Glaciers are losing billons of tons of snow and ice each year ~ The Washington Post

Scientists grow concerned at the how fast global warming is shrinking the Earth’s glaciers.

Tourists walk past waterfalls at the Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand. The Fox and Franz Josef glaciers have been melting so fast that it has become too dangerous for tourists to hike onto them from the valley floor. A new study shows that Earth’s glaciers are losing billions of tons of snow and ice each year. (Nick Perry/AP)
Earth’s glaciers are melting much faster than scientists thought. A new study shows they are losing 369 billion tons of snow and ice each year, more than half of that in North America.

The world’s glaciers are shrinking five times faster now than they were in the 1960s. Their melt is accelerating due to global warming, and adding more water to already rising seas, the study found.

Since 1961, the world has lost 10 trillion tons of ice and snow. That’s enough to cover the Lower 48 U.S. states in about four feet of ice.

“Over 30 years suddenly almost all regions started losing mass at the same time,” said Michael Zemp, lead author of the study and director of the World Glacier Monitoring Service at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. “That’s clearly climate change if you look at the global picture.”

The glaciers shrinking fastest are in central Europe, western Canada, the United States and New Zealand. Glaciers in these places on average are losing more than 1 percent of their mass each year, according to a study in Monday’s journal Nature.

“In these regions, at the current glacier loss rate, the glaciers will not survive the century,” Zemp said.

Zemp’s team used ground and satellite measurements to look at 19,000 glaciers, far more than previous studies. They determined that southwestern Asia is the only region of 19 where glaciers are not shrinking, which Zemp said is due to local climate conditions.

Scientists have known for a long time that global warming caused by human activities such as burning coal, gasoline and diesel for electricity and transportation is making Earth lose its ice. They have been especially concerned with the large ice sheets covering Greenland and Antarctica.

A number of factors are making sea levels rise. The biggest cause is that oceans are getting warmer, which makes water expand. The new figures show glacier melt is a bigger contributor than thought, responsible for about 25 percent to 30 percent of the yearly rise in oceans, Zemp said.

Rising seas threaten coastal cities around the world and put more people at risk of flooding during storms.

Glaciers grow in winter and shrink in summer, but as the Earth has warmed, they are growing less and shrinking more. Zemp said warmer summer temperatures are the main reason glaciers are shrinking faster.

While people think of glaciers as polar issues, shrinking mountain glaciers closer to the equator can cause serious problems for people who depend on them, said Twila Moon, a snow and ice data center scientist. She said people in the Andes mountains, for example, rely on the glaciers for drinking and irrigation water each summer.

A separate study Monday in Environmental Research Letters confirmed faster melting and other changes in the Arctic. It found that in winter, the Arctic is warming 2.8 times faster than the rest of the Northern Hemisphere. Overall, the region is getting more humid, cloudier and wetter.

“It’s on steroids; it’s hyperactive,” said lead author Jason Box, a scientist for the Danish Meteorological Institute.

Researchers Warn Arctic Has Entered ‘Unprecedented State’ That Threatens Global Climate Stability ~ Common Dreams

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“Never have so many Arctic indicators been brought together in a single paper.” And the findings spell trouble for the entire planet.

The Yukon River winds through western interior Alaska in early April. (Photo: UAF/Todd Paris)

The Yukon River winds through western interior Alaska in early April. (Photo: UAF/Todd Paris)

 

A new research paper by American and European climate scientists focused on Arctic warming published Monday reveals that the “smoking gun” when it comes to changes in the world’s northern polar region is rapidly warming air temperatures that are having—and will continue to have—massive and negative impacts across the globe.

The new paper—titled “Key Indicators of Arctic Climate Change: 1971–2017“—is the work of scientists at the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland in Copenhagen (GUES).

“The Arctic system is trending away from its 20th century state and into an unprecedented state, with implications not only within but beyond the Arctic.” —Jason Box, GUES

“The Arctic system is trending away from its 20th century state and into an unprecedented state, with implications not only within but beyond the Arctic,” said Jason Box of the GUES, lead author of the study. “Because the Arctic atmosphere is warming faster than the rest of the world, weather patterns across Europe, North America, and Asia are becoming more persistent, leading to extreme weather conditions. Another example is the disruption of the ocean circulation that can further destabilize climate: for example, cooling across northwestern Europe and strengthening of storms.”

John Walsh, chief scientist at AUF’s research center, was the one who called arctic air tempertures the “smoking gun” discovered during the research—a finding the team did not necessarily anticipate.

“I didn’t expect the tie-in with temperature to be as strong as it was,” Walsh said. “All the variables are connected with temperature. All components of the Arctic system are involved in this change.”

The study, published Monday as the flagship piece in a special issue on Arctic climate change indicators published by the journal Environmental Research Letters, is the first of its kind to combine observations of physical climate indicators—such as snow cover, rainfall, and seasonal measurements of sea ice extent—with biological impacts, such as a mismatch in the timing of flowers blooming and pollinators working.  According to Walsh, “Never have so many Arctic indicators been brought together in a single paper.”

This three-and-a-half minute video put together by the research team, explains its methodology and findings in detail:

The new study comes as temperature records in the polar regions continue to break record after record. Last week, climatologists said Alaska experienced the highest March temperatures ever recorded.

Statewide temperatures averaged 27°F degrees last month, a full 4 degrees higher than the record set in 1965. Brian Brettschneider, a climatologist with the International Arctic Research Center at University of Alaska Fairbanks, told the Anchorage Daily News, “We’re not just eking past records. This is obliterating records.”

Also last month, as Common Dreams reported, the UN Environment Programme (ENUP) warned in a far-reaching report that winter temperatures in the Arctic are already “locked in” in such a way that significant sea level increases are now inevitable this century.

Rising temperatures, along with ocean acidification, pollution, and thawing permafrost threaten the Arctic and the more than four million people who inhabit it, including 10 percent who are Indigenous. But, as UNEP acting executive director Joyce Msuya noted at the time, “What happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic.”

That warning was echoed by the researchers behind the new study out Monday. Their hope, they said, is that the findings about air temperatures and the delicate interconnections between the climate and other natural systems in the Artic will “provide a foundation for a more integrated understanding of the Arctic and its role in the dynamics of the Earth’s biogeophysical systems.”

A new book on the Colorado River drama

Science Be Dammed, coming Nov. 26

by jfleck

We have a publication date and a web site and an Amazon listing for Science Be Dammed, the new book by Eric Kuhn and myself about the use and misuse of science in the development of the Colorado River. And a cover. The book has a cover:Kuhn_9780816540051_Cover300dpi-683x1024.jpg

 

John Fleck retired from the Albuquerque Journal and now teaches a class at UNM in Water Resources. He has another book on the Colorado, but I’m looking forward to this one. This is what happens when water managers hire private consultants to get the answers they want, not what’s really true. In other words, “Fuck….Private….Consultants”.

JEB Somewhere

Congress approves seven-state Colorado River deal addressing drought conditions ~ The Hill

 

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The House and Senate both approved a seven-state agreement Monday night designed to reduce use of water from the parched Colorado River by drought-stricken Western states.

Sponsored by House Natural Resources Committee Chair Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) the bill gives approval to a deal crafted through years of negotiations, designed to manage a limited water supply in the dry but rapidly-growing West. The bill passed by voice vote in both chambers.

McSally praised the House and Senate for passing a bill on the same day that was just introduced last Tuesday, saying urgent effort was required.

“Unfortunately the last 19 years have been the Colorado Basin’s driest on record,” she said, leaving water supplies for major cities at risk of reaching crisis levels.

Congressional and presidential approval is required for interstate compacts, and supporters stressed the deal’s importance to avoid dire consequences.

Lake Mead currently sits just 15 feet above the 1,075 feet above sea level mark that would trigger mandatory water restrictions already hashed out by a 2007 agreement. The goal with this year’s deal is to stave off those cuts with progressively severe cutbacks as the water level at the lake drops.

But more troubling than future restrictions is what would happen if Lake Mead, located outside of Las Vegas, Nevada, falls too low. At 950 feet above sea level the water would no longer be high enough to supply electricity from the dam. And at 895 feet, water would fail to flow over the dam at all.

“The drought created by climate change in the southwest has made our area more arid, made water more precious and more finite, and we have to deal with that question,” Grijalva said in a video explaining the bill’s expedited passage.

The Senate bill, identical to the measure passed by the House, was co-sponsored by each of the other 13 senators that represent states in the Colorado River basin.

“Severe droughts will become more frequent in the West as our climate continues to change, so we have to be prepared by saving more water from the wet years for the dry ones,” Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) said in a statement.

Many environmental groups were also supportive of the agreement, including the National Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, and the Environmental Defense Fund.

“Declining reservoirs threaten water supplies that are essential to the economy, environment, and health of the Southwestern United States,” the groups wrote in a letter urging passage.

Getting an agreement to Congress avoids what would have been a startling first: the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation threatened to impose its own water restrictions on the states if they did not come to an agreement by the end of January.

Even so, the compact states needed a deadline extension in order to give Arizona and California time to work through issues.

Arizona required legislation to approve the deal and secured its passage with support from farmers between Phoenix and Houston, who may still have to leave 40 percent of farmland fallow with reduced access to water.

Another sticking point came from the Imperial Irrigation District, California’s largest user of Colorado River water, which demanded $200 million to help restore the Salton Sea, California’s largest lake. Feinstein said she would work with the Department of Agriculture to secure additional funds for conservation efforts for the lake.

What Remains Of Bears Ears ~ The Washington Post

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They carved arrowheads from stone and hunted giant sloths. They learned to farm corn and created communities on the mesa tops.

They scratched and painted images onto rocks and reused and remixed what was left by earlier generations.

For 11 months, the rich legacy of this region was federally protected. It’s not clear who will be its steward now.

 

 

The stories of these earlier peoples are still here, told by the places and things they left behind. And for a century, the region has been at the heart of an unresolved American argument over public lands, and what should be done with them.

 

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In 2016, President Barack Obama created the Bears Ears National Monument, named for a pair of tall buttes that resemble the top of a bear’s head peeking over a ridge. His proclamation recognized the area’s “extraordinary archeological and cultural record” and the land’s “profoundly sacred” meaning to many Native American tribes.

Eleven months later, in early December of 2017, President Trump reduced Bears Ears by 85 percent, an action that Utah officials and some local residents wanted. His rollback also followed a uranium firm’s concerted lobbying, an effort led by Andrew Wheeler, who now heads the Environmental Protection Agency.

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Suspected rhino poacher is killed by an elephant and then eaten by lions in South Africa … INSTANT KARMA ~ John Lennon

The incident happened after the man entered the park Monday with four others to target rhinos, according to a parks service statement.
An elephant “suddenly” attacked the alleged poacher, killing him, and “his accomplices claimed to have carried his body to the road so that passersby could find it in the morning. They then vanished from the Park,” police said.
His family were notified of his death late Tuesday by his fellow poachers, and a search party set out to recover the body. Rangers scoured on foot and police flew over the area, but because of failing light it could not be found.
The search resumed Thursday morning and, with the help of added field rangers, police discovered what was left of his body.

Police say they arrested three men and seized guns following the alleged poacher's death. Police say they arrested three men and seized guns following the alleged poacher’s death.

“Indications found at the scene suggested that a pride of lions had devoured the remains leaving only a human skull and a pair of pants,” the statement said.
Glenn Phillips, the managing executive of Kruger National Park, extended his condolences to the man’s family.
“Entering Kruger National Park illegally and on foot is not wise, it holds many dangers and this incident is evidence of that,” he warned. “It is very sad to see the daughters of the deceased mourning the loss of their father, and worse still, only being able to recover very little of his remains.”
Three individuals who joined the illegal hunt were arrested Wednesday by the South African Police Service, and officers continue to investigate what happened.
The suspects appeared in Komatipoort Magistrate Court on Friday to face charges of possessing firearms and ammunition without a license, conspiracy to poach and trespassing. A judge remanded them to custody and they will be back in court this week, pending a formal bail application.
The African rhino is targeted for its horn because of the belief among some who practice Eastern medicine that the horn has benefits as an aphrodisiac, making it more valuable than cocaine in parts of the world.

Lions left only the poacher's skull and a pair of his pants, officials say.

Lions left only the poacher’s skull and a pair of his pants, officials say.
Of special concern is the black rhino, which is considered critically endangered after its population tumbled from about 65,000 to 1970 to 2,400 in 1995, according to Kruger National Park. Conservation efforts have boosted their numbers, and the world’s remaining 5,000 or so black rhinos live predominantly in South Africa, Namibia, Kenya and Zimbabwe.
In 2016, there were between 349 and 465 black rhinos living at Kruger and between 6,600 and 7,800 white rhinos, who also suffer from poaching, South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs said.
Kruger is considered an intensive protection zone, and the government employs a range of resources to deter poaching, including aircraft, dogs, special rangers and an environmental crime investigation unit.
Of the 680 poaching and trafficking arrests made in 2016 by the South African Police Service, 417 were in and around Kruger, the department said. In September, the department announced that six men — including two syndicate leaders, two police officers and a former police officer — had been arrested for trafficking in rhino horns.

The area in extreme drought is smallest in nearly 20 years — The Washington Post

Workers open the gates of the Bonnet Carre spillway, which diverts water from the rising Mississippi River, in Norco, La.

April 4 at 12:51 PM

Following a predominantly wet second half of 2018 — and the same for many places in the first three months of 2019 — the Lower 48 is moving into spring with very few regions in drought conditions.

Over the past week, there was no “extreme” or “exceptional” drought across the contiguous United States for the first time since the U.S. Drought Monitor began logging data in 2000. Only a few years come close to what we’re seeing right now, including 2009, 2010 and 2017, all shown below on drought maps — but 2019 appears to be the lowest drought level in more than 19 years.

The Drought Monitor’s scale runs from 0 to 5, with 1 being the first true level of drought.
Severe or worse drought it near recorded lows. (Capital Weather Gang)

In addition to the total lack of the high-level drought areas, zones of severe drought (2 or greater) are at a low point for the past two decades. With Thursday’s update, 0.88 percent of the contiguous United States is under a severe (2) drought. That’s up slightly from last week’s 0.86 percent, but it remains lower than any year prior in the Drought Monitor data.

When it comes to total coverage of “no drought,” this week is the second-highest at around 80 percent, trailing only a period in May 2017 into June 2017, when as much as 85 percent of the country was drought-free.

While areas of “no drought” ticked down slightly from last week, drought-free locations remain at an exceptional 79.37 percent of the contiguous United States. That’s down from a peak of 81.65 percent last week but quite a reversal from summer 2012, when less than 20 percent of the Lower 48 was drought-free.


Comparing drought now to the highest percentage in Drought Monitor’s data. (Drought Monitor)

Before this year or 2017, to find other recent times with comparatively little drought of any category across the Lower 48, we need to look back to the summer of 2010 and the fall of 2009. Like this year, that was an El Niño winter and spring, which are known for producing wet conditions in much of the country.

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