In yet another example of extreme weather wreaking havoc, at least 84 people were killed in the port city of Beira, Mozambique, after a tropical cyclone destroyed 90% of the area. The storm, which made landfall in Beira on Thursday, moved towards Zimbabwe, where at least 98 people have died and 217 people are missing, according to the government. Malawi has also been badly hit. While Beira’s official death toll stands at 84, BBC quoted Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi as saying that the toll could be as high as 1,000. Social media erupted after watching aerial footage of the devastation, with users asking the world to ‘wake up’ to the global climate crisis.
Meanwhile, flash floods killed at least 73 people in Indonesia’s eastern province of Papua. More than 4,000 people have been rendered homeless with several taking shelter in government offices, the BBC reported. According to locals, torrential rain that began last Saturday evening triggered mudslides and flash floods. Authorities blamed the flash floods on extensive deforestation.
Dramatic Arctic heating now inevitable? Experts differ with UN research
The latest UN climate report has predicted an inevitable warming of the Arctic with a dramatic increase in temperatures in the region by as early as 2050. The sharp rise in temperatures may take place even if the world meets its Paris goals, the research points out. According to the report, the Arctic, mostly covered by permafrost, will face a rise in winter temperatures by 3-5°C by 2050 and by a whopping 5-9°C by 2100. Last year, researchers had warned that Arctic warming could trigger a climate “tipping point” with thawing permafrost, unleashing methane into the atmosphere, “which in turn could create a runaway warming effect”, the Guardian reported.
But according to a Carbon Brief investigation, the UN report wrongly combines the Paris deal’s targets of “well below 2°C” with scenarios that allow far more relaxed emission cuts that end up with 3°C global warming. CB writes: “In climate-model runs using a scenario limiting global warming to below 2°C, the Arctic still warms faster than the rest of the world. But future Arctic winter warming will be around 0.5-5°C by the 2080s compared to 1986-2005 levels, much lower than the 5-9°C values stated in the report. This means that much of the future warming in the Arctic will depend on our emissions over the 21st century, rather than being ‘locked in’, as the report claims.”
Greenland’s massive ice sheet melting in rain, even during winter
The massive ice sheet covering Greenland is melting much faster than it should, as the region is receiving more rain than snowfall, a new study has found. Scientists were “surprised” to see rain falling even during the Arctic winter, when it should ideally be snowing. Researchers warn that if all of Greenland’s massive storage of frozen water melts, it will cause the oceans to rise seven times, threatening the existence of coastal cities.
The scientists found, during the course of the study, the rain spells in winter rose from two to 12 spells by 2012, and on over 300 occasions between 1979-2012, rain melted the ice “when the permanent dark of the polar winter would be expected to keep temperatures well below freezing,” according to the BBC.
Mapped: Climate risk index of 12 Himalayan states
How vulnerable are Himalayan states to climate change? Indian scientists formally launched a vulnerability index, that rates the climate risk the 12 Himalayan states face, down to each district. The index is based on socio-economic and climate factors such as changing cropping patterns, landslides, floods, drying springs and vector-borne diseases in one of the world’s most sensitive climate zones. Assam (0.72) had the the highest vulnerability index, followed by Mizoram (0.71), Jammu & Kashmir (0.62), Manipur (0.59), Meghalaya and West Bengal (both 0.58), Nagaland (0.57), Himachal Pradesh and Tripura (0.51 both), Arunachal Pradesh (0.47) and Uttarakhand (0.45). Scientists said states that have low per capita income, high deforestation, poverty, poor irrigation facilities, very few sources of income other than agriculture compared to other states, are most vulnerable to climate risks, reported DTE.
Extreme heat: After spectacled flying foxes and moths, 127 possums die in Australia
Extreme temperatures have already begun to devastate large swathes of the Australian territory. Recently, over a 100 dead and critically ill ringtailed possums were found on the beaches of Victoria. Badly dehydrated from the heatwave in the region, the possums were forced to descend from the trees and drink salt water. Scientists say climate change and the recent drought in Australia has already wiped out a large number of bogong moth species, leaving the possums to starve. Meanwhile, last November, extreme heatwaves in the far north, mainly Queensland, is estimated to have killed over one-third (23,000) of the species of spectacled flying foxes.