Hawaii CO2 monitor lab interrupted by Mauna Loa eruption


Via Flickr

Grace Smith | December 2, 2022

The Mauna Loa eruption on the morning of Nov. 28 caused a 124-foot tower, which collects carbon dioxide measurements nearly every hour for over 60 years, to stop operating Nov. 28. The tracker is not currently gathering data on rising level heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere after the eruptions’ lava flow shut down power in the lab. 

The Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, erupted on Nov. 28 for the first time since 1984 and oozed lava on the volcano’s summit. Per the U.S. Geological Service, the lava contained within the summit does not impact downslope Hawaiians.

The carbon dioxide measurement lab, known as the Keeling Curve, is proof that human activity is causing climate change. Geoscientist Ralph Keeling, son of Keeling Curve creator Charles David Keeling, said the future carbon dioxide readings from the lab are “very troubling.” 

Charles Keeling originally selected Hawaii for the location of the famous recording system because, with the distance from Hawaii to other major land masses and the mountain’s landscape, there would be no contamination from the photosynthetic activity of plants in the area.

“The observatory will eventually come back, but it’s going to take a long time before it’s really back to normal,” Ralph Keeling said. “There’ll be a gap, and it’s too bad. It’s a really fantastic and important long-term record.”

Major world glaciers to disappear by 2050


Via Flickr

Grace Smith | December 1, 2022

Some of the world’s most major and famous glaciers will disappear after melting by 2050, according to a U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization report. These major glaciers include the Dolomites in Italy, the Yosemite and Yellowstone parks in the U.S., and Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

UNESCO observes and studies 18, 600 glaciers around the world, and said by 2050, a third of them will be gone because of climate change. By 2100, 50 percent of all World Heritage Site glaciers — well-known, large, and highly visible glaciers around the world — will have fully melted. Half of the world’s population relies on water from glaciers for domestic, agricultural, and power use.

“This report is a call to action. Only a rapid reduction in our CO2 emissions levels can save glaciers and the exceptional biodiversity that depends on them,” UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said in a statement.

Keeping the global temperature increase at 1.3 degrees Celsius, compared to preindustrial levels, could save the other two-thirds of the World Heritage Site glaciers. Since 1970, the global temperature rise has been 1.7 degrees Celsius per century. But, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, global temperatures are likely to increase by about 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050 and two to four degrees Celsius by 2100.

Hawaiian volcano erupts for first time since 1984


Mauna Loa looms over Kīlauea
Via Flickr

Elyse Gabor | November 30, 2022

Mauna Loa erupts for the first time in 40 years. Located in Hawaii National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii, the world’s largest active volcano erupted on Sunday, November 27th, at 11:30 p.m. after large earthquakes that had occurred earlier. Some homeowners in the lava flow path have been evacuated, but no immediate danger is present.  

In their latest update, the U.S. Geological Survey said, “Lava flows are not threatening any downslope communities.” However, the agency warned that residents should remain alert and diligent saying, “the early stages of a Mauna Loa rift zone eruption can be very dynamic, and the location and advance of lava flows can change rapidly.” 

Ken Hon, the scientist-in-charge at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, told The Associated Press, “Typically, Mauna Loa eruptions start off with the heaviest volume first.” He went on to say that the eruption should slow down in a few days.  

According to scientists, as of now, the lava is slow moving and could take days to reach cities on the east side of the island.  

Major source of Iowa air pollution has operated without permit updates for decades


Via Flickr

Grace Smith | November 29, 2022

For decades, a large gas-powered dryer in Muscatine, Iowa, that processes sand that it sells has not obtained updated permits to be able to operate the dryer, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. 

Northern Filter Media, the company operating the gas-powered dryer, has been operating for over 100 years. In 1985, the company put in a new burner for the dryer, which was renovated in 2002, 2017, and 2020. 

Per the DNR, Northern Filter Media has operated the sand dryer unpermitted since its installation and the renovations. The DNR ordered the company a fine of $10,000. 

“This place has been there since 1914, and this is the first time this has come up,” said Vince Brown, a manager at the facility. “We don’t know what to do. We don’t know what the process is.”

In 2021, in an inspection of documents the DNR gathered of the Northern Filter Media, the department confirmed the facility is likely a “major source” of air pollutants following state rules and could deal with permit requirements based on Title V of the federal Clean Air Act.

As temperatures rise, fungal infections are spreading


IMG_0163
Via Flickr

Elyse Gabor | November 28, 2022

As temperatures warm, fungal infections are expected to spread outside of their typical regions. Currently, around 10% of infections are found in environments outside of where the fungus grew.  

Dr. George Thompson, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, Davis, said, “We’re definitely seeing disease in locations that we previously have not.” 

Thompson went on to say, “And that’s concerning, because if we’re recognizing those locations, where are the places it’s occurring that just have not been recognized quite yet?” Due to the lack of data, mistreatments are common, and it is hard for scientists to gauge how common fungal infections are. 

Fungal infections happen after an open sore has occurred on the body. Most immune systems fight it off, leaving people with symptoms like that of colds or cases of flu. However, some people can get more severe symptoms or even illnesses because of the infection, including meningitis or pneumonia.  

Polar bears continue to move inland as ice melts, creating danger for people


Polar Bear
Via Flickr

Elyse Gabor | November 21, 2022

As the ice melts in arctic regions, polar bears are pushed onto land. Their territories will now range into small towns. Researchers in Churchill, Manitoba, also known as the polar bear capital of the world, have begun to explore how to detect the animal’s presence in remote areas through radar technology. The instruments could be in use by next summer.  

Due to polar bears’ aggressive and dangerous nature, they pose a threat to civilization. By using technology that costs thousands of dollars, the animals can be tracked, helping to prevent any unwanted conflict. 

Senior director of conservation and staff scientist, Geoff York, said, “If we’re asking people to conserve a large predator like a polar bear, we have to make sure people who live and work with them are safe.” 

According to York, “Churchill is unique in that bears come to shore, depending on the year, from July to August, and they’re on land until this time of year.” Churchill has around 800 polar bears that roam its shores.  

As rising temperatures and global warming continue to melt ice, polar bears spend more time on land. It’s predicted that a larger number of polar bears will be forced on land and near the town. So, the response program will help to ensure people’s safety.  

Hundreds of thousands of tons of bacteria are released from melting glaciers


Via Flickr

Grace Smith | November 18, 2022

Hundreds of thousands of tons of bacteria are being released annually into the air through melting glaciers in the northern latitudes, a study in the Communications Earth & Environment reported. Glaciers melting because of global warming could cause a release of 650,000 tons of carbon a year for the next 80 years in the northern hemisphere. 

Scientists from the journal collected data from eight glaciers across Europe and North America and found that tens of thousands of microbes are in each milliliter of water. This data helped the researchers to estimate that the bacteria being swept through streams and water would be 650,000 tons of carbon a year. 

“We are seeing the glaciers die before our eyes, affecting the microbes that are there, with implications for us locally and globally,” Dr. Arwyn Edwards, a member of the study team told The Guardian. “The mass of microbes released is vast even with moderate warming.”

Edwards said the researchers don’t have enough data to determine the threat of the organisms, but they will continue conducting data to assess the risk of each microbe.

90 percent of U.S. counties have experienced a natural disaster since 2011


Via Flickr

Grace Smith | November 17, 2022

90 percent of counties in the U.S. have experienced a wildfire, a hurricane, a flood, or another form of natural disaster, from 2011 to the end of 2021, per a report released on Nov. 16. The report also said that over 700 counties in the U.S. have encountered over five natural disasters. Five states have suffered 20 natural disasters since 2011. 

From 2011-2021, California had 25 federal disasters, the highest number in the country, which included numerous wildfires, a large number of earthquakes, and more. 58 counties in the state have had recent disasters, and Butte County received the most post-disaster financial assistance — over $183 million. The lowest number of federal disasters occurred in Nevada with three. 

Iowa had 21 total disasters, the fourth-highest number of natural disasters in the nation. Every county in the state experienced a natural disaster from 2011-2021. Iowa has received $717 million in post-disaster assistance and is still receiving aid for a storm in 1977.

These natural disasters have caused states and counties large amounts of money. Louisiana had the highest per capita support at $1,736 for each person. In addition, the median payout for all states in the U.S. was $97 per capita. In total, $91 billion had to be put toward post-disaster aid and assistance for states from 2011-2021. The states who needed the most financial support included New York, Texas, and Florida.

Carbon emissions have risen since pandemic


Pollution
Via Flickr

Elyse Gabor | November 16, 2022

As 2022 comes to an end, record high amounts of carbon dioxide emissions remain. According to a report, the Earth has less than 10 years to meet the Paris Agreement’s goals. In 2015, the Paris Agreement was signed by about 200 countries. Although cuts in emissions production have been made, it is not enough to prevent global warming. The Global Carbon Project and its’ scientists estimate that global warming will rise one and a half degrees Celsius.  

A climate modeler at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom and author of the study, Pierre Friedlingstein, said, “This is more evidence that time is running out.” Other climate organizations have concluded similar results from their studies. According to Friedlingstein and his team, if carbon dioxide stays the same, in nine years, the planet will likely rise one and a half degrees.  

Just this year, around 40.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide have been put into the atmosphere, similar to the number of levels in 2019. Due to the pandemic causing a slower pace of life, emission levels lowered, but since have risen.  

Russia-Ukraine War is causing large releases of greenhouse gases into the air


Via Pexels

Grace Smith | November 15, 2022

The Russia-Ukraine War has released 33 million tons of greenhouse gases into the air, according to Ruslan Strilets, Ukraine’s environmental protection minister. The number of climate-warming gases that have been released is equivalent to adding 16 million cars to the UK’s roads for two years. 

“Russia is doing everything to shorten our and your horizons,” Strilets said at the United Nations COP27 Climate Summit on Nov. 14. “Because of the war, we will have to do even more to overcome the climate crisis.”

The number of emissions was calculated by counting all emissions including forest and agricultural fires and the oil burnt after attacks on storage depots. Strilets also said at the conference that 49 million more emissions are expected to be released into the air during the process of rebuilding Ukraine. As of Nov. 14, 2,200 environmental damage cases have been recorded. 

Strilets also said the war is harming animals immensely. According to BBC, 600 animals and 750 plants and fungi are under threat. Over 700 dolphins in the Black Sea have died since the war. Scientists said the dolphins are having trouble communicating with one another and struggling to find food and navigate. 

Along with impacts on the environment and animals, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February resulted in large food and gas shortages, causing surrounding countries to increase production to compensate.