El Nino may last till April 2024: ‘Expect warmer winter, more fog, summer heatwaves’

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has said the ongoing El Niño event may continue until April 2024 further heating up global temperatures on land and the ocean. This could mean “a relatively warm winter, more fog days between December and February [and] more [pre-monsoon] heatwaves”, HT reported. The newspaper quoted WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas as saying: “…record high land and sea-surface temperatures since June, the year 2023 is now on track to be the warmest year on record. Next year may be even warmer. This is clearly and unequivocally due to the contribution of the increasing concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases from human activities.”

The article added that the Copernicus Climate Change Service assessed October 2023 as the warmest October on record globally, with an average surface air temperature of 15.30°C. October marked the sixth consecutive month that Antarctic sea ice extent remained at record low levels for the time of year, and Arctic sea ice extent reached its 7th lowest value for October.

India lost around 10% of its land mass to degradation: UN data

According to United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) data India’s total reported land degradation stood at 30.51 million hectares from 2015-2019, DTE reported. That is the size of 43 million football pitches, according to UNCCD. According to the data 251.71 million Indians constituting 18.39 per cent of the country’s population were exposed to land degradation during the same period. 854.4 million of the country’s people were exposed to drought from 2015-2018 (reporting cycle year). The total land area under drought is calculated as the sum of the reported area under all drought intensity classes (mild, moderate, severe and extreme).

Ken-Betwa developers listening? River interlinking could worsen drought: IIT Bombay study 

Last month the Centre gave Ken-Betwa river interlinking project final forest clearance, six years after it was given ‘in principle’ approval. But new study from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay suggests river interlinking could lead to a decrease in rainfall in September in dry regions of India. The study shows that changes in soil moisture from one river basin can affect soil moisture in neighbouring basins, leading to changes in precipitation patterns, Mongabay reported.  The research looked at impacts of moving vast amounts of water on atmospheric feedback loops that regulate evapotranspiration and precipitation and found that the project can lead to a deficit in rainfall by up to 12 percent in already water stressed regions, when the monsoon is withdrawing in September.

Environmentalists say river interlinking could change groundwater levels, introduce alien invasive species and reduce sediment deposits downstream, among other ecological concerns. In the case of the Ken-Betwa interlinking project – the first of 30 such projects to reach the implementation stage – 10 percent of the Panna Tiger Reserve stands to be submerged. Around 6,809 hectares of forest land will be diverted for the project, Mongabay report saud. 

Fossil fuel use to put 1.5C warming threshold in jeopardy before 2030: New study 

A new report says fossil fuel emissions are threatening to breach 1.5 C (key climate threshold) more quickly than previously thought: world may breach the 1.5C limit by 2029, rather than the mid 2030s. Global average temperature in 2023 are expected to reach 1.5 °C of warming above the pre-industrial level, before the world first started heavily using coal, oil and gas around 1850. But to breach the Paris agreement’s limit, the heating must be sustained for many years. 

The Guardian reported that the “carbon budget” for limiting global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial temperatures has depleted. The latest assessment report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated that only 500bn tonnes of carbon could be released from 2020 to give the planet a 50% chance of staying below 1.5C. 

New report: Earth’s vital signs are now in ‘uncharted territory,’

Researchers at Oregon State University and other institutions around the world, in a new study, have found the Earth already in “uncharted territory” with climate change,to the point that unless greenhouse emissions are cut drastically, parts of the world that are home to one-third to one-half of the global population could face extreme heat, food shortages and water shortages by the end of this century, reported Phys dot org.

“The truth is that we are shocked by the ferocity of the extreme weather events in 2023. We are afraid of the uncharted territory that we have now entered.” Of 35 vital signs of planetary health, 20 are at record levels, and most in an environmentally harmful way, the out let reported adding that although renewable energy is increasing and rainforest depletion is slowing, ocean acidity, glacier thickness, and Greenland’s ice mass all fell to record lows over the past two years, while greenhouse gas emissions, sea level rise and ocean temperatures rose to record highs

Govts, Businesses drastically short on forests targets: Forest Declaration Assessment

Governments and businesses are failing the world on commitments to protect and restore forests? That’s the conclusion of the recent Forest Declaration Assessment. At multiple global commitments to forests,  hundreds of governments and businesses signed up pledges named after cities they were signed in: Bonn in 2011, New York in 2014, Glasgow in 2021. “But these pledges have not been realized, and deforestation reduction targets are slipping each year,” reported Phys.Org. 

There is no serious pathway to fixing climate change while forest losses continue at current rates, the outlet wrote. According to the UN forests directly generate US$250 billion (£206 billion) in economic activity a year. Their broader, indirect, value might be as much as US$150 trillion (£12 trillion) per year—double the value of global stocks—largely due to their ability to store carbon. Despite this, subsidies still provide incentives for people to convert forests into agriculture, Phys.Org report added. 

Study claims desert storms over the Arabian Sea enable greater carbon sequestration

A warming planet has resulted in the intensification of storms and extreme weather across the world, including in the Arabian Gulf and the Middle East. New research has now identified a secondary impact of these ‘desert storms’ originating in the Middle East and travelling across the Arabian Sea towards the Indian subcontinent. In the unprecedented study, scientists from the CSIR-National Institute for Oceanography confirmed the presence and influence of dust particles from Saudi Arabia and Iran on the Arabian Sea, including a positive impact on the carbon sequestration ability of the sea. “Dust particles carried by the wind over the deserts are an essential contributor of nutrients and trace metals to the microscopic surface-dwelling plants — the phytoplankton — in the global ocean, which in turn naturally help in controlling atmospheric CO2,” said director of CSIR-NIO and ocean scientist Sunil Kumar Singh in a quote to The New Indian Express.