Iceland commemorates first glacier lost to climate change

(This article is courtesy of the Hindustan Times of India)

 

Iceland commemorates first glacier lost to climate change

Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir, Environment Minister Gudmundur Ingi Gudbrandsson, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson are also due to attend the event.

WORLD Updated: Aug 18, 2019 09:47 IST

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Reykjavik
This combination of Sept. 14, 1986, left, and Aug. 1, 2019 photos provided by NASA shows the shrinking of the Okjokull glacier on the Ok volcano in west-central Iceland.
This combination of Sept. 14, 1986, left, and Aug. 1, 2019 photos provided by NASA shows the shrinking of the Okjokull glacier on the Ok volcano in west-central Iceland.(AP)

Iceland on Sunday honors the passing of Okjokull, its first glacier lost to climate change, as scientists warn that some 400 others on the subarctic island risk the same fate.

A bronze plaque will be unveiled in a ceremony starting around 1400 GMT to mark Okjokull — which translates to “Ok glacier” — in the west of Iceland, in the presence of local researchers and their peers at Rice University in the United States, who initiated the project.

Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir, Environment Minister Gudmundur Ingi Gudbrandsson, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson are also due to attend the event.

“This will be the first monument to a glacier lost to climate change anywhere in the world,” Cymene Howe, associate professor of anthropology at Rice University, said in July.

The plaque bears the inscription “A letter to the future,” and is intended to raise awareness about the decline of glaciers and the effects of climate change.

“In the next 200 years all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it,” the plaque reads.

It is also labelled “415 ppm CO2,” referring to the record level of carbon dioxide measured in the atmosphere last May.

“Memorials everywhere stand for either human accomplishments, like the deeds of historic figures, or the losses and deaths we recognise as important,” researcher Howe said.

“By memorializing a fallen glacier, we want to emphasize what is being lost — or dying — the world over, and also draw attention to the fact that this is something that humans have ‘accomplished’, although it is not something we should be proud of.”

Howe noted that the conversation about climate change can be abstract, with many dire statistics and sophisticated scientific models that can feel incomprehensible.

“Perhaps a monument to a lost glacier is a better way to fully grasp what we now face,” she said, highlighting “the power of symbols and ceremony to provoke feelings”.

Iceland loses about 11 billion tonnes of ice per year, and scientists fear all of the island country’s 400-plus glaciers will be gone by 2200, according to Howe and her Rice University colleague Dominic Boyer.

– Stripped in 2014 –

Glaciologists stripped Okjokull of its glacier status in 2014, a first for Iceland.

In 1890, the glacier ice covered 16 square kilometres (6.2 square miles) but by 2012, it measured just 0.7 square kilometres, according to a report from the University of Iceland from 2017.

In 2014, “we made the decision that this was no longer a living glacier, it was only dead ice, it was not moving,” Oddur Sigurdsson, a glaciologist with the Icelandic Meteorological Office, told AFP.

To have the status of a glacier, the mass of ice and snow must be thick enough to move by its own weight. For that to happen the mass must be approximately 40 to 50 meters (130 to 165 feet) thick, he said.

According to a study published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)in April, nearly half of the world’s heritage sites could lose their glaciers by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate.

Sigurdsson said he feared “that nothing can be done to stop it.”

“The inertia of the climate system is such that, even if we could stop introducing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere right now, it will keep on warming for century and a half or two centuries before it reaches equilibrium.”

Iceland’s Vatnajokull National Park, which was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in early July, is home to, and named after, the largest ice cap in Europe.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.)

First Published: Aug 18, 2019 09:12 IST

China: Death toll rises to 22 as Typhoon Lekima sweeps through east China

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWSPAPER ‘SHINE’)

 

Death toll rises to 22 as Typhoon Lekima sweeps through east China

Xinhua
Death toll rises to 22 as Typhoon Lekima sweeps through east China

Xinhua

Rescuers are seen at the typhoon damaged area in Shanzao Village of Yantan Town in Yongjia County, east China’s Zhejiang Province, August 10, 2019.

The death toll has risen to 22 due to a typhoon-triggered barrier lake burst in eastern China’s Zhejiang Province, said local authorities.

As of 8pm Saturday, 10 people were still missing, said a source with the publicity department of Yongjia County.

With a maximum wind force of 187 km/h, Typhoon Lekima, the ninth of the year, made landfall at about 1:45 am Saturday in Wenling City, Zhejiang, with Yongjia County the worst hit.

Typhoon Lekima brought heavy rainstorms in Yongjia County and caused a landslide that blocked rivers, raising the water level to a maximum of 10 m within 10 minutes and trapping 120 villagers.

More than 420 armed police and firefighters were dispatched to the scene to help with the rescue work.

Communication service has been restored, and water and electricity supply and road repair are underway.

Typhoon Lekima is expected to move at about 15 km per hour northward and westward with abatement of wind, according to the weather forecast.

China: Typhoon Lekima lashes Shanghai

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWSPAPER ‘SHINE’)

 

Typhoon Lekima lashes Shanghai

Shine
Typhoon Lekima lashes Shanghai

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

People walk in Lujiazui in the Pudong New Area on Saturday.

Typhoon Lekima lashes Shanghai

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

The Shanghai Meteorological Bureau upgraded the yellow rainstorm alert to orange at 2:20 pm on Saturday, the second highest on China’s four color-coded weather-warning system.

Under the influence of typhoon Lekima, the maximum rainfall in the city’s downtown, Jiading, Minhang, Fengxian districts and the Pudong New Area was expected to reach 60 to 80 millimeters per hour in the next six hours, the bureau warned.

The bureau issued a yellow alert for thunder and lightning on 1:50 pm on Saturday.

In China’s color-coded weather-warning system, red represents the most severe, followed by orange, yellow and blue.

Rainstorms and gales with a level of 9 to 11 are lashing the city’s central and southern areas under the influence of Lekima, according to the bureau.

Typhoon Lekima lashes Shanghai

Metro Line 5 was suspended from 3:30pm, said Shanghai Metro. Sections of Line 9 between Zhongchun Road station and Songjiang New Town station also stopped  about the same time.

With outdoor tourist attractions and parks such as Shanghai Disney Resort and Shanghai Wild Animal Park closing on Saturday, some indoor venues witnessed big crowds.

The Shanghai Science and Technology Museum put a cap on the number of visitors from 10:54 am, and the number of its visitors reached 13,244 at 11:34 am, approaching its maximum capacity of 13,500.

The Shanghai Natural History Museum was also crowded on Saturday. The number of visitors hit 4,149 at the same time, compared with its capacity of 5,900.

The center of typhoon Lekima was inside Zhuji, Shaoxing City, in neighboring Zhejiang Province, at 1pm. It has weakened to a strong tropical storm with a maximum gale force of 10, according to the National Meteorological Center.

It is moving north at 15 kilometers per hour, according to the center.

Lekima will whistle past the Taihu Lake at the same latitude with Shanghai on Saturday night, according to the Shanghai bureau.

Typhoon Lekima lashes Shanghai

Stranded passengers in Hongqiao Railway Station on Saturday.

Typhoon Lekima lashes Shanghai

Dong Jun / SHINE

Stranded passengers in Hongqiao International Airport on Saturday.

Typhoon Lekima lashes Shanghai

Dong Jun / SHINE
Typhoon Lekima lashes Shanghai

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

People walk difficultly on the Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall on Saturday afternoon.

China: City prepares for super typhoon

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

City prepares for super typhoon

City prepares for super typhoon

Imaginechina

Thick clouds hover above the high-rises in Shanghai on Thursday.

A blue typhoon alert was issued by Shanghai Meteorological Bureau at 5pm on Thursday.

Lekima, the ninth typhoon this year and currently a super typhoon, is approaching China’s east coast.

The weather authority expects it to make landfall in Zhejiang Province on Saturday morning but didn’t rule out the possibility the typhoon would continue moving north over the sea.

From Friday night to Sunday morning, Shanghai will be hit by heavy rain. Level-10 gales, strong enough to uproot trees, may impact the downtown area, while in coastal areas gales will reach level 11.

The city’s flood prevention authority urged all districts and government bodies to take precautions after the blue alert was triggered.

In China’s color-coded weather warning system, red represented the most severe weather, followed by orange, yellow and blue.

The city government has asked local authorities to launch emergency responses and be prepared for the weather to prevent extreme incidents and minimize losses.

The government also warned related departments to intensify real-time monitoring of weather changes and issue alerts promptly by means of the Internet and text messaging.

Residents have been asked to reduce outdoor activities and ensure possessions kept outdoors are protected.

Workers and tourists in coastal areas, such as the Yangshan Deep-Water Port, Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal and tidal-flat areas near the shore, will be evacuated if the weather becomes extreme.

Also, about 16,000 people will be evacuated from suburban Jinshan District, which has prepared 50 shelter sites.

All boats are urged to dock and construction sites, outdoor activities and entertainment facilities should close down.

Measures will be taken to prevent downtown areas and farmland from being deluged. The city has prepared pumps and emergency teams to drain water at flood points.

The city government also urged districts to thoroughly inspect high-rise objects, such as outdoor air-conditioner units, billboards, light boxes and the curtain walls of high-rise buildings.

Stricter management will be imposed for Metro stations, commercial streets, construction sites, tourist attractions, airports, harbors, ports and bus stations. Measures will be taken to ensure supply of water, electricity and gas.

City prepares for super typhoon

Ti Gong

Boats have been urged to dock as super typhoon Lekima approaches the city.

City prepares for super typhoon

Ti Gong

Workers inspect anti-flood facilities on Thursday to prepare for the landing of super typhoon Lekima.

China Eastern and Shanghai Airlines have canceled 24 flights to and from Taiwan Island today. Passengers can travel on new dates or apply for a refund, the Shanghai-based carrier said.

Air China has canceled 11 flights today to and from Shanghai, Taipei, Dalian in the northeast Liaoning Province, Chengdu in the southwest Sichuan Province as well as Wenzhou in neighboring Zhejiang Province.

Shanghai’s two major airports have taken precautions.

Shanghai Airport Authority said it had stabilized rooftop facilities, hanging signs, glass curtain-walls, advertisement boards and outdoor facilities. Airlines have been asked to ensure the safety of berthing aircraft during a typhoon.

Sewage and rainwater pipes at Hongqiao airport, which is more vulnerable to rainstorms and typhoons, have been dredged to prevent flooding.

Waterways around the airport have also been lowered to ensure water on the runways can be drained immediately.

Dredging and cleaning machines have been prepared at both airports to ensure sewage ditches remain unblocked. They have cleaned up 15,600 cubic meters of sludge ahead of the rainy season, the authority said.

Flight information will be published on the airport authority’s social network platforms and at http://www.shanghaiairport.com.

Passengers are advised to check flight information with airlines.

The Yangshan Deep-Water Port is expected to encounter its strongest typhoon since 2014 with gales reaching level 14, the Shanghai Maritime Safety Administration said. It has sent alerts to all boats at the port and asked them to return.

As of 3pm, all the passenger boats had returned to their docks, while sewage ships, fuel boats and other smaller vessels have been evacuating to safe places.

Eleven water drainage emergency teams with the city’s Chengtou Group, the major investor, developer and operator of infrastructure facilities, are on standby.

Its reservoirs, water supply plants and waste water treatment sites have had inspections of drainage, pumps, dams and flood walls. Water gates have been shut down to prevent factories from being flooded during the typhoon and rainstorm.

City prepares for super typhoon

Ti Gong

City urban management officials watch as workers ensure an outdoor billboard on Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall remains stable.

Multiple high-speed train operations in the Yangtze River Delta region will be suspended on Saturday and Sunday due to the possible impact of Lekima, said China Railway Shanghai Group.

The Jinshan express railway will be suspended from 4pm on Saturday. After 8pm, all trains between Shanghai and Hangzhou in neighbouring Zhejiang Province, including high-speed trains and green trains, will be suspended.

Meanwhile, sales of tickets for trains going to Suzhou, Hangzhou and Ningbo on Sunday have stopped, the group said.

Those who have already bought tickets for suspended trains can get a full refund from the 12306 website or app.

As the typhoon is expected to bring rainstorms and gales to the city over the weekend, the railway group will launch an  emergency response from midnight on Friday. Extra manpower will be dispatched to inspect the tracks, power systems and stations to ensure passenger safety.

Urban management and law enforcement officials across the city inspected outdoors advertising facilities with potential safety hazards on Thursday as a precaution.

Officials with the Pudong New Area Urban Management and Law Enforcement Bureau conducted an inspection of Disney Town and Shendi Rd E. covering structure facades, outdoors shop signs and billboards, advertising facilities, air-conditioning and traffic signage to eliminate potential safety hazards.

At the west traffic hub of the Shanghai International Tourism Resort, large advertisement boards and welding points were checked.

Officials also checked outdoor facilities at the Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall.

7 Up-and-Coming Wine Regions

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

7 Up-and-Coming Wine Regions

When people think of high-end wine producers, regions such as Napa Valley, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Piedmont are the powerhouses that usually make the list. However, if you want to try something new, without significantly sacrificing on quality, consider sourcing wines from one of these seven up-and-coming wine regions.

Anderson Valley, California, U.S.A.

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Given its remote location several hours north of San Francisco, the Anderson Valley doesn’t see as many vineyard hoppers as Napa and Sonoma. That doesn’t mean the wines aren’t worth it, though. The cool climate has shown tremendous success with both pinot noir and chardonnay grapes, perfect as well for producing French-style sparkling wines. Today, Anderson Valley produces some of the best sparkling wines in the country.

Rias Baixas, Spain

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Rias Baixas is located along the Galician coast in Spain. There are a number of small inlets, called rias, where you’ll find nutrient-rich waters. The water plays a big role in making Rias Baixas wine so delicious. One wine variety that has shown significant success is albariño, a white wine with a nice blend of minerality and acidity.

Finger Lakes, New York, U.S.A.

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New York is one of the largest wine producers in the country, thanks in part to the Finger Lakes region that is producing some phenomenal cool-climate wines, especially rieslings. There are more than 200 brands of rieslings produced in the Finger Lakes region alone. Impressive for a wine region that only really established itself in the early 1980s.

Kakheti, Georgia

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The country of Georgia has been producing wines since at least 6,000 B.C., based on archaeological excavations that uncovered qvevri, a traditional winemaking vessel that allowed ancient winemakers to ferment wine underground. Today, wines produced in this mountainous region of Georgia utilize both traditional and modern techniques. UNESCO has since recognized the importance of the qvevri winemaking tradition, adding it to UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Beqaa Valley, Lebanon

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Lebanon is another place where winemaking traditions date back quite a ways. Even in modern times, Lebanese wineries have faced their share of challenges, including Château Musar, which still managed to produce wine throughout the horrific civil war that tore Lebanon apart between 1975 and 1990. When the war ended, there were only around five wineries left in Lebanon. By 2014, that number had jumped to almost 50. While French grapes primarily dominate here, there are some local Lebanese wine grapes like merwah and obaideh present.

Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico

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When most people think about Mexico and drinks, they probably picture tequila, mezcal and beer, not wine. Mexico is bucking the stereotypes and demonstrating that it has areas that are capable of producing award-winning wines as well. The mountainous terrain helps cool the hot summer days, allowing the grapes to flourish.

Texas Hill Country, Texas, U.S.A.

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The hot and dry climate of Texas is not the ideal condition you’d think of for an up-and-coming wine region, but Texas Hill Country is producing some pretty incredible wines, especially big reds. The climate is working well for varietals like tempranillo, syrah and tannat.

3 Desert Destinations to Relax In

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

3 Desert Destinations to Relax In

Deserts are an excellent place to take some time for yourself. Sparsely inhabited spaces, breathtaking sights, and warm climates will all help you unwind. Here are three desert destinations where you can relax.

Joshua Tree, California

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This quirky town is located a couple of hours outside of Los Angeles and is a high-desert refuge for artists and free thinkers. It is also the entry point to Joshua Tree National Park. While many desert destinations are defined by their general emptiness, Joshua Tree National Park is celebrated for the great abundance of interesting things.

The park gets its name from the trees that are found almost everywhere. Joshua trees appear to have come to life from the illustrations of a Dr. Seuss book. The ubiquity of the trees and the many interestingly shaped boulders and other natural rock structures give the park an otherworldly appeal.

Joshua Tree is also a haven for rock climbing, if your idea of relaxing involves climbing to the top of a boulder or a cliff face. In addition, extensive trail systems let you wander the park and see the unique ecosystem where the Colorado and Mojave deserts meet. There are also multiple campsites where you can sleep under the stars and enjoy the eerie landscape in the dark.

Sedona, Arizona

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If you prefer your desert oasis to have a bit more infrastructure, head to Sedona. This town, just 30 miles south of Flagstaff, is known for the striking red sandstone rock formations that surround it. Sedona is also at the center of hundreds of miles of trails for use by runners, bikers, and hikers.

Sedona first came to prominence as the center of the Sedona spiritual vortexes, or natural lines of electromagnetic energy. While the Sedona spiritual vortexes may not be for everyone, learning about the history of the phenomenon can be a fun, different way to relax on your trip.

Fine dining and vegan options can be found in town alongside luxurious accommodations. Sedona’s deep desert location can make it a tough sell during the summer months, when temperatures are regularly in the 90s. However, it is an excellent fall destination, when temperatures drop to a much more comfortable level.

Moab, Utah

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The small town of Moab may not have the same luxuries that Sedona offers, but the desert surroundings more than make up for this. The biggest draws are the nearby Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park.

Arches National Park is to the north of Moab and is adjacent to the town. Here you will find over 2,000 natural stone archways formed over centuries of erosion. About five miles south of Moab is Canyonlands National Park, a desert destination divided into four distinct areas by the intersection of the Green River and the Colorado River. The Island in the Sky Mesa allows for panoramic views of the surrounding desert. The Needles section of the park will let you visit impressive sandstone spires.

Moab doesn’t deliver relaxing desert activities only from inside the nearby parks, however. Within proximity of the city, you will also find spots where you can mountain bike, raft, and camp. No matter how you prefer to relax in the desert, you will find a way to do so in Moab.

5 Cities Most at Risk With Rising Sea Levels

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 Cities Most at Risk With Rising Sea Levels

There are 570 coastal cities that could be impacted by rising sea levels by the 2050’s, affecting some 800 million people, according to C40 Cities. Cities along the Atlantic coast in the U.S. and various parts of Asia are under the greatest threat. Here’s a look at the cities most at risk if sea levels rise significantly.

Miami, Florida, U.S.A.

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Located on the southeastern tip of Florida, this low-lying city will be completely inundated with flood waters if sea levels rise as some predict. With a population of over 2.7 million, the entire Miami-Dade county is only an average of six feet above sea level, making it an easy target for flooding.

The city is trying to address the problem with $500 million worth of infrastructure changes and the installation of pumps and floodgates, according to NPR.

Alexandria, Egypt

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Located on the Mediterranean coast of Egypt, the city of Alexandria is already feeling the effects of climate change. If sea levels continue to rise at the current rate, an estimated 3 million people would be directly affected, and millions more would eventually be displaced, according to The Guardian.

The drastic impact from rising sea levels is worsened by the Nile, the longest river in the world, which empties into the Mediterranean Sea near Alexandria. The low-lying river delta in this area continues to flood, causing the loss of much-needed crops in this heavily populated city, according to NPR. Climate change is also causing hotter temperatures and beach erosion. This is hampering tourism in the area, which is a very important aspect of the city’s economic livelihood, according to NPR. Making matters worse, the average elevation of the area is only 16 feet above sea level.

Osaka, Japan

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This large port city on the Japanese island of Honshu has been aware of the threat of climate change for a while. There has been massive coastal flooding in areas of the city, including its airport. According to The Guardian, an estimated 5 million people will be directly impacted by the rising sea levels, and an additional 6 million could be displaced in the city’s surrounding region.

Like other major coastal cities, Osaka has been updating its infrastructure in an attempt to combat the rising waters. Unfortunately, in a study by the Institute for Global Change Adaptation Science in Japan, it was found that the current designs for these walls may be insufficient against a prospective higher sea level.

Hong Kong, China

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The fate of this global financial hub depends on how high temperatures rise. A rise of just 2 degrees Celsius puts Hong Kong’s entire population of 7.4 million people at risk, along with many more in the surrounding coastal areas, according to The Guardian. A warm-up of more than 2 degrees could be catastrophic. The average elevation of Hong Kong varies, but it is typically only about 4 feet above sea level, worsening the situation.

Shanghai, China

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All of China’s coastal cities are at risk, according to GBTIMES. Its largest city, Shanghai, with a population of 24.2 million, is unfortunately at the forefront. Scientists have been warning the city for many years that it is already a major flood risk due to its dense population on the low-lying coast and its abundance of rivers, canals and other waterways, according to The New York Times.

According to The Guardian, 17.5 million people will be affected if sea levels rise to the current expectation. At just 13 feet above sea level, the city has been installing massive flood prevention walls in an attempt to prevent future problems. Only time will tell if these efforts help.

Israel: From Europe to the Arctic, temperature records tumble in 2019

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

From Europe to the Arctic, temperature records tumble in 2019

Planet is getting hotter at a rate unparalleled in two millennia, and atmospheric CO2 levels are at their highest in 3 million years

The sun rises near power lines in Frankfurt, Germany as a heat wave scorches Europe, July 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

The sun rises near power lines in Frankfurt, Germany as a heat wave scorches Europe, July 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

AFP — We may only be just over halfway through it, but 2019 has already seen temperature records smashed from Europe to the Arctic circle and could prove to be one of the hottest years ever recorded.

Numerous studies have shown that heatwaves such as the one that baked northern Europe this week are made more likely by climate change, and as man-made greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, 2019 fits a general warming trend.

This June was the hottest on record, beating out June 2016 — so far the hottest year ever.

The record was breached due to an exceptionally strong European heatwave. The continent’s June temperatures were around two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) hotter than average, according to the EU’s Copernicus climate monitor.

People cool down in the fountains of the Trocadero gardens in Paris July 25, 2019, when a new all-time high temperature of 42.6 degrees Celsius (108.7 F) hit the French capital. (AP Photo/Rafael Yaghobzadeh)

Temperatures were also notably higher than historic averages in South America, the US atmospheric monitor NOAA said.

Europe has endured two exceptionally strong heatwaves in a matter of weeks.

Record highs tumbled across France, with the mercury peaking at 46 C (114.8 F) on June 28 in the southern town of Verargues. The previous record, set back in 2003, was 44.1 C (111.4 F).

The second wave of heat this week saw Paris’s all-time high pulverized: Meteo-France measured 42.6 C (108.7 F)  in the French capital on Thursday — more than 2 C (3.6 F) hotter than the previous high, set more than 70 years ago.

An elderly woman covers her face from the hot sun with a newspaper, in Milan, Italy, Thursday, July 25, 2019. Parts of Europe will likely see record-high temperatures on Thursday as much of the continent is trapped in a heat wave, the second in two months. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands all also registered all-time high temperatures.

The World Weather Attribution service this month said June’s heatwave was made between 5 and 100 times more likely by man-made climate change.

“Since 2015, we’ve seen extreme heatwaves every year in Europe,” said Robert Vautard, a climatologist at France’s Laboratory of Climate and Environment Sciences.

The first half of 2019 also saw intense heatwaves in Australia, India, Pakistan and parts of the Middle East, according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

In mid-July, for the first time on record, thermometers read 21 C (69.8 F) in Alert, a Canadian outpost that is the most northern settlement on Earth, around 900 kilometers from the North Pole.

That beat the previous record set in 1956, but the number of days where temperatures reach 19-20 C (66.2 – 68 F) have shown a marked increase since 2012.

People enjoy the hot summer weather at the river Isar in Munich, Germany, July 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

The last four years are the hottest on record.

Last year was fourth on the list, with an average surface temperature of 1 C  (1.8 F) above pre-industrial levels.

2016 still holds the crown as the hottest year in human history — a full 1.2 C (2.2 F) above average, aided by a powerful El Nino warming event.

According to the NOAA, the period of January-June 2019 was the second hottest ever measured, hotter even than the same period in 2016.

The WMO estimates 2019 will be among the top five hottest years, and that 2015-2019 will be the hottest five year period ever recorded.

Three papers released this week showed that Earth’s temperature was currently warming at a rate and uniformity unparalleled in the past 2,000 years.

Atmospheric CO2 levels are currently around 415 parts per million — the highest concentration in three million years.

READ MORE:

6 of the Most Desolate Places on Earth

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

6 of the Most Desolate Places on Earth

From frozen tundras to alpine highlands, some of the most remote places in the world are also the most inhospitable. But from ancient cultures to scientific researchers, there are humans who live in these isolated and barren places. Between eating frozen horse blood and dodging snapping crocodiles, it takes a lot to survive in these harsh environments. Read on to discover six of the most desolate places on the planet.

Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland

Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland

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Greenland’s most isolated town has a mere 453 residents, thanks, in part, to its remote location and harsh winters. Located between Northeast Greenland National Park and the glaciers and fjords of Scoresby Sound, the town is covered in ice and snow for at least nine months out of the year. Although the terrain is often frozen, the small settlement’s red, green and blue houses brighten the otherwise bleak landscape. Outside of human residents, the area is home to walruses, polar bears, narwhals and reindeer. Planning a trip to Ittoqqortoormiit? Visiting in spring is advised, as the bitter winter conditions are severe. To arrive, one must take three flights on small planes starting from Reykjavik, Iceland, before boarding a helicopter towards the final destination.

Utqiagvik, Alaska

Utqiagvik, Alaska

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The northernmost town in the United States, Utqiagvik is not connected by a road to the rest of Alaska. Instead, this isolated settlement is only accessible by plane or boat. Transportation within the town is also unique — many locals prefer to use dog sleds over snowmobiles, according to Business Insider, due to the difficulty of running a vehicle in the extreme winter temperatures. Perhaps the most unsettling part of life is Utqiagvik is the darkness. The town is so close to the Arctic Circle that residents must endure two months of darkness during the winter. This past year, the sun set on November 18, 2018, and did not rise again until January 23, 2019. Despite the bleak landscape and dark days, Utqiagvik has 4,428 residents who call the seaside city home.

Changtang Plateau, Tibet

Changtang Plateau, Tibet

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Nicknamed the “Roof of the World,” Changtang is a high altitude plateau that stretches nearly 1,000 miles, from Ladakh, India, to northwestern Tibet. The only known residents of these vast and empty highlands are the Changpa, a semi-nomadic pastoral tribe who rely on their herds of goats, sheep and yaks to survive. Life on the Changtang Plateau is harsh, with unpredictable storms during the warmer months and Arctic-like temperatures during the winter. Much of the plateau is protected by The Changtang Wildlife Sanctuary, an organization that endeavors to preserve the wild landscape and the species who call it home.

Kimberley Coast, Australia

Kimberley Coast, Australia

Credit: Janelle Lugge/Shutterstock

The northernmost section of Western Australia is called Kimberley, a region known for its vast and rugged landscape. Largely uninhabited and treacherous to most humans, Kimberley’s coastline and the surrounding outback is as unforgiving as they come. In 1932, two German pilots crash landed on this barren landscape and would have perished had they not been discovered by the local Aboriginal people. In 2017, adventurer Mike Atkinson recreated the Germans’ plight, putting himself in harm’s way to follow to the same path as the stranded pilots. During his time in the Australian outback, Atkinson managed to survive the lack of food and water, in addition to navigating the dangerous, crocodile-ridden landscape. The last leg of the trip required hiking 40 miles through the bush, all while self-filming the harrowing trek. Luckily, Atkinson is a survival instructor and a wilderness expert — it’s clear that most humans would not be able to live in such a hostile landscape.

Oymyakon, Russia

Oymyakon, Russia

Credit: Tatiana Gasich/Shutterstock

Dubbed “the coldest village on Earth” by The Washington Post, Oymyakon, Russia, is a grim settlement in the Siberian tundra. With only 500 residents calling this frozen outpost home, wintertime in Oymyakon is bleak. The town’s average temperature in the colder months is -58 degrees Fahrenheit. In 1933, Oymyakon suffered from a cold snap that brought the temperature to a mind-numbing -89 degrees Fahrenheit, the coldest temperature recorded outside of Antarctica. For the locals, existing in this frigid land is no easy task. The ground is too cold for plumbing, so townspeople must brave the elements to use outhouses. An average meal likely consists of frozen fish, reindeer meat or cubes of iced horse blood, according to Wired. A mere 217 miles from the Arctic Circle, the darkest days of the year have three hours of sunlight, making this subzero landscape a very lonely place.

McMurdo Station, Antarctica

McMurdo Station, Antarctica

Credit: Greg-Ward/Shutterstock

The least populated continent on Earth, 98% of Antarctica is covered in ice. As a result, not many people are able to live in such an unforgiving climate. Antarctica’s human population belongs to scientists and researchers stationed throughout the continent. One such place is McMurdo Station, a U.S. Antarctic research facility located on Ross Island. While the station itself has a post office, a chapel, two bars and a golf course, the surrounding icy tundra is uninhabitable. And while the “White Continent” may have many visitors in the summer months, winter is cold, bleak and dark. Out of the 1,200 researchers who live at McMurdo Station in the summer, less than a quarter remain for the winter. With notable effects being depression and disorientation from the harsh and desolate landscape, wintering in Antarctica isn’t appealing in the least.

108 degrees in Paris: Europe is shattering heat records this week

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF VOX NEWS)

 

108 degrees in Paris: Europe is shattering heat records this week

Paris reported its highest temperature ever this week as Europe’s second major heat wave of the summer continues.

People in Eindhoven, North Brabant, The Netherlands cool down in a kiddie pool in front of a restaurant during record heat.
Record heat has gripped Europe this week, as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, and Belgium set new all-time temperature highs.
 Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Europe is now baking under its second heat wave this month, but this latest is one for the record books.

On Thursday, Paris set its all-time temperature high, reaching 108.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The United Kingdom’s Met Office reported that London’s Heathrow Airport reached 98.4 degrees, a record for July. Cambridge, England, heat climbed to 100.5 degrees, marking only the second time triple-digit temperatures have been recorded in the United Kingdom.

Several countries also set all-time heat records this week: The Netherlands heated up to 105.3 degrees. Germany reached 106.7. Temperatures in Belgium soared to 103.8.

Greta Thunberg

@GretaThunberg

42,6 °C in Paris. The heat records are not just being broken all over the place… they are being smashed.
New record in Paris by over 2° and in Lille by almost 3° C… https://twitter.com/meteofrance/status/1154401878177996800 

Météo-France

@meteofrance

42,6 °C relevés @paris à 16h32, et la température pourrait encore augmenter #Canicule #vigilancerouge

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The high temperatures have done more than make people sweat; French officials observed that drownings are up 30 percent compared to the same time last year, with at least 60 deaths indirectly attributed to the ongoing heat as more unskilled swimmers sought relief in the water.

At least five deaths in France have directly resulted from the heat. Such fatalities can occur when prolonged exposure to high temperatures prevents the body from cooling off, leading to heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Police in the UK have also recovered bodies of swimmers this week. Health officials in Belgium issued a code red warning for the whole country.

The searing weather has also degraded infrastructure across Europe. Two nuclear reactors at a power plant in France shut down because the water they used for cooling became too hot. The heat forced trains to slow down in the UK due to risks of heat causing rails to expand. The weather may also have contributed to the breakdown of a Eurostar train in Belgium on Wednesday that stranded more than 600 passengers in a sweltering tunnel for two hours. Heat is also threatening iconic landmarks like the 850-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Its roof collapsed in a fire in April, but the cathedral’s chief architect Philippe Villeneuve warned that high temperatures could dry out the church’s fragile masonry and lead to more structural failures.

Cyclists in the ongoing Tour de France have even strapped on ice vests to stay cool.

A cyclist of the Netherlands’ Jumbo-Visma cycling team wears a special plastic bib with several pockets filled with ice due to a heat wave during the Tour de France cycling race  on July 23, 2019.
A cyclist of the Netherlands’ Jumbo-Visma cycling team wears a special plastic bib with several pockets filled with ice due to a heat wave during the Tour de France cycling race on July 23, 2019.
 Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty Images

Europe’s ongoing heat wave is a reminder of just how vulnerable we are to extreme heat, even in wealthy parts of the world that have the resources to cope. And the risks of extreme temperatures are only increasing as populations grow and the climate changes.

Europe’s ordinarily temperate climate makes it more vulnerable to extreme heat

Countries in Europe are vulnerable to extreme heat for several reasons. One is that triple-digit temperatures are unusual across the continent. As a result, people aren’t used to the extreme heat and are unprepared to deal with it by staying hydrated or taking frequent breaks away from high temperatures.

And because super-high temperatures in Europe are so rare, buildings are not designed to cope with it. Air conditioning isn’t common — about 2 percent of German homes are air-conditioned — and most homes and offices are designed to stay warm in European winters rather than passively cool off in scorching summers.

Another factor in Europe’s heat wave is that 72 percent of the population lives in cities and suburbs surrounded by heat-trapping concrete and asphalt, so people are densely concentrated in areas that warm up more than their surroundings.

These heat islands continue to dissipate heat even after the sun sets, so nighttime temperatures stay high. That poses another health risk since it means people have a harder time finding relief from the heat, adding to their cumulative heat exposure. People who already have an underlying condition like high blood pressure stand to suffer the most.

Embedded video

Met Office

@metoffice

After an exceptionally hot day for some, it’s going to be a warm and humid evening with temperatures barely dropping overnight

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History has shown us that heat waves in Europe can be extremely deadly. In 2003, a heat wave almost as intense as the current one killed upward of 70,000 people across the continent, mainly among the elderly in homes that became too hot. Since then, European health officials have taken heat far more seriously, proactively issuing public health alerts and opening public cooling centers during periods of extreme heat. The death tolls of subsequent heat waves have not come anywhere close.

However, the planet is getting hotter, and heat waves will only become longer, more frequent, and more intense. And Europe is already getting a lot of heat. All of Europe’s hottest summers in the past 500 years have been in the last 17 years.

“Such intense and widespread heatwaves carry the signature of man-made climate change,” said Johannes Cullmann, director of World Meteorological Organization’s climate and water department, in a statement on Wednesday. “This is consistent with the scientific finding showing evidence of more frequent, drawn out and intense heat events as greenhouse gas concentrations lead to a rise in global temperatures.”

And because of climate change, evening temperatures have been rising faster than daytime temperatures.

Forecasters now expect rain and thunderstorms in the UK and parts of the continent over the next few days, which should help people cool off. But the future still holds more heat for the region.