such studies deliver cumulative confidence: in the last few years scientists have repeatedly, and using separate approaches, confirmed the dangers of climate extremes in California.

They have linked devastating drought to human-induced climate change; they have warned that such droughts could be “the new normal” for citizens; and that when the rains fall, they will bring ever more flooding.

”These are actually huge changes occurring: they are just on opposite ends of the spectrum”

The double impact of warming atmosphere and warming oceans means that more water will be deposited when the rains do arrive. And, say the researchers, the chance of a catastrophic flood to match the 1862 calamity that destroyed one-third of the state’s taxable land will grow three or fourfold.

If it happened again – after 150 years of population growth – it could be a trillion dollar disaster, and millions would have to abandon their homes.

“We may be going from a situation where an event as big as 1862 was unlikely to occur by the end of the century to a situation where it may happen more than once,” said Dr Swain.

“People tend not to die in droughts in places with a developed economy. People do still die in floods. It happened this year and last year in California. During an event of a magnitude similar to the 1862 flood, a lot of lives would be at risk.” – Climate News Network

Heart attacks can rise during extremes of heat

Extremes of heat are dangerous. Just how dangerous is still being established. But since heat waves are on the way, city-dwellers need to know.

LONDON, 6 March, 2018 – Extremes of heat can break your heart. Climate change can kill. The risk of heart attack increases by every 5°C leap in temperature differential, according to new research.

That is: on a baking summer day there could be nearly twice as many heart attacks on those days when the temperature swings by 35° to 40°C than on days when there is no such wild fluctuation.

Studies of the link between heat and health matter, because the past decade in North America has now been confirmed as the hottest for 11,000 years.

Climate scientists have repeatedly warned of the dangers of ever more intense and frequent heat extremes as the global average temperatures creep up, and two new studies have identified different ways in which cities themselves can become danger zones for vulnerable people.

One is that, as regional climates change in response to ever-increasing combustion of fossil fuels, which then intensify the greenhouse gas ratios in the global atmosphere, cities in now-arid regions will suffer ever more severe heatwaves, even though their rural hinterlands may enjoy higher rainfall.

And the second is that, in some cities, urban planning may have already provided ways to intensify or mitigate the impact of summer heat waves. It’s a simple but unexpected outcome of atomic physics.

Increasing fluctuation

All four studies are evidence of the subtle and often intricate connections between human civilisation and climate, and of the consequences of the simple question: what happens to communities and landscapes as average temperatures go up?

“Global warming is expected to cause extreme weather events, which may, in turn, result in large day-to-day fluctuations in temperature,” said Hedvig Andersson, a cardiology researcher at the University of Michigan.

“Our study suggests that such fluctuations in outdoor temperature could potentially lead to an increased number of heart attacks and affect global cardiac health in the future.”

She told the American College of Cardiology 67th annual scientific session that she and colleagues looked at data from 30,000 patients treated in 45 Michigan hospitals between 2010 and 2016, and then matched the patients with temperature fluctuations on the day of the attack.

Such a study cannot prove that temperature swings actually cause attacks, but there is what scientists call an association: rapid and extreme fluctuations seem to be accompanied by more cases of myocardial infarction, a serious form of heart attack.

Urban vulnerability

That heat is dangerous is not a surprise: heatwaves in the last 30 years have risen three times faster than average temperatures as a whole, and one study has identified 27 different ways in which heat waves can kill. And the greatest concentrations of potential victims will be in the cities.

The crowded urban spaces of America and Europe spread across landscapes warmer than at any time since the end of the Ice Age. US researchers report in the journal Nature that they collected fossil pollens from 642 ponds and lake beds across Europe and North America, to provide a record of local temperature shifts in the last 11,700 years, to conclude that – without global warming as a consequence of profligate human use of fossil fuels – the world ought to be in a cool phase.

“It does show that what has happened in the last 30 years — a warming trend — puts us outside of all but the most extreme single years every 500 years since the Ice Age. The last 10 years have, on average, been as warm as a normal one year in 500 warm spell,” said Bryan Shuman, an earth scientist at the University of Wyoming, and one of the authors.

Whatever the average regional temperature, it’s hotter in the cities, because concentrations of traffic, business, heating, cooking, lighting and air conditioning generate what has become known as the urban heat island effect: what makes this worse is that the asphalt, tarmacadam, stone, brick, glass and tile of which cities are made absorb radiation but prevent ground evaporation as a natural cooling device.

Researchers from Princeton University report in the journal Environmental Research Letters that they considered how future heat waves will play into the urban heat island effect in 50 US cities.

“Fluctuations in outdoor temperature could potentially lead to an increased number of heart attacks and affect global cardiac health in the future”

For the rest of this century, cities in the east and southeast of the US will be more severely affected: less so the cities in the arid parts of the American west.

But by 2100, this could change dramatically. Rainfall and heat extremes will increase. Cities such as Phoenix, Arizona will continue to face water shortages – once again, all that impermeable concrete and sealed highway – but climate change could make the surrounding countryside somewhat moister.

The message, once again, is that what keeps a city cool is moisture: the vapour evaporated from canals and rivers or transpired through green parks and treelined boulevards.

“Given that 50% of the world’s population currently lives in cities, and that percentage is projected to increase to 70% by year 2050, there is a pressing need to understand how cities and landscapes are affected by heat waves,” said Lei Zhao of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

“Our study explains why cities suffer even more during extreme heat events and highlights the heat risks that urban residents face now and in the projected future.”

Seeking mitigation

The researchers say the hunt should be on for heat mitigation strategies. But a surprising study in the journal Physical Review Letters suggests that some of the problems – and the solution – may have already been built into the fabric of the modern metropolis.

A team of materials scientists and engineers simply considered the city as crystalline or glass-like: that is, was the city laid out on a planned, orderly grid system? Or did it just grow up, in an organic, disorderly fashion?

They applied the tools of classical physics normally used to analyse atomic structures. They looked at satellite images of 47 cities in the US and beyond, and graded them according to their order, or disorder. Grid cities absorbed heat compared to their surroundings far faster than the so-called glass-like cities.

Since urban populations are growing, and new cities springing up everywhere, classical physics can help in unexpected ways. “If you’re planning a new section of Phoenix,” said Roland Pellenq of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “you don’t want to build on a grid, since it’s already a very hot place. But somewhere in Canada, a mayor may say no, we’ll choose to use the grid, to keep the city warmer.”

The effects are significant. He and colleagues found, for example, that in the state of Florida alone urban heat island effects cause an estimated $400 million in excess costs for air conditioning. “This gives a strategy for urban planners,” he says. – Climate News Network

Extremes of heat are dangerous. Just how dangerous is still being established. But since heat waves are on the way, city-dwellers need to know.

LONDON, 6 March, 2018 – Extremes of heat can break your heart. Climate change can kill. The risk of heart attack increases by every 5°C leap in temperature differential, according to new research.

That is: on a baking summer day there could be nearly twice as many heart attacks on those days when the temperature swings by 35° to 40°C than on days when there is no such wild fluctuation.

Studies of the link between heat and health matter, because the past decade in North America has now been confirmed as the hottest for 11,000 years.

Climate scientists have repeatedly warned of the dangers of ever more intense and frequent heat extremes as the global average temperatures creep up, and two new studies have identified different ways in which cities themselves can become danger zones for vulnerable people.

One is that, as regional climates change in response to ever-increasing combustion of fossil fuels, which then intensify the greenhouse gas ratios in the global atmosphere, cities in now-arid regions will suffer ever more severe heatwaves, even though their rural hinterlands may enjoy higher rainfall.

And the second is that, in some cities, urban planning may have already provided ways to intensify or mitigate the impact of summer heat waves. It’s a simple but unexpected outcome of atomic physics.

Increasing fluctuation

All four studies are evidence of the subtle and often intricate connections between human civilisation and climate, and of the consequences of the simple question: what happens to communities and landscapes as average temperatures go up?

“Global warming is expected to cause extreme weather events, which may, in turn, result in large day-to-day fluctuations in temperature,” said Hedvig Andersson, a cardiology researcher at the University of Michigan.

“Our study suggests that such fluctuations in outdoor temperature could potentially lead to an increased number of heart attacks and affect global cardiac health in the future.”

She told the American College of Cardiology 67th annual scientific session that she and colleagues looked at data from 30,000 patients treated in 45 Michigan hospitals between 2010 and 2016, and then matched the patients with temperature fluctuations on the day of the attack.

Such a study cannot prove that temperature swings actually cause attacks, but there is what scientists call an association: rapid and extreme fluctuations seem to be accompanied by more cases of myocardial infarction, a serious form of heart attack.

Urban vulnerability

That heat is dangerous is not a surprise: heatwaves in the last 30 years have risen three times faster than average temperatures as a whole, and one study has identified 27 different ways in which heat waves can kill. And the greatest concentrations of potential victims will be in the cities.

The crowded urban spaces of America and Europe spread across landscapes warmer than at any time since the end of the Ice Age. US researchers report in the journal Nature that they collected fossil pollens from 642 ponds and lake beds across Europe and North America, to provide a record of local temperature shifts in the last 11,700 years, to conclude that – without global warming as a consequence of profligate human use of fossil fuels – the world ought to be in a cool phase.

“It does show that what has happened in the last 30 years — a warming trend — puts us outside of all but the most extreme single years every 500 years since the Ice Age. The last 10 years have, on average, been as warm as a normal one year in 500 warm spell,” said Bryan Shuman, an earth scientist at the University of Wyoming, and one of the authors.

Whatever the average regional temperature, it’s hotter in the cities, because concentrations of traffic, business, heating, cooking, lighting and air conditioning generate what has become known as the urban heat island effect: what makes this worse is that the asphalt, tarmacadam, stone, brick, glass and tile of which cities are made absorb radiation but prevent ground evaporation as a natural cooling device.

Researchers from Princeton University report in the journal Environmental Research Letters that they considered how future heat waves will play into the urban heat island effect in 50 US cities.

“Fluctuations in outdoor temperature could potentially lead to an increased number of heart attacks and affect global cardiac health in the future”

For the rest of this century, cities in the east and southeast of the US will be more severely affected: less so the cities in the arid parts of the American west.

But by 2100, this could change dramatically. Rainfall and heat extremes will increase. Cities such as Phoenix, Arizona will continue to face water shortages – once again, all that impermeable concrete and sealed highway – but climate change could make the surrounding countryside somewhat moister.

The message, once again, is that what keeps a city cool is moisture: the vapour evaporated from canals and rivers or transpired through green parks and treelined boulevards.

“Given that 50% of the world’s population currently lives in cities, and that percentage is projected to increase to 70% by year 2050, there is a pressing need to understand how cities and landscapes are affected by heat waves,” said Lei Zhao of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

“Our study explains why cities suffer even more during extreme heat events and highlights the heat risks that urban residents face now and in the projected future.”

Seeking mitigation

The researchers say the hunt should be on for heat mitigation strategies. But a surprising study in the journal Physical Review Letters suggests that some of the problems – and the solution – may have already been built into the fabric of the modern metropolis.

A team of materials scientists and engineers simply considered the city as crystalline or glass-like: that is, was the city laid out on a planned, orderly grid system? Or did it just grow up, in an organic, disorderly fashion?

They applied the tools of classical physics normally used to analyse atomic structures. They looked at satellite images of 47 cities in the US and beyond, and graded them according to their order, or disorder. Grid cities absorbed heat compared to their surroundings far faster than the so-called glass-like cities.

Since urban populations are growing, and new cities springing up everywhere, classical physics can help in unexpected ways. “If you’re planning a new section of Phoenix,” said Roland Pellenq of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “you don’t want to build on a grid, since it’s already a very hot place. But somewhere in Canada, a mayor may say no, we’ll choose to use the grid, to keep the city warmer.”

The effects are significant. He and colleagues found, for example, that in the state of Florida alone urban heat island effects cause an estimated $400 million in excess costs for air conditioning. “This gives a strategy for urban planners,” he says. – Climate News Network

Global warming hits cricket for six

Cricket, one sport with a devoted following in the United Kingdom, faces a doubtful future as the climate changes.

LONDON, 19 February, 2018 – If you love to play or follow cricket, watch out. Climate change is thundering down the pitch and could seriously affect the way the game is played in the years ahead.

In some parts of the UK the game is already being disrupted by changes in climate. More matches are being postponed or cancelled. Intense rainfall followed by long dry periods is wreaking havoc with pitches. Spectators are drifting away.

“Climate change is becoming a huge factor”, says Dan Cherry, director of operations at Glamorgan cricket club in Wales.

“If we don’t take it seriously, it will fundamentally change the game. It’s simple: the less cricket we play at every level the fewer people will watch it, the less they will come to the ground and pay to enter, the less chance there is for young people to be inspired to take up the game.”

Game Changer, a report by the Climate Coalition group in association with the Priestley International Centre for Climate at the University of Leeds in the north of England, looks at the way climate change is affecting various sports in the UK.

“Of all the major pitch sports, cricket will be hardest hit by climate change”, says the report.

Matches curtailed

“Whether Mumbai, Melbourne, Antigua or Lancashire, cricket is defined almost entirely by climatic conditions – if they change, so does the essence of the game.”

The report says increased rainfall and more extreme weather events are already causing problems for cricket in the UK, with the number of international matches which have had to be abandoned or shortened due to adverse weather conditions doubling over the last five years.

“Wetter winters and more intense summer downpours are disrupting the game at every level”, says the report.

Other sports in the UK are also being affected. Rising sea levels together with more intense sea storms which eat away at coastal land are causing serious problems for some of the UK’s leading golf courses.

Montrose, on Scotland’s east coast, is one of the world’s oldest golf courses. Researchers have found that the shoreline near the course has moved inland by 70 metres over the last 30 years.

“Whether Mumbai, Melbourne, Antigua or Lancashire, cricket is defined almost entirely by climatic conditions – if they change, so does the essence of the game”

“As the sea rises and the coast falls away, we’re left with nowhere to go”, says Chris Curnin, director at Montrose.

“Climate change is often seen as tomorrow’s problem, but it’s already eating away at our course.”

Scotland is home to some of the world’s most famous links or coastal golf courses, such as Montrose and St. Andrews, further down the east coast. Changes in climate are making playing conditions ever more difficult.

“Trends associated with climate change are resulting in periods of course closures, even during summer, with disruption seen to some professional tournaments”, says Steve Isaac, director of sustainability at the Royal & Ancient, the governing body for golf outside the US and Mexico.

“We are witnessing different types and timings of disease, pest and weed outbreaks. The future threats are very real, with course managers having to show adaptation if we are to maintain current standards of course condition. It is something we take very seriously.”

Fewer now play

The report also looks at how changes in climate are affecting football in the UK. It says that with more intense thunderstorms pitches become quickly flooded and more senior and junior level matches have to be called off. As a result there is less overall participation in the game.

In late 2016 Sport England said there had been a 180,000 drop in the number of people playing football weekly compared to a decade earlier.

The report says sport is now a US$600 billion global business. Revenues are likely to be severely hit by climate change, and thousands of jobs in the industry are at risk.

The worldwide skiing industry is already feeling the effects of a warming world.

Skiing resorts in Europe and the US are having to increasingly rely on artificial snow. In 2014 the winter Olympics, held in Sochi in Russia, was largely dependent on artificial snow.

The 2022 winter Olympics, to be held near Beijing in China, is likely to be the first ever such event where natural snow will be wholly absent. – Climate News Network

Cricket, one sport with a devoted following in the United Kingdom, faces a doubtful future as the climate changes.

LONDON, 19 February, 2018 – If you love to play or follow cricket, watch out. Climate change is thundering down the pitch and could seriously affect the way the game is played in the years ahead.

In some parts of the UK the game is already being disrupted by changes in climate. More matches are being postponed or cancelled. Intense rainfall followed by long dry periods is wreaking havoc with pitches. Spectators are drifting away.

“Climate change is becoming a huge factor”, says Dan Cherry, director of operations at Glamorgan cricket club in Wales.

“If we don’t take it seriously, it will fundamentally change the game. It’s simple: the less cricket we play at every level the fewer people will watch it, the less they will come to the ground and pay to enter, the less chance there is for young people to be inspired to take up the game.”

Game Changer, a report by the Climate Coalition group in association with the Priestley International Centre for Climate at the University of Leeds in the north of England, looks at the way climate change is affecting various sports in the UK.

“Of all the major pitch sports, cricket will be hardest hit by climate change”, says the report.

Matches curtailed

“Whether Mumbai, Melbourne, Antigua or Lancashire, cricket is defined almost entirely by climatic conditions – if they change, so does the essence of the game.”

The report says increased rainfall and more extreme weather events are already causing problems for cricket in the UK, with the number of international matches which have had to be abandoned or shortened due to adverse weather conditions doubling over the last five years.

“Wetter winters and more intense summer downpours are disrupting the game at every level”, says the report.

Other sports in the UK are also being affected. Rising sea levels together with more intense sea storms which eat away at coastal land are causing serious problems for some of the UK’s leading golf courses.

Montrose, on Scotland’s east coast, is one of the world’s oldest golf courses. Researchers have found that the shoreline near the course has moved inland by 70 metres over the last 30 years.

“Whether Mumbai, Melbourne, Antigua or Lancashire, cricket is defined almost entirely by climatic conditions – if they change, so does the essence of the game”

“As the sea rises and the coast falls away, we’re left with nowhere to go”, says Chris Curnin, director at Montrose.

“Climate change is often seen as tomorrow’s problem, but it’s already eating away at our course.”

Scotland is home to some of the world’s most famous links or coastal golf courses, such as Montrose and St. Andrews, further down the east coast. Changes in climate are making playing conditions ever more difficult.

“Trends associated with climate change are resulting in periods of course closures, even during summer, with disruption seen to some professional tournaments”, says Steve Isaac, director of sustainability at the Royal & Ancient, the governing body for golf outside the US and Mexico.

“We are witnessing different types and timings of disease, pest and weed outbreaks. The future threats are very real, with course managers having to show adaptation if we are to maintain current standards of course condition. It is something we take very seriously.”

Fewer now play

The report also looks at how changes in climate are affecting football in the UK. It says that with more intense thunderstorms pitches become quickly flooded and more senior and junior level matches have to be called off. As a result there is less overall participation in the game.

In late 2016 Sport England said there had been a 180,000 drop in the number of people playing football weekly compared to a decade earlier.

The report says sport is now a US$600 billion global business. Revenues are likely to be severely hit by climate change, and thousands of jobs in the industry are at risk.

The worldwide skiing industry is already feeling the effects of a warming world.

Skiing resorts in Europe and the US are having to increasingly rely on artificial snow. In 2014 the winter Olympics, held in Sochi in Russia, was largely dependent on artificial snow.

The 2022 winter Olympics, to be held near Beijing in China, is likely to be the first ever such event where natural snow will be wholly absent. – Climate News Network

Will Cape Town’s Day Zero arrive?

On 23 January we reported on the water crisis facing the South African city of Cape Town, expected on 11 May to reach Day Zero, when water to homes and businesses will be cut off. A long-time resident reports.

CAPE TOWN, 7 February, 2018 – Day Zero is real. The Day Zero concept means that Cape Town’s utility managers will switch off water to residential buildings and businesses, and continue to supply only critical services such as hospitals, and also the communal taps in slum neighbourhoods where people already collect their water in buckets every day.

This means most people in the suburbs will have to collect their daily 25l (0.88 cubic feet) water ration from 200 new distribution points. People have been warned that the military and police are on standby to manage any civil unrest.

The fear is that the entire economy will grind to a halt, as businesses and schools shut down, lacking water to drink or to flush toilets.

Households are currently asked to stick to a daily limit of 50l, but enforcement is difficult. The city says significant numbers of households, mostly wealthier ones, still massively exceed this figure.

Will Day Zero happen?

If Day Zero does dawn, the taps will be “turned off” for about three months. The Western Cape province, in which Cape Town lies, will head into its annual rainy season in late May (our Mediterranean climate brings rainfall in winter).

An academic close to a local university’s climate modelling team, and also privy to the city’s emergency water task team, says the concern isn’t whether or not Day Zero actually arrives (some well-informed pundits say it won’t).

The issue is what happens next summer: no matter how much rain we get this winter, it won’t be enough to recharge the province’s dams to meet 2019’s needs.

Communications hype?

The claim that this is the “worst crisis to face a city since World War II”, made by the provincial leader of the Democratic Alliance, Helen Zille, is criticised as hyperbole.

A local newspaper columnist, Tom Eaton, wrote recently that Zille appears to momentarily have forgotten about “major cities called Sarajevo, New Orleans and Aleppo, each of which has faced ‘challenges’ in the last 30 years that, one might argue, rival that faced by Cape Town.”

My source who says the day may not arrive reckons the Day Zero idea is more of an emergency messaging concept to urge behaviour change, than an actual event likely to occur.

True or not, the bottom line is that Cape Town (a city that’s run by the chief opposition party, the Democratic Alliance/DA) is being heavily criticised for mismanaging the crisis, for several reasons.

Political rivalries

The national government (run by the African National Congress) is responsible for bulk water infrastructure, and appears to have been stalling on water delivery in the Western Cape province for the past decade.

The province is run by the ANC’s chief opposition, the DA. But critics say the DA could nevertheless have implemented much tighter water restrictions, sooner, in what now turns out to be a severe three-year drought.

They say the city should also have been exploring underground aquifers and desalination options much earlier, to get the laborious and bureaucratic tender processes passed and the infrastructure in place well before now. The city is also being accused of ignoring projections on population growth

The DA is charged too with blaming the unpredictability of the climate for their failure to plan: climate modellers have long been projecting a hotter, drier climate for the Cape, with longer droughts and more variable rainfall.

The city is selling this three-year drought as “unprecedented”, while some critics are calling it “the new normal”. Either way, the DA regularly points out that the climate models gave no warning of a drought this severe.

The issue is what happens next summer: no matter how much rain we get this winter, it won’t be enough to recharge the province’s dams

The city regularly says it will crack down on its top 100 most wasteful water users, through fines, temporary water cut-offs, or by installing devices letting it throttle back on household supplies to high users. Unfortunately it lacks the resources to install the devices fast enough.

Behavioural economists at the University of Cape Town (UCT) have done some preliminary research with city utility managers to see how short carefully crafted messages in people’s monthly utility bills can bring about voluntary adoption of water-wise behaviour.

Professor Martine Visser from the Environmental Policy Research Unit at UCT found that wealthy water consumers are more likely to cut their use if they know they will be praised publicly (for instance, on the city’s website) as “water wise”.

But they’re less likely to respond to threats of increased tariffs or fines for high usage, because their water bills constitute such a small part of their overall budget.

My water rationing

I have been surviving on about 40l of water a week for the past five months. I switched off my hot water cylinder in September because I found that even if I collected all the cold water that ran through the shower in a bucket, before hot water came through, it still collected twice as much water as I’d use to shower, once the hot was running. It is much more efficient to simply boil a kettle and then bucket-bath in about 3l of water.

From this month I’m now down to a daily water ration of about 26l:

Bucket bath: 3l (goes to first load of laundry, which then goes to flushing)
Dishes: 2l
Flushing: 20l (x 2 daily, about 12.8 l of which is grey water)
Cooking: 1l
Brushing teeth/washing hands: 1l
Drinking (water, tea etc): 2l
Laundry: 12.8l (2 x loads per week = 90l divided by 7 days = 12.8l, which goes to flushing)
TOTAL: ±26l dailyClimate News Network

Leonie Joubert is a freelance science writer and author, whose books include Scorched: South Africa’s changing climate, and Boiling Point: people in a changing climate.

On 23 January we reported on the water crisis facing the South African city of Cape Town, expected on 11 May to reach Day Zero, when water to homes and businesses will be cut off. A long-time resident reports.

CAPE TOWN, 7 February, 2018 – Day Zero is real. The Day Zero concept means that Cape Town’s utility managers will switch off water to residential buildings and businesses, and continue to supply only critical services such as hospitals, and also the communal taps in slum neighbourhoods where people already collect their water in buckets every day.

This means most people in the suburbs will have to collect their daily 25l (0.88 cubic feet) water ration from 200 new distribution points. People have been warned that the military and police are on standby to manage any civil unrest.

The fear is that the entire economy will grind to a halt, as businesses and schools shut down, lacking water to drink or to flush toilets.

Households are currently asked to stick to a daily limit of 50l, but enforcement is difficult. The city says significant numbers of households, mostly wealthier ones, still massively exceed this figure.

Will Day Zero happen?

If Day Zero does dawn, the taps will be “turned off” for about three months. The Western Cape province, in which Cape Town lies, will head into its annual rainy season in late May (our Mediterranean climate brings rainfall in winter).

An academic close to a local university’s climate modelling team, and also privy to the city’s emergency water task team, says the concern isn’t whether or not Day Zero actually arrives (some well-informed pundits say it won’t).

The issue is what happens next summer: no matter how much rain we get this winter, it won’t be enough to recharge the province’s dams to meet 2019’s needs.

Communications hype?

The claim that this is the “worst crisis to face a city since World War II”, made by the provincial leader of the Democratic Alliance, Helen Zille, is criticised as hyperbole.

A local newspaper columnist, Tom Eaton, wrote recently that Zille appears to momentarily have forgotten about “major cities called Sarajevo, New Orleans and Aleppo, each of which has faced ‘challenges’ in the last 30 years that, one might argue, rival that faced by Cape Town.”

My source who says the day may not arrive reckons the Day Zero idea is more of an emergency messaging concept to urge behaviour change, than an actual event likely to occur.

True or not, the bottom line is that Cape Town (a city that’s run by the chief opposition party, the Democratic Alliance/DA) is being heavily criticised for mismanaging the crisis, for several reasons.

Political rivalries

The national government (run by the African National Congress) is responsible for bulk water infrastructure, and appears to have been stalling on water delivery in the Western Cape province for the past decade.

The province is run by the ANC’s chief opposition, the DA. But critics say the DA could nevertheless have implemented much tighter water restrictions, sooner, in what now turns out to be a severe three-year drought.

They say the city should also have been exploring underground aquifers and desalination options much earlier, to get the laborious and bureaucratic tender processes passed and the infrastructure in place well before now. The city is also being accused of ignoring projections on population growth

The DA is charged too with blaming the unpredictability of the climate for their failure to plan: climate modellers have long been projecting a hotter, drier climate for the Cape, with longer droughts and more variable rainfall.

The city is selling this three-year drought as “unprecedented”, while some critics are calling it “the new normal”. Either way, the DA regularly points out that the climate models gave no warning of a drought this severe.

The issue is what happens next summer: no matter how much rain we get this winter, it won’t be enough to recharge the province’s dams

The city regularly says it will crack down on its top 100 most wasteful water users, through fines, temporary water cut-offs, or by installing devices letting it throttle back on household supplies to high users. Unfortunately it lacks the resources to install the devices fast enough.

Behavioural economists at the University of Cape Town (UCT) have done some preliminary research with city utility managers to see how short carefully crafted messages in people’s monthly utility bills can bring about voluntary adoption of water-wise behaviour.

Professor Martine Visser from the Environmental Policy Research Unit at UCT found that wealthy water consumers are more likely to cut their use if they know they will be praised publicly (for instance, on the city’s website) as “water wise”.

But they’re less likely to respond to threats of increased tariffs or fines for high usage, because their water bills constitute such a small part of their overall budget.

My water rationing

I have been surviving on about 40l of water a week for the past five months. I switched off my hot water cylinder in September because I found that even if I collected all the cold water that ran through the shower in a bucket, before hot water came through, it still collected twice as much water as I’d use to shower, once the hot was running. It is much more efficient to simply boil a kettle and then bucket-bath in about 3l of water.

From this month I’m now down to a daily water ration of about 26l:

Bucket bath: 3l (goes to first load of laundry, which then goes to flushing)
Dishes: 2l
Flushing: 20l (x 2 daily, about 12.8 l of which is grey water)
Cooking: 1l
Brushing teeth/washing hands: 1l
Drinking (water, tea etc): 2l
Laundry: 12.8l (2 x loads per week = 90l divided by 7 days = 12.8l, which goes to flushing)
TOTAL: ±26l dailyClimate News Network

Leonie Joubert is a freelance science writer and author, whose books include Scorched: South Africa’s changing climate, and Boiling Point: people in a changing climate.

A harder rain’s a-gonna fall in the US

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Ever-heavier downpours threaten mainland America with harder rain as a consequence of global warming. US cities need to be ready.

LONDON, 11 December, 2017 – For the US, harder rain is on the way: America’s summer thunderstorms are about to get stormier. Later this century, the notorious mesoscale convective storms of middle America will not just darken US skies: they will dump as much as 80% more water  on the farms, highways and cities of the 48 contiguous states.

Mesoscale thunderstorms cover an area of around 100 kilometres: these have been on the increase, both in frequency and intensity, in the last 35 years and new research suggests that, as the world warms, their frequency could triple.

“The combination of more intense rainfall and the spreading of heavy rainfall over larger areas means that we will face a higher flood risk than previously predicted,” said Andreas Prein, of the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in the US, who led the study.

“If a whole catchment area gets hammered by high rain rates, that creates a much more serious situation than a thunderstorm dropping intense rain over parts of the catchment. This implies that the flood guidelines which are used in planning and building infrastructure are probably too conservative.”

Thunderstorms already cost the US around $20bn a year in flash floods, landslides, debris flows, high winds and hail. Dr Prein and his colleagues report in Nature Climate Change that what they call “observed extreme daily precipitation” increased in all parts of the US from 1958 to 2012: that is because rising temperatures mean more evaporation, and at the same time a greater atmospheric capacity for moisture.

“The floods of the future are likely to be much greater than what our current infrastructure is designed for”

US President Donald Trump has made it clear that he doesn’t believe in global warming and has promised to withdraw the US from the global climate pact agreed by 197 nations in Paris in 2015.

But research, much of it from US government agencies, suggests that climate change is happening anyway, and that US cities are at risk. The latest computer simulations suggest that the number of extreme summer storms in some parts of the US could have increased fivefold by the century’s end.

Even the eastern seaboard could be hit: intense storms over an area the size of New York City could drop 60% more rain than the heaviest now. And this could add up to six times the annual discharge of the Hudson River.

The finding should come as no great surprise. Climate scientists have repeatedly warned that climate change, driven by global warming as a consequence of the profligate combustion of fossil fuels that dump ever greater levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, could bring ever greater extremes of heat and rain.

More Harveys

Recent research has predicted that the kind of rainfall delivered by Hurricane Harvey over Houston in Texas could become much more frequent, and Atlantic communities are more likely to be pounded by hurricanes and superstorms.

Other long-term studies have predicted that coastal flooding could create a new class of climate refugees, within America itself. The latest study is a reminder that civic authorities, and the administration itself, need to prepare.

“This is a warning signal that says the floods of the future are likely to be much greater than what our current infrastructure is designed for,” Dr Prein said.

“If you have a slow-moving storm system that aligns over a densely populated area, the result can be devastating, as could be seen in the impact of Hurricane Harvey on Houston.” – Climate News Network

Ever-heavier downpours threaten mainland America with harder rain as a consequence of global warming. US cities need to be ready.

LONDON, 11 December, 2017 – For the US, harder rain is on the way: America’s summer thunderstorms are about to get stormier. Later this century, the notorious mesoscale convective storms of middle America will not just darken US skies: they will dump as much as 80% more water  on the farms, highways and cities of the 48 contiguous states.

Mesoscale thunderstorms cover an area of around 100 kilometres: these have been on the increase, both in frequency and intensity, in the last 35 years and new research suggests that, as the world warms, their frequency could triple.

“The combination of more intense rainfall and the spreading of heavy rainfall over larger areas means that we will face a higher flood risk than previously predicted,” said Andreas Prein, of the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in the US, who led the study.

“If a whole catchment area gets hammered by high rain rates, that creates a much more serious situation than a thunderstorm dropping intense rain over parts of the catchment. This implies that the flood guidelines which are used in planning and building infrastructure are probably too conservative.”

Thunderstorms already cost the US around $20bn a year in flash floods, landslides, debris flows, high winds and hail. Dr Prein and his colleagues report in Nature Climate Change that what they call “observed extreme daily precipitation” increased in all parts of the US from 1958 to 2012: that is because rising temperatures mean more evaporation, and at the same time a greater atmospheric capacity for moisture.

“The floods of the future are likely to be much greater than what our current infrastructure is designed for”

US President Donald Trump has made it clear that he doesn’t believe in global warming and has promised to withdraw the US from the global climate pact agreed by 197 nations in Paris in 2015.

But research, much of it from US government agencies, suggests that climate change is happening anyway, and that US cities are at risk. The latest computer simulations suggest that the number of extreme summer storms in some parts of the US could have increased fivefold by the century’s end.

Even the eastern seaboard could be hit: intense storms over an area the size of New York City could drop 60% more rain than the heaviest now. And this could add up to six times the annual discharge of the Hudson River.

The finding should come as no great surprise. Climate scientists have repeatedly warned that climate change, driven by global warming as a consequence of the profligate combustion of fossil fuels that dump ever greater levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, could bring ever greater extremes of heat and rain.

More Harveys

Recent research has predicted that the kind of rainfall delivered by Hurricane Harvey over Houston in Texas could become much more frequent, and Atlantic communities are more likely to be pounded by hurricanes and superstorms.

Other long-term studies have predicted that coastal flooding could create a new class of climate refugees, within America itself. The latest study is a reminder that civic authorities, and the administration itself, need to prepare.

“This is a warning signal that says the floods of the future are likely to be much greater than what our current infrastructure is designed for,” Dr Prein said.

“If you have a slow-moving storm system that aligns over a densely populated area, the result can be devastating, as could be seen in the impact of Hurricane Harvey on Houston.” – Climate News Network

More harm than good with climate geo-engineering

Geo-engineering might be possible – but so far it doesn’t look practical. Yet another study sees dangers in the technofix.

LONDON, 24 November, 2017 – Geo-engineering – the untested technofix that would permit the continued use of fossil fuels – could create more problems than it could solve.

By masking sunlight with injections of sulphate aerosols in the stratosphere, nations could perhaps suppress some of the devastating hurricanes and typhoons that in a rapidly warming world threaten northern hemisphere cities. But they could also scorch the Sahel region of Africa, to threaten millions of lives and livelihoods, according to new research.

Geo-engineering is sometimes played as humanity’s have-your-cake-and-eat-it option: humans have already unthinkingly engineered climate change over the last 200 years by profligate combustion of coal, oil and gas that releases ever-growing concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Since ferocious volcanic eruptions have been known to cool the global climate by pumping soot and sulphur dioxide into the upper atmosphere, some reason that scientists and technologists could play the same card, in a calculated fashion.

“This is not a technique that is ready to use in the near future: reducing CO2 emissions and planning our adaptation must remain top priorities for climate policy”

But shortly after one research team showed that, in theory at least, geo-engineering could be made to work, a second group has demonstrated that there would be a huge price to pay. And they call on policymakers to think carefully before testing any unilateral action.

“Our results confirm that regional solar geo-engineering is a highly risky strategy which could simultaneously benefit one region to the detriment of another,” said Anthony Jones, a climate scientist at the University of Exeter, UK, who led the study. 

“It is vital that policymakers take solar geo-engineering seriously and act swiftly to install effective regulation.”

This is an argument that has continued for more than a decade: in 2006, the Nobel laureate and chemist Paul Crutzen pointed out that, while burning hydrocarbon fuels, humans also released sulphate aerosols that represented a health hazard, linked to half a million deaths a year.

Multiple effects

If a proportion of this pollution reached the upper atmosphere, it would not only save lives, it would change the reflectivity of the planet, dim solar radiation, and contain global warming.

Since then, researchers the world over have repeatedly looked at the geo-engineering option, and repeatedly conceded that the ideal answer would be to stop burning fossil fuels.

And since greenhouse gas emissions have failed to fall, other groups have repeatedly returned to the study, to find that such solutions may not work, or that they could create more problems than they solve.

Dr Jones and his colleagues report in the journal Nature Communications that they tested the sulphate solution in simulation to find what others have suggested: that in addition to damping global temperature rise, a deliberate darkening of the skies would also suppress hurricane activity in the north Atlantic.

Drought risk

But, as others have argued, it would also heighten the likelihood of sustained drought in the Sahel, a region which extends across 14 nations in Africa, from Senegal to Ethiopia.

“It is obvious from first principles that stratospheric aerosol geo-engineering deployed in only one hemisphere would lead to huge shifts in tropical climate patterns,” said Peter Irvine, a researcher at Harvard University in the US, commenting on the study.

“Deploying stratospheric aerosol geo-engineering in only one hemisphere is pretty certainly a bad idea, and this work helps reinforce that view.”

And John Shepherd, an earth system scientist at the University of Southampton in the UK, said: “This is not a technique that is ready to use in the near future: reducing CO2 emissions and planning our adaptation must remain top priorities for climate policy.” – Climate News Network

Geo-engineering might be possible – but so far it doesn’t look practical. Yet another study sees dangers in the technofix.

LONDON, 24 November, 2017 – Geo-engineering – the untested technofix that would permit the continued use of fossil fuels – could create more problems than it could solve.

By masking sunlight with injections of sulphate aerosols in the stratosphere, nations could perhaps suppress some of the devastating hurricanes and typhoons that in a rapidly warming world threaten northern hemisphere cities. But they could also scorch the Sahel region of Africa, to threaten millions of lives and livelihoods, according to new research.

Geo-engineering is sometimes played as humanity’s have-your-cake-and-eat-it option: humans have already unthinkingly engineered climate change over the last 200 years by profligate combustion of coal, oil and gas that releases ever-growing concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Since ferocious volcanic eruptions have been known to cool the global climate by pumping soot and sulphur dioxide into the upper atmosphere, some reason that scientists and technologists could play the same card, in a calculated fashion.

“This is not a technique that is ready to use in the near future: reducing CO2 emissions and planning our adaptation must remain top priorities for climate policy”

But shortly after one research team showed that, in theory at least, geo-engineering could be made to work, a second group has demonstrated that there would be a huge price to pay. And they call on policymakers to think carefully before testing any unilateral action.

“Our results confirm that regional solar geo-engineering is a highly risky strategy which could simultaneously benefit one region to the detriment of another,” said Anthony Jones, a climate scientist at the University of Exeter, UK, who led the study. 

“It is vital that policymakers take solar geo-engineering seriously and act swiftly to install effective regulation.”

This is an argument that has continued for more than a decade: in 2006, the Nobel laureate and chemist Paul Crutzen pointed out that, while burning hydrocarbon fuels, humans also released sulphate aerosols that represented a health hazard, linked to half a million deaths a year.

Multiple effects

If a proportion of this pollution reached the upper atmosphere, it would not only save lives, it would change the reflectivity of the planet, dim solar radiation, and contain global warming.

Since then, researchers the world over have repeatedly looked at the geo-engineering option, and repeatedly conceded that the ideal answer would be to stop burning fossil fuels.

And since greenhouse gas emissions have failed to fall, other groups have repeatedly returned to the study, to find that such solutions may not work, or that they could create more problems than they solve.

Dr Jones and his colleagues report in the journal Nature Communications that they tested the sulphate solution in simulation to find what others have suggested: that in addition to damping global temperature rise, a deliberate darkening of the skies would also suppress hurricane activity in the north Atlantic.

Drought risk

But, as others have argued, it would also heighten the likelihood of sustained drought in the Sahel, a region which extends across 14 nations in Africa, from Senegal to Ethiopia.

“It is obvious from first principles that stratospheric aerosol geo-engineering deployed in only one hemisphere would lead to huge shifts in tropical climate patterns,” said Peter Irvine, a researcher at Harvard University in the US, commenting on the study.

“Deploying stratospheric aerosol geo-engineering in only one hemisphere is pretty certainly a bad idea, and this work helps reinforce that view.”

And John Shepherd, an earth system scientist at the University of Southampton in the UK, said: “This is not a technique that is ready to use in the near future: reducing CO2 emissions and planning our adaptation must remain top priorities for climate policy.” – Climate News Network

Worse climate change in the offing

The prospect of the Earth overheating dangerously has come closer, with scientists warning that worse climate change will soon affect the planet.

BONN, 13 November, 2017 – The world has been given a stark warning by some of its leading scientists: there is much worse climate change on the way.

The UN climate summit meeting here has been told: “There is no room for complacency. Climate change is here. It is dangerous. And it is about to get much worse.

“In the last two years evidence has accumulated that we are now on a collision course with tipping points in the Earth system”, said Professor Johan Rockström, executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre and chair of the Earth League

The warning came as he introduced a report at the meeting, known as COP 23, which had been prepared by the League with Future Earth. The two are networks of global sustainability scientists, and their report, The 10 Science ‘Must Knows’ on Climate Change, summarises recent Earth-system science and economic research.

“The news that emissions are rising after the three-year hiatus is a giant leap backwards for humankind. Pushing Earth closer to tipping points is deeply concerning”

As global temperatures climb higher Earth is approaching tipping points that threaten human security, the report says. It is published on the same day as another report says global carbon emissions are projected to rise in 2017 after three stable years.  

Dr. Amy Luers, executive director of Future Earth, said: “The news that emissions are rising after the three-year hiatus is a giant leap backwards for humankind. Pushing Earth closer to tipping points is deeply concerning. Emissions need to peak soon and approach zero by 2050.”

Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber is director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and a member of the Earth League. He said: “Some crucial climate-change facts tend to get lost in the noise of daily deliberations – even at an event such as the UN climate summit.

“So it is important to remind everyone of the very reason why tens of thousands of people are meeting in Bonn: unprecedented risk to humanity due to global warming, as revealed by science.

Threatened stability

“This must be the starting point for re-thinking what in the past 70 years has become our culture of short-term convenience and consumption, a culture which eventually comes at the cost of the well-being of present and future generations across the world.”

The 10 Must Knows report says the Earth’s climate has been remarkably stable since before the dawn of civilisation, but this stability is now at risk. Crossing the critical “tipping points” the planet is now approaching may mean abrupt and possibly irreversible shifts in the workings of the Arctic, Amazon, and other parts of the globe.

The record-breaking 2017 Atlantic hurricane season offers a glimpse of the increased risks of extreme weather which may lie ahead. Examples include severe flooding, heat waves and droughts.The oceans too are changing fast, with accelerating sea-level rise and acidification.

The economic costs of climate change are already being felt, and some of the world’s poorest nations are bearing the heaviest burden. Climate change will have a profound impact on human health by placing new pressures on food and water security in nations around the world.

Need for speed

It is likely to intensify migration, civil unrest and even conflict. In 2015, more than 19 million people globally were displaced by natural disasters and extreme weather, and climate change will probably cause that number to grow.

The world must act fast. If humans continue to emit greenhouse gases at current rates, the remaining carbon budget to reduce the risk of exceeding the internationally-agreed 2°C temperature rise target will be exhausted in around 20 years. Global emissions need to halve every decade.

A fossil fuel-free society is economically attractive: renewable energy increasingly competes with fossil fuels. The estimated costs of inaction range from 2-10% of GDP by 2100 by some estimates, to a fall in projected global output by 23% in 2100 in others.

Even if the world meets the Paris Agreement targets, communities across the globe will still need to build resilience and adapt to the changes already under way. – Climate News Network

The prospect of the Earth overheating dangerously has come closer, with scientists warning that worse climate change will soon affect the planet.

BONN, 13 November, 2017 – The world has been given a stark warning by some of its leading scientists: there is much worse climate change on the way.

The UN climate summit meeting here has been told: “There is no room for complacency. Climate change is here. It is dangerous. And it is about to get much worse.

“In the last two years evidence has accumulated that we are now on a collision course with tipping points in the Earth system”, said Professor Johan Rockström, executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre and chair of the Earth League

The warning came as he introduced a report at the meeting, known as COP 23, which had been prepared by the League with Future Earth. The two are networks of global sustainability scientists, and their report, The 10 Science ‘Must Knows’ on Climate Change, summarises recent Earth-system science and economic research.

“The news that emissions are rising after the three-year hiatus is a giant leap backwards for humankind. Pushing Earth closer to tipping points is deeply concerning”

As global temperatures climb higher Earth is approaching tipping points that threaten human security, the report says. It is published on the same day as another report says global carbon emissions are projected to rise in 2017 after three stable years.  

Dr. Amy Luers, executive director of Future Earth, said: “The news that emissions are rising after the three-year hiatus is a giant leap backwards for humankind. Pushing Earth closer to tipping points is deeply concerning. Emissions need to peak soon and approach zero by 2050.”

Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber is director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and a member of the Earth League. He said: “Some crucial climate-change facts tend to get lost in the noise of daily deliberations – even at an event such as the UN climate summit.

“So it is important to remind everyone of the very reason why tens of thousands of people are meeting in Bonn: unprecedented risk to humanity due to global warming, as revealed by science.

Threatened stability

“This must be the starting point for re-thinking what in the past 70 years has become our culture of short-term convenience and consumption, a culture which eventually comes at the cost of the well-being of present and future generations across the world.”

The 10 Must Knows report says the Earth’s climate has been remarkably stable since before the dawn of civilisation, but this stability is now at risk. Crossing the critical “tipping points” the planet is now approaching may mean abrupt and possibly irreversible shifts in the workings of the Arctic, Amazon, and other parts of the globe.

The record-breaking 2017 Atlantic hurricane season offers a glimpse of the increased risks of extreme weather which may lie ahead. Examples include severe flooding, heat waves and droughts.The oceans too are changing fast, with accelerating sea-level rise and acidification.

The economic costs of climate change are already being felt, and some of the world’s poorest nations are bearing the heaviest burden. Climate change will have a profound impact on human health by placing new pressures on food and water security in nations around the world.

Need for speed

It is likely to intensify migration, civil unrest and even conflict. In 2015, more than 19 million people globally were displaced by natural disasters and extreme weather, and climate change will probably cause that number to grow.

The world must act fast. If humans continue to emit greenhouse gases at current rates, the remaining carbon budget to reduce the risk of exceeding the internationally-agreed 2°C temperature rise target will be exhausted in around 20 years. Global emissions need to halve every decade.

A fossil fuel-free society is economically attractive: renewable energy increasingly competes with fossil fuels. The estimated costs of inaction range from 2-10% of GDP by 2100 by some estimates, to a fall in projected global output by 23% in 2100 in others.

Even if the world meets the Paris Agreement targets, communities across the globe will still need to build resilience and adapt to the changes already under way. – Climate News Network

Rising seas may bring more superstorms

Superstorms as severe as Sandy, the monster which swamped New York City in 2012, could become more frequent because of rising sea levels.

LONDON, 27 October, 2017 – New York City – hit by Superstorm Sandy five years ago at a cost of $50bn – could be under water again soon. What 200 years ago would have been regarded as the kind of flood that happened only once in 500 years could, by 2030, bring superstorms every five years or so.

It won’t be that 2.8 metre storm surges of the kind that delivered floodwater to the streets and subways of America’s iconic city will be any more frequent. It will be the impact of sea level rise, as a consequence of global warming driven by ever higher greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere, in response to the profligate global consumption of fossil fuels.

Although researchers have repeatedly warned that global warming could bring more hurricane and storm hazards to the US northeast, the latest study based on computer simulations predicts that the expected stronger storms of tomorrow are likely to shift offshore, in theory reducing the risk to New York City. But sea levels are rising rapidly, to increase the risk of flooding.

“If we cause large sea-level rise, that dominates future risks, but if we could prevent sea-level rise and just have the storm surge to worry about, our projections show little change in coastal risk from today during most years,” said Michael Mann, distinguished professor of meteorology and atmospheric science and director of Penn State’s Earth System Science Centre, and one of the authors.

“Sea level is rising and higher sea level increases the damages from coastal storms. Human decisions about energy will be important in determining how much the sea rises and thus how much damage we face”

“While those storms that strike New York City might be bigger and stronger, there may be fewer of them as changing storm tracks increasingly steer the storms away from NYC and toward other regions.”

It takes two things to flood a coastal city. The tide must be high, and ferocious winds must pile up the water to unusual heights at the same time: this is the storm surge.

In 2012 Superstorm Sandy piled the tide up to 2.8 metres above its average level off the coast of New York. Researchers report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that they looked at the history of sea level and storm surges from the year 1800 to 2300, and then simulated the pattern of events in a world in which humans abandoned the vows made in Paris in 2015 and went on burning fossil fuels under the notorious “business as usual” scenario.

Narrowing odds

They found that what had in 1800 been the chance of the one-in-500-years flood event – 2.25 metres above mean tidal height – increased with time and sea level. By the period 1975 to 2005, the chance of such flooding had fallen to every 25 years. By 2030 to 2045 it could happen every five years.

But sea level rise would continue as yet more glaciers melted and the Greenland and Antarctic ice packs became less stable. By 1970 to 2005, the one-in-500-years event would bring a flood of 3.4 metres. By 2080 to 2100 this could reach from four to 5.1 metres and by 2300 the flood hazard could have increased to between 5 metres and 15.4 metres, depending on what happened as global warming affected Antarctica.

“Sea level is rising and higher sea level increases the damages from coastal storms,” said Richard B. Alley, Professor of Geosciences, Penn State.

“Human decisions about energy will be important in determining how much the sea rises and thus how much damage we face, and accurate projections of storms will help in minimising the risks.” – Climate News Network

Superstorms as severe as Sandy, the monster which swamped New York City in 2012, could become more frequent because of rising sea levels.

LONDON, 27 October, 2017 – New York City – hit by Superstorm Sandy five years ago at a cost of $50bn – could be under water again soon. What 200 years ago would have been regarded as the kind of flood that happened only once in 500 years could, by 2030, bring superstorms every five years or so.

It won’t be that 2.8 metre storm surges of the kind that delivered floodwater to the streets and subways of America’s iconic city will be any more frequent. It will be the impact of sea level rise, as a consequence of global warming driven by ever higher greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere, in response to the profligate global consumption of fossil fuels.

Although researchers have repeatedly warned that global warming could bring more hurricane and storm hazards to the US northeast, the latest study based on computer simulations predicts that the expected stronger storms of tomorrow are likely to shift offshore, in theory reducing the risk to New York City. But sea levels are rising rapidly, to increase the risk of flooding.

“If we cause large sea-level rise, that dominates future risks, but if we could prevent sea-level rise and just have the storm surge to worry about, our projections show little change in coastal risk from today during most years,” said Michael Mann, distinguished professor of meteorology and atmospheric science and director of Penn State’s Earth System Science Centre, and one of the authors.

“Sea level is rising and higher sea level increases the damages from coastal storms. Human decisions about energy will be important in determining how much the sea rises and thus how much damage we face”

“While those storms that strike New York City might be bigger and stronger, there may be fewer of them as changing storm tracks increasingly steer the storms away from NYC and toward other regions.”

It takes two things to flood a coastal city. The tide must be high, and ferocious winds must pile up the water to unusual heights at the same time: this is the storm surge.

In 2012 Superstorm Sandy piled the tide up to 2.8 metres above its average level off the coast of New York. Researchers report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that they looked at the history of sea level and storm surges from the year 1800 to 2300, and then simulated the pattern of events in a world in which humans abandoned the vows made in Paris in 2015 and went on burning fossil fuels under the notorious “business as usual” scenario.

Narrowing odds

They found that what had in 1800 been the chance of the one-in-500-years flood event – 2.25 metres above mean tidal height – increased with time and sea level. By the period 1975 to 2005, the chance of such flooding had fallen to every 25 years. By 2030 to 2045 it could happen every five years.

But sea level rise would continue as yet more glaciers melted and the Greenland and Antarctic ice packs became less stable. By 1970 to 2005, the one-in-500-years event would bring a flood of 3.4 metres. By 2080 to 2100 this could reach from four to 5.1 metres and by 2300 the flood hazard could have increased to between 5 metres and 15.4 metres, depending on what happened as global warming affected Antarctica.

“Sea level is rising and higher sea level increases the damages from coastal storms,” said Richard B. Alley, Professor of Geosciences, Penn State.

“Human decisions about energy will be important in determining how much the sea rises and thus how much damage we face, and accurate projections of storms will help in minimising the risks.” – Climate News Network

Less rain, more floods in Ireland

Ireland Dublin storm

Government’s lack of response to climate change is criticised as forecasters in Ireland predict a decline in overall rainfall and an increase in torrential downpours.

DUBLIN, 13 October, 2017 – In Ireland it is said to rain so much that land is not sold by the acre – but by the bucketful.

That could all change in the years ahead as the rate of global warming accelerates and less rain falls across the country, according to Irish meteorologists.

Dr Saji Varghese, head of research and environment at Met Éireann, the Irish meteorological service, says it is likely that Ireland will experience significant rises in temperature, with the average set to increase by more than 1°C by mid-century.

Speaking at a special Citizens Assembly in Dublin, held to discuss the impacts of climate change in Ireland, Varghese said that overall amounts of rainfall are likely to decrease.

We can blame the unusual storminess on natural
weather processes, though when the storms
occurred their impacts in terms of heavy rainfall and
flooding were worse due to climate change”

Set against that decline, the frequency of torrential downpours would increase, said Varghese – by a rate of as much as 30% in the autumn and winter months.

Ireland has been hit by several severe storms recently. In August of this year the county of Donegal, in Ireland’s northwest, suffered serious floods, resulting in multiple landslides and the evacuation of homes and farms.

Professor Peter Stott, who leads the climate monitoring and attribution team at the UK Met Office told the Assembly – billed by its organisers as an exercise in grassroots democracy – that storms that had battered Ireland and Britain in recent years were a “wake-up call” and showed just how vulnerable both countries were to such events.

We can blame the unusual storminess on natural weather processes, though when the storms occurred their impacts in terms of heavy rainfall and flooding were worse due to climate change,” said Stott.

The Assembly, which received more than 1,000 submissions from the public on climate change issues, discussed how Ireland could position itself as a leader in the battle to tackle global warming.

Progress in Ireland

Participants heard that while there had been considerable progress in Ireland in areas such as developing sustainable energy systems, not nearly enough was being done to meet the challenges posed by a warming world.

The government was prioritising economic growth above all else, the gathering was told. The public was still largely disengaged or ill-informed on the issue.

Though Ireland has little heavy industry – often a leading source of climate-changing greenhouse gases – its emissions have been rising over recent years.

The agricultural sector is estimated to account for up to a third of total emissions, with Ireland’s 7 million-strong cattle herd producing vast amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Nitrogen fertilisers spread on fields are another source of greenhouse gases.

Livestock emissions

Latest research indicates that, worldwide, emissions of greenhouse gases from agriculture – and the livestock sector in particular – have been seriously underestimated.

Joseph Curtin, a researcher at University College, Cork, told the Assembly that there had been a “spectacular failure” in Ireland over the past 15 years in responding to the challenges of climate change.

We have not stepped up to the plate,” Curtin told the Assembly. “Let’s be realistic: start by doing our fair share, then we can aspire to leadership.”
Climate News Network

Government’s lack of response to climate change is criticised as forecasters in Ireland predict a decline in overall rainfall and an increase in torrential downpours.

DUBLIN, 13 October, 2017 – In Ireland it is said to rain so much that land is not sold by the acre – but by the bucketful.

That could all change in the years ahead as the rate of global warming accelerates and less rain falls across the country, according to Irish meteorologists.

Dr Saji Varghese, head of research and environment at Met Éireann, the Irish meteorological service, says it is likely that Ireland will experience significant rises in temperature, with the average set to increase by more than 1°C by mid-century.

Speaking at a special Citizens Assembly in Dublin, held to discuss the impacts of climate change in Ireland, Varghese said that overall amounts of rainfall are likely to decrease.

We can blame the unusual storminess on natural
weather processes, though when the storms
occurred their impacts in terms of heavy rainfall and
flooding were worse due to climate change”

Set against that decline, the frequency of torrential downpours would increase, said Varghese – by a rate of as much as 30% in the autumn and winter months.

Ireland has been hit by several severe storms recently. In August of this year the county of Donegal, in Ireland’s northwest, suffered serious floods, resulting in multiple landslides and the evacuation of homes and farms.

Professor Peter Stott, who leads the climate monitoring and attribution team at the UK Met Office told the Assembly – billed by its organisers as an exercise in grassroots democracy – that storms that had battered Ireland and Britain in recent years were a “wake-up call” and showed just how vulnerable both countries were to such events.

We can blame the unusual storminess on natural weather processes, though when the storms occurred their impacts in terms of heavy rainfall and flooding were worse due to climate change,” said Stott.

The Assembly, which received more than 1,000 submissions from the public on climate change issues, discussed how Ireland could position itself as a leader in the battle to tackle global warming.

Progress in Ireland

Participants heard that while there had been considerable progress in Ireland in areas such as developing sustainable energy systems, not nearly enough was being done to meet the challenges posed by a warming world.

The government was prioritising economic growth above all else, the gathering was told. The public was still largely disengaged or ill-informed on the issue.

Though Ireland has little heavy industry – often a leading source of climate-changing greenhouse gases – its emissions have been rising over recent years.

The agricultural sector is estimated to account for up to a third of total emissions, with Ireland’s 7 million-strong cattle herd producing vast amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Nitrogen fertilisers spread on fields are another source of greenhouse gases.

Livestock emissions

Latest research indicates that, worldwide, emissions of greenhouse gases from agriculture – and the livestock sector in particular – have been seriously underestimated.

Joseph Curtin, a researcher at University College, Cork, told the Assembly that there had been a “spectacular failure” in Ireland over the past 15 years in responding to the challenges of climate change.

We have not stepped up to the plate,” Curtin told the Assembly. “Let’s be realistic: start by doing our fair share, then we can aspire to leadership.”
Climate News Network