Thursday, March 31, 2016

Mexico City orders all cars off the road one day a week to tackle pollution

Authorities in Mexico City have temporarily ordered all cars to remain idle one day a week in response to this notoriously smoggy capital’s worst air-quality crisis in over a decade.
A Phase 1 emergency due to high ozone levels – the first since 2005 – was declared two weeks ago, when warm temperatures and still air left pollution trapped in Mexico City’s volcano-ringed valley. Government officials and environmental activists pinned at least some of the blame on a supreme court decision last year that overturned a rule barring all cars over eight years old from the streets one day a week.

The ruling is said to have put an extra 1.4m vehicles back on the roads each day. Starting on 1 July, more modern technology will be put in place at smog-check centres. Vehicles are supposed to get checked every six months, though it’s common knowledge that for a bribe of $20 or so drivers can ensure a car comes out “clean”.
Mexico City is the capital of Mexico and is located in the Valley of Mexico, a large valley in the high plateaus at an altitude of 2,240 metres (7,350 ft). The Greater Mexico City population is 21.2 million people, making it the largest metropolitan area in the western hemisphere.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Arctic sea ice hit its lowest annual maximum on record

Arctic sea ice hit its lowest annual maximum on record as of March 24, after the hottest winter ever seen in the Arctic. The sea ice maximum was even lower than the record level seen last year, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado.

According to the NSIDC, the sea ice extent on March 24 was 5.607 million square miles, or 14.52 million square kilometers. This was 431,000 square miles, or 1.12 million square kilometers below the 1981-2010 average. This is about the size of the states of Texas, Arizona and Kansas combined.

February Anomolies
Temperature anomalies this winter were off the charts. Temperatures in the lower atmosphere from December through February were above average everywhere in the Arctic.
Some areas saw temperatures during the period average about 6 degrees Celsius, or 11 degrees Fahrenheit, above average.

Since the start of the satellite era in 1979, there has been a loss of 620,000 square miles of wintertime sea ice cover, which is about twice the size of Texas.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Albuquerque, New Mexico buried in tumbleweed

It may not snow much in the high desert of the southwestern United States, but winter equipment is coming in handy for troublesome tumbleweed. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, residents are digging out of massive piles of the grass, where in some places has reached rooftops.
Powerful winds of over 90 km/h have left trees and power lines damaged. Albuquerque has classified some areas as "code red" as residents can't get out their doors. A bigger concern is fire.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Mass fish die off in Florida, Chile

Mass-mortality events are sudden, unusual crashes in a population. They fill the space between the regularity of background death rates and the flare of species burning out into extinction. If you think that you are hearing about them more often, you’re right.
Air pollution, runoff from fertilizers and septic tanks, higher temperatures, among other things, is helping fuel a large algal bloom in Florida's Space Coast region that has caused millions of fish to die. The brown tide algal bloom is not toxic. It kills the fish by depleting the amount of oxygen in the water.
An unusually warm mass of water in the Pacific Ocean known as The Blob has had close ties to much of the weather making news in North America.

Nothing this extraordinary has been seen before and it could be a precursor to what climate change will bring.
A massive algae bloom is responsible for the deaths of 23 million salmon in Chile. Temperatures are 2 to 4 degrees (Celsius) above average for this time of the year, there's a lot of sunlight, a lack of rain and very mild winds, all of which are conditions for the micro algae.

20 per cent of the country's annual production has been lost so far.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Massive block of ice breaks off in Arctic Ocean

On March 17 a roughly 2,000-square-mile block of ice broke off in the Arctic Ocean.

The chunk, which sits in the Bering Strait between Alaska and Russia, took two days to separate from the surrounding ice. The Earth is now emerging from its warmest winter on record. The Northern Hemisphere past an alarming 2-degree-Celsius average temperature for the first time. At this rate, most of the Arctic ice may be gone over the summer. This would be the first time this has happened in human history.

Monday, March 21, 2016

$ 377m Research Ship to be named 'Boaty McBoatface'?

The National Environment Research Council in the UK thought it would be a nice idea to ask people online to name the royal research ship, at the forefront of British naval engineering. On Sunday morning, the organization’s website was so popular that it crashed. One name was miles in front of the rest — Boaty McBoatface.

The $377-million vessel is 128 metres long and will carry up to 90 scientists and support staff. It is due to be in operation in the Arctic and Antarctic from 2019.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Human Carbon Emission worst in at least 66 Million Years

The human fossil fuel emission is unprecedented on geological timescales. The best science can’t find any time in all of Earth’s geological history that produced a rate of atmospheric carbon accumulation equal to the one that’s happening now.

A new study recently published in Nature sheds more light on this. Scientists had to look far back in time. All the way back when the last of the Dinosaurs were dying off about 55-66 million years ago. The most recent Hothouse Mass Extinction Event in the geological record is called the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum or PETM. It’s an extreme period of rapid warming that occurred at the boundary between these two periods of Earth's history about 55.8 million years ago.
The PETM was bad. It set off a mass extinction in the oceans which wiped out half of all shellfish through the varied impacts of anoxia, acidification and coral bleaching. Its heat forcing was enough to reverse ocean circulation and set up a stratified ocean.

Peatlands and forests went up in flames. Extreme surface temperatures forced a mass poleward migration. Scientists found that the large carbon emission occurred over the course of about 4,000 years. This spike in atmospheric carbon coincided with a 5 degree Celsius spike in global temperatures in a 4,000 to 12,000 year time period. This implies a rate of warming of at most around 0.12 degrees Celsius every 100 years.
Expected human warming of between 1.5 and 5 degrees Celsius this century is therefore at least 15 to more than 200 times faster than during the PETM extinction event. On average, over the PETM extinction event, rates of atmospheric carbon accumulation were found to be in the range of about 1.1 billion tons per year. By comparison, human carbon emissions during 2014 were about ten times this level at around 10 billion tons.
The rate of emission could jump to as high as 25 billion tons of carbon per year by 2050.
What the new study finds and confirms is that the rate of atmospheric carbon accumulation during the PETM period, enough to cause serious and dramatic climate shifts along with widespread extinction, was much, much slower then than what we see now.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Population Growth - Holocene Extinction - The Sixth Extinction

Rainbow trout live in the coldest part of the river. As river levels drop the water heats and the trout have to go lower and lower looking for their ideal temperature of about 12 degrees Celsius.

Large trout, the older and wiser, push the young ones out of the cooler spot. There just isn't enough space for them all. The older trout are going to make sure they get to their 11-year lifetime.
Experts agree there are three things that we must do to fight climate change. The first is to use less fossil fuel. Second, we have to deal with the carbon we have. And we must slow global population growth. That's the tough one.

The older trout have the same issues that we have. The river is dividing into the haves and have-nots. There's not enough cool water for everybody, and whats left is running out.
Carrying capacity refers to the maximum abundance of a species that can be sustained within a given habitat. When an ideal population is at equilibrium with the carrying capacity of its environment, the birth and death rates are equal, and size of the population does not change. Populations larger than the carrying capacity are not sustainable, and will degrade their habitat.

Chart of extinction events that wiped out most life on Earth.
Humans have benefited greatly through active management of Earth's carrying capacity. An enormously greater number of Earth's species have not fared as well, having been made extinct as a consequence of ecological changes associated with the use and management of the environment by humans. In general, any increase in the carrying capacity of the environment for one species will negatively affect other species.

Symptoms of environmental deterioration include the extinction crisis, decreased soil fertility, desertification, deforestation, fishery declines, pollution, and increased competition among nations for scarce resources. Many scientists believe that the sustainable limits of Earth's carrying capacity for humanity has already been exceeded.

The Holocene Extinction, sometimes called the Sixth Extinction, is a name used to describe the currently ongoing extinction event of species during the present Holocene epoch (since around 10,000 BCE) mainly due to human activity. The large number of extinctions span numerous families of plants and animals including mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and arthropods. Although 875 extinctions occurring between 1500 and 2009 have been documented, the vast majority are undocumented.

World Population Density

Monday, March 14, 2016

Rare 'superbloom' blankets Death Valley

Parts of Death Valley, the driest place in North America, have exploded in a riot of color with a rare “superbloom” of millions of wildflowers. The flowers have blanketed the desert valley to an extent not seen since 2005.

The unusual spectacle has been triggered by a series of storms in October that brought heavy rainfall to parts of the park, including a burst of 3 inches of rain in just five hours. Death Valley normally averages less than 2 inches of rain a year.
Death Valley National Park holds a world record for the hottest temperature ever recorded: 134 degrees Fahrenheit (57 degrees Celsius) on July 10, 1913.
The abundance of flowers this year is extremely unusual. The last time there was a bloom of this magnitude was in 2005, and the time before that was in 1998.
Most of the flowers will wither in a few weeks as temperatures rise.

Some may survive as late as June at higher elevations.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Temperature Records Smashed across Canada - Update

February’s higher than normal temperatures mark the fifth straight month that global average temperatures were more than 1°C above average.

Parts of the Arctic were 16°C above average, reaching temperatures more often seen in June. In addition, the region likely saw its lowest February sea ice levels since records began being kept.

Toronto hit a new record March 12, 2016 of 18 C. Normal seasonal temperatures are around 4 C. The story is similar in the interior of British Columbia with the Thompson-Okanagan breaking high temperature records last week. Recent temperatures in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were upwards of 17 C, where the average high temperature for this time of year is usually zero.
Today in Winnipeg record-smashing temperatures are 12 C, which easily surpasses the old record of 6.7 C set in 1964.
Temperatures in February 2016 had the largest departure from average of any month in NASA's records since 1880.
The February 2016 land and ocean temperature anomaly was 1.35°C (2.43°F) above the average temperature in the period from 1951 to 1980.

February stands out for its unusual heat more than any other month in the modern climate record.

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