Tag Archives: climate change

Ozone Layer Faces Record 40 Percent Loss Over Arctic

nasa-ozone-loss-2011
Left: Ozone in Earth’s stratosphere at an altitude of approximately 12 miles (20 kilometers) in mid-March 2011, near the peak of the 2011 Arctic ozone loss. Red colors represent high levels of ozone, while purple and grey colors (over the north polar region) represent very small ozone amounts. Right: chlorine monoxide – the primary agent of chemical ozone destruction in the cold polar lower stratosphere – for the same day and altitude. Light blue and green colors represent small amounts of chlorine monoxide, while dark blue and black colors represent very large chlorine monoxide amounts. The white line marks the area within which the chemical ozone destruction took place. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Excerpts;

The protective ozone layer in the Arctic that keeps out the sun’s most damaging rays, ultraviolet radiation, has thinned about 40 percent this winter, a record drop, the U.N. weather agency said Tuesday.

The Arctic’s damaged stratospheric ozone layer isn’t the best known “ozone hole,” that would be Antarctica’s, which forms when sunlight returns in spring there each year…

Read Full Article, AP

Arctic Ozone Loss, Image, NASA

River Water and Salty Ocean Water Used to Generate Electricity?

elwha-dam-removal-estuary
Elwha river, estuary. Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care

Excerpts;

Stanford researchers have developed a battery that takes advantage of the difference in salinity between freshwater and seawater to produce electricity.

Anywhere freshwater enters the sea, such as river mouths or estuaries, could be potential sites for a power plant using such a battery, said Yi Cui, associate professor of materials science and engineering, who led the research team…

Read Full Article, Science Daily

Earth Hour 2011, in Pictures

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Rio de Janeiro, Copacabana. Photo source: ©© Alex de Carvalho

Excerpts;

At 8:30pm on Saturday 26 March 2011, landmarks across the world switched off their lights for one hour in a bid to highlight global climate change.

View 26 Photos Gallery, from Paris to Singapore: VIEW GALLERY, Guardian UK

Gathered here are an other series of before-and-after photographs from this year, which (starting with the second one below) will fade between “on” and “off” when clicked.
View Fading Photos Gallery: VIEW GALLERY, Boston Pictures

The Lost Emperors

emperor-penguin
Emperor penguins. Photo source: ©© Sandwich

Excerpt from LiveScience

A small colony of emperor penguins on an island off the West Antarctic Peninsula is gone, and the most likely culprit is loss of sea ice caused by warming. Although it has been predicted that penguins could suffer greatly because of global warming, this is the first time the disappearance of a colony has been documented…

Read Full Article, LiveScience

Earlier Arctic Phytoplankton Blooms and Impacts on The Food Chain
Warming temperatures and melting ice in the Arctic may be behind a progressively earlier bloom of a crucial annual marine event, and the shift could hold consequences for the entire food chain and carbon cycling in the region.

EU Pledges 90m Euros in Climate Funds for Sinking Pacific Island States

Vuanatu Sea Level Rise
“The melt has to go somewhere”. In Vanuatu, rising sea levels have forced the relocation of entire villages. Caption and Photo Source: Meredith james-Johnstone

By Leigh Phillips

Pacific island states on the frontline of climate change are to receive €90m (£76m) in EU cash for climate-related projects in return for siding with the European bloc at international climate negotiations.

The European Union’s development commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, headed to Vanuatu Wednesday to unveil funding for climate-related projects.

The funding comprises redirected resources, according to the European Commission, and will back projects such as mangrove replanting, watershed reforestation, rainwater harvesting, soil retention, raising of infrastructure, disaster preparedness and moving hospitals to higher ground.

The cash may appear small in EU terms, but represents as much as 19.5% of the nominal GDP of Vanuatu, and more than 12 times the GDP of the Pacific Islands Forum’s poorest member, Niue.

Such an injection of cash does not come without strings attached however. Piebalgs is to make the funding announcement at a high-level climate conference on Vanuatu organised by the European commission where the he will present an EU-Pacific action plan for the island states to sign.

The document requires the states to embrace “joint positions on the international stage” as part of a “stronger Pacific-EU political dialogue on climate change”.

Climate negotiations have been at a stalemate with only moderate advances made since the global UN conference in Copenhagen in 2009, as Western countries try to convince the developing world to commit to binding emissions reductions.

Since 2009, the EU has revamped its climate diplomacy strategy, with France and the UK dispatched to try to pry some African states away from what Brussels officials describe as an “awkward squad” of refusenik nations. Germany has been tasked with the Pacific.

Isaac Valero-Ladron, the EU’s climate spokesman, said that the bloc has had a lot of success in the region, which contains countries with some of the lowest GDP per capita in the world. “If we put money on the table, it really creates a constructive atmosphere and good policies.”

“The Pacific islands are a very helpful, positive partner on the international level. Our positions are very close.”

The funds, which according to the commission are redeployments of existing development funds rather than new sources of climate financing as many development groups also demand – support projects that include mangrove replanting, watershed reforestation, rainwater harvesting, soil retention and the raising of infrastructure.

In advance of the meeting, the commissioner called on EU member states to increase their funds to the region.

Original Article


Pacific Islands Climate Change Conference: European Union Calendar

Excerpt from Europa, EU Calendar

Between 3 and 4 March, 2011, European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, will participate in Conference on Climate Change in Vanuatu and sign an Action Plan to enhance Pacific-EU cooperation on climate change.

Some of the small Pacific islands are under the threat to disappear. They dramatically need increased aid.which, Commissioner Piebalgs will call EU member states and other international partners and donors to engage politically and financially in addressing climate change challenges faced by Pacific Countries and Territories.

The Commissioner will also sign four programmes which show EU determination to combat climate change and poverty in the Pacific for €50.4 million in total. Two of them cover specifically Vanuatu and Solomon Islands climate resilience specific needs. One will support strategic actions on adaptation in 9 Pacific Small Island states and prepare those countries to absorb efficiently the expected international climate fast start funds. The second regional project, to be implemented by the University of South Pacific, seeks to strengthen capacity building, community engagement and adaptive actions along with applied research.

The background:

Pacific islands are very isolated developing countries which have already suffered from regular natural disasters. In the worse case scenario, some islands could disappear due to rising sea levels and increasing erosion occurring from intense storms. All these changes infringe on hunting, fishing and the quality water resources therefore contribute to increased poverty in the region. In order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals on time the poverty must be also addressed in the Pacific region.

The European Commission provides development aid to the Pacific, which amounts €600 million for 2008-2013. It has reached a 60% increase between the 9th European Development Fund (2002-2007) and the 10th EDF (2007-2013).. A specific support needed to be devoted to address the negative impact of climate change in the Pacific. The Commission is politically and financially leading this EU effort. Together with Pacific partners, the Commission is actively engaged in financial terms, with €90 million in ongoing and already planned development cooperation projects and programmes at country and regional level for the period 2008-2013.

The event:

Building on the Cancun Climate Change Conference, the High Level conference on Climate Change in the Pacific will be hosted by Vanuatu on 4 March and is organised by the European Commission. Commissioner Piebalgs will make the introductory speech and Prime Minister of Vanuatu will do the closing remarks. An action plan will be presented for endorsement by the Conference.

A press conference will be organised on site.

Commissioner Piebalgs will visit a first wind farm implemented in the Vanuatu archipelago, designed to help meet the country’s growing energy needs. He will also visit the National Disaster Centre and Meteorological Services to assess local capacities deployed at the forefront of disaster risk management.

King Tide: The Sinking of Tuvalu

A film documentary by Juriaan Booij

Tuvalu is one of the smallest and most remote countries on earth. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it can barely be seen on most maps. The country is in danger of disappearing beneath the waves. Not an Atlantis myth but the reality of this century. Plans for evacuation are being made right now. Tuvalu is destined to become one of earth’s first nations to be washed away due to the effect of global warming, making the Tuvaluans the first complete nation of climate refugees, banned from their home-islands, their culture and identity taken away.

Beyond the appearance of an easygoing life, the threat to Tuvalu’s future is an obvious danger that everyone has been forced to recognize. The highest point of Tuvalu is only four and a half meters above sea level. The average elevation is not even two.

But still, in spite of the evidence, many people in Tuvalu don’t believe they will be forced to leave, and point to their bibles for proof. In the deeply Christian country, great faith is placed in the words of Genesis, which says that rainbows are proof God is keeping his covenant made with Noah to never again flood the earth. What is going to happen to a nation without their home islands to anchor what is left of their culture?

The King Tide of Tuvalu Website

Tuvalu struggles to hold back tide, BBC
The fragile strips of green that make up the small islands of Tuvalu are incredibly beautiful but also incredibly vulnerable.The group of nine tiny islands in the South Pacific only just break the surface of the ocean, but for how much longer?

King Tide Pacific Islands States
A young girl watches waves crash over a sea-wall during a king tide in Kiribati. Photo Source: Reuters/Greenpeace

The Voices of the South Pacific

The View From Beneath the Waves

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The floods can be fun for children, but what does the future hold? Photo Source: Greenpeace

Protecting Nature Through “Radical Collaboration”

Blue Wave
Liquid Planet, from the series Liquid Vision, which shows a different point of view of waves. Photo and Caption: Freddy Cerdeira.

Excerpts;

One of this year’s themes at TED is “Radical Collaboration.” I’ve been thinking about this issue a lot lately, specifically what can be achieved if the goals of development and conservation were linked together.

For too long, the conservation movement has viewed development as something that must be stopped in order to protect nature.

As we face a resource-challenged world with rapidly growing populations, human well-being and the health of the natural world can no longer be viewed separately. We need to design a new way of thinking that brings development strategies and conservation principles together. But how?…

Read Full Article; Nature

Alliance between the Arctic and Tropics

barbados-erosion
Tree Roots on Eroded Beach, Barbados. Photo Source: Flick’r

Excerpts;

While waters around south Baffin Island and Nunavik remained ice-free this past January, people who live more than 5,000 kilometres away to the south on the island of Barbados grappled with another problem generated by climate change: too much water.

Baffin Island in the Canadian territory of Nunavut is the largest member of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. It is the largest island in Canada and the fifth largest island in the world, with an area of 507,451 km2.

No wonder “you melt, we sink” is the nightmare that unites 43 small developing island nations of the world and Arctic organizations in their fight against climate change through a coalition called Many Strong Voices.

Its common goal is to keep temperature increases in check, so the North stays frozen and the islands stay above sea level.

Although some could see this alliance between the Arctic and tropics as strange, the connection makes sense to Kirt Ejetsiak of Iqaluit, vice-president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, who spoke at an MSV event at last December’s United Nations climate change conference in Cancun.

“I believe that it’s only by working together to lobby the various governments and UN agencies that we can get our message across. It’s an unusual alliance but one that fits naturally in my view,” Ejetsiak told Nunatsiaq News. “We must find our similarities and connections rather than our differences and work together.”

Like the Arctic, small island nations account for a tiny percentage of world energy consumption and produce low levels of climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

Yet they’re already threatened by the same kind of unpredictable weather, storms and erosion due to the changing climate that has some Alaskan villages relocating inland.

You can see these environmental impacts happening now in Barbados, the most easterly of the Caribbean islands, with 97 km of coastline and a population of about 280,000, mainly the descendants of slaves brought from Africa in the 17th and 18th centuries to work in sugar plantations…

Read Full Article, By Jane George/ Nutnatsiaq

Testing the Limits of Where Humans Can Live

kuril-islands
Kuril Islands. Photo Source: RIA Novosti. Alexandr Grashenkov
The Kuril Islands are a chain of volcanic islands between Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula and Japan’s Hokkaido Island, which separate the Okhotsk Sea from the Pacific Ocean. The coastal waters of the Kuril Islands are home to seals, sea otters, killer whales and sea lions.
Kuril Islands. Photo Source: RIA Novosti. Alexandr Grashenkov

Excerpt from The University of Washington

On an isolated segment of islands in the Pacific Ring of Fire, residents endure volcanoes, tsunamis, dense fog, steep cliffs and long and chilly winters. Sounds homey, huh?

At least it might be for inhabitants of the Kuril Islands, an 810-mile archipelago that stretches from Japan to Russia. The islands, formed by a collision of tectonic plates, are nearly abandoned today, but anthropologists have learned that thousands of people have lived there on and off as far back as at least 6000 B.C., persevering despite natural disasters.

“We want to identify the limits of adaptability, or how much resilience people have,” said Ben Fitzhugh, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Washington. “We’re looking at the islands as a yardstick of humans’ capacity to colonize and sustain themselves.”

kuril islands
Photo Source: Sergei Krasnoukhov

Understanding what made residents stay and how they survived could inform how we adapt to modern vulnerabilities, including climate change. The findings also have implications for how we rebound from contemporary catastrophes, such as the Indonesian tsunami in 2004, hurricanes Katrina and Rita and last year’s earthquake in Haiti.

Fitzhugh is leading an international team of anthropologists, archaeologists, geologists and earth and atmospheric scientists in studying the history of human settlement on the Kuril Islands.

The team’s findings will be discussed Feb. 20 during a lecture, Scales of Vulnerability and Resilience in Human Settlement of the Kuril Islands, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

The scientists are studying islands in the central portion of the Kurils, from Urup Island in the south to Onekotan Island in the north, about 75 percent of the island chain. During three expeditions, they’ve found small pit houses, pottery, stone tools, barbed harpoon heads and other remnants of the islanders’ fishing and foraging lifestyle.

The scientists believe that human settlements existed in three different waves, the earliest in 6000 B.C., the most recent in 1200 A.D.

Fitzhugh finds evidence that following volcanic eruptions and tsunamis, people left the settlements but eventually returned. Fitzhugh and his research team have found that mobility, social networks and knowledge of the local environment helped indigenous people survive.

kuril island

“Having relatives and friends on other Kurils meant that, when something disastrous happened locally, people could temporarily move in with relatives on nearby islands,” he said.

Understanding the local environment also helped people survive the persistently foggy, dark and chilly environment. Since fog can shroud the islands, residents couldn’t navigate between islands by simply pointing their boats toward destinations. Fitzhugh and his collaborators suspect that indigenous Kurilians instead used bird behavior, water currents and water temperature to navigate.

kuril-island
Photo Source: Sergey Krivosheyev

Fitzhugh says that the Kurils’ population decline has less to do with environmental challenges and more to do with changes in social and political influences, such as skirmishes between Russia and Japan over control of the Kurils.

He adds that as a global society in a time of environmental changes, we have to protect abilities of small and vulnerable populations to sustain themselves.

“This is not something that will naturally rise to the top of priorities of large political systems without concerted effort,” Fitzhugh said.

kuril-islands
Photo Source: Sergey Krivosheyev

Original Article

Tokyo’s unlearned history lessons, Kuril Islands Dispute, by Yuri Rubtsov, PhD, International Affair Magazine

Why Kuril dispute will not end any time soon, BBC

The Kuril Islands Dispute, Wikipedia

The Kuril Islands Photos Gallery, Ria Novosti