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Climate Change

Giant iceberg size of London breaks free of Antarctica

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(Last Updated On: January 26, 2023)

A giant iceberg — the size of greater London — broke free from Antarctica, researchers said Tuesday.

“A huge iceberg (1550 km²), almost the size of Greater London, has broken off the 150m (meter) thick Brunt Ice Shelf,” the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), the UK’s national polar research institute, said on its website.

“It calved after cracks that have been developing naturally over the last few years extended across the entire ice shelf, causing the new iceberg to break free,” it added.

The iceberg broke free on Sunday.

“The iceberg calved when the crack known as Chasm-1 fully extended through the ice shelf,” it added.

The break-off occurred a decade after the BAS scientists first noticed the expansion of sizable cracks in the ice, the statement said, adding that it is the second significant calving from this area in the past two years.

Quoting BAS Director Dame Jane Francis, the statement said: “Our glaciologists and operations teams have been anticipating this event.”

The scientists measured the ice shelf multiple times and “how the ice shelf is deforming and moving, and are compared to satellite images from ESA, NASA and the German satellite TerraSAR-X,” Francis added.

“All data are sent back to Cambridge for analysis,” he said. “So we know what is happening even in the Antarctic winter – when there is no staff on the station, it is dark for 24 hours and the temperature falls below minus 50 degrees C (or -58F).”

‘Calving event has been expected’

For his part, a BAS glaciologist Dominic Hodgson said: “This calving event has been expected and is part of the natural behavior of the Brunt Ice Shelf. It is not linked to climate change.”

“Our science and operational teams continue to monitor the ice shelf in real-time to ensure it is safe, and to maintain the delivery of the science we undertake at Halley,” Hodgson added.

The BAS Halley Research Station is situated on Antarctica’s Brunt Ice Shelf. The area of the ice shelf where the research station is located, according to BAS glaciologists who have been observing the ice shelf’s behavior, is now “unaffected” by the recent calving occurrences.

According to the statement, the Brunt Ice Shelf’s glaciological structure is complex, and the effects of calving episodes are unpredictable. After Chasm-1 started to expand in 2016, BAS scientists moved the station 23 kilometers (14 miles) inland as a precaution.

Since 2017, employees have been deployed to the station only during the Antarctic summer between November to March.

There are currently 21 employees working on the station to maintain the power supplies and facilities that allow scientific studies to continue remotely throughout the winter.

According to satellite monitoring, in 2012 a chasm (Chasm-1) that had been dormant for at least 35 years began to show the first indications of alteration.

Since 2015, Chasm-1 has been expanding, and by December 2022, it has spread across the entire ice shelf, signaling the start of the calving event.

Climate Change

Summer 2023 was the hottest in 2,000 years, study says

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(Last Updated On: May 15, 2024)

The intense northern hemisphere summer heat that drove wildfires across the Mediterranean, buckled roads in Texas and strained power grids in China last year made it not just the warmest summer on record – but the warmest in some 2,000 years, new research suggests.

The stark finding comes from one of two new studies released on Tuesday, as both global temperatures and climate-warming emissions continue to climb, Reuters reported.

Scientists had quickly declared last year’s June to August period as the warmest since record-keeping began in the 1940s.

New work published in the journal Nature suggests the 2023 heat eclipsed temperatures over a far longer timeline – a finding established by looking at meteorological records dating to the mid-1800s and temperature data based on the analysis of tree rings across nine northern sites.

“When you look at the long sweep of history, you can see just how dramatic recent global warming is,” said study co-author Jan Esper, a climate scientist at Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany.

Last year’s summer season temperatures on lands between 30 and 90 degrees north latitude reached 2.07 degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial averages, the study said.

Based on tree ring data, the summer months in 2023 were on average 2.2 C warmer than the estimated average temperature across the years 1 to 1890.

The finding was not entirely a surprise. By January, scientists with the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service were saying the year of 2023 was “very likely” to have been the warmest in some 100,000 years.

However, proving such a long record is unlikely, Esper said. Heatwaves are already taking a toll on people’s health, with more than 150,000 deaths in 43 countries linked to heatwaves for each year between 1990 and 2019, according to the details of a second study published on Tuesday in the journal PLOS Medicine.

That would account for about 1% of global deaths – roughly the same toll taken by the global COVID-19 pandemic, Reuters reported.

More than half of those heatwave-related excess deaths occurred in populous Asia.

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Climate Change

Afghanistan a victim of climate change, says Muttaqi

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(Last Updated On: May 13, 2024)

The Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amir Khan Muttaqi, met with Edem Wosornu, UNOCHA Director of Operations and Advocacy on Monday in Kabul and said although Afghanistan plays no role in the “destruction of the climate”, the country continues to suffer from this phenomenon.

Muttaqi appealed to countries contributing to the climate change problem to act responsibly as they are not doing anything in terms of compensating countries suffering the effects of climate change.

This comes just days after heavy rains claimed the lives of over 300 people in northern Afghanistan as flash floods hit the area.

Muttaqi meanwhile also said that Afghanistan should be allowed to participate at global climate change meetings and the country should have access to funding.

Wosornu in turn expressed her willingness to send UNOCHA teams to flood affected areas as soon as possible.

She also said they try to keep humanitarian needs and politics separate.

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Climate Change

Rescuers race to reach those trapped by floods in China’s Guangdong

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(Last Updated On: April 22, 2024)

WATCH: Rescuers on boats in China’s flood-ravaged Guangdong province raced to evacuate trapped residents, carrying some elderly people by piggyback from their homes and deploying helicopters to save villagers caught in rural landslides.

The southern Chinese province has been battered by unusually heavy, sustained and widespread rainfall since Thursday, with powerful storms ushering in an earlier-than-normal start to the region’s annual flooding season, Reuters reported.

Eleven people were missing in Guangdong by Monday morning, the state-owned Xinhua News Agency reported without giving further details.

Across the province, 53,741 people have been relocated, with 12,256 people being urgently resettled, Xinhua reported, citing the provincial government.

The cities of Shaoguan, Qingyuan, Zhaoqing and Jiangmen to the west and north of the provincial capital Guangzhou have been particularly hard hit.

In Qingyuan, houses and shops along the Bei River were submerged as the Pearl River tributary swelled, local media reported.

Aerial footage showed flood waters overwhelming a nearby town, leaving only roofs and treetops untouched.

Rescuers in Qingyuan tackled muddy waters, neck-high in some areas, to extract residents, including an elderly lady trapped in waist-deep water in an apartment building, videos on social media showed.

Other social media videos showed water gushing through roads and vehicles in disarray.

In Shaoguan, landslides trapped villagers who had to be rescued by helicopter while other rescuers traveled on foot to reach cut-off disaster sites, Reuters reported.

The Chinese military also stepped in to help clear roads.

The rains eased early on Monday, but some schools in the province were suspended.

Powerful thunderstorms are expected to return later in the week after a brief respite, marking an unusually early wet spell that is more typical in the months of May and June.

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