Monday, December 3, 2012

Greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow in 2012

Greenhouse gas emissions are set for another rise in 2012. According to a Global Carbon Project, the greenhouse gas emissions will reach a record high of 35.6 billion tonnes at the end of 2012, accounting for a 2.6% increase when compared to previous year.

This is yet another clear indicator that world leaders are pretty much useless when it comes to climate change - namely plenty of false promises and very little real-time action.

The numbers for greenhouse gas emissions are 58% above 1990 levels, and world looks to be heading straight ahead to an environmental disaster of massive proportions, the one that will likely make life very difficult for our future generations.

Carbon emission continue to grow

China and India are currently two of the world's fastest growing economies. Their rapid economic growth has been sadly closely accompanied by the growth in greenhouse gas emissions, with the emissions  in China and India growing by 9.9 and 7.5% in 2011.

United States is still the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter per capita with 17.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2). China, for instance, has 6,6 tonnes of CO2 per capita while India has only 1.8 toones of CO2 per capita.

The widespread development of low carbon technologies and improved energy efficiency are still far from reality, meaning that greenhouse gas emissions will likely continue to grow further in years to come.

The climate change talks in Doha will likely have a disappointing end like this was the case with previous climate change conferences. The world leaders do not listen to scientific community because of different interests between the developed and developing countries.

Without the unity in global politics world doesn't stand the chance against climate change. Hopefully, world leaders will realize this before it's too late. Though as some say world could already be too late to do something about it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Arctic summer ice steadily shrinking

Arctic summer ice cover is constantly shrinking in the wake of climate change and global warming. By the end of August this year, Arctic summer sea ice covered only an area below 4-million sq. km. This means that the record set on Sept. 18, 2007 with a 4.17-million sq.-km has already been broken, and we are talking about the smallest minimum ice extent that was ever recorded in Arctic.

The scientists fear that this year's extreme melting of Arctic ice is only the beginning of the trend that will lead to Arctic being free of summer ice within the next 25-30 years, much sooner than it was previously thought.

The loss of Arctic summer ice will have serious consequences for our future wellbeing. Arctic ice helps regulate the climate by reflecting the sunlight, and therefore cooling the climate. No ice would cause more moisture from the oceans to enter the atmosphere which would lead to more powerful and much more frequent storms. This increase in storm frequency and storm intensity will likely affect most of the world's populated places, leading to massive damages.

Arctic has already lost much of its thick (older) ice that would remain throughout the summer. Thirty years ago the ratio between thick, older ice and seasonal ice (ice that would melt away in the summer) was about 80 % older and 20% seasonal. Today, due to the rapidly growing global warming impact this ratio has almost reversed.

Also, there are huge quantities of organic carbon locked away as frozen plant matter in the big permafrost region of the Arctic, meaning that the further melting of Arctic ice could result in even more carbon emission being emitted in the atmosphere, leading to an even worse climate change impact.

Arctic is first in line when it comes to climate change impact. We sadly keep forgetting that climate change impact won't stop at Arctic but will spread further to an entire planet because we are talking about global phenomenon that will only increase in power and magnitude.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Higher temperatures to cause extreme rainfall in the tropics

Global warming and the resulting higher temperatures will likely account for extreme rainfall in the tropics. According to a latest MIT study every 1 degree Celsius rise in temperature in the tropics will result in 10 percent heavier rainfall extremes. This rainfall increase could have major impact on flooding in many populous regions in the tropics.

The researchers are convinced that rainfall extremes in tropical regions are more sensitive to global warming compared to other regions thought they are yet to understand the reasons why.

The basic principle of this increase in precipitation is well known. Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide enter the atmosphere, more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere means higher temperature, and this in turn leads to increases in the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere. More water vapor in the atmosphere means that there will be heavier rain because of the increased humidity, which fuels more intense storms.

The MIT scientists have used satellite observations of extreme rainfall between the latitudes of 30 degrees north and 30 degrees south, an area just above and below the Equator, and were looking at the several climate models, which are able to simulate the effects of both El Niño and global warming.

They have discovered one clear pattern, namely that models that showed a strong response in rainfall to El Niño also responded strongly to global warming.

The researchers issued warnings to policymakers saying that although the rainfall will increase in the wettest regions, the drier parts of the tropics will likely become even more drier, meaning that they should not only take into account more damaging flooding, but also less reliable rains from year to year.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Forests feeling the heat of climate change

Climate change has negative impact on forests from many different angles. The increased temperatures are not only causing heat stress and drought but they are also opening the door for wide-spread insect infestation.

In many parts of the world researchers are already talking about rapidly growing forest mortality. Not all tree species are affected the same with some species of trees being more resistant than other, with other likely to be hit particularly hard, depending on factors such as age or sizes of trees.

Some researchers fear that in business as usual scenario many forest areas will cease to exist and will turn into grasslands or some other ecosystems. This could further increase climate change impact because forests are large carbon sinkers, absorbing plenty of CO2 from the atmosphere. Also, the decomposition of dead trees releases CO2 in the atmosphere, therefore increasing global warming effect and debris from dead trees could also increase a forest's fire risk and result in even more CO2 emissions.

Forests play vital role in not only absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere, but also in regulating climate and water purification. They are also important for water and nutrient cycle, not to mention that they also provide homes for thousands of different animal and plant species.

In United States, this summer's severe drought has taken heavy toll on forests, and we are yet to receive official data about the total damage done to U.S. forests. One thing is sure though, there will be plenty dead trees in the final report.

Many researchers believe that one-dimensional approach may not be enough to save our forests and are calling for joint action that would not only include climate change scientists and ecologists but also, biogeochemists, hydrologists, economists, social scientists, etc.

Current forest management practices won't be enough to save many of our forests from climate change impact and this is why this issue needs to involve more scientists, from different scientific fields.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Warm climate means short-term extinction of species

The British scientists from the Universities of York, Glasgow and Leeds have been recently re-examining fossil and geological records going back 540 million years, in order to discover the connection between biodiversity and global warming of the planet.

Their conclusion was that in the normal scenario biodiversity on Earth increases as the planet warms but present rapid trends of increasing temperature will unlikely increase global biodiversity on short-tem because climate change is happening too fast (primarily due to increased human impact).

The rate of increase in biodiversity is primarily dependant on the evolution of new species over millions and millions of years. Of course, the evolution of new species is also usually accompanied by extinctions of existing species that fail to adapt to changes in climate.

Overall speaking, warm climates seem to boost biodiversity in the very long run (millions of years), rather than reducing it but short-term speaking there is likely to be more extinction than evolution of new species.

The scientists however still disagree that that current global warming is good for existing species, at least from the current point of view, because large changes in our planet's biodiversity need millions of years so the only thing we could right now predict with a reasonable dose of certainty is short-term losses in our planet’s biodiversity.

The fossil records showed clear proof that the warmer periods in past were at first accompanied by the increased rate of extinction, but after a longer time span they also promoted the evolution of new species, increasing overall biodiversity on our planet.

The past geological periods however didn’t have humans in the climate change equation.