Adani may sell stake in Carmichael Coal. #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

Adani may sell stake in Australia’s Carmichael coal mine amid funding delay

Adani Enterprises concedes it would fail to meet a March deadline to arrange A$3 billion ($2.3 billion) in financing for the Carmichael coal mine project

Perry Williams

The financing delay is the latest hurdle for Adani, adding pressure to its ambition to deliver the first coal production from the mine by 2020. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

Sydney: The battle to build one of the world’s biggest coal mines has suffered a fresh setback after Adani Enterprises Ltd conceded it would fail to meet a March deadline to arrange A$3 billion ($2.3 billion) in financing for the project.

The December decision by the Queensland government to veto Adani’s A$900 million funding bid for a rail line meant financing would require more time to be secured, an Adani Australia spokeswoman said by phone Thursday.

The Indian conglomerate said it will also consider selling a minority stake in its Carmichael project without providing further details.

The financing delay is the latest hurdle for Adani, adding pressure to its ambition to deliver the first coal production from the mine by 2020.

In addition to the state government opposing a federal loan for the project, major lenders have pre-emptively excluded themselves from financing the Carmichael development because they oppose polluting fossil-fuel projects.

There have also been changes to the development of the mine and connecting rail line.

Adani decided in December to build Australia’s largest coal project by itself after cancelling a A$2 billion deal with contractor Downer EDI Ltd.

A back-up rail option being developed by an Australian operator was also canned earlier in February.

That may limit Adani’s options for hauling coal from the Galilee Basin mine to the Gautam Adani-controlled Abbot Point terminal, which faces its own refinancing deadline later this year. Bloomberg

Press link for more: Live Mint

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Our acid oceans will dissolve coral reef sands within decades. #StopAdani #auspol #Qldpol

Our acid oceans will dissolve coral reef sands within decades!

Carbonate sands on coral reefs will start dissolving within about 30 years, on average, as oceans become more acidic, new research published today in Science shows.

Carbonate sands, which accumulate over thousands of years from the breakdown of coral and other reef organisms, are the building material for the frameworks of coral reefs and shallow reef environments like lagoons, reef flats and coral sand cays.

But these sands are sensitive to the chemical make-up of sea water. As oceans absorb carbon dioxide, they acidify – and at a certain point, carbonate sands simply start to dissolve.

The world’s oceans have absorbed around one-third of human-emitted carbon dioxide.

Carbonate sand is vulnerable

For a coral reef to grow or be maintained, the rate of carbonate production (plus any external sediment supply) must be greater than the loss through physical, chemical and biological erosion, transport and dissolution.

It is well known that ocean acidification reduces the amount of carbonate material produced by corals. Our work shows that reefs face a double-whammy: the amount of carbonate material produced will decrease, and the newly produced and stored carbonate sands will also dissolve.

Researchers used benthic chambers (pictured) to test how different levels of seawater acidity affect reef sediments. Steve Dalton/Southern Cross University

We measured the impact of acidity on carbonate sands by placing underwater chambers over coral reefs sands at Heron Island, Hawaii, Bermuda and Tetiaroa in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Some of the chambers were then acidified to represent future ocean conditions.

The rate at which the sands dissolve was strongly related to the acidity of the overlying seawater, and was ten times more sensitive than coral growth to ocean acidification. In other words, ocean acidification will impact the dissolution of coral reef sands more than the growth of corals.

This probably reflects the corals’ ability to modify their environment and partially adjust to ocean acidification, whereas the dissolution of sands is a geochemical process that cannot adapt.

Sands on all four reefs showed the same response to future ocean acidification, but the impact of ocean acidification on each reef is different due to different starting conditions. Carbonate sands in Hawaii are already dissolving due to ocean acidification, because this coral reef site is already disturbed by pollution from nutrients and organic matter from the land. The input of nutrients stimulates algal growth on the reef.

In contrast, carbonate sands in Tetiaroa are not dissolving under current ocean acidification because this site is almost pristine.

What will this mean for coral reefs?

Our modelling at 22 locations shows that net sand dissolution will vary for each reef. However, by the end of the century all but two reefs across the three ocean basins would on average experience net dissolution of the sands.

A transition to net sand dissolution will result in loss of material for building shallow reef habitats such as reef flats and lagoons and associated coral cays. What we don’t know is whether an entire reef will slowly erode or simply collapse, once the sediments become net dissolving, as the corals will still grow and create reef framework. Although they will most likely just slowly erode.

It may be possible to reduce the impact of ocean acidification on the dissolution of reef sands, by managing the impact of organic matter like algae at local and regional scales. This may provide some hope for some already disturbed reefs, but much more research on this topic is required.

Ultimately, the only way we can stop the oceans acidifying and the dissolving of coral reefs is concerted action to lower CO₂ emissions.

Press link for more: The Conversation

Climate Change experts warn of risk to human life. #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

Climate change experts warn of risk to human life in coming years

Greg Russell @MediaNetScot

Professor Brian Greenwood said ‘much more needs to be done’

CLIMATE change will be responsible for an estimated quarter of a million deaths a year, a conference has heard.

Saskia Heijnen, of Wellcome Trust, told the Global Health event at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPoE), the Our Planet, Our Health programme had predicted that by 2050 the world would have to produce 60 per cent more food if current trends continued and that the number of people living in cities would rise to two thirds of the world’s population.

She also predicted that climate change would cause an estimated 250,000 deaths.

Doctors are considering how our health and the environment are affected by food systems, increased urbanisation, and climate change.

A series of talks from international experts – streamed to 25 international sites – is looking at the major challenges to introducing new vaccines, chronic diseases, mental health and safeguarding health for future years within the context of environmental change.

Keynote speaker, Professor Brian Greenwood, an expert on global malaria control, said: “Considerable progress has been made in the control of malaria during the past two decades as a result of increased political and financial support for malaria control, which has allowed the scale up of interventions that were already available two decades ago.

“However, much more needs to be done.

“Although mortality from malaria worldwide has fallen by over 50 per cent since 2000… over 1000 people still die from malaria each day, mostly young children in Africa.

“However, the news is not all gloomy. A number of novel anti-malarial drugs are being trialled and two new forms of insecticide-treated bed nets have recently been approved. Progress is being made in the development of malaria vaccines and the application of gene drive technologies to vector mosquitoes opens up exciting new approaches to the control of malaria and other mosquito borne diseases.”

College president, Professor Derek Bell, added: “It’s important to learn lessons from international health research, and apply those lessons nationally, where appropriate.

“In particular, I am interested to hear more from our speakers about the impact climate change and the destruction of marine ecosystems have had on human health.”

Press link for more: The National

Seven Climate Change Myths #Auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Seven climate change myths put about by big oil companies | CityMetric

Since the start of this year, major players within the fossil fuel industry – “big oil” – have made some big announcements regarding climate change.

BP revealed plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by acquiring additional renewable energy companies.

Royal Dutch Shell defended its $1-$2bn green energy annual budget.

Even ExxonMobil, until recently relatively dismissive of the basic science behind climate change, included a section dedicated to reducing emissions in its yearly outlook for energy report.

But this idea of a “green” oil company producing “clean” fossil fuels is one that I would call a dangerous myth.

Such myths obscure the irreconcilability between burning fossil fuels and environmental protection – yet they continue to be perpetuated to the detriment of our planet.

Myth 1: Climate change can be solved with the same thinking that created it

Measures put in place now to address climate change must be sustainable in the long run.

A hasty, sticking plaster approach based on quick fixes and repurposed ideas will not suffice.

Yet this is precisely what some fossil fuel companies intend to do.

To address climate change, major oil and gas companies are mostly doing what they have historically excelled at – more technology, more efficiency, and producing more fossil fuels.

But like the irresponsible gambler that cannot stop doubling down during a losing streak, the industry’s bet on more, more, more only means more ecological destruction.

Irrespective of how efficient fossil fuel production becomes, that the industry’s core product can be 100 per cent environmentally sustainable is an illusion.

A potential glimmer of hope is carbon capture and storage (CCS), a process that sucks carbon out of the air and sends it back underground. But despite being praised by big oil as a silver bullet solution for climate change, CCS is yet another sticking plaster approach.

Even CCS advocates suggest that it cannot currently be employed on a global, mass scale.

Myth 2: Climate change won’t spell the end of the fossil fuel industry

According to a recent report, climate change is one factor among several that has resulted in the end of big oil’s golden years – a time when oil was plenty, money quick, and the men at the top celebrated as cowboy capitalists.

Now, to ensure we do not surpass the dangerous 2°C threshold, we must realise that there is simply no place for “producers” of fossil fuels.

After all, as scientists, financial experts, and activists have warned, if we want to avoid dangerous climate change, the proven reserves of the world’s biggest fossil fuel companies cannot be consumed.

Myth 3: Renewables investment means oil companies are seriously tackling climate change

Compared to overall capital expenditures, oil companies renewables’ investment is a miniscule drop in the barrel.

Even then, as companies such as BP have demonstrated before, they will divest from renewables as soon as market conditions change.

Big oil companies’ green investments only produce tiny reductions in their overall greenhouse gas emissions.

BP calls these effects “real sustainable reductions” – but they accounted for only 0.3 per cent of their total emissions reductions in 2016, 0.1 per cent in 2015, 0.1 per cent in 2014, and so on.

Myth 4: Hard climate regulation is not an option

One of the oil industry’s biggest fears regarding climate change is regulation.

It is of such importance that BP recently hinted at big oil’s exodus from the EU if climate regulation took effect.

Let’s be clear, we are talking about “command-and-control” regulation here, such as pollution limits, and not business-friendly tools such as carbon pricing or market-based quota systems.

There are many commercial reasons why the fossil fuel industry would prefer the latter over the former.

Notably, regulation may result in a direct impact on the bottom line of fossil fuel companies given incurred costs. But climate regulation is – in combination with market-based mechanisms – required to address climate change.

This is a widely accepted proposition advocated by mainstream economists, NGOs and most governments.

Myth 5: Without cheap fossil fuels, the developing world will stop

Total’s ex-CEO, the late Christoph de Margerie, once remarked: “Without access to energy, there is no development.” Although this is probably true, that this energy must come from fossil fuels is not. Consider, for example, how for 300 days last year Costa Rica relied entirely on renewable energy for its electricity needs.

Even China, the world’s biggest polluter, is simultaneously the biggest investor in domestic renewables projects.

As the World Bank has highlighted, in contrast to big oil’s claims about producing more fossil fuels to end poverty, the sad truth is that by burning even the current fossil fuel stockpile, climate change will place millions of people back into poverty.

The UN concurs, signalling that climate change will result in reduced crop yields, more waterborne diseases, higher food prices and greater civil unrest in developing parts of the world.

Myth 6: Big oil must be involved in climate policy-making

Fossil fuel companies insist that their involvement in climate policy-making is necessary, so much so that they have become part of the wallpaper at international environmental conferences.

This neglects that fossil fuels are, in fact, a pretty large part of the problem. Big oil attends international environmental conferences for two reasons: lobbying and self-promotion.

Some UN organisations already recognise the risk of corporations hijacking the policy-making process. The World Health Organisation, for instance, forbids the tobacco industry from attending its conferences.

The UN’s climate change arm, the UNFCCC, should take note.

Myth 7: Nature can and must be “tamed” to address climate change

If you mess with mother nature, she bites back. As scientists reiterate, natural systems are complex, unpredictable, and even hostile when disrupted.

Climate change is a prime example. Small changes in the chemical makeup of the atmosphere may have drastic implications for Earth’s inhabitants.

Fossil fuel companies reject that natural systems are fragile – as evidenced by their expansive operations in ecologically vulnerable areas such as the Arctic. The “wild” aspect of nature is considered something to be controlled and dominated. This myth merely serves as a way to boost egos. As independent scientist James Lovelock wrote, “The idea that humans are yet intelligent enough to serve as stewards of the Earth is among the most hubristic ever.”

George Ferns, Lecturer in Management, Employment and Organisation, Cardiff University.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

We can’t Engineer our way out of #ClimateChange #Auspol #StopAdani

We Can’t Engineer Our Way Out of Climate Change

Unfortunately, that’s what some scientists think humans will try to do.

More stories by Mark Buchanan22 February 2018, 5:00 pm AEST

Climate Change

by

Mark Buchanan

Could the problem of global warming become so desperate that humans would be willing to take the vast risk of re-engineering our environment?

It’s far from a desirable or lasting solution.

Yet some scientists have thought deeply about it and concluded that’s what we’ll probably do.

The human response to global warming has been so slow that it may be too late to avoid serious consequences just by reducing future emissions.

This means tough decisions.

Rapidly rising temperatures could so damage supporting ecosystems that we’ll be forced to cool the planet with technological tricks – for example, injecting sulfate aerosols into the atmosphere to block the sun’s rays.

Such “geoengineering” is risky.

For one, a single nation might be able to do it on its own, changing global patterns of weather that harm people elsewhere, and inciting conflict.

Also, aerosols stay suspended in the atmosphere only for a year or so.

If carbon emissions keep rising, we’ll be locked into continuing the treatment forever, lest we face much faster warming – and biological disaster.

Still, many scientists favor at least doing research into geoengineering, just in case it’s really needed.

A good medical analogy might be amputation.

No one wants to lose a leg, and no doctor wants to take one, but it’s good that surgeons know how to do it.

In dire circumstances, even a terrible outcome can be preferable.

This laudable sentiment may also be a little naive.

As Ryan Gunderson of Miami University in Ohio and colleagues argue, geoengineering will also provide a convenient excuse to keep using fossil fuels.

It won’t solve the problem of global warming and, more generally, humanity’s ever-growing impact on the planet, which has already exceeded several safe boundaries.

By obscuring such issues, technological patches will steer people away from pursuing difficult social and economic change.

The most powerful interests opposing action on carbon emissions will likely find geoengineering increasingly attractive.

Indeed, some Republicans closely tied to the fossil fuel industry– and who long denied the existence of global warming — have switched to embracing geoengineering as the best solution.

Given their past accomplishments in sowing doubt about the reality of climate change, and in delaying action, their influence could be considerable and perhaps decisive.

The really important point made by Gunderson and colleagues: Nobody should assume that policy will, in the end, be determined by scientific logic and good sense.

It may well hang on little more than competition among well-funded groups pursuing purely short-term interests. The best intentions of scientists hoping to provide a plan B for humanity might be hijacked by forces interested only in profiting from the continued use of fossil fuels, long-term consequences be damned.

What to do?

For one, don’t be fooled.

Don’t be lulled into thinking that humanity can engineer its way out of global warming, that we can get around it without radically changing the way we live.

Otherwise we’ll inevitably end up with half-measures that leave the biggest problems to our children, and to theirs.

Press link for more: Bloomberg

Stronger storms may need a new category six. #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani

Stronger storms mean new ‘category six’ scale may be needed

Traditional scale used goes only to five but strength and intensity of storms is increasing, says scientists

Eleanor Ainge RoyLast modified on Thu 22 Feb 2018 15.56 AEDT

A local resident walks past a yacht that was washed ashore after Cyclone Debbie hit the northern Queensland town of Airlie Beach in March 2017. Photograph: Reuters

The increasing strength, intensity and duration of tropical cyclones has climate scientists questioning whether a new classification needs to be created: a category-six storm.

The Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale currently runs in severity from one to five, with five describing near-total destruction.

But climate scientists meeting at a conference in the New Zealand city of Wellington have floated the idea of creating a category six to reflect the increasing severity of tropical cyclones in the wake of warming sea temperatures and climate change.

Pictures of Cyclone Tracy which hit Darwin in 1974

Climatologist Michael Mann, the director of the Earth system science center at Penn State University said the current scale could be viewed as increasingly outdated.

“Scientifically, [six] would be a better description of the strength of 200mph (320km/h) storms, and it would also better communicate the well-established finding now that climate change is making the strongest storms even stronger,” he said.

He pointed out that category five was previously considered the highest category necessary because it led to essentially total destruction of human infrastructure. But that was no longer true owing to sturdier construction

“Since the scale is now used as much in a scientific context as it is a damage assessment context, it makes sense to introduce a category six to describe the unprecedented strength 200mph storms we’ve seen over the past few years both globally [Patricia] and here in the southern hemisphere [Winston].”

New Zealand’s climate change minister, James Shaw, said cyclone Winston in 2016 – the strongest cyclone on record in the southern hemisphere – was an example of a cyclone that could have been scaled up to a category six; if the category existed.

“The international cyclone rankings don’t go higher than category five, the only reason it wasn’t a category-six cyclone is because we don’t have a category six, but we might need one in the future,” Shaw told the conference.

But Chris Brandolino, principal scientist at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in New Zealand, said the ramifications of introducing another category to the scale could be complex, because meteorologists were trained in the old scale, and the public were educated about what the scale means, and how to prepare.

“Categories are engaging to the public and its easy for us to understand and communicate the severity of a storm,” said Brandolino. “I always encourage us re-evaluating the science, we should always be asking ‘is what we are doing appropriate for the time?’ But I think if we are seriously to consider this it requires a holistic approach, looking at the whole scale, not just adding a category. Maybe the whole scale gets rejigged to reflect the times.”

Mann said re-evaluating the scale or adding a category six would have implications for the preparedness of communities in the cyclone’s path, and on scientists’ ability to understand cyclone behaviour as it changes in an age of climate change.

Press link for more The Guardian

Somalia’s Climate Change Refugees #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Somalia’s climate change refugees

Forced off their land by drought, rural families face a precarious existence in Mogadishu

Displaced by drought and conflict, rural Somalis have been heading to Mogadishu in their tens of thousands.

They get no safety or support and are increasingly targeted for forced evictions, but they are still coming.

After yet another bad rainy season at the end of last year, Amina Muse abandoned her four-hectare farm in Qorylooley, a small village in southern Somalia.

For Muse, no harvest meant no business, and no business meant she would struggle to buy food or other essentials until the next rainy season in three months’ time – if those rains came at all.

Uncertain what to do, Muse called friend and former neighbour Faduma, who had left Qorylooley in 2013 when fighting erupted nearby between al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab militants and government forces.

Faduma made her way to the capital, Mogadishu, finding refuge in a settlement for displaced people in the heart of the city. Muse asked her how life was now. Faduma told her she was barely surviving, reliant on the goodwill of neighbours and occasional odd jobs, washing clothes and selling any goods she could find.

Muse considered those bleak prospects then looked at her land. “I didn’t think I had a choice,” she told IRIN. “My only option was to move to Mogadishu.”

“The leveller”

The decade-old conflict between al-Shabab and the government has driven hundreds of thousands of Somalis from their homes.

But even as the scale of violence-related displacement has dipped in recent years, the impact of food shortages as a result of climate-related shocks – from drought to floods – means the level of disaster-affected displacement has risen steeply over the same period.

One million Somalis were displaced by drought and conflict last year, according to OCHA, the UN office that coordinates humanitarian aid.

The rains in Somalia have underperformed for four successive seasons and today everyone – from farmers in the previously fertile south to pastoralists herding camel further north – has felt the impact.

Smallholder farmers are producing smaller harvests; water points have become scarce; and large numbers of livestock have died in a drought Somalis now refer to as “the leveller” due to its far-reaching effects.

Their livelihoods withering away in front of them, many rural Somalis have few options but to migrate to the large towns in the hope of finding new sources of income.

In a recent technical study, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization noted that 2.7 million Somalis are still in urgent need of emergency assistance.

It could have been far worse. Somalia was one of four countries where famine was feared in 2017. Aid was dramatically scaled up and, as a result, food security has markedly improved, according to the FAO report.

But Mogadishu has seen a surge in internally displaced people (IDPs) escaping the drought and violence in the countryside who now squat in makeshift camps on increasingly valuable private land. The response from the authorities has been to clear them.

Christina Goldbaum/IRIN

Amina Muse in the home she shares with her friend, Faduma, in Mogadishu

Growing friction

On the 29th and the 30th of December last year, 21 IDP settlements were destroyed on the outskirts of Mogadishu. Witnesses described bulldozers and vehicles arriving early on the morning of the 29th, demolishing homes and schools, and forcing more than 5,000 families to flee for settlements further from the city.

“The evictions were done with no prior consultations, and numerous requests by the community for time to collect their belongings and to safely vacate were not granted,” noted the Somali NGO Consortium.

Many of those displaced were forced to move into areas where al-Shabab maintains a presence, making access by aid organisations more difficult.

According to the Norwegian Refugee Council’s “eviction tracker”, some 11,000 IDPs are evicted on a monthly basis in Mogadishu, with a total of 153,682 people made homeless in 2017.

Land values have increased significantly as both relative stability and business opportunity return to Mogadishu. Displaced people – some squatting in what were once abandoned districts but are now some of the most desirable real estate and commercial locations – find themselves extremely vulnerable.

“Land is a contentious issue here and always has been,” Justin Brady, the head of OCHA in Somalia, told IRIN. “The idea that we will get prime land in the middle of the city that internally displaced people can live on is unrealistic, and the fact that they are getting pushed further and further outside the city is concerning.”

The war’s environmental impact

The “prime land” Brady describes is exactly where Muse now lives. Overlooking the rusted tin roofs, dust-laden tarps, and dilapidated shanty homes is the exclusive neighbourhood known as Villa Somalia, where the president and other influential members of the government reside.

Decades ago, those buildings were also home to some of the greatest environmental protection efforts in East Africa.

From 1961 to the outbreak of civil war in 1991, the one-party government of dictator Siad Barre established the National Range Agency and expanded the Ministry of Agriculture, which developed policies to protect pastures from overgrazing, banned charcoal exports to preserve forests, and established a national environmental day (celebrated not once, but three times a year).

With the outbreak of civil war and the collapse of the federal government in 1991, these programmes disintegrated.

This decline of good environmental governance, combined with the changing climate over the years, has placed pastoralism and farming – the economic and social backbone of the country – under threat. Lush grassland has become desert; increasingly unpredictable rainfall has led to more frequent and severe droughts.

Climate change means more failing farms and more displacement as people like Muse are forced from their homes.

“The Horn of Africa, Somalia in particular, is seeing the impacts of climate change, though it had no hand in contributing to global carbon emissions that are the cause of it,” said Brady. “It’s putting not just livelihoods but an identity of a people at risk.”

Aid versus development

The risks of getting it wrong in Somalia are well known. When an extreme drought struck the Horn of Africa region in 2011, Somali was worst hit. Between 2010 and 2012, the country suffered a famine and nearly 260,000 Somalis died, half of them children under five. An earlier 1994 famine in Somalia claimed an estimated 220,000 lives.

Since the end of the 2011 drought, the UN has spent an estimated $4.5 billion on emergency relief efforts to avert another famine in Somalia. In January this year, the UN appealed for another $1.6 billion for drought relief efforts in 2018.

The severity of the recent droughts has meant the vast majority of donor funding has been funnelled into emergency relief rather than long-term development of water resources, environmental preservation, or diversifying livelihoods beyond traditional farming and livestock herding.

As a result, though acute crises have been mitigated, the future of Somalis whose livelihoods are increasingly under threat remains uncertain.

Experts say that responding to climate change means developing adaptation strategies – longer-term measures that help communities cope with the impact of a drying environment, rather than short-term humanitarian relief.

“In the long run it’s very clear that we need to move in a different direction in terms of livestock management and agriculture,” Peter de Clercq, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Somalia, told IRIN. “It’s time for us to think strategically if we want to break the cycle of humanitarian crisis, at least the part of that we can influence.”

cg/oa/ag

TOP PHOTO: A young Somali girl walks through an IDP camp near the town of Beletweyne.

Press link for more: IRIN NEWS

Arctic Temperatures Soar 45F #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

Arctic temperatures soar 45 degrees above normal, flooded by extremely mild air on all sides

By Jason Samenow February 21 at 2:28 PM Email the author

The temperature difference from normal over the Arctic averaged over the next five days in the GFS model forecast. (University of Maine Climate Reanalyzer)

While the Eastern United States simmers in some of its warmest February weather ever recorded, the Arctic is also stewing in temperatures more than 45 degrees above normal.

This latest huge temperature spike in the Arctic is another striking indicator of its rapidly transforming climate.

On Monday and Tuesday, the northernmost weather station in the world, Cape Morris Jesup at the northern tip of Greenland, experienced more than 24 hours of temperatures above freezing according to the Danish Meteorological Institute.

“How weird is that?” tweeted Robert Rohde, a physicist at the University of California at Berkeley. “Well it’s Arctic winter.

The sun set in October and won’t be seen again until March.

Perpetual night, but still above freezing.”

This thaw occurred as a pulse of extremely mild air shot through the Greenland Sea.

Warm air is spilling into the Arctic from all sides.

On the opposite end of North America, abnormally mild air also poured over northern Alaska on Tuesday, where the temperature in Utqiaġvik, previously known as Barrow, soared to a record high of 31 degrees (minus-1 Celsius), 40 degrees (22 Celsius) above normal.

The warmth over Alaska occurred as almost one-third of the ice covering the Bering Sea off Alaska’s West Coast vanished in just over a week during the middle of February, InsideClimateNews reported.

Temperatures over the entire Arctic north of 80 degrees latitude have averaged about 10 degrees (6 Celsius) above normal since the beginning of the calendar year, sometimes spiking over 25 degrees  (14 Celsius) above normal (the normal temperature is around minus-22, or minus-30 Celsius).

These kinds of temperature anomalies in the Arctic have become commonplace in winter in the past few years. “[T]he *persistence* of the above average temperatures is quite striking,” tweeted Zack Labe, a PhD candidate in climate science at the University of California at Irvine.

Some of the most extreme warmth of the year so far is forecast to flood the Arctic in coming days, with a number of areas seeing temperatures that exceed 45 degrees (25 Celsius) above normal (dark pink shades below) and up to 60 degrees (34 Celsius) above normal. The mercury at the North Pole could well rise above freezing between Thursday and Sunday.

This next batch of abnormally warm air is forecast to shoot the gap between Greenland and northern Europe through the Greenland and Barents seas. Similar circumstances occurred in December 2016, when the temperature at the North Pole last flirted with the melting point in the dark, dead of winter. We documented similarly large jumps in temperature in November 2016 and December 2015.

An analysis from Climate Central said these extreme winter warming events in the Arctic, once rare, could become commonplace if the planet continues warming.

A study in the journal Nature published in 2016 found the decline of sea ice in the Arctic “is making it easier for weather systems to transport this heat polewards.”

Arctic sea ice was at its lowest extent on record this past January, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“I have sailed boats through [the Arctic Sea] but never this time of year,” tweeted David Thoreson, an Arctic photographer. “It’s amazing to watch this unfold.”

The record-setting temperatures and lack of ice is exactly what scientists have projected over the Arctic for years and it’s fundamentally changing the landscape.

“Arctic shows no sign of returning to reliably frozen region of recent past decades,” NOAA concluded in its Arctic Report Card, published in December.

Jason is The Washington Post’s weather editor and Capital Weather Gang’s chief meteorologist. He earned a master’s degree in atmospheric science and spent 10 years as a climate change science analyst for the U.S. government. He holds the Digital Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association. Follow @capitalweather

Press link for more: Washington Post

#StopAdani movement “A Mighty Force” coming to a screen near you. #Auspol #Qldpol #ClimateChangef

A new film documenting the massive community movement to stop Adani’s mega coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin,  A Mighty Force, will screen in Bellingen on Friday March 2 and in Coffs on Thursday February 22.

The events will also launch a crowdfunding campaign to cover legal costs for locals arrested last month disrupting work at Adani’s Abbot Point coal port.

Since it started a year ago, the Stop Adani movement has grown to include over 30 major organisations and 160 local community groups.

“The Stop Adani campaign is the most inspiring, determined community movement this country has seen for a long time,” Liisa Rusanen from the Coffs Coast Climate Action Group said.

“It’s an uprising of diverse people saying, ‘No – this is our line in the sand. We must act now to stop climate change and dirty coal mines like Adani’s have no place in a modern, sustainable world’.

“Polling has repeatedly shown that the coal project lacks support and that the public favours a transition to renewable energy. Across Australia, ordinary people are taking extraordinary action to demonstrate opposition to Adani’s mine.  Here in Coffs, we saw 800 people spelling out Stop Adani with our bodies on the beach in October.”

Coffs Coast locals have also participated in civil disobedience targeting Adani’s operations in Queensland. Liisa Rusanen was arrested at Adani’s Abbot Point coal terminal last month, along with John Ross from Coramba, and Daniel Skerrett and Ella Skerrett from Bonville.

The four, who stopped the operations of the port for seven hours by locking themselves to a coal loader, will tell their story at the film events and launch a fundraising campaign to cover an estimated $4000 each in fines. They are due to attend court in Bowen on March 13.

“We took non-violent direct action to send a clear message to Adani, our government and any potential investors that new coal projects are economically risky and lack a social licence. Every week, we see new reminders of the intensifying climate crisis – from the dying Great Barrier Reef, to Cyclone Gita in the Pacific, to Cape Town running out of water. We simply cannot keep digging up and burning coal.  We’re all in this together and so we’re asking for support to cover legal costs,” Liisa Rusanen said.

The film will highlight the significant successes of the #StopAdani campaign so far, such as major banks ruling out financing the mine, and Queensland’s Labor Government vetoing a NAIF loan to Adani.

“It’s not looking good for Adani, and this film will celebrate the power and passion of this movement, but it’s not over yet. The campaign will continue until Adani’s mine is gone for good,” said Ms Rusanen.  “Everyone is welcome to come to the film nights in Coffs and Bellingen to hear more and get involved in this pivotal battle to Stop Adani.”

Entry to film nights is $5, with additional donations invited for the crowdfunding campaign for legal costs.

For more details and screenings

http://www.stopadani.com/mightyforce

http://www.stopadani.com/film_funder

For details on screenings in Cairns, Townsville & Kuranda

Coffs Harbour event: 6 for 6:30pm, Thursday February 22 at the Bunker Cartoon Gallery

Bellingen event:  6 for 6:30pm, Friday March 2 at Bellingen Memorial Hall

Press link for more: Bellingen Courier

Arctic Permafrost is Thawing! #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange A geological time bomb.

The big thaw

Arctic permafrost is thawing. What does that mean for the North — and the rest of us?

As Arctic permafrost thaws, it is changing the landscape of the far north, as seen in this photo depicting a retrogressive thaw slump on Qikiqtaruk-Herschel Island. But as new research is finding, that’s not the only danger that could arise from thawing permafrost. (Photo: Sandra Angers-Blondin/Can Geo Photo Club)

By Kerry Banks

February 21, 2018

A geological time bomb is ticking beneath the Arctic ice — one that could be triggered by rapidly rising temperatures.

The North is heating up twice as fast as the rest of the globe and has reached a threshold of warming that is unmatched in modern times.

As a result, permafrost, the frozen soil and rock that covers about 25 percent of the land in the northern hemisphere, and 40 to 50 per cent of the land area in Canada, is beginning to thaw.

In fact, permafrost soils are warming even faster than Arctic air temperatures. Studies done by the Arctic Council indicate that the permafrost has warmed by two degrees Celsius in the last 30 years and that 20 per cent of it may thaw by 2040.

Warming permafrost poses numerous problems.

Not only does it weaken the ground, creating cracks and craters and playing havoc with infrastructure, it can also affect regional ecosystems, altering the chemistry and flow of water and what types of plant and animal life can thrive in an area.

Most alarming of all, a huge cache of greenhouse gases that has been frozen for thousands of years could be released by the thaw.

“We know there is twice as much carbon locked up in permafrost as there is carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” says Suzanne Tank, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Alberta. “So certainly, there is the potential for this carbon, if it’s released as carbon dioxide, to have a really huge effect on greenhouse gases and climate warming.”

The release of heat-trapping gases accelerates global warming, which in turn causes more thawing.

The great fear is that this self-reinforcing cycle could eventually create a calamitous “tipping point,” at which the cycle of warming permafrost will be impossible to stop.

Here’s a look at seven possible outcomes of thawing permafrost that have scientists concerned.

Fractured geography

As Arctic permafrost warms, the ground grows mushier. Roads and buildings constructed on once-solid ground are now exhibiting signs of settling and cracking. In Norilsk, a Siberian mining town located north of the Arctic Circle, melting permafrost has deformed an incredible 60 per cent of existing buildings. In addition to such slow-moving wrecks, there are other areas in the Arctic where the land has completely collapsed, producing massive craters and thermokarst lakes, formed when ice-rich permafrost melts.

Dry soil

Rising temperatures are known to spur carbon release, but many experts now believe that changes in soil moisture conditions from wet to dry are apt to have an even stronger impact on permafrost carbon feedback. The danger was vividly illustrated in 2007 when a section of Alaskan permafrost caught fire and smoldered for several weeks. Covering some 90,000 hectares, the Anaktuvuk River fire was the largest recorded on treeless Arctic tundra and twice the size of all previous Alaska tundra fires combined. According to a 2011 article in Nature, the fire spewed as much carbon into the atmosphere as the tundra had stored in the previous 50 years.

Carbon

The globe’s permafrost contains an estimated 1,500 billion tons of carbon. That is four times the amount of carbon that has been released into the atmosphere from all fossil-fuel combustion and human activities since 1850. At present, the majority of northern ecosystems take in more carbon than they emit. But rising temperatures and drying caused by climate change will shift this balance, as much of this organic material is concentrated within three metres of the surface in thaw-vulnerable soil. A thicker, warmer and drier active layer will activate microbes during summer. Significantly later freeze-ups of this layer in winter and warmer winter temperatures will also enhance microbial activities. This enhanced process of decomposition will produce more heat and, in turn, more carbon dioxide.

Dana Stephenson, assistant operator of the Dr. Neil Trivett Global Atmosphere Watch Observatory in Alert, Nunavut, records data from a temperature sensor on the tundra installed to monitor permafrost. (Photo: Kevin Rawlings/Can Geo Photo Club)

Methane

Large amounts of methane are stored in the Arctic in natural gas deposits, permafrost and in crystallized form on the seafloor. Because methane is normally released slowly over long periods of time, it was not previously regarded as a serious concern, but global warming has caused scientists to re-evaluate the threat, because once methane enters the atmosphere, it traps 30 times more heat than carbon dioxide.

According to Scott Dallimore, a scientist with Natural Resources Canada, changes in the Arctic landscape caused by permafrost warming have “opened up windows that are allowing the leakage of ancient methane deposits from deep within the earth,” an occurrence that scientists did not believe was likely to come to pass. In a study published in 2017 in Nature, German researchers tracked methane seeping out of deeply thawed permafrost in Canada’s Mackenzie River Delta. These seeps were found to be releasing 17 per cent of all the methane in the region, even though the emission hotspots make up only one per cent of the surface area.

Mercury

According to a recent study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, there are more than 121 million litres worth of mercury, or the equivalent of about 50 Olympic swimming pools, stored in Arctic permafrost. That is twice the amount of mercury in the rest of all soils, the atmosphere and ocean combined. If the permafrost melts, where will this mercury go, and how quickly might it make its way into the environment? Whether in the Arctic soil or in the broader environment, mercury can be converted into a form lethal to wildlife, including marine animals. If absorbed into the food chain, mercury could also put humans at risk, especially in Arctic communities that depend on subsistence hunting.

Nitrous oxide

To the growing list of hazards hidden in permafrost, we can add 67 billion tons of nitrogen. New research shows that permafrost melt could cause nitrogen to be released as nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 300 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in warming climate.. Until recently, the impact of nitrous oxide emissions was thought to be negligible. But a recent study by Scandinavian scientists published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests otherwise. Samples extracted from frozen peatland were thawed out and then measured for nitrous oxide emissions. Although emissions from wet and vegetation-covered permafrost changed little as they thawed, bare permafrost released five times more nitrous oxide when warmed. The barren peatlands most vulnerable to releasing nitrous oxide cover one quarter of the Arctic.

Diseases

Frozen permafrost soil is the perfect place for bacteria to remain alive for long periods of time, perhaps as much as a million years. This means melting ice could potentially open a Pandora’s box of diseases. Since 2004, four ancient viruses have been uncovered  in previously frozen soil and it is conceivable that something deadly to humans might one day emerge from a long, icy hibernation. These viruses could be released by way of melting ice or by human activity that penetrates deep into the permafrost — oil drilling, for example. Some even claim that viruses might spring to life from the remains of long-extinct hominin species such as Neanderthals and Denisovans, both of whom inhabited Siberia and were riddled with various diseases.

Although the amount of carbon locked in the permafrost is not in dispute, other questions remain unanswered. How quickly will the permafrost thaw? How fast will the carbon decompose? Will all the carbon migrate into the atmosphere? Max Holmes, a senior scientist at the Massachusetts-based Woods Hole Research Centre, says the other major unknown involves people. “We don’t know how humans will behave in the future. That’s the primary uncertainty. Will we be able to get our act together and stop global warming?”

Press link for more: Canadian Geographic