‘Earth is a planet in upheaval’: World Meteorological Organization issues dire climate warning


“Truly uncharted territory”

2016’s record-warming continues in 2017 with Jan-Feb 2017 the second hottest on record after 2016. 

Humanity is “now in truly uncharted territory,” thanks to CO2-driven climate change, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warnedTuesday.

The WMO’s annual “State of the Global Climate in 2016” paints a dire picture for humanity: record CO2 levels, record warming, record drop in both Arctic and Antarctic sea ice, and record high sea levels. Severe droughts “brought food insecurity to millions in southern and eastern Africa and Central America.”

NOAA reported this month that the record-smashing warming of 2016 continued into 2017. In this country, “there were 11,743 daily warm temperature records broken or tied” in February alone. Globally, it was the second hottest February and January-February on record after 2016.

“Earth is a planet in upheaval due to human-caused changes in the atmosphere,” as University of Arizona glaciologist Jeffrey Kargel explainedto the UK Guardian. “In general, drastically changing conditions do not help civilization, which thrives on stability.”

Climatologist Sir Robert Watson slammed the “Trump administration and senior Republicans in Congress [who] continue to bury their heads in the sand.” The former head of the UN’s climate science panel said our children and grandchildren will some day marvel at such deniers “and ask how they could have sacrificed the planet for the sake of cheap fossil fuel energy, when the cost of inaction exceeds the cost of a transition to a low-carbon economy.”

Source:thinkprogress.org

El Niño Strengthening, Will Be among Biggest on Record, WMO Says.


The El Niño weather pattern, a phenomenon associated with extreme droughts, storms and floods, is expected to strengthen before the end of the year and become one of the strongest on record, the U.N. weather agency said on Monday.

illustration of El Nino

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said this El Niño was already “strong and mature” and the biggest in more than 15 years.

The phenomenon is driven by warm surface water in the eastern Pacific Ocean, and this time three-month averages will peak at more than 2 degrees Celsius above normal, putting this El Niño in the same league as those seen in 1972-73, 1982-83 and 1997-98, the WMO said.

“Right now we say we think it’s really going to be one of the three strongest ones, it may be one of the two, that we don’t know yet. But definitely it’s already a very strong one,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud told a news conference.

He said the world was better prepared for this El Niño than before, and the worst-affected countries were planning for the impact on agriculture, fisheries, water and health, and implementing disaster management campaigns to save lives and minimise economic damage.

“However, this event is playing out in uncharted territory. Our planet has altered dramatically because of climate change, the general trend towards a warmer global ocean, the loss of Arctic sea ice and of over a million sq km of summer snow cover in the northern hemisphere,” Jarraud said.

Heatwaves would be hotter and more frequent and more places would be at risk of flooding, Jarraud said, while the most severe storms — equivalent to category 4 and 5 hurricanes — would occur more often.

In addition, rising sea levels mean tsunamis and storm surges will have greater reach and inflict more damage when they hit land, Jarraud said.

El Niño conditions normally reach maximum strength between October and January, then persist through much of the first quarter.

“We anticipate that the El Niño will peak over the next few months and will progressively — when we go towards May, June, July, when we go to the second quarter of next year — will go more towards neutral conditions,” Jarraud said.

Smartphones could provide weather data in poor nations.


Smartphones can now be used to collect weatherdata such as air temperatures through WeatherSignal, a crowdsourcing app developed by UK start-up OpenSignal.

This helps crowdsource real-time weather forecasts and could one day help collect climate data in areas without weather stations, its developers say.

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Once installed, the app automatically collects data and periodically uploads them to a server.

The app’s ability to record air temperature is based upon the discovery that the temperature of a smartphone battery correlates closely to the surrounding air temperature, published in Geophysical Research Letters this month (13 August).

Lithium ion batteries have temperature sensors to prevent damage caused by attempts to charge them when the battery is too hot,” the paper says.

But these sensors do not provide a direct air temperature measurement — due to heat being emitted by both the smartphone and its user. So the researchers used a model that estimates the outside temperature based on smartphone readings.

The fact that battery temperature correlates with ambient air temperature was discovered by accident, James Robinson, one of the authors of the paper and co-founder of OpenSignal, tells SciDev.Net.

“When data from many phones are joined together, they become even more powerful and will allow us to make weather predictions of unprecedented detail.”

James Robinson

The team was researching energy consumption in relation to poor mobile network signal, a condition that is known to reduce battery performance.

“We started playing with the data and decided to look at average battery temperature versus historic weather temperature, and we found a really strong correlation,” says Robinson.

The data came from eight major cities around the world covering a wide range of climate zones, and including Buenos Aires, Mexico City and São Paulo.

“Many smartphones have a variety of sensors,” says Robinson. “When data from many phones are joined together, they become even more powerful and will allow us to make weather predictions of unprecedented detail.

Developing countries often invest fewer resources in collecting weather data.

“As smartphones become more popular in developing countries, WeatherSignal could provide a valuable source of weather data — either supplementing existing sources or as the only source for some places,” he says.

“We’re open to working with as many people as possible,” Robinson says. “For instance, we plan on making historic data available to academics and organisations such as the World Meteorological Organization.”

Enzo Campetella, an Argentina-based meteorologist and WeatherSignal user, tells SciDev.Net that although the app has potential, “there are still several stages to accomplish” before it is completely reliable for use in meteorology.

“In meteorology, it is essential that data are comparable, so it is essential that they are collected following the same rules or standards,” he says.

And, in countries where weather stations are scarce, “the possibility of comparing data is much lower”, he explains.

The WeatherSignal team admit that “many additional high-quality urban observations [are] needed to refine the air temperature estimates from smartphones and to expand their possibilities”.

Having more data is also crucial, so they are also working to get as many people as possible using the app.

Source: http://www.scidev.net