Newsdesk – May 31

A new study in the journal Science found that floating ice shelves can melt much more rapidly than previously thought—at a rate of about six miles per year. Credit: Massimo Rumi/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Antarctic Ocean Reveals New Signs of Rapid Melt of Ancient Ice, Clues About Future Sea Level Rise.   Climate researchers racing to calculate how fast and how high the sea level will rise found new clues on the seafloor around Antarctica. And as global warming speeds up the Antarctic meltdown, the findings “set a new upper limit for what the worst-case might be,” said lead author Julian Dowdeswell, director of the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge. And if the rate of retreat estimated by the new study extended across an 18-mile wide and half-mile thick ice shelf, as found in the closely watched Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica,  the researchers calculated it would release 138-gigatons of ice per year. It is three to five times more ice than is currently lost annually from that glacier system. “With such retreat rates, the sea level rise contribution from Antarctica could be a lot higher and quicker than expected,” said the University of Liège ice researcher Xavier Fettweis. However, there’s still no way to know exactly how fast the meltdown will happen with increasing human-caused warming, Fettweis said. The new study highlights the deep uncertainty on how fast an ice sheet can retreat.  “Along the Antarctic Peninsula, we’ve already seen glaciers speeding up by a factor of eight following the collapse of an ice shelf, “glaciologist, Eric Rignot says.  “Now we hear about glaciers retreating 10 kilometers per year. “Between 12,000 and 15,000 years ago, global sea level rose about 1.5 to 2.3 inches per year for several centuries, raising sea level by 82 feet over a 500-year period. “Glaciers in Greenland retreat at 500 meters (1,640 feet) per year,” said Rignot.  “Glaciers in alpine landscapes retreat more like 100 meters (328 feet) a year.  Rapid ice melt would increase risks of flooding, saltwater intrusions into drinking water supplies, and coastal erosion. The most important message to take home is that the current projections are too conservative. “The real drama in all of this is that the faster rates of retreat may turn out to be the most probable in some places, and as of now we do not know where and when.” – Inside Climate News

  • COVID-hit UK begins 18-month preparations for UN climate summit – Climate Home News
  • ‘A summer unlike any other’: heatwaves and Covid-19 are a deadly combination – The Guardian 
  • EU’s greenhouse gas emissions continue to fall as coal ditched – The Guardian
  • Climate Change And Deforestation Mean Earth’s Trees Are Younger And Shorter – NPR
  • 135-year-long streak is over: US renewable sources topped coal in 2019 –
  • Breakthrough in Artificial Photosynthetic System That Produces Clean and Renewable Energy From Sunlight and Water – SciTech Daily
  • Major milestone: Coal consumption falls behind renewable energy in the United States – CNN Business
Indigenous people from the Mura tribe in a deforested area inside the Amazon rainforest near Humaita, Amazonas State, Brazil, last August.Credit…Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

The Amazon Will Soon Burn Again (Opinion). When the dry season returns, the Amazon forest will burn again, as it does every year. But this time promises to be different. But unlike drier areas in Australia or California, the rainforest can’t catch on fire unless humans cut trees down. The Amazon is being devastated on an industrial scale. Criminal groups are targeting public lands for low-productivity cattle ranching and mining. Illegal land-grabbing schemes destroy biodiversity and the potentials of bioeconomics, enriching well-connected individuals. Mr. Bolsonaro and his administration encourage it.  Now, with all eyes on the pandemic crises, the Amazon and its Indigenous groups face existential threats, while criminals act as if they have permission to plunder. The president and his allies support a bill that provides further incentives to deforestation, allowing land grabbers to gain ownership of public lands, including Indigenous territories.  Deforestation relies on the labor of the poor, but it requires large sums of money and leaves behind desolation and social conflict. There is no evidence that it remedies poverty. Most scientists agree that we are nearing a tipping point in deforestation that will lead to Amazon’s “salinization.” This would have dire consequences not only for the forest, but also for Brazil’s agriculture, urban water and energy supplies, and global temperatures. And to save the Amazon, international organizations and investors need to use their leverage and pressure counterparts in Brazil. The future of the forest’s biodiversity depends on its human diversity. Demarcated Indigenous lands and extractive reserves, where local communities engage in sustainable and often traditional economic activities, have proved to be effective against the illegal destruction of the forest. – The New York Times

Climate adaptation policies are needed more than ever.  Pulling on the parachute.  In the early days of political action on climate change adaptation was seen as a poor relation to cutting greenhouse-gas emissions or as a distraction.  In 2010 with emissions rising steeply as the world bounced back from the financial crisis of 2007-09, adaptation began to take its proper place as a topic of international concern.  Global average temperatures are already roughly 1°C warmer than they were in the 19th century, bringing more extreme and more erratic weather patterns. On May 16th this year he satellite images taken over the Bay of Bengal warned of impending disaster. Huge waves swept over the Indian and Bangladeshi coast. Tens of thousands lost their homes, yet the number of deaths was relatively low. For the last several decades,  Bangladesh’s cyclone death tolls have been falling even though the storms have not become less brutal.  Bangladesh has developed a layered adaptation plan to cope with these disasters. It now has an early-warning system giving people extra minutes to evacuate and seek shelter. In some developed countries, adaptation is also saving lives. An estimated 15,000 died in France in 2003 as a result of scorching August temperatures, but a  heatwave in 2019 is estimated to have killed 1,500. The improvement was thanks to increased awareness of the threat, public policy, and private investment. There is now targeted support and medical attention for the most vulnerable. The authorities put air-conditioning into some public buildings. Many private citizens installed it, too.  We know now that adaptation is not just a matter for poor countries. The damage which Hurricane Sandy wreaked in New York City in 2012 showed that extreme events could bring one of the world’s most important financial centres to its knees. Damages topped $19bn. Such losses spurred a $19.5bn urban-adaptation plan. In the eyes of some, rich governments are not the only guilty parties. In December the Philippines’s Commission on Human Rights declared that events leading to devastating storms like Typhoon Haiyan, which killed thousands of people in 2013, were a violation of human rights. They pointed the finger at fossil-fuel companies and other corporations – The Economist