In August 2016, the International Geological Congress voted formally to recognise that the world has entered a new geological era, the Anthropocene. The effect of human activity on the planet has now become as significant as that of the comet that wiped out the dinosaurs and ended the Cretaceous era.
Kiwi scientists have helped unlock a 12,000-year-old frozen "time capsule" that could change the way nations tackle climate change.
In a new study just published in major journal Nature drawing on ancient evidence trapped in an Antarctic glacier, scientists suggest industrial emissions of methane could be far greater than first realised.
YUKON DELTA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, Alaska — The Arctic is warming about twice as fast as other parts of the planet, and even here in sub-Arctic Alaska the rate of warming is high. Sea ice and wildlife habitat are disappearing; higher sea levels threaten coastal native villages.
But to the scientists from Woods Hole Research Center who have come here to study the effects of climate change, the most urgent is the fate of permafrost, the always-frozen ground that underlies much of the state.
The largest wildfire ever recorded in Greenland was recently spotted close to the west coast town of Sisimiut, not far from Disko Island where I research retreating glaciers. The fire has captured public and scientific interest not just because its size and location came as a surprise, but also because it is yet another signpost of deep environmental change in the Arctic.
Forests in Canada are ablaze, with 2.2 million acres going up in flames so far this year in British Columbia alone. These fires, and others in the Yukon and Northwest Territories, have been belching smoke into the air, in some cases up to 8 miles high.
Like never before, regions we typically associate with cold and ice are being over-run by wildfires. It’s a situation brought on by human-caused climate change. For our continued burning of fossil fuels is causing the Arctic to warm twice as fast as the rest of the globe. Under this oppressive influx of heat, the permafrost is thawing. And the fragile plants, frozen lands, and soils dependent on much cooler conditions simply cannot cope. Increasingly, and on greater and greater scales, they are burning.
(Large Greenland fire captured by NASA’s Earth Observatory on August 7th.)
The July average temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 75.7°F, 2.1°F above the 20th century average and was the 10th warmest July in 123 years of record-keeping. Much-above-average temperatures were observed across the West and parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. The year-to-date (January–July) average temperature for the contiguous U.S.