Substream - sub_gw_impact_regions

  1. back to all global warming and energy subjects

  2. 19-08-2004 eco nws - global warming - impact - regions - europe hit first - report - eea - European winters will disappear by 2080 and extreme weather will become more common unless global warming across the continent is slowed, warns a major new report. Europe is warming more quickly than the rest of the world with potentially devastating consequences, including more frequent heatwaves, flooding, rising sea levels and melting glaciers, says the European Environment Agency (EEA) document, launched on Wednesday. The changes are happening at such a pace that Europeans must put in place strategies to adapt to an unfamiliar climate, the researchers write, although they stress the importance of the Kyoto Protocol in cutting greenhouse gas emissions. (newscientist)

  3. 03-02-2005 eco nws - global warming - impact - regions - africa - asia - Africa and South Asia - are likely to be the regions worst-hit by climate change a few decades from now, according to projections unveiled here on Wednesday at an international conference on global change. / Two most-vulnerable regions picked out on the second day of the scientific forum on climate change were Africa and South Asia. The predictions are that higher global temperatures will change rainfall patterns there, adding to already acute water stress or alternatively boosting the risk of flooding and mounting a huge challenge to poor countries. (news24)

  4. 03-02-2005 eco nws - global warming - impact - regions - 150m refugees - Global warming will boost outbreaks of infectious disease, worsen shortages of water and food in vulnerable countries and create an army of climate refugees fleeing uninhabitable regions, a conference here has been told. The scale of these impacts - the theme of the second day of the major scientific forum on global warming - varies according to how quickly fossil fuel pollution is tackled, how fast the world population grows and how well countries adapt to climate shift. But a common expectation is that widespread misery awaits the planet a few decades down the road. According to a study quoted by Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN's top scientific authority on climate change, by 2050 as many as 150 million 'environmental refugees' may have fled coastlines vulnerable to rising sea levels, storms or floods, or agricultural land too arid to cultivate. In India alone 30 million people could be displaced by persistent flooding, while a sixth of Bangladesh could be permanently lost to sea level rise and land subsidence, the study says. (cape times)

  5. 05-04-2005 eco nws - global warming - impact - regions - africa - kilimanjaro - JOHANNESBURG - Mount Kilimanjaro is drying up. Climate change, coupled with widespread deforestation of the slopes, is melting the ice and snow that has crowned Africa's highest peak for more than 11,000 years, dramatically altering the surrounding ecosystem. Scientists warn most of the glaciers may be gone by 2020. 'The situation on Kilimanjaro is only one of the situations around the world that will only get worse unless we take concerted action in the next five to 10 years,' said Jim Walker, co-founder and chief operating officer of The Climate Group, a leadership coalition of governments and companies committed to addressing climate change. Shifts in the world's climate can often have dramatic results. Walker said scientists have already started seeing a decrease in the amount of water supply to the remote lowland areas around Kilimanjaro, which will likely generate a whole range of impacts on rural communities. 'The burning of fossil fuels is happening in the developed world; the areas that are going to bear the brunt are the areas that are the least responsible for the problem,' Walker told IRIN. The startling environmental shift on Kilimanjaro, which straddles Kenya and Tanzania, illustrates Africa's marked vulnerability to climate change. African economies are overwhelmingly agriculture-based, and highly susceptible even to minute variations in temperature and rainfall. For example, while farmers in the developed world can often make up for short rainy seasons by using man-made water sources, Africa's farmers often labour without the most basic of irrigation systems. Burdened by decades of underdevelopment and impoverishment, the agricultural industry so crucial to African economies is now increasingly crippled by periodic droughts. 'What would be a handleable problem in the United States of America simply wouldn't be a handleable problem if it happens in Rwanda,' said Bob Scholes, a global change researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in Pretoria, South Africa. In addition to its high environmental impact, climate change in Africa is made even more dire by the continent's limited resources. The capacity of most African nations to respond to rapid environmental changes is diminished by infrastructures and budgets already strained by a multitude of competing challenges. (earth hope)

  6. 11-08-2005 eco nws - global warming - impact - regions - europe - report - wwf - Europe getting hotter, WWF warns - A new report from the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) warns that temperatures in Europe's major cities are rising. Young people sunbathe during a summer heat wave in Paris The rising temperatures mean more than just sunbathing The report analysed summer temperatures in 16 European cities over the last 30 years and found that in most of them, average summer temperatures were at least one degree Celsius higher over the last five years than they were 30 years ago. WWF says the increase is caused primarily by greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, which is released into the atmosphere by coal and gas-fired power stations and by cars. Heat waves, drought and torrential rains are all things Europe can expect to see more of, the WWF says. Rising temperatures will mean more extreme weather conditions and cities may be especially hard hit. (bbc)

  7. 27-10-2005 eco nws - global warming - impact - regions - mediterranean - Mediterranean and mountain regions of Europe will be hardest hit by the changes set to affect the continent's natural resources this century. That is the conclusion of a Europe-wide assessment that highlights the threat posed by climate change. The Mediterranean will be at increased risk of forest fires, water shortages, loss of agricultural land and from its tree species shifting northward. It simulated the effects of changes in soil fertility and water availability as the climate changes and humans respond, for example, by modifying land use patterns or moving to new areas. Of all European regions, the Mediterranean was most vulnerable to the global-scale changes projected to occur during the course of this century. Many of the effects on this region are related to increased temperatures and reduced rainfall. 'If you have an increase in droughts, you get an increased risk of forest fires and changing suitability for crops. You will also see decreases in water per capita for the people living there,' said lead author Dagmar Schroeter of Harvard University. Mountain regions also appear vulnerable because of a rise in the elevation of snow cover and changes in river run-off. 'In winter, precipitation will fall as rain instead of snow. The whole regime of peak flow times changes and you get an increased probability of flooding in winter and spring,' Dr Schroeter told the BBC News website. 'You will get less water in summer because the water which was stored in the snow cover is no longer there.' Such changes would significantly impact both the skiing and hydroelectric industries, Dr Schroeter said. The report did identify some positive effects. These include forest expansion due to a reduced demand on land from agriculture. Farmers in northern Europe could also begin to exploit crops usually grown in the Mediterranean. - Carbon sink - Forests act as a 'carbon sink' absorbing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But by the latter half of the century, rising temperatures due to climate change will balance this positive effect. 'By mid-century, it will probably become so hot that the soils will, instead of absorbing carbon dioxide, start releasing carbon dioxide - they will become an additional source of greenhouse gas emissions,' explained Dr Schroeter. (bbc)

  8. 29-11-2005 eco nws - global warming - impact - regions - africa - Climate change 'will dry Africa' - Two new studies predict that climate change will make dry regions of Africa drier still in the near future. Computer models of the global climate show the Sahel region and southern Africa drying substantially over the course of this century. Sahel rainfall declined sharply in the late 20th Century, with droughts responsible for several million deaths. The research comes just after the latest United Nations summit on climate change opened in Montreal. 'Our model predicts an extremely dry Sahel in the future,' said Dr Isaac Held of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa), whose team publishes its research in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). 'If we compare it against the drought in the 1970s and 80s, the late 21st Century looks even drier - a 30% reduction in rainfall from the average for the last century,' he told the BBC News website. Sahel rainfall fell dramatically in the second half of the 20th Century; since 1970, about half of the region has been in severe drought. In the late 1980s, a recovery began, but rainfall is not back to pre-1970 levels. Southern Africa has fared better than the Sahel, but research by another Noaa group led by Marty Hoerling also projects a drier future for this region. 'Between 1950 and 1999, there has been about a 20% decline in summer rainfall over southern Africa,' he told the BBC News website. 'Our modelling indicates much more substantial ongoing drying, with the epicentre for drought in Africa effectively moving further south.' Dr Hoerling's study has been submitted to the Journal of Climate for publication. This latest research may help pin down the physical processes which determine African rainfall. 'What we do know from observations is that if you have a warm north Atlantic and a cool south Atlantic you'll get increased Sahel rainfall, and vice versa,' said Professor Chris Folland from the UK Meteorological Office. 'But even temperatures in the Mediterranean sea can affect it as well.' The theory is that if the North Atlantic warms more than waters further south, the rain belt is pulled north over the Sahel; if the southern waters warm more, rain retreats south again, leaving the Sahel dry. The key to southern African rainfall, meanwhile, may be temperatures in the Indian Ocean, according to Marty Hoerling's results. Rising concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are projected to increase temperatures in the Indian Ocean and the differential between temperatures in the north and south Atlantic. (bbc)

  9. 24-03-2006 eco nws - global warming - impact - regions - poor countries - Climate change 'harms world poor' - The poorest people in the world in Asia and Africa will be worst hit by climate change, a UK government report says. It says droughts and floods fuelled partly by carbon emissions from countries such as the UK will hurt the same people targeted by overseas aid. The report was obtained by BBC News under the Freedom of Information Act. It says emissions are making natural disasters worse and warns that rising sea levels could undo more than half the development work in Bangladesh. The internal report at the Department for International Development (Dfid) reveals the depth of concern shared by officials about climate change. It forecasts that global warming threatens to reduce India's farm output by as much as a quarter - just as its population is booming. In Africa, the number of people at risk from coastal flooding is likely to rise from one million in 1990 to 70 million by 2080. The Dfid report will increase pressure on the Prime Minister. Next week, the government publishes its review of Climate Change Strategy. It's committed to cutting emissions by 20% below 1990 levels but under Labour emissions have actually increased by 1.9%. (bbc)

  10. 20-10-2006 eco nws - global warming - impact - system - water - regions - poor countries - report - tearfund - Climate water threat to millions - Climate change threatens supplies of water for millions of people in poorer countries, warns a new report from the Christian development agency Tearfund. Recent research suggests that by 2050, five times as much land is likely to be under 'extreme' drought as now. Tearfund wants richer states to look at helping poorer ones adjust to drought at next month's UN climate summit. This week the UK's climate minister said he is confident of reaching an deal on adaptation funds at the talks. There is an 'urgent need' for such measures, Ian Pearson told a parliamentary committee. The Tearfund report, Feeling the Heat, urges donors to ramp up assistance quickly. Other charities are likely to make similar pleas in the run-up to the Nairobi summit, which begins on 6 November. Citing research by the Oxford academic Norman Myers, Tearfund suggests there will be as many as 200 million climate refugees by 2050. One of Britain's leading climate scientists, Sir John Houghton, said the severity of climate change was getting through to world leaders 'at a level of rhetoric', but not yet at a level of action. 'There were promises made at the G8 summit and at the last UN meeting in Montreal about money for adaptation,' he told the BBC News website, 'but I understand that very little of that has come through.' Sir John, who contributed a foreword to the Tearfund report, said water shortages will be the biggest climate threat to developing countries. 'It's the extremes of water which are going to provide the biggest threat to the developing world from climate change,' he said. 'Without being able to be too specific about exactly where, droughts will tend to be longer, and that's very bad news. Extreme droughts currently cover about 2% of the world's land area, and that is going to spread to about 10% by 2050.' Overall, he said, climate models show a drying out of sub-Saharan Africa, while some other areas of the world will see more severe flooding. (bbc)

  11. 28-10-2006 eco nws - global warming - impact - regions - africa - report - 'up in smoke' - Climate change 'hitting Africa' - Climate change is already affecting people across Africa and will wipe out efforts to tackle poverty there unless urgent action is taken, a report says. Droughts are getting worse and climate uncertainty is growing, the research from a coalition of UK aid agencies and environmental groups says. Climate change is an 'unprecedented' threat to food security, it says. It calls for a 'climate-proof' model of development and massive emissions cuts to avoid 'possibly cataclysmic change'. The report, Up In Smoke 2, updates previous research from the organisations - Oxfam, the New Economics Foundation and the Working Group on Climate Change and Development, an umbrella group of aid and green groups. It says that although climates across Africa have always been erratic, scientific research and the experience of the contributing groups 'indicates new and dangerous extremes'. Arid or semi-arid areas in northern, western, eastern and parts of southern Africa are becoming drier, while equatorial Africa and other parts of southern Africa are getting wetter, the report says. The continent is, on average, 0.5C warmer than it was 100 years ago, but temperatures have risen much higher in some areas - such as a part of Kenya which has become 3.5C hotter in the past 20 years, the agencies report. Andrew Simms, from the New Economics Foundation, said: 'Global warming is set to make many of the problems which Africa already deals with, much, much worse,' he said. 'In the last year alone, 25 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa have faced food crisis. 'Global warming means that that many dry areas are going to get drier and wet areas are going to get wetter. They are going to be caught between the devil of drought and the deep blue seas of floods.' He added that the 'great tragedy' was that Africa had played virtually no role in global warming, a problem he said was caused by economic activity of the rich, industrial countries. Mr Simms said unless climate change was tackled all the 'best efforts' to help Africa could come to nothing. One of the biggest threats is growing climate unpredictability, which makes subsistence farming difficult, the report says. The average number of food emergencies in Africa per year almost tripled since the mid 1980s, it points out. But it says that better planning to reduce the risk from disasters, together with developing agricultural practices that can withstand changing climates, have been shown to work and could help mitigate the impact if used be more widely. Up in Smoke 2 also laments the failure of industrialised governments to help developing countries adapt to climate change. Between $10bn (�5.2bn) and $40bn is needed annually, the report says, but industrialised countries have given only $43m - a tenth of the amount they have pledged - while rich country fossil fuel subsidies total $73bn a year. The agencies say that greenhouse emissions cuts of 60% - 90% will ultimately be needed - way beyond the targets set in the Kyoto agreement. (bbc)

  12. 27-11-2006 eco nws - global warming - impact - regions - africa - Impact of climate change in Africa - Africa is the continent that will suffer most under global warming. Past history gives us lessons on the likely effects of future climate change. Of greatest concern are the 'large infrequent disturbances' to the climate as these will have the most devastating effects. In a remarkable study from the Kenyan Tsavo National Park published today in the African Journal of Ecology, Dr Lindsey Gillson uncovers evidence for a drought that coincided with the harrowing period of Maasai history at the end of the 19th century termed 'Emutai' meaning to wipe out. 'Severe disturbance events and rapid environmental change tend to occur infrequently, but can have a lasting effect on both environment and society' says Dr Gillson. This was no-where more evident than in the case of the Maasai 'Emutai'. The period 1883-1902 was marked by epidemics of bovine pleuropneumonia, rinderpest and small pox. The rains failed completely in 1897 and 1898. The Austrian explorer Dr Oscar Baumann, who travelled in Maasailand in 1891, wrote chilling eye-witness accounts of the horror experienced during a large ecological disturbance: 'There were women wasted to skeletons from whose eyes the madness of starvation glared ... warriors scarcely able to crawl on all fours, and apathetic, languishing elders. Swarms of vultures followed them from high, awaiting their certain victims.' (Baumann 1894, Masailand) Ecological shocks such as that experienced by the Maasai are predicted to be a feature of global warming. 'It is important to use long-term historical and palaeoecological data to try to understand the frequency and effects of extreme events, and the way societies and ecosystems respond to them' Lindsey Gillson explains. Her work involved analysing sediments from the famous Tsavo National Park. Age of the sediments was obtained using radiocarbon dating and analysis of the pollen and charcoal fragments enabled a picture of environmental changes to be built up. 'It is painstaking work, but the results were clear' says Dr Gillson 'at the time of the Emutai there was a drought, an increase in burning and soil erosion: indicators of a large infrequent disturbance'. Dr Jon Lovett, who has been researching the impacts of climate change on Africa, says that we must learn from history and be prepared 'Events like this are going to become more common in the future, and we need to be ready for them' he says. 'Lindsey's work is important because it shows what has happened in the past, we are now forewarned. But the big question remains � will policy makers take any notice?' (science blog)

  13. 21-12-2006 eco nws - global warming - impact - glaciers - regions - china - india - economic growth - India and China in warming study - India and China have agreed to send an expedition to the Himalayas to study the impact that global warming is having on glaciers there. They fear that melting glaciers could threaten rivers which support the lives of millions of people. Scientists and mountaineers from the two countries are now planning to head for the source of two rivers. Last week a report said that Asia's greenhouse gas emissions would treble over the next 25 years. The Asian Development Bank report provided detailed analysis of the link between transport and climate change in Asia. Air pollution and congestion would seriously hamper the ability to move people and goods effectively, it warned. It pointed out that China was already the world's fourth largest economy, and the number of cars and utility vehicles could increase by 15 times more than present levels to more than 190 million vehicles over the next 30 years. In India, traffic growth is likely to increase by similar levels over the same time period, the report said. Carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles could rise 3.4 times for China and 5.8 times for India. (bbc)

  14. 31-01-2007 eco nws - global warming - impact - regions - sydney - drinking water - Climate change warning for Sydney - A report on the effects of climate change in Australia paints an alarming picture of life in the city of Sydney. It warns that if residents do not cut water consumption by more than 50% over the next 20 years, the city will become unsustainable. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation report also warns that temperatures could rise 5C above the predicted global average. This would leave the city facing an almost permanent state of drought. Rise in heat-related deaths With its spectacular harbour and beautiful suburban beaches, Sydney is often portrayed as one of the most desirable cities to live in. But this report paints a disturbing picture of how life here could be completely transformed by the year 2070, if climate change goes unchecked. It warns of severe droughts nine out of every 10 years, a dramatic rise in the number of bush fires, and freak storm surges which could devastate the coastline. Scientists predict that rainfall will fall by 40% by 2070, not only creating a massive water crisis, but producing double the number of bush fires. Heat-related deaths would soar from a current average of 176 a year to 1,300. Sydney would come to resemble the harsh, dry and inhospitable conditions of remote inland towns. (bbc)

  15. 06-02-2007 eco nws - global warming - impact - regions - china - Climate change 'affecting' China - At least 300,000 people in north-west China are short of drinking water because of unseasonably warm weather, which officials link to climate change. Parts of Shaanxi province face drought after January saw as little as 10% of average rainfall, state media say. Frozen lakes are melting and trees are blossoming in the capital Beijing as it experiences its warmest winter for 30 years, the China Daily reported. China is the world's biggest producer of greenhouse gases, after the US. The country's top meteorologist, Qin Dahe, said the recent dry and warm weather in northern China was related to global warming. But he told reporters that China was committed to improving energy efficiency, and planned to reduce carbon dioxide and other emissions by 20% in the next five years. [...] China's foreign ministry spokesperson, Jiang Yu, reiterated the government's commitment to curbing greenhouse gases. But, at her regular briefing, she also attacked wealthy nations as being the most of the blame for the current crisis. 'Developed countries bear an unshirkable responsibility,' she said, adding that they should 'lead the way in assuming responsibility for emissions cuts'. Although China is trying to develop alternative energy sources, it is still the world's biggest consumer and producer of coal. It is expected to surpass the US as the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the next decade. (bbc)

  16. 06-04-2007 eco nws - global warming - impact - regions - asia - report - ipcc - Climate change 'threat to Asia' - Up to a billion people in Asia could be adversely affected by global climate change, a United Nations report is expected to conclude. Some of the warnings likely to be included in the report are acute water shortages, hunger and the continent's rivers running low. It is the second in a series of reports by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It says India is likely to be among the first major nations to be affected. The panel says the world's poorest countries are likely to feel some of the worst effects of global warming. One of the major world rivers on the endangered list is India's Ganges. It is one of the great rivers of the Indian-subcontinent, the source of life for hundreds of millions of people. Many revere the Ganges as a goddess. In the holy city of Varanasi, temples line the banks of the river. For several kilometres, steps descend to the water's edge and as the giant river flows gently past, thousands of people bathe in its holy waters every day. Most of the water flows from glaciers high in the Himalayan mountains. Only the polar ice sheets hold more fresh water. But global warming means many of those glaciers are melting fast and could vanish in the coming decades. The result would be catastrophic. The worst predictions say water flow in the Ganges could drop by two-thirds. They say 400 million people could struggle to find drinking water. Farmers would not be able to irrigate their land. Hydro-electric power stations would generate less electricity. India's much-vaunted economic growth could be affected and India could be one of the big losers from climate change. (bbc)

  17. 06-04-2007 eco nws - global warming - impact - regions - poor countries - report - ipcc - Climate change 'to hit poor hard' - The poorest people in the world will be hardest hit by the effects of climate change, experts at a major conference on global warming have said. The warning came ahead of the publication of a key report on climate change by hundreds of environmental experts from around the world. Agreement on the report was reached after days of debate in Brussels. The report concludes climate change is already having major impacts on the natural world. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) panel believes there is also a discernible, though less marked, impact on human societies. Scientists and government officials from more than 100 countries met through the night, trying to agree on the wording of a summary for policy makers. Several delegations, including the US, Saudi Arabia, China and India, had asked for the final version to reflect less certainty than the draft. The report's authors say the document shows global warming is having a major impact. '[The report] says quite clearly that climate change is happening and it is having effects on ecosystems and society, with particularly bad effects on developing countries. 'So it is quite a bleak message but it's now up to governments to act on what we told them,' said Richard Klein of the Stockholm Environment Institute. The report will be sent to world leaders in time for a G8 summit of industrialised nations in June. It is the second in a series of IPCC reports coming out this year, together making up its fourth global climate assessment. The first element, on the science of climate change, released in February, concluded it is at least 90% likely that human activities are principally responsible for the warming observed since 1950. The third part, due in May, will focus on ways of curbing the rise in greenhouse gas concentrations and temperature. A fourth report in November will sum up all the findings. (bbc)

  18. 29-01-2011 eco nws - global warming - impact - regions - drought - africa - More Frequent Drought Likely in Eastern Africa - ScienceDaily (Jan. 29, 2011) � The increased frequency of drought observed in eastern Africa over the last 20 years is likely to continue as long as global temperatures continue to rise, according to new research published in Climate Dynamics. This poses increased risk to the estimated 17.5 million people in the Greater Horn of Africa who currently face potential food shortages. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of California, Santa Barbara, determined that warming of the Indian Ocean, which causes decreased rainfall in eastern Africa, is linked to global warming. These new projections of continued drought contradict previous scenarios by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicting increased rainfall in eastern Africa. This new research supports efforts by the USGS and the U.S. Agency for International Development to identify areas of potential drought and famine in order to target food aid and help inform agricultural development, environmental conservation, and water resources planning. �Global temperatures are predicted to continue increasing, and we anticipate that average precipitation totals in Kenya and Ethiopia will continue decreasing or remain below the historical average,� said USGS scientist Chris Funk. �The decreased rainfall in eastern Africa is most pronounced in the March to June season, when substantial rainfall usually occurs. Although drought is one reason for food shortages, it is exacerbated by stagnating agricultural development and continued population growth.� As the globe has warmed over the last century, the Indian Ocean has warmed especially fast. The resulting warmer air and increased humidity over the Indian Ocean produce more frequent rainfall in that region. The air then rises, loses its moisture during rainfall, and then flows westward and descends over Africa, causing drought conditions in Ethiopia and Kenya. �Forecasting precipitation variability from year to year is very difficult, and research on the links between global change and precipitation in specific regions is ongoing so that more accurate projections of future precipitation can be developed,� said University of California, Santa Barbara, scientist Park Williams. �It is also important to note that while sea-surface temperatures are expected to continue to increase in the Indian Ocean and cause an average decrease in rainfall in eastern Africa, there will still occasionally be very wet years because there are many factors that influence precipitation.� Scientists compiled existing datasets on temperature, wind speed and precipitation to see what was driving climate variations in the tropical Indian and Pacific Ocean region. Most of the Indian Ocean warming is linked to human activities, particularly greenhouse gas and aerosol emissions. The Indian Ocean has warmed especially fast because it is quickly being encroached upon by the Tropical Warm Pool, which is an area with the warmest ocean surface temperatures of anywhere on earth. This research supports efforts by the USGS and the U.S. Agency for International Development through the Famine Early Warning Systems Network. FEWS NET is a decision support system that helps target more than two billion dollars of food aid to more than 40 countries each year. Through this system, scientists are helping with early identification of agricultural drought that might trigger food insecurity.

  19. 03-03-2011 eco nws - global warming - impact - regions - human populations - Mapping Human Vulnerability to Climate Change - ScienceDaily (Mar. 3, 2011) � Researchers already study how various species of plants and animals migrate in response to climate change. Now, Jason Samson, a PhD candidate in McGill University's Department of Natural Resource Sciences, has taken the innovative step of using the same analytic tools to measure the impact of climate change on human populations. Samson and fellow researchers combined climate change data with censuses covering close to 97 per-cent of the world's population in order to forecast potential changes in local populations for 2050. Samson's team found that if populations continue to increase at the expected rates, those who are likely to be the most vulnerable to climate change are the people living in low-latitude, hot regions of the world, places like central South America, the Arabian Peninsula and much of Africa. In these areas, a relatively small increase in temperature will have serious consequences on a region's ability to sustain a growing population."It makes sense that the low latitude tropical regions should be more vulnerable because the people there already experience extremely hot conditions which make agriculture challenging. An increase in temperature over the next few decades will only make their lives more difficult in a variety of ways," says Samson. This contrasts with Samson's predictions about the impact of climate change on human populations in the high-latitude more temperate zones of the world, where the temperature change is expected to be greater. Because the spread of human populations along with their activities are already more constrained by the cooler conditions in these regions, the researchers expect that climate change will have less of an impact on people living in these areas. The study also points to clear inequities in the causes and consequences of climate change: the countries that have contributed the least to climate change, based on their average per-capita carbon dioxide emissions, are nevertheless predicted to be the most vulnerable to its impacts. "Take Somalia for instance," suggests Samson."Because it's so hot there, it's already very difficult to grow things, and it will only become more difficult if the temperature rises. It's also clear that Somalia is not a big contributor of greenhouse gas to the atmosphere. Now thanks to this map, we have concrete quantitative evidence of the disparity between the causes and the consequences of climate change at a national level." Samson anticipates this data could be useful for decision makers around the world in the ongoing international negotiations around climate change.

  20. 30-03-2011 eco nws - global warming - impact - regions - Warm Water Causes Extra-Cold Winters in Northeastern North America and Northeastern Asia - ScienceDaily (Mar. 30, 2011) � If you're sitting on a bench in New York City's Central Park in winter, you're probably freezing. After all, the average temperature in January is 32 degrees Fahrenheit. But if you were just across the pond in Porto, Portugal, which shares New York's latitude, you'd be much warmer -- the average temperature is a balmy 48 degrees Fahrenheit. Throughout northern Europe, average winter temperatures are at least 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than similar latitudes on the northeastern coast of the United States and the eastern coast of Canada. The same phenomenon happens over the Pacific, where winters on the northeastern coast of Asia are colder than in the Pacific Northwest. Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have now found a mechanism that helps explain these chillier winters -- and the culprit is warm water off the eastern coasts of these continents. "These warm ocean waters off the eastern coast actually make it cold in winter -- it's counterintuitive," says Tapio Schneider, the Frank J. Gilloon Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering. Schneider and Yohai Kaspi, a postdoctoral fellow at Caltech, describe their work in a paper published in the March 31 issue of the journal Nature. Using computer simulations of the atmosphere, the researchers found that the warm water off an eastern coast will heat the air above it and lead to the formation of atmospheric waves, drawing cold air from the northern polar region. The cold air forms a plume just to the west of the warm water. In the case of the Atlantic Ocean, this means the frigid air ends up right over the northeastern United States and eastern Canada. For decades, the conventional explanation for the cross-oceanic temperature difference was that the Gulf Stream delivers warm water from the Gulf of Mexico to northern Europe. But in 2002, research showed that ocean currents aren't capable of transporting that much heat, instead contributing only up to 10 percent of the warming. Kaspi's and Schneider's work reveals a mechanism that helps create a temperature contrast not by warming Europe, but by cooling the eastern United States. Surprisingly, it's the Gulf Stream that causes this cooling. In the northern hemisphere, the subtropical ocean currents circulate in a clockwise direction, bringing an influx of warm water from low latitudes into the western part of the ocean. These warm waters heat the air above it. "It's not that the warm Gulf Stream waters substantially heat up Europe," Kaspi says. "But the existence of the Gulf Stream near the U.S. coast is causing the cooling of the northeastern United States." The researchers' computer model simulates a simplified, ocean-covered Earth with a warm region to mimic the coastal reservoir of warm water in the Gulf Stream. The simulations show that such a warm spot produces so-called Rossby waves. Generally speaking, Rossby waves are large atmospheric waves -- with wavelengths that stretch for more than 1,000 miles. They form when the path of moving air is deflected due to Earth's rotation, a phenomenon known as the Coriolis effect. In a way similar to how gravity is the force that produces water waves on the surface of a pond, the Coriolis force is responsible for Rossby waves. In the simulations, the warm water produces stationary Rossby waves, in which the peaks and valleys of the waves don't move, but the waves still transfer energy. In the northern hemisphere, the stationary Rossby waves cause air to circulate in a clockwise direction just to the west of the warm region. To the east of the warm region, the air swirls in the counterclockwise direction. These motions draw in cold air from the north, balancing the heating over the warm ocean waters. To gain insight into the mechanisms that control the atmospheric dynamics, the researchers speed up Earth's rotation in the simulations. In those cases, the plume of cold air gets bigger -- which is consistent with it being a stationary Rossby-wave plume. Most other atmospheric features would get smaller if the planet were to spin faster. Although it's long been known that a heat source could produce Rossby waves, which can then form plumes, this is the first time anyone has shown how the mechanism causes cooling that extends west of the heat source. According to the researchers, the cooling effect could account for 30 to 50 percent of the temperature difference across oceans. This process also explains why the cold region is just as big for both North America and Asia, despite the continents being so different in topography and size. The Rossby-wave induced cooling depends on heating air over warm ocean water. Since the warm currents along western ocean boundaries in both the Pacific and Atlantic are similar, the resulting cold region to their west would be similar as well. The next step, Schneider says, is to build simulations that more realistically reflect what happens on Earth. Future simulations would incorporate more complex features like continents and cloud feedbacks. The research described in the Nature paper, "Winter cold of eastern continental boundaries induced by warm ocean waters," was funded by the NOAA Climate and Global Change Postdoctoral Fellowship, administrated by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research; a David and Lucille Packard Fellowship; and the National Science Foundation.

  21. 07-04-2011 eco nws - global warming - impact - regions - cities - 500 million plus cities - Climate Change Poses Major Risks for Unprepared Cities - ScienceDaily (Apr. 7, 2011) � Cities worldwide are failing to take necessary steps to protect residents from the likely impacts of climate change, even though billions of urban dwellers are vulnerable to heat waves, sea level rise and other changes associated with warming temperatures. A new examination of urban policies by Patricia Romero Lankao at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., in conjunction with an international research project on cities and climate change, warns that many of the world's fast-growing urban areas, especially in developing countries, will likely suffer disproportionately from the impacts of changing climate. Her work also concludes that most cities are failing to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that affect the atmosphere. "Climate change is a deeply local issue and poses profound threats to the growing cities of the world," says Romero Lankao. "But too few cities are developing effective strategies to safeguard their residents." Romero Lankao's studies appear this month in a special issue of Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability and in a synthesis article in an upcoming issue of European Planning Studies. The research was conducted in association with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) and funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), NCAR's sponsor. "Cities are major sources of greenhouse gases, yet at the same time urban populations are likely to be among those most severely affected by future climate change," says Sarah Ruth, program director in NSF's Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences, which funds NCAR. "The findings highlight ways in which city-dwellers are particularly vulnerable, and suggest policy interventions that could offer immediate and longer-term benefits." Romero Lankao, a sociologist specializing in climate change and urban development, surveyed policies in cities worldwide while drawing on a number of recent studies of climate change and cities. She concluded that cities are falling short in two areas: preparing for the likely impacts of climate change and cutting their own greenhouse gas emissions by reducing fossil fuel use. With more than half the world's population living in cities, scientists are increasingly focusing on the potential impacts of climate change on these areas. The locations and dense construction patterns of cities often place their populations at greater risk for natural disasters, including those expected to worsen with climate change. Potential threats associated with climate include storm surges that can inundate coastal areas and prolonged hot weather that can heat heavily paved cities more than surrounding areas. The impacts of such natural events can be magnified in an urban environment. For example, a prolonged heat wave can exacerbate existing levels of air pollution, causing widespread health problems. Poorer neighborhoods that may lack basic facilities such as reliable sanitation, drinking water or a dependable network of roads, are especially vulnerable to natural disasters. Moreover, populations are increasing most quickly in small- and medium-sized urban areas, which often lack the services and infrastructure to manage the rapid influx, according to Romero Lankao. The number of urban residents worldwide has quadrupled since 1950, and cities are continuing to grow rapidly, especially in developing nations. Romero Lankao cites projections that, by 2020, there will be more than 500 urban areas with 1 million or more residents. Many residents in poorer countries live in substandard housing without access to reliable drinking water, roads and basic services. Neighborhoods sometimes spring up on steep hillsides or floodplains, leaving them vulnerable to storms. But even on the heels of deadly catastrophes that scientists say will become more common with climate change, such as flash floods in Rio de Janeiro or heat waves in Europe, leaders are often failing to reinforce their defenses against natural disasters. Romero Lankao cites three reasons for the failure to prepare: fast-growing cities are overwhelmed with other needs, city leaders are often under pressure to downplay the need for health and safety standards in order to foster economic growth and climate projections are rarely fine-scale enough to predict impacts on individual cities. "Local authorities tend to move towards rhetoric rather than meaningful responses," Romero Lankao writes. "What is at stake, of course, is the very existence of many human institutions, and the safety and well-being of masses of humans." Cities are also failing in many cases to curb their own emissions of greenhouse gases, the study finds. Instead of imposing construction standards that could reduce heating and air conditioning needs or guiding development to emphasize mass transit and reduce automobile use, many local governments are taking a hands-off approach. "Cities can have an enormous influence on emissions by focusing on mass transit systems and energy efficient structures," Romero Lankao says. "But local leaders face pressures to build more roads and relax regulations that could reduce energy use." The study also cites efforts in some cities to reduce emissions as part of a larger strategy to ease traffic and other problems. For example, central London's Congestion Charging Zone is intended to encourage more use of mass transit. And several Latin American cities, such as Curitiba, Brazil, and Bogota, Colombia, are integrating new development with mass transit systems. As cities attempt to meet the needs of their low-income residents, some strategies-including moving residents away from risk-prone areas and improving housing and services-may also improve their readiness for a changing climate. "As hubs of development, cities have shown that they can become sources of innovation," Romero Lankao says. "The good news is that policymakers can discover ways to improve sanitation, health and safety as they try to reduce emissions and adapt to climate impacts."

  22. 16-05-2011 eco nws - global warming - impact - regions - Striking Ecological Impact On Canada's Arctic Coastline Linked to Global Climate Change - ScienceDaily (May 16, 2011) � Scientists from Queen's and Carleton universities head a national multidisciplinary research team that has uncovered startling new evidence of the destructive impact of global climate change on North America's largest Arctic delta. "One of the most ominous threats of global warming today is from rising sea levels, which can cause marine waters to inundate the land," says the team's co-leader, Queen's graduate student Joshua Thienpont. "The threat is especially acute in polar regions, where shrinking sea ice increases the risk of storm surges." By studying growth rings from coastal shrubs and lake sediments in the Mackenzie Delta region of the Northwest Territories -- the scene of a widespread and ecologically destructive storm surge in 1999 -- the researchers have discovered that the impact of these salt-water surges is unprecedented in the 1,000-year history of the lake. "This had been predicted by all the models and now we have empirical evidence," says team co-leader Michael Pisaric, a geography professor at Carleton. The Inuvialuit, who live in the northwest Arctic, identified that a major surge had occurred in 1999, and assisted with field work. The researchers studied the impact of salt water flooding on alder bushes along the coastline. More than half of the shrubs sampled were dead within a year of the 1999 surge, while an additional 37 per cent died within five years. A decade after the flood, the soils still contained high concentrations of salt. In addition, sediment core profiles from inland lakes revealed dramatic changes in the aquatic life -- with a striking shift from fresh to salt-water species following the storm surge. "Our findings show this is ecologically unprecedented over the last millennium," says Queen's biology professor and team member John Smol, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change and winner of the 2004 NSERC Herzberg Gold Medal as Canada's top scientist. "The Arctic is on the front line of climate change. It's a bellwether of things to come: what affects the Arctic eventually will affect us all." Since nearly all Arctic indigenous communities are coastal, the damage from future surges could also have significant social impacts. The team predicts that sea ice cover, sea levels and the frequency and intensity of storms and marine storm surges will become more variable in the 21st century. Other members of the team include Trevor Lantz from the University of Victoria, Steven Kokelj from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Steven Solomon from the Geological Survey of Canada and Queen's undergraduate student Holly Nesbitt. Their findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Research funding comes from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Polar Continental Shelf Program, the Cumulative Impact Monitoring Program, and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.

  23. 11-07-2011 eco nws - global warming - impact - regions - australia - rain - rain storms - Fewer Rain Storms Across Southern Australia With Global Warming - ScienceDaily (July 11, 2011) � Decreasing autumn and winter rainfall over southern Australia has been attributed to a 50-year decrease in the average intensity of storms in the region -- a trend which is forecast to continue for another 50 years. In an address July 7 to the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics conference in Melbourne, CSIRO climate scientist, Dr Jorgen Frederiksen, said these changes are due to reductions in the strength of the mid-latitude jet stream and changes in atmospheric temperatures. The jet stream comprises fast moving westerly winds in the upper atmosphere. "The drop in winter and autumn rainfall observed across southern Australia is due to a large downturn in the intensity of storm formations over at least the last three decades compared with the previous three decades, and these effects have become more pronounced with time," Dr Frederiksen said. "Our recent work on climate model projections suggests a continuation of these trends over the next 50 years." Dr Frederiksen's address was based on recent CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology research that has just been published in the International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses. The research, based on observations and climate modelling, centres on the changes in southern Australian winter rainfall linked to atmospheric circulation changes that are directly associated with storm formation, and particularly rain bearing lows and frontal systems crossing southern Australia. The most important circulation feature associated with winter storm formation is the strength of the sub-tropical jet stream. For example, winter storms give south-west Western Australia much of its rain. Between the 20-year periods 1949 to 1968 and 1975 to 1994 south-west WA rainfall reduced by 20 per cent. In south-east Australia, there were reductions of 10 per cent. "Our research has identified the historic relationship between the reduction in the intensity of storms, the southward shift in storm tracks, changing atmospheric temperatures and reductions in mid-latitude vertical wind shear affecting rainfall." Vertical wind shear is the change in the westerly winds with height. "We expect a continuation of these trends as atmospheric temperatures rise based on projections from climate models forced by increasing carbon dioxide concentrations. "Trends during the 21st Century are likely to be similar to those observed during the second half of the 20th Century, when we saw substantial declines in seasonal rainfall across parts of southern Australia. "Indeed, reductions in projected southern Australian rainfall during the 21st Century, particularly over south-west WA, may be as much as, or larger than, those seen in recent decades," Dr Frederiksen said.

  24. 17-10-2011 eco nws - global warming - impact - regions - atmosphere - co2 - Links in the Chain: Global Carbon Emissions and Consumption Difficult to Attribute - ScienceDaily (Oct. 17, 2011) � It is difficult to measure accurately each nation's contribution of carbon dioxide to Earth's atmosphere. Carbon is extracted out of the ground as coal, gas, and oil, and these fuels are often exported to other countries where they are burned to generate the energy that is used to make products. In turn, these products may be traded to still other countries where they are consumed. A team led by Carnegie's Steven Davis, and including Ken Caldeira, tracked and quantified this supply chain of global carbon dioxide emissions. Their work will be published online by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences during the week of October 17. Traditionally, the carbon dioxide emitted by burning fossil fuels is attributed to the country where the fuels were burned. But until now, there has not yet been a full accounting of emissions taking into consideration the entire supply chain, from where fuels originate all the way to where products made using the fuels are ultimately consumed. "Policies seeking to regulate emissions will affect not only the parties burning fuels but also those who extract fuels and consume products. No emissions exist in isolation, and everyone along the supply chain benefits from carbon-based fuels," Davis said. He and Caldeira, along with Glen Peters from the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo, Norway, based their analysis on fossil energy resources of coal, oil, natural gas, and secondary fuels traded among 58 industrial sectors and 112 countries in 2004. They found that fossil resources are highly concentrated and that the majority of fuel that is exported winds up in developed countries. Most of the countries that import a lot of fossil fuels also tend to import a lot of products. China is a notable exception to this trend. Davis and Caldeira say that their results show that enacting carbon pricing mechanisms at the point of extraction could be efficient and avoid the relocation of industries that could result from regulation at the point of combustion. Manufacturing of goods may shift from one country to another, but fossil fuel resources are geographically fixed. They found that regulating the fossil fuels extracted in China, the US, the Middle East, Russia, Canada, Australia, India, and Norway would cover 67% of global carbon dioxide emissions. The incentive to participate would be the threat of missing out on revenues from carbon-linked tariffs imposed further down the supply chain. Incorporating gross domestic product into these analyses highlights which countries' economies are most reliant on domestic resources of fossil energy and which economies are most dependent on traded fuels. "The country of extraction gets to sell their products and earn foreign exchange. The country of production gets to buy less-expensive fuels and therefore sell less-expensive products. The country of consumption gets to buy products at lower cost." Caldeira said. "However, we all have an interest in preventing the climate risk that the use of these fuels entails."