#U.S.OakRidgeNationalLaboratory; #NationalResearchCouncilofCanada; #UniversityofCalifornia; #JillHemman; #ChrisTulk
Toronto, May 23 (Canadian-Media): Through an experiment designed to create a super-cold state of water, scientists at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the largest US Department of Energy science and energy laboratory, used neutron scattering to discover a pathway to the unexpected formation of dense, crystalline phases of ice thought to exist beyond Earth's limits, Science X Newsletter reports said yesterday.
Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory studying super-cold states of water discovered a pathway to the unexpected formation of dense, crystalline phases of ice thought to exist beyond Earth's limits. Their findings, reported in Nature, challenge accepted theories and could lead to better understanding of ice found on other planets, moons and elsewhere in space. Credit: Jill Hemman/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, US Dept. of Energy
Observation of these particular crystalline ice phases, known as ice IX, ice XV and ice VIII, challenges accepted theories about super-cooled water and amorphous, or non-crystalline, ice. The researchers' findings, reported in the journal Nature, will also lead to better basic understanding of ice and its various phases found on other planets and moons and elsewhere in space.
"Hydrogen and oxygen are among the most abundant elements in the universe, and the simplest molecular compound of the two, H2O, is common," said Chris Tulk, ORNL neutron scattering scientist and lead author. "In fact, a popular theory suggests that most of Earth's water was brought here through collisions with icy comets."
On Earth, when water molecules reach zero degrees Celsius, they enter a lower energy state and settle onto a hexagonal crystalline lattice. This frozen form is denoted as ice Ih, the most common phase of water that can be found in household freezers or at skating rinks.
Ice IX, ice XV and ice VIII are three of at least 17 ice phases realized when molecules reorganize into a stable crystalline structure at varying super-low temperatures and very high pressures, conditions that don't occur naturally on Earth.
"As ice changes phases, it's similar to water going from a gas to a liquid to a solid except at low temperatures and high pressure—the ice transforms between various different solid forms," Tulk said.
Each known ice phase is characterized by its unique crystal structure within its pressure-temperature range of stability, where the molecules reach equilibrium and the water molecules exhibit a regular three-dimensional pattern, and the structure becomes stable.
Initially, Tulk and colleagues at the National Research Council of Canada and from the University of California at Los Angeles were exploring the structural nature of amorphous ice—a state of ice that forms with no ordered crystalline structure—as it recrystallizes at even higher pressures.
UN chief outlines ‘intertwined challenges’ of climate change, ocean health facing Pacific nations on the ‘frontline’
#UN; #PacificIslandsForum; #climatechange; #world’srisingocean;
United Nations, May 15 (Canadian-Media/UN): Visiting Fiji for the first time as Secretary-General, António Guterres outlined two “fundamental challenges” facing leaders attending the Pacific Islands Forum on Thursday, namely climate change and the world’s rising ocean, which threatens to submerge low-lying nations, United Nations (UN) reports said.
Image Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten: The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres addresses the Pacific Islands Forum in Fiji on 15 May 2019.
“The Pacific region is on the frontline of climate change”, he said. “That means you are also our important allies in the fight against it”.
The UN chief said that he was there “to see the region’s climate pressures firsthand, and to learn about the work being undertaken by communities here in Fiji and elsewhere to bolster resilience”.
Noting that the last four years were the hottest on record, Mr. Guterres highlighted recent ice losses in Greenland and Antarctica, saying that “sea levels will rise a full meter by 2100”.
Scientists are currently tracking several massive white sharks off the coasts of the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida
#Ocearch; oceanographic data; #SouthCarolina; #globaltracker
United States, May 15 (Canadian-Media/Sputnik): Ocearch, an organization that helps scientists collect oceanographic data, is currently tracking a 15-foot, 2,137-pound white shark named Luna and a smaller, 12-foot white shark named Caroline near South Carolina, media reports said.
Image Credit: Sputnik: Scientists Following Huge White Sharks Cruising US East Coast
The two female sharks are among the biggest the organization has ever tracked using its global tracker, Ocearch said in a Facebook post on May 9.
The organization began tracking Luna last October, when she was near the Canadian shoreline. She moved to Florida, along the Gulf Stream, before turning north. Luna is currently swimming 80 to 100 miles southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, in an area known as the Charleston Bump. Caroline is currently near Edisto Beach, South Carolina. On Monday, Caroline pinged off the coast of Georgia, the organization confirmed in a Twitter post.
A "ping" takes place when a tagged shark's dorsal fin "breaks the surface of the water," sending a signal to a satellite, Ocearch told the Pensacola News Journal.
On May 11, Ocearch said a third shark, Katharine, was spotted off the coast of Charleston: "Just when we thought… that the battery on white shark Katharine's tracker had run out, she surprises us by pinging in last night way off the coast of Charleston, SC," an Ocearch Facebook post states.
Researchers are currently tracking eight white sharks in North and South Carolina. Four of them are located in the Outer Banks, barrier islands off the coast of the North Carolina that separate the Atlantic Ocean from the mainland.
While the Charleston Bump is a deepwater rocky ocean bottom feature which rises from the Blake Plateau, Edisto Beach and Daytona Beach are popular beach destinations.
The migratory patterns of great white sharks have always been interesting to researchers trying to understand their movements. A study published earlier this month in the PLOS One journal found that juvenile white sharks changed their distribution depending on sea surface temperatures.
‘Disaster resilient’ farming reduces agriculture risks, yields economic gains, says new UN agriculture agency report
#UnitedNationsagricultureagency; #economic gains; #DominiqueBurgeon; #Disasterriskreductionatfarmlevel; #disasterresilient;
United Nations, May 14 (Canadian-Media/UN): A scale of economic gains through easy-to-implement "disaster resilient" farming practices was revealed on Monday at the launch of a new study by the United Nations (UN) agriculture agency, UN reports said.
Image Credit: UN Environment: Cassava farmer in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) yields returns from sustainable farming.
According to Disaster risk reduction at farm level: Multiple benefits, no regrets by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), poor farmers can obtain significant economic gains and other benefits by implementing modified farming practices aimed at boosting their ability to cope with disasters and natural shocks.
"The study makes clear that in most cases, disaster risk reduction (DRR) efforts on the farm make good economic sense: that investing in DDR early can save many dollars that would otherwise be spent on post-disaster rehabilitation," said Dominique Burgeon, Director of FAO Emergency and Resilience Division, in the foreword to the report.
Through multi-year trials on over 900 farms in 10 different countries, FAO stated that many of the low-cost farming innovations are within easy reach of poor farmers. And, they are much more than buffers against disasters.
Examples include planting mangrove to protect coastal areas from floods, and shifting to rooftop water collection and irrigation systems.
"Farm-level DRR good practices are often ‘no-regret’ measures’, Ms. Burgeon continued, explaining that “they prove effective in providing added benefits even in the absence of hazards".
FAO's study illustrates that good practices have considerable potential to reduce damages wrought on developing world agriculture by smaller-scale, lower-intensity disasters. While these garner less attention than large-scale hazards, like dry or cold spells, they represent a constant problem for the 2.5 billion people who rely on small-scale agriculture.
Win-win for small-scale farmers
On average, DRR practices have generated benefits 2.2 times higher than practices previously used by farmers, including in increased agricultural production and avoided hazard-associated risks.
In hazard scenarios, for every dollar invested in DRR, the farmer achieved $3.7 in terms of avoided loss or return. And under non-hazard conditions, the return rose even further, to $4.5.
These practices can benefit billions of people, preventing economic losses and delivering economic benefits at regional and national levels.
Greater upfront investment in anticipatory measures is also more cost efficient than post-disaster spending on reconstruction and recovery, the report says.
This can be done through farmer-to-farmer replication, or when local farmers begin to adopt new techniques after observing the benefits their neighbors gained when doing so. This method requires little investment or institutional support.
Another avenue is through large-scale efforts that require government and private sector support to promote the practices at scale.
Crucially, both pathways depend on good infrastructure, adequate investment and an enabling environment. Agricultural development policy, planning and extension work should treat disaster risk reduction as a priority, the report stressed.
Melbourne (Australia); May 13 (Canadian-Media): Melbourne: Australian scientists have developed an innovative method using cores drilled from coral to produce a world first 400-year long seasonal record of El Niño events, a record that many in the field had described as impossible to extract, published today in Nature Geoscience, Science X Newsletter reports said.
Image Credit:Jason Turl: Researchers dive down to corals to extract coral cores that will give us information about Earth's past climate.
The record published today in Nature Geoscience detects different types of El Niño and shows the nature of El Niño events has changed in recent decades.
This understanding of El Niño events is vital because they produce extreme weather across the globe with particularly profound effects on precipitation and temperature extremes in Australia, South East Asia and the Americas.
The 400-year record revealed a clear change in El Niño types, with an increase of Central Pacific El Niño activity in the late 20th Century and suggested future changes to the strength of Eastern Pacific El Niños.
"We are seeing more El Niños forming in the central Pacific Ocean in recent decades, which is unusual across the past 400 years," said lead author Dr. Mandy Freund.
"There are even some early hints that the much stronger Eastern Pacific El Niños, like those that occurred in 1997/98 and 2015/16 may be growing in intensity."
This extraordinary result was teased out of information about past climate from coral cores spanning the Pacific Ocean, as part of Dr. Freund's Ph.D. research at the University of Melbourne and the Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes. It was made possible because coral cores—like tree rings—have centuries-long growth patterns and contain isotopes that can tell us a lot about the climate of the past. However, until now, they had not been used to detect the different types of El Niño events.
This meant El Niño researchers were constrained by what they could say about El Niño behaviour because the instrumental record was too short and it was hard to judge whether recent decadal changes were exceptional.
"By understanding the past, we are better equipped to understand the future, especially in the context of climate change," said Dr. Freund.
"Prior to this research, we did not know how frequently different types of El Niño occurred in past centuries. Now we do," said co-author from the Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes Dr. Ben Henley.
The key to unlocking the El Niño record was the understanding that coral records contained enough information to identify seasonal changes in the tropical Pacific Ocean. However, using coral records to reconstruct El Niño history at a seasonal timescale had never been done before and many people working in the field considered it impossible.
As a Ph.D. student, Dr. Mandy Freund formulated the novel approach that produced the 400-year record of El Niño events. Credit: University of Melbourne.It was only after Dr. Freund took her innovative approach to a team of climate scientists and coral experts: Dr. Ben Henley, Prof David Karoly, Assoc Prof Helen Mcgregor, Assoc Prof Nerilie Abram, and Dr. Dietmar Dommenget that they were able to proceed with the idea.
While the approach was considered challenging, leading Australian experts on past corals, Dr. Mcgregor and Assoc Prof Abram, said that, while the approach might be unconventional, it was worth a shot.
After carefully refining the technique to reconstruct the signature of El Niño in space and time using new machine learning techniques, the scientists were able to compare recent coral results with the instrumental record. Dr. Freund found a strong agreement between the coral cores and recorded events. This confirmation allowed the team to extend the record back in time.
Dr. Freund and her team found there has been an unprecedented increase in the number of El Niños forming in the Central Pacific over the past 30 years, compared to all 30 year periods in the past 400 years.
At the same time, the stronger Eastern Pacific El Niños were the most intense El Niño events ever recorded, according to both the 100-year long instrumental record and the 400-year long coral record.
As a result, Australian researchers have produced a world-first seasonal El Niño record extending 400 years and a new methodology that will likely be the basis for future climate research.
It took three years of hard work to achieve the result and now Dr. Freund and her team are excited to see how this work can be built upon.
"The El Niño phenomenon is one of the most important features of global climate, and changes to its behaviour have very serious implications for weather patterns and extreme events around the world," said Dr. Henley.
And that centuries-long record opens a door not just to past changes but changes to El Niños in the future as well.
"This gives us an opportunity to more accurately explore how global warming may change El Niños and what this means for future weather and climate extremes," said Dr. Henley.
"Having a better understanding of how different types of El Niños have affected us in the past and present, will mean we are more able to model, predict and plan for future El Niños and their wide-ranging impacts," said Dr. Freund.
#UnitedNations; #ClimateChage; #GenerationZero; #greeneconomy; #2018UNclimatechangeconference
New Zealand, May 13 (Canadian-Media/UN): Speaking to young Māoris and people of the Pacific Islands in New Zealand on Monday, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres expressed his gratitude for the leadership of the youth of the country in fighting climate change, UN media reports said.
Image credit: UN Photo/Loey Felipe: The flag of New Zealand (centre) flying at United Nations headquarters in New York.
The UN chief also recognized the important role played by Generation Zero, a New Zealand-based youth-led organization dedicated to providing solutions for the country to cut carbon pollution through smarter transport, liveable cities & independence from fossil fuels.
Mr. Guterres said that youth can help to make sure that “we are able to reach our central objective: not to have more than 1.5 degrees of increasing temperature at the end of the century. I’m confident that youth around the world will be able to convey to their governments a very clear message.”
Three steps, continued Mr. Guterres, would make a major difference in the urgent fight against climate change: shifting shift taxes from salaries to carbon, ending subsidies to fossil fuels, and stopping the construction of new coal plants by 2020.
“Taxpayers’ money should not be used to boost hurricanes, to spread drought and heatwaves, to bleach corals or to melt glaciers. We want a green economy not a grey economy in the world. It’s very important that you convince governments that they must act because there’s still a lot of resistance.”
The Secretary-General recalled that he had encountered that resistance at COP24, the 2018 UN climate change conference. Governments, he said, are still afraid to move forward, and are forgetting that the costs of inaction are much bigger than any costs of climate action.
#United Nations; #UNESCO; #InternationalWaterConference; #usablefreshwater
United Nations, May 12 (Canadian-Media/UN): UNESCO International Water Conference would be held from may 13 - 14 with the aim of leveraging the trans-sectoral management of water resources for sustainable water security and peace, United Nations (UN) reports said.
Looking from space, satellite imagery shows the abundant masses of water that characterize the Earth. Yet, less than 1% account for usable fresh water.
Almost all human activities depend on water, be it food production, energy generation, industry or even recreation. Water management and governance affect the health of humans and ecosystems, and reflect the conditions of gender equality, education and cultural diversity of a region. Water resources are critical to sustainable development and poverty reduction.
Once more, UNESCO brings together its actors and partners to share innovative solutions to contemporary challenges. Thanks to its experience and expertise in the fields of Education, Sciences (both natural, and social and human sciences), Culture and Communication, UNESCO contributes through holistic, sustainable approaches to resolve issues impacting the governance and management of water.
Objectives of the conference
Ensuring the ‘lungs of the planet’ keep us alive: 5 things you need to know about forests and the UN
#UnitedNations; #UNclimateconference; #UNForumonForests; #terrestrialecosystems; #sustainableforestmanagement; #UNreportonbiodiversity; #globaldeforestation; #SDGs;
#human-producedcarbondioxideemissions; #1992EarthSummit; #GlobalForestGoals; #reducedeforestation
United Nations, May 10 (Canadian-Media/UN): Forests are vitally important for sustaining life on Earth, and play a major role in the fight against climate change. With the 2019 session of the United Nations (UN) Forum on Forests wrapping up on Friday in New York, we delve deeper into the subject, and find out what the UN is doing to safeguard and protect them, UN reports said.
Image Credit: Olga Lavrushko: My favorite place by Olga Lavrushko, Ukraine. One of the winners of the International Forest Photograph Contest.
1. Forests are the most cost-effective way to fight climate change
Arguably, protection and enhancing the world’s forests is one of the most cost-effective forms of climate action: forests act as carbon sinks, absorbing roughly 2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. Sustainable forest management can build resilience and help mitigate and adapt to climate change.
Speaking at the 2018 UN climate conference (COP24) in Katowice, Poland, Liu Zhemin, head of the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), said that “forests are central in developing solutions both to mitigate and adapt to climate change, adding that “these terrestrial ecosystems have already removed nearly one third of human-produced carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere. Through sustainable forest management, they could remove much more.”
At this week’s meeting session of the UNFF, it was noted that forest-based climate change mitigation and adaptation actions, if fully implemented, could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by around 15 gigatonnes of CO2 a year by 2050, which could potentially be enough to limit warming to well below 2°C (the target set by the international community in 2015). Today, fossil fuels emit 36 gigatonnes every year.
In addition, as renewable sources increasingly replace fossil fuels, forests will become more and more important as sources of energy: already, forests supply about 40 per cent of global renewable energy in the form of wood fuel – as much as solar, hydroelectric and wind power combined.
Image Credit: Eka Fendiaspara: Pahmung krui Damar Forest by Eka Fendiaspara, Indonesia. One of the winners of the International Forest Photograph Contest.
2. The goal of zero deforestation is close to being reached
Significant progress has been made in international forest protection over the past 25 years. The rate of net global deforestation has slowed by more than 50 per cent, a credit to global efforts to sustainably manage existing forests, while at the same time engaging in ambitious measures to restore degraded forests and land, and to plant more trees to meet the demand for forest products and services.
The goal of zero net global deforestation is close to being reached, bringing the world one step closer to the UN Strategic Plan for Forest’s target to expand global forest area by 3 per cent by 2030, an area of 120 million hectares, about the size of South Africa.
3. The biggest threat to forests is…agriculture
Many people will be aware of the devastating effects that illegal and unsustainable logging has on forests, but the biggest global driver of deforestation is actually agriculture, because of the extent to which forests are converted to farmland and livestock grazing land: a key challenge is how to manage the ongoing increase in agricultural production, and improve food security, without reducing overall forest areas.
A major UN report on biodiversity, released in May, made headlines around the world with its headline figure of one million species at risk of extinction, warned against the destruction of forests, noting that this “will likely have negative impacts on biodiversity and can threaten food and water security as well as local livelihoods, including by intensifying social conflict.”
Image Credit: WFP/Rocío Franco: Honduras, 24 May 2018. This micro basin in Honduras´ Dry Corridor was much smaller a few years ago, mainly due to deforestation. The Dry Corridor is not a desert, but is prone to droughts that are sometimes severe. This is why it´s important to manage rainwater.
4. The UN’s growing role in forest protection
The first time forests came to the forefront of the international agenda was at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, widely regarded as one of the landmark UN conferences. The Summit led to the adoption of Agenda 21, the first significant international action plan for achieving sustainable development, which noted the “major weaknesses in the policies, methods and mechanisms adopted to support and develop the multiple ecological, economic, social and cultural roles of trees, forests and forest lands.”
The Earth Summit also saw the adoption of the Forest Principles which, although non-legally binding, was the first global consensus reached on the sustainable management of forests. The Principles called for all countries to make efforts towards reforestation and forest conservation; enshrined the right of nations to develop forests in keeping with national sustainable development policies; and called for financial resources to be provided for targeted economic policies.
To better co-ordinate international efforts to put the principles into practice, an inter-governmental panel and forum were set up in the 1990s, to be replaced in 2000 by the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF), which meets every year at UN Headquarters in New York to monitor progress on the implementation of the six Global Forest Goals.
The Goals set targets for the sustainable management of forests, and reduction of deforestation and forest degradation, and were developed as part the forest community’s response to the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development, the UN’s overall blueprint for economic progress that protects the environment and humanity.
Image Credit: UN News/Jing Zhang: The forests in the Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia are home to bears, wolves and many rare bird species.
5. This year’s top priorities: climate change and the real cost of deforestation
One of the key take-aways from the 2019 session of the UN Forest Forum was that, too often, forests are under-valued, because it’s hard to put a clear monetary value on all of the positive contributions they make to the world.
As a result, the true cost of deforestation and forest degradation is not taken into account when policy decisions are made on land use, such as decisions to clear forest land to use for commercial agriculture.
The importance of financing was another important element of the session: sufficient funding is an essential element in ensuring effective action to halt deforestation and forest degradation, promote greater sustainable forest management and increase the world’s forest area: despite the central role forests play in protecting the environment, only 2 per cent of funds available for climate change mitigation are available for efforts to reduce deforestation.
#Pacificislands; #climatechange; #extremeweather, #remoteness
United States, May 10 (Canadian-Media/UN): A seeming paradise, life on the Pacific islands is threatened by climate change and extreme weather, frustrated by remoteness and a lack of educational and economic opportunities, United Nations (UN) reports said.
Image Credit: UNDP Samoa: Children in a Samoan village gathered at a safe location during a disaster drill.
Secretary-General António Guterres begins a visit to the region this weekend, where he will speak to people living on some of the islands and see for himself how the UN is helping to mitigate some of the biggest issues.
Simona Marinescu is the UN Resident Coordinator for the 28 islands that make up Samoa, Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau.
Speaking to UN News ahead of the Secretary-General’s visit, she described some of the issues facing the region, including how to get young people to gain more schooling and skills to get or start their own businesses on the islands – and how to make the islands more enticing for businesses. Ms. Marinescu starts the interview by describing a trip to Tokelau, whose farthest island is 50 hours away by boat from Samoa.
The greatest threat to the way of life in the Pacific is climate change. Ms. Marinescu said one of the main concerns for Governments in the region is keeping the balance between access to finance and tools for adapting to climate change, while also growing their economies. Many of the small island Pacific nations are developing, and once they “graduate” to middle-income, doors to financing mechanisms close.
“They are proud to graduate,” said Ms. Marinescu. “However, they still remain fragile. They remain exposed to climate change. So a big debate right now is how we can decouple graduation from access to major funding streams that help them build resilience.”
Samoa, for example, jumped from the Least Developed Country to Developing status in 2014. It also received $65 million; one of the largest country allocations from the Green Climate Fund, for a six-year project on flood management – which means building seawalls and river walls to protect housing, and rethinking housing design.
Mr. Guterres will begin his visit to the region starting in Auckland, New Zealand, on Sunday.
Toronto, May 10 (Canadian-Media): A statement on the flooding situation in Ontario was issued today as follows by Doug Ford, Ontario premier and John Yakabuski, Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, media reports said.
Doug Ford/Facebook John Yakabuski/Facebook
"Over the past couple of weeks, we have seen first-hand the devastating effect of flooding on our communities. The people of Ontario can't go through this every year. Something needs to change.
Our government is committed to protecting what matters most - that includes protecting our homes, businesses, and infrastructure that keeps our economy moving.
Our government is demonstrating leadership by initiating an internal task force that will consult with our municipal partners and other stakeholders in impacted areas on ways to improve the province's resilience to flooding.
Our number one priority is the safety of the public and the protection of our communities. We want to assure the people of Ontario that our government is taking action to better plan for and reduce the impacts of flooding.
We have been in contact with municipal representatives in the Muskoka region and Pembroke, and will be reaching out to representatives in other areas of the Ottawa Valley as well, to discuss how we can move forward on this initiative in the most efficient and effective way possible.
We will continue to closely monitor weather and water conditions. We would like to thank all the staff and volunteers who have been working tirelessly to help those impacted by the flooding. Together, we will get through this and find a path forward."