The Vienna Woods are the lungs and air conditioning for this city 1.74 million people.
Last week the UN celebrated the International Day of Forests as a way to acknowledge how important forests are to the world. To cynics, it may seem trite lip service by faceless bureaucrats. But in reality, it’s critical that everyone understands how important forests are for the planet. They cover about a third of the Earth’s land mass and provide livelihoods, medicines, fuel, food and shelter for about 1.6 billion people – including more than 2,000 indigenous cultures. Forests are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than 80 percent of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects. They may also be one of our last, best hopes for slowing climate change. Yet despite all of these priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits, global deforestation continues at the rate of about 32 million acres per year, equivalent to 10-20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change. Check out my article and photo essay for Pacific Standard to learn more about forests, especially for ways you can get involved in helping to protect and restore them.
If you’re a long-time Summit Voice follower you’ve noticed that the pace of posts has dropped off a bit in the past few months, but that’s only because some of the content has moved to other locations. So here’s a quick roundup of some of my latest environment and climate stories from around the world.
For InsideClimate News, I took a close look at some of the latest research on ocean heat content, featuring work by Kevin Trenberth, with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder. The new study he co-authored took a close look at data from thousands of autonomous ocean probes that measure ocean temperatures from the surface all the way down to a depth of 2,000 meters. The study found that the rate of ocean warming has doubled since the early 1990s from previous decades, and that the heat is getting into deep waters. The study also tracks regional variations in ocean warming, important because it will affect where and when sea level rises fastest: Rate of Ocean Warming Has Nearly Doubled Over 25 Years.
I also did some in-depth reporting on a potentially groundbreaking legal case in Austria, where an administrative law court ruled that citizens have a legal right to be protected from climate change impacts when the blocked construction of a third runway at the Vienna International Airport: Vienna Airport Expansion Blocked on Climate Change Grounds.
In my first story for Deutsche Welle, which is a German equivalent of NPR and PBS, I reported on how global warming is increasing forest fire danger all over the world, including forests in temperate, wet climates like Central Europe, even in the Alps. While residents of the West already have seen fire activity surge in the past 20 years, some other regions are just starting to experience those changes, and the risks are great: Global warming is increasing forest fire risk in the Alps.
Globally, there are also burgeoning efforts to electrify the transportation system in the fight to limit greenhouse gas emissions and avert dangerous climate change. In Austria, the federal government has teamed up with the private sector to invest in e-mobility. Consumers can get rebates of up to €4,000 for buying electric cars, and even E-bikes, and there are also subsidies available for investments in expanding the electric charging infrastructure. Altogether, the government expects that their initial €72 million investment will help spur the creation of 30,000 new jobs and €3 billion in new economic activity: Austria Is Making Electric Cars More Affordable Than Ever.
Scientists are currently mapping the biological damage caused by global warming
At the end of eastern Australia’s long, hot summer, ocean scientists are once again seeing devastating coral die-backs in the northern reaches of the Great Barrier Reef. Over the next few weeks, they’ll venture underwater to study how the coral communities responded to a second straight year of overheated water.
When temperatures pass a threshold, the coral expels its symbiotic algal partner, leaving underwater wastelands of white-washed reefs. The scientists will also use survey flights above the reef, and even satellite imaging as they mobilize to document one of global warming’s most devastating impacts. There has been a prolonged global mass bleaching under way for the past year, and climate researchers say nearly all the world’s corals will be at risk by mid-century under projected global temperature increases. Continue reading “Mass coral bleaching likely along northern Great Barrier Reef”→
‘It is the equivalent of having summer for the first time in thousands to millions of years’
Deep sea ecosystems that have barely been explored are at risk from global warming, as low-oxygen zones spread and ocean acidification increaseses. By 2100, organisms deep on the ocean floor may face starvation and sweeping ecological changes, according to scientists from 20 of the world’s leading oceanographic research warned last week.
“Biodiversity in many of these areas is defined by the meager amount of food reaching the seafloor and over the next 80-plus years – in certain parts of the world – that amount of food will be cut in half,” said Andrew Thurber, an Oregon State University marine ecologist and co-author of the study, published in the journal Elementa. Continue reading “Deep oceans at risk from climate change”→
The two-year, 6-ppm surge between 2015 and 2017 is unprecedented in the observatory’s 59-year record and marked the fifth year in a row that CO2 increased by 2 ppm or more, according to Pieter Tans, lead scientist of NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network. Continue reading “Atmospheric CO2 surges again in 2016”→
Nearly a quarter of the U.S. was record warm in February, and nationwide, it ended up as the second-warmest February on record, just behind 1954. The winter (December to February) was the sixth-warmest, according to the latest State of the Climate update from the National Centers for Environmental Information.
By the numbers, the average temperature across the lower 48 states for Februrary was 41.2 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 7.3 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average. The winter as a whole (December to February) was 3.7 degrees Fahrenheit above average.
The only state reporting widespread below-average temperatures was Washington, with slightly below to near average readings in Oregon, Northern California, northern Idaho and Montana.
By contrast, 16 states, stretching from Texas up the Mississippi Valley to the Midwest, New York and the central Atlantic Coast, were record warm. Three states, including Colorado, reported their all-time warmest minimum average temperatures, in line with global warming trends showing nighttimes heating faster than days.
According to the report, there were 11,743 daily warm temperature records broken or tied, compared to 418 daily cold records. Of those, 1,151 daily records also broke the warmest temperature record ever observed during February, compared to just 2 cold records.
The U.S. February temperatures are in line with the rest of world, according to the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, which reported earlier this week that the average global temperature for February was the second-warmest on record.