Climate

Droughts could push parts of Africa back into famine
December 19, 2011 11:57 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

Drought and erratic rains could lead to further food scarcities in Africa warns the United Nations World Food Program (WFP). The WFP singles out South Sudan, the world's newest nation, and Niger as nations of particular concern. Earlier this year famine killed scores of people, including an estimated 30,000 children, in Somalia. In South Sudan drought and ongoing conflict threaten food supplies for 2.7 million people.

Challenges to Wine-making in a Warming World
December 19, 2011 09:42 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Perhaps the largest impact of global climate change will be on agriculture, and there is no crop more sensitive to changes in climate than wine grapes. As temperatures rise and average precipitation levels change, the signature wine-making regions such as those in France and California will be forced to adapt. There have been studies conducted analyzing the influence of weather and climate on wine since long before climate change made the headlines. Recently, studies have modeled climate change's effects up to 100 years into the future. The expected impacts are not bad at first, but in the end, they are not good.

Southwest, plains face blizzard warnings
December 19, 2011 06:38 AM - Reuters, OKLAHOMA CITY

The panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma were placed under a blizzard warning on Sunday as the Southwest and plains states braced for two days of bitter cold, heavy snow, rain and high winds. The storm is expected to produce up to 16 inches of snow and wind gusting to 50 mph in the first major snowstorm of the winter for Texas and Oklahoma, the National Weather Service said. A blizzard watch was also in effect until Tuesday for parts of Colorado, New Mexico and Kansas, with high winds and up to a more than a foot of snow expected across the region. The storm was expected to edge into the mountains of Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado before heading east on Sunday night or Monday morning, the agency said in a statement. By Monday night, conditions further east in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles are expected to have deteriorated so much that officials warned motorists to stay off the roads. A blizzard watch or warning means forecasters believe life-threatening winter weather conditions are likely, including winds of at least 35 mph and visibility less than a quarter mile. The mix of rain and snow will move into the Chicago and Detroit areas on Tuesday, forecasters said. In Guymon, in the Oklahoma Panhandle, emergency management officials met on Sunday to go over storm preparations.

Biochar Value to Glacial Soils and Green House Gases
December 15, 2011 04:22 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Adding a charred biomass material called biochar to glacial soils can help reduce emissions of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists. Studies by scientists with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are providing valuable information about how biochar-the charred biomass created from wood, plant material, and manure-interacts with soil and crops. As part of this effort, ARS scientists in St. Paul, Minn., are studying biochar activity in soils formed from glacial deposits. ARS Soil and Water Management Research Unit in St. Paul, found that amending glacial soils with biochar made from macadamia nut shells reduced a range of greenhouse gas emissions.

Melting Glaciers Reveal Future Alpine World
December 15, 2011 08:28 AM - Editor, Science Daily

ScienceDaily (Dec. 14, 2011) — In a hundred years trees may be growing where there are now glaciers. The warm climate of the last few years has caused dramatic melting of glaciers in the Swedish mountains. Remains of trees that have been hidden for thousands of years have been uncovered. They indicate that 13,000 years ago there were trees where there are now glaciers. The climate may have been as much as 3.5 degrees warmer than now. In other words, this can happen again, according to Lisa ×berg, a doctoral candidate at Mid Sweden University in a new study.

Romanian Drought, Power, Crops and Survival
December 14, 2011 03:27 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

The Danube runs from Germany to the Black Sea. It is a long river with many countries on it. Now it is running low due to drought. It has run low before around 2007 most recently. It threatens people, crops, and even nuclear reactors. The nuclear power plant in Cernavodă is the only nuclear power plant in Romania. It produces around 20% of the country's electricity. It uses CANDU reactor technology using heavy water produced at Drobeta-Turnu Severin as its neutron moderator and water from the Danube – Black Sea Canal for cooling.

Vast Stores of Methane Are Released from under the Arctic
December 14, 2011 11:00 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Deep under the icy waters of the Arctic, Russian scientists have discovered the release of vast stores of methane, the potent greenhouse gas, far worse than CO2. The scientists sampled the waters along the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, and discovered that the methane that was once dormant at the sea floor is starting bubble up to the surface in enormous plumes. As the climate warms in the Arctic, the sea ice retreats, the sunlight penetrates the water, and the frozen sea floor thaws, causing the release of methane in a gaseous state. The Russian team found over 100 sites where large quantities of methane were released, indicating accelerated Arctic warming into the future.

UN: Canada, out of Kyoto, must still cut emissions
December 14, 2011 08:41 AM - Editor, Reuters, LONDON

Canada still has a legal obligation under United Nations rules to cut its emissions despite the country's pullout from the Kyoto Protocol, the U.N. climate chief said on Tuesday. Christiana Figueres also said the timing of Canada's move, a day after a deal to extend the protocol was clinched at a U.N. summit in South Africa, was regrettable and surprising.

Dying Aspen
December 13, 2011 02:41 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Over the past 10 years, the death of forest trees due to drought and increased temperatures has been documented on all continents except Antarctica. This can in turn drive global warming by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere by trees and by releasing carbon locked up in their wood. New research led by Carnegie researcher and Stanford University PhD student William Anderegg offers evidence for the physiological mechanism governing tree death in a drought. The work is published the week of December 12 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study concentrated on the aspen die-off, called Sudden Aspen Decline or SAD which began after severe droughts between 2000 and 2004 and affects about 17 percent of aspen forests in Colorado, as well as parts of the western United States and Canada. SAD continued through 2010, when the research was conducted.The aspens are all native to cold regions with cool summers, in the north of the Northern Hemisphere, extending south at high altitudes in the mountains. They are all medium-sized deciduous trees reaching (50–100 feet tall.

Rising Greenland
December 13, 2011 10:37 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

An unusually hot melting season in 2010 accelerated ice loss in southern Greenland by 100 billion tons – and large portions of the island’s bedrock rose an additional quarter of an inch in response. That’s the finding from a network of nearly 50 GPS stations planted along the Greenland coast to measure the bedrock’s natural response to the ever-diminishing weight of ice above it. The Greenland ice sheet is a vast body of ice covering 660,235 square miles, roughly 80% of the surface of Greenland. It is the second largest ice body in the world, after the Antarctic Ice Sheet. The ice sheet is almost 1,500 miles long in a north-south direction, and its greatest width is 680 miles at a latitude of 77°N, near its northern margin. The mean altitude of the ice is 7,005 feet.

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