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Rise in Temperature of Atlantic Ocean Causes Severe Hurricanes: Study

Even as hurricanes get stronger and more numerous, forecasters may be able to get ahead of the game, or ahead of the storm, and ultimately save lives.

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Hurricanes
Destroyed communities are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico. VOA

A new study is blaming 2017’s unusually high number of hurricanes on the Atlantic Ocean’s rising surface temperatures. The report is one of the first to suggest that human-driven global warming is actually causing more hurricanes.

The study published in last week’s journal Science also predicts that as warming increases over the next 50 to 100 years, about two more hurricanes on average will form annually than we get now. In addition, those hurricanes will be stronger and wetter.

‘The new normal’

It’s a common refrain in these days to refer to outrageous weather events as “the new normal,” but those claims have been hard to quantify. Scientists do know the Earth is getting warmer, and evidence shows humans are contributing to the problem. But scientists have warned against attributing individual weather events to changes in climate, explaining that weather and climate are two different things.

But by any standard, 2017 was a tough year for people living on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States. Hurricane Harvey turned parts of coastal Texas and the city of Houston into a watery mess. And Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico so badly, the island only completed its power restoration projects in August of this year.

Hurricanes
Interstate Highway 45 is submerged from the effects of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas. VOA

Using a new climate model, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration began studying a particular swath of warming tropical Atlantic water near the equator. Speaking to VOA, author Hiro Murakami says water was especially warm last year and their model predicted about two more major hurricanes than usual. In reality, there were two more than average.

Get used to it, Murakami says. When this area of Atlantic water gets unusually warm, as it did in 2017, the U.S. should expect at least two extra hurricanes a year, he explains, adding that as the planet warms, that area of the Atlantic should heat up more and more often.

“Last year we saw six major hurricanes,” he said. “But these six could be eight major hurricanes in the future given the same summer conditions.”

That’s bad news for people who live near the coast and for the government officials who have to prepare for the massive storms.

Climate Change, Hurricanes
Russ Lewis covers his eyes from a gust of wind and a blast of sand as Hurricane Florence approaches Myrtle Beach, S.C.. VOA

Tom Delworth, another NOAA researcher who contributed to the study, says the new model can predict not only what’s going to happen this season, but also “100 years in the future.” And, he says, “50 to 60 years in advance, later in this century, the most intense storms will become even more intense category 4 and 5. They will be even stronger.”

Delworth and Murakami say their model is also applicable to typhoons in the Pacific, and warming waters there should have a similar effect in regions getting battered by those late summer storms.

Future hurricanes

Both researchers pointed to the unique value of the model in being able to predict hurricanes in the next week, the next month and the next century. However, they admit that while their model can fairly accurately predict what the hurricane seasons will look like in the months and years ahead, it can’t predict specific storms.

What good is it to know that more hurricanes are coming if we don’t know exactly where and when? Delworth says it can be incredibly empowering for first responders as they prepare for any given hurricane season. “Let’s have a lot of emergency supplies on hand,” he suggested, as an example, “because we think this is going to happen.”

Also Read: Paris Adopts Climate Change Action Plan, Aims At Achieving a ‘Zero Carbon’ future

He also says that every year, little by little, modelers and climate scientists are getting better and better at what they do. “That’s a very optimistic thing,” Delworth said. So, even as hurricanes get stronger and more numerous, forecasters may be able to get ahead of the game, or ahead of the storm, and ultimately save lives. (VOA)

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Deep Sea Life Under Threat as Global Warming Reaches Ocean Depths: Research

Animals living in the deep ocean are more exposed to climate warming and will face increasing challenges

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Global warming
Global warming is seriously affecting deep sea life. Pixabay

Even though the deeper layers of the ocean are warming at a slower pace than the surface, animals living in the deep ocean are more exposed to climate warming and will face increasing challenges to maintain their preferred thermal habitats in the future, warn researchers. The study led by the University of Queensland in Australia and published in the Nature Climate Change, looked at how ocean life was responding to climate change.

“We used a metric known as climate velocity which defines the likely speed and direction a species shifts as the ocean warms,” said study researcher Isaac Brito-Morales. The international team of researchers calculated the climate velocity throughout the ocean for the past 50 years and then for the rest of this century using data from 11 climate models. “This allowed us to compare climate velocity in four ocean depth zones – assessing in which zones biodiversity could shift their distribution the most in response to climate change,” Brito-Morales said.

The researchers found climate velocity is currently twice as fast at the surface because of greater surface warming, and as a result, deeper-living species are less likely to be at risk from climate change than those at the surface. “However by the end of the century, assuming we have a high-emissions future, there is not only much greater surface warming but also this warmth will penetrate deeper,” Brito-Morales said.

Global warming
Researchers believe that action must be taken to aggressively manage carbon emissions and global warming. Pixabay

In waters between a depth of 200 and 1000 metres, The research showed climate velocities accelerated to 11 times the present rate.”And in an interesting twist, not only is climate velocity moving at different speeds at different depths in the ocean, but also in different directions which poses huge challenges to the ways we design protected areas,” Brito-Morales added. The research team believed action must be taken to aggressively manage carbon emissions.

“Significantly reducing carbon emissions is vital to control warming and to help take control of climate velocities in the surface layers of the ocean by 2100,” said study researcher Anthony Richardson. “But because of the immense size and depth of the ocean, warming already absorbed at the ocean surface will mix into deeper waters,” he added.

Also Read: Here’s How Yoga Can Help Fight Menstrual Problems

This means that marine life in the deep ocean will face escalating threats from ocean warming until the end of the century, no matter what we do now. “This leaves only one option – act urgently to alleviate other human-generated threats to deep-sea life, including seabed mining and deep-sea bottom fishing,” the authors wrote. (IANS)

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36% Consumers Would Like Devices to Offer Guidance on Environment: Report

36% consumers want guidance on environment from devices

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consumers
36% consumers would prefer being guided on environment by devices. Pixabay

While nearly half of consumers worldwide see technological innovation as critical to tackling future environmental challenges, about 36 per cent would like their devices to offer guidance on leading a more environmentally conscious life, an Ericsson report said on Wednesday.

Interestingly, consumers who think technology will be crucial in solving future environmental challenges express almost twice the interest in various ICT solutions to help them live more environmentally consciously, compared to others, said the report “Consumers, sustainability and ICT”.

“ICT tools and services can play a significant part in assisting consumer’s daily efforts to reduce their personal environmental impact,” Zeynep Ahmet Vidal, Senior Researcher at Ericsson Consumer & IndustryLab and author of the report, said in a statement.

Consumers
Consumers who think technology will be crucial in solving future environmental challenges express almost twice the interest in various ICT solutions. Pixabay

The consumers do perceive ICT as helpful as an aid in their daily life, be it for environmental, health, cost or convenience-related reasons.

“But ICT also has the potential to enable future innovation in climate action, and here the service providers have a unique opportunity and position to provide novel solutions that can aid consumers in making more sustainable choices in daily life,” Vidal said.

The findings of Ericsson’s latest ConsumerLab report is based on a quantitative study of 12,000 Internet users from across the world.

The countries involved in the study include India, the US, Brazil, the UK, Germany, Spain, Russia, South Africa, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, China and Australia. The sample consists of 1,000 respondents from each country.

The report uncovers the current consumer mindset of leading environmentally sustainable lifestyles.

In the last two decades alone, concern about air and water pollution has risen from concerning one in five consumers, to almost one in two, the research showed.

While consideration for climate change and global warming has also risen from 13 per cent of consumers to 50 per cent.

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Global warming has also risen from 13 per cent of consumers to 50 per cent. Pixabay

Also Read: Bullying a Common Factor Leading to LGBTQ Youth Suicides: Researchers

The study also includes consumers’ thoughts on where ultimate responsibility lies in mitigating environmental impact.

Globally, 8 in 10 consumers consider governments as being responsible for environmental protection.

While approximately 70 per cent consider that citizens should also be responsible, 5 in 10 expect companies and brands to uphold their share of the responsibility, said the report. (IANS)

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What is More Dangerous? COVID-19 or Climate Change?

UN Weather Organization: Climate Change May Pose Bigger Danger Than COVID

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Climate crisis COVID-19
If we are unable to mitigate climate change, we will see persistent health problems, especially hunger and the ability to feed the growing population of the world. VOA

By Lisa Schlein

The World Meteorological Organization is warning that if the planet keeps warming at its current pace, the average global temperature could increase by 1.5 degrees C  in the next 10 years.  This rise would worsen extreme weather events, and many of the dangerous effects of climate change might become irreversible, it said.

WMO reported Wednesday that the national lockdowns of transportation, industry and energy production because of the coronavirus pandemic have resulted in a 6 percent drop of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.

However, WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said this good news would be short-lived.  He said the startup of industry might even trigger a boost in emissions.  He said the pandemic also was making it more difficult to monitor and manage weather and other hazards.

Climate crisis COVID-19
Petteri Taalas, Secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) attends a news conference on the annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin on concentrations of CO2 in climate at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. VOA

“This current COVID crisis has led to the decrease in some measurements,” he said. For example, “airline companies have been carrying out measurements.  Since we have very few flights nowadays, we have less measurements from the aircraft, which is having a negative impact on the quality of the forecasts.”

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While the world is in the throes of tackling two big issues at the same time, Taalas said, the magnitude of problems associated with climate change is much greater than that of COVID.  He said health and economic problems resulting from the pandemic were devastating but noted they would last only a few years.

Also Read- Astrology, Zodiac Sign and COVID-19: What is the relation?

“If we are unable to mitigate climate change, we will see persistent health problems, especially hunger and the ability to feed the growing population of the world, and there will be also more massive impact on economies,” he said.

Taalas said the world needs to show the same determination and unity against climate change as against COVID-19.  He said people everywhere need to act together in the interests of the health and welfare of humanity, for the sake of this and future generations. (VOA)