7th April 2020 Today’s Round-Up of Climate News

Coral bleaching is sweeping across the Great Barrier Reef for a third time in five years.

“Bleaching has struck all three regions of the world’s largest coral reef system for the first time. What has occurred in recent weeks is also more widespread than ever before, marine scientists say.”


The Arctic Ocean increasingly resembles the Atlantic in its temperature and the species that live there.

“However, scientists from the CNRS and Université Laval, Quebec, showed that an unprecedented strengthening of Atlantic currents is playing a major role in this phenomenon called “Atlantification.””


New Democrats say the COVID-19 pandemic is distracting the federal and provincial governments from helping a northern-Ontario First Nation whose residents have been forced to evacuate each spring due to flooding.

“The spring evacuation has become an annual event for the roughly 2,000 residents of Kashechewan…”


Officials in Michigan are warning that attempts to curb the coronavirus pandemic could have serious consequences for relief and repairs during what is expected to be another tumultuous spring flooding season.

“High water levels are expected to cause severe flooding, shoreline erosion, and road and infrastructure damage even worse than was seen last year…”


With historically low river flows and reservoirs running dry due to drought, people in central Chile have found themselves particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Years of resource exploitation and lax legislation have allowed most reservoirs in that part of the country to run dry.”


Extreme rainfall has become increasingly common in metropolitan São Paulo, Brazil….

“”Intense rainstorms lasting a few hours with huge amounts of water, as much as 80 mm or 100 mm, are no longer sporadic events. They’re happening more and more frequently,” José Antonio Marengo, a senior researcher at CEMADEN and principal investigator for the study, told.”


Tanzania Meteorological Agency shared forecast shows that there will be increased rainfall between March and May 2020 during the long rain season and this will worsen the already bad situation in the region and beyond.

“The situation may worsen from the effects of category 2 tropical cyclone named Herold that has been reported in northeast of Madagascar.”


Northern parts of Zambia received the highest rainfall in recorded history of above 2,000 millimetres (mm) in the 2019/2020 rainy season.

“Zambia Meteorological Department (ZMD) acting director Edson Nkonde says data shows that most places in the northern region had rainfall exceeding the 1,300mm average…”


Recent flash floods across Yemen have led to a new wave of dengue fever that has killed as many as 59 people and infected more than 7,400 others.

“The virus, spread by mosquitoes, causes respiratory problems and symptoms very similar to COVID-19.”


With communities [in Papua New Guinea] still grappling with the hardships of the two-month state of emergency (SOE) due to Covid-19, more than 60,000 Gulf people have lost their homes and gardens to flooding making living a nightmare.

“This happens as the province prepares to put in measures for its Covid-19 response plan.”


Emergency teams in Ukraine on Monday continued battling a forest fire in the contaminated area around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant that has raised radiation fears

“Two blazes erupted Saturday in the zone around Chernobyl that was sealed after the 1986 explosion at the plant.”


The average level of methane in the atmosphere increased last year by the highest amount in five years, according to preliminary data released Sunday.”


After Earth experienced its second-hottest year in 140 years of record-keeping in 2019, the first few months of this year have either broken historic monthly records, or come close.

“January 2020 was the warmest January on record. February 2020 was the second hottest such month on record.

“And on Monday, the European Union’s climate monitoring agency EU Copernicus reported that March 2020 was “on par” with the second and third warmest Marches on record. “


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6th April 2020 Today’s Round-Up of Climate News

A category five cyclone has made landfall on the Pacific nation of Vanuatu, causing damage across large parts of the country, as it tries to prepare for the coronavirus outbreak.

“Cyclone Harold made landfall on the north and west of the country on Monday, after spending Sunday sitting off the country’s west coast, gathering strength.

“he Vanuatu meteorology and geo-hazards department warned that hurricane force winds, reaching up to 235km/h [146mph] were expected across parts of the country on Monday, as well as heavy rainfalls, flash flooding and “very rough to phenomenal seas”.

“Images coming through from Vanuatu early on Monday morning showed properties flattened in the country’s second-largest city of Luganville.”


Statistics released by the Japan Meteorological Agency show that the mean temperature deviation in Japan in 2019 was 0.92 degrees higher than normal (based on the average value for 1981-2010)

“…and represented the highest increase since data started being recorded in 1898.”


The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is offering help to the families of three forest firefighters who died while trying to contain wildfires in Chiang Mai province [Thailand] and seriously taking legal action on anyone setting forestland ablaze.”

[Thailand experiencing its worst drought in decades].


Ukraine has reported a spike in radiation levels in the restricted zone around Chernobyl, scene of the world’s worst nuclear accident, caused by a forest fire.

““There is bad news – radiation is above normal in the fire’s centre,” Yegor Firsov, head of Ukraine’s state ecological inspection service, said on Facebook on Sunday.”


With historically low river flows and reservoirs running dry due to drought, people in central Chile have found themselves particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Years of resource exploitation and lax legislation have allowed most reservoirs in that part of the country to run dry.”


First responders are preparing for raging wildfires that they expect will consume thousand of acres and drive some residents from their homes in upcoming months [in the US].

“But this year, preparations have stalled. The coronavirus pandemic has hit the country’s already strained emergency services…”


Record heat and dry conditions are “likely” to blame after a massive brush fire destroyed more than 3,500 rental cars at a southwestern Florida airport Friday.

“Plumes of black smoke could be seen up to 32 kilometres away from the blaze…”


Emergency managers train for handling multiple disasters simultaneously, but no one predicted a months-long, resource-sapping pandemic just ahead of hurricane season.”


After numerous temperature records were smashed across the [US] South in late March, another building ridge of high pressure will usher in well above-average temperatures across the region once again this week.

“New Orleans experienced a seven-day streak of record-high temperatures from the 23rd to the 29th of March, with record-challenging temperatures continuing on the 30th and 31st.”


Millions of Midwesterners could be potentially hurt by the intersection of two cataclysmic events: COVID-19 and climate change.

“In recent years, floods have become both more common and longer in duration due to factors related to climate change. But with the floods that are predicted to come this spring — bringing the need for manpower and disaster relief — there is growing concern that much of those resources will have been diverted to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.”


Drought, fires and land clearing have pushed Australia’s iconic koala to the brink of extinction, animal welfare groups warned on Sunday, with last year’s bush fires killing thousands of the animals.

“The groups are urging Australia’s national government to classify the marsupial as “endangered” in Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory…”


Global warming has set off a cascade of disruptions to the web of life, changing animals’ breeding habits, food supply, and their very DNA.

“They are in distress not only from climate instability but also from the loss of habitat and pollution produced by unchecked human consumption. In the past century, species have been wiped out at a pace 100 times greater than the natural rate of extinction, and as many as 1 million species are at risk of going extinct in the coming decades…”


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3rd April 2020 Today’s Round-Up of Climate News

The Antarctic is estimated to have lost three trillion tonnes of ice over the past 25 years and Ellis holds grave fears of an approaching tipping point

“If and when it tips – a moment unlikely to be discernible until it’s already past – Antarctica will become an aggressive driver of climate change.”


Hong Kong’s butterfly population hit its highest level in at least 14 years in 2019, the warmest year on record in the city, causing a local green group to suggest the increase in numbers could have been linked to climate change…

“Average temperatures in February and March 2019 were 4.4 degrees Celsius higher than usual.”


A severe drought has affected over 1 million people in southwest China’s Yunnan Province, the provincial water conservancy department said Friday.

“As of Wednesday, a total of 1.14 million people had difficulties accessing drinking water, while 258,400 domestic animals were also short of water.”


While China continues to battle the deadly coronavirus, another battle is being waged in Xichang City, in China’s southwest Sichuan Province.

Firefighters are working around the clock to put out the blazes in the region, as new fires began to flare on Lushan Mountain, and spread quickly toward the downtown area, CGTN.com reported.”


At least 12 people have been killed and 20 others injured in heavy rains and flash floods that have hit 18 Afghan provinces…

“…Ahmad Tamim Azimi, spokesman for Afghanistan Natural Disasters Management Authority, said on Thursday.”


Flooding caused by heavy rain in south and central provinces of Iran, lead to fatalities and widespread damage, and continue to cause damage to infrastructure and agriculture sector, worth USD 120 million… Iran is also grappling with the biggest desert locust invasion in the last 50 years.

“Response teams are fighting the spread in 6 southern provinces where weather conditions are optimal for breeding…”


At least 4,625 families have been displaced by flooding in several Yemeni governorates, Anadolu news agency reported on Wednesday.

“According to the UNHCR, heavy rain fell across southern and eastern Yemen on 24 and 24 March. Floodwater covered several homes and streets in Aden and destroyed bridges, streets and water networks. Crops were also damaged…”


Something amazing has happened to the [UK] weather. The interminable rains that began last September suddenly vanished two weeks ago over much of the country.

“Waterlogged soils are drying out at an astonishing rate… A new UK record for high atmospheric pressure in March was set: 1,051.2 millibars at South Uist in the Outer Hebrides.”


“‘A powerful storm dropped a sneaky snowfall on the Appalachians from Tuesday into Wednesday. Since then, the potent cyclone has blossomed into a hurricane-strength whirlwind over the Atlantic

“The system even developed half a ring of strong thunderstorms surrounding its center of circulation, a trait common in tropical and subtropical storms.”


Indian River County [Florida] — A local state of emergency and a countywide burn ban will go into effect Friday morning after a record-low month of rainfall

“The state of emergency is going into effect to free up resources to help combat any wildfires that might break out…”


Flooding continues on a river in South Dakota a year after it was first triggered by heavy rain and snowmelt from a Plains bomb cyclone last March

“”The river levels never fell in the winter because the ground was fully saturated when it froze last fall,” Amy Parkin, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Aberdeen, South Dakota, told NASA.”


We all might not have been outside as much as usual to notice, but March was a relatively chilly month in Seattle.

“In fact, as UW Atmospheric Sciences Professor Cliff Mass pointed out Wednesday, it was colder than January!


The endangered whooping crane could be wiped out if it continues to migrate in large groups – an unusual behavioural trend that could be due to habitat loss.

“The five-foot-tall crane (Grus Americana), which is North America’s tallest bird, is distinguishable by its unusual ‘whooping’ sound.”


Climate change threatens to shake up the lifestyles of many animals around the world and a new study has revealed that for the American robin these wheels are already very much in motion.

“Scientists tagged the songbirds with GPS units to track their migration patterns and found that they are embarking on their annual Arctic-bound journey earlier each decade…”


The sea ice in the Bering Sea got broken up pretty well in March due to a series of storms that moved through the area. The change from the beginning of March to the end of March was dramatic.

“According to Rick Thoman, a climate specialist with the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy, the loss of sea ice from the first half of the month to the second half was record-breaking…”


…large vessels are increasing their activity in the Arctic Ocean as declining sea ice opens previously inaccessible Arctic regions to shipping.

“This surge in vessel traffic is also causing an increase in underwater noise, which research has shown can affect marine mammals and fish by interfering with communications, behavior and movement.”


Not since November 2011 has Svalbard had a monthly average temperature colder than normal

““Average temperature for March was -16,2 degrees Celsius, which is 0,5 degrees under the normal,” says Jostein Mamen, Climate researcher with Norway’s Meteorological Institute.”


The heavy downpour from Cyclone Harold has inflicted serious damage to a bridge connecting communities in North West Guadalcanal to Honiara.

“The people and farmers who usually transport their products by vehicle to the capital Honiara are now cut off.”


Twenty-eight people are missing and feared dead after being washed from a ferry in Solomon Islands in the early hours of Friday morning as it encountered rough seas caused by Cyclone Harold.

“The passengers were swept off MV Taimareho, a passenger vessel that was travelling from the capital of Honiara to West Are Are port in Malaita province.”


Countries with large populations and low levels of development are most likely to see a rise in the risk of armed conflict after extreme weather events, according to a new study that researchers said underscored the need to boost their resilience.”


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2nd April 2020 Today’s Round-Up of Climate News

Iran had disastrous spring floods in 2019, too:

Flooding in Iran caused by heavy rainfall has left 21 people dead and one missing, an emergency services spokesman said Wednesday, even as the country battles the coronavirus pandemic.

“Mojtaba Khaledi told Iran’s ISNA news agency that 22 people had also been injured, with most of the casualties in southern or central provinces. He said 11 people had died in Fars province, three each in Hormozgan and Qom, two in Sistan and Baluchistan province, and one each in Bushehr and Khuzestan.”


Pakistan has been having similar issues:

“Seven people were killed and eight others received injuries in rain-related incidents in different districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Wednesday… Torrential rains also damaged crops and fruits in the district.”


COVID-19 on one hand, Karnataka [India] seems poised to face another crisis that comes with a harsh summer: drought and the resultant shortage of drinking water

“by the noise over COVID-19 is the fact that nine districts — Bengaluru Urban, Bengaluru Rural, Kolar, Chikballapur, Tumakuru, Ramanagara, Chitradurga, Davangere and Haveri — have slipped into a drinking water problem.”


A rural support agency says the COVID-19 lockdown is adding more pressure on farmers [NZ] who are already struggling with drought conditions.

“The Waikato Primary Industries Cluster met online to take stock of the continuing drought and new challenges arising from the coronavirus response.”


This past month was the wettest month of March on record in Midland [Texas], according to the National Weather Service.

“The 3.44 inches drowned the previous high mark – 2.86 inches in 1970 – and was nearly six times the average.”


In some cities across the southern United States, March 2020 will enter the weather history books as the warmest on record.

“During a typical March, much of the continental United States can have wild temperature swings, as the seasons are changing from Winter to Spring. During March 2020, however, a good swath of the southern United States stayed consistently warm.”


Record cold weather in Hungary after a record warm winter:

“A daily record-low temperature was reported for the second consecutive day on Thursday morning, the national weather service said. The previous record for April 2 was minus 8.6 degrees Celsius, registered in Zabar, in northern Hungary, in 2005.”


Twenty people have been killed by a lightning strike on high-voltage power lines in the Republic of Congo.

“Authorities said the incident happened in the capital Brazzaville on the first day of a lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus.”


Researchers have found evidence of rainforests near the South Pole 90 million years ago, suggesting the climate was exceptionally warm at the time.

“A team from the UK and Germany discovered forest soil from the Cretaceous period within 900 km of the South Pole. Their analysis of the preserved roots, pollen and spores shows that the world at that time was a lot warmer than previously thought.”


“Denman Canyon is located in East Antarctic and descends at least 3,400 metres below sea level, making it the deepest point on continental Earth. While several kilometres below the surface, it is entirely filled with ice that flows in from the Denman Glacier.

A new study finds that the melting Denman Glacier would not only threaten to flood this canyon, but it could cause global sea levels to rise by 1.5 m.”


“… Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation, which owns the mine, wants to expand the operation by doubling its output to 12 million metric tons a year, and, starting in 2025, more than doubling that again to 30 million metric tons.

“That means two to four times as many ships carrying the ore through the icy waters, as well as the construction of a new rail line…”


The current coronavirus pandemic, despite likely originating with an animal-to-human crossover far from the Arctic Circle, has come at a particularly weighty moment for infectious disease.

“As the Arctic warms twice as fast as the rest of the world, its ground is starting to thaw. With that thaw, bacteria and viruses once buried in the permafrost could increasingly emerge from a long hibernation.”


The heating climate will likely have greater impacts on extreme heat and weather than history suggests or science has predicted, according to a climate scientist who studies the relationship between climate and weather events.

““Global warming is actually causing a more rapid intensification of heat waves and heavy rainfall events than what we would expect just looking at the historical trends,” Earth Systems Professor Noah Diffenbaugh says…”


“With the world currently on track for catastrophic temperature increases, the two-week summit had been meant to galvanise a renewed international commitment to an accord brokered in Paris in 2015 aimed at stabilising the Earth’s climate.

“But with the British hosts and other countries struggling to contain the coronavirus pandemic, which has brought large sections of the global economy to a standstill, officials decided to push the summit back to give governments more time to prepare.”


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1st April 2020 Today’s Round-Up of Climate News

Rising ocean temperatures could have pushed the world’s tropical coral reefs over a tipping point where they are hit by bleaching on a “near-annual” basis, according to the head of a US government agency program that monitors the globe’s coral reefs…

The real concern is with this much bleaching without tropical forcing,” Dr Mark Eakin, coordinator of Coral Reef Watch at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. “This may be a sign we’ve now tipped over to near-annual bleaching in many locations.”


Water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico are running more than three degrees above average… 

“…increasing the prospects for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes this spring and potentially stronger hurricane activity in the summer and fall.”


“Researchers at UC Santa Barbara and the Nature Conservancy have compiled a new dataset of damage caused by wildfires in California in areas protected by the state of California…

The report illustrates how the recent set of severe fires fits into a broader trend of increasing burn area and damage over the past 40 years.”


“Even without completing the month, the National Meteorological Service [of Argentina] has no doubts in affirming that this March will go down in history as the hottest March nationwide since records are available

“…that is, since 1961… the average temperature at the country level presents an anomaly of 2.8 °C “


An unusually dry end to the summer season across parts of South America is expected to impact the harvests of important crops in the region.

“”Rainfall averaged below normal across much of southern Brazil, including [the states of] Rio Grande Do Sul, Santa Catarina, for the month of March, and in many instances the entire summer season,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls.”


New South Wales, the Australian state most severely hit by last summer’s wildfires, yesterday marked the official close to its worst bush fire season, which razed over 6 per cent of the state’s land area and killed 25 people.

“The country’s devastating fire season, which lasted from September until torrential rains hit in February, killed 33 people and a billion native animals nationally.”


Heavy downpour that lasted hours on Monday evening has caused floods that inundated at least 9,285 houses in six districts of Bandung regency, West Java [Indonesia]…

“…forcing hundreds of people to flee their homes and causing at least one fatality.”


From drought to inundation:

“Some good news!! The floodwaters of the Zambezi have hit Victoria Falls and Kariba – the river has risen quickly and the lake is starting to fill. This is the biggest flood since 1977/78, which is the biggest flood since records started in the sixties.

“However, there is now a second wave coming through Chavuma (on the Angola/Zambia border) which looks as big as the first wave.”


“In the last 36 hours, the province of Castellón [Spain] has registered intense and persistent rains, which have left accumulated ephemeris and numerous floods…

Over the last 24 hours, the AEMET observatory in the Castellón capital has registered 150 l / m2 (rainfall day), it is the largest accumulated on a day outside of an autumn month.”


“Rising temperatures may be having a profound physical impact on one of the world’s favourite songbirds.

Researchers in Spain found that over a 20-year period, nightingales had evolved smaller wingspans. The scientists say this is linked to a changing climate in the region which has seen the early onset of spring and increased drought.”


Months of flooding is turning Lugg meadows [UK] anoxic as oxygen is lost.

“Worms and other insects suffocate and come to the surface where they are picked off by scavengers… reducing the larder of food for rarer species that rely on the reserve in spring. Many delicate grass species… are likely to be weakened by the floods, leaving a flush of resistant weed species such as thuggish dock leaves and thistles to take their place.”


Tropical rainforests are emptying out due to the ongoing extinction of animal species caused by overhunting and forest fragmentation.

“But not only species as such, also the number of individuals of species living in rainforests continue to decline. Large-bodied species, which are particularly vulnerable to changes, decline at a comparably faster rate than other species.”


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31st March 2020 Today’s Round-Up of Climate News

Throughout the 1990s, Greenland and Antarctica together lost 81 billion tons of ice per year. But this month, a comprehensive assessment of the changing ice sheets published in the journal Nature, found that in the 2010s, the rate of ice loss has risen by a factor six. This means that the two ice sheets are now losing 475 billion tons of ice per year.

“The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report predicted a rise in global sea levels of 28 inches by 2100. But this new study shows that ice losses from both Antarctica and Greenland are rising faster than expected, tracking with the IPCC’s worst-case scenario.”


…the two main ocean currents in Fram Strait transport the microscopically small plastic particles into the region between Greenland and Spitsbergen from both the Arctic and the North Atlantic.

“While passing through the Strait, many particles eventually drift to the seafloor, where they accumulate.”


Climate change scientists, historians and archaeologists from the Universities of Nottingham, Harvard and Maine used ultra-high precision laser technology to analyse the contents of the 800-year-old section of [Alpine] ice, which they found “exactly maps the comings and goings of England’s Kings”.”


Florida is searing through what could be a record dry and hot March, and that combination is raising the threat of wildfires and drought heading into the heart of the state’s dry season…

“Even though March is in the heart of this drier time of the year, parts of Florida are threatening records with virtually no rain all month.”


As temperatures rise, so do rates of mental health problems, new research shows.

“A survey study of more than 3 million respondents showed a significant increase in the probability of self-reported psychiatric problems…

“…when temperatures were above 80° F…”


That same storm had dropped 16.45 inches of rain on the peaks of Mount Waialeale [Hawaii] on March 16, with another 11.5 coming down the next day.

“Almost an inch of rain was recorded in just 15 minutes’ time during the height of the storm. In the past two weeks, Kauai has been placed under seven severe thunderstorm warnings.”


Japan has laid out its plans to tackle greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris agreement in the run-up to UN climate talks this year, becoming the first large economy to do so.

“But its proposals were criticised by campaigners as grossly inadequate, amid fears the Covid-19 crisis could prompt countries to try to water down their climate commitments.”


International prices of rice have surged as droughts keep production low in key exporters Thailand and Vietnam, while panic buying amid the coronavirus pandemic is also tightening supply.

“The benchmark export price of Thai-grown rice reached about $550 a ton in late March, the highest since August 2013…”


Eighteen firefighters and one forestry guide died while fighting a huge forest fire in southwestern China, the local government said Tuesday.

“State television footage showed large flames shooting into the sky from the mountains above the city of Xichang in Sichuan province, turning the sky orange.”


“In 2017, Stafford Sheehan handed a friend an unusual bottle of booze. He had made it himself — but not the usual way.

A chemical physicist, Dr. Sheehan had invented a process to make alcohol from carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas associated with climate change, not cocktail hour… However… the competition has been delayed by the coronavirus crisis.”


This summer, Casey Research Station, in the Windmill Islands oasis [Antarctica], experienced its first recorded heatwave. For three days, minimum temperatures exceeded zero and daily maximums were all above 7.5C. On 24 January, its highest maximum of 9.2C was recorded, almost 7C above Casey’s 30-year mean for the month…

“By February, most heat was concentrated in the Antarctic Peninsula at the northernmost part of the continent. A new Antarctic maximum temperature of 18.4C was recorded on 6 February at Argentina’s Esperanza research station on the peninsula – almost 1C above the previous record. Three days later this was eclipsed when 20.75C was reported at Brazil’s Marambio station, on Seymour Island east of the peninsula.”


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