Climate change headlines and global warming news for January 2009
January 31 - California faces third year of drought
At 61% of the average, the Sierra Nevada snowpack remains well below normal, signalling the possibility of the third consecutive year of drought in California and with it, rationing of water in the state is expected this summer.
January 30 - Southern Australia scorched by heatwave
South Australian states are currently in the grips of a major heatwave
responsible for blackouts and rail lines buckling. The Bureau of
Meteorology has forecast six days of 40+ Celsius (105 Fahrenheit) and if
it should eventuate, will equal the most severe heatwave in a century. Read
January 28 - Global warming irreversible in short
A team of US environmental researchers has found that global temperatures could remain elevated for 1,000 years, even if carbon dioxide emissions from human activity were suddenly halted.
January 26 - Waste heat: the other global warming
A contributor to global warming not often discussed is waste heat, the
heat generated from our machinery, electronics and transport. This not
only comes from burning dirty fossil fuels such as coal and oil, but also
some cleaner power sources like nuclear and geothermal energy. Read
January 25 - Computing's carbon footprint
In the USA, the power consumed by data centres bypassed the demand of the nation's TV sets three years ago. In Australia, 40 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions are generated by information and communication technology. On a global scale Globally, data centers generate approximately the same volume of emissions as the aviation industry.
January 24 - Forest mortality rates double.
A team of 11 scientists has found The mortality rate of the most stable and robust forests in western North America has doubled during the past few decades. As temperature and death rates increase, these forests will store decreasing amounts of carbon, further accelerating climate change.
January 23 - Study finds seasons beginning earlier
Researchers have found that the hottest day of the year in temperate areas
have shifted forward by just under two days, and so has the coldest day of
the year. The effect can be seen in both the northern and southern
hemispheres. The discovery is unsettling as none of the climate change
computer models predicted it and the consequences are unknown. Read
January 20 - Wilkins ice shelf in death throes
Measuring thousands of square kilometers, the Wilkins ice shelf in the
Antarctic Peninsula is currently held together by a 40 km strip of ice that has eroded to just 500 meters wide at its narrowest.
In 1950, the strip was almost 100 km wide. Read
January 19 - Hansen warns Obama on climate change
As excitement grows in the USA for the formal commencement of Barack
Obama's presidency; James Hansen has warned that the USA only has 4 years
left to act decisively on climate change as any room for manoeuvring was
frittered away during the Bush presidency. Read
January 17 - Bush's environmental legacy
Called by many as the worst US President ever, George Bush's approach to
the environment during his time in power undid decades if not a century of
progress on the environment according to a spokesman for the Sierra Club. Read
January 16 - Chu softens stance on coal
After previously describing coal as his "worst nightmare", Barack Obama's new energy chief, Steven
Chu said he would encourage the development of highly controversial clean coal technologies, referring to coal as a "great national resource".
Coal fired power generation makes up around half of US electricity supply
and is a a major source of carbon dioxide emissions. Read
January 15 - California bakes - in winter
Temperatures skyrocketed to 90 degrees in parts of California early this week and with no rain forecast, the state, which was already facing water shortages, may experience one of its driest Januarys ever.
January 14 - Google strikes back on search emission
Earlier this week, a physicist claimed a Google search generates 7 grams
of carbon dioxide (CO2), around half as much CO2 as boiling a kettle for a
cup of tea. Google has refuted this, stating that a search query generates
the equivalent of just 0.2 grams of CO2. Read
January 12 - Ocean fertilization experiment defies
A ship loaded with iron sulphate left Cape Tow harbour recently; its mission - to to dump it deep in the Southern Ocean for a carbon sequestration research experiment conducted by German and Indian scientists. The iron sulphate is likely to trigger a massive algal bloom big enough to be seen from outer space. The experiment is being carried out in defiance of the UN ban on ocean fertilization.
January 10 - Food production under serious threat
According to a new report by US researchers, global warming is likely to put stress on food production and could cause serious food shortages for half the world's population. The report states a greater than a 90 percent probability that by the end of this
century, growing-season low temperatures in the tropics and subtropics will be higher than the highest current temperatures.
January 9 - Canada's forests now pumping carbon
Scientists have concluded that the 1.2 million square miles of forests in
Canada have become so damaged by increased temperatures, insect infestations and
regular fires that they now pump out more carbon dioxide than they take in.
January 7 - Britain begins incandescent bulb ban
In an effort to curb energy consumption and its consequent emissions, UK retailers
have stopped stocking 150 watt bulbs will cease 100 watt and 75 watt bulbs.
By 2010 60 watt bulbs will join the phase out and all incandescent bulbs will be banned by 2012.
January 6 - NASA recommends targeting soot
Black carbon in soot, , created through inefficient burning of fossil fuel and vegetation, is the second-largest cause of global warming after carbon dioxide. According to NASA scientists, governments could slow global warming dramatically by slashing soot emissions; a much easier prospect than decreasing CO2 emissions in the short term.
January 5 - 2 trillion ton ice melt
According to data from NASA satellite data, over 2 trillion tons of land ice in Greenland, Antarctica and Alaska have melted since 2003. Scientists say parts of the Arctic north of Alaska were 9 to 10 degrees warmer last fall, evidence of what researchers call the Arctic amplification effect.
January 3 - Coral growth decline on Great Barrier
A report from The Australian Institute of Marine Science has stated coral growth in the Great Barrier Reef has fallen to the slowest rate in more than 400 years. Ocean absorption of atmospheric carbon, which is turning the sea acidic, and rising temperatures are thought to be the culprit.
January 2 - Do aircraft condensation trails affect
When all commercial air traffic in the United States was grounded after the attacks of 11 September 2001, the average daily temperature range in the United States rose, bypassing the three-day periods before and after by an average of 1.8 °C.
January 1 - Carbon dioxide eating cement?
While the cement industry is usually better known as being a culprit for
emitting large volumes of carbon dioxide, even more than the airline
industry, a new type of cement is offering some hope for the sector as it
actually absorbs CO2. Read
January 1 - China commits to Beijing car CO2
China is now offering subsidies to promote the use of low-emission
vehicles in Beijing, with the goal of phasing out heavy polluting ones.
"Yellow-label" vehicles, the heavy polluters, account for only
10% of autos in Beijing, but generate half of the total vehicle
emissions. As of today, yellow label vehicles will also be prohibited from
certain areas of Beijing indefinitely. Read
January 1 - 2009 to be the hottest year
Despite the influence of a La Nina event during 2008 that provided
some respite and a continuation of a cooling off of a large section of
the Pacific Ocean this year, British scientist believe the average
global temperature for 2009 is expected to be more than 0.4 degrees Celsius
above the long-term average. Read
January 1 - Rising sea levels claiming Malibu beach
Malibu's famous Broad Beach is disappearing at an alarming rate. Every
inch of sea-level rise claims an average of 50 inches of land in the area
and the sea has risen about eight inches in the last century. That sea
level rise rate is expected to accelerate with global warming. Read