Climate Change ☀️
Egyptian fossil surprise: Fishes thrived in tropics in ancient warm period, despite high ocean temps
The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM, was a short interval of highly elevated global temperatures 56 million years ago that is frequently described as the best ancient analog for present-day climate warming.

Fish are among the organisms thought to be most sensitive to warming climates, and tropical sea-surface temperatures during the PETM likely approached temperatures that are lethal to some modern marine fish species, according to some estimates.

But newly discovered fish fossils from an eastern Egyptian desert site show that marine fishes thrived in at least some tropical areas during the PETM.
Read the full article: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/05/210525101706.htm

The last 30 years were the hottest on record for the United States
There’s a new normal for U.S. weather. On May 4, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced an official change to its reference values for temperature and precipitation. Instead of using the average values from 1981 to 2010, NOAA’s new “climate normals” will be the averages from 1991 to 2020.

This new period is the warmest on record for the country. Compared with the previous 30-year-span, for example, the average temperature across the contiguous United States rose from 11.6° Celsius (52.8° Fahrenheit) to 11.8° C (53.3° F). Some of the largest increases were in the South and Southwest — and that same region also showed a dramatic decrease in precipitation.


NOAA’s new climate normal, the period from 1991 to 2020, shows that average temperatures in the contiguous United States increased across most of the country compared with the averages from 1981 to 2010.

The United States and other members of the World Meteorological Organization are required to update their climate normals every 10 years. These data put daily weather events in historical context and also help track changes in drought conditions, energy use and freeze risks for farmers.

That moving window of averages for the United States also tells a stark story about the accelerating pace of climate change. When each 30-year period is compared with the average temperatures from 1901 to 2000, no part of the country is cooler now than it was during the 20th century. And temperatures in large swaths of the country, from the American West to the Northeast, are 1 to 2 degrees Fahrenheit higher.

The average temperatures for 30-year “normal” periods for the contiguous United States show the country getting hotter since 1901. Here, each 30-year period is compared with the average temperature for the entire 20th century. From 1991 to 2020, average temperatures across most of the country were at least 0.6 degrees Celsius (1 degree Fahrenheit) higher than the 20th century average.
Read the full article: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/climate-weather-normals-30-years-hottest-record-united-states

Climate Activists Defeat Exxon in Push for Clean Energy
Shareholders elected at least two of the four directors nominated by a coalition of investors that said the oil giant was not investing enough in cleaner energy.

Big Oil was dealt a stunning defeat on Wednesday when shareholders of Exxon Mobil elected at least two board candidates nominated by activist investors who pledged to steer the company toward cleaner energy and away from oil and gas.

The success of the campaign, led by a tiny hedge fund against the nation’s largest oil company, could force the energy industry to confront climate change and embolden Wall Street investment firms that are prioritizing the issue. Analysts could not recall another time that Exxon management had lost a vote against company-picked directors.

“This is a landmark moment for Exxon and for the industry,” said Andrew Logan, a senior director at Ceres, a nonprofit investor network that pushes corporations to take climate change seriously. “How the industry chooses to respond to this clear signal will determine which companies thrive through the coming transition and which wither.”

The vote reveals the growing power of giant Wall Street firms that manage the 401(k)s and other investments of individuals and businesses to press C.E.O.s to pursue environmental and social goals. Some of these firms are run by executives who say they see climate change as a major threat to the economy and the planet.

... Environmentalists said they believed the vote would bolster the work of big investment firms that are pushing companies on climate change.

“This moment is not just about Exxon Mobil,” said Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund. “It is about major asset managers and other influential investors stepping up, making their voices heard and walking the walk, connecting the dots between their climate rhetoric and their actions.”
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/26/business/exxon-mobil-climate-change.html

A Dutch court rules that Shell must step up its climate change efforts.
The District Court in The Hague ruled that Shell was “obliged” to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of its activities by 45 percent at the end of 2030 compared with 2019.

Shell has already adopted targets for emissions reduction, but the terms of the court’s decision could require the company to substantially accelerate the process of reducing emissions-producing fuels like oil and gas.

At present, Shell says it hopes to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, with a series of interim targets along the way.

A spokesman said the company expected to “to appeal today’s disappointing court decision.”

The ruling is likely to apply only in the Netherlands, and it is unclear how it would be enforced. There was also a small consolation for Shell: The court found that the company’s current carbon dioxide emissions were not unlawful.

Still, the defeat of an oil giant by an environmental group — Milieudefensie, the Dutch wing of the Friends of the Earth, joined by other activists — appeared to be a breakthrough in a court’s willingness to dictate to a major business what it must do globally to protect the climate.

... The Dutch court largely accepted the argument that Shell had a duty to move faster on emissions — especially to the people of the Netherlands, who could be at risk from rising sea levels and other dangers from climate change.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/26/business/royal-dutch-shell-climate-change.html

Record-shattering 2020 trans-Atlantic dust storm
For two weeks in June 2020, a massive dust plume from Saharan Africa crept westward across the Atlantic, blanketing the Caribbean and Gulf Coast states in the U.S. The dust storm was so strong, it earned the nickname "Godzilla."

Now, researchers from the University of Kansas have published a new study in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society parsing the mechanism that transported the dust. Their results explain a phenomenon that could occur more frequently in the years ahead due to climate change, affecting human health and transportation systems. African dust darkened the skies of the Caribbean and American Gulf States thanks to a trio of atmospheric patterns, according to the study.
Read the full article: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/05/210526115500.htm

Warm ice may fracture differently than cold ice
Researchers have found strong evidence that warm ice - that is, ice very close in temperature to zero degrees Celsius - may fracture differently than the kinds of ice typically studied in laboratories or nature. A new study takes a closer look at the phenomenon.

Understanding how ice breaks is crucial for ensuring safe harbours and bridges in cool climates, as well as transportation through historically ice-heavy regions. As global warming brings changes to once-predictable seasonal conditions, the rules underpinning infrastructure engineering are being tested across borders and continents.
Read the full article: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/05/210526115506.htm

People prefer 'natural' strategies to reduce atmospheric carbon
A cross-disciplinary collaboration found that a majority of the U.S. public is supportive of soil carbon storage as a climate change mitigation strategy, particularly when that and similar approaches are seen as 'natural' strategies.

Soil carbon storage, carbon capture and storage, biochar -- mention these terms to most people, and a blank stare might be the response.

But frame these climate change mitigation strategies as being clean and green approaches to reversing the dangerous warming of our planet, and people might be more inclined to at least listen -- and even to back these efforts.
Read the full article: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/05/210526185839.htm

Widespread coral-algae symbioses endured historical climate changes
One of the most important and widespread reef-building corals, known as cauliflower coral, exhibits strong partnerships with certain species of symbiotic algae, and these relationships have persisted through periods of intense climate fluctuations over the last 1.5 million years, according to a new study led by researchers at Penn State. The findings suggest that these corals and their symbiotic algae may have the capacity to adjust to modern-day increases in ocean warming, at least over the coming decades.

Cauliflower corals -- which are in the genus Pocillopora -- are branching corals that provide critical habitat for one-quarter of the world's fish and many kinds of invertebrates, such as lobsters, sea urchins and giant clams. They are common throughout the Indo-Pacific -- the region extending from eastern Africa, north to India and Southeast Asia, across Australia and encompassing Hawaii -- and are capable of long-range dispersal and rapid growth, making them among the first species to repopulate reefs damaged by typhoons and events of mass coral bleaching and mortality.
Read the full article: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/05/210526185852.htm

Climate change, periodic modification of Earth’s climate brought about as a result of changes in the atmosphere as well as interactions between the atmosphere and various other geologic, chemical, biological, and geographic factors within the Earth system.

Source: Climate change - Evidence for climate change | Britannica
Climate Change is the defining issue of our time and we are at a defining moment. From shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale. Without drastic action today, adapting to these impacts in the future will be more difficult and costly.

Source: Climate Change | United Nations