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June 27th 2017
By the end of the century, coastal cities could end up a lot closer to the coast than they started out — global sea levels rose at a 50 percent faster pace in 2014 than in 1993, according to a new study by a multinational team of researchers released Monday.
The report, published in the Nature Climate Change journal, examined satellite data and was able to provide a unique insight into the rate of acceleration since the 1990s — a phenomenon scientists hypothesized over but had been mostly unable to confirm. By combining the satellite measurements with recorded ocean data researchers concluded, sea levels will rise by about 13 inches this century if the current rate of acceleration stays the same. But there’s also evidence to suggest the rate will continue to accelerate, and scientists say oceans are likely to rise about three feet.
Ice sheet and glacier melting are significant contributors to the rising water level, according to the study, as is “thermal expansion” where warming waters caused oceans to expand. A thaw in the Greenland Ice Sheet contributed to more than a quarter of the rise in 2014, up from just five percent in 1993.
Climate change and the impact on rising sea levels incur a broad set of consequences that should be addressed in policy, Chris Harig, one of the co-authors of the study and an assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Arizona told VICE News.
“Sea level rises affects coastal communities, increasing temperature can affect crop growth, drought puts stress on water resources, etc,” Harig said. “We are currently observing these impacts, and I hope the biggest takeaway is that it’s far past time for meaningful governmental action to address climate change.”
“For sea level in particular, I hope this increases the urgency for open discussions about the mitigation costs we face over the next century,” Harig added.
Rising sea levels have long been seen as a threat to the global community. In a speech to the G7 on June 11, Hoesung Lee, the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change called rising sea levels “a threat to billions of people who live on or close to coasts, raising the possibility of large-scale displacement.”
June 3rd 2017
Climate change intensifies threat from storm surge.
GALVESTON - Lalo Ojeda has lived with hurricanes all his life.
He was 14 when Hurricane Carla inundated Galveston Island in 1961. He evacuated as Hurricane Rita barreled toward the coast in 2005, then rode out the devastating Hurricane Ike in his Galveston home in 2008.
But Ojeda is watching the hurricane season that begins Thursday with more concern than usual. The retired Coast Guard employee worries that rising sea levels could make the next hurricane more destructive than those he's lived through.
"That's really scary to me," the 70-year-old said.
A study released this month shows that rising sea levels threaten to make storm surges more dangerous, seemingly reinforcing Texas officials' push for federal funding for a storm-surge barrier, or Ike Dike, to protect Galveston.
"Every storm surge today reaches higher because it starts from a higher level, because sea level is higher," said study co-author Ben Strauss, a scientist who is vice president for sea level and climate impacts for Climate Central, a group of scientists and journalists dedicated to climate change awareness. "A small amount of sea-level rise can lead to an unexpectedly large increase in damages to most kinds of structures."
Brian Streck, 62, a retired Galveston firefighter, has watched high tides creep into the streets around the house at the edge of West Galveston Bay, where he has lived for 37 years.
He has no patience for climate-change deniers who doubt seas are rising.
"I've witnessed it," Streck said.
High tides once flooded the streets around his home about twice a year; the flooding in the last decade has increased to a dozen times a year.
"I've considered selling this place because eventually I'm going to have a lake house," he said.
Scientific studies have established an acceleration in sea-level rise because of a warming atmosphere. Coal and oil burning and the destruction of tropical forests have increased heat-trapping gases that have warmed the planet by 1.8 degrees since 1880. Earth has been losing 13,500 square miles of ice annually since 1979, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Sea levels are generally rising faster along the Texas Gulf Coast and the western Gulf than the average globally, according to a January study by NOAA.
"The western Gulf is experiencing some of the highest rates of relative levels of sea-level rise in the country," said NOAA oceanographer William Sweet, lead author of the study. "The ocean is not rising like water would in a bathtub."
Sea-level rise is making storm surges larger, said John Nielsen-Gammon, Texas state climatologist at Texas A&M University in College Station.
"Compared to a storm that would have hit, say, 30 years ago, the additional storm surge we are talking about is on the order of ... about 7 inches," Nielsen-Gammon said.
The NOAA study found sea levels rising at more than double the rate estimated during the 20th century, increasing to more than 0.13 inch annually. NOAA made six projections of sea-level rise, from low to extreme, and found the global mean level under the lowest projection could rise 2.3 inches by 2020 and 3.5 inches by 2030. The extreme projection shows a 4.3-inch rise by 2020 and a 9.4-inch rise by 2030.
Severe flooding likely
The rate of sea-level rise even under the lowest projection would increase the chances of severe flooding on the Texas Gulf Coast from storm surges or other causes from once every five years to once every two years by 2030 under the extreme projection, and 2060 under the low prediction.
"We're not talking much longer than a mortgage cycle," Sweet said. "I just bought a house, I've got a 30-year note. That's 2047."
To read this article in one of Houston's most-spoken languages, click on the button below.
By 2100, sea level is expected to rise between 1.3 feet and 8.2 feet, the NOAA study predicts; Galveston Island and most of the Texas coast would be swallowed up under the latter scenario.
Sweet said the lower levels were more likely, but added, "We ultimately don't know how much heating will occur."
He warned there was no guarantee rising sea level wouldn't match the extreme prediction.
The effects will be felt as far away as Austin, according to a recently released study by Mathew E. Hauer, who heads the Institute of Government's applied demography program at the University of Georgia. Hauer's study found that sea-level rise would force thousands from their homes along the Texas Gulf Coast as well as coastal areas nationwide.
The study estimates Houston and Austin each would absorb 250,000 refugees from sea-level rise by 2100.
The hardest hit would be Galveston County, where Hauer estimates 124,000 people could be forced from their homes. Rising water would force about 108,000 from their homes in Jefferson County, 42,000 in Brazoria County and 30,000 in Harris County, Hauer said.
The Climate Central study estimated 14,000 homes in Galveston could be inundated by sea-level rise.
Apart from sea-level rise, climate change is expected to cause hurricanes to be more intense and produce more rain, according to the NOAA.
"In our view, there are better-than-even odds that the numbers of very intense hurricanes (Categories 4 and 5, with winds of 130 mph or more) will increase by a substantial fraction," according to an overview of research by NOAA scientists.
The number of hurricanes each season would likely remain the same or decrease, the overview determined.
Funding for efforts to slow or halt sea-level rise generated by climate change was slashed in a recently released President Donald Trump administration budget.
Trump has called climate change a hoax, but a White House official said Friday that his views were evolving after recent talks with European leaders. His budget cuts Environmental Protection Agency funding by 30 percent, more than any other agency.
Texas officials have asked Trump to put a proposed $15 billion storm-surge barrier on his list of infrastructure improvements, but there is no guarantee Congress will fund the project.
Even if Congress pays for the barrier system - which would shield Brazoria, Galveston, Harris, Chambers, Jefferson and Orange counties - work couldn't begin until 2021 at the earliest.
NOAA is predicting 11 to 17 named storms this season, which runs from Thursday to Nov. 30, five to nine of them hurricanes and two to four Category 3 or higher hurricanes.
According to emergency officials in Galveston and Brazoria counties, little can be done to offset the increasingly larger storm surges and reduce the likelihood of more destructive hurricanes.
One is unlucky number
Forecasts of hurricane frequency don't matter, said Garret Foskit, Galveston County's emergency management coordinator. What matters is if one hits your community, Foskit said.
"One is the unlucky number," he said.
No matter the predictions, people who live in a hurricane's path "are still going to have to do the same things," Foskit said. "They are still going to have to leave, they are still going to have to move their stuff."
Ojeda said he learned the hard way during Ike that it's important to prepare.
"I'm a true believer that you learn by your mistakes," he said. "I told the wife to buy more canned goods, dry stuff."
He owns two emergency generators after going for nearly two weeks without electricity after Ike.
If a major hurricane approaches, he plans to evacuate.
Said Ojeda: "If a 200 mph hurricane hits this island, there is not going to be (anything) left."
(This story previously said that sea level could rise to 31 feet by 2100 in the most extreme prediction. The story was corrected to 8.2 feet. The prediction of 31 feet is for 2200.)
May 17th 2017
“Like a drop of water in a bucket, on its own is small, but if there are many, many drops, soon it is overflowing.”
Erietera Aram’s water analogy is apposite. His country faces being lost under the waves of the Pacific Ocean.
The i-Kiribati man is in Australia delivering his message about the reality of climate change in his country, and of its immediacy. Each discussion, he says, is like a drop of water, adding to the one before it, slowly building understanding of the existential threat to his people and place.
“Climate change is not something off in the future, it’s not a problem for later. We are living it now,” he says.
The archipelago of Kiribati – 33 tiny coral atolls spanning 3.5m square kilometres of ocean – is the world’s lowest-lying country, with an average height above sea level of just two metres.
Most of the 113,000 i-Kiribati live crammed on to Tarawa, the administrative centre, a chain of islets that curve in a horseshoe shape around a lagoon.
“My place is very small,” Aram says. “If you stand in the middle, you can see water on both sides. We are vulnerable. One tsunami, one tsunami and our whole country will disappear.”
Already, there is less and less of Kiribati for its inhabitants. The coastline is regularly being lost to king tides and to creeping sea levels, and in a very real sense, there is nowhere to go.
The loss of land is causing conflict – Tarawa is growing ever more densely crowded, as families living on the coastline are forced inwards, infringing on another’s claim.
The next round of multinational climate talks in November – COP 23 – will be chaired by Fiji, and is expected to swing particular focus of the global climate debate to the Pacific, where comparatively minuscule amounts of carbon are produced, but the effects of climate change have been felt first, and most acutely.
Assuming the COP presidency, the Fijian prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, said he would “bring a particular perspective to these negotiations on behalf of some of those who are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change – Pacific Islanders and the residents of other small island developing states and low-lying areas of the world”.
But the islands’ fight to be saved was everybody’s, Bainimarama said.
“Our concerns are the concerns of the entire world, given the scale of this crisis.”
Aram and compatriots from Kiribati and fellow low-lying islanders from Tuvalu are travelling with the Edmund Rice Centre, a social justice group, across Australia. They have met politicians, unions, coalminers, and officials from the CSIRO and power stations “and we think they have heard our stories, they understand how serious this is”.
Recent reports from groups as disparate as the World Bank, the Menzies Research Centre and the Lowy Institute have suggested allowing open-access migration from Pacific Islands to Australia as a more effective economic stimulus than aid, and as a strategy for coping with the impacts of climate change, which are already beginning to see islands across the Pacific lost to the sea.
In April, the former US deputy undersecretary of defence Sherri Goodman visited Australia, and said the Pacific was “right in disaster alley” and the region would be “on the frontlines” of widespread forced migration caused by climate.
The issue of a mass migration is a contentious one for the Pacific Islands facing annihilation under the waves. Many islanders are resistant, but understand it may be inevitable.
“We don’t want to leave our country,” Aram says. “We love our land, and it doesn’t have the same meaning to be living somewhere else. We don’t want to be migrants of climate, but if there is no change our country will disappear into the sea.”
It feels terrible, he says, to worry about one’s country’s very existence.
“What will happen to my children’s country, that’s why I worry. What am I leaving behind? We are the voice of the children of these vulnerable countries.”
Aso Ioapo from Tuvalu says “migration is the last option of the Tuvaluan people”.
“Our history and our culture are very important to us, and we believe that this is the place we are supposed to be. We don’t want to lose that, we don’t want to lose who we are.”
Tuvalu has had an increasing number of cyclones, of greater intensity, over recent years. In 2015, Cyclone Pam sent massive waves washing over some entire islands. About 45% of the country’s 10,000 population was displaced, the government said.
“The cyclones are occurring more regularly, and they are more powerful now,” Ioapo said.
“We have to face that we might have to go to another place. That is hard. But migration is the last option. We want to save our countries.”
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is at risk from rising sea levels. Credit: Dave/Flickr Creative Commons/CC BY 2.0
Sea level rise is a critical global issue affecting millions across our planet. A new Web portal developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, gives researchers, decision makers and the public alike a resource to stay up to date with the latest developments and scientific findings in this rapidly advancing field of study.The portal, "Sea Level Change: Observations from Space," is online at:https://sealevel.nasa.gov/The portal's key features include:-- "Understanding Sea Level," a summary of decades of scientific research that has shaped our knowledge of sea level rise: its causes, including a warming, expanding ocean and melting ice on land; projections of future sea level rise; and ways in which humanity might adapt, largely drawn from NASA data.-- An interactive data analysis tool, launching in mid-2016, that will allow direct access to NASA datasets on sea level. Users will be able to manipulate these datasets to automatically generate charts, graphs and maps of sea surface height, temperature and other factors. The analysis tool will also allow users to make forecasts of future conditions, as well as "hindcasts" -- retroactive calculations of past trends and conditions.-- News highlights and feature stories with strong visual elements that explore the findings of sea level researchers in detail.-- An extensive library of published papers on sea level-related topics, hyperlinked to individual citations throughout "Understanding Sea Level."-- A multimedia section with dynamic still and video imagery, and a glossary of sea level terms.-- A "frequently asked questions" section maintained by sea level scientists. Users can submit questions to scientists and data managers.The website is optimized for most mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets."Sea Level Change: Observations from Space" is managed by a team led by JPL scientist Carmen Boening. The team is part of the NASA Sea Level Change Team research group."With sea levels rising globally, as observed by satellites over the past decades, sea level change is a hot topic in climate research," Boening said. "This new tool provides a NASA resource for researchers and a wealth of information for members of the public seeking a deeper understanding of sea level change."For more information on NASA's Earth science activities, visit:http://www.nasa.gov/earthandhttp://climate.nasa.gov
If the West Antarctic ice sheet was to melt in response to increasing global temperatures, sea levels could swamp coastal towns and cities around the world.
That's the warning from Scottish researchers who have plotted how the ice sheet is expected to respond to global warming.
In particular, they claim that loss of ice in West Antarctica caused by a warming ocean could raise sea levels by a staggering 10ft (3 metres).
In the first study of its kind, researchers from the University of Edinburgh were able to gauge how levels of ice covering the land have changed over hundreds of thousands of years. They did so by studying peaks protruding through ice on the Atlantic flank of Antarctica (pictured)
In the first study of its kind, researchers were able to gauge how levels of ice covering the land have changed over hundreds of thousands of years.
They did this by studying peaks protruding through ice in the Ellsworth Mountains, on the Atlantic flank of Antarctica.
The team assessed changes on slopes at various heights on the mountainside, which indicate levels previously reached by the ice sheet.
Rising sea levels could destroy many of the nesting sites used by endangered sea turtles around the world, a new study has warned.
Researchers have found that as coastal nesting sites become flooded with sea water more often, many turtle populations will struggle to produce sufficient young.
They found that green turtles on Raine Island on the Great Barrier Reef, are now regularly being swamped with sea water.
This is leading to just 10 per cent of the eggs hatching into turtles, while in other parts of the world usually around 90 per cent of eggs hatch.
The researchers found that eggs submerged in sea water for up to six hours had a far reduced chance of hatching as the embryos struggled to get enough oxygen to survive.
They also mapped the distribution of boulders on the mountainside, which were deposited by melting glaciers.
Chemical technology - known as exposure dating - showed how long rocks had been exposed to the atmosphere, and their age.
Their results indicate that during previous warm periods, a substantial amount of ice would have been lost from the West Antarctic ice sheet by ocean melting, but it would not have melted entirely.
This suggests ice would have been lost from areas below sea level, but not on upland areas.
The study shows that parts of the West Antarctic ice sheet have existed continuously for at least 1.4 million years.
However, if global temperatures continue to rise, causing the oceans to become warmer, then a substantial amount of ice could be lost from the sheet.
This could see sea levels rise by as much as 10ft (3 metres).
Dr Andrew Hein, of the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences, joint leader of the study, said: 'Our findings narrow the margin of uncertainty around the likely impact of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet on sea level rise.
The team assessed changes on slopes at various heights on the mountainside in the Ellsworth Mountain range, which indicate levels previously reached by the ice sheet. They also mapped the distribution of boulders on the mountainside, which were deposited by melting glaciers
Their results indicate that during previous warm periods, a substantial amount of ice would have been lost from the West Antarctic (pictured) ice sheet by ocean melting, but it would not have melted entirely. If global temperatures continue to rise, causing the oceans to become warmer, sea levels rise by 10ft (3 metres)
'This remains a troubling forecast since all signs suggest the ice from West Antarctica could disappear relatively quickly.'
Professor John Woodward of the University of Northumbria, who co-led the study, said: 'It is possible that the ice sheet has passed the point of no return and, if so, the big question is how much will go and how much will sea levels rise.'
The study, published in Nature Communications, was carried out by researchers at the University of Edinburgh with Northumbria University and the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre.
Professor John Woodward of the University of Northumbria, who co-led the study, said: 'It is possible that the ice sheet has passed the point of no return and, if so, the big question is how much will go and how much will sea levels rise.' Researchers involved in the study are pictured in West Antarctica
Last year, researchers revealed more than 400 US cities could be obliterated by rising sea levels, and they created an interactive map to reveal the full extent of the crisis. The interactive map looks at various different post-2100 sea levels that could change in this century. This could spell the end for Miami and New Orleans
It builds on similar predictions made by Dr James Hansen, Nasa's former chief climate scientist who is now based at Columbia University in New York.
Dr Hansen, along with 16 other experts recently warned ice sheets are melting 10 times faster than believed.
He explained that just 2°C of warming could be 'highly dangerous'.
Last year, researchers revealed more than 400 US cities could be obliterated by rising sea levels, and they created an interactive map to reveal the full extent of the crisis.
The interactive map looks at various different post-2100 sea levels that could change in this century. This could spell the end for Miami and New Orleans, for example.
Climate change experts have released a map of the world revealing how prepared different countries are to cope with the effects of climate change (shown above).
In the map 192 countries are ranked by their ‘vulnerability’ and ‘readiness’, producing an overall score on their fate, ranging from bad (zero) to excellent (100).
The results reveal that Scandinavian countries and the UK are among the most likely to survive - but areas of sub-Saharan Africa will be hardest hit.
They took into account location, terrain, pollution rates and national resources when calculating which countries would be most affected.
Countries like Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark score well on the scale.
But places like Central America, Africa and India all appear at risk from natural disaster - and are poorly equipped to cope, said The Eco Experts.
Jon Whiting, of The Eco Experts warned: ‘Hurricanes, earthquakes, blizzards, droughts and flooding are all real dangers for some of these areas, and this is compounded by a lack of national strategy to counteract the effects.’
Burundi, Chad, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo produced some of the lowest scores, meaning these countries will be the biggest victims of weather disasters.
Feb 23rd 2016
Had it not been for climate change, global sea levels would have risen by less than half the amount they did in the 20th century — and may even have fallen. Instead, the seas rose faster during those 100 years than in any of the previous 27 centuries, according to a Rutgers University-led study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences February 22. And as oceans continue to rise, we can expect more flooding on the U.S. East Coast, they warned.
Global sea levels rose by about 5.5 inches from 1900 to 2000, the study found. Around the world, average temperatures have risen nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1800s. Last year marked the hottest year on record, surpassing only 2014 as the second hottest. Without global warming, the team led by Robert Kopp estimates ocean levels would have risen by only 2.75 inches during the 20th century, if at all. (From 1000 to 1400 when the planet cooled by about .4 degrees Fahrenheit, ocean levels took about a three-inch dip.) Looking ahead, we can expect sea levels to rise another 1.7 to 4.3 feet in the 21st century as global temperatures continue to increase due to climate change, according to Kopp, an associate professor in Rutgers University’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.
Climate change can cause sea level rise in two ways, reports the Union of Concerned Scientists, a Massachusetts-based non-profit science advocacy group. First, as the global temperature rises, so do ocean temperatures. That in turn causes seawater to expand, just the opposite of how it contracts when frozen. When the warmer water expands, it finds itself trapped within a basin bounded by the continents, with nowhere to go but up. Another factor adding water to the oceans is melting land ice. When glaciers or polar ice sheets melt, water is released into the oceans.
It’s difficult to arrive at global sea level rise when data is recorded at particular locations. For this study, researchers devised a new statistical approach, allowing them to extrapolate global significance from regional records. With collaborators at Tufts University, the team worked with a data set of geological sea-level indicators from marshes, coral atolls and archaeological sites that spanned the last 3,000 years and represented 24 locations around the world. The analysis also tapped 66 tide-gauge records from the last 300 years. It was the largest and most detailed data set on sea levels yet to be analysed in this way.
As geologists, we can reconstruct how sea level changed at a particular site, and progress in the last 10 years has allowed us to do so with ever more detail and resolution,” says Andrew Kemp, an assistant professor of earth and ocean sciences at Tufts University. “Gathering together and standardizing these reconstructions gave us a chance to look at what they had in common and where they differed, both of which can tell us about the causes of past, present and future sea-level change."
To calculate the likely sea-level change in a scenario with no global warming, Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research used the study's global sea-level reconstruction to estimate how temperatures relate to the rate of sea-level change. Based on this relationship, the study found that, without global warming, 20th century global sea-level change would have been somewhere between a decrease of 1.2 inches and a rise of 2.8 inches. The study also found that it's very likely global sea level will rise by 1.7 to 4.3 feet in the 21st century if the world continues to rely heavily upon fossil fuels. Phasing out fossil fuels will reduce that to between 0.8 and 2.0 feet.
A companion report published by Climate Central — an independent organization of scientists and journalists reporting on climate science — found that more than half of the 8,000 coastal nuisance floods (those which lead to public inconveniences such as road closures) recorded since 1950 would not have occurred without sea level rise due to global warming.
Sea-levels are rising
This situation is being made worse by the rising sea- levels caused by global warming, as the temperature of the sea increases the volume of the water gets greater and we see this as a general rise in sea- levels, we have seen modest increases and these have caused many problems in low-lying land masses with some islands disappearing altogether.
And in many places it is already necessary to strengthen the sea defenses to meet occasional extreme conditions.
It is not difficult to imagine the devastation that will be caused in years to come if the forecasts of future rises in sea-levels are anything like correct, you should consider this and plan ahead now, if you are planning to build or buy your future dwelling make sure you consider the elevation and the possibility of future flooding when this happens.
A tidal surge is how we describe a situation where the normal tide is much higher than expected due to the wind and weather conditions in the catchment area, low atmospheric pressure will cause the surface of the sea to be higher than normal, this is a normal fact of nature but if it coincides with strong onshore winds then the breaking waves can be much higher than normal.
When you consider the damage caused by recent hurricanes and cyclones on the coastal areas, now try to imagine the devastation in years to come when the sea level is considerably higher, extreme forecasts talk not in inches with several feet and in some cases metres.
We really must do everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint to protect the environment, we must not let big business or politics get in the way, they encourage climate sceptics to serve their own ends, you could compare the sceptics to the old flat earth believers, there are no true sceptics anyone with half a brain and no ulterior motive has to believe that we are at fault.
If you live in a coastal area you can protect yourself and
your family by carefully watching the weather forecasts and listening to the
local news, you may get warnings from the local police or civil defense issued
by radio or television.
with modern communication systems these dangerous situations can be monitored
easily and warnings issued by local government, civil defense, police, local
radio and television.