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Under an orange sky, largest U.S. wildfire menaces New Mexico towns

Under an orange sky, largest U.S. wildfire menaces New Mexico towns


Firefighters in northern New Mexico labored under an apocalyptic orange sky, and vehicles streamed out of the ski area of Angel Fire on Wednesday as wind-driven flames from the state’s second-largest blaze on record roared closer to the mountain resort.


With winds gusting beyond 50 mph (80 kmh) through dense, drought-parched forests, exhausted crews were at loss to stop a wildfire that has raged across a 45-mile swath of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains for more than a month, destroying hundreds of homes.

Spreading through the rugged, tinder-dry landscape with explosive speed, the springtime conflagration has displaced thousands of residents while raising fears that the entire American Southwest was in for a long, brutal fire season.

As smoke hung heavy outside Angel Fire’s supermarket, Almeada Martinson said she planned to pack her photos, guns, two dogs and cat, then evacuate to Taos, 17 miles to the west.

“I’m totally anxious and terrified. This is my home,” said Martinson, 35, general manager of a construction business, as ash swirled around her feet.

The Sangre de Cristo mountains, soaring to over 13,000 feet, have traditionally seen spring storms dumping more than 2 feet of snow. But climate change has diminished the snowpack and brought summer-like temperatures earlier in the year, biologists say, drying out the region and leaving communities more vulnerable to fire.

At Angel Fire’s airstrip, strong winds grounded firefighting helicopters. Seven miles to the south at Black Lake, firefighters huddled around a map and discussed which properties they could try to save.

In immediate danger was the village of Chacon, where locals faced flames on two sides after they stayed behind to defend centuries-old ranches, firefighters said.

To the north, residents of Taos Canyon cut down their own trees to create fire buffers around homes. About 4 miles farther west of downtown Taos – the heart of an area inhabited by indigenous people for 1,000 years – residents were advised to be ready to evacuate on short notice.

At a news briefing late in the day, however, battalion fire chief Todd Abel said the leading edge of the blaze appeared to be heading more toward the north and east, in a direction that would hopefully skirt Taos, a town of about 5,700 people.

In another piece of good news, authorities said mandatory evacuation orders were being lifted on Wednesday evening for a string of small Mora County communities, though other populated areas on the northern edge of the blaze were newly threatened.


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THESE SEED-FIRING DRONES ARE PLANTING 40,000 TREES EVERY DAY TO FIGHT DEFORESTATION


“Each of our drones can plant over 40,000 seed pods per day and they fly autonomously,” says Andrew Walker, CEO and co-founder of AirSeed Technologies.

THE FARMER TRYING TO SAVE ITALY’S ANCIENT OLIVE TREES


A fast-spreading bacteria could cause an olive-oil apocalypse.


Although unseasonably warm temperatures and extreme low humidity will persist in the days ahead, winds that have howled with gale-force strength for nearly a week are expected to subside on Friday, giving firefighters a bit of a respite, forecasters said.

The blaze, dubbed the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon fire, has burned over 236,939 acres (95,885 hectares) of land, an area larger than all five boroughs of New York City, with containment lines carved around about a third of its perimeter as of Wednesday evening.

The fire grew out of two blazes that ignited about two weeks apart and later merged into one, the first originating from a prescribed-burn project that ran out of control, according to fire officials. The cause of the second remained under investigation.

In addition to climate change, a century of strict fire suppression and court bans on logging since the 1990s have helped transform New Mexico’s northern forests into overgrown, highly combustible fuel beds, scientists say.

Source:

Andrew Hay via Reuters



North Korea mobilises office workers to fight drought amid food shortages

North Korea mobilises office workers to fight drought amid food shortages


North Korea’s office workers and factory labourers have been dispatched to farming areas around the country to join a fight against drought, state media reported on Wednesday, amid concerns over prolonged food shortages.


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had called for measures to improve a tense food situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic and typhoons, despite slight improvements early last year.

Drought and floods have long posed a seasonal threat to North Korea, which lacks irrigation systems and other infrastructure, and any serious natural hazards could cripple its reclusive economy already reeling from international sanctions and a near halt of trade.

The North’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper said government officials and company and factory workers joined hands with farmers nationwide in distributing pumping equipment and developing water resources in drought-prone regions.

It did not specify any damages so far, but said those efforts are aimed at countering an ongoing dry spell and bracing for an upcoming drought.

“Systematic, aggressive efforts are under way to raise public awareness and mobilise all available capabilities to prevent crop damages from drought in advance,” the paper said.

North Korea’s weather authorities on Tuesday warned of prolonged dry weather across the country until early next week, according to the official KCNA news agency.

The weather agency said last week that the average temperature for April was 2.3 Celsius (36.1 Fahrenheit) degrees higher than usual, with just 44 percent of its average rainfall nationwide.


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Jerry Gannaway looks over a field in which he planted cotton July 27, 2011 near Hermleigh, Texas, which officials said was facing "exceptional drought." (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

CLIMATE CRISIS HAS MADE WESTERN US MEGADROUGHT WORST IN 1,200 YEARS


“Climate change is here and now,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal. “If a 1,200 year mega-drought isn’t enough to make people realize that, I don’t know what is.”

AS AFRICA’S GLACIERS MELT, MILLIONS FACE DROUGHT AND FLOODS, UN SAYS


Kilimanjaro, Mt Kenya, Rwenzoris snow caps gone by 2040s.


In Anju and Kaechon, north of the capital Pyongyang, people created ponds, added fertiliser and growth enhancer to crops, and sent tractors, trucks and cultivators to carry water to farms, Rodong said.

Another dispatch said young labour units, which are called dolgyeokdae or youth brigades and usually mobilised in major infrastructure projects, have recently built waterways in the eastern port city of Hamhung as part of efforts to modernise and expand irrigational facilities.

In March, the United Nations urged Pyongyang to reopen its borders to aid workers and food imports, saying its deepening isolation may have left many facing starvation. 

North Korea has not officially confirmed any COVID-19 cases, but it had closed borders and travel restrictions, before briefly resuming trade with China early this year.

The World Food Program estimated that even before the pandemic hit, 11 million, or more than 40 percent of the population, were undernourished and required humanitarian assistance.

Source:

Hyonhee Shin via Reuters



India and Pakistan heatwave is ‘testing the limits of human survivability,’ expert says

India and Pakistan heatwave is ‘testing the limits of human survivability,’ expert says


Temperatures in parts of India and Pakistan have reached record levels, putting the lives of millions at risk as the effects of the climate crisis are felt across the subcontinent.


The average maximum temperature for northwest and central India in April was the highest since records began 122 years ago, reaching 35.9 and 37.78 degrees Celsius (96.62 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit) respectively, according to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD).

Last month, New Delhi saw seven consecutive days over 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), three degrees above the average temperature for the month of April, according to CNN meteorologists. In some states, the heat closed schools, damaged crops and put pressure on energy supplies, as officials warned residents to remain indoors and keep hydrated.

The heatwave has also been felt by India’s neighbor Pakistan, where the cities of Jacobabad and Sibi in the country’s southeastern Sindh province recorded highs of 47 degrees Celsius (116.6 Fahrenheit) on Friday, according to data shared with CNN by Pakistan’s Meteorological Department (PMD). According to the PMD, this was the highest temperature recorded in any city in the Northern Hemisphere on that day.

People cool themselves in a canal in Lahore, Pakistan, on April 29.

“This is the first time in decades that Pakistan is experiencing what many call a ‘spring-less year,” Pakistan’s Minister of Climate Change, Sherry Rehman said in a statement.

Temperatures in India are expected to improve slightly this week with maximum temperatures across northwest India expected to drop by 3 to 4 degrees Celsius (5.4 to 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit), the IMD said. Temperatures in Pakistan are also expected to be closer to average — about 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) — later this week.

But experts say the climate crisis will cause more frequent and longer heatwaves, affecting more than a billion people across the two countries.

India is among the countries expected to be worst affected by the impacts of the climate crisis, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

“This heatwave is definitely unprecedented,” said Dr. Chandni Singh, IPCC Lead Author and Senior Researcher at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements. “We have seen a change in its intensity, its arrival time, and duration. This is what climate experts predicted and it will have cascading impacts on health.”

Loss of crops

India often experiences heatwaves during the summer months of May and June, but this year temperatures started rising in March and April.

In the northern state of Punjab, known as “India’s bread basket,” that’s causing heat stress, not only for millions of agricultural workers, but for fields of wheat they rely on to feed their families and sell across the country.

Gurvinder Singh, director of agriculture in Punjab, said an average increase of up to 7 degrees Celsius (12.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in April had reduced wheat yields.

“Because of the heatwave we’ve had a loss of more than 5 quintal (500 kilograms) per hectare of our April yield,” Singh told CNN Monday.

Chandni Singh, from the IPCC and no relation to Gurvinder Singh, said agricultural workers were more likely to suffer from the oppressive heat.

“People who work outdoors — farmers, those in construction, manual labor — will suffer more. They have less options to cool down and can’t stay away from the heat,” she said.

The Yamuna River on May 1 in New Delhi, India.

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Pedalos on the banks of the Marmara Sea covered with sea snot. As the climate crisis heats the seas, plankton are on the move, with potentially profound consequences for ocean life and humans. Photograph: Yasin Akgül/AFP/Getty

EXTREME HEAT IN OCEANS ‘PASSED POINT OF NO RETURN’ IN 2014


Formerly rare high temperatures now covering half of seas and devastating wildlife, study shows

EXTREME HEAT EXPOSURE IN CITIES HAS TRIPLED IN JUST A FEW DECADES, SCIENTISTS WARN


Extreme urban heat exposure has dramatically increased since the early 1980s, with the total exposure tripling over the past 35 years.


School closures and power cuts

In some parts of India, demand for electricity has led to a coal shortage, leaving millions without power for up to nine hours a day.

Last week, coal stocks at three out of the five power plants Delhi relies on to supply its power reached critically low levels, dropping below 25%, according to Delhi’s Power Ministry.

India canceled more than 650 passenger trains through the end of May to clear tracks for more cargo trains as the country scrambles to replenish coal stocks at power plants, a senior official from the country’s Railways Ministry told CNN.

Indian Railways is a key supplier of coal to power plants across the country.

Some Indian states, including West Bengal and Odisha, have announced school closures to deal with the rising temperatures.

“Children who have to traveled to school, many of them are getting nosebleeds, they can’t tolerate this heatwave,” West Bengal’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told reporters last week.

In recent years, both the federal and state governments have implemented a number of measures to mitigate the effects of heatwaves, including shutting down schools and issuing health advisories for the public.

But according to Chandni Singh, more should be done to prepare for future heatwaves.

“We don’t have a heat action plan and there are gaps in planning,” Singh said. “You can only adapt so much. This heatwave is testing the limits of human survivability.”

Source:

Rhea Mogul, Esha Mitra, Manveena Suri and Sophia Saifi at CNN

NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, using GEOS-5 data from the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office at NASA GSFC.



Permafrost thawing faster than expected due to extreme summer rainfall

Permafrost thawing faster than expected due to extreme summer rainfall


In the past 50 years, the Arctic region has been warming three times faster than the average rate of global warming. This warming thaws the permafrost, the permanently frozen Arctic soil.


New research published in Nature Communications has revealed that extreme summer rainfall is accelerating this process. As extreme rainfall events become more frequent thanks to a warmer climate, the permafrost may thaw even faster than under the influence of rising temperatures alone.

Permafrost forms the foundation of Arctic ecosystems and the settlements of humans who live on it. When the permafrost thaws, the soil loses its load-bearing capacity. In addition, the organic carbon stored in the frozen soil decomposes more easily into greenhouse gases, such as CO2 and methane, which contribute to global warming. The release of greenhouse gases through permafrost thaw causes what is known as a positive feedback loop, a self-reinforcing process.

But in addition to the temperature, the precipitation in the Arctic region is also increasing. In winter, this has a negative impact on the permafrost. A thicker layer of snow in winter has an insulating effect and protects the permafrost from extremely cold air, so it does not cool as much. But little was known about the effect of precipitation in summer.



Rain experiment

Researchers from Wageningen University (WUR)’s Plant Ecology & Nature Management chair group carried out an irrigation experiment on the Northeast Siberian tundra to study the effects of extreme summer precipitation on permafrost. Ph.D. candidate Rúna Magnússon selected 20 monitoring sites and used sprinklers to give half the sites extra water. The experiment simulated the effects of a single, extremely wet summer. The sites were monitored for several years for permafrost thaw depth and other soil and vegetation characteristics.

Using a motor pump and sprinklers, researchers of the Plant Ecology & Nature Management group simulated the effect of extreme summer rains on the Siberian tundra ecosystem. Credit: Rúna Magnússon

On average, the permafrost thawed 35% faster in the irrigated sites, leaving a larger amount of soil susceptible to the decomposition of soil carbon into greenhouse gas. An important finding was that the effect of an extremely wet summer lasted for several years; even two years after the sprinkler test, the permafrost under the irrigated sites was still thawing faster. An additional model analysis in cooperation with researchers from Stockholm University revealed that permafrost thaws particularly rapidly during periods of combined high rainfall and high air temperatures. “We were not surprised that the permafrost thawed to a greater depth during wet summers, but that the effect would be so extreme and last for several years was really unexpected,” says Magnusson.


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Scientists expressed alarm as temperatures near both poles soared to 50°-90°F above normal in recent days. (Image: Climate Reanalyzer)

‘UNTHINKABLE’: SCIENTISTS SHOCKED AS POLAR TEMPERATURES SOAR 50 TO 90 DEGREES ABOVE NORMAL


“With everything going on in the world right now, the dual polar climate disasters of 2022 should be the top story.” – Prof. Eliot Jacobson

An industrial building that was destroyed when the permafrost thawed under its foundation is seen in the town of Chersky, Sakha (Yakutia) Republic, Russia, September 13, 2021. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

CLIMATE-FUELED PERMAFROST THAW THREATENS UP TO HALF OF ARCTIC INFRASTRUCTURE


Thawing permafrost could put as much as 50 percent of Arctic infrastructure at high risk of damage by 2050, requiring tens of billions of dollars in maintenance and repairs, scientists warned on Tuesday.


Risk of underestimating climate change

As rainfall is expected to increase and precipitation extremes will become more frequent in warming Arctic regions, these results are bad news for the permafrost. “If we only take warmer temperatures into account, we will underestimate how much permafrost is thawing as a result of climate change, and how much extra CO2 and methane is being released,” explains Magnusson. “But it is difficult to realistically represent the effect of such precipitation extremes on permafrost thaw and greenhouse gas emissions in climate models. This could lead us to underestimate future greenhouse gas emissions caused by permafrost thaw, and therefore our emissions targets to stay within the one-and-a-half or two degrees of global warming may turn out to be too optimistic.”

Future research will hopefully reveal the extent to which the sensitivity of permafrost to rain varies regionally, so that more reliable estimates of future permafrost thaw can be made.

Source:

Wageningen University via phys.org




People flee to rooftops as ‘weather bomb’ submerges Australian towns

People flee to rooftops as ‘weather bomb’ submerges Australian towns


Tens of thousands of people were ordered to evacuate as heavy rains smashed Australia’s east coast on Monday, submerging towns and stranding residents on rooftops, with authorities warning of life-threatening flash floods.


Nine people have been killed since the deluge began last Thursday, and rescue teams were searching on Monday for at least four people reported missing.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who called the unprecedented rains a “weather bomb”, said defence personnel would be deployed to flood-hit areas to lead both rescue and recovery operations.

Australia’s weather bureau said flash flooding remained a real risk in northern New South Wales (NSW) state as the wild weather moved south from neighbouring Queensland.

“What we are seeing today is unprecedented and the advice that we have received is we would expect things to get worse,” NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet told a televised briefing.

The Brisbane River in the Queensland capital peaked on Monday morning, flooding several streets in Australia’s third largest city. Social media posts showed indundated houses and debris, including bins, boats and cars, floating down roads.

In the northern NSW city of Lismore, the entire CBD was underwater and the Bureau of Meteorology warned the city’s Wilsons River could reach around 14.2 metres on Monday afternoon, surpassing the last peak back in 1954.

“I have been fielding calls from very distressed residents who are sitting on rooftops trying to get help. It’s diabolical,” Lismore Mayor Steve Krieg told broadcaster ABC.

Krieg said the sheer speed of rising waters caught people by surprise as he urged the town’s near 30,000 residents to leave their homes immediately.

Lismore resident Kara Ahearn said she, her partner and three children were rescued by a kayaker from their roof, to where they had fled when their house was inundated within two hours.

“Very intense morning … very shaken” she told ABC. “We had to leave our pets behind … we didn’t even have time to put our shoes on.”

CROSSING DEATHS

Australia’s east coast summer has been dominated by the La Nina climate pattern, which is typically associated with greater rainfall, for the second straight year.

Several regions have seen rainfall records for February broken because of the relentless downpour, with some places getting more than a month’s or more than a year’s rains in one day.


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CLIMATE CHANGE: EXTREME WEATHER EVENTS ARE ‘THE NEW NORM’


Extreme weather events – including powerful heat waves and devastating floods – are now the new normal, says the World Meteorological Organisation.

A BILLION CHILDREN AT ‘EXTREME RISK’ FROM CLIMATE IMPACTS – UNICEF


Report launched with youth activists including Greta Thunberg paints ‘unimaginably dire’ picture.


Many of the nine fatalities were people who had attempted to cross flooded roads, either by foot or in a vehicle, including one man who was found in a submerged car on Monday morning with his deceased dog.

“We say this every time during flooding events,” Perrottet said. “If you drive through floodwaters, you are putting your life, and the lives of others, at risk.”

As tens of thousands of people were evacuated, tens of thousands more were put on alert for potential orders to flee, thousands of schools were closed and at least 50,000 homes were without power. read more

Insurer Suncorp on Monday said it had received more than 5,000 claims related to the floods and estimates costs of about A$75 million ($54 million).

Source:

Renju Jose via Reuters



Climate Crisis Has Made Western US Megadrought Worst in 1,200 Years

Climate Crisis Has Made Western US Megadrought Worst in 1,200 Years


“Climate change is here and now,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal. “If a 1,200 year mega-drought isn’t enough to make people realize that, I don’t know what is.”


The megadrought which has gripped western U.S. states including California and Arizona over the past two decades has been made substantially worse by the human-caused climate crisis, new research shows, resulting in the region’s driest period in about 1,200 years.

Scientists at University of California-Los Angeles, NASA, and Columbia University found that extreme heat and dryness in the West over the past two years have pushed the drought that began in 2000 past the conditions seen during a megadrought in the late 1500s.

The authors of the new study, which was published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, followed up on research they had conducted in 2020, when they found the current drought was the second-worst on record in the region after the one that lasted for several years in the 16th century.

“We’re sort of shifting into basically unprecedented times relative to anything we’ve seen in the last several hundred years.”

Since that study was published, the American West has seen a heatwave so extreme it sparked dozens of wildfires and killed hundreds of people and drought conditions which affected more than 90% of the area as of last summer, pushing the region’s conditions past “that extreme mark,” according to the Los Angeles Times.  

The scientists examined wood cores extracted from thousands of trees at about 1,600 sites across the West, using the data from growth rings in ancient trees to determine soil moisture levels going back to the 800s.

They then compared current conditions to seven other megadroughts—which are defined as droughts that are both severe and generally last a number of decades—that happened between the 800s and 1500s.

The researchers estimated that the extreme dry conditions facing tens of millions of people across the western U.S. have been made about 42% more severe by the climate crisis being driven by fossil fuel extraction and emissions.

“The results are really concerning, because it’s showing that the drought conditions we are facing now are substantially worse because of climate change,” Park Williams, a climate scientist at UCLA and the study’s lead author, told the Los Angeles Times.

In the region Williams and his colleagues examined, the average temperature since the drought began in 2000 was 1.6° Fahrenheit warmer than the average in the previous 50 years. Without the climate crisis driving global temperatures up, the West would still have faced drought conditions, but based on climate models studied by the researchers, there would have been a reprieve from the drought in 2005 and 2006.

“Without climate change, the past 22 years would have probably still been the driest period in 300 years,” Williams said in a statement. “But it wouldn’t be holding a candle to the megadroughts of the 1500s, 1200s, or 1100s.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said the new research must push the U.S. Congress to take far-reaching action to mitigate the climate crisis, as legislation containing measures to shift away from fossil fuel extraction and toward renewable energy is stalled largely due to objections from Republicans and right-wing Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

“It’s time for Congress to act by making meaningful investments into climate action—before it’s too late,” she said.

The drought has had a variety of effects on the West, including declining water supplies in the largest reservoirs of the Colorado River—Lake Mead and Lake Powell— as well as reservoirs across California and the Great Salt Lake in Utah.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 96% of the Western U.S. is now “abnormally dry” and 88% of the region is in a drought.


CAN WE SURVIVE EXTREME HEAT?


Humans have never lived on a planet this hot, and we’re totally unprepared for what’s to come.

CLIMATE CHANGE: EXTREME WEATHER EVENTS ARE ‘THE NEW NORM’


Extreme weather events – including powerful heat waves and devastating floods – are now the new normal, says the World Meteorological Organisation.


“We’re experiencing this variability now within this long-term aridification due to anthropogenic climate change, which is going to make the events more severe,” Isla Simpson, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research who was not involved in the study released Monday, told the Los Angeles Times.

The researchers also created simulations of other droughts they examined between 800 and 1500, superimposing the same amount of drying driven by climate change. In 94% of the simulations, the drought persisted for at least 23 years, and in 75% of the simulations, it lasted for at least three decades—suggesting that the current drought will continue for a number of years.

Williams said it is “extremely unlikely that this drought can be ended in one wet year.”

“We’re sort of shifting into basically unprecedented times relative to anything we’ve seen in the last several hundred years,” Samantha Stevenson, a climate modeler at the University of California, Santa Barbara who was not involved in the study, told the New York Times.

Source:

Julia Conley at Common Dreams



Flights canceled as wide swath of US braces for winter storm

Flights canceled as wide swath of US braces for winter storm


Airlines canceled hundreds of flights, governors urged residents to stay off roads and schools closed campuses as a huge swath of the U.S. braced for a major winter storm that was set to put millions of Americans in the path of heavy snow and freezing rain.


The approaching blast of frigid weather, which was expected to begin arriving Tuesday night, put a long stretch of states from New Mexico to Vermont under winter storm warnings and watches. More than a foot of snow was possible in Michigan, on the heels of a vicious nor’easter last weekend that brought blizzard conditions to many parts of the East Coast.

“It will be a very messy system and will make travel very difficult,” said Marty Rausch, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in College Park, Maryland.

The projected footprint of the storm extended as far south as Texas, where nearly a year after a catastrophic freeze buckled the state’s power grid in one of the worst blackouts in U.S. history, Gov. Greg Abbott defended the state’s readiness. The forecast does not call for the same prolonged and frigid temperatures as the February 2021 storm and the National Weather Service said the approaching system would, generally, not be as bad this time for Texas.

A major winter storm is expected in a large swath of the U.S., including Texas, nearly a year after a storm devastated the state’s power grid and caused hundreds of deaths. But Texas officials say the grid is ready. (Feb. 1)

“No one can guarantee that there won’t be any” outages caused by demand on the power grid, Abbott said Tuesday. “But what we will work to achieve, and what we’re prepared to achieve is that power is going to stay on across the entire state.”

In November, Abbott had, in fact, made a guarantee for winter: “I can guarantee the lights will stay on,” he told Austin television station KTBC.

Abbott, whose handling of last year’s blackouts is a top line of attack for Democrats as the Republican seeks a third term in 2022, said thousands of miles of roads in Texas will become “extraordinarily dangerous” over the coming days. Energy experts said the forecast this week, although below freezing, should not pose a challenge for Texas’ grid.

Flights canceled as wide swath of US braces for winter storm

Image 1 of 11

A City of Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation salt truck waits for a load in a city salt dome in anticipation of a winter storm Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022, in Chicago. A major winter storm is expected to affect a huge swath of the United States beginning Tuesday, with heavy snow starting in the Rockies and freezing rain as far south as Texas before it drops snow and ice on the Midwest. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

“The question has always been if we get a repeat of last year, would the power stay on? And this is nowhere near a repeat of last year,” said Doug Lewin, an energy consultant in Austin who has criticized Texas’ response to the blackouts as insufficient.

Airlines canceled more than 1,000 flights in the U.S. scheduled for Wednesday, the flight-tracking service FlightAware.com showed, including more than half taken off the board in St. Louis. In an effort to stay ahead of the weather, Southwest Airlines announced Tuesday that it would suspend all of its flight operations Wednesday at St. Louis Lambert International Airport and Thursday at its Dallas Love Field hub.

“Around the country, we’re planning to operate a limited or reduced schedule from some cities in the path of the storm but will make adjustments to the schedule as needed,” Southwest spokesman Dan Landson said.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson declared a state of emergency as school districts and universities shifted classes to online or canceled them entirely.

Chicago O’Hare International Airport also canceled more than 100 departing flights, and airports in Kansas City and Detroit were also canceling more flights than usual.

Illinois lawmakers canceled their three scheduled days of session this week as the central part of the state prepares for heavy snow, ice and high wind gusts in the region.

The National Weather Service said 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimeters) of snow was expected by Thursday morning in parts of the Rockies and Midwest, while heavy ice is likely from Texas through the Ohio Valley.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the weather service said 8 to 14 inches (20 to 36 centimeters) of snow was possible in parts of Michigan. That includes Detroit, where the mayor activated snow emergency routes and city crews were expected to work 12-hour shifts salting and plowing major roads.


CLIMATE CHANGE: EXTREME WEATHER EVENTS ARE ‘THE NEW NORM’


Extreme weather events – including powerful heat waves and devastating floods – are now the new normal, says the World Meteorological Organisation.

NEW YORK HOPES TO AVOID THE WORST OF CLIMATE CHANGE WITH THEIR RESILIENCY PLAN


One of the most populated cities in the US is preparing for what may now be inevitable: submersion. New York city has started a huge climate resiliency project to try and avoid the mistakes of the past and protect itself against the extreme weather of the future.


In Oklahoma, Gov. Kevin Stitt has declared a statewide state of emergency as the winter storm approaches. That suspends requirements for size and weights permits of oversized vehicles transporting materials and supplies used for emergency relief and power restoration. The declaration would remain in effect for seven days.

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, where up to 7 inches (18 centimeters) of snow and sleet are forecast but little ice, emergency management director Joe Kralicek said the event is not expected to cause large-scale power outages based on an ice index used by the National Weather Service.

“We could see some power outages, however, it’s also suggesting that they be limited in scope and nature and very short term in duration,” Kralicek said.

Becky Gligo, director of the nonprofit Housing Solutions in Tulsa said teams are working to move homeless people into shelters ahead of overnight lows that are expected to drop into single digits by Friday night.

Source:

Paul J. Weber via Associated Press



Storm Ana kills dozens in Malawi, Madagascar and Mozambique

Storm Ana kills dozens in Malawi, Madagascar and Mozambique


Southern Africa has been hit by flooding that has left more than 70 dead across the region in the wake of Tropical Storm Ana.


Madagascar has seen at least 48 deaths and 130,000 people have been forced to flee their homes to makeshift shelters.

In Malawi, at least 11 people have died. The country has suffered a nationwide power cut and some areas have been declared disaster zones.

Mozambique, meanwhile, has reported 18 deaths.

But officials there say the true number is still unknown, with 20,000 affected by the flooding.

A view on destroyed house after Tropical Storm Ana hit the district of Tete, Mozambique, 27 January 2022
Many homes which avoided destruction were damaged by heavy flooding

In Mozambique, Ana destroyed 10,000 homes and dozens of schools and hospitals, while downing power lines.

Heavy rain and thunderstorms have continued to hit some regions even after the storm’s passage, contributing to the flooding.

A view on destroyed house after Tropical Storm Ana hit the district of Tete, Mozambique, 27 January 2022
Many homes were destroyed outright

Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosário said that his country was not begging for help – but the challenge was bigger than any one country’s ability to tackle it.

And he pointed to the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.

“We are a country that does not contribute much for climate change, and yet we are one of the countries that suffer the most from its impact,” he said.

He has called for international aid – and Unicef, the United Nations a children’s charity, said it was deploying staff to the country to help the 45,000 people it estimated will need humanitarian aid.

UN Resident Coordinator in Mozambique, Myrta Kaulard, said “vulnerability is very, very high”.

“The challenge is titanic, the challenge is extreme,” she said.

Two men take pictures of a destroyed bridge after Tropical Storm Ana hit the district of Tete, Mozambique, 27 January 2022
Two men photograph a destroyed bridge in Mozambique

Malawi has declared a state of natural disaster.

Floods hit electricity infrastructure as well as homes, leaving beleaguered towns in darkness as the water rose. Power has started to come back for many, after days of blackouts.

Some 44 emergency camps have been set up to deal with thousands of displaced and injured people.

Locals look at a wreck washed away during tropical storm Ana on the flooded Shire river, an outlet of Lake Malawi at Thabwa village
Children find a washed-away wrecked car on the Shire river near Lake Malawi

“This is devastating. Look, all my maize crop has been buried. I planted one and half acres. All the crop is gone,” Roben Mphassa, a farmer in the Chikwawa area in Malawi, told Reuters.

“This disaster is the second one I’ve experienced in my life. But this is the worst.”

While Noria Kananji said the storm took the roof off her home and four homes nearby had been destroyed.

A man carries his ware as he walks past a cut-off road damaged by tropical storm Ana at Thabwa village, in Chikwawa district, southern Malawi
Local people deal with the flooding at Thabwa village in Chikwawa, Malawi

Madagascar was the first nation hit, as the storm made landfall on Monday, and has reported the most confirmed deaths. Schools and gyms in the capital, Antananarivo, have been transformed into emergency shelters for the displaced.

“We only brought our most important possessions,” Berthine Razafiarisoa, who took shelter in one with his 10-strong family, told AFP news agency.

A few hundred people lie on mats on the ground or walk through an indoor sports court
People took shelter at a gym in Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo last week after heavy rain – before this week’s storm even arrived

A BILLION CHILDREN AT ‘EXTREME RISK’ FROM CLIMATE IMPACTS – UNICEF


Report launched with youth activists including Greta Thunberg paints ‘unimaginably dire’ picture

CLIMATE CHANGE: EXTREME WEATHER EVENTS ARE ‘THE NEW NORM’


Extreme weather events – including powerful heat waves and devastating floods – are now the new normal, says the World Meteorological Organisation.


Meanwhile, weather services in the region have warned of another storm building in the Indian Ocean, which may materialise in the coming days.

It would be one of several such storms usually expected before the end of the season in two months’ time.

Source:

BBC News



Climate Change Could Open Up ‘Rivers in The Sky’ Over East Asia

Climate Change Could Open Up ‘Rivers in The Sky’ Over East Asia


We know that the climate crisis is already having a profound effect on global weather systems, altering temperatures, rainfall, wind patterns, and more – and a new study predicts likely deluges over the mountainous parts of East Asia in the future.


The pouring rain will be brought on by atmospheric rivers, scientists predict. These narrow corridors of concentrated moisture can quickly cause flooding when they hit a barrier such as a mountain range, releasing vast amounts of water in a short space of time.

According to the researchers’ models, rainfall events in East Asia will be more frequent and more severe in the coming decades as the planet warms up. More water will be transported through the air, and more precipitation will land on the ground.

“We find that both the atmospheric river-related water vapor transport and rainfall intensify over the southern and western slopes of mountains over East Asia in a warmer climate,” write the researchers in their published paper.

“Atmospheric rivers will bring unprecedented extreme rainfall over East Asia under global warming.”

Generally speaking, atmospheric rivers pick up moisture from warmer areas and deposit it over colder regions. Their movements are controlled by changes in wind and temperature – just the sort of changes that climate change can bring about.

When it comes to regions such as Japan, Taiwan, northeastern China, and the Korean Peninsula, the rainfall could reach record-breaking levels, the study reports. Most rain will land on the southwestern slopes of the Japanese Alps.

To reach their conclusions, the scientists ran simulations based on meteorological data collected from 1951 to 2010, modeling that data out to the year 2090 and assuming an increase in temperature in line with the more extreme scenarios of climate change.

“We used high-resolution global atmospheric circulation model simulations as well as regional climate model downscaling simulations,” says environmental scientist Yoichi Kamae from the University of Tsukuba in Japan.

""A radar scan showing atmospheric river movement. (Y. Kamae et al., Geophysical Review Letters, 2022)

There has been plenty of previous research into these atmospheric rivers, but it’s still not fully clear how these bands of moisture will change as the climate does – especially as their behavior is determined by topological features as well as the movements of warmer and cooler air.


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Report launched with youth activists including Greta Thunberg paints ‘unimaginably dire’ picture

CLIMATE CHANGE: EXTREME WEATHER EVENTS ARE ‘THE NEW NORM’


Extreme weather events – including powerful heat waves and devastating floods – are now the new normal, says the World Meteorological Organisation.


For some regions, increased rainfall will be a benefit; for others, extreme weather conditions could cause dangerous, life-threatening flooding. This is just the latest link between climate change and an increasing frequency of extreme weather events.

The researchers say that the modeling could also apply to other areas where atmospheric rivers might develop. While a lot of uncertainty remains, it seems probable from this and other studies that certain parts of the globe are going to see a lot more rainfall in the coming decades.

“Our findings are likely also applicable to other regions of the mid-latitudes where interactions between atmospheric rivers and steep mountains play a major role in precipitation, such as in western North America and Europe,” says Kamae.

“These regions may also experience more frequent and intense extreme precipitation events as the climate warms.”

The research has been published in Geophysical Research Letters.

Source:

David Nield at Science Alert



Sahara Desert Experienced Snow For the 4th Time in 42 Years!

Sahara Desert Experienced Snow For the 4th Time in 42 Years!


The Sahara Desert is the largest hot desert in the world. It is considered to be one of the harshest environments on the planet that covers 3.6 million square miles (9.4 million square kilometers) or almost one-third of the African continent and about the size of the US, including Hawaii and Alaska.


The Sahara is most famous for its sand dune fields, which are often depicted in movies. It reaches almost 600 feet (183 meters) high but only covers 15% of the entire desert, according to Live Science. But it also has mountains, plateaus, sand- and gravel-covered plains, and many more.

With the scorching hot temperature in the desert, who would have thought that it would rain snow in one of the driest places on Earth? But it did happen over the past decades and is reportedly happening for the fourth time in 42 years this time. Although this seems to be astonishing, experts claim that the snowfall is unprecedented.

Rare Snowfall Leaves Unique Patterns on Sahara’s Sand Dunes

Last January 19, the Sahara desert was reportedly covered with snow. The snow was spotted outside the town of Ain Sefra northwest of Algeria wherein it created a unique pattern on the sand dunes. Local photographer Karim Boucheta took the photos of the sand dunes streaked with crystal ice and the unusual weather in the Sahara desert that have made headlines around the world.

The dusting marks on the sand dunes is the fourth tie that the desert experienced snow in 42 years, with previous occurrences recorded in the years 1979, 2016, and 2018. Unlike this year’s rare snowfall, previous snowfalls were a lot thicker and heavier. For instance, the 2016 blizzard dumped over 3 feet (1meter) in selected regions, while the 2018 snowfall left15 inches (40 centimeters) of snow.

According to NASA, the Sahara Desert is more likely to experience snowfall at higher altitudes, like the Atlas Mountains. The American space agency said that the 2018 snow dump was even visible from space. They added that the Moroccan side of the Atlas Mountains also saw some snowfalls in 2015 and 2012.


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Motorists spun out on whitened mountain passes and residents wielded umbrellas that flopped in the face of fierce winds as Northern California absorbed even more rain and snow on Monday, bringing the possibility of rockslides and mudslides to areas scarred by wildfires following an especially warm and dry fall across the U.S. West.

HOW AI HELPED FIND MILLIONS OF TREES IN THE SAHARA


When a team of international scientists set out to count every tree in a large swathe of west Africa using AI, satellite images and one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, their expectations were modest. Previously, the area had registered as having little or no tree cover.


Why Did It Snow In the Sahara Desert?

Ain Sefra is located near the border of Algeria and Morocco. It sits about 3,800 feet (1,000 meters) above sea levels and is surrounded by the Atlas Mountains. During the summer season, the region’s temperature is usually 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius).

However, Sky News reported that this January it averaged on by about 57 F (14 C). The night before the recent ethereal display of frost in the Sahara Desert, the temperature was only 27 degrees Fahrenheit (-3 degrees Celsius).

According to Paul Deanno Books, for any place to receive snowfall, it needs to have two weather factors: cold air and moisture. These factors are short in supply in Africa but not in Ain Sefra, which makes snow unusual but not impossible.

That means cold plus precipitation could result in snow even in the world’s driest place, which happened again for the fourth time in 42 years.

Source:

Erika P. at The Science Times