Piping hot dream: According to the WMO, the world has sweated its way through a decade of exceptional global heat, and we are still nowhere near the path to achieve the Paris goals. Photo: Washington Post

2019 concludes decade of extreme heat, weather events: WMO

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) declared that the year 2019 concludes a decade of significantly extreme weather events – including exceptional global heat, retreating ice and record sea levels. In its report titled State of Global Climate 2019 released at C0P 25 in Madrid on December 3, the WMO blamed greenhouse gases from human activities for the trend. “If we do not take urgent climate action now, then we are heading for a temperature increase of more than 3°C by the end of the century, with ever more harmful impacts on human wellbeing,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “We are nowhere near on track to meet the Paris Agreement target.”

It’s not just the environment that is bearing the brunt. The WMO also stated 22 million people will be displaced by December 31, 2019, because of extreme weather events.

Warming climate causing birds to shrink, says study

Global warming is causing birds to shrink and their wingspans to grow, a new study published in the journal Ecology Letters revealed. The extraordinary study examined 70,716 specimens from 52 North American migratory bird species collected over 40 years. All of these birds had died after colliding with buildings in the American city of Chicago, Illinois.

Researchers found that from 1976 to 2016, the birds’ lower leg bone — a common measure of body size — shortened by 2.4% and the wings lengthened by 1.3%. The study suggested that warming was making migration difficult for birds and a smaller-sized body would mean lesser energy for the birds to make the long journey. The longer wingspans were compensating for the smaller bodies, allowing birds to migrate successfully, according to the researchers.

Onion price rise linked to high temperatures in northwest Pakistan which delayed monsoon withdrawal

The steep escalation of onion prices across the country in recent weeks might be a primer to how climate change will affect food security according to research from the Potsdam University in Germany. Prices of onions have breached the Rs100/kg mark across all 8 metros in the city and has sent the administration into a tizzy as the typically inexpensive vegetable whizzed beyond the reach of common folk. The skyrocketing prices are due to extensive damage to the onion crop in September and October as unseasonal rains pounded states across the country, including major producers such as Karnataka and Maharashtra. New research has linked the delayed withdrawal of the monsoon with the high temperatures in northwest Pakistan, which resulted in the stalling of withdrawing monsoon clouds. 

Restoring oceans’ eco-systems could help tackle climate crisis: Greenpeace report

A Greenpeace report has suggested a couple of ways in which the climate emergency can be mitigated – halting overfishing and cleaning up plastic from oceans. The report stated that this would help restore the underwater eco-systems – which is also the world’s largest carbon sink. Governments can set up a target of restoring 30% of the oceans by 2030, which could go a long way in boosting the health of the oceans and combating global warming, the report stated.   

Expanding Indo-Pacific warm pool changing global rainfall patterns: Study

A report has shed some light on the reason why global rainfall patterns are changing. According to a study published in the journal Nature, the Indo-Pacific warm pool, which is a stretch of ocean where the temperature remains above 28°C in the winter months, has doubled in size between 1981 and 2018. This has affected the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO), which is a band of rain clouds that moves eastwards over the tropics and is responsible for most weather variations in the region.

The MJO is now bringing in increased rainfall during the months between November and April to northern Australia, west Pacific, Amazon basin, southwest Africa and southeast Asia, while declining rainfall trends have been observed over rainfall over central Pacific, along the west and east coast of the United States (eg, California), north India, east Africa, and the Yangtze basin in China. This has caused droughts in some regions and extreme flooding in others, according to the report.  

CO2 emissions to hit all-time high in 2019, but they have slowed down: Report

According to a Global Carbon Project report released at COP 25 in Madrid, Spain, global carbon emissions will hit an all-time high in 2019, surpassing the previous record set in 2018. Global carbon dioxide emissions are projected to rise by 0.6% in 2019. This increase, though, is substantially lower compared with the previous two years — 1.5% in 2017 and 2.1% in 2018. The report estimated that emissions from industrial activities and fossil fuel burning will pump 36.8 billion metric tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Total carbon emissions from all human activities, including agriculture, will reach 43.1 million tonnes.

The report, however, did expect a substantial slowdown in fossil fuel emissions for this year. The study stated weaker economic growth, especially in China and India, and a drop in coal use in the US and EU, has brought about the slowdown. 

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