On Ozone Day, Ban Ki-moon
Cites Progress So Far Urging for Recommitment to
The ozone layer:
protecting our atmosphere for generations to come: Image: UNEP
|| September 16: 2016 || ά.
Marking the International Day for the
Preservation of the Ozone Layer, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
called on countries to strengthen climate protection by reducing the use of
hydrofluorocarbons. “The world has changed since we last marked International
Ozone Day,” said Mr. Ban in his message on the International Day, recalling that
adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement
on climate change.
“Now, we must turn ambition into action, and strengthen climate protection by
harnessing the power of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the
Ozone Layer to make progress in slowing the near-term warming caused by
hydrofluorocarbons:HFCs, the fastest growing of the greenhouse gases,” he added.
He noted that, though HFCs were widely adopted as an effective alternative to
products that were damaging the ozone layer, particularly, those used in
refrigeration and air conditioning, it is now scientifically proven that, while
HFCs have greatly reduced the threat to the ozone layer, they are an extremely
potent greenhouse gas.
Highlighting that the reduction of the use of HFCs would bring considerable
benefits as well as support the implementation of the Paris Agreement, the
Secretary General called on the countries to take advantage of the next month's
meeting in Rwanda where discussions will be aimed at reaching a global consensus
on phasing down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol.
He added that the use of the Montreal Protocol regime to phase down HFCs would
complement efforts to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions
under the UNFCCC process. “On this International Day for the Preservation of the
Ozone Layer, let us remember how much has already been accomplished, and commit
to do more to protect our atmosphere,” he said.
“By working together, we can build a safer, healthier, more prosperous and
resilient world for all people while protecting our planet, our only home,” he
concluded. In 1994, the UN General Assembly proclaimed September 16, the
International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, commemorating the
date of the signing, in 1987, of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that
Deplete the Ozone Layer.
Regulations Do Bring Results: Plunge in Vessel Sulphur
Emissions in the Baltic Sea
|| September 06: 2016 || ά.
The introduction of stricter regulations on the sulphur content of fuel used on
the Baltic Sea since January 01, 2015 has yielded results. A report drawn up for
Trafi by the Finnish Meteorological Institute reveals a marked fall in sulphur
emissions in the Baltic Sea area. Since the beginning of 2015, the maximum
permissible sulphur content of marine fuels has been 0.1%, whereas the previous
limit was 1.0%.
"We are delighted that the reduction in the
sulphur content of marine fuel has yielded results. In 2015, emissions of
sulphur oxide, or SOx from ships amounted to 10,300 tonnes and fine particle
emissions to 10,400 tonnes. Compared to 2014, these have fallen by 88% in the
case of sulphur oxide emissions and 36% in fine particle emissions, which is due
to a reduction in the sulphur content of fuel. On the other hand, ship emissions
of NOx and CO2 increased by 06.3% and 05.6% in 2015 compared to the previous
year," says Jorma Kämäräinen, a Chief Adviser from Trafi.
Trafi has been funding annual reports by the Finnish Meteorological Institute on
harmful maritime exhaust emissions in the Baltic Sea:SOx, NOx, CO, CO2 and PM
emissions since 2007, reporting its findings to the HELCOM Maritime Conference.
Such information has been used for purposes such as drawing up the Baltic Sea
states' joint proposal to the IMO for the designation of the Baltic Sea as
nitrogen oxide:NOx Emission Control Area:NECA.
Reduction in fine particle emissions as well as sulphur
Supervision of the sulphur content of marine fuel, based on port state control
by Trafi, has also played a part in reducing sulphur emissions since Trafi began
the practice in 2015. Remote supervision, which has enabled the coverage of many
more times the number of vessels than otherwise, has enhanced control of the
situation since July 2016.
Much remains to be done to reach maritime emission reduction targets
Changes in the environmental regulation of shipping have ensured a drop in the
quantities of harmful fine particles emitted in this sector. However, much work
remains to be done in improving the energy efficiency of, and minimising
greenhouse gas emissions from, maritime transport, given the challenging nature
of the emission reduction targets planned for the sector.
"The long lifespan, 25–30 years, of ships means
that the lifespan of technical solutions for reducing emissions is also long.
With respect to the change in the sulphur limit, in the other hand, the effects
on emissions are immediate, because they are directly targeted at the fuel used
by ships regardless of their year of construction," says Jukka-Pekka Jalkanen,
Senior Researcher at the Finnish Meteorological Institute.
Additional information is available from: The report 'Emissions from Baltic Sea
shipping in 2015' to be published on Tuesday, September 06 2016 at the HELCOM
Maritime Conference, after which it can be read in its entirety on the
Jorma Kämäräinen, Chief Adviser, tel. +358 29 5346 440,
jorma.kamarainen at trafi.fi
The Finnish Meteorological Institute
Jukka-Pekka Jalkanen, Senior Researcher, tel. +358 50 919 5455,
jukka-pekka.jalkanen at fmi.fi:
A Lot of Rain But Lot
Less Lightning Strikes in Finland
Salla, Lapland, Finland
|| September 03: 2016 || ά.
August and the whole summer saw very high levels
of precipitation in many areas of Finlan and fairly normal temperatures.
According to the FMI statistics, August was exceptionally rainy in some areas in
the Ostrobothnian provinces and in Lapland, i.e. similar levels of precipitation
are experienced in these areas on average once every 30 years. The monthly
rainfall in areas with the most precipitation was mainly 100–150mm, which is
01.5–02 times the usual amount.
Riimala in Mustasaari received the highest amount of precipitation, which was
206.3mm. Mid-August was especially rainy, with 74.7mm of precipitation received
within a period of 24 hours in Kauppilankylä, Teuva, on August 14. The levels of
precipitation in other parts of the country, i.e. mainly in the southern and
central parts of the country, varied between 60mm and 120mm. The driest area was
The average temperature in August was close to the long-term average in a large
part of the country. Compared with the usual temperatures, the area near the
eastern border was the warmest and Western Lapland was the coolest. The highest
temperature for the month, 26.1°C, was measured in Lappeenranta on August 22 and
the lowest temperature, -02.6°C, in Naruska, Salla, on August 30. The
long-lasting gusts of wind during the Rauli storm, unusually strong for summer,
caused power cuts in large areas especially in the central part of Finland on
Summer record rainy in Ostrobothnia and Lapland
Precipitation levels for the summer, Jun–Aug, were record high in Ostrobothnia,
Central Ostrobothnia and Lapland. In these areas, the amount of rainfall rose to
more than 300mm in many areas and was even twice as much as usual in some areas.
The highest rainfall this summer, 449mm, was received at the Kenttärova station
in Kittilä. The summer was slightly drier than usual mainly in the southeastern
part of the country.
The average temperature for the summer was slightly higher than usual in a large
part of the country. The greatest deviation from the long-term average, about
01°C, was experienced in Eastern Lapland. Hot summer days were distributed
unevenly. May saw six days with temperatures exceeding 25°C, June 11 days and
July 16. There were only two hot days in August. As a result, the total number
of days with temperatures above 25°C during the summer months was 35, which is
Temperatures did not exceed 30°C anywhere in the country this summer and 29.1°C
in Kevo, Utsjoki, on July 23 remained the warmest temperature recorded. The last
times highest temperatures remained below 30°C were in 2008 and 2009.
Number of lightnings in the summer remained below average
About 113,000 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes were observed in Finland during
the summer months, which is slightly below the average of 135,000 lightning
strikes. In August as well as in June, the number of lightning strikes remained
at about half of normal.
Photo-Speak: We Humans Do This to Our Environment and
Then Simply Decide to Ignore to Look at or Think About
the Aftermath of What We Do
||August 29: 2016 || ά. This is a grotesque and revolting picture and we, the
humans have inflicted this grotesque and revolting scenes along our shore lines
around the world, in our fresh and marine waters and this very infliction has
been devastating both the fresh water and marine water and the life they both
We simply cannot go on living like this. We simply cannot go on living like
this. We must learn to unlearn the unsustainable, unhealthy and unwise way of
thinking, living and going on as if our actions simply do not have any impact.
They do. And These impacts devastate the very resource that supports us so that
what we 'poison' comes back to our plates and makes us unwell. And we suffer and
a lot of us, across the globe are, dying because of the poor environment and,
particularly, for poor water and air quality. This cannot go on. It must change.
We must change.
Marine litter affects communities and seas in every region of the world, and
negatively impacts biodiversity, fisheries and coastal economies. Image: UNEP
GRID Arendal:Lawrence Hislop.
P-Three, Where are You
off to: Well, Oracle, Somebody Must Study the Effects of
Smoke on Clouds in Africa
||August 28: 2016 ||
scientists and two research aircraft are on their way to a unique natural
laboratory off the Atlantic coast of southwest Africa to study a major unknown
in future climate prediction. The coast of Namibia is one of three places on
Earth with persistent low-level clouds, and the only such location with a steady
supply of tiny aerosol particles in the form of smoke from inland fires that mix
with the clouds.
NASA's Observations of
Aerosols Above Clouds and their Interactions:ORACLES mission will observe and
measure how these particles interact with clouds and change their ability to
warm or cool the planet. "This is the perfect natural laboratory to study
aerosol-cloud interactions, which are some of the largest uncertainties in the
prediction of future climate," said Jens Redemann, ORACLES principal
investigator at NASA's Ames Research Centre in Moffett Field, California.
Some aerosols, such as dust and sea salt, have a natural origin. But others,
such as soot and smoke released by fires and industry, are the result of human
activities. Once aerosols enter the atmosphere, they can cause either a warming
or cooling effect. "Human activities currently are estimated to be responsible
for perhaps half of all the aerosol particles in the atmosphere," said Robert
Wood, a cloud scientist at the University of Washington in Seattle and ORACLES
deputy principal investigator.
"Smoke particles both reflect
sunlight back to space, thus cooling the Earth, and absorb sunlight, which has
the opposite effect of warming the Earth. When aerosols encounter clouds, they
also change the properties of the clouds they are ingested into." Understanding
which effect is dominant, and under what conditions, is essential for improving
the regional and global computer models that predict what may occur with future
climate change. Changes in the properties of the cloud layer caused by aerosols
could also have an effect on regional coastal fisheries by altering the amount
of sunlight reaching the ocean surface that drives currents and ocean upwelling.
The initially separate cloud and aerosol layers off the Namibian coast are
relatively stable. As the cloud layers thicken away from shore like a wedge, it
gradually mixes with the aerosol layer. The result is a range of steadily
changing conditions that allow the ORACLES science team to probe several
different types of cloud-aerosol interactions.
The ORACLES field campaign is based out of Walvis Bay in Namibia, where faculty
and students from Namibian universities will be working alongside the ORACLES
team. The project team has built new relationships with African colleagues, in
particular, the Namibia University of Science and Technology in Windhoek.
University personnel support logistics for ORACLES field work and will
collaborate in data analysis and modelling. The Gobabeb Research and Training
Centre in the Namib Desert, which previously has worked with NASA using the
desert as an analogue for the surface of other planets, is providing
ground-based remote sensing of the atmosphere.
"Science is a great unifier," said Bernadette Squire Luna, ORACLES project
manager at Ames. "We are building relationships with Namibian scientists that
will outlast this project and will lead to yet more science and more
interactions. We're connecting our countries in a very grassroots way."
NASA's P-3 aircraft, managed by the agency’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops
Island, Virginia, carries five remote sensing instruments and flies through the
cloud and aerosol layers at up to 20,000 feet to gather direct measurements from
more than a dozen cloud and aerosol probes attached to the wings and inlets on
the windows. NASA's ER-2 aircraft, managed by the agency’s Armstrong Flight
Research Centre in Edwards, California, will fly at 65,000 feet with instruments
that make measurements similar to those acquired from satellites.
ORACLES flights will complement and validate current satellite observations of
aerosols and clouds, and test instruments that may fly on future satellites, by
making detailed observations that are impossible to make from space with current
Unlike a satellite, which generally gets one pass per day over a certain
location, both aircraft will be able to sample clouds and aerosols throughout
the day over the entire study area to see how they evolve. Together, data from
the two aircraft will provide a comprehensive picture of how aerosols behave in
the presence of clouds, and how aerosols directly or indirectly change how
ORACLES is a collaborative research effort that involves more than a hundred
scientists from five NASA centers, two national laboratories, 10 U.S.
universities, and five African research institutions. It’s a multi-year NASA
Earth Venture suborbital investigation to probe Earth system processes that are
not completely understood. These flights from Namibia are the first of several
planned field seasons for the mission. Earth Venture investigations are part of
NASA's Earth System Science Pathfinder program managed at the agency’s Langley
Research Centre in Hampton, Virginia.
For more information about
NASA collects data from space, air, land and sea to increase our understanding
of our home planet, improve lives and safeguard our future. NASA develops new
ways to observe and study Earth's interconnected natural systems with long-term
data records. The agency freely shares this unique knowledge and works with
institutions around the world to gain new insights into how our planet is
Steve Cole: Headquarters, Washington: 202-358-0918: stephen.e.cole at nasa.gov
Darryl Waller: Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. 650-604-2675:
darryl.e.waller at nasa.gov
:Editor: Karen Northon:NASA:
Can You, Will You Choose to
Imagine a World Without Wildlife?
||August 15: 2016 ||
Zoological Society of London:ZSL, has today, Monday, August 15, launched Imagine
a World without Wildlife, a campaign to inspire conservation action, by
encouraging people to truly consider what a planet without wildlife would mean
for them. An elephant is killed by poachers every fifteen minutes. Amphibians
across the globe are facing an unparalleled disease epidemic. Fish numbers risk
being matched by toxic plastic pollutants within a decade.
The world’s wildlife population has halved in just 40 years. These terrifying
statistics, investigated and revealed during years of research and analysis by
scientists and conservationists at ZSL, paint a scary picture of the world
wildlife is forced to live in. But they can be changed and the time for action
is now. Recognising that these alarming facts, while eye-opening and
hard-hitting, can be difficult for many to comprehend in a relatable way,
Imagine a World without Wildlife shares beautiful images of scenery and
landscapes with iconic species boldly cut out, enabling audiences to visualise
the prophetic message.
An elephant in Ghana: Image: World
With elephants missing from the savannah, seahorses omitted from ocean reed beds
and rhinos cut from their grassland dwellings, the campaign aims to raise vital
awareness of these devastating possibilities, and the work that can be done to
prevent them from becoming a reality. Ralph Armond, Director General at the
Zoological Society of London said: “We’re asking the public to imagine a world
without wildlife, to really drive home the need for urgent action.
“A deliberately hard hitting message, we need the public to realise that without
the worldwide work of ZSL, iconic species such as elephants, rhinos, seahorses
and tigers could genuinely become a thing of the past. There are many ways to
support ZSL, from volunteering as a citizen scientist and assisting with
wildlife population surveys to becoming a ZSL Wildlife Champion to help provide
the vital funds to support our global efforts – every action makes a
Almost 200 years old, and with a mission to protect animals and their habitats,
ZSL’s global networks of expert staff are working for wildlife every day.
In 2016 alone, ZSL has revealed that Bengal tiger numbers have nearly doubled
thanks to its conservation efforts, published ground-breaking research about the
impact of chemical pollutants on killer whales to inform their future
protection, reintroduced native oysters to Essex and contributed to global
breeding programmes for endangered species among many more.
Join ZSL Campaign:
Can You, Will You Choose to Imagine a World Without
‽: 160816 ||
80,100 Lightning Strikes in an
Unusually Warm July
Salla, Lapland, Finland
||August 11: 2016: Lapland: Finland ||
The average temperature in July ranged between
approximately 14 and 18 degrees Celsius. July was exceptionally warm in a large
part of Lapland. Statistically, July is this warm only once in ten years. The
last time July was warmer than this in Lapland was in 2014. The monthly average
temperature was very even throughout the country. July was warmer than normal on
the west coast and in the north, as well as in the Northern Savo and North
temperatures were close to the long-term average or slightly below it.
Relatively, it was warmest in Eastern Lapland and Koillismaa, where the monthly
average temperature in some places was more than 02 degrees higher than normal.
The highest temperature of the month, 29, 1°C, was reported in Kevo, Utsjoki on
July 23. The month's lowest temperature of 0.8 degrees was reported on July 20
in Möksy, Alajärvi. There were a total of 16 days when temperatures rose above
25 degrees in the country as a whole, which is exactly the same as the July
Great variations in precipitation levels
July saw great variations in local rainfall. Kenttärova, Kittilä, where it
rained the most, reported a total of 197 mm precipitation, while Jomalaby,
Jomala, where it rained the least reported only 16 mm of precipitation. Many
locations in the western Finland and its southwest archipelago reported less
than 80 per cent of normal precipitation levels and in some places rainfall was
even were exceptionally low.
On the other hand, precipitation levels were exceptionally high up to double the
normal in the east of the country and Western Lapland, where it rained the most.
Rainfall of this intensity is reported in the regions in question only once in
30 years. Some of the country's eastern and northern observation stations
reported station-specific record breaking precipitation levels for July.
However, the country's precipitation record was a far way off, as during the
rainiest July in history in 1934 a total of 302 mm precipitation fell in Laukaa.
The largest amount of rain in the course of one day was reported in Yläluosta,
Rautavaara where it rained 74.3 mm on July 03.
In July, thunderstorms were a nearly daily occurrence, and the month's
lightening total was 80,100. This is approximately one third more than the
long-term average for July, 60,000. By far, the highest number of lightning
strikes in Finland, a total of 21,600, was recorded on July 05. There have been
only six days in the 2000s when over 20,000 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes
have been recorded. ω.
‽: 120816 ||
Temperature in Kuwait Hits 54 Celsius, Sets Possible
Record Amid Middle East Heatwave
Dohuk, Iraq, Sharia camp:
Image: OCHA:Gwen McClure
|| July 26: 2016: Paris ||
The World Meteorological Organisation:WMO
a United Nations specialised agency, will set up a committee to examine whether
a 54 degrees Celsius temperature recently recorded in Kuwait, has set the new
highest temperature for Asia, as well as for the entire Eastern hemisphere. The
region saw unusually high temperatures with Mitrabah, Kuwait, reporting a
temperature of 54 degrees Celsius:129.2 degrees Fahrenheit on July 21, and the
city of Basra in Iraq reporting 53.9 degrees Celcius:128 Fahrenheit on Friday,
July 22. Southern Morocco also saw temperatures of between 43 degrees and 47
“The Kuwait investigation, as with all WMO official investigations, will consist
of meteorologists and climatologists,” the agency said in a news release today.
“They will examine the instrumentation used, the quality of observations, the
microclimate of the location, the representativeness of the weather monitoring
station to its surroundings and to its own record,” it added.
Large parts of the Middle East and North Africa have been affected by heatwaves
since last week, with temperatures exceeding the seasonal averages by a large
margin, and over a sustained period. The conditions have prompted to issue
health warnings. The refugee population in the Middle East has been hard hit by
the spiking temperatures. Their fragile situation has been further exacerbating
by the high temperatures, said WMO.
According to the World Weather and Climate Extremes official archives, that WMO
is responsible for, the hottest temperature ever recorded on the planet was in
Furnace Creek, Death Valley, California at 56.7 Celsius on July 10, 1913.
“However, these records are subject to regular review,” noted the agency.
Record widespread warmth
Meanwhile, central and eastern United States have also been affected by
widespread heatwave. Temperatures have been recorded in the range of 95-100
degrees, 35-38 Celsius, and heat index values reached 110 degrees, 43 Celsius,
with some areas reaching 115 degrees, 46 Celsius, WMO noted referring to figures
from the US National Weather Service.
At the heatwave's peak on July 22, almost 124 million people were under
heat-related warnings or advisories. Additionally, high overnight low
temperatures, a unique feature of these heatwaves, meant little relief from the
oppressive heat and above average temperatures are forecast to continue along
much of the eastern US through the middle of the week.
The agency highlighted that the latest heatwaves come as Earth has just
witnessed the hottest six month period on record with temperatures shattering
even the record levels seen in 2015. From January to June 2016 was characterized
by warmer- to much-warmer-than-average conditions engulfing most of the world's
land and ocean surfaces.
Record warmth was widespread across Alaska, western Canada, southern Mexico,
northern South America, central Africa, Indonesia, northern and eastern
Australia, North Indian Ocean, and across parts of north-central Russia, western
Asia, central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, the southwestern Pacific
Ocean, and the north-western Atlantic Ocean. A number of countries saw new
national temperature records, for instance, India saw a new national temperature
record of 51°C in its state of Rajasthan in May.
Climate change attribution
“The length, frequency and intensity of heatwaves will likely increase further
during this century, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change,” said the agency. “The science of attribution is making it possible to
analyse individual events and assess the role of climate change played, rather
than natural variability,” it added
It explained that scientific assessments have found that many extreme events in
the 2011 to 2015 period, especially those relating to extreme high temperatures,
have had their probabilities substantially increased as a result of
anthropogenic climate change, by a factor of 10 or more in some cases.
Achieved in Denmark
|| July 25: 2016: Paris ||
Savo-Solar delivered a solar collector
field to Jelling Varmeværk in Denmark in spring 2016. The field was taken into
use in mid-June and according to the customer’s measurement and analytics the
field shows an excellent, record-breaking performance. In early June, the first
portion of the collector field with 461 collectors, out of a total of 1,031,
started its energy production and already during its first weekend produced 34
MWh in one day. The measured efficiency is a record breaking 4.97 kWh/m2, which,
according to the information available to the company, is a new Danish record,
out-producing the next best field with almost 6%.
"We are very pleased to have received a collector field which has become
record-breaking already in its first weeks of operation. It will be exciting to
follow the collectors' performance during the summer and the rest of the year,"
says Bjarne Nielsen, Plant Manager of Jelling Varmeværk. "We are happy to see
that our collectors are delivering according to promise, to the full
satisfaction of our customers. Our unique technology means minimized heat loss
and maximised energy yield, and the results are best seen in practice. The more
data we receive from actual use of our collectors, the better we can encourage
our potential new customers to rely on our thermal systems," Jari Varjotie,
Managing Director of Savo-Solar.
Savosolar is a Finnish company manufacturing the world's
most efficient solar thermal collectors. The company's
unique products are based on a vacuum coating process
where the complete absorber structure is coated after
assembly. This means that the direct flow design, with
highly improved heat transfer, can be utilised. The
Savosolar team has extensive know-how and experience in
vacuum coating techniques as well as in international
sales and business management. The company uses the
latest manufacturing technologies in its processes and
is ISO 9000 certified. Our company is expanding rapidly
and supports our customers in reaching their
environmental and business targets by significantly
reducing their energy costs. Savosolar invests in
constant product development to always offer the best
solutions to the needs of the growing environmental
Our customers face
Constantly rising energy prices
Business models without the possibility to forecast
Public pressure and legal obligations to lower
greenhouse gas emissions
Fuel costs and fuel availability which is depending on
Savosolar solar thermal solutions offer
The highest efficiency in the market, and thereby the
lowest possible energy cost over 25 years
Energy price stability over 25 years
Independent energy production without fuel costs and
less political dependency
Emission free energy and an environmentally responsible
Accelerating the solar economy through the leading
technology for competitive energy
Be the first-choice supplier to high performance solar
installations on a global scale:
2016 on Pace to Be Hottest Year
Ever as Climate Change Trends Reach ‘New Climax’: UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in discussion with Petteri
Talaas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organisation:WMO, at the
in Geneva, Switzerland. Image:UN Photo:Rick Bajornas.
|| July 21: 2016: Paris ||
temperatures for the first six months of this year reached new highs, setting
2016 on track to be the hottest-ever on record, the United Nations weather
agency said today. ''Another month, another record. And another. And another.
Decades-long trends of climate change are reaching new climaxes, fuelled by the
strong 2015/2016 El Niño,” said World Meteorological Organisation:WMO
Secretary-General Petteri Taalas in a press release.
The El Niño event, which turned up the Earth’s thermostat, has now disappeared,
but “climate change, caused by heat-trapping greenhouse gases, will not,” he
stressed. This means more heatwaves, more extreme rainfall and potential for
higher impact tropical cyclones. Arctic sea ice melted early and fast, another
indicator of climate change. Carbon dioxide levels, which are driving global
warming, have reached new highs.
To calculate global temperature statistics for its annual state of the climate
report, WMO uses datasets from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration:NOAA, the United States National Aeronautics and Space
Administration’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies:NASA GISS, and the UK’s Met
Office and reanalysis data from the European Centre for Medium Range Weather
Two separate reports from NOAA and NASA GISS both highlighted
the dramatic and sweeping changes in the state of the climate. June 2016 marked
the 14th consecutive month of record heat for land and oceans. It marked the
378th consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th century average. The
last month with temperatures below the 20th century average was December 1984.
It’s getting hotter
Carbon dioxide concentrations have passed the symbolic milestone of 400 parts
per million in the atmosphere so far this year. CO2 levels vary according to the
season, but the underlying trend is upwards. They showed a surprising increase
for the first half of 2016, rising in June 2016 to nearly 407 ppm, 4 ppm greater
than June 2015.
“This underlines more starkly than ever the need to approve and implement the
Paris Agreement on climate change, and to speed up the shift to low carbon
economies and renewable energy,” said Mr. Taalas. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
has invited leaders to a special event on 21 September to deposit their
instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession to the Paris
Agreement on climate change, which was adopted by last December. The event will
also provide an opportunity to other countries to publicly commit to the
agreement before the end of 2016.
The average temperature in the first six months of 2016 was 1.3 degrees Celsius,
2.4 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the pre-industrial era in the late 19th
century, according to NASA. NOAA said the global land and ocean average
temperature for January–June was 1.05 degrees Celsius, 1.89 degrees Fahrenheit
above the 20th century average, beating the previous record set in 2015 by 0.20
degree Celsius, 0.36 degree Fahrenheit.
Each month in 2016 was record warm. Most of the world’s land and ocean surfaces
had warmer to much-warmer-than-average conditions. The El Niño event which
developed in 2015 and was one of the most powerful on record contributed to the
record temperatures in the first half of 2016. It dissipated in May.
Arctic Sea ice is melting faster
The extent of Arctic sea ice at the peak of the summer melt season now typically
covers 40 per cent less area than it did in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Arctic sea ice extent in September, the seasonal low point in the annual cycle,
has been declining at a rate of 13.4 per cent per decade.
Depending on where you are, it’s
either too wet or too dry
Rainfall in June 2016 varied significantly around the
world. It was notably drier than normal across the
western and central contiguous US, Spain, northern
Colombia, northeastern Brazil, Chile, southern
Argentina, and across parts of central Russia.
Wetter-than-normal precipitation was observed across
northern Argentina, northern and central Europe, much of
Australia, and across central and southern Asia.
From January to July 04, China saw 21.2 per cent above
average precipitation. South China entered the flood
season on March 21, 16 days earlier than normal and more
than 150 counties were record wet, according to the
China Meteorological Administration. More than 300
rivers crossed the water level warning mark.
Coral reefs are under increasing threat
Temperatures in the Coral Sea including the Great
Barrier Reef, and the Tasman Sea were highest on record
for extended periods since late summer 2016, according
to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology. These warm waters
have also contributed to surface temperature warmth over
Australia and unprecedented bleaching of the Great
Barrier Reef, according to Australia’s independent
Climate Council. There has been widespread bleaching of
reefs in many other parts of the world.
France is Determined to Be at the Forefront of Green
|| July 21: 2016: Paris ||
recent OECD report shows that the French Government’s environmental policy is
both determined and ambitious in its green growth strategy. France is resolute
in continuing its action in this respect, especially as regards carbon pricing.
In its latest report on France’s showing in its Environmental Performance
Reviews, the OECD highlights the Republic’s progress, including in the areas of:
decoupling, in particular by reducing its greenhouse gas and other atmospheric
pollutant emissions, reducing freshwater abstraction and stabilising municipal
waste production:GDP 2013 = 116, GHG 2013 = 89; base 100 in 2000 and
eco-innovation and promotion of investment in green growth: added value and job
creation have increased more rapidly in this area than in the rest of the
The OECD emphasises France’s role as a driving force behind the adoption of the
international agreement on the climate, the law on energy transition, the bill
on biodiversity, and progress made on ecotaxation, introduction of the carbon
component in taxation of fossil energies. The Government will continue to act
with determination to improve France’s environmental performances, with the
conviction that they have become a key lever for economic and social
performance. Among other things, it will continue to promote agroecology, a
field highlighted and recommended by the OECD, and its action on carbon prices.
Action on carbon pricing
The conclusions of the
mission entrusted to Engie SA Chairman Gérard Mestrallet, WWF France director
Pascal Canfin and economist Alain Grandjean in early April with a view to
setting up effective, predictable and co-ordinated carbon pricing in the context
of the Paris Agreement on the Climate, have just been presented to the
Government. The report makes ten operational proposals including introduction of
a carbon price corridor at European level in the form of a minimum and maximum
auction price for carbon quotas in order to orientate investment towards
Ségolène Royal was pleased to see that several members of the European
Parliament had submitted an amendment to this end in the context of the revision
of the European carbon market directive currently underway. France will be
supporting the proposal, which should enable the European Union to achieve its
goals for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement
on the Climate. With a European carbon price of at least 20 euros per tonne,
auctioning revenue received by France could come to almost a billion euros a
year as against 315 million euros in 2015 due to prices being set too low. Such
revenue would contribute to combating fuel poverty and might also be used to
augment the national fund for financing the energy transition.
A carbon price floor:CPF will also be introduced in the French electricity
sector on January 01, 2017: the mission suggests that the price floor should be
concentrated on coal-fired power plants, so that there would be significant
environmental gains while continuing to ensure the safety of the electricity
system. Such a measure should be included in the next finance bill.
Finally, France will approach the President of the World Bank to suggest setup
of a high-level initiative to set desirable carbon pricing at international
level, which would enable all countries party to the Paris Agreement on the
Climate, depending on their respective capacities, to achieve the goal of
limiting the rise in temperature to 2°C or even 1.5°C in comparison to the
France will also continue to promote the subject of carbon pricing at
international level through the “Carbon pricing leadership coalition” set up
during the launch of COP21 and bringing together Heads of State committed to
carbon pricing. The President of the COP invites all States and economic actors
to join the coalition.
Climate Trends Continue to Break Records in 2016
|| July 20: 2016 ||
Two key climate change indicators, the
global surface temperatures and Arctic sea ice extent, have broken numerous
records through the first half of 2016, according to NASA analyses of
ground-based observations and satellite data. Each of the first six months of
2016 set a record as the warmest respective month globally in the modern
temperature record, which dates to 1880, according to scientists at NASA's
Goddard Institute for Space Studies:GISS in New York. The six-month period from
January to June was also the planet's warmest half-year on record, with an
average temperature 1.3 degrees Celsius:2.4 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the
late nineteenth century.
Five of the first six months of 2016 also set records for the
smallest respective monthly Arctic sea ice extent since consistent satellite
records began in 1979, according to analyses developed by scientists at NASA's
Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Maryland. The one exception, March,
recorded the second smallest extent for that month. While these two key climate
indicators have broken records in 2016, NASA scientists said it is more
significant that global temperature and Arctic sea ice are continuing their
decades-long trends of change. Both trends are ultimately driven by rising
concentrations of heat-trapping carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the
The extent of Arctic sea ice at the peak of the summer melt season now typically
covers 40 percent less area than it did in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Arctic sea ice extent in September, the seasonal low point in the annual cycle,
has been declining at a rate of 13.4 percent per decade. "While the El Niño
event in the tropical Pacific this winter gave a boost to global temperatures
from October onwards, it is the underlying trend which is producing these record
numbers," GISS Director Gavin Schmidt said.
Previous El Niño events have driven temperatures to what were then record
levels, such as in 1998. But in 2016, even as the effects of the recent El Niño
taper off, global temperatures have risen well beyond those of 18 years ago
because of the overall warming that has taken place in that time. The global
trend in rising temperatures is outpaced by the regional warming in the Arctic,
said Walt Meier, a sea ice scientist at NASA Goddard.
"It has been a record year so far for global temperatures, but the record high
temperatures in the Arctic over the past six months have been even more
extreme," Meier said. "This warmth as well as unusual weather patterns have led
to the record low sea ice extents so far this year."
NASA tracks temperature and sea ice as part of its effort to understand the
Earth as a system and to understand how Earth is changing. In addition to
maintaining 19 Earth-observing space missions, NASA also sends researchers
around the globe to investigate different facets of the planet at closer range.
Right now, NASA researchers are working across the Arctic to better understand
both the processes driving increased sea ice melt and the impacts of rising
temperatures on Arctic ecosystems.
NASA's long-running Operation IceBridge campaign last week began a series of
airborne measurements of melt ponds on the surface of the Arctic sea ice cap.
Melt ponds are shallow pools of water that form as ice melts. Their darker
surface can absorb more sunlight and accelerate the melting process. IceBridge
is flying out of Barrow, Alaska, during sea ice melt season to capture melt pond
observations at a scale never before achieved. Recent studies have found that
the formation of melt ponds early in the summer is a good predictor of the
yearly minimum sea ice extent in September.
"No one has ever, from a remote sensing standpoint, mapped the large-scale depth
of melt ponds on sea ice," said Nathan Kurtz, IceBridge’s project scientist and
a sea ice researcher at NASA Goddard. "The information we’ll collect is going to
show how much water is retained in melt ponds and what kind of topography is
needed on the sea ice to constrain them, which will help improve melt pond
Operation IceBridge is a NASA airborne mission that has been flying multiple
campaigns at both poles each year since 2009, with a goal of maintaining
critical continuity of observations of sea ice and the ice sheets of Greenland
and Antarctica. At the same time, NASA researchers began in earnest this year a
nearly decade-long, multi-faceted field study of Arctic ecosystems in Alaska and
Canada. The Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment:ABoVE will study how forests,
permafrost and other ecosystems are responding to rising temperatures in the
Arctic, where climate change is unfolding faster than anywhere else on the
ABoVE consists of dozens individual experiments that over years will study the
region's changing forests, the cycle of carbon movement between the atmosphere
and land, thawing permafrost, the relationship between fire and climate change,
By Patrick Lynch: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in
:Editor: Karl Hille:NASA:
Better Air Quality for Europeans: Stricter Emission
Limits for Non-road Combustion Engines Become EU Law
Image: The House of Commons
|| July 18: 2016 ||
ά. The European
Council approved new requirements to reduce pollutant emissions, such as dust
particles and nitrogen oxides, from engines of non-road mobile machinery. These
requirements address air pollution at source to protect the health of EU
citizens and the environment. They will help member states in their efforts to
achieve the national ceilings for emissions agreed at the end of June 2016.
A large variety of machines ranging from small handheld equipment such as
chainsaws, trimmers and lawn mowers, construction machinery such as crawler
excavators and cranes and generating sets, to railcars, locomotives and inland
waterway vessels, are covered by the new regulation. The formal adoption of this
regulation follows a vote in the European Parliament on July 05, 2016, which
confirmed the provisional agreement reached by both institutions on April 06,
The regulation seeks to ensure the good functioning of the internal market and
to strengthen market surveillance while protecting human health and the
environment. It also addresses competitiveness and compliance aspects, with the
aim of removing obstacles to external trade by reducing the regulatory barriers
that result from different emission requirements.
The objective is to reduce pollutant emissions
progressively from new engines of non-road machinery
placed on the European market. This is expected to
result in a very significant reduction in emissions. The
emissions limits for these engines are currently set out
in directive 97:68:EC, but several technical reviews
have shown that the legislation in its current form has
to be updated as it no longer reflects the latest
Following technical reviews, public consultations and
impact assessments, the Commission presented the
original proposal to update the existing legislation on
September 25, 2014.
New EU Type-approval Procedures
Only engines which are in compliance with the requirements on emission limits
and the type-approval procedures will be allowed on the market. The new rules
will simplify the implementation stages for the introduction of new emission
levels and type-approval procedures to reduce the burden for engine and non-road
mobile machinery manufacturers.
A few exemptions will be permitted to address specific needs related to the
armed forces, logistic supply constraints, field testing of prototypes and the
use of non-road mobile machinery in explosive atmospheres.
The regulation will be published in the EU's Official Journal in September. The
new harmonised type-approval conditions for new engines installed in non-road
machinery will start to apply gradually from 2018 up to 2020 depending on the
category of the engine.
Biodiversity Falls Below ‘Safe Levels’ Globally: New
Hotspot biodiversity safe
limits: Image: Tim Newbold, UCL
|| July 17: 2016: UCL
Levels of global biodiversity loss may
negatively impact on ecosystem function and the sustainability of human
societies, according to UCL-led research. “This is the first time we’ve
quantified the effect of habitat loss on biodiversity globally in such detail
and we’ve found that across most of the world biodiversity loss is no longer
within the safe limit suggested by ecologists” explained lead researcher, Dr Tim
Newbold from UCL and previously at UNEP-WCMC.
“We know biodiversity loss affects ecosystem function but how it does this is
not entirely clear. What we do know is that in many parts of the world, we are
approaching a situation where human intervention might be needed to sustain
ecosystem function.” The team found that grasslands, savannas and shrublands
were most affected by biodiversity loss, followed closely by many of the world’s
forests and woodlands. They say the ability of biodiversity in these areas to
support key ecosystem functions such as growth of living organisms and nutrient
cycling has become increasingly uncertain.
The study, published in Science, led by researchers from UCL, the Natural
History Museum and UNEP-WCMC, found that levels of biodiversity loss are so high
that if left unchecked, they could undermine efforts towards long-term
For 58.1% of the world’s land surface, which is home to 71.4% of the global
population, the level of biodiversity loss is substantial enough to question the
ability of ecosystems to support human societies. The loss is due to changes in
land use and puts levels of biodiversity beyond the ‘safe limit’ recently
proposed by the planetary boundaries, an international framework that defines a
safe operating space for humanity.
“It’s worrying that land use has already pushed biodiversity below the level
proposed as a safe limit,” said Professor Andy Purvis of the Natural History
Museum, London, who also worked on the study. “Decision-makers worry a lot about
economic recessions, but an ecological recession could have even worse
consequences – and the biodiversity damage we’ve had means we’re at risk of that
happening. Until and unless we can bring biodiversity back up, we’re playing
The team used data from hundreds of scientists across the globe to analyse 2.38
million records for 39,123 species at 18,659 sites where are captured in the
database of the PREDICTS project. The analyses were then applied to estimate how
biodiversity in every square kilometre land has changed since before humans
modified the habitat.
They found that biodiversity hotspots – those that have seen habitat loss in the
past but have a lot of species only found in that area – are threatened, showing
high levels of biodiversity decline. Other high biodiversity areas, such as
Amazonia, which have seen no land use change have higher levels of biodiversity
and more scope for proactive conservation.
“The greatest changes have happened in those places where most people live,
which might affect physical and psychological wellbeing. To address this, we
would have to preserve the remaining areas of natural vegetation and restore
human-used lands,” added Dr Newbold.
The team hope the results will be used to inform conservation policy, nationally
and internationally, and to facilitate this, have made the maps from this paper
and all of the underlying data publicly available.
Research paper in Science
Dr Tim Newbold's academic profile
UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment
2011-2014: Greenland Lost One Trillion Tonnes of Ice
Contributing to Sea-level Rise as Much as Twice the
Average of Preceding Two Decades
ESA's ice mission: ESA’s Earth
Explorer CryoSat mission is dedicated to precise monitoring of changes in the
thickness of marine ice floating in the polar oceans and variations in the
thickness of the vast ice sheets that blanket Greenland and Antarctica.
26.01.2010: Copyright ESA/AOES Medialab
|| July 14: 2016 ||
the most detailed picture to date, information from ESA’s CryoSat satellite
reveals how melting ice in Greenland has recently contributed twice as much to
sea-level rise as the prior two decades. Between 2011 and 2014, Greenland lost
around one trillion tonnes of ice. This corresponds to a 0.75 mm contribution to
global sea-level rise each year, about twice the average of the preceding two
The study, published in Geophysical Research Letters this week, combines data
from the CryoSat mission with a regional climate model to map changes in
Greenland ice-sheet mass. It is the most detailed recent picture of ice loss
from Greenland. CryoSat carries a radar altimeter that can measure the surface
height variation of ice in fine detail, allowing scientists to record changes in
its volume with unprecedented accuracy.
The study demonstrates how the satellite has allowed researchers to map the
complex regional pattern of imbalance. “CryoSat’s radar really brings into
focus our view of the ice sheet, revealing which glaciers are exhibiting the
greatest signs of change,” explained lead author Dr Mal McMillan from the UK
Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling at the University of Leeds.
“This helps us to study Greenland’s individual outlet glaciers, which in turn
allows us to better understand the contribution they have made to global
The study also shows large variations in the amount of ice loss from year to
year, with the highest losses occurring in 2012 when summer temperatures hit
record highs. This demonstrates Greenland’s sensitivity to sudden changes in the
“These significant results clearly demonstrate CryoSat’s unique capability of
recording cryospheric changes, and it is essential that it is maintained in
future,” said CryoSat Mission Manager Tommaso Parrinello.
CryoSat’s measurement of Greenland ice losses are in close agreement with those
computed from NASA’s GRACE mission, which carries sensors that are specially
designed to weigh changes at the scale of the entire ice sheet.
Climate Change Issues Can Only Be Solved Globally:
|| July 09: 2016 ||
Germany plans to ratify the UN’s Paris Climate
Agreement by November at the latest Chancellor Merkel told those attending the
seventh Petersberg Climate Dialogue in Berlin. She hailed the Paris Agreement as
a “historic milestone”. Now the commitments countries have made need to be
effectively implemented. ''Here at this seventh Petersberg Climate Dialogue we
have entered into a new era, because now we have a globally binding climate
agreement,” Chancellor Merkel said in Berlin.
“The world’s nations have set themselves the goal of limiting global warming to
two degrees, ideally to 1.5 degrees,” the Chancellor said. This would be
reviewed every two years and the relevant adjustments made, she added. The
Petersberg Climate Dialogue is an informal conference at which participants
discuss what they need to do to fully, effectively and rapidly implement the
Paris Agreement. These climate dialogues also serve to prepare the UN climate
change conferences held at the end of each year. The 22nd UN Climate Change
Conference:COP 22 will be hosted by Morocco and is scheduled to take place in
Marrakesh from November 07-18, 2016.
Climate action is a survival issue
Climate protection is a global task that can only be tackled globally, Angela
Merkel said. “Of course we are fully aware that we are responsible to varying
degrees for climate change, that its consequences affect us to varying degrees
and that we have different possibilities for meeting the challenges it poses,”
the Chancellor said.
“It is no exaggeration to say that climate action is no more and no less than a
The Paris Agreement, signed in December 2015, is the first internationally
binding framework for a global turnaround in energy policy. The Agreement lays
down a process that is binding under international law for limiting global
warming to well below 2 degrees. In fact, the target is to keep global warming
below 1.5 degrees compared to pre-industrial times. In addition, greenhouse gas
neutrality is to be achieved by the second half of this century. Rich
industrialised nations are also required to draw up a concrete funding road map
by 2020 on how they plan to support those regions of the world that are most
adversely affected by climate change.
Continually expanding climate action plans
Progress not only needs to be made in the energy sector, said Merkel, but also
in regard to the economy, transportation and in private households. It was
important, the Chancellor said, for the world’s leading economies to take on a
leadership role. That was why Germany would be putting the topic high on the
agenda of its G20 Presidency in 2017.
Tying aid to climate action
Richer countries have to support poorer countries in implementing their planned
climate action projects and achieving the goals they have set themselves, Angela
Industrialised nations provide financial support to those poor regions of the
world that are most adversely affected by climate change. At the start of the
Petersberg Climate Dialogue Federal Development Minister Gerd Müller and Federal
Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks presented their plans for a new
“We want to make it easier for the Paris Agreement to enter into force quickly
and to ensure it comes to legal life too,” said Hendricks. The Paris Agreement
carries forward a pledge industrialised nations made in 2009. Back then they had
declared their willingness to mobilise climate funding to the tune of 100
billion US dollars each year until 2020. The pledge has now been extended to
2025. A new, higher target is to be agreed for the period after 2025.
Rapid ratification sought
The Paris Climate Agreement will enter into force as soon as it has been
ratified by at least 55 countries accounting in total for at least 55 per cent
of global greenhouse gas emissions. “Let us therefore breathe life into the
climate agreement,” the Chancellor appealed to those taking part in the Climate
On Wednesday the German government will be putting forward draft legislation for
Germany to ratify the Paris Agreement. If the Bundestag approves the bill,
Germany will be able to conclude the ratification process before the next
international climate change conference in Marrakesh.
Scientists Identify Ways to Prevent Heat-related
Deaths from Climate Change
Cherry Lane Theatre, New York: Image: GK tramrunner229:
Published Under GNU Free Documentation License: The Photographer has no
with The Humanion
||July 03: 2016:
LSHTM News ||
model shows that reducing fossil fuel emissions and improving adaptation efforts
may reduce heat-related deaths in New York City. By the 2080s, as many as 3,331
people could die every year from exposure to heat during the summer months in
New York City, according to research published in Environmental Health
Perspectives. The high estimate is based on a new model, the first to account
for variability in future population size, greenhouse gas trajectories, and the
extent to which residents adapt to heat through interventions like air
conditioning and public cooling centres.
The research was led by
Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and co-authored by the
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine’s Dr Antonio Gasparrini.
Researchers project that as many as 1,779 annual heat-related deaths could be
avoided if the climate follows the more moderate of two greenhouse gas
trajectories, known as representative concentration pathways 4.5 and 8.5. High
levels of adaptation could save an additional 1,198 lives.
Projections are based on more than a century of temperature, population, and
mortality data for New York City in conjunction with climate projections for the
2020s, 2050s, and 2080s. The risk of dying from heat-related causes was
relatively constant during the first part of the 20th Century, then decreased
dramatically from the 1970s to the 2000s, during which time the portion of
households with air conditioning more than doubled, from 39% in 1979 to 84% in
Since air conditioning is already so commonplace in New York City, adaptation
efforts may be at or near their maximum effectiveness, the researchers caution.
On the other hand, they say the city could grow even more resilient due to the
ongoing efforts to reduce the urban heat island effect—for instance through
programs to install reflective roofs and plant trees, as well as to protect
vulnerable populations through heat warning systems and the availability of
cooling centres. Societal factors like gains in overall population health and
economic security also promote adaptation.
Dr Antonio Gasparrini, a Senior Lecturer in Biostatistics and Epidemiology at
the School, co-authored the paper. Dr Gasparrini, who is also leading an
international collaborative network to investigate the health effect associated
to non-optimal temperature and climate change said: “This study shows that
climate change is putting more people at risk of death as a result of extreme
heat. These deaths could be avoided by limiting greenhouse gas emissions and by
pursuing high-temperature adaptation methods.”
The researchers say follow-up studies could explore questions such as what
extent demographic changes—especially a larger population of older adults—will
have on heat-related mortality, and the effect of specific interventions related
to adaptation and greenhouse gas reductions.
The research was supported by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, the US National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, the
National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University's Earth
Institute and the UK Medical Research Council.
Elisaveta Petkova, Jan Vink, Radley Horton, Antonio Gasparrini, Daniel Bader,
Joe Francis, Patrick Kinney. Towards More Comprehensive Projections of Urban
Heat-Related Mortality: Estimates for New York City under Multiple Population,
Adaptation, and Climate Scenarios. Environmental Health Perspectives.
EFSA Microplastics and Nanoplastics in Food: An
||June 23: 2016 ||
There is global interest in the impact of
plastic waste in seas and waterways on natural habitats and wildlife. EFSA has
taken a first step towards a future assessment of the potential risks to
consumers from microplastics and nanoplastics in food, especially seafood. Dr
Peter Hollman was a member of the working group that helped EFSA’s Panel on
Contaminants in the Food Chain:CONTAM: to draft its Statement on microplastic
and nanoplastic particles in food. Dr Hollman is senior researcher at RIKILT
research institute and associate professor for Nutrition and Health, both at
Wageningen University in The Netherlands. His research includes work on the
occurrence, analysis and toxicity of micro and nanoplastics.
What does EFSA say in its Statement?
Peter Hollman: EFSA has comprehensively reviewed existing literature on this
topic and found there are insufficient data on the occurrence, toxicity and
fate, what happens after digestion, of these materials for a full risk
assessment. It also revealed that nanoplastics require particular attention. So
the review has allowed EFSA to take stock of scientific developments in this
area, identify data and knowledge gaps and recommend future research priorities
to address them.
What are micro:nanoplastics?
How big are they? EFSA defines microplastics as ranging in size from 0.1 to 5000
micrometres:µm: or 5 millimetres to give an idea. Nanoplastics measure from
0.001 to 0.1 µm, i.e. 1 to 100 nanometres. PH: The world’s ever increasing use
of plastics has created large areas of floating plastic waste in the oceans,
so-called plastic soup. Areas as big as France have been observed. This floating
plastic debris is gradually fragmenting into smaller particles which eventually
become microplastics and even nanoplastics. There are pellets, flakes, spheroids
and beads engineered to these sizes too.
Which foods contain these materials?
PH: There are no data at all on nanoplastics in food but there is some
information on microplastics, particularly for the marine environment. Fish show
high concentrations but since microplastics are mostly present in the stomach
and intestines they are usually removed and consumers are not exposed to them.
But in crustaceans and bivalve molluscs like oysters and mussels, you eat the
digestive tract so there is some exposure there. They have also been reported in
honey, beer and table salt.
Are they harmful to consumers?
PH: It’s too early to say but it seems unlikely, at least for microplastics. One
potential concern is over high concentrations of pollutants like polychlorinated
biphenyls:PCBs: and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons:PAHs: that can accumulate
in microplastics. There might also be residues of compounds used in packaging
such as bisphenol A (BPA). Some studies suggest that after consuming
microplastics in food these substances may transfer into tissues. So, it is
important to estimate the average intake.
We know that engineered nanoparticles, from different types of nanomaterials,
can enter human cells so this may have consequences for human health. But more
research and data are needed.
Did EFSA estimate the average intake?
PH: Not for nanoplastics but with the limited data available, EFSA estimated
that a portion of mussels:225g: could contain 7 micrograms of microplastic. Even
if this amount of material contained the highest ever measured concentrations of
PCBs or BPA, for example, it would make a small contribution to overall exposure
to these substances: it would increase PCB exposure by less than 0.01 per cent
or BPA exposure by less than two per cent. But this is a worst case scenario.
What future scientific work is needed?
PH: The Panel’s recommendations can help the scientific community build up a
clearer picture. Research should generate data on the occurrence of
microplastics and especially nanoplastics in food, their fate in the
gastrointestinal tract, and their toxicity. Knowledge on the toxicity of
nanoplastics is particularly needed because these particles may penetrate all
kinds of tissues and eventually end up in cells. The Statement also proposes
standardised analytical methods to help with monitoring.
Has EFSA looked at the risks to wildlife:the environment?
PH: EFSA looked at this from the food safety perspective only. Other
organisations are looking at bio-habitats and wildlife. We reviewed the key
reports by the UN Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine
Environmental Protection and included a new study on measures to combat marine
litter, commissioned by the European Commission’s DG Environment. Those were
critical sources for establishing a framework for approaching this issue from
the food safety angle. The European Environment Agency took a broader view in
its report on the State of Europe’s Seas. EFSA’s Statement and future work can
complement those efforts.
Has your participation benefitted your own scientific work?
PH: For me, discussing these issues with experts from other scientific
disciplines was rewarding. Bringing diverse expertise to the table allowed us to
look at the problem from different perspectives. This gave a more balanced view
of the problems, and really helped to find the right focus for the Panel’s
Statement. Dr Jose Tarazona is Head of Pesticides at EFSA. An environmental
toxicologist with decades of experience at national and European level assessing
pesticides and other chemicals, Dr Tarazona sheds some light on his team’s
Microplastic and nanoplastic particles in food were first flagged as a potential
future food safety issue by EFSA’s Emerging Risks Exchange Network, which is
composed of national food safety experts. Based on this work, Germany’s Federal
Institute for Risk Assessment:BfR: requested the current review by EFSA.
In 2011, EFSA’s Scientific Committee published guidance on nanoscience and
nanotechnologies in the food chain, which applies across all EFSA’s scientific
areas of competence. An update of the guidance is scheduled in 2018.
Desertification is Real and It is Eating Away the
Earth Fast: The Earth That is to Sustain Humanity
||June 13: 2016 ||
Nearly 800 million people are chronically
undernourished as a direct consequence of land degradation, declining soil,
fertility, unsustainable water use, drought and biodiversity loss, requiring
long-term solutions to help communities increase resilience to climate change,
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared today.
“The livelihoods and well-being of hundreds of millions of people are at stake,”
the Secretary-General said in his message to mark the World Day to Combat
Desertification, whose theme this year is 'Protect Earth. Restore land. Engage
people.' “Over the next 25 years, land degradation could reduce global food
productivity by as much as 12 per cent, leading to a 30 per cent increase in
world food prices,” he added.
Ranking among the greatest environmental challenges of our time, desertification
is a phenomenon that refers to the persistent degradation of dryland ecosystems
by human activities, including unsustainable farming, mining, overgazing and
clear-cutting of land and by climate change. The Day, which is observed annually
on June 17, is intended to promote public awareness of the issues of
desertification and drought, and the implementation of the UN Convention to
Combat Desertification:UNCCD: in those countries experiencing serious drought
In his message, the Secretary-General emphasized that
more than 50 per cent of agricultural land is moderately or severely degraded,
with 12 million hectares lost to production each year. “Desertification, land
degradation, drought and climate change are interconnected. As a result of land
degradation and climate change, the severity and frequency of droughts have been
increasing, along with floods and extreme temperatures,” he said.
The Secretary-General emphasized that without a long-term solution,
desertification and land degradation will not only affect food supply but lead
to increased migration and threaten the stability of many nations and regions.
“This is why world leaders made land degradation neutrality one of the targets
of the Sustainable Development Goals:SDGs:. That means rehabilitating at least
12 million hectares of degraded land a year,” he said.
One important approach towards achieving that goal is sustainable, climate-smart
agriculture, Mr. Ban said. That will help communities build resilience to
climate change, while also supporting mitigation by taking carbon from the
atmosphere and putting it back in the soil. “The transition to sustainable
agriculture will also alleviate poverty and generate employment, especially
among the world's poorest. By 2050, it could create some 200 million jobs across
the entire food production system,” the UN chief said.
“On this Day, I urge cooperation among all actors to help achieve land
degradation neutrality as part of a broader effort to achieve the Sustainable
Development Goals and build a future of dignity and opportunity for all,” he
added. In another message to mark the Day, Irina Bokova, the Director-General of
the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation:UNESCO, underscored
that desertification is a threat to both arid and non-arid regions, where land
over-exploitation, including intensive farming, forest exploitation for fuel and
timber and overgrazing have turned fertile soils into sterile land.
“Extreme weather events, like droughts, winds, floods and climate disruptions –
are amplifying the effects and adding new causes to the degradation cycle,” said
Ms. Bokova. “The stakes are high – this is why the goal of achieving land
degradation neutrality is so important. This is set out in Target 15.3 of the
new Sustainable Development Goals, to maintain and even improve the amount of
healthy and productive land resources,” she added.
The Director-General highlighted that the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere
Programme, International Hydrological Programme and Global Action Programme on
Education for Sustainable Development are working to engage people in
sustainable land management practices and agro-forestry, in developing green
economies, in consuming responsibly, and in restoring ecosystems.
“Desertification is not always irreversible. Land restoration is the ultimate
tool, and UNESCO is determined to do everything to restore our ecosystems, as
was featured during the World Congress of Biosphere Reserves, held in Lima, in
March 2016,” Ms. Bokova said. “Desertification is a global threat that requires
global action – this must start with each of us, with our deeper engagement to
protecting our planet for all to share,” she added.
For her part, UNCCD Executive Secretary Monique Barbut
emphasized that land degradation neutrality should be a top policy goal for
every nation that values freedom and choice. “Conserving land and restoring that
which is degraded back to health is not a benefit that only flows to the
billions of people who eke out a living directly from the land,” Ms. Barbut
“It is a vote to safeguard our own freedoms of choice, and those of our
children. It is also a moral standard against which we may well be judged by
history,” she added. The Executive Secretary also noted that the inclination to
degrade new land instead of fixing and re-using the land that is already
degraded means that future generations cannot benefit from the same resources.
“The rights we claim to enjoy these land resources come with a heavy moral
obligation to manage them well. More so, as we may be, literally, the last
generation that can significantly slow down the accelerated loss of the land
resources left,” Ms. Barbut said. “This generation – our generation – has the
time, human, knowledge and financial means to reverse these trends, and restore
a vast amount of the degraded lands. But we must work together,” she stressed.
Environmental Impacts on Species Numbers
Globigerinella siphonifera. Image: Credit: GLOW research
||June 13: 2016:
University of Southampton News ||
The number of species that can exist on Earth depends on how the environment
changes, according to new research led by the University of Southampton. By analysing the fossil record of microscopic
aquatic creatures called planktonic foraminifera, whose fossil remains now
resemble miniaturised popcorn and date back millions of years, the research
provided the first statistical evidence that environmental changes put a cap on
Lead author of the study,
published in the journal Ecology Letters, Dr Thomas Ezard, an evolutionary
ecologist at the University of Southampton, said: “While the idea of infinite
species on a finite Earth is clearly fanciful, the relevance of upper limits to
diversity is still a fractious debate amongst evolutionary biologists,
ecologists and palaeontologists.
“We are the first to show statistically that this upper limit is environmentally
dependent. It’s intuitive that a changing environment alters how many species we
see - the spatial gradient of more species in the tropics than at the poles is
pervasive evidence for its large-scale impact. “However, analyses of how species
numbers have changed over time have assumed that any limit has always been the
same, even through periods of massive climate upheaval. Our data reject this
idea of fixed rules for competition among species and instead show that the
limit to the number of species that can co-exist on Earth is much more dynamic.
Climate and geology are always changing, and the limit changes with them.”
While previous research typically focused individually on
either biological, climate change or geological explanations, this new research
examined the co-dependence of these factors on how species interact. Looking at
the fossil history of 210 evolutionary species of macroperforate planktonic
foraminifera in the Cenozoic Era from 65 million years ago to the present, the
study found that the number of species was almost certainly controlled by
competition among themselves and probably kept within a finite upper limit.
Dr Ezard added: “We used mathematical models to reveal how environmental changes
influence both the rate of diversification among species and how many species
can co-exist at once. Our results suggest that the world is full of species, but
that the precise fullness varies through time as environmental changes alter the
outcome of competition among species.”
The study also involved Professor Andy Purvis from the
Natural History Museum. He said: “Scientists have long argued that environmental
changes are likely to impact the number of species that can co-exist on Earth,
but the fossil record is usually too incomplete for powerful statistical
testing. Microfossils – especially planktonic foraminifera – give us a record
with almost no gaps. It’s this complete evolutionary history that lets us decide
between these different hypotheses of how species interacted millions of years
Hundreds of Cities Commit to Combating Emissions
||June 07: 2016:
Washington D.C ||
Over 200 cities have set greenhouse gas reduction goals or targets. Action in
these cities, which represent a combined population of 439 million people, could
propel countries to meet their Intended Nationally Determined
Contributions:INDCs the national greenhouse gas reduction pledges embodied in
the Paris Agreement. According to Can a City Be Sustainable?, the latest edition
of the annual State of the World series from the Worldwatch Institute, cities
and their inhabitants are playing a lead role in achieving
global climate action
"The challenge over the next several decades is an enormous one," write Michael
Renner and Tom Prugh, contributing authors and co-directors of the report. "This
requires not change around the edges, but a fundamental restructuring of how
cities operate, how much they consume in resources and how much waste they
produce, what they look like, and how they are structured."
Growing numbers of cities have pledged themselves to climate commitments and
sustainability goals. The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group has expanded to
over 80 cities. The Compact of Mayors, launched at the 2014 United Nations
Climate Summit, is the largest coalition of city leaders addressing climate
change. ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability works with more than 1,000
cities around the world.
Cities today host more than half of the earth's human beings and represent about
70 percent of global energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. If trends
continue, urban populations are expected to increase to 6 billion by 2045, at
which point two-thirds of all people will live in urban environments. "If
current trends in urbanization continue unabated, urban energy use will more
than triple, compared to 2005 levels, by 2050," write Renner and Prugh.
It is no surprise that cities collectively account for a large share of
greenhouse gas emissions, because they concentrate economic activity. But cities
vary widely in their per capita emissions. Rotterdam in the Netherlands, for
example, emitted 29.8 tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent per capita in 2005,
whereas Paris emitted just 5.2 tons per capita. Many variables, such as climate,
urban form, and primary energy source, affect a city's level of emissions.
Economic factors, such as the wealth and income of residents and the level and
structure of economic activity, also play a major role.
"Only demand-side policies that succeed in sharply reducing energy consumption
in transport, buildings, waste handling, and agriculture can address the urgent
need to decarbonize energy," write Renner and Prugh. "It is cities that must
step up to the front lines of that battle."
In conjunction with policy changes, cities' success will depend on having both
comprehensive data and financial support. Current protocols, such as one
developed by the World Resources Institute, C40 Cities, and ICLEI, can be used
to measure or estimate greenhouse gas emissions in cities worldwide. Financing
sustainability in cities may be easier in some cities than in others. Among the
C40 cities, only three-quarters have budgetary control over property or
municipal taxes. In poorer cities, multilateral development banks and a variety
of donors may play an important role.
Worldwatch Institute's Can a City Be Sustainable? State of the World examines
the core principles of sustainable urbanism and profiles cities that are putting
them into practice.
About the Worldwatch Institute: Worldwatch is an independent research
organization based in Washington, D.C. that works on energy, resource, and
environmental issues. The Institute's State of the World report is published
annually in multiple languages.
Interactive Visualisation Shows Increase in Methane and
Carbon Dioxide Concentrations at the Pallas Measurement Station
||June 01: 2016 ||
Carbon dioxide and methane are both powerful
greenhouse gases, and their concentration in the atmosphere affects the
progression of climate change. "The concentration of greenhouse gases in the
atmosphere also tells us about the Earth's condition on a wider scale, which is
why it's so important that we monitor them," notes Head of Group Tuula Aalto
from the Finnish Meteorological Institute. The background measurements also help
monitor emissions, as observing the atmosphere is the only way of confirming
governmental reports on emission reductions.
Visualisations Displays a Rising Trend
The change in the amount of carbon dioxide and methane in Pallas can be studied
with the new interactive visualisation on climateguide.fi. The visualisation
displays the daily average values for carbon dioxide and methane as well as
three different trends. One of the trends shows seasonal changes and the two
others the long-term trend that, for both gases, is on an upward trend.
The visualisations shows the concentrations of carbon dioxide since 1998 and the
concentrations of methane since 2004 until 2015, and these concentrations can
also be compared for shorter periods as well. The visualisation provides an
overall picture on the development of the concentrations and makes the research
more understandable for a large audience.
Seasonal Changes are Characteristic for Pallas
Seasonal changes are typical for the measured concentrations of greenhouse gases
at Pallas, where the seasonal change in the concentration of carbon dioxide is
clearly more regular than for the concentration of methane. The concentration of
carbon dioxide is at its highest during the winter and decreases as the season
changes towards growth and the vegetation begins absorbing the carbon dioxide in
the air. While the concentration of methane also increases during the winter, it
also rises momentarily at the end of summer, when the swamps around Pallas
release methane into the air.
Even though the concentrations vary according to the seasons, both carbon
dioxide and methane are on an upward trend. The concentration of carbon dioxide
has risen continuously at the measurement station in Sammaltunturi since the
measurements began. "Even the concentration of methane began growing again in
2007 after a ten-year stable period," says Head of Group Tuomas Laurila.
In Pallas, the concentration of carbon dioxide has risen by 2.0 ppm per year and
the symbolic threshold of 400 ppm was already surpassed in 2012. This means that
there is now more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than ever during the
Observations at Sammaltunturi Part of International Measurements
The visualisation is based on the measurements that are being made at the
Finnish Meteorological Institute measurement station located at the summit of
Sammaltunturi in the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park. "The location is ideally
far from any large emission sources such as cities, so the measurements provide
a representative picture of the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the
atmosphere," says Tuula Aalto.
The Sammaltunturi measurements are part of the international GAW measurement
network that monitors the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases
worldwide. The measurements made by the GAW station network and at Sammaltunturi
also help study emission sources and sinks.
Microbeads and Microplastics in Cosmetic and Personal
|| May 29: 2016 ||
This House of Commons Parliamentary Briefing
Paper is concerned with the use of microplastics and microbeads, which are small
plastic pieces, in a variety of cosmetic and personal care products. It
discusses their possible impacts on the environment and human health. It
outlines the steps being taken to phase-out microplastics in cosmetic and
personal care products, and provides information on legislative bans.
Microplastic debris in marine environments is growing in
volume. It is likely to have a range of environmental impacts. There is evidence
to suggest that microplastics are entering the human food chain. On the basis of
current evidence microplastics in seafood are not currently thought to represent
a human health risk, although uncertainties remain.
Microplastics come from a number of sources, such as the breakdown of larger
pieces of plastic over time and industrial scrubbers used to blast-clean
surfaces. A small percentage of marine microplastics come from microbeads and
other microplastics used in a variety of cosmetic and personal care products
such as scrubs and toothpastes. These particles of plastic can enter the
environment when consumers rinse them down the drain.
A number of companies are voluntarily phasing out microplastics in some cosmetic
products in the EU. The voluntary measures taken by industry could significantly
reduce cosmetic microplastic use in ‘rinse-off’ products by 2020.
Some environmental organisations have been calling for a
legislative ban on the use of microplastics in some cosmetic products. They
believe that this would be a simple way to speed up industry efforts and to
tackle an unnecessary source of microplastic pollution. Some in the industry
question the proportionality of a ban given the success of voluntary efforts and
the relatively small contribution that cosmetic products make to the problem.
A recent research report commissioned by the European Union recommended that
more information be collected to help determine whether a ban is required or
whether the industry is responding adequately to the issue.
The European Commission is currently considering whether additional measures are
needed to address the problem. The UK Government is supporting the voluntary
phase-out of microplastics, is monitoring the situation and supports action at
an EU level. It has not ruled out taking additional unilateral measures.
Commons Briefing papers CBP-7510: Author: Oliver Bennett:
Published: May 25, 2016.
Read the Paper
World Heritage Sites at Risk from Climate Change: New
report shows World Heritage icons such as the Cape Floral Region Protected Areas
of South Africa are at risk from climate change. Image: UNESCO:Leila Maziz
|| May 27: 2016 ||
Some 31 natural and cultural World Heritage sites
in 29 countries across the world are becoming increasingly vulnerable to the
effects of climate change, a new report released by the United Nations has
found. The World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate report documents
climate impacts including increasing temperatures, melting glaciers, rising
seas, intensifying weather events, worsening droughts and longer wildfire
seasons, at iconic tourism sites such as Venice, Stonehenge and the Galapagos
It also covers other World Heritage sites such as South Africa’s Cape Floral
Kingdom; the port city of Cartagena, Colombia; and Shiretoko National Park in
Japan, the UN Environment Programme:UNEP said in a press release. “World
governments, the private sector and tourists all need to coordinate their
efforts to reduce carbon emissions and to protect the world’s most treasured
cultural and natural resources from the impact of tourism activities,” said
Elisa Tonda, head of UNEP’s Responsible Industry and Value Chains Unit.
“Policies to decouple tourism from natural resource impacts, carbon emissions
and environmental harm will engage a responsible private sector and promote
change in tourists’ behaviour to realize the sectors’ potential in some of the
world’s most visited places,” she added. In addition to UNEP, the report was
prepared by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation:UNESCO and
the Union of Concerned Scientists:UCS.
Because World Heritage sites must have ‘Outstanding Universal Value,’ the report
recommends that the World Heritage Committee consider the risk of prospective
sites becoming degraded by climate change before they add them to the list. In
particular, the report highlights the urgent need to identify the World Heritage
sites that are most vulnerable to climate change, and to implement policies and
provide resources to increase resilience at those sites.
In addition, the report urges increased global efforts to meet the Paris
Agreement climate change pledges in order to preserve World Heritage sites for
future generations. “Globally, we need to better understand, monitor and address
climate change threats to World Heritage sites,” said Mechtild Rössler, Director
of UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre. “As the report’s findings underscore,
achieving the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global temperature rise to a
level well below 2 degrees Celsius is vitally important to protecting our World
Heritage for current and future generations.”
The report also recommends engaging the tourism sector in efforts to manage and
protect vulnerable sites in the face of climate change, and to educate visitors
about climate threats. “Climate change is affecting World Heritage sites across
the globe,” said Adam Markham, lead author of the report and Deputy Director of
the Climate and Energy Program at UCS.
“Some Easter Island statues are at risk of being lost to the sea because of
coastal erosion. Many of the world’s most important coral reefs, including in
the islands of New Caledonia in the western Pacific, have suffered unprecedented
coral bleaching linked to climate change this year. Climate change could
eventually even cause some World Heritage sites to lose their status,” he added.
The report includes a complete list of World Heritage sites that are at risk.
Cleanest Air Laps in the Wilderness
of Lapland: Says WHO?
|| May 25: 2016 ||
According to the information published by the WHO, air quality in Finland is the
third best in the world. One of the cleanest corners of the world is located in
the Finnish Lapland. This was revealed by the extensive database published by
the WHO, which includes measurement data on particulate matter from 3 000
localities in a total of one hundred countries between 2008 and 2014.
In addition to Finland,
the air in Sweden, Iceland and Estonia is clean, i.e. particle concentrations
remain under 10 µg/m3 in comparisons with other European countries. Countries
such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand are in the same top class in global
comparisons. The highest particle concentrations, in other words, the countries
with the worst air quality are located in the Middle East and Far East as well
as in Africa.
The levels of particle
concentrations in these countries are more than tenfold in comparison with the
best levels in the report. Annual concentrations of more than one hundred
micrograms, more than 100 µg/m3, are measured in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, Delhi
in India, Bamenda in Cameroon, Baoding in China and Peshawar in Pakistan.
The measurement station in Pallas measures the cleanest air in the world The
Finnish Meteorological Institute FMI's measurement station in Sammaltunturi in
Pallas is one of the places that measures the cleanest air in the world. Places
as clean as Sammaltunturi or places in which particle concentrations remain
under 4 µg/m3 also include locations such as Hafnarfjordur in Iceland and Te
Anau in New Zealand.
"When it comes to the results, we must take into account that there is a lot of
uncertainty about the measurement data from developing countries, as their
measurement quality is not necessarily very reliable and the number of
measurements is small, so the regional representation remains low," Senior
Research Scientist Pia Anttila from the FMI points out.
Considerable air quality problems in developing countries, however, the report
highlights the big air quality problems in developing countries. The reference
level for particulate matter recommended by the WHO is 10 µg/m3.
"This level was exceeded in
more than two thousand cities. The number of people who are exposed to air
pollution in the metropolises in Asia and Africa is indeed huge." says Pia
Altogether 22 cities from Finland: Raahe, Kuopio, Lohja, Jyväskylä, Valkeakoski,
Kajaani, Vaasa, Imatra, Pori, Mikkeli, Virolahti, Kouvola, Harjavalta, Turku,
Kotka, Oulu, Lahti, Pietarsaari, Hyvinkää, Lappeenranta, Vantaa, Helsinki,
Tampere as well as FMI's measurement stations in Pallas:Muonio and Virolahti
participated in the report. The measurement data from Finland is from 2014.
Ambient Air Pollution Database, WHO, May 2016
Pia Antilla: Senior Research Scientist at
the Finnish Meteorological Institute: tel. +358
50 368 6420: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where Slovenia Goes the World Follows Buzzing: Bee a Day
|| May 25: 2016 ||
ά. As bellwethers for ecosystem health and biodiversity, bees play
a crucial role in agriculture and ending hunger, and
“pollinator-friendly” approaches are therefore highly
encouraged, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture
"A world without pollinators would be a world without food
diversity – and in the long run, without food security," José
Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General, said late last week
during a visit to Slovenia’s national beekeepers' festival. FAO,
as well as some 53 countries, has supported Slovenia in the
promotion of declaring May 20 as the World Bee Day at the last
regional Conference of Europe.
The technical committees of FAO and the FAO Conference in 2017
would be one of the first concrete actions in achieving
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on
climate change, according to Mr. Graziano da Silva.
Honeybees, he noted, are the world’s most famous pollinators, a
group of species whose members fly, hop and crawl over flowers
to allow plants – including those that account for over a third
of global food crop production – to reproduce. Their absence,
however, would remove a host of nutritious foods from our diets,
including potatoes, strawberries, carrots, apples, almonds,
tomatoes and cocoa.
Moreover, ecosystem health and biodiversity also depend on more
than 20,000 species of wild bees which have links to specific
flowering plants and are more vulnerable to climate change.
"Bees are a sign of well-functioning ecosystems," said Mr.
Graziano da Silva, adding that "to a great extent the decline of
pollinators is also a sign of the disruptions that global
changes are causing to ecosystems the world over."
Land-use change, pesticide use, monoculture agriculture and
climate change are some facts that have threatened bee
populations. Fostering robust pollinator communities ensures a
diversity of environmental homes for them and supports
traditional agricultural practices that benefit them, he noted.
"Pollination is one of the most visible ecosystem services that
make food production even possible," said the FAO
Director-General. Improving pollinator density and diversity
have direct and positive impact on crop yields. In this regard,
the FAO-backed International Pollinators Initiative – knowledge,
guidelines and protocols – has been supporting countries in
monitoring pollinators and better understand threats,
information needs and data gaps since 2000.
Welcoming Slovenia's leadership in apiculture, Mr. Graziano da
Silva also urged all countries to take up "pollinator friendly"
approaches towards farming and appreciate the important role of
bees and other pollinators, and make their pollinator-friendly
choices, he added.
"Without bees, it would be impossible to achieve FAO's main
goal, a world without hunger," he said.
How Cheap We Value Human Lives: 7 Million People Die
Every Year Because of Air Pollution: UN Report Paints Mixed Picture of Global
Responses to Declining Air Quality
In many parts of rural Nepal, women spend on average of five
hours a day in smoke-filled kitchens such as these, undermining their health.
Image: IRIN:Naresh Newar
|| May 24: 2016 ||
Noting that from 2008 to 2013, air pollution levels in urban areas increased by
eight per cent, a new report from the United Nations Environment Programme:UNEP
spotlights the need to support introduction of more renewable energies and clean
cook stoves, some of the vital actions aimed at combating this public health
Air pollution kills seven million people each year, according to the World
Health Organisation:WHO, with more than 80 per cent of people living in urban
areas exposed to air quality levels that exceed WHO limits. Actions on Air
Quality, released today at the second United Nations Environment Assembly:UNEA-2
under way in Nairobi, Kenya, found that there is a growing momentum for change,
such as improved access to cleaner cooking fuels and stoves, renewables, fuel
sulphur content and public transport.
However, action in other areas is less impressive and will not halt the increase
in air pollution that is threatening to claim many more lives, the report
“The current global response to pervasive poor air quality is inadequate,” said
UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. “Despite this lack of a holistic
response, numerous countries and regions are coming up with effective – and
cost-effective – measures to improve air quality. The Sustainable Development
Goals provide an opportunity to replicate those best practices globally, and
bring about cleaner air, and social and economic benefits worldwide.”
While policies and standards on clean fuels and vehicles could reduce emissions
by 90 per cent, only 29 per cent of countries worldwide have adopted ‘Euro 4’
vehicles emissions standards or above. Meanwhile, less than 20 per cent of
countries regulate open waste burning, which is a leading cause of air
On the positive side, 97 countries have increased the percentage of households
that have access to cleaner burning fuels to more than 85 per cent – a key move
to tackle indoor air pollution, which claims over half of the seven million
At least 82 countries out of 193 analysed have incentives
that promote investment in renewable energy production, cleaner production,
energy efficiency and/or pollution control equipment. Last year, for the first
time, renewables accounted for a majority of the new electricity-generating
capacity added around the world, at an investment of $286 billion, according to
research by UNEP, Bloomberg and the Frankfurt School.
A Review of Air Pollution Control in Beijing: 1998-2013, which was also released
today, analyzed measures implemented since Beijing began launching air pollution
control programmes, which saw a steady downward trend in the concentrations of
many harmful pollutants.
“Even though the air pollution control programmes in Beijing have made
substantial progress, the environment quality is far from satisfactory,” said
Chen Tian, Director General of the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection
Bureau. “We will continue to explore approaches that could work effectively for
improving the environment in this region.”
UN Environment Assembly Opens in Nairobi: A Healthy
Planet, with Healthy People
UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner on monitor addresses the
second United Nations Environment Assembly. Image: UNEP
|| May 23: 2016 ||
Hundreds of key global decision-makers are
gathering in Kenya today for the second United Nations Environment
Assembly:UNEA-2, aiming to tackle some of the most critical issues facing our
planet, from the air pollution that kills millions of people every year to an
illegal trade in wildlife that is pushing species to the brink of extinction.
Held at the headquarters of the UN Environment Programme:UNEP in Nairobi, UNEA
is the world’s most powerful decision-making body on the environment. This year,
leaders will seek to pass a raft of resolutions, including those on food waste,
the fading health of oceans, the world’s natural capital, and sustainable
consumption and production.
Addressing the opening session, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner noted that
since the first UNEA held in 2014, “the environment has shifted from the margins
of attention to the centre of global decision making.”
“It now runs through the entire 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the
Paris Agreement on climate change, establishing UNEA as the ‘World Parliament
for the Environment,’ he said, stressing that UNEA is the only platform outside
of the UN General Assembly to have universal representation.
UNEA also works with stakeholders and experts from the financial, legislative
and scientific communities, non-governmental organizations:NGOs and the private
sector and provides an interface between science, policy and action.
Mr. Steiner urged participants to focus on action and use this first global
decision-making platform since the 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement to review and
He said UNEA-2, which will continue through 27 May, will feature a three-day
Sustainable Innovation Symposium to garner private sector engagement, the launch
of a new global campaign to end the illegal trade in wildlife, and the mid-term
review of the Montevideo Programme on Environmental Law.
He urged UNEA to show “we can move fast enough and hard enough to create a
healthy planet, with healthy people, which leaves no one behind – which means
less talk, more action.”
A series of ground-breaking UNEP reports will also be
released during UNEA-2. Published today, Healthy Environment, Healthy People
warns that environmental impacts are responsible for the deaths of more than one
quarter of all children under the age of five, the report states.
The report – compiled by UNEP, the World Health Organization:WHO, the Convention
on Biological Diversity:CBD, the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete
the ozone layer, and the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions – estimates
that environmental degradation and pollution cause up to 234 times as many
premature deaths as occur in conflicts annually, highlighting the importance of
a healthy environment to achieving the 2030 Agenda.
The report finds that in 2012, an estimated 12.6 million deaths were
attributable to deteriorating environment conditions, or 23 per cent of the
Climate change is exacerbating the scale and intensity of environment-related
health risks. Estimates from the WHO indicate that 250,000 additional deaths
could occur each year between 2030 and 2050, mostly from malnutrition, malaria,
diarrhoea and heat stress, as a result of climate change.
Mr. Steiner said, “By depleting the ecological infrastructure of our planet and
increasing our pollution footprint, we incur an ever-growing cost in terms of
human health and well-being. From air pollution and chemical exposure to the
mining of our natural resource base, we have compromised our life support
Other reports include Marine Plastic Debris and Microplastics: Global Lessons
and Research to Inspire Action and Guide Policy Change, which found that between
4.8-12.7 million tonnes of global plastic production ended up in the ocean as a
result of inadequate solid waste management in 2014.
Gender and Plastic Management looked at the differing roles of men and women in
plastic use and consumption, identifying women in wealthy regions as important
stakeholders in reducing plastics in basic consumer goods.
2016 Global Report on the Status of Legal Limits on Lead in Paint found that
efforts to tackle lead in paint are advancing. As of early 2016, 70 of 196
countries worldwide, or 36 per cent, had established legally binding limits on
lead in paint.
UNEP Frontiers found that there has been a worldwide increase in emerging
zoonotic diseases, outbreaks of epidemic zoonoses, a rise in foodborne zoonoses
and a troubling persistence of neglected zoonotic diseases in poor countries.
On International Day, UN Highlights Biodiversity's Role in
Fishing boats, Mexico.
Image: World Bank:Curt Carnemark
|| May 22: 2016 ||
Biodiversity and the ecosystem services it
supports are the foundations for life on Earth and the livelihoods and
well-being of people everywhere, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
said today on the International Day for Biological Diversity, as he urged the
international community to preserve and sustainably manage the variety of life
on the planet.
“Protecting biodiversity and preventing further losses is an essential
investment in our collective future,” Mr. Ban said in his message marking the
Day. “On this International Day for Biodiversity, I urge all Governments and
stakeholders to preserve and sustainably manage the variety of life on Earth for
the benefit of current and future generations,” he added.
The Day is marked around the world every year on May 22. This year's theme is
'Mainstreaming Biodiversity; Sustaining People and their Livelihoods.' In his
message, the Secretary-General highlighted that biodiversity is an important
cross-cutting issue in the message marking the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable
Development. In addition, he noted that Sustainable Development Goal:SDG 15
explicitly recognizes the importance of halting biodiversity loss, and other
SDGs recognize the importance of biological diversity for eradicating poverty,
providing food and fresh water, and improving life in cities.
“It is critical that we make progress in mainstreaming biodiversity and
transforming how societies value and manage it,” the UN chief said. Mr. Ban
noted that despite numerous commitments, biodiversity loss continues to
accelerate in all regions. Only 15 per cent of countries are on track to achieve
the Aichi Biodiversity Targets by the agreed-upon date of 2020.
In addition, he said that the anticipated expansion of sectors that both depend
on and affect biodiversity – including agriculture, forestry, fisheries and
aquaculture – will pose a significant challenge to halting biodiversity loss in
the coming decades. Reversing these trends will require action by all sectors
and stakeholders, from UN Member States and agencies to civil society, academia
and business, the Secretary-General said.
“We need better research, and we need to act on the evidence that biodiversity
is integral to achieving social and economic goals,” he stressed. Mr. Ban also
emphasized that the responsible use of natural resources is essential to
sustainable development, as mainstreaming biodiversity will ensure that
addressing development needs and protecting the environment are mutually
“Preserving biological diversity is a vital part of our compact with each other
and the planet that nurtures us,” the Secretary-General concluded. In his
message on the Day, Achim Steiner, Executive director of the UN Environment
Programme (UNEP) said that while marvel at iconic species in other parts of the
world and on our digital screens, such as elephants, tigers and pandas, many of
us are much less familiar with the sheer magnitude of diversity of plants and
animals on this planet or the habitats that support them.
“Awareness about our current global challenge of biodiversity loss is also low –
a challenge that will expand along with the sectors affecting biodiversity, such
as agriculture or forestry,” he said, stressing at the same time, that
biodiversity provides us with the ecosystem services that are our foundations
for life, everywhere on this planet, from fishermen depending on coastal waters,
to farmers depending on crops, to tropical communities depending on forests.
“We need to better integrate biodiversity into how we think and into everything
that we do. And we all need to do more to prevent its loss,” the UNEP chief
said, echoing the theme of this year's Day. In another message on the Day, the
Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Braulio F. de
Souza Dias, stressed that addressing the indirect and direct drivers of
biodiversity loss requires a focus on primary sectors, such as agriculture,
forestry, fisheries and aquaculture.
“These sectors both impact biodiversity and are dependent on biodiversity,” he
said. “The demand for the goods and services produced by these sectors is
projected to increase over the coming decades as a result of population growth,
increasing average wealth, and other demographic changes.”
He noted, for example, that demand for food, wood, water and energy is projected
to increase 1.5 to two times by 2050 due to increasing population and average
wealth, with a concomitant and negative effect on biodiversity.
Therefore, mainstreaming biodiversity considerations across these sectors is
essential in ensuring not only the conservation and sustainable use of
biodiversity but also the continued vitality of these sectors, he said.
Whole-Atmospheric Monthly Mean CO2 Concentrations
Exceeded 400 PPM in December 2015
|| May 20: 2016 ||
Ministry of the Environment, Japan:MOEJ, National Institute for Environmental
Studies:NIES, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency:JAXA have been monitoring
carbon dioxide:CO2 and methane:CH4 by the Greenhouse gases
Observing SATellite "IBUKI":GOSAT. A recent provisional analysis of GOSAT
observational data shows that the global atmospheric monthly mean CO2
concentration observed vertically through the whole atmosphere exceeded 400 ppm
in December 2015 for the first time since GOSAT was launched in 2009.
The three parties: Ministry of the Environment, Japan:MOEJ,
National Institute for Environmental Studies:NIES, and Japan Aerospace
Exploration Agency:JAXA- have published the whole-atmospheric monthly mean CO2
concentrations, observations made vertically through the whole atmosphere
analysed and estimated from GOSAT observations from May 2009 to January 2016,
and the trend line of the global CO2 mean, average seasonal cycle removed can be
seen on the
According to a provisional analysis until January 2016, the
monthly mean concentration exceeded 400 ppm for the first time and it recorded
400.2 ppm in December 2015. It also recorded 401.1 ppm in January 2016, and it
is observed that the concentration has increased in winter towards spring in the
Several meteorological agencies such as the World
Meteorological Organisation:WMO have already reported that the global monthly
mean CO2 concentration based on data obtained at surface-level monitoring sites
has exceeded 400 ppm. However, it is the first time that the whole-atmospheric
CO2 mean exceeded 400 ppm monitored by GOSAT, which can observe CO2
concentrations from the surface to the top of the atmosphere, about 70km. It
means that CO2 concentrations are increasing not only at the global surface but
also in the global atmosphere.
The trend line of the global CO2 mean reached 399.6 ppm in
January 2016, and if this increasing trend continues, it will probably be found
upon more careful analysis that the trend line has exceeded 400 ppm around March
2016. It means that current global atmospheric CO2 concentrations substantially
exceed 400 ppm.
These results are based on a preliminary analysis of the
systematic bias of
three parties will continue the public dissemination of new findings from GOSAT
observations. Also, the parties plan to continue the ongoing space-based
greenhouse gas observation with the GOSAT successor GOSAT-2, which is planned to
be launched in the Japanese fiscal year 2017. The results of the continued
observation will be utilized for the elaboration and refinement of global
For the analysis of GOSAT observational data, two weather analysis datasets were
used: GPV:Grid Point Value data provided by the Japan Meteorological Agency and
JCDAS data generated in the JRA-25 long-term reanalysis project by the Japan
Meteorological Agency and the Central Research Institute of Electric Power
Earth’s Health Declining ‘Faster Than Thought’ But
Action by Governments Can Reverse Trend: UN Report
Burnt and degraded forest within
Tesso Nilo National Park, Riau Province, Sumatra, Indonesia. Image: World
Bank:Flore de Preneuf
|| May 19: 2016 ||
The environment is deteriorating faster than
previously thought, making it imperative that governments act now to reverse the
worst trends, says the most authoritative study the United Nations has ever
published on the state of the planet’s health.
The Global Environmental Outlook:GEO-6: Regional Assessments is a compilation of
six separate reports, which provide highly detailed examinations of the
environmental issues affecting each of the world’s six regions: the Pan-European
region, North America, Asia and the Pacific, West Asia, Latin America and the
Caribbean, and Africa, the UN Environment Programme:UNEP said in a press
Published ahead of the UN Environment Assembly, taking place in Nairobi, Kenya,
from May 23-27, the regional assessments, which involved 1,203 scientists,
hundreds of scientific institutions and more than 160 governments, find that the
world shares a host of common environmental threats that are rapidly
intensifying in many parts of the world.
Across the planet, climate change, the loss of biodiversity, land degradation
and water scarcity are growing problems that need to be urgently addressed if
the world is to achieve the goals set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable
Development, the studies find.
“Today, thanks to this report, we now know more about the state of the world’s
environment than ever before,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. “It
is essential that we understand the pace of environmental change that is upon
The assessments find that there is still time to tackle many of the worst
impacts of environmental change, such as the damage to marine ecosystems and the
rising level of air pollution, which has become one of the world's most
widespread environmental health risks.
As one of the first areas of the world to experience the impacts of climate
change, the Arctic region serves as a barometer for change in the rest of the
world. Warming in the Arctic has increased at twice the global average since
The largest contributions to global glacier ice loss during the early 21st
century were from glaciers in Alaska, the Canadian Arctic, and the periphery of
the Greenland ice sheet, as well as in the Southern Andes and Asian mountains.
Together these areas account for more than 80 per cent of the total ice loss.
The 30 centimetres of sea level rise off New York City since 1900 likely
expanded Hurricane Sandy’s flood area by approximately 65 square kilometres,
flooding the homes of more than 80,000 additional people in New York and New
The prospect for impacts such as these to worsen in both the near and long term
constitutes a priority issue for North America. Last year, the Asia-Pacific
continued to be the world's most disaster prone region. About 41 per cent of all
natural disasters reported over the last two decades occurred in the
Asia-Pacific region, which also accounted for 91 per cent of the world’s deaths
attributable to natural disasters in the last century.
The main driver for accelerating domestic material consumption is the expanding
middle class. The size of the global middle class is projected to increase from
1.8 billion in 2009 to 4.9 billion in 2030 with most of this growth coming from
In the Latin American and Caribbean region, most of the cities in the region for
which data are available have concentrations of particulate matter (PM) above
World Health Organisation:WHO guidelines.
The region’s urban population increased by more than 35 million people between
2010 and 2015, and is expected to climb to a total of 567 million persons by
2025. More than 100 million people already live in areas where they are at risk
from air pollution.
In West Asia, continuous conflict and the mass displacement of people throughout
the region are also triggering severe environmental impacts that are endangering
the health of people. Heavy metals from explosive munitions and radiation from
missiles have leached into the environment.
The 2.97 million refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Yemen and Iraq are placing an
immense environmental burden on the region, producing about 1,440 tonnes of
waste per day in 2015, overwhelming governments and increasing the risk of
In Africa, the second largest continent in the world, land is the most prized
asset for food production, nutritional health and economic development.
Worryingly, about 500,000 square meters of land in Africa is being degraded due
to soil erosion, salinization, pollution and deforestation. This land
degradation can damage agricultural productivity, nutrition and human health.
The recommendations made in the reports include: to improve gathering,
processing and sharing of data and information to inform decision-making;
enhance sustainable consumption and production to reduce environmental pressures
by addressing drivers associated with manufacturing processes and consumer
demand; invest in urban planning, such as through the better use of
environmentally sound infrastructure and clean transport; reduce dependence on
fossil fuels, and diversify energy sources.
Low-carbon, climate-resilient choices in infrastructure, energy and food
production coupled with effective and sustainable natural resource governance
are key to protecting the ecological assets that underpin a healthy society.
Methane and Carbon Dioxide on the Rise
Image: IUP, Univ. Bremen/SRON/Univ. Leicester/ESA/DLR/JAXA/NIES
Wake up Humanity: Act Not Tomorrow, Not
Stop anyone on the planet and ask: What happens if you poison
a pregnant mother? And the answer you would get is: that she shall die. And what
would happen to the baby? It shall perish with the mother. This does not require
any other deeper 'thinking'. This is as rudimentary as this. And yet, this is what
is happening to the Earth and to all her 'babies' and we have not yet fully
woken up to the fact that if we kill the Earth we kill ourselves despite the
Paris Climate Change Agreement going through the stages of becoming binding. It
is taking too long because countries are taking too long in ratifying the
agreement so that it could become binding.
Wake up humanity, wake up the world and wake up all single
individuals that form humanity. Climate Change is not a myth; it is happening
and it is being caused by our mindless, selfish and flawed system of
politics, economics and culture of 'consuming' without thinking of whether this
consumption is harmful or sustainable.
It is not just the companies, not just the organisations, not
just the research, university and science communities, not just the governments
and states not just the banks, investment houses and businesses that need to
change and commit to changing the way we live, the way we manage ourselves and
our human affairs, the way we develop, manage, organise and enhance our
political economics and the way we live and the culture in which we live but it
has to involve every single human being on this planet to wake up and to think
before they do: What am I buying? Why am I buying this? Do I need to buy this?
How much do I need? Why have they packaged this tiny little 'chocolate sticks'
with twenty million layers of 'razzmatazz?' Why am I using useless devices?
Apps? Why am I not using the jacket that I have got that is absolutely fine all
year round? Who are these 'fashion' people spending billions in promoting their
'brands' selling seasonal clothings? Why do we need seasonal clothings? Why do
we have to buy because something has been made fashionable without thinking how
it impacts on the environment? Why do we not use the same shirts/skirts/shoes
etc all year round? Why do we not walk more and use less of transport other than
where absolutely necessary? Why not we demand that governments and businesses do
more and do it faster to bring about green transport, green energy and energy
efficiency faster because the science, the technology is there? Why do we buy
cheese in London that came form New Zealand? Why do we have to send cheese from
Canada to India? What is this culture? We only send from Canada what it has got
much and what India does not and cannot get. When we little people buy shares
and invest our little money why not we think and ask the financial people to
invest that in green finance? Why do we buy shares of companies that are killing
the earth? Every little droplet of water combines to become the Pacific Ocean.
Unless we change, and do it fast and instantaneously we are
going to kill off the earth and along the way not only shall we perish but also
perish in the most horrible death for what we have been doing to the earth and
which is seen directly by the way desperately polluted air being breathed by us
causing a plethora of diseases and absolutely impossible degree of suffering to
millions and causing so much death. Wake up humanity, wake up the world. Not
tomorrow, not later: NOW!
The Humanion: May 14: 2016
|| May 13: 2016 || Satellite
readings show that atmospheric methane and carbon dioxide are continuing to
increase despite global efforts to reduce emissions.
Methane concentrations were somewhat constant until 2007, but since then have
increased at about 0.3% per year, whereas global carbon dioxide levels continue
to rise at about 0.5% per year.
The results, presented this week at the Living Planet Symposium in Prague,
combine data from ESA’s veteran Envisat satellite and Japan’s GoSat mission.
The reason for this recent methane increase is not fully understood, but
scientists attribute it to several sources such as agriculture and fossil fuels.
The data also show seasonal fluctuations, such as higher concentrations of
methane in India and China during August and September. This is because wetlands
and rice paddies are a major source of methane and emissions are largest if it
is warm and humid.
Other regions such as the Tropics, the USA and parts of Russia experience
similar seasonal changes.
Carbon dioxide shows similar seasonal fluctuations, albeit with a maximum
concentration earlier in the season at northern latitudes. This is due to the
regular uptake and release of carbon dioxide by the growing and decay of
terrestrial vegetation: photosynthesis, respiration and decay of organic matter.
Overall, carbon dioxide has shown a steady increase over the past decade despite
global efforts to reduce emissions.
“Currently, plants take up about 25% of the carbon dioxide we are emitting and,
without this, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and related consequences would
be much larger,” said Michael Buchwitz from the Institute of Environmental
Physics of the University of Bremen in Germany.
Image: IUP, Univ. Bremen/SRON/JPL/ESA/DLR
“However, we do not know how plants will respond to a changing climate. Our
understanding of the ‘land carbon sink’ is limited. A goal of the satellite
carbon dioxide observations is to close related knowledge gaps, which will lead
to improved climate prediction.”
The upcoming Sentinel-5P mission for Europe’s Copernicus programme is set
to continue data collection on methane and other components of atmospheric
chemistry by scanning the whole globe every day.
“For the future, Sentinel-5P will be very important, in particular because of
its very dense, high-resolution observations of atmospheric methane, which have
the potential to detect and quantify the emissions of important methane emission
hot spots such as oil and gas fields,” noted Michael Buchwitz, who also leads
the Greenhouse Gases project under ESA’s Climate Change Initiative.
The goal of the project is to generate global atmospheric carbon dioxide and
methane products from satellite data, which are used in combination with
computer modelling to obtain information on regional carbon dioxide and methane
sources and sinks.
The atmospheric data products cover 2003–14 and are available
Burn You May; Yet Do No Harm: The HyFIVE Green
|| May 12: 2016 || Hydrogen For
Innovative Vehicles: HyFIVE is an ambitious European project including 15
Partners who will deploy 185 Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles: FCEVs manufactured by
the 5 Global Automotive Companies leading the sectors commercialisation.
To service these vehicles, the project will create clusters of refuelling
station networks in three parts of Europe, where there will be sufficient
density of hydrogen stations to provide refuelling choice and convenience to
early users of FCEVs.
Several of the world’s leading car manufacturers, including all of those in the
HyFIVE project, have been developing hydrogen fuel cell concept vehicles during
the past 20 years and have matured the technology to the point where the first
production models will be coming to market within the next few years. Their
priority will be to introduce vehicles in markets where a strategy is in place
to support their use with an appropriate infrastructure for hydrogen fuel
supply, distribution and sale.
Each vehicle manufacturer involved in the project will bring forward advanced
FCEVs designed for or just starting commercial production. Hyundai will bring a
large fleet of their ix35 vehicles. Daimler, Honda, and Toyota will all bring
their next generation fuel cell vehicles and will use the project to validate
the performance on European roads. BMW will demonstrate their new luxury E/F
segment FCEV prototype and test advanced vehicle operation and maintenance
The FCEVs currently being prepared for commercialisation have a driving range
comparable to petrol and diesel vehicles. What’s more, every mile of every
journey, whether in town or on the open road, will produce no harmful tailpipe
emissions. As with all electric vehicles maximum torque is delivered from zero
rpm, which makes for very refined, responsive performance when pulling away from
Hydrogen and Fuel Cells
Many consider that hydrogen coupled with a device called a fuel cell will
increasingly provide us all with clean energy in the future.
If pure hydrogen fuel is used, the only by-product of the process at the point
of use is water. And, excitingly, if the hydrogen itself is produced from a
carbon-neutral source such as solar or wind power, we have the potential for
carbon-neutral and emission-free energy. Our cars, buses, mobile phones,
laptops, home generators, powerstations and so on could be clean ... and quiet!
The system they use is durable and compact and provides a consistent driving
character regardless of the environment or climate, so consumers experience no
major compromises in terms of practicality and performance compared to
conventional petrol and diesel-powered vehicles.
There is no evidence to suggest that hydrogen is more dangerous than
conventional fuels in general, and some evidence shows that it is safer.
Hydrogen gas is a common industrial gas that is colourless and odourless. Some
35 million tonnes are produced globally every year, about one per cent of the
amount of oil produced globally in 2001. Consequently, extensive safety
protocols already exist and work is also under way to produce internationally
standardised handling procedures for everyday situations. All fuels, including
those suitable for use in fuel cells such as hydrogen, require careful
management to control the risks.
As a fuel, hydrogen gas is energy dense. This means that, as with many commonly
used fuels, such as petrol and natural gas, there is a danger to health and
property in the event of uncontrolled combustion or explosion. All fuels require
the application of fuel-specific safety controls, and hydrogen is no exception.
The main difference between hydrogen gas and petrol is in its behaviour when
released to the air. Hydrogen gas disperses rapidly and fires burn out quickly,
dissipating heat only very locally.
All the QnAs
The Frankfurt Declaration: We Intend to Double Climate Financing by 2020: Angela Merkel
|| May 10: 2016 || Germany is forging ahead with climate change mitigation worldwide. Chancellor Angela Merkel has pledged to support the Asian states in their fight against climate change and poverty. "We, the Federal Republic of Germany, intend to double climate financing by 2020," said the Chancellor at the 49th Annual Meeting of the Asian Development Bank in Frankfurt am Main.
Experience demonstrates that climate change mitigation and economic growth are not mutually exclusive, she said. In the 21st century, growth must be environmentally and socially acceptable, pointed out the Chancellor. "If economic development is dynamic, this is of course a sign that the points we address in development co-operation must also change."
Not only do the Asian states today generate one third of global GDP, they are also responsible for one third of CO2 emissions, noted the Chancellor. "Today, we have launched the Asia Climate Financing Facility together. With it we aim to forge ahead with the development of climate change mitigation and adaptation projects, climate risk insurance schemes, which we believe to be very important, and, above all, with private-sector climate financing."
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is a regional development bank based in Manila, the Philippines. The ADB was founded in 1966. It is today the largest multilateral development financing institution in Asia. It plays a key role in financing sustainable development in developing countries and emerging economies in the Asian and Pacific region.
Asia – for Greener Development
Last year in New York the United Nations adopted the sustainable development goals, while in Paris a new Climate Agreement was adopted. Now the agreements must be translated into action. At the 49th ADB Annual Meeting in Frankfurt am Main, development financing instruments are to be optimised, so as to meet the vast needs of the region and comply with the ever more urgent imperatives of ensuring sustainability.
The industrialised states have pledged to provide 100 billion US dollars every year as of 2020 to finance climate change mitigation and adaptation activities in poorer countries. The Asian Development Bank has announced that it will double climate financing by 2020. "That indicates that our goals are largely the same in this field," stressed the Chancellor.
Asian growth centres are facing the challenges of making their meteoric development environmentally sound and as climate-neutral as possible, while also ensuring that more people benefit. The German government, in its capacity as host of the Annual Meeting is providing impetus for sustainable policy on the part of the ADB, and advocating a socially and environmentally sustainable path to development in Asia. "We believe that structural reforms to protect the climate will pay off in the long term, and indeed in the medium term," declared the Chancellor.
Regional development banks like ADB work together to promote the regional member states’ economic development by providing financial aid, advice and technical support. But what essentially sets these institutions apart from the World Bank – the global development bank – is the fact that most of the capital shares are held in the regional member states. This guarantees that these countries’ interests are represented in an ideal way.
Focus on Innovative Fields
The aim is to mobilise the economy and the private financial sector, and to engage in discussion about new financial formats for the implementation of the global sustainability goals and climate targets in Asia. The combination of state and private efforts is the way forward, stressed the Chancellor.
Under the banner "Cooperating for Sustainability" the Annual Meeting is to provide a platform especially to involve stakeholders from the private sector, the academic and research community and civil society in the debates.
The innovative fields of renewables, energy efficiency and climate change, sustainable production and supply chains, vocational education and training and urban development are the focus of the event.
In the "Frankfurt Declaration" the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the German government have agreed to co-operate more closely on climate action and vocational education and training.
The Asian Development Bank and Germany have initiated the Asia Climate Financing Facility (ACliFF). As of 2017, the Fund will provide financial support to Asian countries to help them reduce their CO2 emissions and insure against climate risks.
The ADB and the German government also intend to extend and intensify their co-operation to promote vocational education and training in Asia. This more intensive co-operation is to align vocational training better with the needs of employers and to strengthen in-company training.
This is to foster growth that ought to benefit as many people as possible, while women are to be encouraged to play an active part in economic life. The Declaration thus picks up on the initiative of Germany’s G7 Presidency regarding the economic empowerment of women.
Presentation and dialogue with other stakeholders
In the "City of Sustainability" private companies and research facilities are presenting their innovations, discussing examples of best practices, and networking with other actors. The ADB is providing information about its competitive bidding practices, and ministries, organisations, private companies, local authorities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are offering regional expertise and presenting their promotion programmes.
The Asian Development Bank ADB has 67 member states in total, 48 of which are located in Asia and 19 of which are in Europe and North America. Germany is one of ADB’s founding members and is its largest European shareholder with 4.33%. In addition to its headquarters in Manila, ADB has 31 country offices.
Participants at the Annual Meeting
The ADB Annual Meeting is a platform for stakeholders from the realms of politics, business, science and research, and civil society, including:
- German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
- German Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF)
- German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB)
- German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS)
- German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi)
- KfW Group
- Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft (DEG)
- Agency for Business and Economic Development
- Germany Trade and Invest (GTAI)
- GOVET (the German government’s central office for international cooperation in vocational education and training)
- German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)
- Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
- Scientific and educational facilities including the Fraunhofer Institute, Frankfurt Main Finance, the University of Witten, and the Max Planck Institute
- Association of German Cities and local authorities from Europe and Asia
Sustainability as Overarching Principle
Within the various official bodies of the Asian Development Bank, Germany is working to make sustainability the overarching principle in lending policy. Hans-Joachim Fuchtel, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, has represented Germany for the last two years as a Governor of the Asian Development Bank. Last year he was appointed Chair of the 67-strong Board of Governors, the Bank’s most important body.
Poverty reduction, stability, peace, sustainable development and climate change mitigation and adaptation in the Asian region are the shared goals of the Asian Development Bank and German development cooperation. Germany is not only active at bilateral level in development but also at multilateral level as a member of various international organisations and as a shareholder in a number of international financing institutions, including the Asian Development Bank.
The Skies May Fall Silent: UN Calls for an End to Illegal Poaching and Trade of Migratory Birds
Lesser Flamingo: Phoeniconaias minor: Image Credit: Mark Anderson
|| May 10: 2016 || Millions of migratory birds are being lost each year as a result of illegal killing, taking and trade, United Nations officials warned on World Migratory Bird Day, calling for concerted action to end the threats to migratory birds and urging everyone to step outside and “listen to the birds chirping,” to appreciate how important they are to our planet.
The motives behind these illicit activities are various and the toll that they are taking is incredible – millions of birds are being killed each year – numbers that are totally unsustainable and which alongside other pressures such as habitat loss and climate change are leading to many once common species being at risk of extinction.
The theme of this year's World Day is “…and when the skies fall silent? Stop the Illegal Killing, Taking and Trade!”
Ahead of the Day, the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) announced the creation of the Intergovernmental Task Force on Illegal Killing, Taking and Trade of Migratory Birds in the Mediterranean composed of Governments and the European Commission.
UN organizations such as the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), international environmental treaties, INTERPOL, law enforcement and judiciary organizations, hunting communities and nongovernmental organizations will also be part of the coalition.
World Migratory Bird Day is co-organized by CMS and the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA), international treaties administered by UNEP.
“I fully support the global campaign to raise awareness about the threats to migratory birds from habitat destruction, overexploitation, pollution and climate change, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. “I call for greater international efforts to restore and preserve migratory birds and the network of sites they need to survive as an important part of the environment on which we all depend.”
UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said: “During their long journeys, migratory birds run afoul of any number of natural obstacles, from predators to weather. They shouldn't also have to duck the grasping claws of the illegal wildlife trade. Illegal taking and killing of birds threaten not only the survival of bird species, but ecosystems, communities and livelihoods as well. So World Migratory Bird Day is not strictly for the birds; it's to remind us of the part they play for planet and people alike.”
Bird hunting has been traditionally practiced in the Mediterranean for centuries, but the recent surge in illegal activities, such as poaching and trapping, is endangering many threatened species that are already subject to other pressures, such as climate change and habitat loss.
Jacques Trouvilliez, Executive Secretary of AEWA, said: “Migrating birds are facing increasing pressures along their journeys and habitat losses and degradation are the most difficult to tackle. But the birds are also exposed to illegal killing, taking and trade. We can no longer say that these practices are traditional as the equipment to capture birds has become more efficient. The nylon mist nets are now almost invisible to birds. As a result more birds are taken from declining populations. We must stop the illegal killing now, if we don't want our skies to fall silent.”
Each year, up to 6.2 million exhausted birds, migrating between their breeding and wintering grounds, are caught in illegally set nets stretching for hundreds of kilometres along the North African coastline. The less lucky ones suffer an agonizing death on lime stick traps – twigs covered with extremely sticky glue. It is estimated that up to 2 million Blackcaps die in such traps each year.
The Intergovernmental Task Force will add new momentum to international efforts to tackle the illegal killing, taking and trade in birds by agreeing on new guidelines, recommendations and action plans to address the causes of poaching.
The Task Force will work towards changing the hunting practices in the region to make them compliant with national and international laws. It will also aim to enhance the enforcement of these laws through training of local police and judiciary, information exchange, promoting deterrence and prevention policies to end the large-scale killings of migratory birds taking place today.
The Task Force, which will hold its first meeting in Cairo from 12 to 15 July 2016, is expected to be replicated in other major flyways across the world. The socio-economic study on Hunting and Illegal Killing of Birds along the Mediterranean Coast of Egypt, which will be released by BirdLife International on World Migratory Bird Day, will give important input to this meeting.
Tackling illegal killing and trade in wildlife, including birds, and mobilizing global action around the issue will also be the focus of the 2016 World Environment Day, which takes place on 5 June and is hosted by Angola, under the slogan 'Go Wild for Life.' A global UN campaign to garner support for stopping the trade in many species and their products will also be launched.
Greenland's Zachariae Glacier is Losing Five Billion Tonnes of Ice Every Year
Zachariae glacier: Released 06/05/2016 10:00 am: Copyright Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2016), processed by ESA
|| May 06: 2016 || This image taken over part of northeast Greenland’s coast combines three images from Sentinel-1A’s radar on 15 February, 10 March and 3 April 2016. The shades of grey on the left side of the image depict the static landmass, while the colours on the right show changes in sea-ice type and cover between the three radar scans. Near the centre-left we can see the Zachariae Isstrom glacier, which is losing about five billion tonnes of ice a year to the ocean.
Zachariae’s dynamics have been changing over the last few years, calving high volumes of icebergs, which will inevitably affect sea levels. It is estimated that the entire Zachariae Isstrom glacier in northeast Greenland holds enough water to raise global sea levels by more than 46 cm.
Scientists have determined that the bottom of Zachariae Isstrom is being rapidly eroded by warmer ocean water mixed with growing amounts of meltwater from the ice sheet surface.
Zachariae and the nearby Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden to its north are two of six glaciers being monitored in near-real time by Sentinel-1 through a new web portal by the UK’s Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling. The portal provides frequent maps of ice velocity of key glaciers in both Greenland and Antarctica.
The polar regions are some of the first to experience and visibly demonstrate the effects of climate change, serving as barometers for change in the rest of the world. It is therefore critical that polar ice is monitored comprehensively and in a sustained manner.
NASA Study: Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels Will Help and Hurt Crops
Samson Reiny Writing
A wheat field in Eastern India near Murshidabad. Credits: Photo copyright Nupur Das Gupta:Creative Commons License
|| May 05: 2016 || Elevated carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere may increase water-use efficiency in crops and considerably mitigate yield losses due to climate change, according to a new NASA study.
The results, published in the journal Nature Climate Change on April 18, show some compensation for the adverse impacts of temperature extremes and water scarcity caused by increasing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
Studies have shown that higher concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide affect crops in two important ways: they boost crop yields by increasing the rate of photosynthesis, which spurs growth, and they reduce the amount of water crops lose through transpiration. Plants transpire through their leaves, which contain tiny pores called stomata that open and collect carbon dioxide molecules for photosynthesis. During that process they release water vapor. As carbon dioxide concentrations increase, the pores don’t open as wide, resulting in lower levels of transpiration by plants and thus increased water-use efficiency.
Global climate impact assessments for crops have focused primarily on the impacts of elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide on yields, said Delphine Deryng, lead author and a climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City. “There has been very little impact assessment analysis that looked at the dual effect on yield and water use and how they play out in different regions of the world, which is critical to anticipating future agricultural water demands,” she said.
To study those effects, for wheat, maize, soybean and rice crops, Deryng and her co-authors simulated changes in crop yield and evapotranspiration (the combined transfer of water vapor to the atmosphere due to evaporation and transpiration) to estimate crop water productivity. Specifically, they looked at the amount of yield produced per unit of water, which is a common measurement for assessing crop water-use efficiency.
The results were synthesized from an ensemble of 30 simulations produced by six global crop models driven by climate data from five different global climate models under a "business-as-usual" greenhouse gases emissions scenario, whereby concentrations of carbon dioxide double by the year 2080 compared with 2000. Two sets of crop experiments were conducted: one which considered the effects of both atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and their associated climatic changes, and one in which only the associated climatic conditions were taken into account, which meant keeping carbon dioxide concentrations at 2000 levels.
Results show that yields for all four crops grown at levels of carbon dioxide remaining at 2000 levels would experience severe declines in yield due to higher temperatures and drier conditions. But when grown at doubled carbon dioxide levels, all four crops fare better due to increased photosynthesis and crop water productivity, partially offsetting the impacts from those adverse climate changes. For wheat and soybean crops, in terms of yield the median negative impacts are fully compensated, and rice crops recoup up to 90 percent and maize up to 60 percent of their losses.
According to the study, the impact of doubled carbon dioxide concentrations on crop water productivity and yield varies regionally. Results show that maize suffers yield losses with doubled carbon dioxide levels, due in large part to the plant’s already greater efficiency at using carbon dioxide for photosynthesis compared with the other crops. Maize yields fall by 15 percent in areas that use irrigation and by 8 percent in areas that rely on rain. Even so, losses would be more severe without the carbon dioxide increase: yields would decrease 21 percent for irrigated maize and 26 percent for rainfed maize.
The larger spread for gains and losses in rainfed maize is attributed mainly to the drier growing conditions. “The impact on crop water productivity and yield is strongest in regions like southern Africa where water is a limiting factor,” Deryng said. “Maize in these regions experience the most relief from better water-use efficiency.”
As for wheat, doubled carbon dioxide levels bring about yield increases across the board.
Rainfed wheat grown at higher latitudes such as those of the United States, Canada and Europe, which have more moderate temperatures and longer growing seasons, experience an overall increase in yield of almost 10 percent, while their consumption of water goes down by a corresponding amount.
For rainfed wheat grown in more arid climates, such as southern Africa and India, results show that doubled carbon dioxide levels, and their associated climate change impacts, increase yield by 8 percent, an increase that’s driven by improved crop water productivity of up to 50 percent. As with rainred maize crops in arid climates, without the carbon dioxide boost these rainfed wheat crops do not cope as well because of the greater water stress imposed on them, resulting in a 29 percent reduction in yield.
While these rainfed crops comprise only a small amount of the total wheat grown worldwide, as with rainfed maize they are often grown in developing countries that are more vulnerable to swings in production, Deryng said. “People in these regions depend more on local crop production for sustenance, so yield fluctuations tend to be more critical for food security.”
The study offers some hope for crops grown in arid, often economically challenged areas, said Cynthia Rosenzweig, a climatologist at GISS. “For example, farmers may switch to crops where their improved photosynthesis and more efficient water use more than offsets losses due to the high temperatures that climate change will bring.”
But Rosenzweig said that more field experiments are needed. “The uncertainty of carbon dioxide effects are greater in arid regions because experiments have been carried out mostly in temperate regions of the northern hemisphere,” she said. “We need field observations in these drier regions in order to validate and further improve our models.”
There is also a need for research that explores the impact of elevated carbon dioxide levels on crop nutrition, which wasn’t investigated in this study. “Crops also need nitrogen to grow, for example, and in many parts of Africa there’s not enough fertilizer,” Deryng said. “Imbalances between nitrogen and carbon in the crop tissues could lead to fewer nutrients like iron, zinc, along with a reduction in the protein content.”
The researchers say their findings cast a light on agriculture globally and highlight the importance of studying arid and semi-arid cropping systems. “For farmers, water is essential,” Deryng said. “Building on this research will help them and other stakeholders prepare for production in a hotter, drier planet.”
To read the study, visit Nature Climate Change.
For more information on Earth science research at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, visit
By Samson Reiny: NASA's Earth Science News Team
For further information, contact Delphine Deryng.
( Editor: Karl Hille: NASA)
€229 Million Project to Build the Next Earth Explorer to Better Understand How the Earth's Forests Store Carbon from Carbon Dioxide Released off Burning Fossil Fuels
To improve our understanding of the Earth system and the impact human activity is having on natural processes ESA harnesses the relationship between science and technology. This way, innovative missions are forged that address the most urgent scientific questions of our time. Understanding Earth: Released 11/06/2012 1:24 pm: Copyright ESA
|| May 03: 2016 || ESA and Airbus Defence and Space UK signed a €229 million contract on 29 April to build the next Earth Explorer: the Biomass satellite, due to begin its mission in 2021.
The satellite will provide global maps of how much carbon is stored in the world’s forests and how this stock is changing over time, mainly through the absorption of carbon dioxide, which is released from burning fossil fuels.
The Earth Explorer Biomass mission addresses one of the most fundamental questions in our understanding of the land component in the Earth system: what is the status of our forests, as represented by the distribution of biomass and how is forest biomass changing? Biomass: Released 21/01/2013 12:00 pm: Copyright ESA/AOES Medialab
Biomass will also provide essential support to UN treaties on the reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
Earth Explorer missions focus on the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere and Earth’s interior. Learning more about the interactions between these components and the impact that human activity is having on natural Earth processes is emphasised.
Forest type and forest cover worldwide can be detected by today’s satellites but Biomass will take the information to a different level. Due for launch in 2021, the satellite will carry the first P-band synthetic aperture radar, able to deliver accurate maps of tropical, temperate and boreal forest biomass – the global mass of trees is not obtainable by ground measurement techniques. The five-year mission will witness at least eight growth cycles in the world’s forests.
Flying in a near-polar, Sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 660 km, it will measure biomass at a resolution of 200 m and deforestation at 50 m. In addition, the mission will have an experimental ‘tomographic’ phase to provide 3D views of forests.
Signature of contract on April 29, 2016 to develop the Biomass satellite. Front row (from right): ESA Director of Earth Observation Programmes, Volker Liebig; Rt Hon. Jo Johnson MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science; Andrew Stroomer, UK National Director of Airbus Defence and Space's Earth Observation, Navigation and Science (ENS) division. Back row (from left): Michael Menking, Director ENS, Katherine Courtney, UK Space Agency Chief Executive, and Colin Paynter, Managing Director Airbus Defence and Space Ltd. 03/05/2016 1:02 pm: Copyright ESA
The radar will provide all-weather imaging from space, providing measurements to determine the amount of carbon stored in forests, thereby improving our understanding of the carbon cycle.
The data will support REDD+, a UN climate change initiative aimed at reducing emissions from deforestation, by systematically monitoring forests in vulnerable areas with no need for ground intervention.
“Biomass is another one of those missions reaching the frontiers, technically speaking,” noted Volker Liebig, Director of ESA’s Earth Observation Programmes at the contract signing in Stevenage, UK. “Just like our other Earth Explorers, it is a first. It will be the first P-band radar instrument in space delivering information on the actual carbon mass in Earth’s forests, information that is fundamental for a better understanding of the carbon cycle and global biomass.”
Observations from this new mission will also lead to better insight into rates of habitat loss and, therefore, the effect this may have on biodiversity in the forest environment.
The mission will offer the opportunity to map subsurface geology in deserts, movements of ice sheets and the topography of forest floors.
Neste: NEXBTL: The Greener Alternative
NEXBTL technology allows flexible use of different vegetable oils and waste animal fat as raw material: Petri Lehmus: Vice President: R&D. Image: Neste
|| April 30: 2016 || With the NEXBTL technology, we can make top-quality renewable diesel and other renewable products out of nearly any waste fat or vegetable oil. Largely due to our technology, we have become the leading producer of renewable diesel in the world, with an annual production volume of more than 2 million tons.
NEXBTL technology is based on the hydrogen treatment of vegetable oils and waste animal fat. The renewable diesel we refine is hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), while the conventional biodiesel (FAME) has been made using the esterification method. The quality of our Neste Renewable Diesel is superior compared to traditional biodiesels. Unlike conventional biodiesel, the quality of Neste Renewable Diesel remains excellent even when the raw materials change. As a byproduct, NEXBTL technology can be utilized to make, for instance, renewable gasoline, and biobropane.
Neste Renewable Diesel can be used as such to replace fossil diesel, since their chemical consistency is similar. It can also be mixed with fossil diesel without any restrictions, or used in even at 100% concentration.
Due to its chemical consistency, it can also replace fossil raw material in uses other than traffic fuel. Neste's renewable fuels have been used and tested in airplanes, as a blending component for aviation fuel, in turbines, generators, ships, yachts, and the working machines used at mines and construction sites. Additionally, Neste Renewable Diesel can be used in the chemical industry, for instance as raw material for renewable plastics or as a renewable solvent in paints.
Neste's Renewable Diesel is Powering San Francisco's City Fleet
Neste's NEXBTL renewable diesel is now being used by the City and County of San Francisco, California. San Francisco announced December 11, 2015 that the City and County of San Francisco has completely ended its use of petroleum diesel in the City's fleet and replaced it with renewable diesel. This switch from petroleum diesel to renewable diesel will achieve a significant 50 percent greenhouse gas emissions reduction to the city's diesel fleet.
City of San Francisco is now the largest city in North America to use renewable diesel. Earlier this year, the City of San Francisco tested Neste's renewable diesel followed by an announcement that they will switch all of their diesel fleet to renewable diesel by the end of this year. City of San Francisco operates 1,966 diesel powered vehicles, which are all now using renewable diesel. The annual consumption is about 5.8 million gallons of diesel fuel. This change will completely end the use of petroleum diesel at the 53 City-run fueling facilities immediately.
"As the global climate negotiations conclude, San Francisco and cities worldwide must continue to lead by taking bold actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions immediately," said Mayor Edwin M. Lee. "These actions cannot wait. San Francisco has ended its use of petroleum diesel to fill up the City's fleet of vehicles and will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality for our residents immediately today."
Neste's renewable diesel has been widely available in California since 2012 and is a significant contributor to the continuing success of the Low Carbon Fuel Standard and Governor Jerry Brown's executive order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by state agencies.
"Neste's renewable diesel is a solution to reduce both greenhouse gas emissions and tailpipe emissions, which municipalities can greatly benefit from. Switching to it doesn't require any additional investments on infrastructure or engine modifications. Thus, fleets can switch to renewable diesel overnight", says Kaisa Hietala, Executive Vice President, Renewable Products, Neste Corporation. "Neste is proud and happy to support San Francisco through the supply of renewable diesel. We feel privileged to help the City and County of San Francisco become more sustainable. It is our vision to give public and private fleets, as well as consumers, options to make such responsible choices", continues Hietala.
Neste's renewable diesel is supplied to the City of San Francisco by Golden Gate Petroleum which is one of the first distributors of Neste's renewable diesel in the USA. Golden Gate Petroleum sells Neste product through NeXgen Fuel, a company dedicated to bringing next generation fuels to the market.
"As an industry leader in fuel distribution, Golden Gate Petroleum is pleased to offer Neste's superior quality renewable fuel to our existing and new customers. To date, we have had no customer complaints and only positive feedback about this 100% sustainable fuel." Pat O'Keefe Vice President of Golden Gate Petroleum and CEO of Nexgen Fuel.
Increasing number of cities and private fleets switching to Neste renewable diesel
Many cities and corporations worldwide are now looking into ways to reduce emissions and carbon footprint. Neste renewable diesel is increasingly being used to improve sustainability and air quality. In the United States California leads and shows example to others.
Neste renewable diesel plays significant role in the implementation of California's climate plan. Earlier this fall Californian cities Walnut Creek and Oakland switched their diesel powered municipal fleet to Neste renewable diesel. On December 9th, the California Department of General Services (DGS) issued a memo stating that "State agencies shall purchase state-contracted renewable diesel fuel, in lieu of conventional diesel and biodiesel fuels, when making bulk purchases of fuel for diesel powered vehicles and/or equipment." Neste renewable diesel will be supplied to the California DGS. Neste renewable diesel is also being used by many private fleets including Google's gBuses and UPS' delivery trucks.
Contact at Neste Corporation
Kaisa Lipponen: Director, Corporate Communications
Neste US: Tuija Kalpala, Marketing Manager, Neste US, Inc., tel. +1 (832) 840-4707, email@example.com
About Neste: Neste is a forerunner in oil refining and renewable solutions. We offer our customers cleaner traffic solutions and industrial products based on cutting-edge research. We are the leading producer of renewable diesel in the world, with an annual production volume of more than 2 million tons. We are also the world's largest producer of renewable fuels from waste and residues. Our sustainable practices have received recognition in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index and the Global 100 list of the world's most sustainable companies. In 2014, our revenue amounted to EUR 15 billion. Neste shares are listed on NASDAQ Helsinki. Cleaner traffic, energy and life are moved forward by 5,000 professionals. Learn more at or
About Golden Gate Petroleum: Family owned Golden Gate Petroleum was founded in 1946 and is one of the largest petroleum and biofuel distributors in the Western United States. Golden Gate first started distributing alternative fuels in 1996 and became one of the first US distributors for Neste renewable diesel in 2013. For more information please visit
About NeXgen Fuel is a sister company to Golden Gate Petroleum, distributing Renewable Fuels to fleets and consumers. NeXgen'sfirst fuel is NeXDiesel, which is based on Neste's Neste renewable diesel is available to fleet customers and for distribution. NeXgen Fuel plans to rapidly expand across the country with both renewable diesel and gasoline substitute next generation fuels.
Neste Research into Other Raw Materials for Fuel
Pacific Alliance Acts on Climate Change: Business Supports Green Growth Platform in the Region
|| April 30: 2016 || 26 companies with operations across Pacific Alliance countries (Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru) have added their voice in support of climate action by pledging their commitment to work with government to create a supportive environment for green growth.
The letter is in response to the declaration, ‘Plataforma de Crecimiento Verde’ made by Pacific Alliance Ministers of the Environment last month, which signalled that the region has entered a new phase in which governments seek common opportunities to promote green growth.
The letter demonstrates the desire for a deeper form of collaboration in the region – both within countries and between public and private sectors. It marks an opportunity for government and the private sector to collaborate together from the beginning to help achieve real and lasting change in the region.
Read the letter in English
Read the letter in Spanish
Climate Action Summit 2016: Catalysing a Sustainable Future: May 05-06: Washington DC
Image: Climate Action
|| April 28: 2016 || Climate Action 2016 Summit for Catalysing a Sustainable Future which is being jointly co-hosted by seven organisations bringing together 700 Participants including leaders from government, business, finance, academia, philanthropy and civil society. This is the future of work, this the future of achieving greater good: working together with one unequivocal goal: to achieve a sustainable path of life on earth.
Climate change is the defining issue of our age. The landmark Paris Agreement reached last December commits all countries to holding global temperature rise to “well below 2 degrees Celsius”. This feat will require economy-wide global and national transformations. A robust, multi-sector response will be a key component of this solution to pivot societies toward a more sustainable future for all – the future we want.
Our understanding of climate change is rapidly evolving—from the world’s biggest problem, to the world’s biggest opportunity. Technological change, citizen mobilization, economic and political competition, and the formation of massive public-private coalitions have all helped turn the climate action risk-reward equation on its head.
But that’s not the end of the story; it’s the beginning. The Paris Agreement recognizes that the new climate regime will create climate solutions markets that are “bottom up” as well as “top down.” The Agreement calls for the active support of business and finance, mayors and governors, academia and civil society, as well as national governments. The new climate regime will create a floor for progress, not a ceiling, and look to coalitions of all these actors to determine how we can accelerate ambition and achieve the kind of progress necessary to secure our future.
The Climate Action 2016 multi-stakeholder summit will take place two weeks after the signing ceremony of the Paris Agreement, and eight months after the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals by all the governments of the world. In this context, the summit will serve to strengthen the multi-stakeholder approach to climate implementation. In particular, it will deepen and expand the action coalitions of government, business, finance, philanthropy, civil society and academic leaders launched at the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit 2014 in New York, and since then developed through the Lima to Paris Action Agenda.
Climate Action 2016 will seek to make this broad-scale organization of climate action both more effective and sustainable, and provide a launching pad for climate implementation in the pre-2020 period.
Over the course of two days, the summit will drive high-level engagement with global luminaries addressing plenary sessions on how to deliver on climate commitments and embed the transformation agenda across the globe in government, key sectors and among the general population. At the same time, the summit will focus on convening working groups for sessions on near-term implementation actions and long-term implementation needs. These will focus on City and Sub-national implementation; Transport; Land-use; Energy; Resilience/Adaptation; and Analysis and Tools to Support Decision Making.
Effective climate implementation will require collaboration from a variety of actors. The Climate Action 2016 summit will engage approximately 700 participants, by invitation, representing leaders from government, business, finance, academia, philanthropy and civil society. Seven organizations have come together to jointly co-host the summit, providing this diverse group with the information, connections and tools they need to lead effective implementation in a new climate regime. The co-hosts are:
H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations
Dr. Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group
Michael R. Bloomberg, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change; Founding Partner, Compact of Mayors
Dr. Naoko Ishii, Chief Executive Officer, Global Environment Facility
Dr. Judith Rodin, President, Rockefeller Foundation
Mr. Peter Bakker, Chief Executive Officer, World Business Council on Sustainable Development
Mr. Nigel Topping, Chief Executive Officer, We Mean Business
Dr. Wallace Loh, President, University of Maryland
The co-hosts will be joined by partners from multiple sectors to advance climate action coalitions.
European Investment Bank
Inter-American Development Bank
Sustainable Energy for All
United Nations Foundation
World Resources Institute
The Smithsonian Institution
International Bar Association
The Global Brain
Star RAW Join Forces and Invite the Green Visionaries to Join the Battle Against the Microfiber Polluting Our Oceans
Photo credit: C-Jason Childs – Jimbaran Bay
|| April 27: 2016: Amsterdam || In 2025, there would be one tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish in the oceans, and in 2050 the weight of plastic would overtake that of fish. The cause of this future scenario partly lies in our clothing. G-Star and the Plastic Soup Foundation are now joining forces to stop this process in its tracks with a battle against the microfiber.
Machine washing of clothes is a big source of plastic pollution in the oceans. Every time we do the laundry, synthetic garments shed small plastic fibers that end up in the water and pollute rivers and oceans.
“Leading European research recently showed that a fleece releases an incredible 1 million microfibers every time it is washed,” says Maria Westerbos, director of the Plastic Soup Foundation. “If you imagine that every day a couple of billion people around the world wash their clothing and that almost every item of clothing contains plastic nowadays, you can easily see why it is imperative to deal with this cause of the plastic soup immediately. ”Westerbos continues. “G-Star is the first fashion brand that recognises and supports the need for innovation.”
The Plastic Soup Foundation and G-Star are calling on other fashion companies, washing machine manufacturers and the textile industry to support the international Ocean Clean Wash. The signatories of this initiative will contribute to the development of one or more innovative solutions to prevent the release of plastic fibres from garments in the future, such as fabrics that do not release microfibers or washing machine filters that capture the released fibers. Technological center LEITAT collaborates in the initiative to research the technical feasibility of the solutions proposed.
Frouke Bruinsma, CR Director of G-Star says: “With RAW for the Oceans we were the first to make denim from recycled ocean plastic and we are now starting to completely replace the 10% conventional polyester in our collection with recycled plastic. We want to continue to create progress through sustainable innovation and join forces with the Plastic Soup Foundation to battle the microfiber problem. Only a strong alliance of dedicated stakeholders around the world can turn the tide. Everyone is welcome to join us.”
Plastic Soup Foundation: Maria Westerbos – Director: T: +31 (0)6 – 510 90 691: E: firstname.lastname@example.org:
LEITAT: Lola Rodríguez - International Project Manager for Marine, Maritime and Coastal affairs: T: +34 93 788 23 00: E: email@example.com
Carbon Dioxide Fertilization Greening Earth, Study Finds
Samson Reiny Writing
This image shows the change in leaf area across the globe from 1982-2015. Credits: Boston University/R. Myneni
|| April 26: 2016 || From a quarter to half of Earth’s vegetated lands has shown significant greening over the last 35 years largely due to rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change on April 25.
An international team of 32 authors from 24 institutions in eight countries led the effort, which involved using satellite data from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer instruments to help determine the leaf area index, or amount of leaf cover, over the planet’s vegetated regions. The greening represents an increase in leaves on plants and trees equivalent in area to two times the continental United States.
Green leaves use energy from sunlight through photosynthesis to chemically combine carbon dioxide drawn in from the air with water and nutrients tapped from the ground to produce sugars, which are the main source of food, fiber and fuel for life on Earth. Studies have shown that increased concentrations of carbon dioxide increase photosynthesis, spurring plant growth.
However, carbon dioxide fertilization isn’t the only cause of increased plant growth—nitrogen, land cover change and climate change by way of global temperature, precipitation and sunlight changes all contribute to the greening effect. To determine the extent of carbon dioxide’s contribution, researchers ran the data for carbon dioxide and each of the other variables in isolation through several computer models that mimic the plant growth observed in the satellite data.
Results showed that carbon dioxide fertilization explains 70 percent of the greening effect, said co-author Ranga Myneni, a professor in the Department of Earth and Environment at Boston University. “The second most important driver is nitrogen, at 9 percent. So we see what an outsized role CO2 plays in this process.”
About 85 percent of Earth’s ice-free lands is covered by vegetation. The area covered by all the green leaves on Earth is equal to, on average, 32 percent of Earth’s total surface area - oceans, lands and permanent ice sheets combined. The extent of the greening over the past 35 years “has the ability to fundamentally change the cycling of water and carbon in the climate system,” said lead author Zaichun Zhu, a researcher from Peking University, China, who did the first half of this study with Myneni as a visiting scholar at Boston University.
Every year, about half of the 10 billion tons of carbon emitted into the atmosphere from human activities remains temporarily stored, in about equal parts, in the oceans and plants. “While our study did not address the connection between greening and carbon storage in plants, other studies have reported an increasing carbon sink on land since the 1980s, which is entirely consistent with the idea of a greening Earth,” said co-author Shilong Piao of the College of Urban and Environmental Sciences at Peking University.
While rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the air can be beneficial for plants, it is also the chief culprit of climate change. The gas, which traps heat in Earth’s atmosphere, has been increasing since the industrial age due to the burning of oil, gas, coal and wood for energy and is continuing to reach concentrations not seen in at least 500,000 years. The impacts of climate change include global warming, rising sea levels, melting glaciers and sea ice as well as more severe weather events.
The beneficial impacts of carbon dioxide on plants may also be limited, said co-author Dr. Philippe Ciais, associate director of the Laboratory of Climate and Environmental Sciences, Gif-suv-Yvette, France. “Studies have shown that plants acclimatize, or adjust, to rising carbon dioxide concentration and the fertilization effect diminishes over time.”
“While the detection of greening is based on data, the attribution to various drivers is based on models,” said co-author Josep Canadell of the Oceans and Atmosphere Division in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Canberra, Australia. Canadell added that while the models represent the best possible simulation of Earth system components, they are continually being improved.
Read the paper at Nature Climate Change
For more information about NASA's Earth science activities, visit
By Samson Reiny
NASA's Earth Science News Team: For further information, contact Ranga Myneni at Boston University
( Editor: Karl Hille: NASA)
What Exactly is NaturVention and What is a Naava Wall?
|| April 26: 2016 || After years of great efforts and thorough research and development work NaturVention launched its new product Naava® Smart, the world’s smartest green wall. Naava Smart combines nature, patented technology, Finnish handcraft and Scandinavian design.
Smart optimizes indoor air quality and humidity by measuring 14 variables from the surroundings. It adjusts the working environment to be the as healthy as possible. NaturboOS artificial intelligence controls automatically the Smart’s functions such as irrigation, air circulation and lights. The green wall is connected to a cloud serviced remote control system that provides information about current weather conditions. This way Smart can even forecast how outdoors will affect indoor climate.
Naava Smart has been designed with ease of use and the pure lines of Scandinavian design in mind. The demanding design was done by Finnish Buorre Creations.
"Our goal was to create a timeless product with clear lines, and at the same time use brand new and interesting design. The project involved many technical special requirements as the product needs to be airtight and waterproof, to name a few details. We are pleased how boldly the NaturVention team responded to our unconventional solutions," says Tuomas Paananen, design manager of Buorre.
Great Place to Work winner Vincit chose Naava Smart
Finnish high-growth software company Vincit wants to promote and maintain wellbeing of their employees in every way possible, and the company has been chosen already twice to be the best place to work in Finland in the Great Place to Work competition. Providing its personnel the best indoor air at the workplace supports Vincit’s wellbeing ambitions perfectly.
"We researched different options when we planned our new office. Naava Smarts are forward-looking and represent the Finnish entrepreneurial spirit," says Jarkko Järvenpää, Sales Director of Vincit.
"We listen to people and want to answer their wishes. The physical spaces and working equipment are crucial for this. The investment in wellbeing has also paid of. Our growth and profitability are top class in our line of business," Järvenpää continues.
From this day forward everyone can choose healthier indoor air with the price of EUR 179 per month. The investment pays itself back quickly since healthier indoor air makes us feel better, get sick less often and work more efficiently.
Discover how NaturVention green walls boost your business.
NaturVention says: Fresh air should be a human right. At the moment, indoor air is unhealthy in every major city in the world. We believe that fresh air should be available everyone. We created Naava to build a healthier environment, by combining nature with high technology. NaturVention
New Maps Chart Greenland Glaciers' Melting Risk
The new maps show that the seafloor under Store Glacier, shown here, is almost 2,000 feet (600 meters) deeper than previously thought. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Ian Fenty
|| April 23: 2016 || Many large glaciers in Greenland are at greater risk of melting from below than previously thought, according to new maps of the seafloor around Greenland created by an international research team. Like other recent research findings, the maps highlight the critical importance of studying the seascape under Greenland's coastal waters to better understand and predict global sea level rise.
Researchers from the University of California, Irvine; NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California; and other research institutions combined all observations their various groups had made during shipboard surveys of the seafloors in the Uummannaq and Vaigat fjords in west Greenland between 2007 and 2014 with related data from NASA's Operation Icebridge and the NASA/U.S. Geological Survey Landsat satellites. They used the combined data to generate comprehensive maps of the ocean floor around 14 Greenland glaciers. Their findings show that previous estimates of ocean depth in this area were as much as several thousand feet too shallow.
Why does this matter? Because glaciers that flow into the ocean melt not only from above, as they are warmed by sun and air, but from below, as they are warmed by water.
In most of the world, a deeper seafloor would not make much difference in the rate of melting, because typically ocean water is warmer near the surface and colder below. But Greenland is exactly the opposite. Surface water down to a depth of almost a thousand feet (300 meters) comes mostly from Arctic river runoff. This thick layer of frigid, fresher water is only 33 to 34 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius). Below it is a saltier layer of warmer ocean water. This layer is currently more than more than 5 degrees F (3 degrees C) warmer than the surface layer, and climate models predict its temperature could increase another 3.6 degrees F (2 degrees C) by the end of this century.
About 90 percent of Greenland's glaciers flow into the ocean, including the newly mapped ones. In generating estimates of how fast these glaciers are likely to melt, researchers have relied on older maps of seafloor depth that show the glaciers flowing into shallow, cold seas. The new study shows that the older maps were wrong.
"While we expected to find deeper fjords than previous maps showed, the differences are huge," said Eric Rignot of UCI and JPL, lead author of a paper on the research. "They are measured in hundreds of meters, even one kilometer [3,300 feet] in one place." The difference means that the glaciers actually reach deeper, warmer waters, making them more vulnerable to faster melting as the oceans warm.
Coauthor Ian Fenty of JPL noted that earlier maps were based on sparse measurements mostly collected several miles offshore. Mapmakers assumed that the ocean floor sloped upward as it got nearer the coast. That's a reasonable supposition, but it's proving to be incorrect around Greenland.
A comparison of the newly compiled map of the Uummannaq fjord area (left) and an older map (right). Red areas indicate shallower depths, blues and purples deeper. Credits: UCI/NASA/JPL-Caltech
Rignot and Fenty are co-investigators in NASA's five-year Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) field campaign, which is creating similar charts of the seafloor for the entire Greenland coastline. Fenty said that OMG's first mapping cruise last summer found similar results. "Almost every glacier that we visited was in waters that were far, far deeper than the maps showed."
The researchers also found that besides being deeper overall, the seafloor depth is highly variable. For example, the new map revealed one pair of side-by-side glaciers whose bottom depths vary by about 1,500 feet (500 meters). "These data help us better interpret why some glaciers have reacted to ocean warming while others have not," Rignot said.
The lack of detailed maps has hampered climate modelers like Fenty who are attempting to predict the melting of the glaciers and their contribution to global sea level rise. "The first time I looked at this area and saw how few data were available, I just threw my hands up," Fenty said. "If you don't know the seafloor depth, you can’t do a meaningful simulation of the ocean circulation."
The maps are published in a paper titled "Bathymetry data reveal glaciers vulnerable to ice-ocean interaction in Uummannaq and Vaigat glacial fjords, west Greenland," in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The other collaborating institutions are Durham University and the University of Cambridge, both in the U.K.; GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research, Kiel, Germany; and the University of Texas at Austin.
For more information on OMG, visit: https://omg.jpl.nasa.gov/portal
NASA uses the vantage point of space to increase our understanding of our home planet, improve lives and safeguard our future. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth's interconnected natural systems with long-term data records. The agency freely shares this unique knowledge and works with institutions around the world to gain new insights into how our planet is changing.
For more information about NASA's Earth science activities, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/earth
Alan Buis: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California: 818-354-0474: Alan.firstname.lastname@example.org
Brian Bell: University of California, Irvine: 949-824-8249: email@example.com
Written by Carol Rasmussen: NASA Earth Science News Team: 2016-110
( Editor: Tony Greicius: NASA)
An Accurate Inventory of Ship Traffic Emissions for the European Sea Areas
|| April 21: 2016 || Novel inventory of shipping emissions has been made for whole Europe. The inventory has been compiled using a model that uses the Automatic Identification Signals of ships in determining their location and movements. The inventory is therefore versatile, detailed and accurate, compared with the previously available inventories.
Emissions originating from ship traffic in European sea areas were modelled using the Ship Traffic Emission Assessment Model (STEAM), which uses Automatic Identification System data to describe ship traffic activity. We report the emission totals, the seasonal variation, the geographical distribution of emissions, and their disaggregation between various ship types and flag states.
The total ship emissions of CO2, NOx, SOx, CO, and PM2.5 in Europe for year 2011 were estimated to be 121, 3.0, 1.2, 0.2, and 0.2 million tonness, respectively. The emissions of CO2 from the Baltic Sea were evaluated to be more than a half (55 %) of the emissions of the North Sea shipping; the combined contribution of these two sea regions was almost as high (88 %) as the total emissions from ships in the Mediterranean.
As expected, the shipping emissions of SOx were significantly lower in the SOx Emission Control Areas, compared with the corresponding values in the Mediterranean. Shipping in the Mediterranean Sea is responsible for 40 and 49% of the European ship emitted CO2 and SOx emissions, respectively.
The study reported significantly smaller emissions of NOx, SOx, and CO for shipping in the Mediterranean than the EMEP inventory; however, the reported PM2:5 emissions were in a fairly good agreement with the corresponding values reported by EMEP. The vessels registered to all EU member states are responsible for 55% of the total CO2 emitted by ships in the study area. The vessels under the flags of convenience were responsible for 25% of the total CO2 emissions.
More information: Dr. Jukka-Pekka Jalkanen, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. +358 50 919 5455 Prof. Jaakko Kukkonen, Jaakko.Kukkonen@fmi.fi, tel. +358 50 520 2684
March 2016 is the Hottest on Record
Bob Silberg Writing
|| April 21: 2016 || March 2016 set a new record temperature for that time of year, according to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The global temperature was 2.30 °F (1.28 °C) warmer than the average for March from 1951 to 1980, which is used as a baseline.
Every month this year has broken the record for that month. January was 2.03 °F (1.13 °C) hotter than the baseline for previous Januaries and February was 2.41 °F (1.34 °C) hotter than the baseline for previous Februaries.
So far, the last six months in a row have had record-setting heat.
By Bob Silberg: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
World Leaders Must Remember, April 22 IS the Mother Earth Day as They Gather at the Climate Change Agreement Signing Ceremony
||April 20, 2016 || To keep the global spotlight focused on climate change and build on the strong political momentum from Paris, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has invited representatives of all countries to sign the Paris Agreement on climate change at a special Ceremony at the United Nations Headquarters on April 22. The Signing Ceremony takes place on the first day that the Agreement will be open for signatures, and marks the first step toward ensuring that the Agreement enters into legal force as quickly as possible.
The Paris Agreement was adopted by all 196 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at COP21 in Paris on December 12. 2015. In the agreement, all countries agreed to work to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and given the grave risks, to strive for 1.5 degrees Celsius. Implementation of the Paris Agreement is essential for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, and provides a roadmap for climate actions that will reduce emissions and build climate resilience.
Out of 196 Parties to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change 162 countries of the world so far have indicated to joining the signing ceremony and sign the agreement.
The Paris Agreement will be open for signature by the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on April 22 and will remain open for signature for one year.
Ecology COP21 Paris 2015
Climate Change Action Now
How Climate Change Dries up Mountain Streams
Image: The University of Utah
||April 19, 2016: The University of Utah News || The western United States relies on mountain snow for its water supply. Water stored as snow in the mountains during winter replenishes groundwater and drives river runoff in spring, filling reservoirs for use later in summer. But how could a warming globe and a changing climate interrupt this process?
In a new study published today in Environmental Research Letters, a team of hydrologists that includes University of Utah professor Paul Brooks answers that question by simulating isolated climate change effects on Rocky Mountain stream systems, varying the type of precipitation (rain vs. snow) and the amount of energy (temperature) in the system. The answer, they found, depends less on how water enters the stream watershed, and more on how it leaves.
Balancing the water budget
Hydrologists often construct water budgets to account for all the ways water enters and leaves a system. In the case of a mountain stream, water enters as precipitation but only a portion of this water leaves as streamflow. Much of this melt water enters soils. Here it can be used by plants or evaporate directly, with water loss from both processes combined called evapotranspiration. The water can also recharge groundwater and enter the stream later in the year. And it matters whether the precipitation falls as snow or as rain.
Climate change can affect mountain streams in two major ways: By raising the overall temperature, increasing evapotranspiration, and by shifting the precipitation from snow to rain. Both impacts could significantly alter the amount of water in a stream watershed and the amount that reaches cities downstream.
So why try to separate the influence of the two factors? “As the climate becomes increasingly more variable, we need to provide water resource managers with specific guidance on how individual warm or wet years, which may not coincide, will influence water supply,” said Brooks.
The team, led by doctoral student Lauren Foster at Colorado School of Mines, constructed models of two Colorado stream watersheds on both sides of the continental divide. The researchers simulated the atmospheric conditions of a typical water year, but then applied 11 simulations of various temperature alterations to see how the watersheds responded.
In baseline scenarios, without any temperature alteration, the streams behaved as expected, with a swell in streamflow during snowmelt. During snowmelt and into summer, meltwater recharged the underlying aquifer, which then sustained streamflow through the fall and winter.
When precipitation was changed from snow to rain, the stream system became “flashier,” the team writes, with the water that would have been stored as snow running off into the stream faster. Overall streamflow in this scenario decreased by 11 percent in the watershed east of the continental divide and by 18 percent west of the divide.
But warming the systems by 4 degrees Celsius resulted in more evapotranspiration, enough that groundwater had to support streamflow an entire season earlier, beginning in summer rather than in fall. Streamflow reduced by 19 percent in the east watershed and 23 percent in the west, suggesting that warmer temperatures may have more impact on streams than a transition from snow to rain.
“Changes in energy, which result in changes in evapotranspiration, outweighed the changes in the form of precipitation,” said Reed Maxwell of Colorado School of Mines.
The effects of these two climate change effects may vary with location, the team writes, and the results need to be checked against real-life environments. But the researchers’ work helps to make sense of the noisiness in climate data and helps scientists gain a clearer picture of the future of water, especially in the mountainous west.
The research was funded by the National Science Foundation. The full study can be found here
Message from Fiji: What We Want to See at the Summit is a Renewed Call to Make the Implementation of the Paris Agreement as Number One Priority in the World
||April 19, 2016 || As Fiji and Governments of more than 100 other United Nations Member States are preparing this week for the historic signing of the Paris Agreement, back in Fiji, residents of the South Pacific country are clearing debris and trying to recover from one of the region’s fiercest storms.
Fiji was hit by Cyclone Winston, a Category 5 storm, on 20 February, less than a week after the country became the first to ratify the Paris Agreement, which establishes a long term, worldwide framework to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.
Small island developing nations, like Fiji, have led the charge on climate change, sounding the alarm because their communities are on the front lines of rising sea levels and increasing natural disasters linked to rising greenhouse gas emissions.
“We don’t realize it would be big like this because this is the first time a big cyclone, the first time a tsunami came in our village,” Vilisa Naivalubasaga from Mudu Village, on one of Fiji’s 300 islands, told the Pacific branch of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), as she was preparing food with other women in a temporary shelter.
The Cyclone thrust Fiji to the centre of a narrative around climate change, sustainable development and disaster risk reduction, and the vital role for humanitarian work when these three intersect.
In the village of Nabukadra, residents are working with OCHA and partners to procure chainsaws, so they can cut fallen wood and construct new homes. This is the immediate priority, but Winston has shown the need to think longer-term about reducing the risks facing their community.
“We will discuss how we will manage to rebuild because the sea level became high,” Raivolita Tabusoro, the village’s headman said ahead of a community meeting. The group had been discussing a range of measures, including moving seafront homes further back from the water’s edge and building a seawall from boulders displaced by the cyclone.
Diplomacy and natural disasters
When Winston hit Fiji, Peter Thomson, the Pacific island nation’s Ambassador to the United Nations, was in New York and instantly aware of the key role he would have in rallying political support for assistance to his home country.
In the storm’s wake, Mr. Thomson convened a briefing to the wider UN membership on his country’s need for international assistance. He asked Member States not to issue travel advisories against visiting Fiji.
He also strongly urged Governments to follow in his country’s footsteps and promptly ratify the Paris Agreement, which will enter into force after 55 countries that account for at least 55 per cent of global emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification.
On 22 April, the Paris Agreement will be signed at the UN Headquarters in New York, with participation from more than 120 Member States. Each Government that signs the Agreement will also have to ratify it, as Fiji did, when its Parliament unanimously agreed to approve the Agreement. Fiji’s Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama is expected to formally sign the document on behalf of the country on Friday.
But for Mr. Thomson, the timing could not be soon enough.
“This is the worst storm I have ever seen in my lifetime,” he noted, referring to Winston.
The destruction brought back memories of Hurricane Bebe, which hit Fiji more than four decades ago when Mr. Thomson was working at a local district, and which cemented his interest in disaster preparedness and response.
“We’ve got to think about what is causing these storms,” Mr. Thomson said, stressing that climate change “puts the whole development agenda at risk.”
Mudu Village, Koro, Fiji, 2016: Vilisa Naivalubasaga, left, preparing donated food with a group of other women whose families have been left homeless by the cyclone on Koro. Photo: Danielle Parry/OCHA
Koro, Fiji, 2016: In coastal villages on Koro Island even concrete and brick buildings collapsed under the force of Category 5 Cyclone Winston. Even high on the top of this escarpment locals reported being hit with salt water whipped up into the air by the cyclone. Photo: Danielle Parry/OCHA
Disaster preparedness and resilience
A Category 5 hurricane, as measured in intensity on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, is the strongest hurricane that can form on planet Earth. Only 11 cyclones in the Category 5 have been registered south of the equator since 1970.
Two of them hit in the past 13 months. Pam, which ripped through Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu in March 2015; and Winston, which took more than 40 lives and affected 350,000 people, about 40 per cent of Fiji’s total population.
Generally speaking, humanitarian assistance lasts at least six months,” Mr. Thomson said.
This timing comes from the fact that the provision of food is one of the most crucial, in addition to potable water, shelter and sanitation, for example, and that the fastest growing staple in the Pacific Islands – the sweet potato – takes at least six months to grow.
The recovery phase takes much longer. One year on, Vanuatu is still recovering from the devastation by Cyclone Pam. The Philippines is still rehabilitating from the wreck brought by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Five years on, Japan’s northeast coast is still healing from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
For its recovery, Fiji will follow the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, a voluntary non-binding agreement which recognizes that the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk, but that responsibility should also be shared by the local government, the private sector and other stakeholders.
For example, Fiji’s disaster management system at the national level is complemented by local offices. Ahead of Winston’s landfall, the Fijian authorities, under the leadership of the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), activated evacuation centres and moved people to those facilities, saving many lives. Military, police and other personnel on leave had been ordered back to active duty and worked with local officials.
But a key question, not only for Fiji but other countries, is how to make communities more resilient to such natural disaster.
In Fiji, vital disaster preparedness measures include the introduction of stringent building codes to ensure that all structures, whether in urban or rural areas, are disaster-proof.
“If your house is built on sand, you must expect to lose it when a cyclone hits,” Mr. Thomson said. “There is no point of putting a house back up again on sand.”
There are also considerations on how to build. Nails are no longer the main choice for roofing, for example. But even development projects need to be rethought. Solar panels, which are increasingly utilized in Fiji for clean energy are often placed on rooftops. Unfortunately, they are often one of the first objects to be blown away in heavy winds.
“The inevitable question is who’s next in our region,” Mr. Thomson said, stressing that Pacific island nations share an understanding that climate-caused disasters are a common challenge.
Relocating above the waves
Some village leaders on the Island of Koro have started discussing complete relocation of villages to higher ground, far away from future storm surge and rising sea levels, and have already identified suitable land if this goes ahead.
“That’s a good message coming from the villagers themselves,” said Amena Yauvoli, Fiji’s Ambassador for Climate Change and Oceans, following a visit to his home community of Nasou on the island of Koro, where Winston made landfall.
“What we have to look at is the reality of the situation on the ground,” he noted, pointing to some of the key challenges in moving affected communities to another area or potentially another country.
“Relocation comes with lots of costs and even the emotional traditions and attachment to the current village site is always there,” he said, stressing that ample time for discussions should be given before any definitive step forward by the village and the government.
More than 40 at risk communities in Fiji have been identified for relocation in the near term and two have already been moved to higher ground. There is also talk of Fiji hosting migrants from other Pacific countries where people have been displaced by climate change, if the need arises.
‘New normal’ requires higher level of planning, preparedness
Karen Allen, Pacific Representative of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said that an increasing number of more destructive storms throughout the Pacific is “the new normal,” requiring another level of planning, preparedness and emotional strength.
The implications are immense for everything from the way that buildings are constructed – including schools and health facilities – to other critical infrastructure, such as water and power supply, to the way that families prepare themselves, their crops and their livelihoods.
“Buildings traditionally designated as evacuation centres may now be insufficient,” she added. “Community centres built to serve large numbers as evacuation centres are needed.”
One of the concerns is that many people do not understand what a “Category 5” storm means or how to protect themselves should one be forecast.
UN agencies, such as UNICEF, and partners, are investing in school-based preparedness efforts so that children will be prepared for emergencies from their youngest years. The aim of such programs is to instil in young children what needs to be done in case of natural emergencies, making it habitual, such as brushing their teeth and washing their hands.
The programs are new, but Ms. Allen says they could have wide reaching impacts: “Just as the Pacific looks to others for expertise and guidance, the rest of the world has much to learn from the Pacific region. We are, after all, experts by circumstance.”
Taking the message on to the World Humanitarian Summit
Today, about 43 per cent of the world’s population live in fragile situations, and that number is estimated to climb to 62 per cent by 2030.
“Building back better and safer is very much on people’s minds, and the World Humanitarian Summit next month is an opportunity to discuss the lessons learned from this emergency about community resilience,” said Osnat Lubrani, Humanitarian Coordinator for Fiji, referring to the international event to be held 23-24 May in Istanbul, Turkey.
The World Humanitarian Summit will be the first event of its kind in history, bringing together more than 5,000 people from governments, international organizations, civil society, Diaspora, business and academia to tackle a number of humanitarian challenges. These include how the vulnerability of people and communities can be reduced so that there is less need to deliver humanitarian aid. Read more about the World Humanitarian Summit and the Secretary-General’s Agenda for Humanity on our special webpage.
“It will be a chance for the Pacific to speak out on the need to adequately finance and invest in disaster preparedness and risk reduction to alleviate humanitarian crises. It also makes good social and economic sense for governments striving to achieve sustainable development,” said Ms. Lubrani.
Mr. Thomson is also looking ahead to the Summit with a clear message from Fiji: “What we want to see at the Summit is a renewed call to make the implementation of the Paris Agreement as number one priority in the world.”
The Antarctic: The Tearing Apart of Iceberg
Nansen fracture: Melt waterfall into Nansen ice shelf fracture. Released 14/04/2016 11:41 am: Copyright C. Yakiwchuck
||April 15, 2016|| Multiple satellites, including Europe’s Sentinels, have captured images of two large icebergs that broke away from Antarctica’s Nansen ice shelf on 7 April.
The icebergs are drifting to the northeast, propelled by wind, tides and currents. Experts say they do not pose any immediate threat of blocking supply routes to research stations such as the Italian Mario Zucchelli and South Korean Jang Bogo Stations in Terra Nova Bay.
Nonetheless, the icebergs may pose a threat to sea-floor moorings in the region that have been used by Italy’s National Antarctic Programme since the 1990s, and more recently by New Zealand ocean scientists.
The Nansen ice shelf, around 50 km long and 25 km wide, developed a fracture over recent years. Ice shelves are particularly sensitive to climate change because they can melt from warm air at the surface and warming ocean waters below.
“The crack was first observed during fieldwork in 1999 and was progressively growing, and then accelerating during 2014,” said Massimo Frezzotti from Italy’s ENEA research organisation.
“The events following were typical for a cycle of ice-shelf calving. Last century, a first calving event is known to have occurred between 1913 and the 1950s, with a second between 1963 and 1972.”
As winter weather began to set in during early March this year, optical images from Europe’s Sentinel-2A satellite and radar images from Sentinel-1A, together with images from the Italian Cosmo-Skymed mission, indicated that the ice front was only tenuously attached to the shelf.
By 6 April, the fracture had reached about 40 km long before it severed the portion of the ice front between Inexpressible Island to the north and the Drygalski Ice Tongue – the floating end of the David Glacier – to the south.
Verified by NASA’s Terra satellite, the calving took place on 7 April during persistent strong offshore winds. Two days later, Sentinel-1A’s radar confirmed the separation.
East Antarctica: Map showing Victoria Land coast, East Antarctica and Terra Nova Bay. The red box indicates the general location of satellite imagery over the Nansen Ice Shelf. Released 14/04/2016 10:42 am: Copyright ESA – M. Drinkwater
“The area of the fracture was still negligible at the beginning of 2014, but between April 2015 and March 2016 it expanded from 11.68 sq km to 25.87 sq km, signalling a coming calving,” said Flavio Parmiggiani of Italy’s ISAC-CNR research organisation.
The fracture split the ice shelf along its length, resulting in two large icebergs measuring about 10 km and 20 km in length and 5 km across. Published research indicates that the bergs are likely to be around 250–270 m thick.
Massimo Frezzotti explained, “History has shown that major calving typically occurs about every 30 years. The crack opened because of a difference in the velocity of ice between the northern Priestley Glacier and southern Reeves Glacier fed portions of the ice shelf, caused by the southern part being hooked and pulled along by the faster moving Drygalski Tongue.”
The Sentinels are a fleet of satellites for Europe’s Copernicus environment monitoring programme. The second in the Sentinel-1 constellation, Sentinel-1B, is set for launch on 22 April.
“This event illustrates the complexity of the constantly evolving Antarctic icescape,” said ESA’s Mark Drinkwater and Chair of the Polar Space Task Group.
“Copernicus data already provide a critical source of sustained data for studying the impact of the climate on the polar cryosphere over the next decades.”
This unique combination of Sentinel high-resolution optical and radar images, together with information from other missions, demonstrates how satellites are invaluable sources of data to the study of ice shelf calving. This allows researchers to monitor the future response of the glaciers to the removal of the ice shelves, improving ice sheet modelling and predictions.
Enrico Brugnoli, Director of Italy’s CNR National Research Council Earth and Environment Department, commented, “This event has happened so close to our Mario Zucchelli coastal station and it is the first time satellites have captured an event of this size since Italy has been operating in the area in 1985.”
Seeking Green Innovation: NASA Supercomputer Simulations Help Improve Aircraft Propulsion Design
Kimberly Williams Writing
Image credit: NASA Ames / Tim Sandstrom
||April 14, 2016||NASA and aviation industry partners are collaborating on the development of green aviation technologies. One concept studied at NASA’s Ames Research Center, in California’s Silicon Valley, is the contra-rotating open rotor propulsion system, which has two ultra-thin blades spinning in opposite directions on the same shaft, similar to the blades on a giant kitchen blender. These contra-rotating blades rotate around the outside of a turbofan jet engine, like that commonly used in modern airliners. This unique design allows air to flow more efficiently through the turbofan blades to improve flight performance, reduce carbon emissions and decrease blade rotation noise.
For the past year, researchers at the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) facility at Ames have produced first-of-a kind simulations of sound produced by air – aeroacoustics – to reliably predict noise sources for contra-rotating open rotors. This image was generated from a computer simulation of a contra-rotating, open-rotor design in which red particles are “released” on the upstream blades, blue on the aft blades. Solid colors are released on the blade tips, while faded colors are on the blade trailing edges. The basket-weave pattern shows where particles interact with each other — one of the sources of blade noise.
Using computational fluid dynamics methods and the Pleiades supercomputer, the NAS team verified the simulation accuracy and compared sound pressure level ranges with extensive wind tunnel test data from NASA’s Glenn Research Center and General Electric. Their simulations and results matched closely with the wind tunnel test results for sounds produced by the rotating blades.
The analysis requires a massive amount of computing power and time. Currently, the NAS team is researching ways to speed up the simulation and analysis process and cut down on computing resources needed to design planes that are more Earth-friendly.
More information and simulation video on the NAS website
Visualizer/Animator: Tim Sandstrom (CSC Government Solutions LLC), Ames Research Center
Scientists: Michael F. Barad, Christoph Brehm (USRA), Jeffrey Housman, Cetin Kiris, Ames Research Center
Writer: Jill Dunbar (CSC Government Solutions LLC), Ames Research Center
Media contact: Kimberly Williams, Ames Research Center
( Editor: Kimberly Williams: NASA)
Soils Could Play Key Role in Locking Away Greenhouse Gases: New Research
April 07, 2016: The world's soils could potentially store an extra 8 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases, helping to limit the impacts of climate change, says a new study from a team including Professor Pete Smith from the University of Aberdeen,
The study, published in the journal Nature, was led by Professor Keith Paustian from Colorado State University, in collaboration with Cornell University, Michigan State University and the Universities of Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
The study states that adopting the latest technologies and sustainable land use practices on a global scale could allow more emissions to be stored in farmland and natural wild spaces.
Growing crops with deeper root systems, using charcoal-based composts, applying sustainable agriculture practices and restoring drained peatlands could help soils retain an amount of carbon equivalent to a significant proportion of annual emissions released by the burning of fossils fuels.
The role that soils could play in efforts to combat climate change has until now been largely overlooked, owing to a lack of effective monitoring tools however advances in technology have enabled researchers to work out their full potential.
The study states that coordinated efforts involving scientists, policymakers and land users are key to achieving any meaningful increase in soil storage of greenhouse gases and resources should be provided to help reduce the environmental impact of farms.
Community-based initiatives could be used to help to overcome cultural barriers, funding issues and monitoring challenges to achieve a global increase in soil uptake. For example the Cool Farm Tool, a free online greenhouse gas calculator for crop growers, help farmers measure, manage and reduce emissions from their land.
Previous research shows that soils currently store around 2.4 trillion tonnes of greenhouse gases, which are stored underground as stable organic matter.
Professor Pete Smith, of the Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences at the University of Aberdeen, said: “Soils have probably been overlooked as you cannot see the large carbon stocks they contain, whereas you can see trees growing and getting bigger. It is also difficult to easily measure changes in soil carbon, as changes are slow and we are trying to measure a small change against a large background. But after International Year of Soils in 2015, and the French Government's initiative to increase soil carbon stocks to tackle climate change agreed at the Paris climate summit last December, soils are now firmly on the climate change agenda.”
Professor Dave Reay, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, added: “In the fight to avoid dangerous climate change in the 21st Century we need heavyweight allies. One of the most powerful is right beneath our feet. Soils are already huge stores of carbon and improved management can make them even bigger. Too long have they been overlooked as a means to tackle climate change. Too often have problems of accurate measurement and reporting stymied progress towards climate-smart soil management. With the surge in availability of 'big data' on soils around the world, alongside rapid improvements in understanding and modelling, the time has come for this big-hitter to enter the ring.”
Issued by the Communications Team: Office of External Affairs, University of Aberdeen, King's College, Aberdeen: Laura Graham: Issued on: 06 April 2016
The White House Scientific Assessment on Impact of Climate Change to Human Health in the United States
April 06, 2016: Fact Sheet: This week, the Obama Administration released a new report on the impacts of climate change on our health. It's called "The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment," and it was developed over three years by approximately one hundred experts in climate-change science on public health. The report significantly advances what we know about climate change's impact on public health – not just in the future, but right now.
In reading it, one fact is clear: Every person is vulnerable to the health impacts associated with climate change. We’ll see worsening allergy and asthma conditions, an increase in the number of premature deaths caused by extreme heat, an increase in water-related illnesses, and more.
While the President’s Clean Power Plan takes strides to address these challenges, there are also a number of steps you can take – for both yourself and your family – in order to be prepared. Here is a summary of some key risks from the reports findings, as well as some helpful resources to help you stay both informed and healthy.
Obama Administration Releases Scientific Assessment on Impact of Climate Change to Human Health in the United States
Today, delivering on another commitment in the President’s Climate Action Plan, the Obama Administration released a new final report called The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment, which significantly advances what we know about the impacts of climate change on public health, and the confidence with which we know it.
Developed over three years by approximately one hundred experts in climate-change science and public health – including representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) – the Climate and Health Assessment reinforces that climate change is a significant threat to the health of the American people not just in the future but right now. As the climate continues to change, the risks to human health will grow, exacerbating existing health threats and creating new public health challenges, and impacting more people in more places. From children to the elderly, every American is vulnerable to the health impacts associated with climate change, now and in the future. A few examples of the increased health risks found in the assessment include:
Air pollution and airborne allergens will likely increase, worsening allergy and asthma conditions. Future ozone-related human health impacts attributable to climate change are projected to lead to hundreds to thousands of premature deaths, hospital admissions, and cases of acute respiratory illnesses each year in the United States by 2030, including increases in asthma episodes and other adverse respiratory effects in children. Ragweed pollen season is longer now in central North America, having increased by as much as 11 to 27 days between 1995 and 2011, which impacts some of the nearly 6.8 million children in the United States affected by asthma and susceptible to allergens due to their immature respiratory and immune systems.
Extreme heat can be expected to cause an increase in the number of premature deaths, from thousands to tens of thousands, each summer, which will outpace projected decreases in deaths from extreme cold. One model projected an increase, from a 1990 baseline for more than 200 American cities, of more than an additional 11,000 deaths during the summer in 2030 and more than an additional 27,000 deaths during the summer in 2100.
Warmer winter and spring temperatures are projected to lead to earlier annual onset of Lyme disease cases in the eastern United States and a generally northward expansion of ticks capable of carrying the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Between 2001 and 2014, both the distribution and the number of reported cases of Lyme disease increased in the Northeast and Upper Midwest.
Increase the risks of water-related illnesses. Runoff from more frequent and intense extreme precipitation events, and increased water temperatures, will increasingly compromise recreational waters, shellfish harvesting waters, and sources of drinking water, increasing risks of waterborne illness.
Climate change, including rising temperatures and changes in weather extremes, is expected to increase the exposure of food to certain pathogens and toxins. Rising temperature and increases in flooding, runoff events, and drought will likely lead to increases in the occurrence and transport of pathogens in agricultural environments, which will increase the risk of food contamination and human exposure to pathogens and toxins. This will increase health risks and require greater vigilance in food safety practices and regulation.
Climate change will have the largest health impact on vulnerable populations including those with low incomes, some communities of color, limited English proficiency and immigrant groups, Indigenous peoples, children, pregnant women, older adults, vulnerable occupational groups, persons with disabilities, and persons with preexisting or chronic medical conditions.
Extreme weather and other events related to climate change will impact health by exacerbating underlying medical conditions, increasing exposure to foodborne and waterborne illness risks, and disrupting infrastructure, including power, water, transportation, and communication systems, that are essential to maintaining access to health care and emergency response services and safeguarding human health.
In addition, today, the Administration is announcing a number of actions to respond to the critical challenges and vulnerabilities outlined in the Climate and Health Assessment. These include:
Expanding the scope of the President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children to focus on the impacts of climate change on children’s health.
Developing K-12 educational materials on climate change and health.
A Climate-Ready Tribes and Territories Initiative, which will provide awards for tribal and territorial health departments to investigate, prepare for, and adapt to the health effects of climate change.
An update to the Sustainable and Climate Resilient Health Care Facilities Toolkit, issued by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Designating May 23-27, 2016, as Extreme Heat Week, during which Federal agencies will take a number of actions to work with community planners and public-health officials to enhance community preparedness for extreme heat events.
The findings of the Climate and Health Assessment strengthen and broaden the scientific foundation for future decision making, allowing individuals, communities, organizations, and governments to proactively manage the health risks of climate change. A better understanding of how climate change affects our health, and the health of our children and grandchildren, underscores the need for urgent action to combat the threats climate change poses on American citizens and communities.
Already, under President Obama’s leadership, the United States has done more to combat climate change and protect the health of communities than ever before. For example, the Clean Power Plan will deliver better air quality, improved public health, clean energy investment and jobs across the country. Since the historic global climate agreement was reached at COP21 in Paris last year, the United States has announced plans to not only implement the agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but has also committed to adopting an amendment to the Montreal Protocol that would phase down HFCs, a potent greenhouse gas. The Administration has forged a global agreement to cut aviation emissions, and most recently taken a series of actions to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, while also helping to spur a historic increase in wind and solar energy while doubling the fuel efficiency in our cars.
HOW CLIMATE CHANGE AFFECTS HEALTH: KEY FINDINGS AND MESSAGES FROM THE ASSESSMENT
Changes in Extreme Heat and Extreme Cold. A warmer future is projected to lead to “on the order of thousands to tens of thousands of additional premature deaths per year across the United States by the end of this century” from heat. Any reduction in cold-related deaths is projected to be smaller than the increase in heat-related deaths in most regions. High temperatures can also lead to a wide range of illnesses. Examples of illnesses associated with extreme heat include cardiovascular, respiratory, and renal illnesses; diabetes; hyperthermia; mental health issues; and preterm births. Even small differences from seasonal average temperatures result in illness and death. An increased risk for respiratory and cardiovascular death is observed in older adults during temperature extremes.
Impacts on Air Quality. Changes in the climate affect the levels and location of outdoor air pollutants such as ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter. These changes in ozone are projected to lead to hundreds to thousands of premature deaths, hospital admissions, and cases of acute respiratory illnesses per year in the United States in 2030. In addition, the area burned by wildfires in North America is expected to increase dramatically over the 21st century due to climate change. Air pollution from wildfires can affect people far downwind from the fire location, increasing the risk of premature death and hospital and emergency department visits. Higher temperatures and increasing carbon dioxide levels also promote the growth of plants that release airborne allergens.
More Frequent and Intense Extreme Events. Climate change will expose more people to increases in the frequency and/or intensity of drought, wildfires, and flooding related to extreme precipitation and hurricanes. Many types of extreme events related to climate change cause disruption of critical infrastructure, including power, water, transportation, and communication systems, that are essential to maintaining access to health care and emergency response services and safeguarding human health. Health risks may also arise long after the event, or in places outside the area where the event took place, particularly if multiple events occur simultaneously or in succession in a given location – this could be the result of damage to property, destruction of assets, loss of infrastructure and public services, social and economic disruption, and environmental degradation. Poverty also is a key risk factor, and the poor are disproportionately affected by extreme events.
Altered Timing and Location of Vector-Borne Disease. Climate change is expected to alter the geographic and seasonal distributions of existing vectors and vector-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease, West Nile virus infections, and other diseases spread by vectors like mosquitoes. Rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and a higher frequency of some extreme weather events associated with climate change will influence the distribution, abundance, and prevalence of infection in the mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus, the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the United States. Outdoor workers are at a greater risk for contracting Lyme disease and, if working in areas where there are infected mosquitoes, occupational exposures can also occur for West Nile virus.
Increased Risks of Water-Related Illnesses. Runoff from more frequent and intense extreme precipitation events will increasingly compromise recreational waters, shellfish harvesting waters, and sources of drinking water, increasing the risk that infrastructure for drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater will fail due to either damage or exceeding system capacity. Although the United States has one of the safest municipal drinking water supplies in the world, water-related outbreaks still occur—between 1948 and 1994, 68 percent of waterborne disease outbreaks in the United States were preceded by extreme precipitation events. Inequities in exposure to contaminated water disproportionately affects tribes and Alaska Natives, residents of low-income rural subdivisions along the U.S.–Mexico border, migrant farm workers, the homeless, and low-income communities not served by public water utilities—some of which are predominately Hispanic or Latino and African-American communities.
Increased Threats to Food Safety and Nutrition. As climate change drives changes in environmental variables, such as ambient temperature, precipitation, and weather extremes (particularly flooding and drought), increases in foodborne illnesses are expected. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that there are 48 million cases of foodborne illnesses per year, with approximately 3,000 deaths. Rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can actually lower the nutritional value of most food crops. Climate-change impacts on food production, food processing and utilization, food prices, and agricultural trade were recently addressed in a separate assessment report on Climate Change, Global Food Security, and the U.S. Food System.
Adverse Impacts on Mental Health. The cumulative and interactive effects of climate change, as well as the threat and perception of climate change, adversely impact individual and societal physical and mental health and well-being. Mental health consequences of climate change range from minimal stress and distress symptoms to clinical disorders, such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. The mental health impacts of extreme events, such as hurricanes, floods, and drought, can be expected to increase as more people experience the stress—and often trauma—of these disasters. People with mental illness and those using medications to treat a variety of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events and extreme heat.
Disproportionate Effects on Vulnerable Populations. Every American is vulnerable to the health impacts associated with climate change. People at every life stage have varying sensitivity to climate change impacts. The most vulnerable populations include individuals with low income, some communities of color, individuals with limited English proficiency and immigrant groups, Indigenous peoples, children, pregnant women, older adults, vulnerable occupational groups, persons with disabilities, and persons with preexisting or chronic medical conditions.
Communities of Color, Low Income, Immigrants, and Limited-English-Proficiency Groups. Vulnerable populations are at increased risk of exposure given their higher likelihood of living in risk-prone areas (such as urban heat islands, isolated rural areas, or coastal and other flood-prone areas), areas with older or poorly maintained infrastructure, or areas with an increased burden of air pollution. Communities of color, low income, immigrant and limited-English-proficiency groups also experience relatively greater incidence of chronic medical conditions, such as cardiovascular and kidney disease, diabetes, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which can be exacerbated by climate-related health impacts.
Indigenous Peoples in the United States. Because of existing vulnerabilities, Indigenous people, especially those who are dependent on the environment for sustenance or who live in geographically isolated or impoverished communities, are likely to experience greater exposure and lower resilience to climate-related health effects.
Pregnant Women. Climate-related exposures may lead to adverse pregnancy and newborn health outcomes, including low birth weight, preterm birth, dehydration and associated renal failure, diarrhea, and respiratory disease. Estimates indicated that there were more than 56,000 pregnant women and nearly 75,000 infants directly affected by Hurricane Katrina and that pregnant women with high hurricane exposure and severe hurricane experiences were at a significantly increased risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.
Children. Climate change—interacting with factors such as economic status, diet, living situation, and stage of development—will increase children’s exposure to health threats. Children are vulnerable to adverse health effects associated with environmental exposures due to factors related to their immature physiology and metabolism, their unique exposure pathways, their biological sensitivities, and limits to their adaptive capacity. Children have a proportionately higher intake of air, food, and water relative to their body weight compared to adults. They also share unique behaviors and interactions with their environment that may increase their exposure to environmental contaminants.
Older Adults. The nation’s older adult population (ages 65 and older) will nearly double in size from 2015 through 2050. Between 1979 and 2004, deaths from heat exposure were reported most commonly among adults aged 65 and older. The need to evacuate an area during or after extreme events can pose increased health and safety risks for older adults, especially those who are poor or reside in nursing or assisted-living facilities. Air pollution can also exacerbate asthma and COPD and can increase the risk of heart attack in older adults, especially those who are also diabetic or obese.
Occupational Groups. Outdoor workers are often among the first to be exposed to the effects of climate change. Climate change is expected to affect the health of outdoor workers through increases in ambient temperature, degraded air quality, extreme weather, vector-borne diseases, industrial exposures, and changes in the built environment. An increased need for complex emergency responses will expose rescue and recovery workers to physical and psychological hazards. The incidence of heat illness among active duty U.S. military personnel is several-fold higher than the summertime incidence in the general U.S. population (147 per 100,000 among the military versus 21.5 per 100,000 in the general population per year).
Persons with Disabilities. An increase in extreme weather can be expected to disproportionately affect populations with disabilities, who experience higher rates of social risk factors—such as poverty and lower educational attainment—that contribute to poorer health outcomes during extreme events or climate-related emergencies. Persons with disabilities often rely on medical equipment (such as portable oxygen) that requires an uninterrupted source of electricity.
Persons with Chronic Medical Conditions. Preexisting medical conditions present risk factors for increased illness and death associated with climate-related stressors, especially exposure to extreme heat. Hospital admissions and emergency room visits increase during heat waves for people with diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, and psychiatric illnesses. Medical conditions like Alzheimer’s disease or mental illnesses can impair judgment and behavioral responses in crisis situations, which can place people with those conditions at greater risk.
NEW ADMINISTRATION ACTIONS RESPONDING TO THE CLIMATE AND HEATH ASSESSMENT
President Obama has already taken action to combat the health impacts of climate change and protect the health of future generations. Just last year, the Administration:
Brought together health and medical professionals, academics, and other interested stakeholders to discuss the challenges of climate change for public health through a series of convenings, workshops, and a formal White House Climate Change and Health Summit;
Expanded access to climate and health data, involving more than 100 health-relevant datasets, to spur innovation so that communities and businesses could act to reduce the health impacts of climate change;
Started integrating climate considerations into agency health and safety policies; and
Created initiatives at EPA, USGS, CDC, and the Department of Defense to improve, consolidate, and better visualize data connecting climate change effects to human health.
Today, the Administration is announcing a series of additional actions to keep us on track to better understand, communicate, and reduce the health impacts of climate change on our communities, including:
President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children Addresses Climate Change. The President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children, has expanded its scope to include climate change. The Task Force includes representatives of 17 federal departments and White House offices and focuses on environmental threats to the health and wellbeing of children that are best addressed through interagency efforts. Its priorities are asthma disparities, healthy settings, chemical exposures, and climate change and children’s health. Today, the Task Force is making available examples of actions being taken around the country to protect children from the impacts of climate change on HHS’s new climate and health website at http://www.hhs.gov/climate/childrenshealth/index.html.
Developing a Climate-Ready Tribes and Territories Initiative. This year, CDC’s Climate and Health Program will launch the Climate-Ready Tribes and Territories Initiative, which will provide awards for up to five tribal and territorial health departments in the U.S to support public health preparedness and resilience activities that address the health challenges of climate change in these areas. Although some state and city health departments receive guidance and funding for climate and health research and adaptation planning, no similar program has been available to assist tribal and territorial governments. CDC will work with stakeholders to develop guidance relevant to the unique challenges faced in these jurisdictions. CDC will use its disease prevention expertise to assist tribal and territorial governments in investigating, preparing for, and adapting to the health effects of climate change.
Updating the Sustainable and Climate Resilient Health Care Facilities Toolkit. The Toolkit is undergoing pilot testing and evaluation and will be revised and expanded by the end of the year. In addition, lectures and trainings on the toolkit are being planned for a series of major conferences this year, including the NACCHO Preparedness Summit, the meeting of the American Society for Healthcare Engineering, and the CleanMed Conference. Also planned is a series of training webinars for the private sector on how to use of the toolkit by Practice Greenhealth.
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to Develop K-12 Educational Materials on Climate Change and Health. NIEHS is developing educational materials on climate change and health at the K-12 level based on the new Climate and Health Assessment. They will partner with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the American Meteorological Society to help disseminate the materials and offer training. The audience for training is teachers and "train the trainer" teacher experts. The training is expected to be piloted this fall.
Reducing the Health Impacts of Extreme Heat. The Administration is announcing that May 23 - 27 is Extreme Heat Week during which agencies will take a number of activities to prepare the nation for extreme heat. This week is a key part of America's PrepareAthon!, the Administration's seasonal campaign to build community-level preparedness action. The White House is planning a webinar during Extreme Heat Week focused on education and outreach to populations more vulnerable to extreme heat as well as to community planners and public health officials to enhance community preparedness to extreme heat events.
All About Climate Change
OMG: Is the Ocean Melting the Ice?
Image: Josh Willis. NASA Earth Science Communications.
April 05, 2016: At 1.7 million square kilometers (660,000 square miles), the Greenland ice sheet is three times the size of Texas. On average, the ice is about 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) deep and contains enough water to raise global sea levels about 6 meters (20 feet) if it were all to melt.
Global sea level rise is one of the major environmental challenges of the 21st Century, and Greenland is central to the problem. That massive ice sheet touches the sea along more than 44,000 kilometers (27,000 miles) of jagged coastline. Hundreds of fjords, inlets, and bays bring ocean water right to the edge of the ice and, in some places, under it. This means the ice sheet is not just melting from warm air temperatures above; it is also likely being melted from water below.
For this reason, a team of scientists led by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Josh Willis have launched the Oceans Melting Greenland, or OMG, field campaign. Started in the summer of 2015, OMG is a five-year airborne and ship-based mission to study the role of the oceans in melting Greenland’s ice. Researchers will examine the temperatures and other properties of North Atlantic waters along the coast, while also making measurements of the glaciers that reach the ocean. The OMG team is also building a profile of the seafloor around the island in order to better model how warm, deep ocean water might flow into those fjords and reach the glacier edges.
The map above shows some early results from OMG. In the late summer of 2015, the OMG team outfitted a fishing boat with sonar equipment to map the shape of the seafloor (the bathymetry) along the west coast of Greenland. The depth of the water is shown in shades of blue, with the deepest shades representing the deepest parts. Note the deep trench offshore from the Cornell and Ussing Braeer glaciers. Many of these canyons were cut into the seafloor during the advance and retreat of ice during the last Ice Age.
In this part of the North Atlantic, the warmest water is actually in the deepest parts of the sea, below waters that are cooled by cold Arctic air temperatures and winds. The OMG mapping effort will help the team figure out where deep Atlantic warm water might be able to reach the ice through the complicated currents and circulation around these canyons.
In March and April 2016, the OMG team began another phase of the campaign. Flying out of Iceland and Greenland, the team has been using a NASA G-III aircraft to survey coastal glaciers. The plane is equipped with the Glacier and Ice Surface Topography Interferometer (GLISTIN-A), a type of radar that can generate high-resolution, high-precision measurements of the height of coastal glaciers. The team will make such survey flights each spring through 2020 to track changes in glacier extent as evidence of growth or thinning in each melt season.
In the summer or fall of 2016, the third part of the research campaign will begin. The team will fly along both coasts and release 250 expendable sensors that can measure the temperature and salinity of coastal waters from the surface to 1000 meters (about 3,000 feet) in depth. The measurements of temperature properties will help complete the puzzle of how the ocean and ice are interacting, leading researchers to build better models of ice sheet changes and sea level rise.
References and Related Reading
NASA (2016) NASA Earth Expeditions. Accessed April 4, 2016.
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (2016) Oceans Melting Greenland. Accessed April 4, 2016.
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (2015, August 26) NASA’s OMG Mission Maps Greenland’s Coastline. Accessed April 4, 2016.
NASA Earth Observatory map by Joshua Stevens, using Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) data courtesy of Josh Willis/JPL. Photograph by Josh Willis. Caption compiled by Mike Carlowicz from reporting by Patrick Lynch and Carol Rasmussen, NASA Earth Science Communications.
And How Do They Grow: Fungi: NASA Satellite Images Uncover Underground Forest Fungi
Carol Rasmussen Writing
Nearly all forest trees live in symbiosis with underground fungi, and the type of fungus in a forest location can now be identified in satellite images.Credits: Malene Thyssen/CC BY-SA 3.0
April 03, 2016: A NASA-led team of scientists has developed the first-ever method for detecting the presence of different types of underground forest fungi from space, information that may help researchers predict how climate change will alter forest habitats.
Hidden beneath every forest is a network of fungi living in mutually beneficial relationships with the trees. Called mycorrhizal fungi, these organisms spread underground for miles, scavenging for nutrients that they trade with trees for sugars the trees make during photosynthesis. “Nearly all tree species associate with only one of two types of mycorrhizal fungi,” explained coauthor Richard Phillips of Indiana University, Bloomington.
Because the two types of fungi are expected to respond differently to a changing climate, knowing where each type predominates may help scientists predict where forests will thrive in the future and where they will falter.
Creating maps of forests and their fungi has traditionally relied on various methods of counting individual tree species, an approach that cannot be done at large scales. In a new study published in the journal Global Change Biology, a team led by Joshua Fisher of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, and UCLA found a way to detect this hidden network using satellite images.
Every tree species has its own spectral signature -- it absorbs or reflects light in a specific pattern across all the wavelengths in the spectrum of light. Using satellite images of forest canopies, Fisher's group probed whether they could identify any patterns in the spectral signatures of tree species associated with one type of fungus that did not appear in species associated with the other type.
Fisher explained, "Individual tree species have unique spectral fingerprints, but we thought the underlying fungi could be controlling them as groups.”
The team studied images of four U.S. forest research plots that are part of the Smithsonian Institution’s Forest Global Earth Observatory. In these forests, which include 130,000 trees across 77 species, the tree species associated with each type of fungus had already been mapped from the ground. The researchers analyzed images of the forest canopies taken by the NASA/U.S. Geological Survey Landsat-5 satellite from 2008 to 2011 in many different ways, searching for similarities that lined up with areas of fungus dominance. They found what they were looking for when they examined various milestones throughout the growing season, such as when the trees leafed out in spring and when they reached peak greenness. There were significant differences in the timing of these milestones between regions dominated by the two types of fungi.
Having identified the timing sequences related to each type of fungus, the researchers developed and tested a statistical model to predict the areas of fungus domination in any particular Landsat image from canopy changes alone. They found they could predict the fungus association correctly in 77 percent of the images. They went on to produce landscape-wide maps of fungi associations, uncovering intriguing patterns in forests that will be studied in greater depth in the future.
Fisher said, "That these below-ground agents manifest themselves in changes in the forest canopies is significant. This allows, for the first time, some light to be shed on their hidden processes."
NASA uses the vantage point of space to increase our understanding of our home planet, improve lives and safeguard our future. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth's interconnected natural systems with long-term data records. The agency freely shares this unique knowledge and works with institutions around the world to gain new insights into how our planet is changing. The work was also funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.
For more information about NASA's Earth science activities, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/earth
Alan Buis: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California: 818-354-0474: Alan.Buis@jpl.nasa.gov
Written by Carol Rasmussen: NASA Earth Science News Team
( Editor: Tony Greicius: NASA)
The Future of
Monitoring Air Quality from Space
Denise Lineberry Writing
TEMPO’s measurements from
geostationary orbit (GEO)
will create a revolutionary
dataset that provides
understanding and improves
prediction of air quality (AQ)
and climate forcing.
April 02, 2016:
airborne science experiment taking to the field
in South Korea this spring is part of a
long-term, international project to take air
quality observations from space to the next
level and better inform decisions on how to
protect the air we breathe. Before a new
generation of satellite sensors settle into
orbit, field missions like KORUS-AQ provide
opportunities to test and improve the
instruments using simulators that measure above
and below aircraft, while helping to infer what
people breathe at the surface.
“We want to move beyond
forecasting air pollution, we want to influence
strategies to improve it,” said Jim Crawford, a
lead scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center
in Hampton, Virginia. “This is where satellite
observations can play an important role.”
Existing low Earth orbit (LEO) instruments have
established the benefit of space-based views of
air pollution. From space, large areas can be
viewed consistently, whereas from the ground
only discrete (often single) points can be
measured. As Dave Flittner, TEMPO project
scientist, explains, a geostationary (GEO)
air-quality constellation can accurately track
the import and export of air pollution as it is
transported by large-scale weather patterns.
TEMPO, or Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of
Pollution, is one instrument on the road to
improving air quality from space. According to
Flittner, hardware has recently begun
development and TEMPO is on track to be finished
no later than fall of 2017, and available for
launch on a to be selected commercial
For the first time, TEMPO will make accurate
hourly daytime measurements of tropospheric
pollutants (specifically ozone, nitrogen
dioxide, sulfur dioxide, formaldehyde, and
aerosols) with high resolution over the U.S.,
Canada and Mexico. With help from related
international missions, these observations
provide a complete picture of pollution sources
in the northern hemisphere and how they
influence air quality from local to global
About 22,000 miles above the equator, the Korean
Aerospace Research Institute’s GEMS (The
Geostationary Environmental Monitoring
Spectrometer), the European Space Agency’s
Sentinel-4/UVN, and NASA’s TEMPO, will maintain
their positions in orbit as the Earth rotates,
covering a majority of the area from East Asia
through greater North America and Europe.
Together, these instruments will make up a
northern hemisphere air quality constellation..
All three of these instruments analyze the same
pollutant concentrations in their respective
region, from the morning to evening.
Another critical part of the global air quality
constellation are the LEO instruments, such as
TROPOMI (a.k.a. Sentinel-5P), which will launch
in late 2016 and provide a common reference for
the three GEO sensors, allowing for a more
accurate assessment of air quality within each
Denise Lineberry: NASA
Langley Research Center
( Editor: Joe Atkinson: NASA)
2016 Arctic Sea Ice
Wintertime Extent Hits Another Record Low
Maria-Jose Viñas Writing
ice was at a record low
wintertime maximum extent for
the second straight year. At
5.607 million square miles, it
is the lowest maximum extent in
the satellite record, and
431,000 square miles below the
1981 to 2010 average maximum
extent. Credits: NASA Goddard's
March 28, 2016: Arctic
sea ice appears to have reached a record low
wintertime maximum extent for the second year in
a row, according to scientists at the
NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center
(NSIDC) and NASA.
Every year, the cap of frozen
seawater floating on top of the Arctic Ocean and
its neighboring seas melts during the spring and
summer and grows back in the fall and winter
months, reaching its maximum yearly extent
between February and April. On March 24, Arctic
sea ice extent peaked at 5.607 million square
miles (14.52 million square kilometers), a new
record low winter maximum extent in the
satellite record that started in 1979. It is
slightly smaller than the previous record low
maximum extent of 5.612 million square miles
(14.54 million square kilometers) that occurred
last year. The 13 smallest maximum extents on
the satellite record have happened in the last
The new record low follows
record high temperatures in December, January
and February around the globe and in the Arctic.
The atmospheric warmth probably contributed to
this lowest maximum extent, with air
temperatures up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit above
average at the edges of the ice pack where sea
ice is thin, said Walt Meier, a sea ice
scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
in Greenbelt, Maryland.
The wind patterns in the Arctic during January
and February were also unfavorable to ice growth
because they brought warm air from the south and
prevented expansion of the ice cover. But
ultimately, what will likely play a bigger role
in the future trend of Arctic maximum extents is
warming ocean waters, Meier said.
“It is likely that we're going to keep seeing
smaller wintertime maximums in the future
because in addition to a warmer atmosphere, the
ocean has also warmed up. That warmer ocean will
not let the ice edge expand as far south as it
used to,” Meier said. “Although the maximum
reach of the sea ice can vary a lot each year
depending on winter weather conditions, we’re
seeing a significant downward trend, and that’s
ultimately related to the warming atmosphere and
oceans.” Since 1979, that trend has led to a
loss of 620,000 square miles of winter sea ice
cover, an area more than twice the size of
This year’s record low sea
ice maximum extent will not necessarily result
in a subsequent record low summertime minimum
extent, Meier said. Summer weather conditions
have a larger impact than the extent of the
winter maximum in the outcome of each year’s
melt season; warm temperatures and summer storms
make the ice melt fast, while if a summer is
cool, the melt slows down.
Arctic sea ice plays an important role in
maintaining Earth’s temperature—its bright white
surface reflects solar energy that the ocean
would otherwise absorb. But this effect is more
relevant in the summer, when the sun is high in
the sky in the Arctic, than in the winter, when
the sun doesn’t rise for months within the
Arctic Circle. In the winter, the impact of
missing sea ice is mostly felt in the
atmosphere, said Jennifer Francis, a climate
scientist at Rutgers University in New
Brunswick, New Jersey.
“In places where sea ice has been lost, those
areas of open water will put more heat into the
atmosphere because the air is much colder than
unfrozen sea water,” Francis said. “As winter
sea ice disappears, areas of unusually warm air
temperatures in the Arctic will expand. These
are also areas of increased evaporation, and the
resulting water vapor will contribute to
increased cloudiness, which in winter, further
warms the surface.”
NSIDC's sea ice
Maria-Jose Viñas: NASA's Earth Science News Team
( Editor: Ashley Morrow:NASA)
NASA Study Finds
Climate Change Shifting Wine Grape Harvests in
France and Switzerland
The best years for wine grape
quality typically have warm summers
with above-average rainfall early in
the growing season and late-season
drought. Those factors are shifting
as the area's climate changes.
Credits: Elizabeth Wolkovich/Harvard
March 27, 2016:
A new study from
NASA and Harvard University finds that climate
change is diminishing an important link between
droughts and the timing of wine grape harvests
in France and Switzerland.
During a study of wine grape
harvest dates from 1600 to 2007, researchers
discovered harvests began shifting dramatically
earlier during the latter half of the 20th
century. These shifts were caused by changes in
the connection between climate and harvest
timing. While earlier harvests from 1600 to 1980
occurred in years with warmer and drier
conditions during spring and summer, from 1981
to 2007 warming attributed to climate change
resulted in earlier harvests even in years
The finding is important because higher-quality
wines are typically associated with earlier
harvest dates in cooler wine-growing regions,
such as France and Switzerland.
“Wine grapes are one of the world’s most
valuable horticultural crops and there is
increasing evidence that climate change has
caused earlier harvest days in this region in
recent decades,” said Ben Cook, lead author and
climate scientist at NASA's Goddard Institute
for Space Studies and the Lamont Doherty Earth
Observatory at Columbia University in New York.
“Our research suggests that the climate drivers
of these early harvests have changed.”
|French vineyards like the one
in the photograph are experiencing earlier
harvests in recent years as the region's climate
has warmed. Credits: Elizabeth Wolkovich/Harvard
Indicators of wine quality,
such as wine ratings, show the best years for
grape harvest typically include warm summers
with above-average rainfall early in the growing
season and late-season drought.
“This gives vines plenty of heat and moisture to
grow early in the season, while drier conditions
later in the season shift them away from
vegetative growth and toward greater fruit
production,” said the study’s co-author,
ecologist Elizabeth Wolkovich of Arnold
Arboretum and the Department of Organismic and
Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University,
Researchers conducted an analysis using 400
years of harvest data from Western Europe. The
study considered variability and trends in
harvest dates, climate data from instruments
during the 20th century, and reconstructions
from historical documents and tree rings of
temperature, precipitation and soil moisture
dating back to 1600.
That analysis was compared with shifts in wine
quality in the Bordeaux and Burgundy regions of
France based on the ratings of vintages during
the past 100 years. Detailed quality information
was available for those two regions in addition
to the broader harvest data available throughout
France and Switzerland.
The results indicate a fundamental shift in the
role of drought and moisture as large-scale
drivers of harvest time and wine quality. While
warm temperatures have consistently led to
earlier harvests and higher-quality wines, in
recent decades the impact of drought has largely
disappeared as a result of large-scale shifts in
“Wine quality also depends on a number of
factors beyond climate, including grape
varieties, soils, vineyard management and
winemaker practices,” Cook said. “However, our
research suggests the large-scale climate
drivers these local factors operate under has
shifted. And that information may prove critical
to wine producers as climate change intensifies
during the coming decades in France, Switzerland
and other wine-growing regions."
The paper was published March 21 in the journal
Nature Climate Change.
For more information about NASA’s Goddard
Institute for Space Studies,
For more information about NASA's Earth science
Michael Cabbage / Leslie McCarthy: Goddard
Institute for Space Studies, New York
( Editor: Karl Hille: NASA)
Day: Ban Ki-moon Stresses the Need to Take
Decisive Actions on Climate Change Against the
Backdrop of Extreme Weather Becoming 'the New
March 23, 2016: Observing
the World Meteorological Day, United Nations
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned today that
extreme weather events are becoming “the new
normal” and bold climate action is needed to
“face the future now.”
“Only by responding decisively to the climate
challenge can we avoid the worst impacts of
climate change and lay the foundations of a
world of peace, prosperity and opportunity for
all,” the UN chief said in a message on the Day.
The window of opportunity for limiting global
temperature rise to well below two degrees
Celsius – the threshold set under the Paris
Agreement adopted last December – is narrow and
rapidly shrinking, Mr. Ban warned, noting that
the effects of a warming planet will be felt by
all, including rising sea levels, and extreme
weather events, which are becoming “the new
Next month, on April 22, world leaders will
gather in New York to sign the Paris Agreement.
“But, even before the Agreement comes into
force, every country, every business and every
citizen has a role to play in combating climate
change and building a sustainable future for
this and future generations,” he said.
The Future is Happening
Now: UN's Calling for Urgent Measures to Cut
March 21, 2016:
The Earth is already one degree Celsius hotter
than at the start of the 20th century, halfway
to the critical two-degree threshold, and
national climate change plans adopted so far may
not be enough to avoid a three-degree
temperature rise, the UN weather agency warned
today upon the release of its 2015 annual report
on the status of the climate.
“Many people now think that the problem is
solved since we reached a nice agreement in
Paris last year… but the negative side is that
we haven't changed our behaviors,” Petteri
Taalas, Secretary-General of the World
Meteorological Organization (WMO), told
reporters in Geneva.
He argued that carbon dioxide concentrations in
the air would be five times the current level in
500 years if no limits are placed on fossil
fuel, meaning that the planet would be seven to
eight degrees Celsius warmer at that time. It
would then take up to 100,000 years to restore
the normal level, he added, stressing the
urgency of substantially cutting greenhouse gas
emissions in the coming few decades.
According to the WMO Statement on the Status of
the Climate in 2015, the year made history, with
shattered temperature records, intense heatwaves,
exceptional rainfall, devastating drought and
unusual tropical cyclone activity.
“Our planet is sending a powerful message to
world leaders to sign and implement the Paris
Agreement on climate change and cut greenhouse
gases now before we pass the point of no
return,” Mr. Taalas said in a press release,
emphasizing that the worst-case scenarios can be
averted by taking urgent and far-reaching
measures to cut carbon dioxide emissions.
The statement shows that the global average
surface temperature in 2015 broke all previous
records by a wide margin, at about 0.76 degree
Celsius above the 1961-1990 average, because of
a powerful El Niño and human-caused global
warming. With 93 per cent of excess heat stored
in the oceans, ocean heat content down to 2,000
meters also hit a new record.
Record-breaking trend continuing in 2016
The record-breaking trend has continued in 2016.
January and February 2016 set yet more new
monthly temperature records, with the heat
especially pronounced in the high northern
latitudes. Arctic sea ice extent was at a
satellite-record low for both months, according
to NASA and the United States National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration. Greenhouse gas
concentrations crossed the symbolic and
significant 400 parts per million threshold.
“The startlingly high temperatures so far in
2016 have sent shockwaves around the climate
science community,” said David Carlson, Director
of the World Climate Research Programme, which
is co-sponsored by WMO. He added that it is
premature to determine that 2016 would extend a
The WMO Statement was released ahead of World
Meteorological Day, on 23 March.
Investing in Forests is
an Insurance Policy for the Planet: Ban Ki-moon
In many rural economies, the
forest enterprises of families and communities
are major contributors to local livelihoods.
Photo: FAO/Giuseppe Bizzarri
March 21, 2016:
On the International Day of Forests, United
Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling
on governments, businesses, civil society and
other partners to adopt holistic policies and
practices to protect, restore and sustain
“Investing in forests is an insurance policy for
the planet,” said Mr. Ban Ki-moon a message on
the day, marked annually on 21 March.
Despite their critical importance, forests
continue to be razed and damaged. The UN
estimates that every year seven million hectares
of natural forests are lost and 50 million
hectares of forest land are burned.
“The world’s forests are essential to realizing
our shared vision for people and the planet.
They are central to our future prosperity and
the stability of the global climate. That is why
the Sustainable Development Goals call for
transformative action to safeguard them,” the UN
2016 theme: supporting water systems
This year, the theme focuses on forests’ role in
supporting water systems. Forested catchments
reportedly provide three-quarters of all the
freshwater used for farms, industry and homes.
“City dwellers in Bogota, Durban, Jakarta,
Madrid, New York, Rio de Janeiro and many other
major cities rely on forested areas for a
significant portion of their drinking water,”
Mr. Ban highlighted. “When we protect and
restore forested watersheds, we can save on the
cost of building new infrastructure for water
As the global population grows and demands for
water escalate, the UN is warning that
safeguarding the water-providing capacity of
forests is becoming more urgent. By 2025, nearly
1.8 billion people will live in areas with
absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the
world population could face water-stressed
Improving water quality and water supplies
Responding to this threat, the UN Food and
Agriculture Organization (FAO) today launched a
new programme aiming to enhance the critical
role of forests in improving water quality and
The programme, focused specifically on the close
relationship between forests and water, will
start off by looking at ways to improve water
security in eight West African countries:
Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania,
Niger, Senegal and Sierra-Leone.
The agency will work with local communities to
raise their awareness of the interactions
between forests and water and help them to
integrate forest management in their
agricultural practices to improve water
"The challenges are many, but the goal is very
clear: to ensure the sustainable management of
forest and water resources on the planet," said
FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva at a
ceremony marking the international day in Rome.
"Promoting forest restoration and avoiding
forest loss will require a significantly
increased level of funding and innovative
financing, including from private funds and
traditional investors, in the coming years,” he
added, noting that FAO is committed to providing
a neutral platform for negotiations and
February 2016: The Warmest in 136 Years of
Modern Temperature Records
March 19, 2016: February 2016 was the
warmest February in 136 years of modern
temperature records. That month deviated more
from normal than any month on record.
According to an ongoing temperature analysis
conducted by scientists at NASA’s Goddard
Institute for Space Studies (GISS), the average
global temperature in February was about 0.5
degrees Celsius (0.8 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer
than the previous record (February 1998).
February 2016 was 1.35 degrees Celsius above the
1951–80 average; February 1998 was 0.88°C above
it. Both records were set during strong El Niño
The map above depicts global temperature
anomalies for February 2016. It does not show
absolute temperatures; instead it shows how much
warmer or cooler the Earth was compared to a
baseline average from 1951 to 1980.
Almost all land surfaces on Earth experienced
unusually warm temperatures in February 2016.
The warmest temperatures occurred in Asia, North
America, and the Arctic. Two of the exceptions
were the Kamchatka Peninsula and a small portion
of southeast Asia, which saw unusually cool
temperatures. Note the clear fingerprint of El
Niño in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
The chart above plots the
global temperature anomaly for each month of the
year since 1980. Each February is highlighted
with a red dot. All dots, red or gray, show how
much global temperatures rose above or below the
1951–1980 average. Despite monthly variability,
the long-term trend due to global warming is
clear and now punctuated by the unusually warm
data point for February 2016.
The GISS team assembles its temperature analysis
from publicly available data acquired by roughly
6,300 meteorological stations around the world;
by ship- and buoy-based instruments measuring
sea surface temperature; and by Antarctic
research stations. This raw data is analyzed
using methods that account for the varied
spacing of temperature stations around the globe
and for urban heating effects that could skew
the calculations. The modern global temperature
record begins around 1880 because observations
did not cover enough of the planet prior to that
For more explanation of how the analysis works,
visit the GISS Surface Temperature F.A.Q. page.
Central (2016, February 14)
What To Know About
February’s Satellite Temp Record.
Accessed March 16, 2016.
(2016, February 14)
global temperature records: The 5 most
important implications. Accessed
March 16, 2016.
R. (2016, February 14)
UAH V6 Global
Temperature Update for Feb. 2016: +0.83 deg.
C (new record). Accessed March
The Washington Post
(2016, March 14)
The planet had its
biggest temperature spike in modern history
in February. Accessed March 16,
Underground (2016, March 13)
Earth’s All-Time Global Heat Record by a
Jaw-Dropping Margin. Accessed
March 16, 2016.
NASA Earth Observatory images by
Joshua Stevens, using data from the
Goddard Institute for
Space Studies. Caption by Adam
See, the Sea Rises and Falls: But How? But
Why? But Where and When?
Higher Pacific sea levels
increase coastal flooding risks.
Credits: Flickr user Alan Grinberg, "Coming
Ashore!", CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
March 15, 2016: The tropical Pacific
Ocean isn't flat like a pond. Instead, it
regularly has a high side and a low side.
Natural cycles such as El Niño and La Niña
events cause this sea level seesaw to tip back
and forth, with the ocean near Asia on one end
and the ocean near the Americas on the other.
But over the last 30 years, the seesaw’s wobbles
have been more extreme, causing variations in
sea levels up to three times higher than those
observed in the previous 30 years. Why might
A new NASA/university study has found the
differing alignments of two separate climate
cycles could be causing these intensifying
swings, which occur on top of a global rise in
sea level due to melting ice sheets and warming
oceans. The findings may help improve forecasts
of sea level variations, allowing vulnerable
coastal communities to prepare for their
increased risk of flooding, erosion and other
damage due to higher sea levels.
Tony Song of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Pasadena, California, and colleagues looked at
the correlations of tropical Pacific sea level
with different phases of two important climatic
cycles: the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO)
and El Niño/Southern Oscillation.
Song and his team found that the phases of these
cycles can either reinforce or dampen each
other, directly affecting the variability of sea
level across the Pacific.
From 1990 to 2000, the magnitude of these sea
level swings averaged about 6 inches (16
centimeters) -- five times the height of global
sea level rise during the same period. Asia is
currently on the high side of the sea level
seesaw, while coastlines in the Americas as far
north as Southern California are benefiting from
a lower sea level. For communities threatened by
rising seas, predicting when the seesaw will
swing the other way is critical.
The two phases of the PDO and the two phases of
ENSO can combine in four different ways, just as
when you flip a dime and a nickel together you
can get four different combinations of heads and
tails. Song and his colleagues made a 60-year
record of when each of the four combinations
prevailed in the tropical Pacific and compared
that record with the observed east-west swings
in sea level over the same period.
Correlations jumped out between two of the four
combinations and sea levels: El Niño plus
positive PDO correlated with high sea levels in
the Americas, and La Niña plus negative PDO
correlated with high Asian sea levels.
"These things matched so nicely that we were
very surprised," said Jae-Hong Moon, lead author
of a paper on the research published in the
Journal of Geophysical Research -- Oceans. Moon
did most of the research while working at JPL
but is now an assistant professor at Jeju
National University, Jeju City, South Korea.
These newfound correlations provide a plausible
answer to the question of why sea level swings
appear to have intensified in recent decades.
For the entire period of 1950 to 1980, the
Pacific was in a negative PDO phase while El
Niño and La Niña events occurred. This means
that only two of the four possible combinations
of phases could occur. Study authors argue that
when one of these two combinations -- negative
PDO and El Niño -- is in place, the cycles
counteract each other, dampening the effect on
sea level that each would have had individually.
From 1980 to 2010, there were both negative and
positive PDO phases in addition to El Niño and
La Niña events. In fact, all four combinations
of the two cycles could be observed at some
point during this period. El Niño-positive PDO
phase and La Niña-negative PDO phase alignments
occurred in this time period, but were not seen
in the previous 30 years. This increased the
variability in sea level.
Whether this increased variability will continue
is unclear, Song explained, because scientists
do not yet understand exactly what triggers a
change of phase in either cycle. "We are glad to
have uncovered one more puzzle piece in the
ongoing study of Pacific ocean variability," he
( Editor: Tony Greicius:NASA)
Scientific Evidence for Warming of the
Climate System is Unequivocal
This graph, based on the
comparison of atmospheric samples contained in
ice cores and more recent direct measurements,
provides evidence that atmospheric CO2
has increased since the Industrial Revolution.
(Credit: Vostok ice core data/J.R. Petit et al.;
NOAA Mauna Loa CO2 record.)
Scientific evidence for warming of the
climate system is unequivocal.
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
The Earth's climate has
changed throughout history. Just in the last
650,000 years there have been seven cycles of
glacial advance and retreat, with the abrupt end
of the last ice age about 7,000 years ago
marking the beginning of the modern climate era
— and of human civilization. Most of these
climate changes are attributed to very small
variations in Earth’s orbit that change the
amount of solar energy our planet receives.
The current warming
trend is of particular significance because most
of it is very likely human-induced and
proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented in
the past 1,300 years.1
Earth-orbiting satellites and other
technological advances have enabled scientists
to see the big picture, collecting many
different types of information about our planet
and its climate on a global scale. This body of
data, collected over many years, reveals the
signals of a changing climate.
The heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide and
other gases was demonstrated in the mid-19th
century.2 Their ability to affect the transfer
of infrared energy through the atmosphere is the
scientific basis of many instruments flown by
NASA. There is no question that increased levels
of greenhouse gases must cause the Earth to warm
Ice cores drawn from Greenland, Antarctica, and
tropical mountain glaciers show that the Earth’s
climate responds to changes in greenhouse gas
levels. They also show that in the past, large
changes in climate have happened very quickly,
geologically-speaking: in tens of years, not in
millions or even thousands.3
Study: Atmospheric River Storms Can Reduce
Rain falling on snow: Image:
Flickr user Malcolm Peacey, CC BY-NC 2.0
A new study by NASA and
several partners has found that in California's
Sierra Nevada, atmospheric river storms are
two-and-a-half times more likely than other
types of winter storms to result in destructive
“rain-on-snow” events, where rain falls on
existing snowpack, causing it to melt. Those
events increase flood risks in winter and reduce
water availability the following summer.
The study, based on NASA satellite and
ground-based data from 1998 through 2014, is the
first to establish a climatological connection
between atmospheric river storms and
rain-on-snow events. Partnering with NASA on the
study were UCLA; Scripps Institution of
Oceanography, San Diego; and the Earth System
Research Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado.
Atmospheric rivers are narrow jets of very humid
air that normally originate thousands of miles
off the West Coast, in the warm subtropical
Pacific Ocean. When the warm, moist air hits the
Sierra Nevada and other high mountains, it drops
much of its moisture as precipitation. Only 17
percent of West Coast storms are caused by
atmospheric rivers, but those storms provide 30
to 50 percent of California's precipitation and
40 percent of Sierra snowpack, on average. They
have also been blamed for more than 80 percent
of the state's major floods.
“In California, atmospheric rivers tend to be
the warmest winter storms we get. We wanted to
understand what the connection was between these
storms and rain-on-snow events," said Bin Guan,
lead author of the study, which is accepted for
publication in the journal Geophysical Research
Letters. Guan is affiliated with the Joint
Institute for Regional Earth System Science and
Engineering, a collaboration between NASA's Jet
Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California,
“The research extends our understanding of how
important atmospheric rivers are to extreme
events in California, including their key roles
in both water supply and flooding,” said study
co-author Marty Ralph of Scripps Institution of
Oceanography. “It adds a new dimension of
awareness when trying to anticipate the
potential impact of a landfalling atmospheric
river that could prove useful to water
The researchers also quantified the difference
between atmospheric river storms that cause
rain-on-snow and those that do not, using data
from NASA's Atmospheric infrared Sounder, or
AIRS, instrument on NASA’s Aqua satellite. The
rain-on-snow-producing atmospheric river storms
were, on average, 4 degrees Fahrenheit (2
degrees Celsius) warmer than the others.
"That small difference in temperature often
determines whether we gain snow or lose snow
from a storm," said Guan.
The researchers found that the warmer storms
typically originate in the Pacific south of 25
degrees north latitude. The cases without
rain-on-snow events came from farther north,
outside the tropics.
The amount of snow that melts in these events
depends on how warm the rain and air are and how
much rain falls. But the researchers found that,
on average, warmer storms generate about a
quarter-inch (0.7 centimeter) of snowmelt (i.e.
liquid water) for each day of rain, providing 20
percent of the water available for runoff in
these events. In other words, as Guan explained,
"The primary contribution to any flooding still
comes from the rainfall, but the melting snow
makes things 20 percent worse.”
"These results highlight the value of observing
these events to better understand and, we hope,
predict rain, snow and floods in our region,"
said study co-author Duane Waliser, chief
scientist of the Earth Science and Technology
Directorate at JPL.
NASA’s AIRS instrument measures atmospheric
temperature and moisture, providing insight into
the physical processes of atmospheric rivers and
also providing sorely needed data over Earth’s
ocean, where conventional observations are
limited. These contributions can improve weather
forecasts of atmospheric rivers making landfall
on the U.S. West Coast.
NASA uses the vantage point of space to increase
our understanding of our home planet, improve
lives and safeguard our future. NASA develops
new ways to observe and study Earth's
interconnected natural systems with long-term
data records. The agency freely shares this
unique knowledge and works with institutions
around the world to gain new insights into how
our planet is changing.
For more on how
NASA studies Earth
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Robert Monroe: Scripps Institution of
Oceanography, UC San Diego
( Editor: Tony Greicius: NASA)
NASA Finds Drought in Eastern
Mediterranean Worst of Past 900 Years
For January 2012, brown
shades show the decrease in water storage
from the 2002-2015 average in the
Mediterranean region. Units in centimeters.
The data is from the Gravity Recovery and
Climate Experiment, or GRACE, satellites, a
joint mission of NASA and the German space
agency. Credits: NASA/ Goddard Scientific
A new NASA study finds that the recent drought
that began in 1998 in the eastern Mediterranean
Levant region, which comprises Cyprus, Israel,
Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Turkey,
is likely the worst drought of the past nine
Scientists reconstructed the Mediterranean’s
drought history by studying tree rings as part
of an effort to understand the region’s climate
and what shifts water to or from the area. Thin
rings indicate dry years while thick rings show
years when water was plentiful.
In addition to identifying
the driest years, the science team discovered
patterns in the geographic distribution of
droughts that provides a "fingerprint" for
identifying the underlying causes. Together,
these data show the range of natural variation
in Mediterranean drought occurrence, which will
allow scientists to differentiate droughts made
worse by human-induced global warming. The
research is part of NASA's ongoing work to
improve the computer models that simulate
climate now and in the future.
"The magnitude and significance of human climate
change requires us to really understand the full
range of natural climate variability," said Ben
Cook, lead author and climate scientist at
NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and
the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia
University in New York City.
"If we look at recent events and we start to see
anomalies that are outside this range of natural
variability, then we can say with some
confidence that it looks like this particular
event or this series of events had some kind of
human caused climate change contribution," he
Cook and his colleagues used the tree-ring
record called the Old World Drought Atlas to
better understand how frequently and how severe
Mediterranean droughts have been in the past.
Rings of trees both living and dead were sampled
all over the region, from northern Africa,
Greece, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Turkey.
Combined with existing tree-ring records from
Spain, southern France, and Italy, these data
were used to reconstruct patterns of drought
geographically and through time over the past
millennium. The results were accepted for
publication in the Journal of Geophysical
Research-Atmospheres, a publication of the
American Geophysical Union.
Between the years 1100 and 2012, the team found
droughts in the tree-ring record that
corresponded to those described in historical
documents written at the time. According to
Cook, the range of how extreme wet or dry
periods were is quite broad, but the recent
drought in the Levant region, from 1998 to 2012,
stands out as about 50 percent drier than the
driest period in the past 500 years, and 10 to
20 percent drier than the worst drought of the
past 900 years.
Having such a large area covered allowed the
science team not only to see variations in time,
but also geographic changes across the region.
In other words, when the eastern Mediterranean
is in drought, is there also drought in the
west? The answer is yes, in most cases, said
Kevin Anchukaitis, co-author and climate
scientist at the University of Arizona in
Tucson. "Both for modern society and certainly
ancient civilizations, it means that if one
region was suffering the consequences of the
drought, those conditions are likely to exist
throughout the Mediterranean basin," he said.
"It's not necessarily possible to rely on
finding better climate conditions in one region
than another, so you have the potential for
large-scale disruption of food systems as well
as potential conflict over water resources."
In addition, the science team found that when
the northern part of the Mediterranean—Greece,
Italy, and the coasts of France and Spain—tended
to be dry when eastern North Africa was wet, and
vice versa. These east-west and north-south
relationships helped the team understand what
ocean and atmospheric conditions lead to dry or
wet periods in the first place.
The two major circulation patterns that
influence when droughts occur in the
Mediterranean are the North Atlantic Oscillation
and the East Atlantic Pattern. These airflow
patterns describe how winds and weather tend to
behave depending on ocean conditions. They have
periodic phases that tend to steer rainstorms
away from the Mediterranean and bring in dryer,
warmer air. The resulting lack of rain and
higher temperatures, which increase evaporation
from soils, lead to droughts.
"The Mediterranean is one of the areas that is
unanimously projected [in climate models] as
going to dry in the future [due to man-made
climate change]," said Yochanan Kushnir, a
climate scientist at Lamont Doherty Earth
Observatory, who was not involved in the
research. "This paper shows that the behavior
during this recent drought period is different
than what we see in the rest of the record," he
said, which means that the Levant region may
already be feeling the affects of human-induced
warming of the planet.
The 900-year record of drought variability
across the Mediterranean is an important
contribution that will be used to refine
computer models that are used to project drought
risk for the coming century, Kushnir said.
The paper is available at
the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres.
U.S. Risk of Megadroughts
in Changing Climate
934 Had Worst Drought of
Last 1000 Years in U.S.
Ellen Gray: NASA's Earth
Science News Team
( Editor: Karl Hille:NASA)
The Work That Cannot Be Done Alone
NASA Partners on Air Quality Study in East Asia
A new field study this May
and June seeks to advance NASA’s ability to
monitor air quality from space. This 2007
NASA satellite image shows a swath of air
pollution sweeping east across the Korean
peninsula to Japan: Image: NASA
NASA and the Republic of Korea are
developing plans for a cooperative field study
of air quality in May and June to advance the
ability to monitor air pollution accurately from
The Korea U.S.-Air Quality study (KORUS-AQ) will
assess air quality across urban, rural and
coastal areas of South Korea using the combined
observations of aircraft, ground sites, ships
and satellites. Findings will play a critical
role in the development of observing systems of
ground and space-based sensors and computer
models to provide improved air quality
assessments for decision makers.
“KORUS-AQ is a step forward in an international
effort to develop a global air quality observing
system,” said James Crawford, a lead U.S.
scientist on the project from NASA’s Langley
Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. “Both of
our countries will be launching geostationary
satellites that will join other satellites in a
system that includes surface networks, air
quality models, and targeted airborne sampling.”
Air quality is a significant environmental
concern in the United States and around the
world. Scientists are trying to untangle the
different contributors to air quality, including
local emissions from human activities, pollution
from far away, and natural sources such as
seasonal fires and wind-blown dust.
South Korea’s capital, Seoul, is one of the
globe’s five most-populated metropolitan areas.
Because of the country’s varied topography and
its location close to both rapidly
industrializing mainland China and the ocean,
the impacts associated with the many factors
controlling air quality are larger and often
easier to measure over the Korean peninsula than
“Working with our South Korean colleagues on
KORUS-AQ, we will improve our understanding of
the detailed factors controlling air quality,
how the processes interact, and how they are
changing over time,” Crawford said.
In accordance with an agreement NASA recently
completed with South Korea’s National Institute
of Environmental Research, Korean scientists
will collect KORUS-AQ observations on the ground
and in the air with a King Air aircraft from
Hanseo University in Seosan. To take data during
the experiment, NASA will contribute a DC-8
flying laboratory from the agency’s Armstrong
Flight Research Center in Edwards, California,
and a Beechcraft UC-12B King Air from Langley.
Five South Korean instruments will be part of
the DC-8 payload and one NASA instrument will be
onboard the Hanseo aircraft. NASA’s DC-8 will
conduct eight-hour flights to make direct
measurements of the atmosphere from altitudes up
to 25,000 feet. The NASA King Air will fly
overhead with remote-sensing instruments that
simulate satellite observations. The Hanseo King
Air will make direct atmospheric measurements
focusing on areas less accessible to the larger
DC-8. Scientists and air quality modelers from
both countries will work together to plan the
aircraft flights and analyze the measurements.
South Korea maintains an extensive ground-based,
continuous air-quality monitoring network of
more than 300 sites. Almost half of the sites
are in the Seoul area and just over 80 percent
are in urban areas. South Korea will host NASA
instruments at some of the monitoring sites that
are being enhanced for KORUS-AQ.
KORUS-AQ will benefit the development of a new a
constellation of spaceborne science satellites
and instruments expected to launch in the years
2018-2022 that will make air quality
measurements over Asia, North America, Europe,
and North Africa. South Korea’s Geostationary
Environment Monitoring Spectrometer instrument
will monitor long-term climate change and
improve early warnings for major pollution
events for the Korean peninsula and Asia-Pacific
NASA’s Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of
Pollution mission, an instrument that will fly
as a hosted payload on a commercial
communications satellite in geostationary orbit,
will collect air pollution measurements over
North America from Mexico City to Canada. ESA’s
(European Space Agency’s) Sentinel-4 mission
will take air quality measurements and monitor
stratospheric ozone, solar radiation and climate
variables over Europe and Northern Africa.
NASA uses the vantage point of space to increase
our understanding of our home planet, improve
lives, and safeguard our future. NASA develops
new ways to observe and study Earth's
interconnected natural systems with long-term
data records. The agency freely shares this
unique knowledge and works with institutions
around the world to gain new insights into how
our planet is changing.
For more information about NASA Earth science
Steve Cole: Headquarters, Washington:
Chris Rink: Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va:
(Editor: Karen Northon: NASA)
How Do You Resolve the
Question of Ocean Carbon Conundrum?
New Research, published in the Journal of
Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, reveals that
the seas around Europe absorb an astonishing 24
million tonnes of carbon each year. This is
equivalent in weight to two million double
decker buses or 72 000 Boeing 747s.
Seas around Europe: European
shelf seas where red and orange are the regions
of the water used to calculate atmosphere–ocean
gas fluxes. Grey lines are the coastlines. A
study, published in the Journal of Atmospheric
and Oceanic Technology, reveals that the seas
around Europe absorb an astonishing 24 million
tonnes of carbon each year. This is equivalent
in weight to two million double decker buses or
72 000 Boeing 747s. Released 25/02/2016 1:31 pm:
Copyright University of Exeter
February 25, 2016:
Each year, about a quarter of the carbon dioxide
we release into the atmosphere ends up in the
ocean, but how it happens is still not fully
understood. The Sentinel-3A satellite is poised
to play an important role in shedding new light
on this exchange.
Initially, the fact that the oceans are
absorbing a significant amount of the carbon
dioxide we pump into the atmosphere by burning
biomass and fossil fuels would appear to be a
good thing. However, as more carbon dioxide
dissolves into the oceans, it leads to ocean
acidification, making it difficult for some
marine life to survive.
Monitoring and understanding the carbon cycle is
important because carbon is the fundamental
building block of all living organisms. Also,
the process of carbon moving between the oceans,
atmosphere, land and ecosystems helps to control
Over the last four years an international team
of scientists and engineers have been using
satellites along with measurements from ships
and pioneering cloud computing techniques to
study how carbon dioxide is transferred from the
atmosphere into the oceans.
Their new work, published in
the Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic
Technology, reveals that the seas around Europe
absorb an astonishing 24 million tonnes of
carbon each year. This is equivalent in weight
to two million double decker buses or 72 000
The team are making their data and cloud
computing tools, the ‘FluxEngine’, available to
the international scientific community so that
other groups can analyse the data for
They hope that making tools like this available
to everyone will improve the transparency and
traceability of climate studies. It should also
help to accelerate scientific advancement in
this important area.
Jamie Shutler from the University of Exeter
said, “The information we are gathering using
satellites is essential for monitoring our
climate, but these observations are not always
easily available for other scientists to use.
“This new development means that anyone can use
our cloud tools and data to support their own
They are also now looking to Europe’s Copernicus
Sentinel satellites to provide vital information
for this area of research.
Sentinel-3A was launched on 16 February and once
commissioned for service it will measure the
temperature of the sea surface, currents, winds,
waves and other biochemical factors.
The unique aspect of
Sentinel-3A is that its instruments make
simultaneous measurements, providing overlapping
data products that carry vital information to
estimate carbon dioxide ‘fluxes’.
To calculate the flux of gases between the ocean
and the atmosphere, it is necessary to know the
solubility of carbon dioxide in the seawater,
together with the speed of gas transfer.
Importantly, the solubility is determined by a
combination of sea-surface temperature and
salinity, while the ocean surface wind and wave
environment govern the speed at which carbon
dioxide is transferred.
All this information from just one satellite
makes the Sentinel-3 mission a near-perfect tool
to estimate the exchange of carbon dioxide
between the atmosphere and the global ocean, as
well as seasonal, year-to-year and regional
patterns in the exchange.
ESA’s Sentinel-3 mission scientist, Craig Donlon,
said, “The use of satellite data to provide a
more informed and complete set of baseline data
is helping to improve our understanding of
“The ability for individual scientists to run
and rerun their own flux calculations is a new
and powerful way of working together in an open
While satellites enable us to monitor the global
oceans easily, shipboard measurements remain
essential because we can’t monitor everything
Andy Watson, also from the University of Exeter,
commented, “Good knowledge of the ocean uptake
and release of carbon dioxide is essential for
predicting climate change. Eventually, most of
the carbon dioxide we release will find its way
into the oceans.
“This project will provide the most accurate
estimates that we have and is accessible to
World's Coral Reefs
Under Threat Due to El Niño Impacts
Fatu Huku:Fatu Huku island and
its surrounding reef, captured by the
Sentinel-2A satellite on 11 February 2016.
Released 24/02/2016 2:58 pm: Copyright
Copernicus Sentinel data (2016)/ESA
February 24, 2016:
The current El Niño weather phenomenon is taking
its toll on coral reefs, prompting a field
campaign to the middle of the Pacific Ocean to
explore how Europe’s Sentinel-2 satellite might
be able to quantify the damage on a large scale.
El Niño is an irregular oscillation in tropical
Pacific currents, with wide-ranging
It begins when a mass of warmer water from the
tropical western Pacific moves east, eventually
displacing cooler nutrient-rich waters off the
west coast of Central and South America. This
warmer water adds extra moisture to the air
masses moving over the ocean and increases
rainfall in the adjacent land areas.
It also disrupts atmospheric circulation,
leading to large-scale weather anomalies across
The impact can include severe drought in Africa,
increased rainfall in South America, fires
across southeast Asia, severe winter storms in
California, a heatwave in Canada and intense
hurricanes raging along the Pacific Ocean.
The warmer water also
takes its toll on underwater corals in the form
of coral bleaching.
Coral bleaching happens when algae living in the
corals’ tissues, which capture the Sun’s energy
and are essential to coral survival, are
expelled owing to the higher temperature.
The whitening coral may die, with subsequent
effects on the reef ecosystem, and thus
fisheries, regional tourism and coastal
The current El Niño began in 2014 and has
already affected corals in the Hawaiian Islands.
Estimates by the US National Oceanographic and
Atmospheric Administration show that this year’s
bleaching could spread to most of the world’s
corals, including those in the Indian Ocean and
To study the effects of El Niño events and
climate change on corals on a larger scale, ESA
has launched a field campaign to the Pacific
island of Fatu Huku, part of French Polynesia,
to explore how images of corals from Sentinel-2
can be exploited.
The satellite regularly collects data over land,
inland water bodies and coastal areas, and is
switched off over the open ocean. But a special
request to collect data when the satellite
passes over Fatu Huku has been made in an
experiment to see how well it can monitor coral
status, including an eventual coral bleaching
How will we know if it
works? French scientist Antoine Collin is en
route to Fatu Huku to check the data. Over the
course of two weeks, Antoine will use special
underwater cameras to assess the health of the
coral reefs and how they change over time. This
information will be analysed alongside
Sentinel-2 data from the same time to see if the
satellite and underwater observations are
Follow Antoine’s journey through our
Campaign Earth Blog
What is Possible:
Recycling Technology Converts Plastic Waste to
What Does Strong Cities, Strong
Communities Initiative Do?
It is White House's Strong
Cities, Strong Communities
Initiative That Supported Businesses
like Vadxx Energy
President Barack Obama learns about
technology that recycles plastic
into light crude oil from Cleveland,
Ohio-based Vadxx Energy LLC.,
President Jim Garrett during a March
18, 2015, at the Manufacturing
Advocacy & Growth Network (MAGNET)
facilities in Cleveland, Ohio.
NASA’s Glenn Research Center in
Cleveland, Ohio, assisted in the
development of the process through
the Adopt a City program, part of
the White House's Strong Cities,
Strong Communities Initiative.
To learn more about this spinoff,
Image Credit: Vadxx Energy LLC.
( Editor: William Bryan: NASA)
NASA Technology : Glenn Research Center
has always been in the business of perfecting
engines. During World War II, the center, then
called the Aircraft Engine Research Laboratory,
developed a cooling system for the B-29 Super
Fortress—a four-engine, propeller-driven heavy
bomber that saw action in East Asia—and also
investigated carburetor icing issues in
preparation for aircraft flying over the
Himalayas into China. In 1945, well before the
dawn of the Space Age, trailblazing rocket
scientists there began investigating the use of
liquid hydrogen as a fuel source, culminating in
the development of the Centaur rocket, which
would become the Nation’s first upper-stage
launch vehicle. Since the mid-1960s, Centaur has
propelled into space numerous weather probes,
communications satellites, and planetary
explorers, such as Surveyor, Pioneer, Viking,
While Glenn has continued to
flex its rocket-science muscles by improving ion
propulsion technology for deep space missions
and helping to mature additive manufacturing for
rocket engines, the center has also shown its
versatility by helping one Cleveland company
improve, of all things, an innovative plastics
As good as it feels to throw plastic items into
the recycling bin, the fact is most of that
plastic goes unrecycled, according to Jim
Garrett, a veteran of the oil and gas industry.
“Of all the stuff my wife makes me sort on a
weekly basis, most of it ends up in a landfill,”
he says. “It’s a dirty little secret in America
that 90 percent of our plastic ends up there, if
not in our oceans.”
The reason for the low rate of recycling is that
many plastics contain additives and fillers that
make them incompatible with current recycling
technologies, while others are contaminated with
paper or ink. “Recycling companies take in the
clear water bottles, but most of the other stuff
is not recycled,” Garrett says. But as the old
adage goes, one man’s trash is another man’s
treasure. In 2009 Garrett met petroleum
geologist and geochemist Bill Ullom, who had in
mind a technology that could make use of all
this unwanted plastic in order to strike oil, or
at least manufacture it.
In 2005 Ullom happened on an expired patent for
a thermal depolymerization process that could
convert plastic back into its original form:
light crude oil. The technology works by sending
plastic feedstocks, as well as tires and car
interiors, through a shredder, where rotating
cutters shred the material before sending it
through an extruder/kiln combination, where the
feedstock is incrementally heated, producing
vapor. At the exit of the process path, the
vapor is released and condensed into liquid form
and distilled into derivatives of light crude
oil, namely fuel gas and diesel additive. The
last and only solid byproduct of the process is
inert char, which can serve as a strengthening
agent in rubber products, among other uses.
Ullom began making improvements to the process
that allowed the technology both to run nonstop
and to accept contamination from materials such
as wood and cardboard. After meeting Garrett,
who had the business acumen to get the idea off
the ground with investors, he founded
Cleveland-based Vadxx Energy LLC and became its
chief technology officer, with Garrett filling
the role of CEO.
Things moved quickly from there, as the
fledgling company initiated public-private
partnerships with city and state agencies to
receive technical guidance and acquire
low-interest loans. Fortune 500 company Rockwell
Automation also lent both its technical and
plant construction expertise to Vadxx, and the
nonprofit Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth
Network, or MAGNET, also provided logistical and
Even so, by 2012 the company still needed help
optimizing the kiln’s design, which, according
to Stan Prybyla, Vadxx’s vice president of
technology, would be a complex task. “A proper
solution to the problem would have to involve
the kiln’s geometry, tilt angle, and rotation
speed, along with the polymer’s thermodynamic
and physical properties, during standard
processing timescales,” he says. “The problem
was quite challenging, to say the least.” Yet
that’s the type of work that falls right in
While one wouldn’t necessarily think NASA has
much in common with a trash-recycling
technology, Paul Bartolotta, a senior
technologist at Glenn, says the Agency’s work on
rocket propulsion makes it especially adept at
analyzing such a process. “We have scientists
who for decades have been studying the
kinematics of oil decomposition for turbine
engines and kerosene rocket engines,” he says.
“It’s still looking at oil—it’s just that, in
this case, we’re extracting it out of waste
Glenn’s collaboration with Vadxx was made
possible through Cleveland and the greater
Cuyahoga County’s Adopt a City Program, itself a
product of the Obama Administration’s Strong
Cities, Strong Communities Initiative, whereby
Federal agencies are asked to team up with local
governments to provide technical assistance and
other expertise to area businesses. Bartolotta,
who wears many hats at Glenn, managed the
program on NASA’s end.
In May 2012, Vadxx was one of
eight companies that qualified for the program
(another being Pile Dynamics Inc., featured on
page 80), which came with 40 hours of pro bono
consultation. As a result, within the span of a
few weeks, a team of four scientists from
Glenn’s chemistry kinematics group “created a
kinematic model where Vadxx could put in the
diameter of the kiln, the feed rates, and the
viscosity of the polymers, and it’ll optimize
the process,” Bartolotta says. “They’d be able
to maximize the output of the oil byproduct.”
The model proved to be a success, says Prybyla.
“We were able to incorporate what we learned
into the making of our first full-scale
With a cash infusion from Liberation Capital,
Vadxx is building that kiln in nearby Akron,
with Rockwell Automation leading construction
and engineering efforts. When fully operational,
it will be able to process some 20,000 tons of
waste per year to produce 100,000 barrels of
petroleum product that will be sold to
distributors and marketers. While Vadxx will
operate that facility, its expansion plans
center around licensing the technology to other
entities. The company estimates there’s enough
feedstock in the United States to build 1,500
Vadxx units, which would decrease the Nation’s
oil imports by 7 percent.
And all those units would be environmentally
friendly, according to Garrett. No hazardous
byproducts are created, and, unlike most
companies that flare off excess fuel gas, which
contributes to global warming, Vadxx recycles
that gas to provide 80 percent of a unit’s
heating needs. “From both an economic and
environmental standpoint, it’s a winner,” he
says. “The EPA [Environmental Protection Agency]
classifies our unit as only a minor emitter,
equivalent to a hospital boiler. And the key
there is we’re not burning feedstock but melting
it in a vessel. It’s not like we’re building a
new refinery where it takes 10 years to get the
The future looks auspicious for the company, as
the technology has generated enormous interest
from waste disposal companies and large
manufacturing facilities, which stand to gain by
paying less money to truck material to a Vadxx
unit than to the landfill. What’s more, each
unit is projected to make $8 to $12 million per
year in revenue for its operator and provide 18
Besides the technical leg-up NASA gave the
company, Garrett says there was another, more
indirect benefit of having partnered with the
Agency: credibility. “We’d kind of brag to
people that we worked with NASA, and they say,
‘Really? I may be interested in investing.’ The
NASA name has that kind of impact.”
Bees Can Help Boost
Food Security of Two Billion Small Farmers at No
Cost: New Study
new study suggest that poorly performing farms
could significantly increase their crop yields
by attracting more pollinators to their land.
Photo: FAO/James Cane
February 19, 2016: The
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization
(FAO) today highlighted the publication of a new
study that quantifies, for the first time, how
much crop yields depend on the work of bees that
unknowingly fertilize plants as they move from
flower to flower.
In doing so, the agency says bees may have a key
role to play in improving the production of some
two billion smallholder farmers worldwide and
ensuring the food security and nutrition of the
world’s growing population.
“What do cucumbers, mustard, almonds and alfalfa
have in common?” asked FAO in a press release.
“On the surface, very little; but there is one
thing they share: they all owe their existence
to the service of bees.”
The agency notes that for centuries, this tiny
striped helper has labored the world’s fields
without winning much recognition for its many
contributions to food production. Wild bees, in
particular, seemed doomed to slog in the shadow
of their more popular cousin – the honeybee –
whose day job of producing golden nectar has
been far more visible and celebrated.
But FAO says bees of all stripes are finally
getting their moment in the sun. The paper,
published in the magazine Science, makes the
case that ecological intensification – or
boosting farm outputs by tapping the power of
natural processes – is one of the sustainable
pathways toward greater food supplies.
Food security strategies worldwide could
therefore benefit from including pollination as
integral component, experts say.
“Our research shows that improving pollinator
density and diversity – in other words, making
sure that more and more different types of bees
and insects are coming to your plants – has
direct impact on crop yields,” said Barbara
Gemmill-Herren, one of the FAO authors of the
“And that’s good for the environment and for
food security,” she stressed, adding that it is
beneficial to actively preserve and build
habitats in and around farms for bees, birds and
insects to live year-round.
Focus on developing countries
In the field study coordinated by FAO,
scientists compared 344 plots across Africa,
Asia and Latin America and concluded that crop
yields were significantly lower in farming plots
that attracted fewer bees during the main
flowering season than in those plots that
received more visits.
When comparing high-performing and
low-performing farms of less than two hectares,
the outcomes suggest that poorly performing
farms could increase their yields by a median of
24 per cent by attracting more pollinators to
The research also looked at larger plots and
concluded that, while those fields also
benefited from more pollinator visits, the
impact on yields was less significant than in
the smaller plots – probably because many bees
have a harder time servicing large fields, far
from their nesting habitat. But a diversity of
bees, each with different flight capacities, can
make the difference.
This suggests that bee diversity offers benefits
both for small-holder farmers in developing
countries, and for larger farms.
Why it matters
The research comes at a time when wild bees are
threatened by a multitude of factors and managed
bee populations can’t keep up with the
increasing number of plots that grow
Climate change poses yet another problem: “Bees
will struggle with the higher temperatures,"
explained Nadine Azzu, Global Project
Coordinator in FAO’s Plant Production and
Protection Division, who also worked on the
report. "Plus, flowers in some parts of the
world are now opening at different times than
they used to, and the bees are not there to
pollinate," she said.
This means finding ways to keep pollinators
buzzing around the farm year-round is becoming
even more important.
Pollinators – such as bees, birds and various
types of insects that fly, hop or crawl from one
flower to another – have for centuries been the
invisible helpers of farmers worldwide.
Different types of bees have distinct tastes and
roles to play in the food system. Bumble bees,
for example, are one of the few types of bees
that can successfully pollinate tomatoes, which
heavily rely on buzz pollination to bear fruit.
Honey bees, in turn, are important because they
are the least picky in their choice of flowers-
and there are many of them, in each hive, even
though their more discerning wild bee cousins
are more effective in fertilizing the plants
they’re attracted to.
The study shows that for smallholdings, crop
yield increased linearly with increased visits
to the flowers that were being tracked.
Pollination was the agricultural input that
contributed the greatest to yields, beyond other
This holds promise for one of the major
agricultural challenges of our time: How to help
smallholders produce more without hurting the
How to attract bees
The report also found that attracting
pollinators to farms is not as easy as planting
for the season and waiting for them to arrive.
Maintaining habitat and forage resources all
year long is key to wooing pollinators and
keeping them on the land for longer periods of
time. This can be done by planting different
trees and plants that flower at different times
in the year, for example.
Maintaining flowering hedge rows around the
farm, and mulch on the ground that bees can hide
under, are additional recommended tactics to
attract them, as is reducing the use of
The key to getting the best yields probably lies
in a mix of managed pollination services – that
is, installing bee hives in plots at flowering
time – and wild pollination, experts say.
And the latter will require farmers and policy
makers to take a closer look at the ecosystems
that surround farms.
“The take away from our study is that bees
provide a real service and should be taken into
account when we plan food security
interventions,” said Ms. Azzu. “And the best
part is: their service is free.”
Climate Change: Our Task
is Not Over: Ban Ki-moon
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
(second left), UNFCCC's Christiana Figueres
(left), French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius
and President of the UN Climate Change
Conference in Paris (COP21), and President
François Hollande of France (right), celebrate
historic adoption of Paris Agreement. UN
17 February 2016 – While the
international community has provided a solid
foundation for the world’s response to climate
change by adopting the Paris Agreement this past
December, United Nations Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon said today that it is now necessary to
build on that momentum in order to secure a
safer and healthier future for all.
At a briefing at UN Headquarters in New York on
the high-level signature ceremony for the Paris
Agreement, which he will host on 22 April,
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the ceremony
will provide the first opportunity for
Governments to advance the process that will
lead to the Agreement’s implementation and
“Now we must move from aspirations to action,”
Mr. Ban said. “By implementing the Paris
Agreement, we will be building the future we
want – a future of shared opportunity that
leaves no-one behind on a planet that is
protected and nurtured for the benefit of all,”
Urging the participation of all Governments at
the signing ceremony, the UN chief emphasized
the importance of the Agreement entering into
force as soon as possible.
“The world now has a universal, fair, flexible
and durable climate agreement,” Mr. Ban said.
“For the first time, every country in the world
pledged to curb their emissions, strengthen
resilience and join in common cause for the
common good,” he added.
In particular, the Agreement will enable the
international community to “increase ambition on
a regular basis,” the Secretary-General said,
which is essential in order to keep global
temperature rise to well below two degrees
Celsius, and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5
“Our task is not over. In fact, it has just
begun,” Mr. Ban said. “In 2016, we must go from
words to deeds. The 22 April signature ceremony
is an essential step,” he noted.
Emphasizing that “the cost of inaction becomes
clearer every day,” Mr. Ban stressed that more
extreme weather events, torrential rains and
flooding, severe droughts and rising sea levels
were leading to lost lives, homes, productivity
“We have no time to delay,” the
Secretary-General underscored. “I urge you to
ensure that the legal requirements for your
leaders to have full powers to sign are in place
by that date,” he said.
Mr. Ban noted that leaders from Peru, France and
Morocco – the Presidents of recent UN climate
change meetings, known as COP20, COP21 and the
upcoming COP22 – have agreed to attend the
signature ceremony, and that many other world
leaders have promised their attendance as well.
“The participation of Heads of State and
Government will show the world they are
determined to move forward as quickly as
possible,” Mr. Ban said. “It will keep the
global spotlight firmly focused on climate
change and build on the strong political
momentum created in Paris.”
Mr. Ban added that all leaders will have the
opportunity to make a national statement on the
day of the ceremony. As such, he asked that
leaders come ready to provide an update on how
their Government will implement national climate
plans and integrate them into their overall
sustainable development plans, as well as
provide a roadmap for increasing ambition over
time to achieve the overall aim of limiting
global temperature rise to well below two
He also asked leaders to be ready to indicate
their Government’s timetable for ratifying the
Paris Agreement, and to share how they are
accelerating climate action before 2020 by
drawing on the ingenuity, resources and efforts
of all sectors of society.
“We need all hands on deck to meet the climate
challenge,” Mr. Ban stressed. “Cities, schools,
the business and investment communities, faith
groups – all have a role to play.”
Proposal for the First
Time to Binding Limits on Airlines' Carbon
Aircraft on runway. Photo: World
Bank/Arne Hoel (file)
Welcoming a proposal by the
United Nation's International Civil Aviation
Organization (ICAO) on the first binding limits
on carbon dioxide emissions from the aviation
industry, United Nations Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon called today for further strengthening
of emissions standards as quickly as possible.
A statement attributable to the UN chief's
spokesperson said the proposed rules, which
would limit carbon emissions and strengthen the
efficiency of all new commercial and business
airliners after 2028, build on the strong
momentum coming from the Paris Agreement and
represent the latest in a series of successful
multilateral efforts to reduce the risks of
dangerous climate change.
“Carbon emissions from aviation are growing
rapidly, with the number of flights worldwide
expected to double in the next 15 years. The
ICAO's new rules come after years of
negotiations and are the first time that
governments have set emissions standards for the
aviation industry,” the statement said.
For its part, ICAO said in a press release
yesterday that the “eagerly awaited” aircraft
carbon dioxide emissions standard was
unanimously recommended by the 170 international
experts on its Committee on Aviation
Environmental Protection, paving the way for its
ultimate adoption by the UN agency's 36-State
Under the recommendation, the new standard would
be applicable to new aircraft type designs as of
2020, as well as to new deliveries of current
in-production aircraft types from 2023. A
cut-off date of 2028 for production of aircraft
that do not comply with the standard was also
In its current form, the standard acknowledges
carbon dioxide reductions arising from a range
of possible technology innovations, whether
structural, aerodynamic or propulsion-based.
ICAO said the proposed global standard is
particularly stringent for larger aircraft,
since operations of aircraft weighing more than
60 tons account for more than 90 per cent of
international aviation emissions. The proposed
standard, however, covers the full range of
sizes and types of aircraft used in
international aviation today.
“The goal of this process is ultimately to
ensure that when the next generation of aircraft
types enter service, there will be guaranteed
reductions in international CO2 emissions,” said
Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, President of the ICAO
The Montreal-based agency works with 191 Member
States and industry groups to reach consensus on
international standards, practices and policies
for the civil aviation sector.
New Satellite-Based Maps to Aid in Climate
Global map of the average
amount of time that live biomass carbon and
dead organic carbon spend in carbon
reservoirs around the world, in years.
Credits: A. Anthony Bloom
New, detailed maps of the
world’s natural landscapes created using NASA
satellite data could help scientists better
predict the impacts of future climate change.
The maps of forests, grasslands and other
productive ecosystems provide the most complete
picture yet of how carbon from the atmosphere is
reused and recycled by Earth’s natural
Scientists at the University of Edinburgh,
Scotland, United Kingdom; NASA’s Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, Pasadena, California; and Wageningen
University, Netherlands, used a computer model
to analyze a decade of satellite and field study
data from 2000 to 2010. The existing global maps
of vegetation and fire activity they studied
were produced from data from NASA’s Terra, Aqua
and ICESat spacecraft. The researchers then
constructed maps that show where -- and for how
long -- carbon is stored in plants, trees and
The maps reveal how the biological properties of
leaves, roots and wood in different natural
habitats affect their ability to store carbon
across the globe, and show that some ecosystems
retain carbon longer than others. For example,
large swaths of the dry tropics store carbon for
a relatively short time due to frequent fires,
while in warm, wet climates, carbon is stored
longer in vegetation than in soils.
Although it is well known that Earth’s natural
ecosystems absorb and process large amounts of
carbon dioxide, much less is known about where
the carbon is stored or how long it remains
there. Improved understanding about how carbon
is stored will allow researchers to more
accurately predict the impacts of climate
Study first author Anthony Bloom, a JPL
postdoctoral scientist, said: “Our findings are
a major step toward using satellite imagery to
decipher how carbon flows through Earth’s
natural ecosystems from satellite images. These
results will help us understand how Earth’s
natural carbon balance will respond to human
disturbances and climate change.”
Professor Mathew Williams of the University of
Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, who led the
study, said, “Recent studies have highlighted
the disagreement among Earth system models in
the way they represent the current global carbon
cycle. “Our results constitute a useful, modern
benchmark to help improve these models and the
robustness of global climate projections.”
To generate values for each of the 13,000 cells
on each map, a supercomputer at the Edinburgh
Compute and Data Facility ran the model
approximately 1.6 trillion times.
New data can be added to the maps as it becomes
available. The impact of major events such as
forest fires on the ability of ecosystems to
store carbon can be determined within three
months of their occurrence, the researchers say.
The study, published Feb. 2 in the Proceedings
of the National Academy of Sciences, was funded
by the Natural Environment Research Council. The
California Institute of Technology in Pasadena
manages JPL for NASA.
NASA uses the vantage point of space to increase
our understanding of our home planet, improve
lives and safeguard our future. NASA develops
new ways to observe and study Earth's
interconnected natural systems with long-term
data records. The agency freely shares this
unique knowledge and works with institutions
around the world to gain new insights into how
our planet is changing.
For more information about NASA's Earth science
Alan Buis: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena,
Corin CampbellZ University of Edinburgh
(Editor: Tony Greicius:NASA)
The Antarctic Ice Facing Point of No Return?
Astrolabe Glacier: Calving front
of the Astrolabe Glacier, East Antarctica, 2007.
Released 08/02/2016 4:19 pm: Copyright B.
Jourdain (Courtesy ESA)
8 February 2016: Antarctica is surrounded by
huge ice shelves. New research, which includes
using data from satellites such as ESA’s
heritage Envisat, has revealed that there is a
critical point where these shelves act as a
safety band, holding back the ice that flows
towards the sea. If lost, it could be the point
of no return.
These floating ice shelves can be enormous. For
example, the largest, the Ross Ice Shelf, is
about the size of Spain and towers hundreds of
metres above the waterline.
Over the past 20 years, many of Antarctica’s ice
shelves have thinned and in some cases even
disappeared as giant icebergs calve from the
For example, in 1995 the Larsen A Ice Shelf
collapsed discarding ice the size of Berlin,
seven years later the larger Larsen B Ice Shelf
broke apart, and in 2008 the Wilkins Ice Shelf
Since they are connected to the glaciers and ice
streams on the mainland, they play an important
role in ‘buttressing’ the ice as it creeps
seaward, effectively slowing down the flow.
Ferrigno Ice Stream: Highly
crevassed ice front of Ferrigno Ice Stream in
the Bellingshausen Sea. The photo was taken on
16 November 2011 during NASA’s airborne
IceBridge campaign. Released 08/02/2016 5:01 pm:
Copyright University of Erlangen-Nuremberg–M.
If an ice shelf is lost, the flow of glaciers
behind can speed up, contributing to sea-level
Almost immediately after Larsen B broke up in
2002, tributary glaciers flowed up to eight
times faster. As a result of the loss of this
one ice shelf, the subsequent ice discharged to
the sea reached about 5% of Greenland’s total
ice loss at the time.
Larsen B was a fairly typically-sized Antarctic
ice shelf. There are at least 50 other shelves
fringing the continent – many of which are much
bigger than Larsen B.
Scientists from the University of
Erlangen-Nuremberg Institute of Geography and
from the Laboratoire de Glaciologie et
Géophysique de l'Environnement in Grenoble,
France, used radar data from satellites such as
ESA’s Envisat and observations of ice thickness
from airborne surveys in a complex model to
demonstrate, for the first time, how the
buttressing role of the ice shelves is being
compromised as the shelves decline.
Their findings were published today in
Nature Climate Change.
It transpires that about 13% of the total
ice-shelf area contains what is called ‘passive
shelf ice’. This is the part of the floating ice
body that provides no additional buttressing –
so if lost there wouldn’t be an instant increase
in glacial velocity.
However, behind this – there is an area of ice
called the ‘safety band’, which is very
important because this portion of ice
effectively restrains the ice flow.
Dr Johannes Fürst, from the University of
Erlangen-Nuremberg’s Institute of Geography
explained, “For some decades now satellite
remote-sensing has allowed us to track changes
and movement of Antarctic ice fronts. In some
regions we have seen continuous ice-shelf
“Once ice loss through the calving of icebergs
goes beyond the passive shelf ice and cuts into
the safety band, ice flow towards the ocean will
accelerate, which might well entail an elevated
contribution to sea-level rise for decades and
centuries to come.”
However, there are some contrasting results
across the continent as not all ice shelves have
this passive ice.
Dr Fürst added, “The Amundsen and Bellingshausen
seas have limited or almost no passive ice
shelf, which implies that further retreat of
current ice-shelf fronts will have serious
“This region is particularly vulnerable as ice
shelves have already been thinning at high rates
for two decades. In contrast to these ice
shelves, the Larsen C ice shelf in the Weddell
Sea exhibits a large passive frontal area,
suggesting that the imminent calving of a vast
tabular iceberg will be unlikely to instantly
produce much dynamic change.”
This discovery will help improve the prediction
of future ice outflow from Antarctica – the
future fate of the ice sheet under a warming
climate is clearly tied dynamically to changes
of the floating ice shelves.
While ESA’s CryoSat continues to provide
information about ice-thickness change, these
new findings also highlight the lasting value of
archived satellite data.
Underscores That Large, Sustained Changes in
Global Temperature Like Those Observed Over the
Last Century Require Drivers Such as Increased
Greenhouse Gas Concentrations
Global Warming Needs External Drivers
Earth's atmosphere viewed from
the International Space Station. A NASA/Duke
University study provides new evidence that
natural cycles alone aren't sufficient to
explain the global atmospheric warming observed
over the last century. Credits: NASA
A study by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion
Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and Duke
University in Durham, North Carolina, shows, in
detail, the reason why global temperatures
remain stable in the long run unless they are
pushed by outside forces, such as increased
greenhouse gases due to human impacts.
Lead author Patrick Brown, a doctoral student at
Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, and
his JPL colleagues combined global climate
models with satellite measurements of changes in
the energy approaching and leaving Earth at the
top of the atmosphere over the past 15 years.
The satellite data were from the Clouds and the
Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES)
instruments on NASA’s Aqua and Terra spacecraft.
Their work reveals in new detail how Earth cools
itself back down after a period of natural
Scientists have long known that as Earth warms,
it is able to restore its temperature
equilibrium through a phenomenon known as the
Planck Response. The phenomenon is an overall
increase in infrared energy that Earth emits as
it warms. The response acts as a safety valve of
sorts, allowing more of the accumulating heat to
be released through the top of Earth's
atmosphere into space.
The new research, however, shows it’s not quite
as simple as that.
“Our analysis confirmed that the Planck Response
plays the dominant role in restoring global
temperature stability, but to our surprise, we
found that it tends to be overwhelmed locally by
heat-trapping changes in clouds, water vapor,
and snow and ice,” Brown said. “This initially
suggested that the climate system might be able
to create large, sustained changes in
temperature all by itself.”
A more detailed investigation of the satellite
observations and climate models helped the
researchers finally reconcile what was happening
globally versus locally.
“While global temperature tends to be stable due
to the Planck Response, there are other
important, previously less appreciated,
mechanisms at work, too,” said Wenhong Li,
assistant professor of climate at Duke. These
mechanisms include the net release of energy
over anomalously cool regions and the transport
of energy to continental and polar regions. In
those regions, the Planck Response overwhelms
positive, heat-trapping local energy feedbacks.
“This emphasizes the importance of large-scale
energy transport and atmospheric circulation
changes in reconciling local versus global
energy feedbacks and, in the absence of external
drivers, restoring Earth’s global temperature
equilibrium,” Li said.
The researchers say the findings may finally
help put the chill on skeptics’ belief that
long-term global warming occurs in an
unpredictable manner, independently of external
drivers such as human impacts.
“This study underscores that large, sustained
changes in global temperature like those
observed over the last century require drivers
such as increased greenhouse gas
concentrations,” said Brown.
“Scientists have long believed that increasing
greenhouse gases played a major role in
determining the warming trend of our planet,”
added JPL co-author Jonathan Jiang. “This study
provides further evidence that natural climate
cycles alone are insufficient to explain the
global warming observed over the last century.”
The research is published this month in the
Journal of Climate. The study was funded by the
National Science Foundation and NASA.
NASA uses the vantage point of space to increase
our understanding of our home planet, improve
lives and safeguard our future. NASA develops
new ways to observe and study Earth's
interconnected natural systems with long-term
data records. The agency freely shares this
unique knowledge and works with institutions
around the world to gain new insights into how
our planet is changing.
For more information about NASA's Earth science
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
(Editor: Tony Greicius: NASA)
The University Of Sussex Launches New Podcast
Series on The Meaning of Climate Change
David Attenborough Speaks in
the First Podcast
UK: Monday 8th February 2016
– Today, The School of Global Studies at the
University Of Sussex, is proud to announce the
launch of an exciting new audio narrative
podcast series, THE GLASS BEAD GAME with the
first episode in the series featuring David
Attenborough and Naomi Klein. Oriented towards
those that are curious of mind, this twelve part
series aims to creatively engage listeners on
complex geopolitical issues in a monthly
podcast. Unlike many of the static, debate based
UK podcasts, this entertaining audio experience
is more dynamic in its format, with an approach
more similar to those currently being produced
in the US.
Naomi Klein also speaks in the
podcast about the meaning of climate change
In the initial two-part episode, The
Meaning of Climate Change, broadcaster David
Attenborough and author and social activist
Naomi Klein, along with numerous notable
professors, discuss the ethical, cultural and
economic impact of climate change and what it
means to those most affected. The series is
directed and presented by award winning
filmmaker Will Hood, a research associate at the
University of Sussex, and the series is produced
by Rob Alexander of perfectmotion.
About The Glass Bead Game
The podcast series creates a
unique platform by which academic research can
engage with an audience through people led
narrative. Collecting the academic testimony of
different disciplines from the international
network of higher education, The Glass Bead Game
aspires to appeal to a wide audience, challenge
mainstream narratives and represent previously
The series title the ‘glass bead game’ is a nod
to the classic book of the same name (Hesse
1943) in which the 'game' itself is played by
creating new and subtle inferences between
different academic disciplines. By weaving
together multiple conversations from academics
and popular authorities the GBG podcast attempts
to reconcile the disparate narratives that are
inevitably produced by difficult subjects.
‘Nothing is harder, yet nothing is more
necessary, than to speak of certain things whose
existence is neither demonstrable nor probable.
The very fact that serious and conscientious men
treat them as existing things brings them a step
closer to existence and to the possibility of
(Herman Hesse – The Glass Bead Game, 1943)
‘The huge difference between humanity and the
natural world is that we have a way of
externalising knowledge ... that simply makes an
enormous difference ... humanity is able to
store knowledge across time and across space and
that gives us huge power - we haven't yet got
the wisdom to handle it properly but that's what
makes us different from the rest of the world'
Episode One: The Glass Bead Game
Part One: Indigenous Oil (Featuring David
In the first episode of The Glass Bead Game,
presenter Will Hood explores the relationship
between energy, ecology and economics, combining
academic research with the anecdotal experience
of indigenous groups on the front line of
Canada’s environmental conflict.
· Chief Billy Joe Laboucan Massimo - Chief of
the Lubicon Cree Band, Little Buffalo, Alberta,
· David Attenborough – Broadcaster
· Ernie Gambler - Indigenous Musician from
Calling Lake, Alberta, Canada
· Isabel Altamirano-Jimenez - Indigenous Scholar
at the University of Alberta, Canada
· J.B. Williams, Tsawout First Nation - Flood
Story Narration (with music from Elder May Sam)
· Makere Stewart-Harawira - Indigenous Scholar
at the University of Alberta, Canada
· Peter Newell - Professor of International
Relations at the University of Sussex
Part Two: Direct Action (Featuring David
Attenborough & Naomi Klein)
With live coverage of the Cop21 climate summit
(Paris Dec 2015) this episode explores the
ethics of direct action as a way to make sense
of climate change. An issue that divides the
public and excites the media to what extents can
it achieve meaningful political and social
· Rex Weyler - founding member of Greenpeace
· David Attenborough - Broadcaster
· Naomi Klein - Author (No logo, This Changes
· Peter Newell - Professor of International
Relations at the University of Sussex
· Richard Tol - Climate Economist at the
University of Sussex
· Mike Hudema - Climate and energy activist with
Green peace Canada
· Peter Newell - Professor of International
Relations at the University of Sussex.
To download the
About the School Of Global
Studies, University of Sussex
World University Rankings
2014/15 - #1 for development studies
The School of Global Studies is a global hub at
the heart of Sussex University. Our engaged
research and critical pedagogy addresses the
most pressing global issues of our times –
global inequalities and global justice, climate
and environmental change, war and peace, global
health and finance crises, intolerance and
discrimination. Our mission is to generate
knowledge and understanding that can make a
difference, for a fairer, safer, more
sustainable and more inclusive world.
Will Hood - Presenter / Producer of GBG
Is a research associate with the University of
Sussex, a documentarian and audio anthropologist
whose previous work includes: the double
Grierson award winning ‘Here’s Johnny’. He is
also the founder of
an independent film and TV production company,
whose selected credits include: ‘Wojtek – the
bear that went to war’ a BBC feature Doc, ‘A
Vida Politica’, an exploration of female
activism in Brazil and ‘Save us from Saviours’
about Indian sex work organisation Vamp. Such
works have been supported by the BBC, Britdoc,
Screen South, DIFD, Sangram and the UK Aids
Rob Alexander - Series Producer
Has worked extensively in both radio and
television format, producing numerous broadcasts
for BBC radio 4, BBC world service and the Open
University. Including ‘Black CNN’ – An
exploration of political hip hop for BBC Radio
4, ‘William Quilliam’ - Britain’s First Islamist
for BBC World Service and ‘A Reluctant Beat’ - a
celebration of the life and work of City Lights
Bookstore Owner, Beat Poet and Publisher
He is also the founder of
which works across the globe on productions
ranging from audio & visual broadcast
documentaries, drama shorts and features to
corporate and academic projects with a long and
diverse track record of multi-media production,
co-production and development.
Is This an Irennogram
Treemetrics woodland laser
scan: Released 03/02/2016 8:10 am: Copyright
A commercial forest seen through the ‘eyes’ of a
3D laser scanning system developed by the
ESA-supported Treemetrics company.
The trees of planet Earth – recently estimated
to number three trillion in total – are both
environmental and economic resources, and
require careful stewardship.
“We estimate 20% of global forest resources are
currently going to waste as they are harvested,”
explains Enda Keane, CEO of Irish company
“What Treemetrics aims to deliver is more wood
from fewer trees, through a complete end-to-end
forest management system. It combines forest
mapping, assessment and valuing with
decision-making tools for harvest planning as
well as real-time monitoring of the cutting and
Treemetrics developed a project in collaboration
with ESA’s Advanced Research in
Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) programme’s
Integrated Applications Promotion to integrate
satellite communications into its system,
enabling managers to monitor their equipment and
track harvesting as it happens, even from remote
The company can perform forest mapping through
aerial and drone photography and ‘laser radar’
lidar, as well as satellite Earth observation –
using missions including ESA’s Sentinel-1 and
These maps are given a third dimension through
‘ground truthing’. Laser scanners perform a
360-degree survey at regular intervals to
measure the straightness and health of trees –
accurately estimating their quality as logs in
advance of them being logged.
Mr Keane adds: “We are very grateful for the
great technical, financial and business planning
support we received through ESA’s IAP, which
enabled the creation of a world class product
for the global forest industry.”
The company’s customers to date include state
forest agencies in 26 countries, as well as
private forest owners and government agencies.
Panasonic Green Energy
Panasonic wants to become by its 100th
birthday in 2018 the world's leading company for
green innovations in the electronics industry.
There are many
problems that need to be resolved for the future
of mankind, including the depletion of fossil
fuels (i.e., petroleum, coal), energy issues,
and global warming. To fulfill our duty as an
electronic manufacturer using electricity, one
of the R&D projects that Panasonic is working on
is hydrogen energy technology.
energy by a chemical reaction involving oxygen,
and the only process byproduct is water.
Hydrogen is clean and highly efficient and is a
carbon-free energy with very low environmental
impact. This is why Panasonic has continued with
its R&D on hydrogen for over two decades.
10 Years of Panasonic eneloop
Celebrated its eneloop's 10the
January 2016. – Panasonic recently
celebrated the 10th anniversary of
its eneloop brand. This unique
eco-friendly rechargeable battery
offers a new lifestyle choice to
customers. Today, it ships to over
80 countries and is appreciated by
consumers all over the world.
November 2005, eneloop has
revolutionised the consumer-use
rechargeable battery segment thanks
to its unique features:
eneloop batteries can be
recharged up to 2,100 times
One of the most important
characteristics of a rechargeable
battery is its cycle life; the
number of charge/discharge cycles it
can withstand without losing
capacity. eneloop can be recharged
up to 2,100 times, not only making
it more economical, but helping
reduce the world’s waste pile of
Ready-to-use & low self-discharge
eneloop batteries are delivered
pre-charged using solar power,
making them immediately useable
after purchase, like primary
batteries. They also have a low
self-discharge rate. While other
batteries lose their charge over
time, Panasonic’s proprietary
eneloop technology means its
batteries maintain 70% capacity even
after 10 years of storage.
Longer lasting than primary
Many applications switch off or
indicate low battery when voltage is
lower than 1.1 volts. A traditional
primary battery continuously loses
voltage and reaches this critical
level very quickly. eneloop
batteries keep the voltage level
over 1.1 volts for a long time, only
falling below just before they are
High performance even at low
Contrary to primary batteries,
eneloop batteries keep a high
voltage at low temperatures and can
even maintain a low self-discharge
rate in temperatures as low as
Combining the pluses
eneloop is a revolutionary
rechargeable battery that can be
used as easily as a primary battery,
and reused simply by recharging it.
It brings together the advantages of
both types of batteries, while also
saving resources. It’s part of the
reason that Panasonic was ranked in
the top five of Best Global Green
Brands in 2014.
Alongside standard eneloop
batteries, Panasonic also offers
eneloop pro and lite: eneloop pro
have a higher capacity and are
therefore the perfect choice for
high energy-consuming devices such
as photo strobe flash lights,
wireless keyboards, mice, game
controllers and household devices.
eneloop lite can be recharged up to
3,000 times, making these batteries
ideal for low to medium power
consumption devices, such as DECT
phones and remote controls.
Anniversary of eneloop
To celebrate eneloop’s 10th
anniversary, Panasonic has launched
a special campaign with activities
happening across Europe, including a
revamped website in 13 languages, a
drawing competition and several
spectacular events. Also currently
running is an International photo
challenge around the theme of
sustainability and the environment.
for more details.
abundant element in the universe, Clean After
combustion water is produced with no CO2
emissions, High-power High combustion energy,
Easy storage and transportation* * Compared with
electricity, Saves energy and prevents global
warming Converts to electricity with high
We are already producing energy with hydrogen.
Panasonic made household fuel cell commercially
available in the Japanese market in 2009. This
product uses hydrogen extracted from utility gas
to make electricity and hot water in homes. The
household fuel cell, currently being used in
many houses and facilities, is contributing to
the increasing popularity of this application.
There are now several initiatives in Panasonic
to realize a hydrogen society where we can
produce, store, and utilize hydrogen easily in
Utilisation of hydrogen
Assuming that a society where hydrogen is
supplied to each home will be realized in the
near future, Panasonic is working to develop a
pure hydrogen-type fuel cell that allows us to
produce electricity directly from hydrogen with
high efficiency and low cost. We have installed
prototype devices inside "Yume Solar-kan
Yamanashi", Komekurayama in Yamanashi
Prefecture, Japan, a field test site for
renewable energy and next generation energy, and
conducted electricity production performance
tests from 2012. We are planning to continue
with this field test.
As part of developing future technologies, we
are currently studying a solar hydrogen
generation technology (photocatalyst) that
produces hydrogen from water, by using our
proprietary photocatalyst technology and
renewable energy, namely sunlight. We are
exploring every possibility of hydrogen
production technology, including using the
Energy and Environment New Technology Pioneer
Program, a program funded by Japan’s New Energy
and Industrial Technology Development
Organization (NEDO), and aim to realize the
technology by around 2030. Research is also
underway to develop a high-density storage
is not just clean energy, it can also provide a
stable power supply even during an emergency. It
is expected to become a power source for homes
and societies in the future. Panasonic continues
the development to realize this potential from
The Panasonic Corporation is a leading company
worldwide in the development and manufacture of
electronic goods for a wide range of private,
trade and industrial uses. The Group, based in
Osaka, Japan, in financial year ended 31 March
2015 posted consolidated net sales of around
57.28 billion EUR. Panasonic Corporation's
shares are listed on the Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya
and New York stock exchanges (NYSE symbol: PC).
Panasonic wants to become by its 100th birthday
in 2018 the world's leading company for green
innovations in the electronics industry.
( This feature is from the
2015 is the Hottest
Year on Record – UN WMO
Cooling off on a waterfall. UN Photo/Victoria
25 January 2016 – The global
average surface temperature in 2015 broke all
previous records by a strikingly wide margin,
according to the United Nations World
Meteorological Organization (WMO), which
announced today that for the first time on
record, temperatures were about 1 degree Celsius
above the pre-industrial era.
“An exceptionally strong El Niño and global
warming caused by greenhouse gases joined forces
with dramatic effect on the climate system in
2015,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas
in a press release.
“The power of El Niño will fade in the coming
months but the impacts of human-induced climate
change will be with us for many decades. We have
reached for the first time the threshold of 1
degree Celsius above pre-industrial
temperatures. It is a sobering moment in the
history of our planet,” he added.
WMO combines three internationally-renowned
observational datasets with those from
sophisticated reanalysis systems, allowing it to
provide “the most authoritative international
According to its data, 15 of the 16 hottest
years on record have all been this century, with
2015 being significantly warmer than the
record-level temperatures seen in 2014.
Underlining the long-term trend, 2011-15 is the
warmest five-year period on record.
Meanwhile, the record temperatures over both
land and the ocean surface in 2015 were
accompanied by many extreme weather events such
as heatwaves, flooding and severe drought.
“If the commitments made during the climate
change negotiations in Paris and furthermore a
higher emission reduction ambition level is
reached, we still have chance to stay within the
maximum 2 degree Celsius limit,” Mr. Taalas
highlighted, referring to the temperature rise
the international community has set itself not
“Climate change will have increasingly negative
impacts for at least the next five decades,” he
continued. “This emphasizes the need to invest
in adaptation besides mitigation. It is
important to strengthen the capability of
countries to provide better disaster early
warnings to minimize human and economic losses.
Climate change increases the risk of weather
related disasters which are an obstacle to
sustainable development,” he added.
WMO will issue its full report on the status of
the global climate in 2015 next March, with
comprehensive details of regional trends,
extreme events, sea ice, sea level rise and
Sustainable Energy Can
Save Millions of Lives: Ban Ki-moon Tells Summit
in Abu Dhabi
hydroelectric power plant is a source of
renewable clean energy, providing around 17 per
cent of the energy consumed in Brazil and 75 per
cent of the energy used in Paraguay. UN
18 January 2016
– Millions of lives can be saved by ensuring
access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and
modern energy, United Nations Secretary-General
Ban Ki-moon today stressed at the World Future
Energy Summit taking place in the United Arab
“Sustainable energy is the thread that connects
economic growth, social equity, and our efforts
to combat climate change,” Mr. Ban told industry
leaders from around the world attending the
week-long conference in Abu Dhabi.
Highlighting last year’s “landmark” global
agreements on the Sustainable Development Goals
(SDGs) and on climate change at COP21 in
December, the UN chief noted that for the first
time, every country in the world pledged to act
internationally and domestically to address
“The universality of these agreements, and their
inclusive nature, mean that we have a clear way
forward,” he said. “Now is the time for action.
Governments, the private sector, regional and
international organizations, must start working
to implement the 17 ambitious Global Goals,” he
One of these Goals – SDG7 – aims to ensure
access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and
modern energy for all. He explained that clean,
sustainable energy will not only help safeguard
the future of the planet – keeping temperature
rise below the two degree Celsius goal – it will
also directly save an estimated 4.3 million
lives every year. That is the estimated number
of people who die prematurely from pollution
resulting from indoor cookstoves that use fire,
coal, charcoal or animal waste.
“Most of these people are women and children,
who spend their time near wood-burning stoves
and open flames. It is women and girls who bear
the brunt of collecting firewood and fuels –
time-consuming activities which limit their work
and education opportunities,” the UN chief
He added that SDG7 is also at the heart of
development, since more than one billion people
in the world have no access to electricity.
“Achieving SDG7 well before 2030 will vastly
improve our chances of achieving the Global
Goals on food security, health care, education,
employment, sustainable cities and more,” he
declared. “We have made a good start. There has
been remarkable progress on many fronts.”
The Secretary-General noted that a new
generation of energy-efficient appliances is
giving people access to the lighting, heating,
communication and other tools that they need,
while reminding all leaders and decision-makers
at the Summit that emissions must be cut
drastically and counterproductive subsidies must
“Governments and the private sector will need to
align their decisions,” he insisted. “Every
dollar of the trillions that will be spent on
new infrastructure in the next 15 years must be
invested in climate-friendly projects that will
drive the growth of low-carbon goods and
Ending his remarks, he underlined the important
role women play in seeking sustainable
solutions. “Women are often the primary managers
of energy in their households and communities
and so can be powerful agents of change in the
transition to sustainable, clean, green energy.”
Later in the day, the Secretary-General spoke at
the launch of “Abu Dhabi Action Day,” saying how
inspired he was by presentations showcased at
the Summit, especially those created by young
“I am so honoured and excited to see that all of
you are part of a global push to do something
even bigger than adopt a global agreement on
climate change – namely to make it a reality.”
The Seas Rise in Varying
Rhythm: Glacial Rebound: The Not So Solid Earth
When you fill a sink, the water rises at the
same rate to the same height in every corner.
That's not the way it works with our rising
According to the 23-year record of satellite
data from NASA and its partners, the sea level
is rising a few millimeters a year -- a fraction
of an inch. If you live on the U.S. East Coast,
though, your sea level is rising two or three
times faster than average. If you live in
Scandinavia, it's falling. Residents of China's
Yellow River delta are swamped by sea level rise
of more than nine inches (25 centimeters) a
These regional differences in sea level change
will become even more apparent in the future, as
ice sheets melt. For instance, when the Amundsen
Sea sector of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is
totally gone, the average global sea level will
rise four feet. But the East Coast of the United
States will see an additional 14 to 15 inches
above that average.
Tides, winds and ocean currents play a role in
these regional differences, but an increasingly
important mover and shaker is the solid Earth
itself. Global warming is not just affecting the
surface of our world; it's making the Earth move
under our feet.
NASA Discusses rising sea levels
Unless a volcano or earthquake are in the news,
we tend to think of our home planet as solid
rock. But 50 miles below our feet, there's a
layer thousands of miles thick that can flow
like a liquid over thousands of years. The
tectonic plates of Earth's crust float on this
viscous layer, called the mantle, like a vanilla
wafer on a very thick pudding.
If you were to put a strawberry on top of that
vanilla wafer, the added weight would make the
cookie sink into the pudding. In the same way,
heavy weights on Earth's crust push it down into
the mantle, which flows away and bulges out
elsewhere. The miles-thick ice sheets of
Greenland and Antarctica have been depressing
the crust beneath them for millennia. That
weight has a second effect that you won't see in
your dessert: its gravitational pull on the
surrounding ocean makes seawater pile up around
These weight-filled dents in the mantle don't
make a permanent scar. When the extra weight
lifts, the mantle rebounds. This doesn't just
happen at the majestic pace of mountain ranges
crumbling. It happens every day.
"The solid earth can respond very quickly --
nearly instantaneously," said Mark Tamisiea, a
scientist at the National Oceanography Centre,
Liverpool, England, who studies the connection
between sea levels and Earth processes. Tamisiea
cited the example of solid-Earth tides, which
pull the crust outward as much as a foot (30
centimeters) toward the moon as it passes
overhead. Similarly, Earth has an instant
initial response to glaciers and ice sheets
melting, called the elastic response.
Since NASA launched the Gravity Recovery and
Climate Experiment twin satellites in 2002,
scientists have had an extremely precise
measurement of the contribution that ice sheets'
loss of mass contributes to changes in gravity
and what it is adding to sea level rise.
"Because of GRACE, we've had a pretty good idea
of what's happening since 2002," said Steve
Nerem of the University of Colorado, head of
NASA's Sea Level Change Team. "We know how much
[of sea level rise] is from Greenland, how much
is from Antarctica, how much is from glaciers."
ice sheet and glacier has a unique location and
size, each one creates a pattern of response in
the ocean as individual as a fingerprint. "The
physics behind understanding these fingerprints
is very well understood," Tamisiea said. "It's
like the tides." He and Jerry Mitrovica of
Harvard University have calculated the
fingerprints of East and West Antarctica and
Greenland around the globe. "We do each ice
sheet individually so we can use the latest
GRACE analysis," Tamisiea explained. "You can
sort of add the effects up and see what the
result is for any given location."
As any ice sheet melts, sea levels along
coastlines as much as 1,500 miles (2,000
kilometers) away will fall as seawater escapes
from the reduced gravitational pull and the
crust lifts. The escaping seawater flows clear
across the equator: the melting of Antarctica
affects the U.S. East and West coasts, and
Greenland's disappearance impacts the coastline
of Brazil. These regional differences are
significant – such as in the case of the East
Coast of the United States.
The East Coast
is also on the losing end of another important
solid-Earth process that affects regional sea
levels: post-glacial rebound. After the elastic
response to a crustal weight loss, uplift
continues more slowly for many millennia. North
America is still responding to the massive
melt-off at the end of the last ice age 6,000
years ago. The North American tectonic plate
wasn't evenly loaded during that ice age: ice
sheets were sitting on what is now Canada and
Greenland, while most of today's United States
remained ice free. This ice load pushed the
mantle out from under Canada and buoyed up the
United States. Today, the U.S. side of the North
American plate is sinking like the downhill end
of a seesaw as the northern side continues to
Greenland's uplift from postglacial rebound
means the island is gaining mass from below and
its bedrock is continuously rising. At the same
time, it is losing mass from above as its ice
melts. GRACE measures the net result of these
opposing processes, not just the result of
melting ice alone. A National Science
Foundation- and NASA-funded program called the
Greenland GPS Network is working to overcome
this problem. Led by Michael Bevis of Ohio State
University, the program is using more than 50
GPS stations in Greenland to measure Greenland's
rise and fall. The network is dense enough, and
the instruments record elevation precisely
enough, to distinguish the steady, long-term
rise caused by postglacial rebound from
shorter-term changes in elevation caused by the
weight of the winter snows and loss of weight in
summer. The goal of the project is to provide a
"correction factor" for postglacial rebound that
can be applied to measurements by GRACE and
succeeding missions so that the remainder is an
accurate measurement of the loss of mass from
Scientists currently believe that ice sheet
fingerprints will be the major driver of future
regional variations in sea levels. They are
working on questions of how these solid-Earth
processes interact with other global and local
drivers of sea level rise. "We have to
understand global and larger-scale regional
changes to do localized impact studies,"
Tamisiea explained. "In some places, it may very
well be that regional processes will be the most
important signal. There has to be a continuum of
understanding of the global average, regional
changes, and more localized processes. We'll
need all of those layers to make viable
NASA’s Earth Science News Team
( Editor: Rob Garner: NASA)
Chinese Pollution Offset U.S. West Ozone Gains
In this photo of sunset from
the International Space Station, three
atmospheric layers are distinctly visible.
The troposphere glows orange, the
stratosphere appears pale pink, and upper
layers of the atmosphere are lighter blue.
A new study finds that the
western United States reduced its production of
ozone-forming pollutants by a whopping 21
percent between 2005 and 2010, but ozone in the
atmosphere above the region did not drop as
expected in response. The reason: a combination
of naturally occurring atmospheric processes and
pollutants crossing the Pacific Ocean from
Scientists from the Netherlands and from NASA's
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California,
looked at ozone in the mid-troposphere, about
10,000 to 30,000 feet (3 to 9 kilometers) above
ground level. Ozone is formed throughout the
atmosphere by chemical reactions, and it travels
through the atmosphere upward, downward and
sideways -- from ground level to many miles up
into the stratosphere. In the mid-troposphere,
ozone has a measurable greenhouse effect.
The researchers focused on ozone above eastern
China and the western United States, using
measurements of ozone and key ozone-forming
pollutants from instruments on NASA's Aura
satellite, and a computer model of global
atmospheric chemistry and weather. Their study
covered 2005 through 2010.
Over China, ozone increased about seven percent
in the mid-troposphere. The researchers found
two causes. First, Chinese emissions of
ozone-forming pollutants increased 21 percent
during these years. Second, an unusually large
amount of ozone drifted down from the
stratosphere as the result of several periodic,
natural cycles, including an El Niño event in
At the same time, western U.S. emissions of
ozone-forming pollutants decreased by 21
percent. The benefits of this large decrease
will continue to accumulate for many years, like
compound interest. By 2010, however, the
decrease should have created a drop of more than
two percent in mid-tropospheric ozone. Instead,
there was no drop at all.
To quantify the impact of each cause, the
scientists tested several scenarios with the
atmospheric chemistry model. They used the NASA
satellite measurements to set up accurate model
simulations and to provide a reality check on
In one model simulation, they held emissions
from China constant at 2005 levels while
allowing everything else (weather conditions,
U.S. emissions, etc.) to evolve as in real life.
The difference between West Coast ozone levels
in this simulation and in the real world allowed
them to quantify China's contribution to
offsetting western U.S. ozone progress at 43
percent. The remainder of the offset -- 57
percent -- was the result of a temporary uptick
in the amount of stratospheric ozone descending
to the mid-troposphere.
JPL scientist Jessica Neu, a coauthor of the
paper, explained, "The large contribution from
the stratosphere is part of a natural
up-and-down cycle of upper-atmosphere winds. We
know pretty well what will happen to the
stratospheric contribution in the next few
decades; it will continue to go up and down
every two years or so. On the other hand, the
contribution from China increased steadily
throughout the study, and we don't know what
will happen to it in the future because it
depends on human rather than natural factors."
Neu noted that this is by no means the only case
of emissions from one nation crossing borders to
another, and in fact, China itself is on the
receiving end of pollutants blowing in from
India. "We focused on China because its
emissions grew very rapidly during a period when
there were good satellite observations of ozone
available, making it much easier to see the
tropospheric ozone response to changing
emissions," she said.
The lead author of the study is Willem
Verstraeten, an atmospheric chemist at
Wageningen University in the Netherlands, who is
also affiliated with the Royal Netherlands
Meteorological Institute in DeBilt.
NASA uses the vantage point of space to increase
our understanding of our home planet, improve
lives and safeguard our future. NASA develops
new ways to observe and study Earth's
interconnected natural systems with long-term
data records and shorter-term process-oriented
studies. The agency freely shares this unique
knowledge and works with institutions around the
world to gain new insights into how our planet
For more information about NASA's Earth science
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California
Written by Carol Rasmussen : NASA Earth Science
( Editor: Tony Greicius:NASA)
Could Save Commercial Airlines Billions in New
Era of Aviation and Reduce Pollution by 75%
Researchers with NASA's
Environmentally Responsible Aviation project
coordinated wind-tunnel tests of an Active
Flow Control system -- tiny jets installed
on a full-size aircraft vertical tail that
blow air -- to prove they would provide
enough side force and stability that it
might someday be possible to design smaller
vertical tails that would reduce drag and
save fuel. Credits: NASA/Dominic Hart
The nation’s airlines could
realize more than $250 billion dollars in
savings in the near future thanks to
green-related technologies developed and refined
by NASA’s aeronautics researchers during the
past six years.
These new technologies, developed under the
purview of NASA’s Environmentally Responsible
Aviation (ERA) project, could cut airline fuel
use in half, pollution by 75 percent and noise
to nearly one-eighth of today’s levels.
“If these technologies start finding their way
into the airline fleet, our computer models show
the economic impact could amount to $255 billion
in operational savings between 2025 and 2050,”
said Jaiwon Shin, NASA’s associate administrator
for aeronautics research.
Created in 2009 and completed in 2015, ERA’s
mission was to explore and document the
feasibility, benefits and technical risk of
inventive vehicle concepts and enabling
technologies that would reduce aviation’s impact
on the environment. Project researchers focused
on eight major integrated technology
demonstrations falling into three categories –
airframe technology, propulsion technology and
vehicle systems integration.
By the time ERA officially concluded its
six-year run, NASA had invested more than $400
million, with another $250 million in-kind
resources invested by industry partners who were
involved in ERA from the start.
“It was challenging because we had a fixed
window, a fixed budget, and all eight
demonstrations needed to finish at the same
time,” said Fayette Collier, ERA project
manager. “We then had to synthesize all the
results and complete our analysis so we could
tell the world what the impact would be. We
really did quite well.”
Here is a brief summary of each of the eight
integrated technology demonstrations completed
by the ERA researchers:
Tiny embedded nozzles blowing air over the
surface of an airplane’s vertical tail fin
showed that future aircraft could safely be
designed with smaller tails, reducing weight and
drag. This technology was tested using Boeing’s
ecoDemonstrator 757 flying laboratory. Also
flown was a test of surface coatings designed to
minimize drag caused by bug residue building up
on the wing’s leading edge.
NASA developed a new process
for stitching together large sections of
lightweight composite materials to create
damage-tolerant structures that could be used in
building uniquely shaped future aircraft that
weighed as much as 20 percent less than a
similar all-metal aircraft.
Teaming with the Air Force
Research Laboratory and FlexSys Inc. of Ann
Arbor, Michigan, NASA successfully tested a
radical new morphing wing technology that allows
an aircraft to seamlessly extend its flaps,
leaving no drag-inducing, noise-enhancing gaps
for air to flow through. FlexSys and Aviation
Partners of Seattle already have announced plans
to commercialize this technology.
NASA worked with General Electric to refine the
design of the compressor stage of a turbine
engine to improve its aerodynamic efficiency
and, after testing, realized that future engines
employing this technology could save 2.5 percent
in fuel burn.
The agency worked with Pratt
& Whitney on the company’s geared turbofan jet
engine to mature an advanced fan design to
improve propulsion efficiency and reduce noise.
If introduced on the next-generation engine, the
technology could reduce fuel burn by 15 percent
and significantly reduce noise.
NASA also worked with Pratt &
Whitney on an improved design for a jet engine
combustor, the chamber in which fuel is burned,
in an attempt to reduce the amount of nitrogen
oxides produced. While the goal was to reduce
generated pollution by 75 percent, tests of the
new design showed reductions closer to 80
New design tools were
developed to aid engineers in reducing noise
from deployed wing flaps and landing gear during
takeoffs and landings. Information from a
successful wind-tunnel campaign, combined with
baseline flight tests, were joined together for
the first time to create computer-based
simulations that could help mature future
Significant studies were
performed on a hybrid wing body concept in which
the wings join the fuselage in a continuous,
seamless line and the jet engines are mounted on
top of the airplane in the rear. Research
included wind-tunnel runs to test how well the
aircraft would operate at low speeds and to find
the optimal engine placement, while also
minimizing fuel burn and reducing noise.
As part of the closeout work for the ERA
project, information and results regarding each
of these technology demonstrations were
categorized and stored for future access and use
by the aerospace industry, and will be discussed
at the American Institute of Aeronautics and
Astronautics Sci-Tech Conference in San Diego
For more information about NASA aeronautics
research, go to:
( Editor: Karen Northon:
Posted: January 5, 2015