Governments worldwide are failing to do enough to tackle drought, which lacks the headline-making punch of a hurricane but can have an equally devastating human and economic impact, the UN weather agency warned Thursday.
“A flood or hurricane is over within hours or days. A drought can last weeks, months, a season, a year. But droughts can cause as many deaths over time as any other natural disaster,” said Robert Stefanski, head of World Meteorological Organisation?s (WMO) agriculture division.
Droughts in recent years have struck regions ranging from the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, China, India, Mexico and Brazil to the United States, Russia and southeastern Europe.
Droughts are estimated to affect tens of millions of people and cause tens of billions of dollars in economic losses every year.
They are expected to increase in frequency, area and intensity due to climate change, yet Read more…
The last decade has produced record-breaking heat waves in many parts of the world. At the same time, it was globally the warmest since sufficient measurements started in the 19th century. Here we show that, worldwide, the number of local record-breaking monthly temperature extremes is now on average five times larger than expected in a climate with no long-term warming. This implies that on average there is an 80 % chance that a new monthly heat record is due to climatic change. Large regional differences exist in the number of observed records. Summertime records, which are associated with prolonged heat waves, increased by more than a factor of ten in some continental regions including parts of Europe, Africa, southern Asia and Amazonia. Overall, these high record numbers are quantitatively consistent with those expected for the observed climatic warming trend with Read more…
Image: Jenny Downing/Flickr
By Stephen Leahy, the Guardian
The record loss of Arctic sea ice this summer may mean a cold winter for the UK and northern Europe. The region has been prone to bad winters after summers with very low sea ice, such as 2011 and 2007, said Jennifer Francis, a researcher at Rutgers University.
“We can’t make predictions yet … [but] I wouldn’t be surprised to see wild extremes this winter,” Francis told the Guardian.
This year’s ice melt has broken the 2007 record by an an area larger than the state of Texas.
Polar ice experts “thought that it would be many years until we again saw anything like we saw in 2007″, said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado.
The unprecedented expanse of ice-free Arctic Ocean has been absorbing the Read more…
A major part of the climate change that scientists have documented over the past few decades comes from human emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. Not all of it, however. Natural climate cycles haven’t magically disappeared — the El Niño/Southern Oscillation, or ENSO, for example, is entering a phase that will likely boost global temperatures temporarily — and scientists are still discovering new ones.
The latest comes in a new report published in Geophysical Research Letters. It’s well known that the Sun varies slightly in brightness every 11 years, and while those changes pale beside the effect of human-generated greenhouse gases, according to the report, they’re enough to trigger unusually cold winters in Central Europe.
The smoking gun is the freezing of the Rhine river, something that doesn’t happen often because it’s difficult to freeze such a large, free-flowing volume of water. Those unusually cold winters might come along at random, but by looking back at records dating to all the way back to 1780, a Read more…
The progressive shrinking of Arctic sea ice is bringing colder, snowier winters to the UK and other areas of Europe, North America and China, a study shows.
As global temperatures have risen, the area of Arctic Ocean covered by ice in summer and autumn has been falling.
Writing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a US/China-based team show this affects the jet stream and brings cold, snowy weather.
Whether conditions will get colder still as ice melts further is unclear.
There was a marked deterioration in ice cover between the summers of 2006 and 2007, which still holds the record for the lowest extent on record; and it has not recovered since.
The current winter is roughly tracking the graph of 2007, according to the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).
The new study is not the first to propose a causal relationship between Read more…
The Schmallenberg virus causes stillbirths and birth defects in sheep, goats and cattle and is so new there is no treatment and no cure.
Yesterday, the Government’s vet agency confirmed that the first case has been reported in Wiltshire, leading to fears that this year’s lambing season could be badly hit.
The chairman of the NFU’s livestock board, Alistair Mackintosh, said the virus, which is named after the German town where it was first spotted and discovered only last year, has “the potential to become a catastrophe in the UK”.
It is believed to be spread by midges and is not thought to be a danger to humans, but farmers have little or no defence against it for their livestock. After the first cases last year in Germany, it quickly spread to Read more…
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — More than 600 people in Eastern Europe have died during a record-breaking cold snap that has brought the heaviest blizzards in recent memory and trapped thousands behind walls of snow, officials said Wednesday.
Authorities in Russia said 205 people have died in the deep freeze that began in late January, while in Ukraine there have been 112 fatalities, and in Poland 107 people lost their lives due to the frigid weather. There were 35 deaths in Hungary, 20 in Serbia, and 10 in Kosovo.
In hard-hit Romania, some 23,000 people remain isolated in 225 communities where more than week of heavy snowfall has blocked roads and wreaked havoc on the rail network.
Nearly 4,000 people cut off for more than a week said Wednesday they were short of food water, and medicine. Authorities said seven people have died in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 86 deaths.
BELGRADE: Rescue helicopters have evacuated dozens of people from snow-blocked villages in Serbia and Bosnia and airlifted in emergency food and medicine as a severe cold spell kept eastern Europe in its icy grip.
The death toll from the cold rose to 83 on Wednesday and emergency crews worked overtime as temperatures sank to minus 32.5 degrees in some areas. Parts of the Black Sea froze near the Romanian coastline and rare snow fell on Croatian islands in the Adriatic Sea. In Bulgaria, 16 towns recorded their lowest temperatures since records started 100 years ago as four more people were reported dead from hypothermia. In Russia, temperatures fell to minus 21 in Moscow.
In central Serbia, choppers pulled out 12 people, including nine who went to a funeral but then could not get back over icy, snow-choked roads. Two more people froze to death in the snow and two others are missing, bringing that nation’s death toll to five.
”The situation is dramatic. The snow is up to five metres high in some areas, you can only see Read more…
To that end, the EU’s first summit of 2012, to be held on Jan 30, will focus on finding ways to kickstart growth and create jobs across the 27-country union, which is on the brink of recession and has average unemployment of 10 percent, rising to 45 percent among the young in countries such as Spain.
The problem is that after years of preaching austerity and telling wayward governments to cut spending and raise revenue, there is scarce capital readily available for investment, either at a national level or across the EU budget.
As a result, there is little expectation that Monday’s summit will produce concrete measures to boost either output or employment in the near-term, despite EU leaders first adopting their competitiveness mantra more than a decade ago.
“They don’t have much of a strategy apart from the typical laundry list of structural and labour market reforms, which is fine, but that is Read more…