The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.
It’s not been a good year for Florida’s citrus industry. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that, for the second year running, the orange crop is expected to be almost 10 percent lower than the previous year.
The culprit is citrus greening, a disease that has devastated Florida’s oranges and grapefruits, and has now begun to spread in Texas and California.
See Also: Citrus Greening (Huanglongbing)
An intense blizzard, appropriately named Hercules, is about to blanket the Northeast. Antarctic ice locked in a Russian ship containing a team of scientists—en route, no less, to do climate research. Record low temperatures have been seen in parts of the US, and in Winnipeg, temperatures on December 31 were as cold as temperatures on…Mars.
So as is their seasonal wont, here come the climate skeptics.
The predicament and subsequent rescue of 52 passengers – both tourists and scientists – on the Russian ship Academik Shokalskiy has gripped media around the world. The smooth rescue was impressive and a great relief, although the vessel itself and its crew are still stuck – and now one of the icebreakers sent to help in the rescue, the Chinese ship Xue Long, is itself stuck in the ice.
Some commentators have remarked on what they describe as the ‘irony’ of researchers studying the impact of a warming planet themselves being impeded by heavy ice. With some even suggesting that the situation is itself evidence that global warming is exaggerated.
In fact, the local weather patterns that brought about the rapid build up of ice that trapped the Academik Shokalskiy tell us very little about global warming. This is weather, not climate.
Cold-sensitive mangrove forests have expanded dramatically along Florida’s Atlantic Coast as the frequency of killing frosts has declined, according to a new study based on 28 years of satellite data from the University of Maryland and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Md. Between 1984 and 2011, the Florida Atlantic coast from the Miami area northward gained more than 3,000 acres (1,240 hectares) of mangroves. All the increase occurred north of Palm Beach County. Between Cape Canaveral National Seashore and Saint Augustine, mangroves doubled in area. Meanwhile between the study’s first five years and its last five years, nearby Daytona Beach recorded 1.4 fewer days per year when temperatures fell below 28.4 degrees Fahrenheit (-4 degrees Celsius). The number of killing frosts in southern Florida was unchanged.
A new Duke University-led study has documented dramatic, natural short-term increases in the acidity of a North Carolina estuary. “The natural short-term variability in acidity we observed over the course of one year exceeds 100-year global predictions for the ocean as a whole and may already be exerting added pressure on some of the estuary’s organisms, particularly shelled organisms that are especially susceptible to changes in pH,” said Zackary I. Johnson, Arthur P. Kaupe Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.
Global average temperatures will rise at least 4°C by 2100 and potentially more than 8°C by 2200 if carbon dioxide emissions are not reduced according to new research published in Nature. Scientists found global climate is more sensitive to carbon dioxide than most previous estimates. The research also appears to solve one of the great unknowns of climate sensitivity, the role of cloud formation and whether this will have a positive or negative effect on global warming.
A new study published in Science this month suggests the thinning of Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica is much more susceptible to climatic and ocean variability than at first thought. Observations by a team of scientists at British Antarctic Survey, and other institutions, show large fluctuations in the ocean heat in Pine Island Bay. The team discovered that oceanic melting of the ice shelf into which the glacier flows decreased by 50 per cent between 2010 and 2012, and this may have been due to a La Ninã weather event. Pine Island Glacier has thinned continuously during past decades driven by an acceleration in its flow. The acceleration is thought to be caused by thinning of the floating ice shelf created as the glacier slides into the sea. Understanding the processes driving ice shelf thinning and the glacier’s response is key to assessing how much it will contribute to rising sea levels.
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