Global warming will cause ecosystems to produce more methane than first predicted

Global warming will cause ecosystems to produce more methane than first predicted

SOURCE: University of London, Nature Climate Change DATE: June 29, 2020 SNIP: New research suggests that as the Earth warms natural ecosystems will release more of the greenhouse gas methane than expected from predictions based on temperature increases alone. The study, published today in Nature Climate Change, attributes this difference to changes in the balance of microbial communities within ecosystems that regulate methane emissions. The production and removal of methane from ecosystems is regulated by two types of microorganisms, methanogens – which naturally produce methane – and methanotrophs that remove methane by converting it into carbon dioxide. Previous research has suggested that these two natural processes show different sensitivities to temperature and could therefore be affected differently by global warming. Research led by Queen Mary University of London and the University of Warwick studied the impact of global warming on freshwater microbial communities and methane emissions by observing the effect of experimental warming of artificial ponds over 11 years. They found that warming produced a disproportionate increase in methane production over methane removal, resulting in increased methane emissions that exceeded temperature-based predictions. Professor Mark Trimmer, Professor of Biogeochemistry at Queen Mary, said: “Our observations show that the increase in methane emissions we see is beyond what you could predict based on a simple physiological response to the temperature increase.” Dr Kevin Purdy, Associate Professor of Microbial Ecology at Warwick, added: “Our studies have led to a better understanding of how global warming can affect methane emissions from freshwaters. This means that future predictions of methane emissions need to take into account how ecosystems and their resident microbial communities will...
Russian mining giant admits pumping wastewater into Arctic tundra

Russian mining giant admits pumping wastewater into Arctic tundra

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: June 28, 2020 SNIP: A Russian mining giant said on Sunday it had suspended workers at a metals plant who were responsible for pumping wastewater into nearby Arctic tundra. Independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta published videos from the scene showing large metal pipes carrying wastewater from the reservoir and dumping foaming liquid among nearby trees. A source told Interfax news agency on Sunday that about 6,000 cubic metres of liquid used to process minerals at the facility had been dumped, and that the discharge had lasted “several hours”. It was impossible to determine how far the wastewater had dispersed, the source said. Norilsk Nickel cited a “flagrant violation of operating rules” in a statement announcing it had suspended employees responsible for dumping wastewater from a dangerously full reservoir into the natural environment. The incident occurred at the Talnakh enrichment plant near the Arctic city of Norilsk, the company said. It comes a month an unprecedented fuel leak at one of the company’s subsidiary plants near Norilsk saw President Vladimir Putin declare a state of emergency. More than 21,000 tonnes of diesel leaked from a fuel storage tank, with the fuel seeping into the soil and dying nearby waterways bright red. The Novaya Gazeta journalists reported the factory funnelled the wastewater into wildlife areas and hastily removed their pipes when investigators and emergency services arrived on the...
China’s Three Gorges Dam, Largest in World, In Danger of Collapse After Worst Floods in 70 Years

China’s Three Gorges Dam, Largest in World, In Danger of Collapse After Worst Floods in 70 Years

SOURCE: Breaking Israel News DATE: June 26, 2020 SNIP: Weeks of heavy rain have put the Three Gorges Dam, the largest hydropower project in the world, in danger of collapse putting 400 million people at risk. The flooding has been described as the worst since 1949 with natural disasters being declared in 24 provinces and municipalities in the southwest and central China, especially in areas near the upper reaches of the Yangtze River and the Three Gorges Dam, causing the reservoir’s water level to exceed the flood control line. The water level in China’s massive Three Gorges Reservoir reached 147 meters on Saturday, two meters above the flood warning line. Meanwhile, the inflow increased to 26,500 cubic meters per second from 20,500 cubic meters per second on the previous day. An estimated 400 million people live downstream of the Three Gorges Dam. The Ministry of Water Resources said that 148 rivers had exceeded warning levels. For the first time in history the Chongqing section of the Qijiang River Basin issued a red warning, signifying a flood of more than 10 meters. More than 40,000 people have so far been evacuated. Made of concrete and steel, the dam is 7,661 feet long and the concrete dam wall is 594 feet high above the rock basis. The dam caused considerable controversy when it was built, displacing over a million people and submerging large areas of the Qutang, Wu and Xiling gorges for about 600km. The dam flooded archaeological and cultural sites and caused significant ecological changes including an increased risk of landslides. The dam has been controversial both domestically and abroad...
B.C. First Nations say sea lice spreading from fish farms to wild salmon

B.C. First Nations say sea lice spreading from fish farms to wild salmon

SOURCE: CTV News DATE: June 26, 2020 SNIP: The First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC), which represents First Nations from across the province, is calling for an end to open net-pen salmon farming in B.C. The FNLC says that among its chief concerns is that farmed salmon may be spreading sea lice to salmon stocks throughout B.C.’s waters, which is lethal to juvenile wild salmon. While the leadership council acknowledges that there are other contributing factors to a decline in salmon stocks over the past several years, the FNLC cites a study conducted by the Cohen Commission which recommends shutting down net-pen fish farms in the Discovery Islands if they pose a health risk to wild salmon. The DFO says that if net-pen salmon farms in the Discovery Islands are scientifically proven to “pose more than a minimal risk of serious harm” to wild fish stocks, then fish farms in the area will be required to close. The FNLC says that now is the time for the DFO to take action, as a recent report published by fish farm companies Mowi, Cermaq and Grieg suggest that sea lice is now appearing in farmed salmon at rates that exceed limits imposed by the government. “We have known for years that open net-pen salmon farming is one of the main contributors to the massive decline in wild salmon stocks in this province,” said BC Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Terry Teegee. “The federal and provincial governments have been taking a piecemeal approach to this problem, with long timeframes for transition to closed containment pens, and only in a few places. We...
Arctic Ocean acidification could reach levels far greater than predicted if emissions stay high

Arctic Ocean acidification could reach levels far greater than predicted if emissions stay high

SOURCE: The Narwhal DATE: June 26, 2020 SNIP: The Arctic Ocean could absorb 20 per cent more carbon than previously predicted before the end of the century, according to a recent study. It’s a jump that could result in even more acidification, jeopardizing marine wildlife. About 7.5 billion tonnes of carbon was projected to be absorbed by the Arctic Ocean in previous estimates, said Jens Terhaar, the lead author of the research paper, released this month in the journal Nature. The new study — a joint undertaking between the University of Bern in Switzerland and École normale supérieure in Paris — found that this number is actually 1.5 billion tonnes higher (under what’s commonly known as the ‘business as usual’ or RCP8.5 high emissions scenario), reaching 9 billion tonnes of carbon absorbed by 2100. While the Arctic Ocean represents 1 per cent of global seawater, it’s by far the most vulnerable to a changing climate, Terhaar said. “That’s mainly just because it’s very cold and colder water holds more carbon.” The Arctic, in general, will bear the most severe effects of climate change, the study...
What a 100-degree day in Siberia really means

What a 100-degree day in Siberia really means

SOURCE: National Geographic DATE: June 23, 2020 SNIP: An extended heat wave that has been baking the Russian Arctic for months drove the temperature in Verkhoyansk, Russia—north of the Arctic Circle—to 100.4°F on June 20, the official first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. This record high temperature is a signal of a rapidly and continually warming planet, and a preview of how Arctic warming will continue in an increasingly hot future, scientists say. “For a long time, we’ve been saying we’re going to get more extremes like strong heat waves,” says Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist at the Danish Meteorological Institute. “It’s a little like the projections are coming true, and sooner than we might have thought.” Saturday’s record wasn’t just a quick spike before a return to more normal summer temperatures for the Russian Arctic: The heat wave behind it is projected to continue for at least another week. It was the hottest temperature ever recorded in the town, where records have been kept since 1885. [C]limate change is “loading the dice” toward extreme temperatures like the one recorded this week…. The Arctic is warming more than twice as fast as the rest of the planet: Baseline warmth in the high Arctic has increased by between 3.6 to 5.4°F(2 to 3°C) over the past hundred or so years. About 0.75°C of that has occurred in the last decade alone. That means any heat waves that hit the region are strengthened by the extra warming. So the average warmness of a summer increases, and the extremes do too. This month’s super-hot day emerged from a potent mix...