What is the impact of temperature increases in the tropics? How likely is it that regions along the Equator will be uninhabitable due to high wet bulb temperatures such as 35℃ and more in places like Singapore? Do we have models that suggest how likely this is and at what time frames?
Summer and fall are wildfire season across the western U.S. In recent years, wildfires have destroyed thousands of homes, forced hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate and exposed tens of millions to harmful smoke.
As Hurricane Sally headed for the northern Gulf Coast on Tuesday, September 15, 2020, forecasters warned of a potentially life-threatening storm surge, with water levels that could rise as high as 7 feet in some areas.
What is driving the wildfires that are ravaging California, Oregon and Washington? President Trump and state officials have offered sharply different views.
Methane is a shorter-lived greenhouse gas - why do we average it out over 100 years? By doing so, do we risk emitting so much in the upcoming decades that we reach climate tipping points?
It was a grim record. On June 20 2020, the mercury reached 38°C in Verkhoyansk, Siberia – the hottest it’s ever been in the Arctic in recorded history.
Our approach to climate change for the past 30 years is simply not working. Greenhouse gas emissions in Canada in the year 2018 (the last year for which we have statistics) were almost exactly where they were in the year 2000.
As the world warms and the atmosphere becomes increasingly fertilised with carbon dioxide, trees are growing ever faster.
Seven millennia since its invention, leather remains one of the most durable and versatile natural materials. However, some consumers question the ethical ramifications and environmental sustainability of wearing products sourced from animals.
Extreme weather and climate events causing extensive damage are a fact of the Canadian climate, and this year is no exception.
Ice cores are columns of ice drilled through glaciers that are highly versatile and detailed recorders of Earth’s climate and environment that cover hundreds to many thousands of years.
Anyone who’s tending a garden right now knows what extreme heat can do to plants. Heat is also a concern for an important form of underwater gardening: growing corals and “outplanting,” or transplanting them to restore damaged reefs.
Are we headed for a period with lower Solar activity, i.e. sunspots? How long will it last? What happens to our world when global warming and the end of this period converge?
The demand for cheaper, greener electricity means that the energy landscape is changing faster than at any other point in history.
How often do you strike up a conversation with an older relative about the past? You might switch off when someone begins a sentence with “back in my day…”,
Thirty years ago, in a small Swedish city called Sundsvall, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its first major report.
Hurricane Laura blew up quickly as it headed for the Louisiana coast, intensifying from a tropical storm to a major hurricane in less than 24 hours.
Thunderstorms are common across North America, especially in warm weather months. About 10% of them become severe, meaning they produce hail 1 inch or greater in diameter, winds gusting in excess of 50 knots (57.5 miles per hour), or a tornado.
We Pieced Together The Most Precise Records Of Major Climate Events From Thousands Of Years Ago. Here’s What We Found
Massive ice-sheets covered northern Europe and northern Asia, and about half of North America, and global sea-levels were as much as 130 meters lower than today.
As the global population has doubled to 7.8 billion in about 50 years, industrial agriculture has increased the output from fields and farms to feed humanity.
Peatlands cover just a few percent of the global land area but they store almost one-quarter of all soil carbon and so play a crucial role in regulating the climate.
In new research, we have identified what we call 12 “discourses of delay”. These are ways of speaking and writing about climate change that are commonly used by politicians, media commentators and industry spokespeople.
Humanity is not doomed, not now or even in a worst-case scenario in 2030. But avoiding doom — either the end or widespread collapse of civilisation — is setting a pretty low bar. We can aim much higher than that without shying away from reality.
If you’ve driven through an area where companies extract oil and gas from shale formations, you’ve probably seen flames dancing at the tops of vertical pipes.
We know the climate changes as greenhouse gas concentrations rise, but the exact amount of expected warming remains uncertain.
Since 2010, wind energy has seen sustained growth worldwide, with the amount of energy generated by offshore wind increasing by nearly 30% each year.
I would like to know how much difference we could make to our commitment under the Paris Agreement and our total greenhouse gas emissions if we removed all cows and sheep from the country and grew plants in their place
Global emissions of methane have reached the highest levels on record, research shows.
Private sector banks in the UK should have a central role in financing climate action and supporting a just transition to a low carbon economy.
Demand for fossil fuels collapsed during the COVID-19 pandemic as lockdown measures were introduced. In the second quarter of 2020,
Researchers are looking to kelp for help storing carbon dioxide far beneath the surface of the sea.
The last time global carbon dioxide levels were consistently at or above 400 parts per million (ppm) was around four million years ago during a geological period known as the Pliocene Era (between 5.3 million and 2.6 million years ago).
Jules Verne sent his fictional submarine, the Nautilus, to the South Pole through a hidden ocean beneath a thick ice cap.
The Arctic heat wave that sent Siberian temperatures soaring to around 100 degrees Fahrenheit on the first day of summer put an exclamation point on an astonishing transformation of the Arctic environment that’s been underway for about 30 years.
Heat may kill more people in the US than previously reported, according to a new study.
There is a lot of discussion on the benefits of electric cars versus fossil fuel cars in the context of lithium mining. Please can you tell me which one weighs in better on the environmental impact in terms of global warming and why?
Every car has an optimal speed range that results in minimum fuel consumption, but this range differs between vehicle types, design and age.
For airlines, the reckoning is no longer far away on the horizon. It’s now a jumbo jet meters from the runway, landing gear down.
The Australian government’s investment roadmap for low-emissions technologies promises more taxpayers’ money to the gas industry but fails to deliver the policy needed for people to support a transition to renewable energy.
If I were to buy an electric vehicle it would add to the load on the national grid. Is the only way we are currently able to add the extra power to burn more coal?
Ice shelves, massive floating bodies of ice, are well-known for their buffering effect on land-based ice sheets as they slow their flow towards the sea.
Green growth has emerged as the dominant narrative for tackling contemporary environmental problems.
The tornadoes that swept across the Southeast this spring were a warning to communities nationwide:
Summer temperatures in Chicago normally peak in the low 80s, but in mid-July 1995 they topped 100 F with excessive humidity for three days straight.
COVID-19 has radically changed our travel habits in just a matter of weeks. Walking and cycling are up, as people enjoy their daily exercise or take essential journeys they might otherwise have made by public transport.
When the southern Great Plains of the US were blighted with a series of droughts in the 1930s, it had an unparalled impact on the whole country.
The numbers of people cycling and walking in public spaces during COVID-19 has skyrocketed.
The explosive growth and success of human society over the past 10,000 years has been underpinned by a distinct range of climate conditions.
Climate scientists use mathematical models to project the Earth’s future under a warming world, but a group of the latest models have included unexpectedly high values for a measure called “climate sensitivity”.
Earth had several periods of high carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and high temperatures over the last several million years.
Humans are amazing creatures, in that they have show they can live in almost any climate.
Changes in ocean circulation may have caused a shift in Atlantic Ocean ecosystems not seen for the past 10,000 years, new analysis of deep-sea fossils has revealed.
Agriculture has long been framed in the global climate action discussion as a sector whose activities conflict with meeting greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets.
Politicians and business people are fond of making promises to plant thousands of trees to slow climate change. But who actually plants those trees, and who tends them as they grow?
The Australian summer just gone will be remembered as the moment when human-caused climate change struck hard. First came drought, then deadly bushfires, and now a bout of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef – the third in just five years. Tragically, the 2020 bleaching is severe and the most widespread we have ever recorded.
Coral bleaching at regional scales is caused by spikes in sea temperatures during unusually hot summers. The first recorded mass bleaching event along Great Barrier Reef occurred in 1998, then the hottest year on record.
Since then we’ve seen four more mass bleaching events – and more temperature records broken – in 2002, 2016, 2017, and again in 2020.
This year, February had the highest monthly sea surface temperatures ever recorded on the Great Barrier Reef since the Bureau of Meteorology’s records began in 1900.
Not a pretty picture
We surveyed 1,036 reefs from the air during the last two weeks in March, to measure the extent and severity of coral bleaching throughout the Great Barrier Reef region. Two observers, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, scored each reef visually, repeating the same procedures developed during early bleaching events.
The accuracy of the aerial scores is verified by underwater surveys on reefs that are lightly and heavily bleached. While underwater, we also measure how bleaching changes between shallow and deeper reefs.
Of the reefs we surveyed from the air, 39.8% had little or no bleaching (the green reefs in the map). However, 25.1% of reefs were severely affected (red reefs) – that is, on each reef more than 60% of corals were bleached. A further 35% had more modest levels of bleaching.
Bleaching isn’t necessarily fatal for coral, and it affects some species more than others. A pale or lightly bleached coral typically regains its colour within a few weeks or months and survives.
ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
But when bleaching is severe, many corals die. In 2016, half of the shallow water corals died on the northern region of the Great Barrier Reef between March and November. Later this year, we’ll go underwater to assess the losses of corals during this most recent event.
Compared to the four previous bleaching events, there are fewer unbleached or lightly bleached reefs in 2020 than in 1998, 2002 and 2017, but more than in 2016. Similarly, the proportion of severely bleached reefs in 2020 is exceeded only by 2016. By both of these metrics, 2020 is the second-worst mass bleaching event of the five experienced by the Great Barrier Reef since 1998.
The unbleached and lightly bleached (green) reefs in 2020 are predominantly offshore, mostly close to the edge of the continental shelf in the northern and southern Great Barrier Reef. However, offshore reefs in the central region were severely bleached again. Coastal reefs are also badly bleached at almost all locations, stretching from the Torres Strait in the north to the southern boundary of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
For the first time, severe bleaching has struck all three regions of the Great Barrier Reef – the northern, central and now large parts of the southern sectors. The north was the worst affected region in 2016, followed by the centre in 2017.
In 2020, the cumulative footprint of bleaching has expanded further, to include the south. The distinctive footprint of each bleaching event closely matches the location of hotter and cooler conditions in different years.
Of the five mass bleaching events we’ve seen so far, only 1998 and 2016 occurred during an El Niño – a weather pattern that spurs warmer air temperatures in Australia.
But as summers grow hotter under climate change, we no longer need an El Niño to trigger mass bleaching at the scale of the Great Barrier Reef. We’ve already seen the first example of back-to-back bleaching, in the consecutive summers of 2016 and 2017. The gap between recurrent bleaching events is shrinking, hindering a full recovery.
ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
After five bleaching events, the number of reefs that have escaped severe bleaching continues to dwindle. Those reefs are located offshore, in the far north and in remote parts of the south.
The Great Barrier Reef will continue to lose corals from heat stress, until global emissions of greenhouse gasses are reduced to net zero, and sea temperatures stabilise. Without urgent action to achieve this outcome, it’s clear our coral reefs will not survive business-as-usual emissions.
About The Author
Terry Hughes, Distinguished Professor, James Cook University and Morgan Pratchett, Professor, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University
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Humanity has only recently become accustomed to a stable climate. For most of its history, long ice ages punctuated with hot spells alternated with short warm periods.
Climate deniers have been hanging out for the United Nations’ next big summit to fail. In a sense, the coronavirus and its induced policy responses have more than satisfied their wildest dreams, precipitating a global recession that they no doubt hope has pushed the issue of the low-carbon transition well down the political and policy agenda.
‘We’re doomed’: a common refrain in casual conversation about climate change. It signals an awareness that we cannot, strictly speaking, avert climate change.
Every aspect of our lives has been affected by the coronavirus. The global economy has slowed, people have retreated to their homes and thousands have died or become seriously ill.
Climate change is an interdisciplinary subject that both school children and adults think is important. And as we deal with the current crisis – which is also having its own effects on the environment – there is perhaps no better time to think about how to avoid the next, potentially even greater one.
The Arctic is predicted to warm faster than anywhere else in the world this century, perhaps by as much as 7°C.
This isn’t a normal period of disruption, which is usually caused by failures in supply such as road accidents or industrial action. In this case it is the lack of demand that is the problem.
Science warns us that the 2020s will be humanity’s last opportunity to save itself from a climate catastrophe.
It’s an uncomfortable but inescapable historic fact that great pandemics often bring about social reform.
How do you respond to a crisis? It’s obvious that the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been dramatically different to anything provoked by repeated scientific warnings about climate change.
The World Meteorological Organisation today published a definitive climate report card showing concentrations of greenhouse gases continue to rise, and the last five years were the warmest on record.
Tropical forests matter to each and every one of us. They suck colossal quantities of carbon out of the atmosphere, providing a crucial brake on the rate of climate change.
The world's top meteorological experts issued the warning as cities and countries around the world reported record-breaking warm winters.
Luxembourg recently became the first country in the world to make all public transport free.
Up to half of the world’s sandy beaches are at risk of disappearing by the end of this century if no action is taken to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
I recently watched an interview with David Attenborough, in which he was asked whether there is hope that things can get better for our planet.
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that without a substantial decrease in our use of fossil fuels, we are on track for a global average increase of 2℃ in the next few decades, with extremes of between 3 to 6℃ at higher latitudes.
A quarter of climate-related tweets in the studied period—around when Trump announced plans to ditch the Paris agreement—came from bots.
A common demand in discussions about climate change is to respect the science. This is appropriate. We should all be paying close attention to the urgent and terrifying conclusions being published by climate scientists.
As the brutal reality of climate change dawned this summer, you may have asked yourself a hard question: am I well-prepared to live in a warmer world?
If you’re a traveller who cares about reducing your carbon footprint, are some airlines better to fly with than others?
Successful implementation of the Paris agreement targets could help reduce extinctions considerably, possibly to 16% or less by 2070, according to lead author Cristian Román-Palacios.
The relationship between atmospheric CO2 levels and climate change is often perceived as a controversial subject.
Achieving the Paris Climate Agreement goal of keeping global warming to 1.5°C requires a worldwide transformation to carbon-neutral societies within the next 30 years.
To get people to stop and pay attention, successful advertising delivers information simply and with an emotional hook so that consumers notice and, hopefully, make a purchase.
Evidence suggests the number of species going extinct, and the rate at which they disappear, is increasing dramatically.
The world’s largest polar research expedition is currently underway in the Arctic. The year-long expedition, known as the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC), involves 300 researchers from 19 countries.
Australia’s recent bushfire crisis will be remembered for many things – not least, the tragic loss of life, property and landscape.
When we talk about innovations to deal with the climate crisis, we tend to think of new technologies developed by physical scientists.
The Bank for International Settlements – the “central bank” for central banks – made headlines with a report outlining how the next major financial crisis may come from unexpected climate risks.
Experienced anglers recognize that for a trout, the ultimate “steak dinner” is a stonefly or mayfly.
This erasure of one government’s climate project by its successor was only the tip of the melting iceberg.
It’s far easier to avoid burning fossil fuels than it is to clean up CO₂ emissions once they’re in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Can the future be predicted? Most certainly. Can anyone or anything predict the future with any certainty?
Between the summer of 2015 and the spring of 2016, a marine heatwave swept the northern Pacific Ocean that was hotter and lasted longer than any since records began in 1870.
Noisy reefs are a very good thing. So good, in fact, that we might be able to use the sound of healthy coral reefs to improve the quickly increasing number of degraded ones.
For over a quarter of a century, United Nations climate negotiations have failed to reach a legally binding treaty.
This analysis shows that we're heading in the wrong direction and really need to slow emissions growth from the oil, gas, and petrochemical industries.
Have you ever wondered how our native wildlife manage to stay alive when an inferno is ripping through their homes, and afterwards when there is little to eat and nowhere to hide?
Mayors Bill de Blasio of New York and Sadiq Khan of London on Tuesday urged every major city in the world to divest from the fossil fuel industries that are wrecking the planet.
How does your food shop affect the planet? Well, think of it like this
2019 might well be remembered as the year the world caught fire. Some 2.9 million hectares of eastern Australia have been incinerated in the past few months, an area roughly the same size as Belgium.
The catastrophic bushfires raging across much of Australia have not only taken a huge human and economic toll, but also delivered heavy blows to biodiversity and ecosystem function.
Climate researchers can now detect the fingerprint of global warming in daily weather observations at the global scale.