Lightning storms triggered by exhaust from cargo ships

lightning strike

SHIPS spewing soot into the pristine ocean air are causing extra lightning strikes along busy maritime routes. It is a bizarre example of how human activities can change the weather.

When Joel Thornton at the University of Washington in Seattle and his colleagues looked at records of lightning strikes between 2005 and 2016 from the World Wide Lightning Location Network, they noticed there were significantly more strikes in certain regions of the east Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, compared with the surrounding areas. Unusually, they occurred along two straight lines in the open ocean, which coincided with two of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. Along these paths there were twice as many lightning strikes as in nearby areas.

Lakshmi Supriya, newscientist.com, September 19, 2017

Lightning storms triggered by exhaust from cargo ships

lightning strike

SHIPS spewing soot into the pristine ocean air are causing extra lightning strikes along busy maritime routes. It is a bizarre example of how human activities can change the weather.

When Joel Thornton at the University of Washington in Seattle and his colleagues looked at records of lightning strikes between 2005 and 2016 from the World Wide Lightning Location Network, they noticed there were significantly more strikes in certain regions of the east Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, compared with the surrounding areas. Unusually, they occurred along two straight lines in the open ocean, which coincided with two of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. Along these paths there were twice as many lightning strikes as in nearby areas.

Lakshmi Supriya, New Scientist, September 19, 2017

Burning less coal isn’t just making air cleaner. It’s making your tuna safer.

Today, his team’s findings are being greeted as some of the most positive news in a while related to the lowering of power-plant emissions. Studies of tuna caught in the Gulf of Maine between 2004 and 2012 revealed that levels of methylmercury in their bodies decreased at a rate of 2 percent per year, or nearly 20 percent over a decade.

The decreases occurred as coal-fired power plants began closing in 2008 — with 300 now shut down, according to the National Mining Association. Four years before that date, the carcasses of bluefin tuna, regardless of age, size and sex, had a lot more mercury than four years after. The research was published this month in Environmental Science and Technology.

Darryl Fears, Washington Post, November 29, 2016

America’s TV meteorologists: Symptoms of climate change are rampant, undeniable

I interviewed 11 of America’s premiere broadcast TV meteorologists, to hear their thoughts and stories of how a rapidly changing climate is affecting local weather patterns:


Chief meteorologist Tom Skilling at WGN-TV in Chicago: “A surge in the incidence of flooding as a result of more extreme precipitation events across the Chicago area in recent decades has been among the most noteworthy developments on the climate front.”


Meteorologist Paul Gross at WDIV-TV in Detroit: “A warmer world has translated into more snow for the metropolitan Detroit area. It shocks people when I tell them that five of our top 10 all-time snowiest winters have occurred since 2004.”


Former president of the American Meteorological Society, Bob Ryan, in Washington, D.C.: “Cities are hotter in summer, storms are stronger, dry spells are longer, nights are warmer . . .”

Paul Douglas, Washington Post, November 18, 2016

 

How Small Forests Can Help Save the Planet

More than half of the 751 million acres of forestland in the United States are privately owned, most by people like Ms. Lonnquist, with holdings of 1,000 acres or less. These family forests, environmental groups argue, represent a large, untapped resource for combating the effects of climate change.

Conserving the trees and profiting from them might seem incompatible. But Ms. Lonnquist is hoping to do both by capitalizing on the forest’s ability to clean the air, turning the carbon stored in the forest into credits that can then be sold to polluters who want or need to offset their carbon footprints.

Erica Goode, New York Times, September 26, 2016

Poll Finds Deep Split on Climate Change. Party Allegiance Is a Big Factor

Americans are deeply divided on the causes, cures and urgency of climate change, and party identification is one of the strongest predictors of individual views, according to a poll released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center.

Just over a third of Americans say they care a great deal about climate change. Among them, 72 percent are Democrats and 24 percent are Republicans; both numbers include independents who say they generally lean toward one party.

On other questions on climate change, Americans remain starkly divided: Nearly seven of 10 Democrats believe climate change is mainly a result of human activity; fewer than a quarter of Republicans believe that. A similarly worded question that appeared on surveys from 2006 to 2015 found comparable gaps on the perceived causes of climate change.

Tatiana Schlossberg, New York Times, October 4, 2016

Think It’s Hot Now? Just Wait

This map provides a glimpse of our future if nothing is done to slow climate change. By the end of the century, the number of 100-degree days will skyrocket, making working or playing outdoors unbearable, and sometimes deadly. The effects on our health, air quality, food and water supplies will get only worse if we don’t drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions right away.

Heidi Cullen, New York Times, August 20, 2016

Statue of Liberty, other world sites threatened by climate change, says U.N.

Rising Sea Levels Could Cost U.S. Homeowners Close to $1 Trillion: Being underwater will soon mean exactly what it says. Especially in Florida.

 

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Rising sea levels could soak homeowners for $882 billion, according to a new report from real estate website Zillow. The research takes its initial cue from the journal Nature, which in March found sea levels could rise more than 6 feet by the end of the century. In that scenario, Florida could lose close to 1 million homes, or 13 percent of the state’s current stock. That comes out to $400 billion in value—a figure that doesn’t include losses to commercial buildings or public infrastructure or account for future appreciation in home value.

Patrick Clark, Bloomberg.com, August 2, 2016