Earth barreling toward ‘Hothouse’ state not seen in 50 million years, epic new climate record shows

Earth barreling toward ‘Hothouse’ state not seen in 50 million years, epic new climate record shows

SOURCE: Live Science and Science DATE: September 10, 2020 SNIP: Sixty-six million years ago, after a massive asteroid hit Earth with the explosive energy of roughly 1 billion nuclear bombs, a shroud of ash, dust and vaporized rock covered the sky and slowly rained down on the planet. As plant and animal species died en masse, tiny undersea amoebas called forams continued to reproduce, building sturdy shells out of calcium and other deep-sea minerals, just as they had for hundreds of millions of years. When each foram inevitably died — pulverized into seabed sediment — they kept a little piece of Earth’s ancient history alive in their fossilized shells. For decades, scientists have studied those shells, finding clues about the ancient Earth’s ocean temperatures, its carbon budget and the composition of minerals spilling through the air and seas. Now, in a new study published today (Sept. 10) in the journal Science, researchers have analyzed the chemical elements in thousands of foram samples to build the most detailed climate record of Earth ever — and it reveals just how dire our current climate situation is. The new paper, which comprises decades of deep-ocean drilling missions into a single record, details Earth’s climate swings across the entire Cenozoic era — the 66 million-year period that began with the death of the dinosaurs and extends to the present epoch of human-induced climate change. The results show how Earth transitioned through four distinct climate states — dubbed the Warmhouse, Hothouse, Coolhouse and Icehouse states — in response to changes in the planet’s orbit, greenhouse gas levels and the extent of polar ice sheets....
US south-west in grip of historic ‘megadrought’

US south-west in grip of historic ‘megadrought’

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: May 29, 2020 SNIP: When Ken Pimlott began fighting US wildfires at the age of 17, they seemed to him to be a brutal but manageable natural phenomenon. “We had periodic [fire] sieges in the 80s, but there were breaks in between,” said Pimlott, the former head of the California department of forestry and fire protection. But no longer. “That doesn’t really happen any more. Now you can’t even blink” between fires, he said. “We’re seeing the kinds of fires we have never seen before.” A recent study published in the journal Science helps explains why, revealing that the south-western US is in the grip of a 20-year megadrought – a period of severe aridity that is stoking fires, depleting reservoirs and putting a strain on water supplies to the states of the region. “You see impacts everywhere, in snowpacks, reservoir levels, agriculture, groundwater and tree mortality,” said co-author Benjamin Cook, of Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory. “Droughts are these amazingly disruptive events. Water sits at the foundation of everything.” Researchers compared soil moisture records from 2000-2019 to other drought events from the past 1,200 years. They found that the current period is worse than all but one of five megadroughts identified in the record. Unlike past megadroughts – brought on by natural fluctuations in the Earth’s climate – this current drought has been heavily influenced by human-induced climate change, “pushing what would have been a moderate drought in south-western North America into megadrought territory”, according to the study. “Global warming has made the drought much worse than it otherwise would have been,” said...
Antarctic temperature rises above 20C for first time on record

Antarctic temperature rises above 20C for first time on record

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: February 13, 2020 SNIP: The Antarctic has registered a temperature of more than 20C (68F) for the first time on record, prompting fears of climate instability in the world’s greatest repository of ice. The 20.75C logged by Brazilian scientists at Seymour Island on 9 February was almost a full degree higher than the previous record of 19.8C, taken on Signy Island in January 1982. It follows another recent temperature record: on 6 February an Argentinian research station at Esperanza measured 18.3C, which was the highest reading on the continental Antarctic peninsula. These records will need to be confirmed by the World Meteorological Organization, but they are consistent with a broader trend on the peninsula and nearby islands, which have warmed by almost 3C since the pre-industrial era – one of the fastest rates on the planet. Scientists, who collect the data from remote monitoring stations every three days, described the new record as “incredible and abnormal”. Schaefer said the temperature of the peninsula, the South Shetland Islands and the James Ross archipelago, which Seymour is part of, has been erratic over the past 20 years. After cooling in the first decade of this century, it has warmed rapidly. While temperatures in eastern and central Antarctica are relatively stable, there are growing concerns about west Antarctica, where warming oceans are undermining the huge Thwaites and Pine Island glaciers. Until now, this has led to a relatively low amount of sea-level rise, but this could change rapidly if there is a sustained jump in temperature. On a recent trip with Greenpeace, the Guardian saw glaciers that have...
Antarctica logs hottest temperature on record with a reading of 18.3C

Antarctica logs hottest temperature on record with a reading of 18.3C

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: February 7, 2020 SNIP: Antarctica has logged its hottest temperature on record, with an Argentinian research station thermometer reading 18.3C (65F), beating the previous record by 0.8C. The reading, taken at Esperanza on the northern tip of the continent’s peninsula, beats Antarctica’s previous record of 17.5C, set in March 2015. A tweet from Argentina’s meteorological agency on Friday revealed the record. The station’s data goes back to 1961. Antarctica’s peninsula – the area that points towards South America – is one of the fastest warming places on earth, heating by almost 3C over the past 50 years, according to the World Meteorological Organization. Almost all the region’s glaciers are melting. The Esperanza reading breaks the record for the Antarctic continent. The record for the Antarctic region – that is, everywhere south of 60 degrees latitude – is 19.8C, taken on Signy Island in January 1982. Prof James Renwick, a climate scientist at Victoria University of Wellington, was a member of an ad-hoc World Meteorological Organization committee that has verified previous records in Antarctica. “The reading is impressive as it’s only five years since the previous record was set and this is almost one degree centigrade higher. It’s a sign of the warming that has been happening there that’s much faster than the global average. “To have a new record set that quickly is surprising but who knows how long that will last? Possibly not that long at all.” He said the temperature record at Esperanza was one of the longest-running on the whole continent. Previous research from 2012 found the current rate of warming in...
January 2020 warmest on record: EU climate service

January 2020 warmest on record: EU climate service

SOURCE: France24 DATE: February 4, 2020 SNIP: Last month was the warmest January on record globally, while in Europe temperatures were a balmy three degrees Celsius above the average January from 1981 to 2010, the European Union’s climate monitoring system reported Tuesday. Across a band of countries stretching from Norway to Russia, temperatures were an unprecedented 6C above the same 30-year benchmark, Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) reported in a statement. New temperature highs — monthly, yearly, decadal — have become commonplace due to the impact of climate change, caused mainly by the burning of fossil fuels, scientists say. The five last years have been the hottest on record, as was the ten-year period 2010-2019. 2019 — the second warmest year — was only 0.04C below 2016, when temperatures were boosted by a powerful El Nino, a periodic natural weather phenomenon over the Pacific Ocean. The global record last month was 0.03C above the preceding warmest January, also in 2016. For Europe, last month was “about 0.2C warmer than the previous warmest January in 2007, and 3.1C warmer than the average January in the period 1981-2010,” C3S reported. Records also tumbled in specific locations across the northern reaches of the continent. The village of Sunndalsora in western Norway, for example, hit 19C (66 Fahrenheit) on January 2, more than 25C above the monthly average, while the Swedish town of Orebro saw its warmest January day on the 9th since records began in 1858. Cross-country ski tracks were closed across large swathes of Norway and Sweden. Exceptional above-average temperatures extended over nearly all of Russia as well, and they were...