Climate Change ☀️
Biden Suspends Drilling Leases in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
The decision blocks, for now, oil and gas drilling in one of the largest tracts of undeveloped wilderness in the United States.

The Biden administration announced that it would suspend oil drilling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that were issued by the Trump administration.

The decision could ultimately end any plans to drill in one of the largest tracts of untouched wilderness in the U.S. — delicate tundra in Alaska that is home to migrating waterfowl, caribou and polar bears. The move comes as the Biden administration weathers criticism for recent decisions to either support or fail to block major oil and gas drilling projects.

While the move follows President Biden’s Inauguration Day executive order to halt new Arctic drilling, it also serves as a high-profile way for the president to solidify his environmental credentials after coming under fire from activists angered by his recent quiet support for some fossil fuel projects.

“President Biden believes America’s national treasures are cultural and economic cornerstones of our country and he is grateful for the prompt action by the Department of the Interior to suspend all leasing pending a review of decisions made in the last administration’s final days that could have changed the character of this special place forever,” said Gina McCarthy, the White House domestic climate policy adviser.

Still, the suspension of the leases alone does not guarantee that drilling will be blocked in the Arctic refuge. The administration has only committed to reviewing the Trump leases, not canceling them. If it determines that the leases were granted illegally, it could then have legal grounds to cancel them.
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Amid Historic Drought, a New Water War in the West
A drought crisis has erupted in the Klamath Basin along the California-Oregon border, with fish dying en masse and farmers infuriated that they have been cut off from their main water source.

Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge in California
Through the marshlands along the Oregon-California border, the federal government a century ago carved a whole new landscape, draining lakes and channeling rivers to build a farming economy that now supplies alfalfa for dairy cows and potatoes for Frito-Lay chips.

The drawdowns needed to cover the croplands and the impacts on local fish nearing extinction have long been a point of conflict at the Klamath Project, but this year’s historic drought has heightened the stakes, with salmon dying en masse and Oregon’s largest lake draining below critical thresholds for managing fish survival. Hoping to limit the carnage, federal officials have shut the gates that feed the project’s sprawling irrigation system, telling farmers the water that has flowed every year since 1907 will not be available.

Some farmers, furious about water rights and fearing financial ruin, are already organizing a resistance. “Tell Pharaoh let our water feed the Earth,” said a sign erected near the nearly dry irrigation canal that would usually be flowing with water from Upper Klamath Lake in southern Oregon.

The brewing battle over the century-old Klamath Project is an early window into the water shortfalls that are likely to spread across the West as a widespread drought, associated with a warming climate, parches watersheds throughout the region.

In Nevada, water levels have dropped so drastically in Lake Mead that officials are preparing for a serious shortage that could prompt major reductions in Colorado River water deliveries next year. In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom has placed 41 counties under a state of emergency.

While drought consumed much of the West last year, setting the stage for an extensive wildfire season, the conditions this spring are far worse than a year ago. More than half of the West faces “extreme” drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, including wide areas of California and Oregon. Scientists have said the region may be going through the worst drought period in centuries.
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Western States Face Excessive-Heat Warnings and Advisories
Temperatures in the San Joaquin Valley of California hit 108 on Tuesday and areas across Washington could reach the lower 100s, the National Weather Service said.

Dangerously hot conditions and triple-digit temperatures are forecast for the Western United States this week, leading to a wave of excessive-heat warnings and heat advisories from Central California and Nevada up to Washington.

Temperatures reached 108 degrees on Tuesday and were forecast to hit 107 on Wednesday in the San Joaquin Valley in the center of California, according to the National Weather Service. While temperatures in Fresno were 16 to 18 degrees above normal for this time of year, they fell short of breaking records. The high in Fresno on Tuesday was 104.

... Warmer-than-average temperatures have been the trend in recent memory. Last year tied 2016 as the hottest year on record, according to European climate researchers. To complicate matters, a severe drought is ravaging the entire western half of the United States, from the Pacific Coast, across the Great Basin and desert Southwest, and up through the Rockies to the Northern Plains.

Meteorologists have advised residents to stay hydrated, wear light clothing when outside, limit outdoor exposure and be mindful of any signs of heat related-illnesses such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Older adults and children are the most vulnerable, the Weather Service said.

A recent study published in the journal Nature Climate Change suggested that more than a third of heat-related deaths in many parts of the world can be attributed to the extra warming associated with climate change. The research found that heat-related deaths in warm seasons were boosted by climate change by an average of 37 percent, in a range of a 20 to 76 percent increase.
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Greenhouse gas emissions from reservoirs higher than previously expected
A new study shows per-area greenhouse gas emissions from the world's water reservoirs are around 29% higher than suggested by previous studies, but that practical measures could be taken to help reduce that impact.

Much of the increase in emissions comes from previously unaccounted for methane degassing, a process where methane passes through a dam and bubbles up downstream, according to the analysis by Washington State University and University of Quebec at Montreal scientists.

Overall, the researchers found the world's water reservoirs are annually producing methane, carbon dioxide, and other greenhouses gases in an amount roughly equivalent to 1.07 gigatons of carbon dioxide.

While that amount is small in comparison to the more than 36 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions produced by fossil fuels and other industrial sources each year, it's still more greenhouse gas than the entire country of Germany, the globe's sixth largest emitter, produces annually. It is also roughly equal in weight to 10,000 fully-loaded U.S. aircraft carriers.
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Key causes of ocean circulation change
Researchers have identified the key factors that influence a vital pattern of ocean currents.

The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) carries warm water from the tropics northward.

Many scientists think that this heat transport makes areas including north-west Europe and the UK warmer than they would otherwise be.

Climate models suggest the AMOC is likely to weaken over the coming decades, with widespread implications for regional and global climate.
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Western Australia's natural 'museums of biodiversity' at risk
Up to three quarters of the biodiversity living on Western Australia's iconic ironstone mountains in the State's Mid West (known as Banded Iron Formations) could be difficult or impossible to return quickly to its previous state after the landscape has been mined, a study has found.

The research published in Ecology and Evolution, discovered that the plant ecosystems are well-adapted to the characteristics of the region's ancient and nutrient-poor soils -- and that the very different features of mined landscapes mean many native species are unlikely to be returned by rehabilitation.
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Californian smoke drifted as far as Europe in 2020 and caused heavy clouding of sun
The smoke from the extreme forest fires on the US West Coast in September 2020 travelled over many thousands of kilometers to Central Europe, where it continued to affect the atmosphere for days afterwards. A comparison of ground and satellite measurements now shows: The forest fire aerosol disturbed the free troposphere over Leipzig in Germany as never before.
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Is the U. S. understating climate emissions from meat and dairy production?
Methane emissions from North American livestock may be routinely undercounted, a new analysis finds. The work also notes that in developing countries, where animal agriculture is becoming increasingly industrialized, methane emissions could rise more than expected.

Methane is a global warming gas even more powerful than CO2. Its amount and lifetime in the atmosphere are smaller than CO2, but quantities are still increasing. The United Nations has recently urged that reducing methane emissions is a highly effective way of rapidly reducing global warming.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports these emissions in a national greenhouse gas inventory every year using complex models. But, the researchers write, existing methods that the EPA and other international agencies use to estimate methane emissions from animals are not corroborated by measuring concentrations of the gas in the air.

This omission is significant.
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Precise data for improved coastline protection
Researchers have conducted the first precise and comprehensive measurements of sea level rises in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. A new method now makes it possible to determine sea level changes with millimeter accuracy even in coastal areas and in case of sea ice coverage. This is of vital importance for planning protective measures.

For the billions of people who live in coastal areas, rising sea levels driven by climate change can pose an existential threat. "To protect people and infrastructure -- for example by building flood protection structures, securing ports or making dikes higher -- we need reliable forecasts on sea level trends," explains Prof. Florian Seitz, the Director of the German Geodetic Research Institute at TUM. "However, this requires precise data with high spatial resolution. And until now, the required wide-area coverage was not available."

Especially near coastlines -- where so many cities, ports, industry facilities and residential areas are located -- the quality of data collected by the radar satellites orbiting the Earth for decades was compromised by high signal-to-noise ratios. The reason: Mountains, bays and offshore islands scatter the signals and distort the reflected echoes. Another problem is sea ice, which covers parts of the oceans in winter, and is impenetrable to radar.
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If countries implement Paris pledges with cuts to aerosols, millions of lives can be saved
Aerosol reductions that would take place as countries meet climate goals could contribute to global cooling and prevent more than one million annual premature deaths over a decade, according to a new study.

.The landmark Paris Agreement of 2016 does not address emissions of aerosols -- fine particulates like soot that cause pollution. Nonetheless, findings from the recent study authored by researchers at UC San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the School of Global Policy and Strategy suggests that aerosol accounting should be explicitly incorporated into international climate policy.

It is crucial because as countries implement their greenhouse gas reduction targets under the Paris climate agreement, their choices about which sectors to target will also reduce aerosols that are co-emitted, which will have major impacts to public health and global temperatures

"Joint consideration of greenhouse gases and aerosols is critical," said Pascal Polonik, a Ph.D. student at Scripps Oceanography and first author of the paper published in Earth's Future. "Polluting particles, known as aerosols, are emitted in tandem with greenhouse gases but aren't accounted for. While all greenhouse gas emissions might be thought of as unambiguously harmful, aerosols are more complicated. All aerosols are harmful to human health but they also often help counteract global warming by cooling the Earth's surface."

It is estimated that emissions of aerosols from burning fossil fuels like coal and diesel are responsible for nine million premature deaths worldwide. Though most aerosols have a cooling effect because they reflect sunlight, certain types, such as black carbon have a warming effect.
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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