Business Clean Up Day 2018: ‘Let today be the start of your clean up journey’

Event founder Ian Kiernan has called on all Australians to keep the momentum going after another successful Clean Up Day campaign.

During a week of action, which kicked off with a Carbon Reduction Institute-sponsored Business Clean Up Day on February 27, an impressive 587,962 volunteers joined together across 7,253 locations to remove rubbish and litter.

Speaking from the 2018 Clean Up Day official site in Brisbane, Mr Kiernan said he was proud to see so many environmentally-conscious Australians rally to the cause: this year’s turnout represented a 14% increase in site and a 4% spike in volunteer numbers over 2017.

But he was also adamant that there is no room for complacency when it comes to keeping our parks, waterways, beaches, bushland and roadways clear of mountains of debris.

“We need to do much more than just pick up rubbish one day a year,” said Mr Kiernan, now in his 28th year of campaigning for a rubbish-free Australia.

“Every day is Clean Up Australia Day – so let today simply be the start of your Clean Up journey. “Making a real difference starts with looking more closely at our persIan Kiernan joins CRI on Clean Up Dayonal purchasing behaviour, becoming conscious of the single-use products, packaging and plastics that we buy and then discard.

“We need to continue to challenge our governments to implement effective waste management and recycling programs to reduce the amount of wasted resource that ends up in our precious environment. Our Clean Up activities provide vital community-led data and feedback that influences decision makers.”

Mr Kiernan and CUA’s Business Officer Wendy Chapman, pictured above right, also found time in the busy campaign week to join the CRI team during their Clean Up Day at Taylors Bay Beach near Taronga Zoo in the Sydney Harbour.

The five staff members, which included CRI’s program managers Garth Mulholland and Heidi Fog, picked up between 30-40 kg of rubbish and close to 1,000 items of litter; everything from plastic zip lock bags to straws and bottle caps.

Their contribution will now be added to the estimated 800 tonnes of rubbish collected across Australia, the removal and destruction of which is being off-set by carbon credits bought by CRI.

“If you missed Clean Up Australia, Business Clean Up Day this year; start planning now to get your business involved next year,” added Mr Mulholland.

“It is a great team-building activity, an opportunity to get outdoors during the week and most importantly a chance to help clean up the environment.”

Since the event started in 1998, Australians have donated more than 33 million volunteer hours, removing the equivalent of 350 thousand ute loads of rubbish from over 178 thousand sites across the country.

“The dedication and enthusiasm of our volunteers have made Clean Up Australia Day possible for all these years, and every one of you can be proud of what you have achieved,” said Mr Kiernan.

Results in progress predict volunteers will have removed the equivalent of nearly 16,000 thousand ute loads of rubbish over the last week – just the beginning of what is shaping up to be an outstanding effort in 2018.

Working with limited resources, Clean Up Australia is a not-for-profit NGO which relies on corporate sponsors and donors to supply funding and resources and will continue to provide free bags, gloves and other equipment for as long as it has the funds to do so.

Donations can be made online by clicking here.

Could the next big volcanic eruption in Indonesia help save the planet?

Australian airlines and Bali-bound tourists aren’t the only foreigners keeping a keen eye on the increased volcanic activity around Indonesia of late.

Since Mount Agung began erupting (see video below) at the end of November – and more recently Mount Sinabung on nearby Sumatra – The New York Times reports that NASA researchers and other scientists are on standby to study how ‘the big one’ could theoretically help curb global warming.

Powerful volcanic eruptions are one of the biggest natural influences on climate – when the Philippines’ Mount Pinatubo blew in 1991, it spewed 20 million tons of sulphur dioxide gas into the atmosphere.

The gas spread around the world and combined with water vapour to make aerosols, tiny droplets that reflected sunlight away from the Earth, lowering average global temperatures by one-degree Fahrenheit for several years.

As the world now scrambles for global warming solutions, scientists are wondering if volcanoes can help them unlock the secrets of solar geoengineering, that is, cooling the planet by making it reflect back more of the sun’s rays.

One approach would be to use high-flying jets to spray similar chemicals in the stratosphere. So, by studying the next big volcanic eruption, scientists would also gain insights into how such a scheme, known as solar radiation management, or S.R.M., might work, adds The New York Times.

“This is important if we’re ever going to do geoengineering,” said Alan Robock, a Rutgers University researcher who models the effects of eruptions and who has been involved in discussions about the rapid-response project.

“But even if there were no such thing as geoengineering, it’s still important to understand how volcanoes affect climate.”

The rapid-response effort would involve high-altitude balloon flights and other methods to gather data about an eruption as soon as possible after it begins and for several years afterward.

It would also be important to monitor the aerosols over time, to see how big they get and how they eventually break down. Bigger aerosols would fall out of the atmosphere sooner, lessening the cooling impact, say scientists.

More research needed

In a recent essay for The Wall Street Journal, Dr Gernot Wagner, co-director of Harvard University’s solar geoengineering research program, and Dr Martin Weitzman, a professor of economics at Harvard, said the effects could be substantial over time.

“Solar geoengineering is so potentially powerful, in fact, that it turns the usual economics of climate change on its head,” they write under the heading A Big-Sky plan to Cool the Planet.

But one of the biggest stumbling blocks for spraying the atmosphere with aerosols from high-flying planes is that we don’t yet know which materials would be safest and most effective, caution the doctors.

“Sulphate aerosols are featured in most plans, largely because they best match the known effects of volcanic eruptions. But they also contribute to depleting stratospheric ozone.

“Some preliminary research points to the possible use of calcium carbonate as an alternative. It has potentially better reflective properties for lowering temperatures, and it could help to restore ozone. Much more research needs to be done and may well identify other possibilities.”

They are also quick to qualify their statements in support of solar geoengineering by concluding that making the planet more reflective cannot be a replacement for cutting carbon pollution.

“At best, it is a supplement to other efforts to combat climate change, and it’s an imperfect one at that—a drug that merely moderates dangerous symptoms. The permanent solution is a regimen of diet and exercise.”

Australia’s tourist hotspots at risk from climate change, finds new report

Many of Australia’s most iconic tourist attractions could be wiped off the map due to a barrage of catastrophic climate change issues, warns a grim new report from the Climate Council.

Citing multiple credible sources, the council’s 68-page study Icons at Risk: Climate Change Threatening Australian Tourism says Australia’s world-famous beaches, wilderness areas, national parks and the Great Barrier Reef are the most vulnerable hotspots, while our unique native wildlife is also at risk.

“Tourists travel across the globe to see Australia’s remarkable natural wonders. But these icons are in the climate firing line as extreme weather events worsen and sea levels continue to rise,” says Climate Councillor and ecologist Professor Lesley Hughes.

“Some of our country’s most popular natural destinations, including our beaches could become ‘no-go zones’ during peak holiday periods and seasons, with the potential for extreme temperatures to reach up to 50 degrees in Sydney and Melbourne.”

Paris agreement will help

The Gold Coast is also under threat from a whole host of climate change pressures, adds Prof Hughes.

Coastal erosion was already a huge issue on the ‘Glitter Strip’ with millions spent on replenishing sand — but it could become a losing battle.

“Places like Surfers Paradise can’t move inland because of development so there’s a risk of inundation and storm surges,” Prof Hughes says.

And then there’s the deadly jellyfish tempted south because of the slowly warming waters.

“Jellyfish, like the deadly Irukandji, are already in Hervey Bay and Fraser Island, not in large numbers but it shows what could happen.”

Prof Hughes says she isn’t trying to discredit the future of the tourism industry, just point out the dangers climate change will pose if changes aren’t made.

“Tourism employs half a million people, which is many times more than coal mining, so we need to be realistic about the risk the industry faces.”

Ultimately only bringing down global emissions to under 2C, the target set by the Paris Climate Agreement, would lessen the pressure on Australia’s natural attractions, says Prof Hughes

But she criticised the government for sidestepping the issue in its latest tourism strategy.

“What disappoints me most in Government planning is that the Tourism 2020 Plan focuses purely on growth and so paints a very optimistic picture rather than a realistic one.”

Other key report findings include:

  • Australia’s top five natural tourist attractions (beaches, wildlife, the Great Barrier Reef, wilderness and national parks) are all at risk of climate change.
  • Beaches are Australia’s #1 tourist destination and are threatened by rising sea levels.
  • Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Cairns, Darwin, Fremantle and Adelaide are projected to have a least a 100-fold increase in the frequency of coastal flooding events (with a 0.5m sea level rise).
  • The Red Centre could experience more than 100 days above 35ºC annually, by 2030. By 2090, there could be more than 160 days per year over 35ºC.
  • The Top End could see an increase in hot days (temperatures above 35ºC) from 11 (1981-2010 average) to 43 by 2030, and up to 265 by 2090.
  • Ski tourism: Declines of maximum snow depth and decreasing season length at Australian ski resorts have been reported for over 25 years, increasing the need for artificial snow-making.

The report, however, isn’t all doom and gloom for Australian tourism.

It also highlights moves by individual operators including hotels, resorts, airlines and even zoos which are taking action to tackle rising pollution.

“States and territories, local governments and individual tourism operators should be congratulated for rolling up their sleeves and doing their bit to slash pollution by embracing renewable energy and storage technology,” adds Climate Council Acting CEO and Head of Research, Dr Martin Rice.

“Now, for the sake of our iconic attractions, we just need the Federal Government to do the same.”

Clean Up Australia Day, 2018 – Your business can make a difference!

The Carbon Reduction Institute (CRI) is once again proud to be partnering with Clean Up Australia (CUA) for the next Business Clean Up Day on February 27.

The nationwide initiative is part of a four-pronged environmental program at the end of summer, which also includes a youth and schools’ clean-up on March 2 and the marquee Clean Up Australia Day event on March 4.

CRI has a long-standing relationship with CUA, and as Major Partner of the Business Clean Up Day, can offer any CRI-certified business the opportunity to register a Business Clean Up site for just $100 (including GST), which is a 33% discount to the regular price.

“We have found the team at CRI to be highly knowledgeable lateral thinkers who consistently provide new ideas and ways of tackling issues,” says CUA founder Ian Kiernan (AO).

“The team at CRI continues to be the calibre of business partner that I am comfortable to refer to you.”

Organisers say Business Clean Up sites can vary greatly; some businesses use the day to clean up at a local area, park, beach or creek, whereas others use it as spruce-up their own office space and kick start environmental programs.

Whichever way participants decide to go, being involved is a fantastic way to be seen as a community leader and engage with your staff, customers and local community, says CUA. Previous Business Clean Up Days have proven to be excellent team building events and great for staff morale.

CRI client Baiada, a privately-owned supplier of premium quality poultry products throughout Australia, can attest to that – Baiada will be back for its 14th consecutive clean up this February.

In 2017, its first year as a CUA corporate sponsor, 255 Baiada volunteers from 43 registered sites around Australia collected 303 bags of rubbish weighing a staggering 3.2 tonne.

Efforts like that helped make a phenomenal difference to Australia’s annual CO2 emissions, reports CRI’s sustainability engineers.

In a study of the total rubbish collected in 2017, CRI calculated that if the 35,000 main pollutants – PET drink and milk containers, alcohol bottles, and soft drink holders – had been recycled, approximately 1100kg of emissions would have been prevented.

“The key is stopping litter becoming rubbish. If everyone took responsibility for the small stuff, it wouldn’t steamroll into the environmental disaster we are facing in the state of our oceans and waterways,” said Mr Kiernan.

“Signing up for 2018 Clean Up Australia Day is the ideal way for every Australian to take a positive position – lots of small actions like picking up local rubbish can help reduce the 8 million tonnes of plastic entering oceans worldwide each year.

“We can all play a part by simply caring for our local environment.”

Over the last 27 years volunteers have donated more than 32 million hours at over 171,000 locations across Australia. Together they have removed the equivalent of 344,000 ute loads of rubbish.

CUA had 6500 registered sites in 2017. This year, CRI is hoping to help organisers reach their target of 8000, with its own clean-up site at Taylors Bay, near Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, in operation from 1-4pm on February 27. Locals are welcome to come along and help out.

“This is a fantastic initiative for all Australian businesses to be involved in, whether on the day itself, or at a time that’s more convenient,” adds CRI Operations Director Marvin Van Stralendorff.

For more information on how your business can be involved, visit the official CUA website here.


Climate change goals at risk if new coal plants go ahead, says study

Just days after government data confirmed that Australia is on track to meet its 2020 Renewable Energy Target, a new study finds our climate control headway could be undone by other countries’ continued coal reliance.

Ottmar Edenhofer of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change in Berlin, and three colleagues, say that if all the world’s planned coal plants are built we are closing the door on the Paris Agreement’s target of restricting temperatures from rising more than two degrees Celsius this century.

The research was published in Environmental Research Letters, with co-authors from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the Technical University of Berlin.

The study is based on a concept of “lock-in” or “committed” emissions: Once a coal plant is completed and put into service, the thinking goes, it’s likely to operate for long time to justify the cost of the investment, reports The Washington Post.

The research finds that five countries — India, China, Turkey, Vietnam and Indonesia — are home to “nearly three quarters (73 percent) of the global coal-fired capacity that is currently under construction or planned.”

Vietnam, if plans are carried forward, could see 948 percent growth in coal emissions, the research asserts, by 2030.

The study is based on a database by CoalSwarm, a project of the Earth Island Institute, which carefully tracks coal plants in varying stages of completion across the globe, in collaboration with Greenpeace and the Sierra Club.

Christine Shearer, a researcher with CoalSwarm, said it’s important to bear in mind that not all coal plants are actually completed.

“Since we started doing this work, since 2010, only about a third of proposed coal plants ever begin construction or are commissioned,” she said.

China, the world’s biggest consumer of fossil fuels, is a classic example.

Just last October it announced it was stopping or postponing work on 151 coal plants that were either under, or earmarked for, construction.

A month earlier India reported its national coal fleet on average ran at little more than 60% of its capacity – among other things, well below what is generally considered necessary for an individual generator to be financially viable.

Study author Mr Edenhofer, however, countered that the current building plans are important information.

“This does not mean we are doomed, but these announcements are announcements which should be taken into account very seriously,” he said.

“These are not just paper plants, these are real plants.”

Cameron Hepburn, a professor in environmental economics at Oxford University, also weighed in on the recent study with a gloomy outlook.

“If we don’t stop building coal plants now, we will have four unpalatable options,” he tells The Washington Post by email.

“We either (1) shut down coal plants early, (2) retrofit expensive carbon capture technologies, (3) suck even more CO2 out of the atmosphere, potentially at high cost, or (4) burn through the 2 degree C target.”

Extreme Arctic weather event has climate scientists fearful of ramifications

With the sun still not due to rise there until March 20, the North Pole should be one of the coldest and most inhospitable places in the world.

But a strange and disturbing phenomenon struck the planet’s tip on the weekend of February 24-25: temperatures may have soared as high as 2°C, according to the U.S. Global Forecast System model, creating an historic thaw.

The Washington Post reports that Zack Labe, a climate scientist working on his PhD at the University of California, confirmed what several independent analysis showed – an intense pulse of heat through the Greenland Sea triggered a 30°C spike above normal temperature.

The warm disturbance penetrated right through the heart of the Central Arctic, Mr Labe said.

The temperature averaged for the entire region north of 80 degrees latitude jumped to its highest level ever recorded in February. The average temperature was more than 20°C above normal.

“No other warm intrusions were very close to this,” Mr Labe said in an interview, describing a data set maintained by the Danish Meteorological Institute that dates back to 1958.

“I was taken by surprise how expansive this warm intrusion was.”

“To have zero degrees at the North Pole in February – it’s just wrong,” added Amelie Meyer, a Hobart-based researcher of ice-ocean interactions with the Norwegian Polar Institute in another interview. “It’s quite worrying.”

A number of factors in play

The so-called Polar Vortex – a zone of persistent low-pressure that typically keeps high-latitude cold air separate from regions further south – has been weakening for decades, say scientists.

In this instance, “a massive jet of warm air” is penetrating north, sending a cold burst southwards, said Dr Meyer, who has relocated to Tasmania to research on the southern hemisphere, and is hosted by Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies.

The polar blast southward resulted in a deadly storm dubbed ‘The Beast From the East’, which has killed as many as 48 people, according to one report. The Siberian weather pattern pummelled the Continent with snow, freezing rain and brutal wind chills – some parts of Britain recorded temperatures as low as -10°C.

Kent Moore, a professor of atmospheric physics at the University of Toronto, who published a study in 2016 linking the loss of sea ice to these warm events in the Arctic, believed a number of factors may have contributed to the latest episode.

For one, recent storms have tracked more toward the North Pole through the Greenland Sea, drawing heat directly north from lower latitudes, rather than through a more circuitous route over the Barents Sea.

He also said ocean temperatures in the Greenland Sea are warmer than normal.

“The warmth we’re seeing in the Greenland Sea is definitely enhancing the warm events we’re seeing,” Mr Moore said. “I’m surprised how warm it is, but I am not sure why.”

In 2016, Denmark’s Senior Climatologist John Cappelen reported: “Records from Camp Summit, at the top of the Inland Ice, show high temperatures. Camp Summit recorded 7.3oC warmer than normal (-24.3oC compared to the norm of -31.6oC).”

Greenland Inland Ice, in some areas, was up to 2.5 km thick and a source of water with a serious potential to increase global sea levels, concluded the report, which was also cited by NOAA.

Mr Moore said the most recent spike could be tied to a sudden warming of the stratosphere, the atmospheric layer about 30,000 feet high — above where most weather happens — that occurred several weeks ago.

One study, published last July, found that these bursts of warmer air are also becoming more frequent, longer-lasting and more intense.

“It happened in four years between 1980-2010, but has now occurred in four out of the last five winters,” said study author Robert Graham, a climate scientist from the Norwegian Polar Institute.

Other scientists are more worried about the dramatic impact the thaw is having on the rapidly diminishing Arctic sea ice.

They were shocked in recent days to discover open water north of Greenland, an area normally covered by old, very thick ice.

The part of the Arctic covered by sea ice in January was the smallest for the month since records began in 1979, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirmed recently – a whopping 1.35m square kilometres less than average, which is an area almost twice the size of NSW.

The amount of sea ice in the Arctic has steadily declined over the past few decades because of man-made global warming, according to NOAA. Sea ice in the Arctic affects wildlife such as polar bears, seals and walruses. It also helps regulate the planet’s temperature by influencing the circulation of the atmosphere and ocean.

“Greenhouse gases emitted through human activities and the resulting increase in global mean temperatures are the most likely underlying cause of the sea ice decline,” the National Snow and Ice Data Center said.

2017 Climate Change Champions v The Deniers: Who won the heated debate?

After a year of catastrophic weather on his own doorstep, would 2017 finally be the year the world’s most high-profile climate change sceptic had a change of heart?

Not judging by the end-of-year social media retort below, which President Trump fired off as the eastern seaboard in the U.S. was gripped by an icy winter storm.

Using a cold snap as an argument against the existence of global warming is nothing new for Mr Trump, who has discharged more than 100 climate denialism missives on Twitter since 2011.

In the years before running for president, he called it “non-existent,” “mythical” and a “a total con job”. Indeed, it seemed that whenever snow fell in Manhattan he’d mock the idea of global warming.

“Global warming has been proven to be a canard repeatedly over and over again,” he wrote on Twitter in 2012. In another post later that same year, he said, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” A year later, he wrote that “global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax!”

This time, however, was the first occasion he’d tackled the issue head-on as president, and also included an implicit swipe at the Paris climate accord, which Mr Trump has vowed to abandon.

Flawed logic

Climate scientists, however, have long warned against using individual weather events to deliberate the existence, or otherwise, of global warming. Weather, they point out, refers to atmospheric conditions during a short period; climate relates to longer-term weather patterns.

Anthony Leiserowitz, director of Yale University’s project on climate change communication, called Mr Trump’s tweet “scientifically ridiculous and demonstrably false”.


“There is a fundamental difference in scale between what weather is and what climate is,” he said.

“What’s going on in one small corner of the world at a given moment does not reflect what’s going on with the planet.”

David Karoly, a climate scientist from the University of Melbourne, was even more blunt, reports The Guardian.

“It’s winter in the US. Cold temperatures are common in winter.”

Climate modelling showed cold snaps like the one in the US were actually becoming less common as a result of global warming, Mr Karoly said, adding that rapid attribution analysis means scientists are now able to look more closely at “classes of events”.

That type of modelling for the north-east of the US, he said, showed that although there was a great deal of year-to-year variability, the average coldest temperature in December in the region has increased in the past 50 years.

Australian scientists from the Institute of Public Affairs John Abbot and Jennifer Marohasy managed to publish an alternative view for the sceptics in the journal GeoResJ, citing data from six 2,000 year-long proxy temperature series from different geographic regions.

“Proxies” are the markers scientists use – tree rings, sediments, pollen, etc – to try and assess global temperature trends in the days before the existence of thermometers.

All the evidence suggested that the planet was about a degree warmer during the Medieval Warming Period than it is now; and that there is nothing unnatural or unprecedented about late 20th century and early 21st century “climate change”, trumpeted far-right publications Breitbart and The Daily Caller.

But when The Guardian canvassed five genuine climate scientists for their view on the findings, they variously summarised the research as “junk science” and seriously flawed.

Climate change is good for us

Another outspoken climate change denier, former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, also didn’t let established science derail his ‘message’ to the world in 2017.

In an October speech called Daring to Doubt to the Global Warming Policy Foundation in the UK, he likened climate change policy to “primitive people killing goats to appease volcano gods”.


Mr Abbott argued that “at least so far it is climate change policy that is doing harm; climate change itself is probably doing good — or at least more good than harm”.

“In most countries far more people die in cold snaps than in heatwaves, so a gradual lift in global temperatures, especially if it is accompanied by more prosperity and more capacity to adapt to change might even be beneficial.”

Mr Abbott also used the platform to outline his opposition to renewable power by arguing it was possible to have “too much of a good thing”.

“The only rational choice is to put Australian jobs and Australia’s standard of living first; to get emissions down but only as far as we can without putting prices up,” the former prime minister said, arguing anything else would be a “dereliction of duty as well as a political death wish”.

He described the reality of climate change as very modest but the consequences of the policy to deal with it as “increasingly dire”.

That’s not a rhetoric likely to book Mr Abbott any speaking gigs with economic superpower China anytime soon.

So long reviled as a climate change villain, in 2017 China transformed into a green energy colossus.

The world’s top clean energy investor pledged to increase the amount of energy coming from non-fossil fuels to 20% of its total output by 2030.

To that end, China’s energy agency vowed to spend more than $360bn on renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind by 2020, cutting smog levels, carbon emissions and creating 13 million jobs in the process.

Time to act is now

In June, it unveiled one of its early jewels in that masterplan, the world’s biggest floating solar farm off the shores of Huainan, in the central, coal-rich Anhui province, which can generate 40 megawatts of electricity – enough to power 15,000 homes.

More recently, China has also launched the world’s biggest ever mechanism to reduce carbon, in the form of an emissions trading system that will initially cover the country’s heavily polluting power generation plants, then expand to take in most of the economy.

“This is a game-changer,” said Nathaniel Keohane, vice president at the Environmental Defense Fund, a US-based environmental group.

“This shows global leadership on the part of the Chinese government.”

Ironically, the very country whose leader and has routinely scoffed at the notion of mankind causing global warming, was also behind an indirect vindication of China’s stand.

The November-released Climate Science Special Report (CSSR) in the US – the most comprehensive summary of climate science since 2013 –  concluded with 95 to 100 per cent certainty that global warming is man-made, mostly from the spewing of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas.

“Over the last century, there are no convincing alternative explanations,” the report said.

In a year that also saw Scott Pruitt, the controversial new head of the Environmental Protection Agency end the US war on coal-fired emissions, one of the father’s of climate science James Hansen concluded that the best way forward was in the courts.

The former Nasa scientist ended 2017 by calling for a fresh wave of lawsuits against governments and fossil fuel companies on what he describes as the growing, mortal threat of global warming.

He tells The Guardian that the litigate-to-mitigate campaign is needed alongside political mobilisation because judges are less likely than politicians to be in the pocket of oil, coal and gas companies.

“We are entering a period of consequences and are in danger of being too late,” he warned.

“I have come to note that greenhouse gas climate forcings are accelerating, not decelerating, and sea-level rise and ocean acidification are accelerating.

“We confront a mortal threat, now endangering the very existence of island and low-lying nations in the Pacific and around the planet. Accordingly, ambition must be increased and enforced.”

Australian Endured Exceptional Heat This September

22nd September is still remembered and has gone down in history in terms of having extreme weather. It was the hottest day in September with the majority of the country recording new highs.

As per the published statement of the Bureau of Meteorology, the mean maximum temperature was 33.47°C on 22nd September, and that is almost six degrees warmer than the average of the month.

The Bureau called the heat as ‘exceptional heat’ as it literally broke the previously set record in September 1998, having temperatures of 33.39°C, being the warmest since the beginning of records in 1911.

This year and the last year too, Australia has been a victim of severe climatic conditions. On many occasions, the country and its different regions have endured extreme temperatures, breaking many previous records. The Bureau considers the heat faced in September as a significant change in climatic conditions and all of this takes us back to the same debate of taking strong measures against climate change and carbon emissions.

While Australia has great tendency to meet the challenges of climate change, the country never took a step back in contributing towards the growing issue of climate change worldwide.

What the Bureau suggest as the most probable reason behind the exceptional heat endured by Australians this September is that much of the rising temperature was actually caused by the high-pressure system which is located at the Tasman Sea and New South Wales, and that kept a large portion of northern and eastern Australia absolutely cloud free.

The parched soil and low rainfall rapidly allowed the high sunny temperature to heat the overlying air and the land surface.

Exceptional Heat Hit Different Territories in Australia

In September, many regions of Australia met with record-breaking temperature whereas some made it to the top ten warmest days’ list.

Queensland and New South Wales took the lead and experienced the hottest days of September –so far on record – the following week.

Whereas other regions such as Victoria and the Northern Territory along with South Australia, have days in the list of the top ten warmest for September.

As per the statement of the Bureau “More than 20 percent of Australia by area recorded its hottest September day on record during 22-29 September”.

As a whole, New South Wales suffered from its hottest day in September so far on record on 23rd September. The mean maximum temperature recorded on that day was 35.18°C, almost 1.5°C greater than the previous mark and in terms of long-term average, nearly 15°C warmer.

The Bureau also noticed some other climatic conditions according to which, since the year 1910, the spring season has warmed up around one degree all across Australia, which is consistent with what has been seen around the globe.

The Bureau said that “Studies undertaken by the Bureau and other scientific institutions have shown that climate change has contributed to the severity and frequency of recent heat events, including spring warmth,”

The effects of climate change are inevitable and the last option left to the nations worldwide is to seek well strategic measures to cut down the impact of climate change, and to stay prepared for meeting more challenges down the line.

Satellite Shows the Sea Ice Extent of the Arctic Reaching Eight Lowest

According to the report published by NASA and NSIDC – National Snow and Ice Data Center at the Colorado University, the ice in the Arctic Sea has reached it’s yearly lowest extent recently.
The NASA and NSIDC analyzed the data received via satellite which showed that at 4.64 million sq. kilometres (1.79 million sq. miles), the ice of the Arctic Sea’s minimum extent is the lowest (positioning eighth)considering the long-term and consistent satellite record which actually started in 1978.

Arctic sea ice is the planet’s air conditioner

The ice in the Arctic sea, the frozen layer of seawater that covers the vast area of the Arctic Ocean along with the neighbouring areas, is commonly referred as the air conditioner of the planet. This is because the ice surface bounces back the solar energy into space which eventually cools down the globe.

The ice cap of the sea varies with the season, shrinking in the summer and spring and growing in the winter and autumn. However, since the1970s, the minimum extent of summertime that generally occurs in the month of September has now decreased and at a rapid rate due to increasing temperatures.

As per the statistics of this year, the Arctic temperature has been a bit moderate, considering such high latitudes. Also, it was better and cooler than the average of other regions. Indeed, the minimum extent of sea ice in 2017 is 610,000 sq. miles that make around 1.58 million sq. kilometres below the average minimum in between 1981-2010.

According to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center senior climate scientist – Clair Parkinson – in Greenbelt Maryland;

“How much ice is left at the end of summer in any given year depends on both the state of the ice cover earlier in the year and the weather conditions affecting the ice, “The weather conditions have not been particularly noteworthy this summer. The fact that we still ended up with low sea ice extent is because the baseline ice conditions today are worse than the baseline 38 years ago.”

The effects of low Arctic ice

With the lowest Arctic ice records in 2012, 2016 and 2007, we faced unusual weather conditions. These climate conditions included strong storms in the summer that severely hammered the cover of ice and also increased the melting.

“In all of those cases, the weather conditions contributed to the reduced ice coverage. But if the exact same weather system had occurred three decades ago, it is very unlikely that it would have caused as much damage to the sea ice cover, because back then the ice was thicker and it more completely covered the region, hence making it more able to withstand storms,” – further added by Parkinson.

On the other end, Antarctica is now heading to the year’s maximum sea ice that commonly occurs in October.

Hence, adding the Arctic and Antarctic extents of sea ice month wise and as per the records of the satellite, Earth is losing sea ice since 1970. In fact, every month this year from January until August; there was a monthly record of low sea ice, as confirmed by Parkinson.

Global Rising Sea Levels Not Uniform: NASA

The latest NASA study revealed a new climate-change phenomenon that would help scientists predict future sea levels. When ice glaciers melt, they cause ‘fingerprints’, demonstrating that sea levels vary around the world due to massive changes in water storage on ice caps and continents.

Scientists are now convinced that they can predict the levels at which sea levels would rise from the melting glaciers. The findings showed that melting ice caps can significantly alter the gravity field – that is, the proportion of water that accumulates around the glaciers, away from ocean waters. When an ice cap melts, the heavy load of the glacier is lifted off the Earth.

The loss of ice mass from glaciers results in the ocean water moving further away from ice caps. The sea levels rise from the resulting melting glaciers. This change was recorded to be highest at 52% in Florida and California more than any other places. Furthermore, the most prone areas include those between Greenland and Antarctica, from where ice glaciers either break down into icebergs or ‘meltwater.’

Some countries would be affected more than others; the hardest hit were those close to the middle and lower latitudes. The data generated from GRACE satellite estimated 1.8 millimetres’ rise in sea level per year, with only 30% coming from the mountain glaciers.

Harvard graduates Carling Hay and Eric Morrow stated that the statistical method – Kalmon Smoother – could be used to determine where the glaciers are melting. A fuel for the fire, skeptics of climate change claim that global warming is still a myth since some countries are recording rising sea levels while others are reporting the contrary.
However, this variability in sea levels is further proof that some countries are more hard-hit than others, allowing scientists to ascertain the resulting changes.

A single glacier can cause as much as millions of gallons of water to flow out into the ocean; thus, increasing the proportion of meltwater to ocean water. This progression results in changes in the salt content, water expansion, ocean circulation and temperatures, which build up over time.

The researchers are now working on expanding their findings from historical data, dating back to 1807. This would show the aggregate estimate about how much the sea levels have risen along with the rate at which the ice glaciers have been collapsing.

Researchers would be able to gather data from tide gauges and variations coming from Greenland and Antarctica.
However, the data is still insufficient to show the current rates at which ice caps are melting and sea levels are rising. Moreover, certain geographical locations may generate less data than other locations.

It still remains to be seen how much the sea levels rose and the rate at which ice sheets melted in the preceding century.

Harvard Professor Jerry Mitrivoca has stated that people residing on or near coastal areas, such as Maryland, need to be particularly aware of the price and dangers of unprecedented increases in sea levels and disintegration of ice glaciers.