Cyclone Idai lays bare the fundamental injustice of climate change

Cyclone Idai lays bare the fundamental injustice of climate change

SOURCE: Grist DATE: March 19, 2019 SNIP: A humanitarian catastrophe is underway in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe as the full scale of devastation from Cyclone Idai becomes more clear. The World Meteorological Organization said Idai, which made landfall five days ago, could become the worst tropical cyclone on record in the Southern Hemisphere. Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi fears that 1,000 people may have died in his country alone. The U.N.’s World Food Program called it “a major humanitarian emergency that is getting bigger by the hour.” Nearly 3 million people have been affected across the region, one of the poorest in the world. Cyclone Idai is not a natural disaster; the storm was made worse by climate change, centuries of colonialism, and continuing international injustices. There are at least three major ways that the Mozambique floods are related to climate change: First, a warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor, which makes rainfall more intense. Idai produced more than two feet of rainfall in parts of the region — nearly a year’s worth in just a few days. Second, the region had been suffering from a severe drought in recent years in line with climate projections of overall drying in the region, hardening the soil and enhancing runoff. Third, sea levels are about a foot higher than a century ago, which worsens the effect of coastal flooding farther inland. During four centuries of colonial rule, Mozambique was used as a source of slaves, mines, and plantation agriculture. The nation gained independence from Portugal in 1975 after a 10-year long revolutionary war. A devastating 15-year civil war followed shortly thereafter. But...
Climate change could lead to threefold increase in powerful storms across Europe and North America

Climate change could lead to threefold increase in powerful storms across Europe and North America

SOURCE: Phys.org DATE: November 26, 2018 SNIP: Powerful storms that cause extreme weather conditions such as flooding across Europe and North America, with the potential to wreak social and economic havoc, could increase threefold by the end of the 21st century due to climate change. Pioneering new research, led by Dr. Matt Hawcroft from the University of Exeter, has shown new and detailed information on projections of the frequency of extratropical cyclones. The research shows that unless there is a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, there will be a stark increase in their frequency across large swathes of the Northern Hemisphere. In this new study, the researchers analysed the behaviour of present day and future storms using state-of-the-art modelling and storm tracking techniques. By approaching the analysis in a ‘storm centred’ framework, the team were able to evaluate changes in the frequency and intensity of these extratropical cyclones with more consistency than previous studies have suggested. Importantly, the research team were able to show that models project there would be a threefold increase in the number of the most intensely precipitating extratropical cyclones in both Europe and North America by the end of the...
Global hunger levels rising due to extreme weather, UN warns

Global hunger levels rising due to extreme weather, UN warns

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: September 11, 2018 SNIP: Global hunger has reverted to levels last seen a decade ago, wiping out progress on improving people’s access to food and leaving one in nine people undernourished last year, with extreme weather a leading cause, the UN has warned. Hunger afflicted 821 million people last year, the third annual rise since 2015, with most regions of Africa and much of South America showing worsening signs of food shortages and malnutrition. More than half a billion of the world’s hungry live in Asia. The reversal of progress made in slowing malnutrition in the first half of this decade has caused serious concern among international agencies. Climate shocks, such as droughts and floods, were identified by the UN as “among the key drivers” for the rise in 2017, along with conflict and economic slowdowns. Nearly 100 million people were left dependent on humanitarian aid during the year. According to the report, there are more undernourished people in areas of the world that are highly exposed to extremes of climate. The authors note that there have been more frequent spells of extreme heat in the last five years, and that the nature of rainfall is changing in some areas, with rainy seasons starting earlier or later. Staple crops such as wheat, rice and maize are particularly at risk from climate...
Europe’s freak weather, explained

Europe’s freak weather, explained

SOURCE: Politico DATE: August 16, 2018 SNIP: We’ve all become increasingly used to reports of extreme weather over the past few years. But this summer’s raft of dramatic weather events is significant: Not only does it show what warming can do, it points to the potential large-scale trouble that lurks in the disruption of the planet’s winds and ocean currents. That global warming leads to more heat extremes is not rocket science and has been confirmed by global data analysis. We’re seeing five times more monthly heat records — such as “hottest July on record in California” — now than we would in a stable climate. It’s not just that the weather is doing what it always does, except at a higher temperature level. Rather, there is growing evidence that the dynamics of weather itself are changing. This is currently one of the hottest topics in climate research. The basic idea is that the jet stream — a band of high winds around the Northern Hemisphere that significantly influences our weather in the mid-latitudes — is changing. This phenomenon has been confirmed by data: Researchers showed in 2015 that the jet stream has actually slowed down significantly in recent decades and undulates more. The cause is probably the strong warming of the Arctic, as the jet stream is driven by the temperature contrast between the tropics and the Arctic. Because this temperature difference is getting smaller and smaller, the jet stream is weakening and becoming less stable. The weaker summer circulation means fewer weather changes, so the weather is becoming more persistent. But the atmosphere is not the only...
Climate change is supercharging a hot and dangerous summer

Climate change is supercharging a hot and dangerous summer

SOURCE: Washington Post DATE: July 26, 2018 SNIP: In the town of Sodankyla, Finland, the thermometer on July 17 registered a record-breaking 90 degrees, a remarkable figure given that Sodankyla is 59 miles north of the Arctic Circle, in a region known for winter snowmobiling and an abundance of reindeer. This is a hot, strange and dangerous summer across the planet. Greece is in mourning after scorching heat and high winds fueled wildfires that have killed more than 80 people. Japan recorded its highest temperature in history, 106 degrees, in a heat wave that killed 65 people in a week and hospitalized 22,000, shortly after catastrophic flooding killed 200. Ouargla, Algeria, hit 124 degrees on July 5, a likely record for the continent of Africa. And the 109-degree reading in Quriyat, Oman, on June 28 amazed meteorologists because that wasn’t the day’s high temperature. That was the low . It was the hottest low temperature ever recorded on Earth. The brutal weather has been supercharged by human-induced climate change, scientists say. Climate models for three decades have predicted exactly what the world is seeing this summer. And they predict that it will get hotter — and that what is a record today could someday be the norm. The proximate cause of the Northern Hemisphere bake-off is the unusual behavior of the jet stream, a wavy track of west-to-east-prevailing wind at high altitude. The jet stream controls broad weather patterns, such as high-pressure and low-pressure systems. The extent of climate change’s influence on the jet stream is an intense subject of research. If nothing is done to curb greenhouse-gas emissions,...