Climate scientists warned 2020 could be the world’s hottest year on record, with September temperatures eclipsing previous highs and Arctic ice retreating from the seas it usually covers.
Global year-to-date temperatures show little deviation from 2016, the warmest calendar year recorded so far, Europe’s Copernicus Climate Change Service reported on Wednesday. Climate patterns like La Niña in the Pacific Ocean, occurring for the first time in eight years, could determine whether this year turns out to be the warmest on record, according to the researchers.
In September, temperatures reached 0.63 degrees Celsius (1.15 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 30-year historical average, with the Siberian Arctic and southeastern Europe in particular feeling the warming effects of climate change. Arctic sea ice reached its second-lowest extent for September, continuing a fast decline since satellites started monitoring the ice in 1979.
“There was an unusually rapid decline in Arctic sea ice extent during June and July, in the same region where above average temperatures were recorded,” Copernicus Director Carlo Buontempo said. “The combination of record temperatures and low Arctic sea ice in 2020 highlight the importance of improved and more comprehensive monitoring in a region warming faster than anywhere else in the world.”
This year’s record temperatures included an August reading of 54.4 Celsius (129.9 Fahrenheit) in Death Valley, possibly the highest ever recorded on earth. Wildfires have also ravaged Australia and western parts of the U.S., including California, where land burned has passed a record 4 million acres, the state’s fire department said on Sunday.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.)
The paradisiac archipelago faces an unstoppable threat: being submerged. Given this, he built Ciudad de la Esperanza, an island that already inhabits tens of thousands of people
Scattered across the Arabian Sea, southwest of Sri Lanka and India, the Maldives is the face of a tropical idyll of dreams for travelers from all over the world, who fly to enjoy perfect coral atolls lined with white sand, luxurious resorts and practical world-class water sports.
But perhaps no other nation in the world faces as great an environmental threat as the Maldives.
Its luxurious beach resorts may be world famous, but with more than 80% of its 1,200 islands located less than 3 feet (1 m) above sea level, the rise in the level of the oceans threatens their existence.
“We are one of the most vulnerable countries on Earth and therefore we need to adapt,” said the country’s vice president, Mohammed Waheed Hassan, in a 2010 World Bank report that warned how, with projected rates of sea level rise , the nearly 200 naturally inhabited islands could be submerged by 2100.
But the Maldivians are determined to fight to preserve their existence.
In 2008, then-President Mohamed Nasheed made world news by announcing a plan to buy land elsewhere so that his citizens could relocate in case the islands sank.
That plan led them to wonder if it would be better to adapt to the sea instead of fighting it, by building floating urban developments, as has been done in cities like Amsterdam.
But in the Maldives they opted for a different form of geoengineering: the creation of a 21st century city, nicknamed the “City of Hope”, on a new artificial island named Hulhumalé.
130,000 live in 2.5 km2
Before the covid-19 pandemic, tourists could visit the new island city under construction about 8 km from the capital, Malé, by getting on a bus that took them from the airport.
However, few of those who go to the Maldives think about the social problems that Hulhumalé aims to solve.
More than 500,000 inhabitants scattered throughout the archipelago, service delivery is a resource-depleting logistical nightmare. The lack of job opportunities is another, pushing youth unemployment to more than 15%, according to a 2020 World Bank report.
In addition to the risk of long-term submergence, increased coastal erosion also threatens 70% of the infrastructure (homes, buildings and public services) located in the first 100 m of the coasts current.
Also of concern are the encroachment of salty seas polluting precious freshwater sources, in addition to the risks posed by unpredictable natural disasters, such as the 2004 tsunami that killed more than 100 people.
“After the 2004 tsunami, a program was put in place to improve resilience through more security on the islands,” explains Areen Ahmed, director of business development for the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) that oversees the City of Hope. .
“Hulhumalé is developing through careful considerations about climate change in their architecture and their communities ”.
Land reclamation start-up uses million cubic meters of sand extracted from the seabed And that has raised the new island to more than 2 m above sea level.
The growing City of Hope is seen as a vital new settlement to alleviate the currently overcrowded Malé, where more than 130,000 people live in almost 2.5 square kilometers.
“Male is one of the most densely populated cities on Earth,” said Kate Philpot, who worked as a scientific officer in the Maldives, researching reef fish for the Korallion Lab marine station, before becoming a senior ecologist at British consultancy Ecology By Design.
An ambitious project
The first phase of the Hulhumalé land reclamation, consisting of 188 hectares, started in 1997 and was completed in 2002.
Two years later, the island celebrated the arrival of its first 1,000 inhabitants. The additional reclamation of 244 hectares of land was completed in 2015, and by the end of 2019, more than 50,000 people were already living there.
But the ambitions for Hulhumalé are much greater and eventually it is projected to host up to 240,000 people by the mid-2020s.
This vision includes a diverse mix of quality housing, new job opportunities and open recreational spaces – a supply three times greater for each inhabitant than Malé offers.
According to Ahmed, in contrast to the unplanned and overcrowded nature of Malé, Hulhumalé was designed with many green urban planning projects.
“The buildings are oriented from north to south to reduce heat build-up and improve thermal comfort. The fairways are designed to optimize wind penetration, reducing dependency on air conditioning. And the neighborhood schools, mosques and parks are within 100-200m walking distance of residential developments, which reduce car use“, Explain.
Electric buses and bike lanes are also part of the city’s new landscape.
Various housing needs are also met. “Hulhumalé encompasses various housing projects: social, luxury and mid-range,” says Ahmed.
“60% of mid-range housing units must be sold below the price limit established by the HDC ”.
Affordable social housing is available for specific groups, including single women and women affected by displacement and disasters. Detailed consultations have been conducted to ensure that people with disabilities have access to the housing and the general environment.
The enviable digital infrastructure proposals complement green initiatives and social planning, says Ahmed, who describes Hulhumalé as “Asia’s first 100% digitally enabled smart city”, with fast internet access for residents based on fiber optic technology known as GPON (Gigabit Passive Optical Networks).
“The ultimate benefit of building a smart city from scratch is that Hulhumalé will be seen as a city of resilience, built by the people of the Maldives for the people of the Maldives, ”says Professor Hassan Ugail, a computer expert who is helping make Hulhumalé a smart city.
The city also seeks to be a sustainable urban development, with one third of its electricity supplied by solar energy and the collection of rain to guarantee the water supply.
Does this really help the environment?
Given all this, there is a question: is not the same act of building an artificial island something harmful to the environment, especially in a place famous for its coral reefs and pristine white sand shores?
When the Belgian company Dredging International completed the expansion of 244 hectares of the island in 2015, the operation required the extraction of around six million cubic meters of sand from the surrounding seabed and then transported to Hulhumalé.
“Land reclamation work is particularly challenging,” says Dr. Holly East from the Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences at Northumbria University, an expert on coral reef islands and researcher on the Maldives case.
“Not only can destroy coral reefsIt also creates large columns of sediment that travel to other reef platforms. Sediment smothers corals and blocks sunlight, which affects their ability to feed, grow and reproduce, “he says.
But with its ever-growing population, land expansion has become a simple fact of life for the Maldives, and the existing coral reefs provide the foundation.
“Efforts have been made to reduce the impacts of the Hulhumalé development, including the movement of some corals,” says Philpot. “However, it can take a long time for them to establish themselves elsewhere, and the success rate is often low.”
Still, with his years of experience in the Maldives, Philpot is well aware of the needs.
Tourists can come and go, but local people need land to live and jobs. He also makes the rather ironic observation that Hulhumalé is lifting up in an area that, to some extent, has already been spoiled.
“Construction is likely to be less damaging than in other parts of the Maldives,” he says. “It seems preferable to develop an area with relatively high levels of boat traffic and pollution compared to anywhere else within the Maldives that remains relatively unspoiled.”
In this point is supported by the 2020 World Bank report which points out that “the Greater Male region, particularly Hulhumalé, has no significant natural habitats and the coral reefs are mostly degraded.”
Waste disposal remains a key problem, both in terms of construction waste for Hulhumalé and waste from its inhabitants.
“Much of the waste has been transported and stored on the island of Thilafushi, built for this purpose,” explains Philpot wryly.
The authorities reject the idea that it’s basically a tropical garbage dump, albeit rather vaguely. “All measures to minimize the impact of construction on the environment are monitored by the Maldives Environmental Protection Agency,” says Ahmed.
Educate the youth
While Hulhumalé is being designed primarily to improve the lives of the Maldivians, its City of Hope is also intended to be a beacon for tourists interested in more than just lounging in the bubble of a beachside resort.
A 2018 World Finance report, for example, highlights the potential for medical and sports tourism linked to future projects, such as the Maldives’ first specialty hospital, water park and marina.
Philpot also hopes that the dreams that drive Hulhumalé will extend to a greater appreciation of their surroundings by the next generation of Maldivians.
“I taught coral ecology classes to Maldivian children between the ages of 14 and 17 and more than half of my class had never put their heads in the water with a snorkel,” he explains.
“Their amazement at what they saw was so exciting, but also sad, because they live so close to the sea but never had a chance to experience being underwater. Perhaps with a more direct education directed to marine biology there would be more interest in preserving and protecting the marine ecosystem among young people ”.
In other words, instead of just building a City of Hope, the people of Maldives are taking a path into the future that could make Maldives a Nation of Hope.
You can read the original version of this article in English on BBC Travel
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As a rookie head coach, Steve Nash knows he won’t arrive in Brooklyn as an experienced tactician. On that front, he acknowledges he’s coming in “hat in hand,” with a lot to learn.
Nash admits Nets general manager Sean Marks hired him for his ability as a team-builder who connects with players, and he’s self-aware enough to want a seasoned staff around him. And the newly hired Brooklyn coach said as much on an ESPN podcast.
“I’m not in a position — nor do I want to be in a position — where I come in and say this is how we’re doing everything. I come in hat in hand in many respects,” Nash said. “How have you done it in the past? What do you think works? I think having a collaborative, confident, talented [group] and hopefully we round out the staff with a ton of experience.
“I’m excited to have people that want to build a team together, want to have big voices no matter your level and help myself be surrounded by people who are really capable of adding and building this thing, and support me as they get up to their speed and get caught up in what it takes to be a coach, because I’m wide open to the reality that I don’t have any head coaching experience. I do have lots of experience, but not in that seat. I have improving and growing and learning to do.”
Much was made of Nash being handed a loaded win-now team despite never having served a single day as an assistant coach. Part of that was because of his relationship with ex-Suns teammate Marks, and also likely because of his relationship with former protégé and current Nets superstar Kevin Durant.
But those friendships underscore what made Nash attractive in the first place. A Hall of Famer, he commands respect from stars like Durant and Kyrie Irving. But after not starting until his third season, or averaging double-figures until his fifth, he understands yeoman’s work and journeyman’s struggles.
“I think I have a high basketball acumen, but there’s no question that I’m in this position as much for the experiences I’ve had, the teams I’ve been on, being able to relate to players: Those are really my strong suits,” Nash said. “If they wanted a tactician, a pure tactician, you go to someone who’s drawn up a million plays. That’s not me, as far as sitting in that seat. I’ve got a lot of places to catch up. Luckily I have a lot of time here to get up to speed; but I’m never going to close the gap of 10, 20 years of head coaching experience in four years.
“What I can do is offer the strengths and qualities I built my career on. Part of that is being able to relate to players of all different levels. I started out as a first-round pick, had some really bad struggles at times and ended up near the top of the game. I offer a relatability to players all over the world. That helps my ability to connect and lead. I think frankly that’s a big reason I was afforded this position.”
Unlike Durant – whom he was introduced years ago by ex-Mavs teammate and current Brooklyn assistant Adam Harrington – Nash is still getting to know Irving. He also said teams contending for the first time – as the Nets are expected to next season – often struggle to stay connected in key playoff moments. These are all things he’ll deal with as a first-year coach amidst this COVID-impacted offseason.
“It’s exciting. It’s great,” said Nash. “I feel at home in some respects and at the same time I do feel like a rookie in some respects.”
Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday said, that environment ministers and secretaries from five states—Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh—would meet will MoEFCC and officials of CPCB on Thursday, in order to, discuss the air pollution arising due to paddy stubble burning in the fields, especially in Punjab and Haryana.
The minister also hopes that the states would participate in a “positive manner”, irrespective of “politics”, to deal with the situation.
Notably three of the five states, Punjab, Rajasthan and Delhi are ruled by non- NDA parties
Responding to the question related to protest over farmers’ bills and Congress observation that RSS were collaborators of the British, Javadekar said, that “first the Congress needs to answer why is it standing with the middlemen.”
“The procurement of Kharif rice has started, farmers are being paid, mandis are operating, the government’s actions speak for themselves,” he said.
Dubai: The UAE’s first environmental nano-satellite, MeznSat, was successfully launched on Monday at 3.20pm UAE time aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket from Plesetsk Cosmodrome, a Russian spaceport located 800km north of Moscow.
MeznSat, funded by the UAE Space Agency and built by a team of 30 students from the American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK) and Khalifa University of Science and Technology (KUST), is set to orbit Earth in November to study the coastal waters of the Arabian Gulf. Once in orbit, a team of students will then monitor, process, and analyse the data from the ground station in YahSat Space Lab at Khalifa University as well as a ground station in AURAK.
Sarah Al Amiri
Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Technology and Chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency, tweeted after the launch: “We would like to congratulate all the students and professors on this great achievement. We are proud to see national capabilities designing, developing, and manufacturing satellites that will have an impact on UAE’s space sector.
“This program demonstrated the ability to complete long-term projects within an educational setup that provided the students a unique opportunity to apply their knowledge, including experience-based learning at universities provide students with the opportunity to work on real-life projects, mentored by professors and subject-matter experts from industry,” Al Amiri added.
MeznSat is the UAE’s third CubeSat, after Nayif-1 and MySat-1 that were launched in 2017 and 2018 respectively. A CubeSat is a miniaturised satellite used for space research that is made up of multiples of 10cm × 10 cm × 10cm cubic units. CubeSats have a mass of no more than 1.33kg per unit.
MeznSat, for its part, measures 10X10X30 cm. Its total payload – an infrared spectrometer 1,000-1,650 nanometers and RGB camera – weighs under 2.7kg and its orbital altitude is 575km above Earth.
“Climate change has widely been attributed to the increase in GHGs in the atmosphere as a result of human activities. The impacts of climate change are expected to include shortage of water quantity and quality in most arid and semi-arid areas, and low agricultural productivity throughout the tropics and subtropics, accompanied by damage to ecosystems and biodiversity in these areas, and changes in forests and other ecosystems. The State of the Environment (SoE) Report for Abu Dhabi highlighted key vulnerabilities associated with climate change, principally sea-level rise coastal flooding; increased salinity of coastal aquifers; impacts on the marine environment; heat stress; built environment impacts; more extreme weather events (floods, droughts, etc.); increased risk of dust storms; and risk from airborne contaminants (e.g. pesticides),” the UAE Space Agency said on its website.
“Carbon Dioxide and Methane are the two most prevalent Greenhouse gases. Both emissions (methane and carbon dioxide) have to be addressed and monitored in order to effectively reduce the impact of climate change. “As a result, the primary scientific objective of this project is aimed at exploring the performance of sensing in the shortwave infrared (SWIR) region (10001650 nm) to detect the levels of CH4, CO2, and H2O in order to derive the atmospheric concentrations of important GHGs. This mission follows the previous missions like CanX-2, SathyabhamaSat, etc.
“The secondary/tentative scientific objective is to predict algal blooms in advance. The performance of sensing in the shortwave infrared (SWIR) region (10001650 nm) in combination with the RGB camera will be explored to estimate the concentration of total suspended matter (as a proxy for nutrients in water) in the coastal waters of the Arabian Gulf to predict an algal bloom in advance, to facilitate precautionary measures.”
Dr. Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, executive vice-president at KUST, three more nanosatellites are being planned in the future. “The achievements of MeznSat showcase Khalifa University’s dedication to enhancing innovation in sectors that are strategic to the UAE. Our students have the opportunity to contribute to these projects during their studies. Their research innovations will have a great impact on the future of the UAE’s space sector.”
Professor Hassan Hamdan Al Alkim, President of AURAK, added: “The MeznSat launch is a great achievement for the American University of Ras Al Khaimah and I am extremely proud of the dedication, effort and skill shown by the students. This moment is the culmination of three years of hard work and it shows the capability and professionalism of our students. The wise leadership of the UAE has placed the nation’s space program at the forefront of its vision for the future and this launch marks another achievement in this field.”
United under Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, young people rallied worldwide on Friday to demand urgent action to halt catastrophic climate change, in their first global protest since the coronavirus crisis began.
With wild weather wreaking havoc across the world – from fires ravaging the U.S. West, to abnormal heatwaves in the Siberian Arctic and record floods in China – organisers said their aim was to remind politicians that, while the world focused on Covid-19, the climate crisis was more acute than ever.
Demonstrations were planned in more than 3,100 locations, though with pandemic-related curbs limiting the size of gatherings, much of the action shifted online.
In Stockholm, Thunberg and a handful of members of her group, Fridays for Future, assembled outside parliament with signs bearing slogans including “Stop Denying the Climate Is Dying”.
“We need to treat the climate crisis as a crisis. It’s just as simple as that. The climate crisis has never once been treated as a crisis and unless we treat it as a crisis we won’t be able to, so-called, ‘solve’ it,” Thunberg told reporters.
Organisers said turnout was expected to be far smaller than the global climate strikes held one year ago, which drew more than six million people onto the streets.
Participants were asked to post pictures on social media and join a 24-hour global Zoom call – though mass gatherings were held in countries including Germany.
In Berlin, police said nearly 10,000 people took part in demonstrations. Protesters cycled in groups to the Brandenburg Gate, where they sat in face masks, observing social distancing and chanting: “Strikes in school, university and companies. That is our answer to your politics”.
On the Front Lines
The demonstrations focussed on communities that have contributed little to greenhouse gas emissions, but are on the front lines of devastating climate threats including violent storms, rising seas and locust plagues.
Activist Vanessa Nakate, who led 30 young demonstrators in Kampala, Uganda, on Friday, said the climate change debate has tended to sideline voices from vulnerable developing regions.
“The world was so focused on the California fires,” she told Reuters. “When California was burning, communities in Africa were flooding – but where was the attention?”
In Kenya’s capital Nairobi, about 30 activists gathered in a park, with some donning headgear made of discarded plastic bottles.
Their protest centred around media reports, first published in The New York Times, that industry group the American Chemistry Council (ACC) is lobbying to ensure Kenya continues importing foreign plastic trash, despite a government pledge to stop doing this. ACC has said the reports are inaccurate.
“We say Africa is not a dumpsite, and Kenya is not a dumpsite,” activist Kevin Mtai said.
In the Philippines, Mitzi Jonelle Tan, a 22-year-old Fridays for Future activist, said recent flooding had wiped out a local Covid-19 testing centre and caused a tree to fall on her home.
“I hate that it is a normal thing to experience these impacts. I hate that it is a normal thing that people are suffering – because they don’t need to,” she said.
People in the global South are dying because of climate change, said 19-year-old Belgian activist Anuna De Wever ahead of a planned protest in a Brussels square.
“As one of the richest continents, we (Europeans) have the biggest responsibility to fight climate change in the most ambitious way possible.”
Mya-Rose Craig, an 18-year-old Briton, travelled to the Arctic – one of the world’s fastest warming regions – with Greenpeace to stage the most northerly protest on an ice floe.
Activists in Bogota, Colombia, said they would use the event to urge their government to ratify the Escazu Accord, an agreement among Latin American and Caribbean countries that enshrines protections for those working on environmental causes.
In Australia, thousands of students earlier took part in about 500 small gatherings and online protests, to demand investment in renewable energy and oppose funding for gas projects.
While global climate negotiations have faltered during the pandemic, a surprise announcement by China this week means that two of the world’s top three emitters – China and the European Union – have now committed to becoming carbon neutral, halting their net contributions to climate change.
Whether the United States, the second-biggest emitter, joins them is likely to depend on the result of November’s presidential election.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.)
A fleet of 300 Chinese fishing boats causes alarm to Ecuador and Peru due to their proximity to the natural and fishing resources of both countries
Tensions are rising along the Pacific coast of South America as A giant Chinese fishing fleet of approximately 300 vessels moves from the edge of the Galapagos marine reserve, which belongs to Ecuador, towards the waters of Peru.
On Tuesday, President Trump criticized China on a variety of issues, from the coronavirus to human rights, in a speech to the United Nations. He highlighted China’s fishing and maritime behavior, saying that the country “dumps millions and millions of tons of plastic and garbage into the oceans, overfishes the waters of other countries” and destroys coral reefs.
Chinese fishing boats looted the protected waters near the Galapagos Marine Reserve to catch squid, that are crucial for the survival of species in the area such as sea lions, hammerhead sharks and tunas, according to data analyzed by the marine conservation group Oceana.
Shortly thereafter, the United States Embassy in Peru published a tweet in which pointed out the Chinese megafleet off the Peruvian coast, accusing the fleet of renaming ships and disabling GPS tracking to limit surveillance of their activities.
Alert! A fleet of more than 300 Chinese flag ships with a history of changing ship names and disabling GPS tracking is in front of the #Peru. Overfishing can cause enormous ecological and economic damage. Peru cannot afford such a loss. pic.twitter.com/mYqaHXVhry
According to government and defense sources, The Chinese mega fleet has moved south in recent days towards the waters of Peru.
Like the United States and other countries, Ecuador has an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles from its coast, swork which has sovereign rights over all resources. According to news reports, the government is discussing whether it could expand that zone to 350 nautical miles.
In addition, the South American country is working with neighbors such as Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia to establish a corridor of marine reserves that would isolate much of the rich and biodiverse marine life along the Pacific coast from commercial fishing.
Bruna Benites, from the Brazilian International Team, was attacked by a parrot
A session of training of the Brazilian soccer team it was interrupted because a parrot flew into the field and landed on the head of a female player.
Bruna Benites, a national team player, posted a video on her Instagram showing that Saturday’s practice was interrupted by the bird, landing on Benites’ head before flying across the field and landing again in a goal.
“I will take advantage of what happened today to remember that, being from Mato Grosso, I cannot hide my feeling of deep sadness for everything that is happening in the Pantanal,” wrote Benites.
“Thousands of animals are losing their lives due to the fires and if this continues, (rare) moments like the ones you see in this video will be impossible to see. Let’s be aware. Let’s take care of our greatest heritage, which is nature, ”said the publication.
Benites later explained that the parrot lives with a family in Rio de Janeiro and that the bird can fly free because is tame and always comes home. He said the bird frequently visits the soccer field, but was able to “see things from a different angle” at practice Saturday.
Sea ice continues to reduce its area in the Arctic.
Joshua Stevens / Earth Observatory / NASA / Courtesy
He National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) announced that Arctic sea ice appeared to have reached its second annual minimum area on September 15, 2020, surpassed only by a previously measured minimum area in 2012.
At 1.44 million square miles (3.74 million square kilometers), this minimum was only surpassed by the record minimum area observed on September 17, 2012.
The 2020 figure is preliminary because a summer heat surge at the end of the season could further reduce the spread, but it shows that the observed trend of long-term decline in Arctic sea ice continued.
2020 and 2012 remain the only years in which the extent of sea ice has fallen below 4.0 million square kilometers (1.54 million square miles).
“This year’s low is the unsurprising result of a continued long-term decline in Arctic sea ice,” said Alek Petty, a sea ice scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
The 14 minor ice surfaces recorded have occurred in the last 14 years.
Why did so much sea ice melt
Numerous factors combined to reduce sea ice so much in 2020.
In spring, A heat wave in Siberia set the stage for a quick meltdown early in the season.
Furthermore, the sea ice was already much thinner entering the 2020 thaw season than in previous years, the cumulative result of the overall long-term decline in the extent of sea ice in summer.
And scientists believe that hot water could work its way under the ice and melt it from below.
Climate can also affect the amount of ice in the Arctic.
From late July to early August, scientists observed a system of low atmospheric pressure rotating over the Arctic Ocean and they wondered how it would affect the ice. A similar storm in 2012 was one of the main causes of the lowest sea ice minimum on record. “The summer 2020 storm definitely had an effect, but it didn’t seem enough to cause really significant ice loss to drive a new all-time low,” Petty said.
From the start of the satellite registration, the extent of sea ice has steadily decreased, a trend that is observed in all seasons, but that is especially pronounced in the time of the summer minimum.
Toxins in water produced by cyanobacteria killed more than 300 elephants in Botswana this year, officials said on Monday, announcing the result of an investigation into the deaths which had baffled and alarmed conservationists. Cyanobacteria are microscopic organisms common in water and sometimes found in soil. Not all produce toxins but scientists say toxic ones are occurring more frequently as climate change drives up global temperatures. Cyril Taolo, deputy director of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, told a news conference the number of elephant carcasses found since deaths were first reported around early May had risen to 330, from 281 in July.
“What we just know at this point is that it’s a toxin caused by cyanobacteria,” said Taolo, adding the specific type of neurotoxin had yet to be established. Authorities will monitor the situation during the next rainy season, and Taolo said for now there was no evidence to suggest that Botswana’s wildlife was still under threat as officials were no longer seeing deaths. The department’s principal veterinary officer Mmadi Reuben told the same news conference that questions remained as to why only elephants had been affected. Other animals in the Okavango Panhandle region appeared unharmed.
Some cyanobacterial blooms can harm people and animals, and scientists are concerned about their potential impact as climate change leads to warmer water temperatures, which many cyanobacteria prefer. Southern Africa’s temperatures are rising at twice the global average, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “It amounts to having the right conditions, in the right time, in the right place and these species will proliferate,” Patricia Glibert, a professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, who has studied cyanobacteria, told Reuters.
“These conditions are coming together more often, in more places, so we are seeing more of these toxic blooms around the world.” In neighbouring Zimbabwe, about 25 elephant carcasses were found near the country’s biggest game park and authorities suspect they succumbed to a bacterial infection. The animals were found with tusks intact, ruling out poaching and deliberate poisoning. Parks authorities believe the elephants could have ingested the bacteria while searching for food. The carcasses were found near water sources.
“We considered the possibility of cyanobacteria but we have no evidence that this is the case here (in Zimbabwe),” said Chris Foggin, a veterinarian at the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust, which tested samples from dead elephants from Zimbabwe and Botswana. Zimbabwe has sent samples to Britain and is waiting for permits to send samples to two other countries, Foggin said. Africa’s overall elephant population is declining due to poaching but Botswana, home to almost a third of the continent’s elephants, has seen numbers grow to around 130,000.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)