Connect with us

Science

From killer heatwaves to floods, climate change worsened weather extremes in 2021

Published

 on

Extreme weather events in 2021 shattered records around the globe. Hundreds died in storms and heatwaves. Farmers struggled with drought, and in some cases with locust plagues. Wildfires set new records for carbon emissions, while swallowing forests, towns and homes.

Many of these events were exacerbated by climate change. Scientists say there are more to come – and worse – as the Earth’s atmosphere continues to warm through the next decade and beyond.

 

Here are some of the events Reuters witnessed over the past year: https://reut.rs/3m2pptL

 

February — A blistering cold spell hit normally warm Texas, killing 125 people in the state and leaving millions without power in freezing temperatures.

Scientists have not reached a conclusion on whether climate change caused the extreme weather, but the warming of the Arctic is causing more unpredictable weather around the globe.

February — Kenya and other parts of East Africa battled some of the worst locust plagues in decades, with the insects destroying crops and grazing grounds. Scientists say that unusual weather patterns exacerbated by climate change created ideal conditions for insects to thrive.

March — Beijing’s sky turned orange and flights were grounded during the Chinese capital’s worst sandstorm in a decade.

Busloads of volunteers arrive in the desert each year to plant trees, which can stabilize the soil and serve as a wind buffer. Scientists predict climate change will worsen desertification, as hotter summers and drier winters reduce moisture levels.

June — Nearly all of the western United States was gripped by a drought that emerged in early 2020. Farmers abandoned crops, officials announced emergency measures, and the Hoover Dam reservoir hit an all-time low.

By September, the U.S. government confirmed that over the prior 20 months, the Southwest experienced the lowest precipitation in over a century, and it linked the drought to climate change.

June — Hundreds died during a record-smashing heatwave in the U.S. and Canadian Pacific Northwest, which scientists concluded would have been “virtually impossible” without climate change.

Over several days, power lines melted and roads buckled. Cities, struggling to cope with the heat, opened cooling centers to protect their residents. During the heatwave, Portland, Oregon, hit an all-time record high of 116 Fahrenheit (46.7 Celsius).

July — Catastrophic flooding killed more than 300 people in central China’s Henan province when a year’s worth of rain fell in just three days.

Meanwhile in Europe, nearly 200 people died as torrential rains soaked Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. Scientists concluded that climate change had made the floods 20% more likely to occur.

July — A record heatwave and drought in the U.S. West gave rise to two massive wildfires that tore through California and Oregon and were among the largest in the history of both states.

Scientists say both the growing frequency and the intensity of wildfires are largely attributable to prolonged drought and increasing bouts of excessive heat from climate change.

July — Large parts of South America are suffering from a prolonged drought. While Chile is enduring a decade-long megadrought linked to global warming, this year Brazil saw one of its driest years in a century.

In Argentina, the Parana, South America’s second-longest river, fell to its lowest level since 1944.

Around the globe, heatwaves are becoming both more frequent and more severe.

August — In the Mediterranean, a hot and dry summer fanned intense blazes that forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes in Algeria, Greece and Turkey.

The fires, which killed two people in Greece and at least 65 in Algeria, struck amid an intense heatwave, with some places in Greece recording temperatures of over 46 Celsius (115 Fahrenheit).

Late August — Nearly all the world’s mountain glaciers are retreating due to global warming. In the Alps, Swiss resort employees laid protective blankets over one of Mount Titlis’s glaciers during the summer months to preserve what ice is left.

Switzerland already has lost 500 of its glaciers, and could lose 90% of the 1,500 that remain by the end of the century if global emissions continue to rise, the government said.

August/September — Hurricane Ida, which hit Louisiana as a Category 4 storm, killed nearly 100 people in the United States and caused an estimated $64 billion in damage, according to the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information.

As the remnants of Ida moved inland, the heavy rains created flash flooding across the densely populated Northeast, vastly increasing the storm’s death toll.

Climate change is strengthening hurricanes, while also causing them to linger longer over land – dumping more rain on an area before moving on. Studies also suggest these storms are becoming more frequent in the North Atlantic.

September — Infrastructure and homes in Russia are increasingly in peril as underground permafrost melts and deforms the land underneath them.

Permafrost was once a stable construction base, in some regions staying frozen as far back as the last Ice Age. But rising global temperatures threaten the layer of ice, soil, rocks, sand and organic matter.

November — The worst floods in 60 years in South Sudan have affected about 780,000 people, or one in every 14 residents, according to the U.N. refugee agency. Every year the county goes through a rainy season, but flooding has set records for three years in a row. The destruction will likely increase as temperatures rise, scientists say.

November — A massive storm dumped a month’s worth of rain over two days in the Canadian province of British Columbia, unleashing floods and mudslides that destroyed roads, railroads and bridges. It is likely the most expensive natural disaster in Canada‘s history, although officials are still assessing the damage.

Meteorologists said the rain had come from an atmospheric river, or a stream of water vapor stretching hundreds of miles long from the tropics. Atmospheric rivers are expected to become larger — and possibly more destructive — with climate change, scientists say.

 

(Reporting by Andrea Januta in New York and Lisa Shumaker in Chicago; Editing by Katy Daigle and Rosalba O’Brien)

Science

Consistent Asteroid Collisions Rock Previous Thinking on Mars Impact Craters – SciTechDaily

Published

 on


This image provides a perspective view of a triple crater in the ancient Martian highlands. Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin

New Curtin University research has confirmed the frequency of asteroid collisions that formed impact craters on <span aria-describedby="tt" class="glossaryLink" data-cmtooltip="

Mars
Mars is the second smallest planet in our solar system and the fourth planet from the sun. Iron oxide is prevalent in Mars’ surface resulting in its reddish color and its nickname "The Red Planet." Mars’ name comes from the Roman god of war.

“>Mars has been consistent over the past 600 million years.

New Curtin University research has confirmed the frequency of asteroid collisions that formed impact craters on Mars has been consistent over the past 600 million years.

The study, published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, analyzed the formation of more than 500 large Martian craters using a crater detection algorithm previously developed at Curtin, which automatically counts the visible impact craters from a high-resolution image.

Despite previous studies suggesting spikes in the frequency of asteroid collisions, lead researcher Dr. Anthony Lagain, from Curtin’s School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, said his research had found they did not vary much at all for many millions of years.

Impact Craters on Mars

One of the 521 large craters that has been dated in the study. The formation age of this 40km crater has been estimated using the number of small craters accumulated around it since the impact occurred. A portion of these small craters are shown on the right panel and all of them have been detected using the algorithm. In total, more than 1.2 million craters were used to date the Martian craters. Credit: Curtin University

Dr. Lagain said counting impact craters on a planetary surface was the only way to accurately date geological events, such as canyons, rivers, and volcanoes, and to predict when, and how big, future collisions would be.

“On Earth, the erosion of plate tectonics erases the history of our planet. Studying planetary bodies of our Solar System that still conserve their early geological history, such as Mars, helps us to understand the evolution of our planet,” Dr. Lagain said.

“The crater detection algorithm provides us with a thorough understanding of the formation of impact craters including their size and quantity, and the timing and frequency of the asteroid collisions that made them.”

Past studies had suggested that there was a spike in the timing and frequency of asteroid collisions due to the production of debris, Dr. Lagain said.

“When big bodies smash into each other, they break into pieces or debris, which is thought to have an effect on the creation of impact craters,” Dr. Lagain said.

“Our study shows it is unlikely that debris resulted in any changes to the formation of impact craters on planetary surfaces.”

Co-author and leader of the team that created the algorithm, Professor Gretchen Benedix, said the algorithm could also be adapted to work on other planetary surfaces, including the Moon.

“The formation of thousands of lunar craters can now be dated automatically, and their formation frequency analyzed at a higher resolution to investigate their evolution,” Professor Benedix said.

“This will provide us with valuable information that could have future practical applications in nature preservation and agriculture, such as the detection of bushfires and classifying land use.”

Reference: “Has the impact flux of small and large asteroids varied through time on Mars, the Earth and the Moon?” by Anthony Lagain, Mikhail Kreslavsky, David Baratoux, Yebo Liu, Hadrien Devillepoix, Philip Bland, Gretchen K. Benedix, Luc S. Doucet and Konstantinos Servis, 7 January 2022, Earth and Planetary Science Letters.
DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2021.117362

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

B.C. researchers uncover mechanism that keeps large whales from drowning while feeding on krill – CTV News Vancouver

Published

 on


Vancouver –

New research from the University of British Columbia is shedding light on the ways that whales feed underwater without flooding their airways with seawater.

The research, published this month in Current Biology, shows that lunge-feeding whales – the type that lunge and gulp at large schools of krill – have a special mechanism in the back of their mouths that stops water from entering their lungs when eating.

“It’s kind of like when a human’s uvula moves backwards to block our nasal passages, and our windpipe closes up while swallowing food,” says lead author Dr. Kelsey Gil, a postdoctoral researcher in the department of zoology, in a statement.

Specifically, a fleshy bulb acts as a plug, to close off upper airways, while a larynx closes to block lower airways.

The humpback whale and the blue whale are both lunge-feeders, but the scientists’ research focused on fin whales, thanks in part to being able to travel to Iceland in 2018 and examine carcass remains at a commercial whaling station.

“We haven’t seen this protective mechanism in any other animals, or in the literature. A lot of our knowledge about whales and dolphins comes from toothed whales, which have completely separated respiratory tracts, so similar assumptions have been made about lunge-feeding whales,” Gil said.

Lunge-feeders are impressive, Gil said, because sometimes the amount of food and water they consume is larger than their bodies. After snapping at krill, and while blocking the water from their airways, the whales then drain the ocean water through their baleen, leaving behind the tasty fish.

The study’s senior author Dr. Robert Shadwick, a professor in the UBC department of zoology, says the efficiency of the whales’ feeding is a key factor in their evolution.

“Bulk filter-feeding on krill swarms is highly efficient and the only way to provide the massive amount of energy needed to support such a large body size. This would not be possible without the special anatomical features we have described,” he said in a statement. 

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

Study confirmed the frequency of asteroid collisions that formed Mars craters – Tech Explorist

Published

 on


Mapping and counting impact craters are the most commonly used technique to derive detailed insights on geological events and processes shaping the surface of terrestrial planets. Scientists from Curtin University have used a crater detection algorithm to analyze the formation of more than 500 large Martian craters.

The algorithm they used automatically counts the visible impact craters from a high-resolution image. Scientists found that the frequency of asteroid collisions that formed Mars craters has been consistent for over 600 million years.

Lead scientist Dr. Anthony Lagain from Curtin’s School of Earth and Planetary Sciences said, “Despite previous studies suggesting spikes in the frequency of asteroid collisions, this research had found they did not vary much at all for many millions of years.”

“Counting impact craters on a planetary surface was the only way to accurately date geological events, such as canyons, rivers, and volcanoes, and to predict when, and how big, future collisions would be.”

“On Earth, the erosion of plate tectonics erases the history of our planet. Studying planetary bodies of our Solar System that still conserve their early geological history, such as Mars, helps us to understand the evolution of our planet.”

“The crater detection algorithm provides us with a thorough understanding of the formation of impact craters, including their size and quantity, and the timing and frequency of the asteroid collisions that made them.”

“Past studies had suggested that there was a spike in the timing and frequency of asteroid collisions due to the production of debris.”

“When big bodies smash into each other, they break into pieces of debris, which is thought to affect the creation of impact craters.”

“Our study shows it is unlikely that debris resulted in any changes to the formation of impact craters on planetary surfaces.”

Co-author and leader of the team that created the algorithm, Professor Gretchen Benedix, said“the algorithm could also be adapted to work on other planetary surfaces, including the Moon.”

“The formation of thousands of lunar craters can now be dated automatically, and their formation frequency analyzed at a higher resolution to investigate their evolution.”

“This will provide us with valuable information that could have future practical applications in nature preservation and agriculture, such as the detection of bushfires and classifying land use.”

Journal Reference:

  1. Anthony Lagain et al. Has the impact flux of small and large asteroids varied through time on Mars, the Earth, and the Moon? DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2021.117362

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending