NASA shocker: Last month was hottest July, and hottest month, on record

NASA shocker: Last month was hottest July, and hottest month, on record

SOURCE: Think Progress DATE: Aug 15, 2017 SNIP: July 2017 has narrowly topped July 2016 as the hottest July on record, according to a shocking analysis by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) released Tuesday. As a result, July 2017 is statistically tied with August 2016 (and July 2016) as the hottest month on record. What’s so surprising here is that records for warmest month or year almost invariably occur when the underlying human-caused global warming trend gets a temporary boost from an El Niño’s enhanced warming in the tropical Pacific. But whereas 2016 set its temperature records boosted by one of the strongest El Niño’s on record, 2017 is setting records in the absence of any El Niño at...
New study: ‘Super heat waves’ of 131°F coming if global warming continues unchecked

New study: ‘Super heat waves’ of 131°F coming if global warming continues unchecked

SOURCE: Think Progress DATE: Aug 14, 2017 SNIP: In Europe, the recent heat wave was so extreme — with temperatures reaching 111°F (44°C), fueling wildfires and wasp attacks — it was nicknamed “Lucifer.” In the Middle East, as temperatures soared to 121°F (50°C), “birds in Kuwait have reportedly been dropping from the sky,” the International Business Times reported Friday. But, new research says, we ain’t seen nothing yet. A new study by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Union’s science and research lab, finds that “if global temperatures rise with 4°C [7°F], a new super heat wave of 55°C [131°F] can hit regularly many parts of the world, including Europe” and the United States. Chart: On the left are the chances of heatwave each year exceeding a heat index of 40°C (104°F) in three scenarios of global warming: 1.5°C, 2°C, and 4°C. On the right are the chances of annual heat waves in the region exceeding a heat index of...
Thirty Years After the Montreal Protocol, Solving the Ozone Problem Remains Elusive

Thirty Years After the Montreal Protocol, Solving the Ozone Problem Remains Elusive

SOURCE: Yale e360 DATE: Aug 14, 2017 SNIP: Did the Montreal Protocol fix the ozone hole? It seemed so. With chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone-eating chemicals banned, many scientists said it was only a matter of time before the ozone layer recharged, and the annual hole over Antarctica healed for good. But 30 years on, some atmospheric chemists are not so sure. The healing is proving painfully slow. And new discoveries about chemicals not covered by the protocol are raising fears that full recovery could be postponed into the 22nd century – or possibly even prevented altogether. …[I]n the past five years, evidence has emerged that potential ozone-eating compounds can reach the ozone layer much faster than previously thought. Under some weather conditions, just a few days may be enough. And that means a wide range of much more short-lived compounds threaten the ozone layer – chemicals not covered by the Montreal Protocol. These compounds are all around us. They are widely used as industrial solvents for tasks like degreasing and dry cleaning. And their releases into the atmosphere are increasing fast. … [Jonathan Shanklin of the British Antarctic Survey] says an important reason for the sluggish recovery of the ozone layer is global warming. As increased levels of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide trap more solar heat radiating from the Earth’s surface, less warmth reaches the stratosphere, which cools as a result. This trend has been evident for almost 40 years. A colder stratosphere improves conditions for ozone loss. Climate change “could delay the recovery of the ozone hole well into the second half of this century,”...
Scientists discover 91 volcanoes below Antarctic ice sheet

Scientists discover 91 volcanoes below Antarctic ice sheet

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: Aug 12, 2017 SNIP: Scientists have uncovered the largest volcanic region on Earth – two kilometres below the surface of the vast ice sheet that covers west Antarctica. The project, by Edinburgh University researchers, has revealed almost 100 volcanoes – with the highest as tall as the Eiger, which stands at almost 4,000 metres in Switzerland. “If one of these volcanoes were to erupt it could further destabilise west Antarctica’s ice sheets,” said glacier expert Robert Bingham, one of the paper’s authors. “Anything that causes the melting of ice – which an eruption certainly would – is likely to speed up the flow of ice into the sea.” The discovery is particularly important because the activity of these volcanoes could have crucial implications for the rest of the planet. If one erupts, it could further destabilise some of the region’s ice sheets, which have already been affected by global warming. Meltwater outflows into the Antarctic ocean could trigger sea level rises. “We just don’t know about how active these volcanoes have been in the past,” Bingham said. However, he pointed to one alarming trend: “The most volcanism that is going in the world at present is in regions that have only recently lost their glacier covering – after the end of the last ice age. These places include Iceland and Alaska.” “Theory suggests that this is occurring because, without ice sheets on top of them, there is a release of pressure on the regions’ volcanoes and they become more...
Iraq sends workers home as ‘ungodly’ heat grips Middle East

Iraq sends workers home as ‘ungodly’ heat grips Middle East

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: Aug 11, 2017 SNIP: While Europe battles with a heatwave named Lucifer, the Middle East is enduring a summer so brutal that even those accustomed to Baghdad’s searing August weather are labelling it “ungodly”. As temperatures rose towards 51C (124F) on Thursday, Iraq’s government declared a mandatory holiday, allowing civil servants to shelter at home. So far this month in the Iraqi capital, every day but one has reached 48C or higher, and the forecast is for the high temperatures to continue for the next week. In Kuwait, where birds have reportedly dropped from the skies, and Riyadh, where building work has ceased this week, locals have called for mercy from a hotter-than-normal air mass that has remained nearly stationary over central Arabia for more than three weeks, stretching the capacity of electricity networks beyond...