Mont Blanc glacier feared to be on brink of collapse

Jeck Deocampo   •   September 25, 2019   •   325

Italian authorities in the northwest region of Courmayeur, Aosta closed roads and evacuated mountain huts on Wednesday (September 25) after experts warned that part of a glacier on Mont Blanc could collapse.

According to officials, about 250,000 cubic meters of ice threatens to come down in the form of ice avalanches from the Planpincieux glacier along the Italian side of the Mont Blanc massif, after technical structures of the Safe Mountain Foundation registered an acceleration in the displacement rate of the glacier that has reached a speed of 50-60 centimeters per day.

The Mayor of Courmayeur, the nearest town and a major ski resort, decided to close roads in the Val Ferret on the Italian side of Mont Blanc and mountain huts in the Rochefort area were evacuated as a precaution.

According to local authorities, there was no threat to residential areas or tourist facilities but residents have been informed of the possible scenarios in case of collapse.

The rise of global temperatures due to global warming is causing mountain glaciers to melt and the retreat of polar ice sheets.

The problem is affecting the Mont Blanc massif, Western Europe’s highest mountain range, containing eleven major independent peaks, each over 4,000 meters in height. (REUTERS)

(Production: Antonio Denti, Fabiano Franchitti)

Global warming causing ‘irreversible’ mass melting in Antarctica says scientist

UNTV News   •   February 19, 2020

Global warming was leading to an “irreversible” mass melting of the Antarctic ice and purging carbon from the atmosphere was the only solution to slow the process, an Australian climate scientist told Reuters on Wednesday (February 19).

Recent human activity has intensified global warming, which could result in a mass melting of Antarctica, said Zoe Thomas, a research fellow at the University of New South Wales who was part of an international team of scientists that recently published a paper on Antarctic ice melting.

The study showed the world could lose most of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which rests on the seabed and is fringed by floating ice, in a warmer world.

“What we’re seeing with the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is that this starting of the melt, once we reach a certain threshold, will continue despite our efforts to stop it,” she told Reuters.

The hottest temperature ever recorded in Antarctica of 18.3 degrees Celsius (64.94 degrees Fahrenheit) was taken at a research base there on Feb. 6. If hotter temperatures were to sustain they could cause an extreme global sea level rise.

“This will gradually displace people as it goes,” Thomas said. “We know this is already happening in small island communities and this will just continue to happen gradually as more and more houses are being inundated at high tide, then at normal tide and then even at low tide.”

Thomas said that the only thing that would slow down the ice melting was if economies across the world began de-carbonising themselves.

Many advanced economies have pledged to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 though Australia is largely seen as dragging its feet on the issue despite recently suffering one of its worst bushfire seasons ever. (Reuters)

(Production: Cordelia Hsu)

Reduce meat consumption to curb global warming — U.N. report

Marje Pelayo   •   August 9, 2019

Global meat consumption must fall to curb global warming, reduce growing strains on land and water and improve food security, health and biodiversity, a United Nations report on the effects of climate change concluded on Thursday (August 8).

Although the report stopped short of explicitly advocating going meat-free, it called for big changes to farming and eating habits to limit the impact of population growth and changing consumption patterns on stretched land and water resources.

Plant-based foods and sustainable animal-sourced food could free up several million square kilometers of land by 2050 and cut 0.7-8.0 gigatonnes a year of carbon dioxide equivalent, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said.

The IPCC met this week in Geneva, Switzerland to finalize its report which should help to guide governments meeting this year in Chile on ways to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Land can be both a source and sink of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas blamed for global warming, and better land management can help in tackling climate change, the IPCC said.

But it is not the only solution and cutting emissions from all sectors is essential to quickly curtailing global warming.

Since the pre-industrial era, the land surface air temperature has risen by 1.53 degrees Celsius, twice as much as the global average temperature (0.87C), causing more heatwaves, droughts, and heavy rain, as well as land degradation and desertification.

Human use directly affects more than 70% of the global, ice-free land surface and agriculture accounts for 70% of freshwater use, the IPCC added in the report.

Agriculture, forestry and other land use activities accounted for 23% of total net man-made greenhouse gas emissions during 2007-2016. When pre- and post-production activity in the food system are included, that rises to up to 37%.

Last year the IPCC’s first special report warned that keeping the Earth’s temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), rather than the 2C target agreed under the Paris accord, required rapid change across society.

The IPCC warned of more disruption to global food chains as extreme weather becomes more frequent due to climate change and said environmental costs should be factored into food.

It projects a median increase of 7.6% in cereal prices by 2050, meaning higher food prices and an increased risk of hunger.

While an estimated 821 million people are undernourished, changing consumption habits have already contributed to about 2 billion adults being overweight or obese.

While forests can soak up heat-trapping gases from the atmosphere, desertification and deforestation can amplify warming due to the loss of vegetation cover and soil erosion.

Measures to cut emissions, such as the production of biofuels, biochar – made from biomass – as well as planting trees, will also increase demand for land conversion.

Reducing deforestation and forest degradation could result in a reduction of 0.4-5.8 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent, the report said. (REUTERS)

(Production: Marina Depetris)

PH climate now shifting to its new norm – PAGASA

Marje Pelayo   •   March 25, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – State weather bureau Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has noticed extreme weather conditions affecting the country.

Section Chief Ana Solis of PAGASA’s Climate Monitoring and Prediction Section noted that in the past, El Niño phenomenon occurs only once in 10 to 15 years.

But since the year 2000, the interval has shortened to only about five to seven years.

PAGASA noted the 2015-2016 extreme El Niño that greatly impacted the country’s agriculture.

Likewise, the prevalence of La Niña has gone back-to-back with the onset of El Niño.

According to Solis, such drastic changes in the country’s climate condition is likely to become a regular phenomenon in the future.

This is because of the effects of global warming.

The official added that increase in humidity will also be a common condition in the evening.

“Ito na ang nagiging (normal) climate. Ibig sabihin hotter and then wetter or colder and then drier. So nagsi-shift na ang climate natin, (This will become our normal climate (condition) this means it can be hotter, wetter, colder or drier because our climate is shifting,)” Solis explained.

The PAGASA specialist also noted that strong tropical cyclones are now taking the common or usual path that previous strong typhoons had tracked.

In the past, Solis explained, strong weather disturbances have taken the Mindanao track but nowadays, they are taking the Bicol, Samar, and Leyte trail.

“Itong preferred tracks na naman ng mga bagyo ay medyo pumapaitaas na naman dito sa may part ng Visayas and Southern Luzon area, (The cyclones’ preferred track is heading upward to Visayas and Southern Luzon areas,)” Solis explained.

The PAGASA recommends the government upgrade its measures in disaster preparedness with the changing climate in order to mitigate its effects to the people and agriculture. – Marje Pelayo (with details from Rey Pelayo)

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