Wildfires, hurricanes and disappearing sea ice: Climate crisis is here

Wildfires, hurricanes and disappearing sea ice: Climate crisis is here

The worst wildfire in U.S. history, the Arctic Ocean ice is headed for the hottest summer in the Northern Hemisphere since the onset of a historically low, simultaneous hurricane and record in the Atlantic Ocean: scientists say natural disasters and record temperatures this year have surpassed their worst fears.

“We were speculating about things that could have happened 40 years ago, and in our lifetime, I don’t think any of us expected these things to come out,” said 73-year-old climate professor Chris Robley. Science at University College London. “It has become more of a real issue today than a predicted issue tomorrow.”

Natural disasters have brought home the huge economic and social costs of a hot planet that has warmed by about 1C in the last century.

Wildfires across the U.S. West Coast have burned more than 5 m acres, releasing 110 mt of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, equivalent to the annual emissions of the entire UK power sector.

Smoke map from West Coast Wildfire Reaches East Coast and beyond

According to satellite data from the European Union’s Copernicus Atmospheric Surveillance Service, smoke is high in the atmosphere as far as northern Europe.

Copernicus wildfire scientist Mark Barrington said: “The scale and magnitude of these fires are much higher than they were in the 18 years that our surveillance data cover.

In the United States, smoke has come as far as New York City and Washington D.C., tilting the sky with a clear haze.

US President Donald Trump has sought Blame the fire mainly on the forest administration, Climate scientists do not accept this.

Philip Duffy, president of the Woodwell Climate Research Center in Massachusetts, said: “All of these things predict the effects of climate change. “People are asking if this is the new normal, no, I’m just saying it’s going to get worse until it adds greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.”

Friedrich Otto, president of the Institute for Climate Change at the University of Oxford, said the record temperature was “fire weather” – the arid conditions that breed wildfires – that have become more frequent and intense.

“We are really seeing the clearest and biggest sign of climate change being extreme temperatures,” he said.

From California ‘s Death Valley, which hit 54.4C, to 38C, Russia’s Far East recorded new temperatures this year. Recorded Within the Arctic Circle. In Brazil, Pantanal, one of the largest wetlands in the world, has been burning since mid-July following a severe drought.

August 2020 Map showing the warmest record in the Northern Hemisphere

Mr Robley at UCL compared California to the Sahara Desert – which underwent a major climate change and desertification about 6,000 years ago – saying a similar change could occur. “The California wildfire has come very quickly, much more devastating than we expected.”

Other researchers said the impact of global warming was in line with scientific models but that human and social costs were higher than expected.

Otto University professor Otto said: “Our communities really only adapt to a small amount of possible weather.” What 2020 is showing is 1C warming, as we expected. . . We are already bringing our communities to the brink of what we can deal with. ”

According to Tom Goringham, an economist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography near San Diego, this year has so far cost $ 2 billion to fight fires in the United States.

“The size is shocking,” Mr Goringham said. “These are not transient shocks to the economy, they are a permanent reduction in growth associated with climate change.”

Hurricane Sally, which caused landslides in Alabama and Florida on Wednesday, was blowing over 100 miles per hour © Gerald Herbert / A.P.

Scientists have identified five simultaneous hurricanes and tropical storms in the Atlantic this week, the second time this has been recorded, as California’s forests burn, emphasizing a new form of extreme, weather – related events. Hurricane Sally, which caused landslides Wednesday in Alabama and Florida, blew more than 100 miles per hour. United States Forecast A “very active” hurricane season.

Still, Tim Lendon, a professor of climate change at the University of Exeter, said there were more signs of irreversible climate change than in the United States, but in the polar regions.

The ice-covered area in the Arctic Ocean is heading for a historic low this year, and the Greenland ice sheet has also lost mass.

Chart showing Arctic sea ice is approaching record lows

“It’s not just this year’s evidence, it’s a decade ‘of evidence that leads me to the view that we may have already crossed one or two points in the climate system,” Professor Lendon said.

Reducing Arctic sea ice creates a vicious cycle of warming. As there is less white ice on the surface of the ocean to reflect the heat of the sun, the water temperature rises, which reflects less ice and even less heat – a major reason why the Arctic warms up to three times faster than the rest of the planet.

“We have known for a long time that if we continue to warm the planet, not only will the Arctic lose sea ice this summer, but eventually you will lose it all year round,” Professor Lendon said.

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