Down, under: 1,500 people were evacuated after torrential rains triggered flash floods in northeastern Australia. Photo: AP

Flash flood triggered by torrential rain kills 20 in Australia; thousands evacuated

A flash flood following days of heavy rain in northeastern Australia killed at least 20 people at the end of February. According to reports, Queensland was the worst hit as images showed a swollen Brisbane river and flooded streets that caused damage to roads, buildings and vehicles. Authorities said around 18,000 homes have been affected and 1,500 people were evacuated. Residents were asked to work from home as schools and offices remained shut.

Large-scale zero-budget natural farming may lead to major drop in yield, production: Report

A new report by state-run Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) revealed switching on a large-scale to zero-budget natural farming (ZBNF)—which the Indian government is pushing for—could lead to a drop in productivity. India is already grappling with food security issues, and this method would only work to exasperate them, according to the report. Researchers said ZBNF should first be tested on rain-fed or non-irrigated lands, which produce smaller yields unlike irrigated land.

The technique was introduced by Maharashtra-based Padma awardee Subhash Palekar, who was aiming to cut input costs by making farmers move away from agricultural chemicals and rely on natural inputs. The study claimed to have arrived at its conclusion after studying several papers and interviewing farmers who have switched to this method in seven Indian states. 

New study provides CO2 emissions database from more than 100,000 European cities

A new study published in the journal Earth System Science Data worked on a CO2 emissions database for more than 100,000 cities across Europe. The study used “spatially disaggregated” nationally reported emissions data and also created an interactive map of the data. The study found high emissions in coastal Netherlands, which is a hotspot for marine activity. Another region with high emissions was the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea, primarily because of a large cement treatment facility. France’s emissions were concentrated mostly around a few coastal cities, the study found. 

New research shows a doubling of carbon loss due to deforestation in the 21st century

According to a new study, carbon loss from tropical forest deforestation has doubled between 2000 and 2020. Researchers used high-resolution satellite datasets to show that tropical forest carbon loss worldwide increased from 0.97 ± 0.16 PgC yr−1 in 2001–2005 to 1.99 ± 0.13 PgC yr−1 in 2015–2019. A majority of the increased carbon loss has been attributed to large-scale commodity or small-scale agriculture activities. Researchers have acknowledged that these new estimates are higher than conventional bookkeeping models described by statistical land-use data, which show no trend or a slight decline in land-use emissions in the early twenty-first century.

Employees accuse top climate research publisher of helping expand oil and gas drilling

Scientists working for a leading climate research publisher revealed the company was working with the fossil fuel industry to increase oil and gas drilling, according to a Guardian report. The Dutch company called Elsevier, which publishes journals such as The Lancet and Global Environment Change, is also a leading publisher of books on fossil fuel production, according to the scientists. 

The publisher commissions authors, editors and journal advisory board members working  for leading oil companies, the Guardian report alleged. Elsevier also sells its research portals and data services to these companies in order to increase chances of exploration success, according to the story. Employees who spoke to The Guardian anonymously said they have repeatedly tried to push Elsevier to cut its ties with the fossil fuel industry. 

Human-induced carbon pollution could shrink Antarctic snow by 23mm every summer: Study

According to new research, human-produced carbon pollution could shrink the Antarctic snowpack by 23mm every summer in the most impacted areas. The study observed black carbon (soot) levels from 28 sites across the northern Antarctica Peninsula. It found that black carbon levels in the snow surrounding research facilities and popular tourist-landing sites are “considerably above background levels measured elsewhere in the continent”. According to the study, approximately 53,000 tourists visited Antarctica over 2016-19. It estimated that each tourist contributes to 83 tonnes of snow melt on average each summer.

Already, the Antarctic sea ice has fallen to its lowest level in the past 40 years, according to satellite data. While climate scientists haven’t yet linked the drop to global warming, they called for immediate research to determine why the region has broken a record that was set only five years ago. 

Warming increasing intensity, duration of night-time fires: Study
Hotter and drier nights have led to an increase in night-time fire intensity, according to a new study published in the journal Nature. Across nearly one-fifth of burnable lands, flammable nights increased by at least one week between 1979 and 2020. Globally, night fires have become 7.2% more intense from 2003 to 2020, as per satellite record the study found. As night-time warming increases, the world should expect more intense, longer-lasting and larger fires, the study concluded.

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