Hot, hotter, hottest – that was the weather forecast in several parts of the world this fortnight. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia recorded the highest temperatures in the world last Saturday. The former recorded 52.2°C in the shadows and 63°C in direct sunlight, while In Saudi Arabia, the mercury rose to 55°C in Al Majmaah at noon. Monsoon took a rain check in India as the country continued to sizzle at record temperatures. Bihar has been reeling under a killer heatwave since June 15, which has led to 142 deaths in just four days, with thousands more in hospital.
What makes this year’s heat waves unprecedented is that they began as early as March. Since then, 22 states have been hit by 73 heatwave spells in 97 days. This trend is likely to continue as a study opined half the world could see record-setting heat every year by 2100.
Frequency of tropical cyclones in Arabian Sea on the rise?
Yes, India’s west coast dodged a bullet after cyclone Vayu turned course in the Arabian Sea. But the question is for how long? This comparatively calm body of water has shown a rising trend of cyclonic activity in the past few years.
The numbers speak for themselves – from five extremely severe cyclones in 15 years (from 1998 to 2013), the frequency has increased to five such cyclones in five years since (2014-2019), indicating an almost doubling of incidence in recent years. Is global warming to blame? Researchers are still debating. But what they do know is that this is just the calm before the storm.
Will June be declared driest on record?
Official data suggests if the rainfall pattern this monsoon continues, this June could be the driest on record. Traditionally, June accounts for 17% of the monsoon season’s rainfall pattern, which stretches from June to September. But by June 18 of this year, the country reported a 44% rainfall deficit. Scary? Yes. But a look at the rainfall data from previous years reveals India has more than made up for this deficit, especially in the months of July and August.
Scientists amazed as Canadian permafrost thaws 70 years early
In another indication that the global climate crisis is accelerating at an alarming rate, scientists found permafrost (giant subterranean ice blocks), in the Canadian Arctic is melting 70 years earlier than expected. Researchers said successive, unusually hot summers, have been destabilising permafrost that has remained solid for thousands of years.
What is most concerning for scientists, however, is the risk that this rapid thawing could potentially release enormous quantities of heat-trapping gases such as methane, which could push up temperatures even further.
Bitcoin industry consumes more power than New Zealand, Hungary
The Bitcoin juggernaut is charging ahead, but is also leaving behind quite a large carbon footprint. Estimates from Digiconomist have revealed the industry uses over 42TWh of electricity in a year – that’s equal to CO2 emissions of 1 million transatlantic flights – which is more than New Zealand and Hungary and just behind Peru. Bitcoin mining is to blame, say experts, and it is only going to get worse, especially if bitcoin was to become a global currency.
Study examines increased risk of armed conflict due to climate change
If climate change continues to intensify in the coming years, it will increase the risk of future armed conflict between countries, a study published in the journal Nature warned. According to the study, if the world continues to walk on the 4°C warming path that it is currently on, the climate impact on conflicts would increase more than five times – which translates to a 26% chance of a substantial increase in conflict risk. This is because extreme weather due to climate change could lead to more inequality among social groups and damage economies, the study says. These, combined with other conflict triggers, may increase the risk of violence, it said. The rising number of conflicts and displaced people has already alarmed observers as it has reached levels not seen since the Second World War.
Himalayan glaciers melting far faster this century: Study
The loss of ice in the Himalayan glaciers has doubled over the past 40 years, cold-war images from US spy satellites have revealed. Comparison with present-day satellite data showed glaciers have been losing the equivalent of over a vertical foot-and-a-half of ice annually since 2000. A separate study shows significant warming of up to 3°C in the Himalayas and likelihood of 50% increase in rainfall in the region by 2100.