CC8C. 2022—What Are the Consequences of Global Warming?

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Articles from 2022

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2022-06-13. ‘Vomiting. The loss of strength’: Southwest heat drives health fears. [] By Joshua Partlow, The Washington Post. Excerpt: LAS VEGAS — Cristian Sanchez’s crew was on the job site by 6 a.m. Saturday, when Las Vegas was just a balmy 90 degrees. By the end of their shift, ripping out dead grass to make way for drought-resistant vegetation, temperatures at Harry Reid International Airport would reach 109 degrees, tied for the daily record set in 1956. Another 109 the day before broke that day’s record, and set the mark for hottest day of the year, part of a late spring heat wave that also blistered Arizona, California, and much of the American southwest. …Sanchez, from Veracruz, Mexico, has spent six years as a landscaper in Las Vegas, and he knew what it looked like when heat became overwhelming. …“Vomiting. The loss of strength,” he said. “When I first began working this way, I felt the heat, with a lot of headaches. But over time, one gets used to it, your body gets accustomed to the heat. And it becomes normal.” But for researchers studying extreme heat here, Sanchez falls neatly into a particularly high risk category for heat-related illness and injury. A study published last month in the International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology that looked at the effects of extreme heat on the health of the outdoor workforce in Nevada, California and Arizona found that heat morbidities increase with years of service on the job. …“That was not expected,” said lead author Erick Bandala,…. He thought newer, unexperienced workers would face the biggest problems. …workers become inured to the threat, even as climate change, driven by the burning of fossil fuels, makes heat waves more frequent and more intense.…

2022-06-04. Climate change is forcing schools to close early for ‘heat days’. By Laura Meckler and Anna Phillips, The Washington Post. Excerpt: With no air conditioning and no money to install it, districts are sending students home. Temperatures kept rising in Philadelphia and Baltimore. Finally, it was just too hot to keep students in classrooms without air conditioning. On Tuesday, both systems let students out early. Climate change poses a growing threat to American schools. Regions where extreme heat was once rare — from the Northeast to the Pacific Northwest — now periodically find their buildings unbearably hot as spring turns to summer and again when classes resume in August or September…. [] 

2022-06-02. How humid air, intensified by climate change, is melting Greenland ice. By Kasha Patel, The Washington Post. Excerpt: The term “atmospheric river” has recently become popularized in media due to its role in extreme weather. As the plume of water vapor makes landfall, it precipitates as rain or snow. In the fall and winter, atmospheric rivers bring much of California’s annual precipitation but can also unleash intense flooding. In July 2021, an atmospheric river brought flooding to Germany, which killed more than 200 people. In Greenland, these warm rivers in the sky also play a role in melting the ice sheet. Amid rising temperatures, Greenland has lost more ice mass than it gained for 25 years in a row. In that time, melting ice from Greenland has added about 0.4 inches to sea level rise — equivalent to adding water from 120 million Olympic-size swimming pools each year. If the entire ice sheet were to melt, sea level could increase by more than 20 feet. In a study released Thursday, Box and his colleagues illuminate how an atmospheric river caused the August 2021 melt event and brought rain to the summit. The explanation foretells a future that could be increasingly common as global temperatures rise due to human-caused climate change, accelerating sea level rise…. [

2022-06-01. ‘Consequences will be dire’: Chile’s water crisis is reaching breaking point. By John Bartlett, The Guardian. Excerpt: Unprecedented drought makes water a national security issue as more than half of Chile’s 19 million population lived in area with ‘severe water scarcity’ by end of 2021. From the Atacama Desert to Patagonia, a 13-year megadrought is straining Chile’s freshwater resources to breaking point.By the end  of 2021, the fourth driest year on record, more than half of Chile’s 19 million population lived in an area suffering from “severe water scarcity”, and in April an unprecedented water rationing plan was announced for the capital, Santiago. In hundreds of rural communities in the centre and north of the country, Chileans are forced to rely on emergency tankers to deliver drinking water. …Many called for a rewrite of Chile’s 1981 water code, a relic of Gen Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship (1973-1990) which enshrines one of the most privatised water systems in the world, allowing people to buy and sell water allocations like stocks. Chile is also the only country in the world that specifically says in its constitution that water rights are treated as private property.… [

2022-05-26. Climate Change Leads to Decline in Lichen Biocrusts. By Derek Smith, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Biological soil crusts, or biocrusts, are communities of living organisms at the soil surface and are known as the “living skin” of dryland ecosystems. They cement soil grains together, thereby protecting dryland soils from erosion. Biocrusts also add critical nutrients to the soil by converting nitrogen in the atmosphere to ammonia, which serves as a kind of fertilizer for plants and microbes. Unfortunately, trampling by livestock and such human activity as driving vehicles off-road make biocrust survival difficult. New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America has suggested that there’s another phenomenon that biocrusts are sensitive to: climate change. …The research was conducted on the Colorado Plateau within the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park in Utah. …Increasing summertime temperatures best explained the decline in lichen cover; lichen cover was lowest in years with the hottest maximum temperatures in June…. [ttps://

2022-05-24. Active Hurricane Season Expected in the Atlantic Ocean. By enessa Duncombe, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: If forecasts are correct, this season will mark the seventh consecutive above-normal hurricane season for the Atlantic. NOAA forecasts out today predict a 65% chance of an above-average season, a 25% chance of a normal season, and a 10% chance of a below-normal season. The ranges account for uncertainty in the data and models of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center…. []

2022-05-19. French dijon mustard supply hit by climate and rising costs, say producers. By Robyn Wilson, The Guardian. Excerpt: Climate change and rising costs are causing supermarkets in France to run out of dijon mustard, raising questions over whether the shortage could spread to other countries. French mustard producers said seed production in 2021 was down 50% after poor harvests, which they said had been brought on by the changing climate in France’s Burgundy region and Canada, the second largest mustard seed producer in the world. It has caused French supermarket shelves to run empty of the condiment, including in several stores visited by the Guardian. One of France’s largest mustard producers, Reine de Dijon, said the shortages were being driven by climate breakdown. The group’s general manager, Luc Vandermaesen, said a “heat dome” in Canada at the beginning of July in 2021 had “really dried up the crops”.… []

2022-05-16. Here Are the Wildfire Risks to Homes Across the Lower 48 States. By Christopher Flavelle and Nadja Popovich, The New York Times. Excerpt: [county-by-county map of the U.S.] New data was used to calculate fire risk to residential and other properties. The threats are rising. …The data, released Monday by the First Street Foundation, a nonprofit research group in New York, comes as rising housing prices in cities and suburbs push Americans deeper into fire-prone areas, with little idea about the specific risk in their new locale.… []

2022-05-15. Caesar’s favourite herb was the Viagra of ancient Rome. Until climate change killed it off. By James Tapper, The Guardian. Excerpt: Of all the mysteries of ancient Rome, silphium is among the most intriguing. Romans loved the herb as much as we love chocolate. They used silphium as perfume, as medicine, as an aphrodisiac and turned it into a condiment, called laser, that they poured on to almost every dish. …Yet it became extinct less than a century later, by the time of Nero, and for nearly 2,000 years people have puzzled over the cause. Researchers now believe it was the first victim of man-made climate change – and warn that we should heed the lesson of silphium or risk losing plants that are the basis of many modern flavours. Paul Pollaro and Paul Robertson of the University of New Hampshire say their research, published in Frontiers in Conservation Science, shows that urban growth and accompanying deforestation changed the local microclimate where silphium grew. “You’ll often see the narrative that it [became extinct] because of a mix of over-harvesting and also over-grazing – sheep were very fond of it and it made the meat more valuable,” Pollaro said. “Our argument is that regardless of how much was harvested, if the climate was changing, silphium was going to go extinct anyway.”.… []

2022-05-14. The Colorado River Is In Crisis, and It’s Getting Worse Everyday. By Karin Brulliard, The Washington Post. Excerpt: …the Colorado’s water was overpromised when it was first allocated a century ago. Demand in the fast-growing Southwest exceeds supply, and it is growing even as supply drops amid a climate change-driven megadrought and rising temperatures. …As temperatures rise, the mountain snowpack that feeds the Colorado river is diminishing over time and melting earlier. That decreasing runoff is more quickly soaking into Western Colorado’s parched terrain and evaporating into its hotter air. Less water is flowing downriver, depriving the ranchers, rafters, anglers and animals who depend on it.… []

2022-05-13. Did Warming Play a Role in Deadly South African Floods? Yes, a Study Says. By Henry Fountain, The New York Times. Excerpt: The heavy rains that caused catastrophic flooding in South Africa in mid-April were made twice as likely to occur by climate change, scientists said Friday. An analysis of the flooding, which killed more than 400 people in Durban and surrounding areas in the eastern part of the country, found that the intense two-day storm that caused it had a 1-in-20 chance of occurring in any given year. If the world had not warmed as a result of human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases, the study found, the chances would have been half that, 1 in 40. The study, by a loose-knit group of climate scientists, meteorologists and disaster experts called World Weather Attribution, is the latest in a string of analyses showing that the damaging effects of global warming, once considered a future problem, have already arrived. And extreme events like this one are expected to increase as warming continues.… []

2022-05-12. Wildfire, Drought, and Insects Threaten Forests in the United States. By Rishika Pardikar, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Western forest managers face a catch-22: They can keep carbon sequestered in trees by reducing controlled burns, but that creates denser forests at greater risk of going up in uncontrolled flames. Wildfire risk to forests across the United States is set to increase by a factor of 4, and tree mortality caused by other climate-induced factors like drought, heat, disease, and insects is set to at least double, new research shows. “Forests in the western half of the U.S. have the highest vulnerability to each of these risks,” said William Anderegg, an associate professor at the University of Utah and lead author of the paper, which was published in Ecology Letters. But risks are not confined to the West. There are wildfire risks in Florida and Georgia, as well as parts of Oklahoma and Texas, and insect and drought risks in the northern Great Lakes states.… []

2022-05-12. The swift march of climate change in North Carolina’s ‘ghost forests’. By Brady Dennis, The Washington Post. Excerpt: …Few examples of climate change are as unmistakable and arresting as the “ghost forests” proliferating along parts of the East Coast — and particularly throughout the Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula of North Carolina. Places where Lanier once stood on dry ground are now in waist-deep water. Forests populated by towering pines, red maple, sweet gum and bald cypress have transitioned to shrub land. Stretches of shrub habitat have given way to marsh. And what once was marsh has succumbed to the encroaching sea. … As sea levels rise, droughts deepen and storms become more intense, saltier water makes its way into these woodlands more readily from surrounding water bodies, as well as deeper into the sprawling network of drainage ditches and irrigation canals created long ago to support the expansion of agriculture. Persistently wet conditions can weaken existing trees. And episodes of saltwater intrusion can push already stressed forests to the breaking point, poisoning the freshwater on which they depend and hastening the death of trees not only at the water’s edge, but in some cases far inland. The result are expanses of dead or dying trees, known as “snags,” that stand as grim monuments to a shifting ecosystem.“This has happened over and over before in geologic time,” says Marcelo Ardón, an ecologist at North Carolina State University. “But now it is happening faster.”.… []

2022-05-12. Record heat fueling violent storms in central U.S.. By Matthew Cappucci and Jason Samenow, The Washington Post. Excerpt: A sprawling dome of summerlike heat has swelled from Texas to Wisconsin and is poised to shatter records in more than a dozen states. Madison, Wis., Chicago, Des Moines, St. Louis, Kansas, Little Rock and New Orleans could all set record highs above 90 degrees Thursday.… []

2022-05-09. As record-setting heat blasts Pakistan, a glacial lake floods village. By Kasha Patel, The Washington Post. Excerpt: Record-high April temperatures over Pakistan melted glaciers faster than normal, triggering a flash flood Saturday in a village in the northern region of the country that wiped out part of a key bridge and damaged homes and buildings. The event, known as a glacial lake outburst flood, occurs when water is suddenly released from a glacial lake because of a dam failure or breach. Warmtemperatures over the past month accelerated snow and ice melt near an ice-dammed lake by Shishpar glacier, near Mount Shishpar, increasing the lake’s volume and likely causing the breachand water to overflow across the top.… []

2022-05-09. India tries to adapt to extreme heat but is paying a heavy price. By Gerry Shih and Kasha Patel, The Washington Post. Excerpt: …Typically, heat waves in India affect only part of the country, occur in the summer and only last for a week or so. But a string of early heat waves this spring has been longer and more widespread than any observed before. India experienced its hottest March on record. Northwest and central India followed with their hottest April. “This probably would be the most severe heat wave in March and April in the entire [recorded] history” of India, said Vimal Mishra, a climate scientist at Indian Institute of TechnologyGandhinagar. …India loses more than 100 billion hours of labor per year because of extreme heat, the most of any country in the world, according to research published in Nature Communications. …The extreme heat is straining not only farmers but also their crops, as high temperatures coincided with the final weeks of the planting season, when grains need cool weather to mature. Devinder Sharma, an agricultural policy expert, said a quarter of every acre of Indian wheat could be lost to the heat.… []

2022-05-02. ‘We are living in hell’: Pakistan and India suffer extreme spring heatwaves. By Hannah Ellis-Petersen in Delhi and Shah Meer Baloch in Islamabad. TheGuardian. Excerpt: For the past few weeks, Nazeer Ahmed has been living in one of the hottest places on Earth. As a brutal heatwave has swept across India and Pakistan, his home in Turbat, in Pakistan’s Balochistan region, has been suffering through weeks of temperatures that have repeatedly hit almost 50C (122F), unprecedented for this time of year. Locals have been driven into their homes, unable to work except during the cooler night hours, and are facing critical shortages of water and power. Ahmed fears that things are only about to get worse. It was here, in 2021, that the world’s highest temperature for May was recorded, a staggering 54C. …As the heatwave has exacerbated massive energy shortages across India and Pakistan, Turbat, a city of about 200,000 residents, now barely receives any electricity, with up to nine hours of load shedding every day, meaning that air conditioners and refrigerators cannot function. “We are living in hell,” said Ahmed.… []

2022-05-01. ‘Turning the dial up’: US south-west braces for extended wildfire season amid drastic drought. By Gabrielle Canon, The Guardian. Excerpt: A million acres have already burned across the country already, with La Niña bringing more severe dry climate. …“Climate change is taking a situation that would be bad for us normally,” says Gregg Garffin, a climatologist at the University of Arizona, “and turning the dial up.” Once confined to specific times of year, wildfire conditions are stretching across more months, and will likely continue until the region gets additional rain.… []

2022-04-28. Animal melting pot created by climate change could lead to new disease outbreaks. By Jon Cohen, Science Magazine. Excerpt: As habitats shift, many mammalian species will meet each other for the first time and swap viruses, modeling study predicts. Earth’s warming climate is expected to change the habitat of many animal species, which a new modeling study predicts may spell trouble: Species on the move will mingle with many others they have never encountered before, allowing the various animals to exchange viruses. That could spark new disease outbreaks in many wildlife populations—and in humans as well. By 2070, assuming the most conservative warming scenario, there will be at least 15,000 new cross-species transmissions involving more than 3000 mammalian species, according to a modeling team led by Colin Carlson, a global change biologist at Georgetown University. “Most of this pattern has probably been set in motion with the 1° of warming we’ve already experienced,” says Carlson, whose study appears online in Nature today. …“We get a completely different geography of risk than we expected,” he says. He anticipated that climate change would drive species north and south toward the poles, but the models showed intense mixing occurs earlier, because species will move to habitats at higher or lower altitudes. Bats, which make up about 20% of all mammals, will have an outsize impact on mixing because their ability to fly allows even nonmigratory species to travel hundreds of kilometers over a lifetime, far more mobility than most small animals.… []

2022-04-20. Global warming is speeding up ocean currents. Here’s why. By Paul Voosen, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Excess heat constricts water flow in shallow surface layers Two years ago, oceanographers made a surprising discovery: Not only have oceans been warming because of human-driven climate change, but the currents that flow through them have accelerated—by some 15% per decade from 1990 to 2013. At the time, many scientists suspected faster ocean winds were driving the speedup. But a new modeling study fingers another culprit: the ocean’s own tendency to warm from top to bottom, leading to constricted surface layers where water flows faster, like blood in clogged arteries. The study suggests climate change will continue to speed up across ocean currents, potentially limiting the heat the ocean can capture and complicating migrations for already stressed marine life.… []

2022-04-13. As Australia’s climate changes, a tropical disease advances. By Frances Vinall, The Washington Post. Excerpt: Public health professionals say the appearance of Japanese encephalitis here is just the latest example of how global warming is contributing to the spread of disease. Six years ago, melting permafrost in Siberia released frozen anthrax, which infected an Indigenous community. In 2007, the tropical chikungunya virus was detected in Europe for the first time in two Italian villages and has since appeared in France. In the United States, Lyme disease cases have doubled over 30 years as warmer conditions create longer tick seasons. And in Australia, experts warn Japanese encephalitis could be the first of several illnesses to spread south. Tim Inglis is the head of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of Western Australia. “With accelerating climate change, we’re going to be in a world of hurt,” he said, “with some of these diseases that have in the past been restricted in the tropics extending, as we’re beginning to see. …The mosquitoes that carry [Japanese encephalitis] need pools of stagnant water, such as those created by the heavy downpours of the tropics, to breed. In February and March, the northeast coast of Australia was hit with record floods — conditions that enabled the virus to travel hundreds of miles south and west via mosquitoes biting water birds, horses and, especially, pigs. …over the past decade, it has traveled in the opposite direction, to higher-altitude regions of Tibet and Nepal.… []

2022-04-11. Climate change is killing off soil organisms critical for some of Earth’s ecosystems. By Elizabeth Pennisi, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Lichens can’t take the heat, with disastrous implications for arid places Just as our skin is key to our well-being, the “skin” covering desert soils is essential to life in dry places. This “biocrust,” made up of fungi, lichens, mosses, blue-green algae, and other microbes, retains water and produces nutrients that other organisms can use. Now, new research shows climate change is destroying the integrity of this skin. …in 2013, scientists discovered climate change is changing the microbial composition of biocrusts. A new survey of these organisms in a pristine grassland in Canyonlands National Park in Utah has uncovered a hidden vulnerability of some of the lichens in these crusts. …The U.S. Southwest is rapidly warming, and Canyonlands is no exception, says USGS ecologist Rebecca Finger-Higgens, who led the analysis. Weather measurements over the past 50 years reveal temperatures in that park have increased 0.27°C each decade, and recent summers have been particularly warm. At the same time, almost all the lichens have been waning, particularly the kinds that help convert nitrogen in the air to a form organisms can use, Finger-Higgens and her team report today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In 1967 and in 1996, those nitrogen-fixing lichen made up 19% of the biocrust, even though the percentage did fluctuate from year to year. Since then, that percentage has shrunk to just 5%, and it shows no sign of increasing again.… []

2022-04-08. U.S. Fires Quadrupled in Size, Tripled in Frequency in 20 Years. By Kimberly M. S. Cartier, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Changes including intensifying drought, expansion into burnable land, and an increase in human-caused ignitions have led to a shift in fire patterns.Extreme fires increased primarily in the western and Great Plains regions, while moderate and small fires worsened across the entire country. These fire pattern changes, which threaten human and ecosystem health, are attributed to a combination of climate change impacts and human expansion into new and burnable land.… []

2022-04-04. Australian Wildfires Linked to Ozone Layer Depletion. By Krystal Vasquez, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: The Australian “Black Summer” bushfires produced nearly 1 million tons of smoke in 2019 and 2020, wreaking havoc on local air quality. But new research has shown that this is far from the only impact that the smoke had on the atmosphere. According to the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, thunderstorms generated by the intense wildfires thrust smoke particles well into the stratosphere, where they contributed to a 1% loss of the ozone layer. That’s the amount that should have been recovered over the past decade due to the adoption of the Montreal Protocol, said Susan Solomon, a professor of environmental studies and chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and lead author on the paper. “This fire offset that in one blow.”.… []

2022-03-28. Warmer Nights Are Adding Fuel to Nighttime Fires. By Jennifer Schmidt, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Wildland firefighters battling record-setting blazes are noticing that the game is changing. Where crews once gained ground in the evening hours, when fires naturally die down, some on the front lines now say they often are facing a sustained battle. A new study published in Nature showed just how accurate these reports are, particularly in the western United States.… []

2022-03-29. In a First, an Ice Shelf Collapses in East Antarctica. By Henry Fountain, The New York Times. Excerpt: For the first time since satellites began observing Antarctica nearly half a century ago, an ice shelf has collapsed on the eastern part of the continent, scientists said. The collapse of the 450-square-mile Conger ice shelf in a part of the continent called Wilkes Land occurred in mid-March. It was first spotted by scientists with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and appeared in satellite images taken on March 17, according to the National Ice Center in the United States. …Several very large glaciers in West Antarctica are already flowing faster and if their ice shelves were to collapse completely, sea levels could rise on the order of 10 feet over centuries.… [] See also article in The Guardian.

2022-02-27. ‘Rain Bomb’ Hits Northeastern Australia, Killing at Least 9. By Yan Zhuang, The New York Times. Excerpt: Days of downpours have pummeled Queensland and New South Wales, with the authorities describing the wild weather as “waves of water just coming down.” …Up to 18,000 homes across the state have been affected, the authorities estimated, with about 15,000 of those in Brisbane. More than 1,500 people have been evacuated and about 53,000 homes were without power on Monday morning. Hundreds of schools are closed, and officials have asked residents to work from home. Residents have been asked to conserve water after flooding knocked a water treatment plant offline on Sunday. On Monday morning, the rain had eased and the Brisbane River had peaked at 12.6 feet. It was expected to peak again in the afternoon.… [] See also Washington Post article.

2022-02-23. Spreading like Wildfire: The Rising Threat of Extraordinary Landscape Fires. By UN Environment Programme. Excerpt: Wildfires are becoming more intense and more frequent, ravaging communities and ecosystems in their path. Recent years have seen record-breaking wildfire seasons across the world from Australia to the Arctic to North and South America. With global temperatures on the rise, the need to reduce wildfire risk is more critical than ever. A new report, Spreading like Wildfire: The Rising Threat of Extraordinary Landscape Fires, by UNEP and GRID-Arendal, finds that climate change and land-use change are making wildfires worse and anticipates a global increase of extreme fires even in areas previously unaffected. Uncontrollable and extreme wildfires can be devastating to people, biodiversity and ecosystems. They also exacerbate climate change, contributing significant greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere.… []

2022-02-17. Facing the effects of climate change, skiers want to save their snow — and their sport. By Denise Hruby, The Washington Post. Excerpt: OBERWÖLZ, Austria — At the Lachtal ski resort, high in the eastern Alps of Austria, skiers immediately pull out their phones after sliding off the chairlift — not to take selfies, but rather to snap pictures of the windmills that have become part of the mountainous vista. When the first windmills were built here in 2002, at about 7,290 feet, many tourists saw the massive blades as an eyesore. But as the wind park grew and expanded, so did skiers’ environmental conscience. Today, locals and tourists are proud to ski among the backdrop. “When I ride up with them and eavesdrop, they’re usually impressed,” says Rudolf Wiesnegger, who maintains the wind park and adjacent solar panels. “They comment that it’s great for the environment,” he says. …Skiers and spectators have been flabbergasted by this year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing. Just as the LED snowflakes that sparkled during the Opening Ceremonies weren’t real, the snow that skiers and snowboarders are competing on isn’t natural, either.… []

2022-02-10. Himalayas Are Experiencing an “Exceptional” Loss of Glacial Mass. By Rishika Pardikar, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: The Himalayas have lost 40% of their glacial mass since the Little Ice Age. East Nepal and Bhutan have experienced the most rapid losses.… []

2022-02-14. Rapid intensification of the emerging southwestern North American megadrought in 2020–2021. By A. Park WilliamsBenjamin I. Cook & Jason E. Smerdon, Nature Climate Change. Abstract: A previous reconstruction back to 800 CE indicated that the 2000–2018 soil moisture deficit in southwestern North America was exceeded during one megadrought in the late-1500s. Here, we show that after exceptional drought severity in 2021, ~19% of which is attributable to anthropogenic climate trends, 2000–2021 was the driest 22-yr period since at least 800. This drought will very likely persist through 2022, matching the duration of the late-1500s megadrought.… [] See also New York Times article How Bad Is the Western Drought? Worst in 12 Centuries, Study Finds.

2022-02-01. Climate change may be fueling increase in major Northeast snowstorms. By Jacob Feuerstein, The Washington Post. Excerpt: Saturday’s tremendous coastal storm pushed a band of heavy snow into southern New England, burying cities under a snowpack up to two feet deep. These near-recordsnowfall totals continue an astonishing run of historic storms to impact the Northeast in recent years, probably attributed, in part, to anthropogenic climate change. “Extreme snowstorms, even in the face of longer term declines in winter snow, are entirely consistent with the effects of global warming,” Justin Mankin, a professor at Dartmouth College who studies climate change and variability, said in a statement.… []

2022-01-20. The Maldives is being swallowed by the sea. Can it adapt? By Tristan McConnell, National Geographic. Excerpt: …Twenty-five hundred years of maritime living have shaped the culture and identity of the people of the Maldives, a country of 1,196 low-lying islands arranged into a double chain of 26 coral atolls, so flat they scarcely breach the horizon. …the Maldives may become the first country on Earth to disappear beneath rising seas. …Now, as the pace of climate change accelerates, this tiny nation is trying to buy time, in hopes that the world’s leaders will reduce carbon emissions before the Maldives’ inevitable demise. The archipelago has bet its future—along with a substantial sum from the national purse—on construction of an artificial, elevated island that could house a majority of the population of nearly 555,000 people. Meanwhile, a Dutch design firm plans to build 5,000 floating homes on pontoons anchored in a lagoon across the capital. …The nation’s entire land area is just 115 square miles sitting in 35,000 square miles of ocean, with few islands bigger than 300 acres. …The islands themselves have an ephemeral quality: sandbanks upon living coral, they grow and shrink, rise and fall, depending upon the ocean currents and sand deposits. (The list of “disappeared islands” of the Maldives is long.) Most of the islands—including the capital Malé—stand about 3.5 feet above sea level; climate scientists forecast they will be inundated by the century’s end. Hulhumalé, the man-made rescue platform, has an elevation of 6.5 feet.… []

2022-01-10. The Uncertain Future of Antarctica’s Melting Ice. By Florence Colleoni,  Tim Naish,  Robert DeConto,  Laura De Santis and  Pippa L. Whitehouse, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: A new multidisciplinary, international research program aims to tackle one of the grand challenges in climate science: resolving the Antarctic Ice Sheet’s contribution to future sea level rise. …Among the most visible effects of anthropogenic global warming are rising seas around the world: Since 1880, the global mean sea level (GMSL) has increased by 20 centimeters. …sea level globally will continue to rise well beyond the 21st century, even if warming of the planet is stabilized below the target set by the Paris climate agreement in 2015 of 2°C above the preindustrial average. …An estimated 800 million people are likely to experience impacts of high-tide flooding by the end of the 21st century, even if the Paris climate agreement target is met. In many coastal settings, even a small increase in baseline sea level can substantially increase the frequency and magnitude of flooding during high tides, storm surges, and extreme weather. The United Nations estimates that the potential costs of damage to harbors and ports alone from this flooding could be as high as $111.6 billion by 2050 and $367.2 billion by the end of the century. …If global carbon emissions follow the high-emission Shared Socioeconomic Pathway (SSP) 5–8.5, meaning atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rise above 1,000 parts per million by 2100 …, melting Antarctic ice would contribute 14–32 centimeters (13th–87th percentiles) to an overall GMSL rise of 62–101 centimeters… according to a statistical assessment of numerical model projections [e.g., Edwards et al., 2021].… []

2022-01-10. Health Impacts of Air Pollution from Australian Megafires. By Saima Sidik, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: From October 2019 to February 2020, fire ripped through the Australian bush with unprecedented intensity, killing 34 people and more than 3 billion animals. In a new study, Graham et al. seek to quantify the health impacts of an indirect form of fire damage: the damage caused by poor air quality. Like car engines, gas stoves, and cigarettes, fires create fine particles with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, called PM2.5. High PM2.5 concentrations can exacerbate a wide range of medical conditions, from lung disease to cardiovascular disease, even leading to death. …Around 437,000 people were exposed to air with a PM2.5 concentration of least 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air, which is substantially more than the 15 micrograms per cubic meter of air that the World Health Organization considers an acceptable level for short-term exposure. …Using methodology developed by the World Health Organization, the authors estimated that increased PM2.5 levels brought on by the fires led to 171 deaths, or about 30% of the deaths caused by short-term PM2.5 exposure during this time.… []

2022-01. As Water Runs Low, San Joaquin Valley Adapts to a Drier Future. By Glen Martin, California Magazine. Excerpt: As the drought has deepened in the state, growers have turned to groundwater, resulting in severe overdraft in many areas—particularly the San Joaquin Valley. That led to the passage of the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which required the identification of the state’s overdrawn and at-risk basins, quantification of their yields, and the development of pumping plans that achieve sustainability within 20 years of being implemented. …Almond trees are only commercially productive for about 20 years, and his groundwater plan means replacement trees won’t be planted in many areas. Instead, Woolf will concentrate on growing tomatoes for processing, as well as pistachios, which are longer-lived and less thirsty than almonds. …Woolf is also experimenting with alternative crops—specifically, drought-tolerant ones like agave, the feedstock for products like tequila and mezcal. “The ultimate goal would be to distill and market spirits ourselves, under our own brand,” he says. …And there’s a new crop on the horizon: energy. Rather than asking his plants to turn sunlight into calories, as farmers always have, Woolf plans to harvest sunlight directly. He’ll ultimately convert 3,500 acres of former cropland to solar installation, and many other growers are doing the same: Large photovoltaic arrays are popping up all across the valley.… []

2022-01-07. Lyme-carrying ticks live longer—and could spread farther—thanks to warmer winters. By Elizabeth Pennisi, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Research reported here this week at the annual meeting of the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology has revealed black-legged ticks infected with the Lyme disease–causing microbe thrive in below-freezing weather and can be active even in winter. The finding suggests the variable winter conditions brought on by climate change could increase ticks’ activity, boosting the odds that people will encounter the ticks and come down with Lyme disease.… []

2022-01-05. More than 40 percent of Americans live in counties hit by climate disasters in 2021. By Sarah Kaplan and Andrew Ba Tran, The Washington Post. Excerpt: As climate-fueled extreme weather intensified last year, more than 80 percent of Americans experienced a heat wave. The impacts of fires and severe storms also spread. …At least 656 people died amid the onslaught of disasters, media reports and government records show. The cost of the destruction tops $104 billion, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, even before officials calculate the final toll of wildfires, drought and heat waves in the West. While the Federal Emergency Management Agency identified fewer climate-related disasters in individual counties last year, it declared eight of these emergencies statewide — the most since 1998 — encompassing 135 million people overall.… []