lunes, 8 de diciembre de 2014

California is suffering its driest spell for at least 1,200 years and is now 100 per cent in drought

The current drought in California is the worst the state has seen in at least 1,200 years, according to a recent study published by the American Geophysical Union.
Scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and the University of Minnesota reconstructed California’s temperature and precipitation history back to 800 A.D. using tree ring data.
Hidden in this millennium of data they found as many as 66 dry periods of at least three to nine years. In the entire 1,200 year period they studied, there were only three droughts that were similar in nature to the current drought.
Though none have been as severe as what California has seen in the three years since 2012. Not even the historic droughts of the late 1970s, nor the late 1980s.
The study also found that 2014 was the worst single drought year in the past 1,200 years, and that approximately 44 percent of California’s 3-year droughts have gone on to last another year, or longer.
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martes, 25 de noviembre de 2014

El Niño storms blamed for stunting growth in Peruvian children

The weather system known as El Niño is thought to be responsible for causing natural disasters and disease outbreaks worldwide. It could also, researchers now say, be blamed for the stunted growth of children in Peru.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in the US found that Peruvian children who were born during or immediately after a severe El Niño event 17 years ago were significantly shorter for their age than their peers born after the extreme storms abated. El Niño is a cyclical weather pattern that occurs every three to seven years in the equatorial Pacific region. Warming at the surface of the ocean builds up and heats the air above it which results in torrential rains and extreme flooding in the Americas.
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martes, 16 de septiembre de 2014

The new climate economy: Better growth better climate

Countries at all income levels have the opportunity to build lasting economic growth and at the same time reduce the immense risk of climate change. But action is needed now.

viernes, 6 de junio de 2014

Classification of air quality in European cities

The Romanian city of  Cluj-Napoca ranks first among 100 larger cities of the European Union in terms of air quality, according to a research published by French magazine We Demain together with Respire association.
Cluj-Napoca, which is located in the center of Romania’s historical province of Transylvania, is the country’s third largest city, with 304,500 people.
According to the research, Cluj-Napoca is one of the only two large cities in Europe where the average number of days of air pollution exceeding normal levels is zero. The other city is Edinburgh in Scotland, but Cluj wins due to lower average levels in the analyzed air pollution indicators.
The research takes into consideration three air polluting factors, which are small particles, nitrous dioxide and ozone and calculates the average number of days per year in which the level for these pollutants are exceeding the normal levels, which makes the air unhealthy to breathe.
However, the authors of the research show that the data measurements are imperfect which makes the data not that relevant for comparison. For example, Cluj has only two stations for measuring air pollution, while Berlin has 48 such stations. Berlin is ranked 65th with 83 days a year of exceeding levels for air pollution.
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jueves, 3 de abril de 2014

The European Parliament approved , 03-04-2014, a proposal aimed at decreasing vehicle noise by around 25%.

What’s the problem?

Traffic noise is one of the most widespread environmental problems in the European Union. Noise interferes with people’s daily activities at school, at work, at home and during leisure time. It causes sleep disturbance, hearing damage,  even cardiovascular disease; and hinders performance at work and children’s learning (1). Studies have revealed that fifty thousand deaths (2) and approaching a quarter of a million cases of cardiovascular disease every year in Europe are linked to traffic noise. For the first time, noise has also been linked to an increased stroke risk: in Denmark, 5% of all stroke cases are caused by traffic noise (3).

In terms of the burden on health, environmental noise is second only to air pollution according to the World Health Organisation. Noise standards for road vehicles have not been updated for 20 years and had little impact on noise levels adjacent to roads. Improved standards are long overdue but the current proposal fails to adequately deliver the health benefits and cost-savings that are possible by reducing noise from vehicles at the source. Proposed amendments by the motor industry would significantly weaken the inadequate proposals of the Commission. With the 6 EU Environment Action Programme and the EU Environmental Noise Directive (4), the European Parliament and the Member States have agreed to reduce noise. A more effective implementation of the vehicle noise standards would provide a significant opportunity to improve the health and quality of life of EU citizens.

What are the benefits of reducing vehicle noise?

Cutting road noise levels by just 3 decibels is equivalent to halving the level of traffic. This change would deliver a major improvement in the health and quality of life of the vast majority of European citizens who live in towns and cities or near major roads. A 3 decibel reduction is quickly and easily achievable through  technologies already readily available to Briefing  New EU vehicle noise limits  car and truck manufacturers. Nearly 1 in 4 of the cars and 1 in 3 of the light trucks tested over the past 5 years already meet the strictest standards proposed by the Commission.

Failing to tackle noise from vehicles at source requires national governments, local authorities and homeowners to install noise barriers or sound insulation to homes and public buildings. Quieter vehicles reduce the need for expensive noise abatement and would increase property values, since homes in noisy areas are less attractive to potential buyers.

What will the new regulation involve?

 Noise limit values will ultimately be decreased by 4 dB(A) for passenger cars, vans, buses and coaches and for trucks by 3 dB(A).
The Commission points out that despite increasing traffic, noise emissions limits for vehicles have not changed since 1996. 
Following the vote, limit values will be decreased in 3 steps and will the full reductions enforced in 10-12 years. 
In addition, a new and more representative test method to measure sound emissions will ensure that the sound level of vehicles under street driving conditions does not differ from the type-approval test results. 
Finally it is proposed that electric and hybrid electric vehicles be fitted with sound generating devices which would make these cars safer for pedestrians/visually impaired persons-
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martes, 1 de abril de 2014

The dangers of global warming highlighted in latest UN report

(Reuters)-Global warming poses a growing threat to the health, economic prospects, and food and water sources of billions of people, top scientists said in a report that urges swift action to counter the effects of carbon emissions.
The latest report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says the effects of warming are being felt everywhere, fuelling potential food shortages, natural disasters and raising the risk of wars.
"The world, in many cases, is ill-prepared for risks from a changing climate," the IPCC said on Monday, after the final text of the report was agreed.
More warming increased the chance of harsh, widespread impacts that could be surprising or irreversible, it added.
The report projects global warming may cut world economic output by between 0.2 and 2.0 percent a year should mean temperatures rise by 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), estimates that many countries say are too low.
"Over the coming decades, climate change will have mostly negative impacts," said Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), citing cities, ecosystems and water supply as being among the areas at risk.
"The poor and vulnerable will be most affected," he added.
The IPCC was set up in 1988 by the WMO and the United Nations Environment Programme.
The report emphasizes the risks, and portrays cuts to greenhouse gas emissions as an insurance policy for the planet.
"Climate change is really a challenge of managing risks," Christopher Field, co-chair of the IPCC group preparing the report, told Reuters before its release on Monday.
The risks range from death to disrupted livelihoods in low-lying coastal zones and small islands, due to storm surges, coastal flooding, and sea-level rise, the report said.
Immediate action is needed, says the report, which follows a warning that humans are probably responsible for global warming thought to cause droughts, colder weather and rising sea levels.

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domingo, 9 de marzo de 2014

Europe may experience higher warming than global average with more water in Central and Northern and less in Southern Europe

The majority of Europe will experience higher warming than the global average if surface temperatures rise to 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, according to a new study published on 7th March..
Under such a scenario, temperatures greater than the 2 °C global average will be experienced in Northern and Eastern Europe in winter and Southern Europe in summer; however, North-Western Europe—specifically the UK—will experience a lower relative warming.
The study, which has been published today, 7 March, in IOP Publishing's journal Environmental Research Letters, also shows that in the summer, daily maximum temperatures could increase by 3𔃂 °C over South-Eastern Europe and the Iberian Peninsula and rise well above 40 °C in regions that already experience some of the highest temperatures in Europe, such as Spain, Portugal and France. Such higher temperatures will increase evaporation and drought.
In the winter, the maximum daily temperatures could increase by more than 6 °C across Scandinavia and Russia.
Lead author of the research Robert Vautard, from Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement (CEA/CNRS/UVSQ), said: "The 2 °C warming target has mainly been decided among nations as a limit not to exceed in order to avoid possibly dangerous climate change. However, the consequences of such a warming, at the scale of a continent like Europe, have not yet been quantified.
"We find that, even for such an ambitious target as 2 °C, changes in European climate are significant and will lead to significant impacts."
The study also shows that there will be a robust increase in precipitation( 10% )over Central and Northern Europe in the winter and Northern Europe in the summer, and that most of the continent will experience an increase in instances of extreme precipitation, increasing the flood risks which are already having significant economic consequences.
Southern Europe is an exception, and will experience a general decline in mean precipitation (10%).
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And in:
Journal Reference:
  1. Robert Vautard, Andreas Gobiet, Stefan Sobolowski, Erik Kjellström, Annemiek Stegehuis, Paul Watkiss, Thomas Mendlik, Oskar Landgren, Grigory Nikulin, Claas Teichmann, Daniela Jacob. The European climate under a 2 °C global warming. Environmental Research Letters, 2014; 9 (3): 034006 DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/9/3/034006

domingo, 2 de marzo de 2014

Frequency of severe flooding across Europe 'to double by 2050´: Pan-European fund solidarity fund will be needed.

The frequency of severe flooding across Europe is set to double by 2050 and over the same period there could be a nearly fivefold increase in the annual economic losses resulting from floods, a study has found.
Climate change and an increase in rainfall will account for about a third of the losses by mid-century, with the rest of the increase being due to more properties and infrastructure falling within flood risk areas, scientists said.
An analysis of how rainfall patterns are likely to change over the coming decades, and how river levels are set to breach existing flood defences, has found that flooding will increasingly become a pan-European problem that does not respect territorial or national borders, the researchers said.
If the rivers are flooding in Central Europe, they are likely to also be flooding Eastern European regions. There is a need to be prepared for larger stress in risk-financing mechanisms, such as the pan-European solidarity fund, a financial tool for financing disaster recovery in the European Union.
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jueves, 27 de febrero de 2014

Climate change is more certain than ever

Climate change is one of the defining issues of our time and the indisputable warming of the world over the past century is largely the result of human activities, according to the two most august science bodies in Britain and the United States.
The speed of global warming is now 10 times faster than at the end of the last ice age, which represents the most rapid period of sustained temperature change on a global scale in history - and there is no end in sight if carbon emissions continue to increase, the Royal Society and the US National Academy of Sciences have warned.
Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are the highest for at least 800,000 years and 40 per cent higher than they were in the 19th century. They are set to increase even further without a binding global agreement on significant cuts in industrial emissions, the scientists said.
Average global surface temperatures have increased by 0.8C since 1900 and the last 30 years have been the warmest in 800 years. On the current carbon dioxide trajectory, global warming could increase further by between 2.6C and 4.8C by 2100, which would be about as big as the temperature difference between now and the last ice age, they said.
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