In this image from a video footage taken on 3 May 2000 in New York, the Italian-born author and conservationist Kuki Gallmann speaks during an interview. Gallmann was shot at her Kenya ranch and airlifted for treatment after herders invaded in search of pasture to save their animals from drought, officials said Sunday, 23 April 2017. Photo: AP Photo

By Jeffery Gettleman
23 April 2017

NAIROBI, Kenya (The New York Times) – Kuki Gallmann could feel the ring of danger tightening around her.

Over the past few days, Mrs. Gallmann, one of Kenya’s most famous conservationists and the author of the best-selling book. I Dreamed of Africa, sent me a flurry of increasingly distressed text messages. Heavily armed pastoralists had invaded her ranch in northern Kenya and were edging closer and closer to her house.

“Pokot militia openly carrying firearms,” she wrote in one message. (The Pokot are an ethnic group in northern Kenya.) “Not just herders. Group of armed men without livestock. 13 firearm spotted.”

A few days later, she sent another message that said, “2 Arsons by herders and shooting reported.” She added in a separate bubble: “Fire ongoing.”

On Sunday morning, Mrs. Gallmann, 73, was driving across her vast ranch to visit a lodge that the raiders had just ransacked. That lodge was one of her most beloved spots, the favorite place of her son, who died years ago from a snakebite. She was being escorted by wildlife rangers.

As she drove back from the lodge in her car, with the wildlife rangers chugging along behind her, she saw a group of raiders on a hill, friends said. Several shots were fired. One bullet flew through her door. Mrs. Gallmann was hit in the hip, and the bullet sliced upward through her torso, leaving her gravely wounded.

Over the next few hours, wildlife rangers, a British Army field medic and doctors in Nairobi, the capital, raced to save her life. By Sunday evening, close friends said, she had emerged from surgery in stable condition but with extensive internal damage. The next few days could be critical, they said.

The attack on Mrs. Gallmann was the latest sign of the chaos and violence ripping through northern Kenya, an area celebrated for its wondrous wildlife but plagued by lawlessness. Thousands of armed pastoralists have swept in from other parts of the country that have been afflicted by drought.

The pastoralists say they need more land to graze their animals, and in recent years they have frequently harassed farmers and ranchers, hoping to push them out. The violence has been worsening and has reached new heights this year.

Last month, herdsmen shot and killed a British rancher in Laikipia, the same ruggedly beautiful area north of Nairobi where Mrs. Gallmann lives. More than a dozen people have been killed in the area, and property damage has run into the millions of dollars.

Gangs of young herders have been stirred by local politicians to invade other people’s land. Several politicians have recently been arrested. But given that official corruption is a crippling problem in Kenya, most analysts do not hold out much hope that any of the ringleaders will be seriously punished. [more]

Kuki Gallmann, ‘I Dreamed of Africa’ Author, Is Shot in Kenya

By Tom Odula
23 April 2017

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) – The Italian-born author and conservationist Kuki Gallmann was shot at her Kenyan ranch and airlifted for treatment after herders invaded in search of pasture to save their animals from drought, officials said Sunday.

Gallmann, known for her bestselling book "I Dreamed of Africa," which became a movie by the same name starring Kim Basinger, was patrolling the ranch in Laikipia when she was shot in the stomach, local police chief Ezekiel Chepkowny said.

The 73-year-old Gallmann had been with rangers from the Kenya Wildlife Service, assessing damage done to her property Saturday by arsonists who burned down buildings at one of Laikipia Nature Conservancy's tourism lodges, said Laikipia Farmers Association chairman Martin Evans.

After the attack, the rangers transported her to a location where she could be airlifted to Nanyuki town, Evans said. British Army medics attended to her before she was airlifted to the capital, Nairobi, he said. [more]

Author and conservationist Kuki Gallmann shot in Kenya

Diagram showing links among physical impacts, mental health, and community well-being under climate and geophysical impacts. Graphic: ecoAmerica / American Psychological Association

By Jia Naqvi
29 March 2017

(The Washington Post) – Climate change is not only harmful to our physical health — it can be debilitating for our mental health as well, according to a report published Wednesday.

Severe weather events and natural disasters linked to climate change have the most dramatic impact on mental health, according to the report by the American Psychological Association and EcoAmerica: Natural disasters cause intense negative emotions in people who are exposed to them, primarily fear and grief. Anxiety, depression and unhealthy behavior are also common responses. Some people, particularly those who experience tragic events, such as the loss of a loved one or repeated exposure to extreme weather, develop post-traumatic stress disorder.

As one example of how disasters made more likely by climate change can affect mental health, the report cites statistics from people who survived Hurricane Katrina. Their rates of suicide and incidence of suicidal thoughts more than doubled, 1 in 6 people met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD, and nearly half of the people living in an affected area developed an anxiety or mood disorder such as depression.

“I found this topic really interesting because this wasn't something I was hearing people talk about and this wasn't well acknowledged as an effect of climate change,” said Susan Clayton, the lead author of the report and a professor of psychology at the College of Wooster in Ohio.

Some things can protect people from the worst psychological effects of climate-change-induced natural disasters, such as having social support. In contrast, those who live in communities where livelihood is directly tied to the environment, such as agriculture, tourism or fishing, are more vulnerable to negative mental-health impacts, according to the report. People in indigenous communities are particularly vulnerable because climate change can threaten environmental aspects of their cultural heritage.

Climate change can be a cause of stress, which is often caused by a sense of a loss of control or an inability to adapt to a new situation. Increased stress levels can increase the likelihood of problems such as substance abuse, anxiety disorders or depression, according to the report. [more]

Climate change can take a toll on mental health, new report says

[Translation by Google.]

By Victor Pires
12 April 2017

(ISA) – In a symbolic vote, at the end of the morning (12/4), in seven minutes, parliamentarians approved a report by Deputy José Reinaldo (PSB-MA) of Provisional Measure (MP) 758/2016, which reduces the protection of 510 thousand hectares [1.26 million acres] of protected areas in western Pará. The text now goes to the plenary of the House and, if it is approved, to the Senate. MP needs to be approved by May 29.

The session of the special joint committee was emptied, but through a maneuver - which used the quorum of yesterday's session, when the report was read - the few parliamentarians present voted for their approval in a symbolic way without formal registration of individual votes . The meeting was attended by MPs Zé Geraldo (PT-PA), Josué Bengtson (PTB-PA) and Joaquim Passarinho (PSD-PA) and Senator Flexa Ribeiro (PSDB-PA).

The original text of the MP, sent by the government to the Congress, enlarged the National Park (Parna) of the Jamanxim by 50 thousand hectares. The report read yesterday not only excluded this expansion as it anticipated the transformation of 101 thousand hectares of Parna into an Environmental Protection Area (APA) and transferred another 70 thousand hectares of the same area to the National Forest (Flona) of Trairão. In addition, it established that 169 thousand hectares of the National Forest of Itaituba II would also be recategorized as APA.

In the last minute of today's vote, at the request of Senator Flexa Ribeiro (PSDB-PA), an amendment was approved by members Francisco Chapadinha (PTN-PA) and José Priante (PMDB-PA) to transform into APA another 172,000 hectares of Parana do Jamanxim (see table below).

The APA is a Conservation Unit (UC) that allows in its interior private lands, that can be regularized and sold. In the APA, deforestation is permitted, whereas in Parnas it is prohibited and in the Flonas only the selective cut can be made according to the management plan. Therefore, we can consider that 510 thousand hectares had their degree of protection reduced, being that of these 442 thousand hectares may become private area, encompassed in APAs.

"This modification [the new amendment], in fact, was included. She was forgotten in the writing of the report and I went back to comply. It is an anthropized area and you do not see any sense in not complying with the amendment, "said Reinaldo, when asked about the inclusion of the amendment at 45 of the second half.

In addition to the occupation of farmers, the construction of the Railroad EF-170, known as Ferrogrão, and the paving of the BR-163 highway, which crosses the Parna, is being used as justification for MP approval. In the area transformed in Flona, ​​the change can benefit mining companies. Parnas, unlike Flonas, do not allow mining inside.

Screenshot frpmo the meeting to vote on the report of the Joint Committee that examines the MP 758/2016, amending the boundaries of the National Park of the Jamanxim and Tapajós environmental protection area, 12 April 2017. Photo: TV Senado

Yesterday, another MP had been approved, 756/2016, which removed 480,000 hectares of Flona do Jamanxim and another 180,000 hectares of the Serra do Cachimbo Natural Reserve (Rebio), in the same region, as well as 10,000 hectares, Of Parna São Joaquim (SC), thousands of kilometers from Pará.

Therefore, 1.1 million hectares of protected areas are threatened only in Pará. If we add another 1 million protected hectares that parliamentarians from Amazonas try to cut down in the south of the state, we speak of almost 2.2 million protected hectares [5.4 million acres] under risk, the Equivalent to the territory of Sergipe.

"The approval of the two provisional measures is a crime against Brazil. All of these aggressions together will have a detrimental effect on biodiversity and the transportation of rain to south-central Brazil. Who will suffer this will be the people in the cities, the farmers, the generation of energy, the country as a whole, "says Ciro Campo, an adviser to ISA. He points out that there are people who were in the area before the creation of the Parna of the Jamanxim and deserve to have their occupations regularized, but criticizes the MPs for they also benefit grileiros and occupants of bad faith.

"I think it was a very quick report, under pressure from some owners who are in the region and who want to document their properties," said Rep. Zé Geraldo (PT-PA), vice chairman of the joint committee. Despite the criticism, he voted in favor of the report. [more]

Em sete minutos, parlamentares aprovam mutilação de áreas protegidas no Pará

Differences in worldwide premature mortality in 2007 between production- and consumption-related PM2.5 air pollution. a–d, Maps show the number of deaths worldwide related to consumption in the given region minus the number of deaths worldwide related to production in that region, for China (a), western Europe (b), the USA (c) and India (d). Graphic: Zhang, et al., 2017 / Nature 

Irvine, California, 29 March 2017 (UCI) – The latest products may bring joy to people around the globe, but academic researchers this week are highlighting the heightened health risks experienced by people in regions far downwind of the factories that produce these goods and on the other side of the world from where they’re consumed. In a study published in the journal Nature, scientists quantify and map the shift of environmental and health burdens brought on by globalization and international trade.

“The way manufacturing and commerce are structured in the world today means that air pollution mortality is being felt disproportionately by people living in or near producing regions, often far from where goods are consumed,” said paper co-author Steven Davis, associate professor of Earth system science at the University of California, Irvine.

Focusing on the year 2007, the researchers found that of the 3.45 million premature deaths caused by fine-particulate-matter air pollution, about 12 percent were related to pollutants emitted in a different region of the world, and 22 percent were associated with goods produced in one region for consumption in another.

For example, nearly 31,000 deaths in Japan and South Korea were linked to emissions from China, and just over 47,000 deaths in Eastern Europe were related to pollution from factories in Western Europe. The study also found that 2,300 deaths in Western Europe were attributable to pollution transported through the atmosphere from the United States.

“Previous studies proved that air pollution can travel great distances and cause harm far from emitting factories,” Davis said. “Our research shows that trade extends the distance between cause and effect by separating consumers in one region and people who suffer adverse health impacts, who are often on the other side of the world.”

The study’s authors note that China’s exports cause the greatest number of premature deaths because of the high population density of that country and its neighbors, the quantity of its emissions, and its focus on manufacturing for export. And they estimate that in 2007 about 11 percent of Chinese deaths due to air pollution were tied to goods consumed in the United States and Western Europe, which import the most Chinese products.

“It costs less to manufacture goods in places like China and Southeast Asia, mostly because those places have cheaper labor than the West,” Davis said. “But they also tend to have less stringent environmental protections and denser populations, so consumer savings, corporate profits and economic development based on trade are costing the lives of people who have to breathe polluted air.”

The research was supported by China’s National Natural Science Foundation and National Basic Research Program, as well as by NASA.


Brian Bell

Manufacturing, global trade impair health of people with no stake in either

Emissions, changes in air quality, and premature mortality embodied in trade. a–c, Maps show differences between production- and consumption-based accounting of SO2 emissions (a; in units of megatonnes of SO2 per year), population-weighted average PM2.5 exposure (b; in units of micrograms of PM2.5 per cubic metre.). Graphic: Graphic: Zhang, et al., 2017 / NatureABSTRACT: Millions of people die every year from diseases caused by exposure to outdoor air pollution1, 2, 3, 4,5. Some studies have estimated premature mortality related to local sources of air pollution6, 7, but local air quality can also be affected by atmospheric transport of pollution from distant sources8, 9,10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18. International trade is contributing to the globalization of emission and pollution as a result of the production of goods (and their associated emissions) in one region for consumption in another region14, 19, 20, 21, 22. The effects of international trade on air pollutant emissions23, air quality14 and health24 have been investigated regionally, but a combined, global assessment of the health impacts related to international trade and the transport of atmospheric air pollution is lacking. Here we combine four global models to estimate premature mortality caused by fine particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution as a result of atmospheric transport and the production and consumption of goods and services in different world regions. We find that, of the 3.45 million premature deaths related to PM2.5 pollution in 2007 worldwide, about 12 per cent (411,100 deaths) were related to air pollutants emitted in a region of the world other than that in which the death occurred, and about 22 per cent (762,400 deaths) were associated with goods and services produced in one region for consumption in another. For example, PM2.5 pollution produced in China in 2007 is linked to more than 64,800 premature deaths in regions other than China, including more than 3,100 premature deaths in western Europe and the USA; on the other hand, consumption in western Europe and the USA is linked to more than 108,600 premature deaths in China. Our results reveal that the transboundary health impacts of PM2.5 pollution associated with international trade are greater than those associated with long-distance atmospheric pollutant transport.

Transboundary health impacts of transported global air pollution and international trade

Changes in spatial patterns of permafrost under future stabilization scenarios. a,b, The shaded areas show estimated historical permafrost distribution (1960–1990), and contours show the plausible range of zonal boundaries under 1.5◦C stabilization (a) and under 2◦C stabilization (b). Graphic: Chadburn, et al., 2017 / Nature Climate Change

By Chelsea Harvey
10 April 2017

(The Washington Post) – Climate change could cause another 4 million square kilometers, or about 1.5 million square miles, of permafrost to disappear with every additional degree Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, of warming, a new study suggests.

The estimate, which was published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, is about 20 percent higher than previous studies, the authors said.

The study suggests that if the Earth’s temperatures warm 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, higher than their preindustrial levels — the maximum amount of warming nations around the world have aimed to allow under the Paris climate agreement — more than 2.5 million square miles of permafrost could disappear.

Under a more severe outcome of 6 degrees Celsius, or 10.8 degrees Fahrenheit, of warming above preindustrial levels, which could occur sometime after the turn of the century if greenhouse gas emissions continue to go on unabated, nearly all the earth’s permafrost would likely disappear.

The loss of more permafrost would release more methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas, than scientists have previously predicted. That could worsen a dangerous climate feedback loop in the Arctic, whereby increased emissions cause greater warming and greater warming causes faster thawing of permafrost, which then releases more emissions. [more]

Climate change could destroy far more Arctic permafrost than we thought — which would worsen climate change

Relationship between global warming stabilization scenario and remaining permafrost area using our approach. Boxes show 1σ and whiskers show 2σ uncertainty bounds. Zero warming corresponds to pre-industrial climate (1850–1900 average). The red box corresponds tothe time frame of the IPA permafrost map (Fig. 1b). The ‘model’ points represent individual CMIP5 climate model stabilization simulations (permafrost area at 2300). Graphic: Chadburn, et al., 2017 / Nature Climate Change

10 April 2017 (University of Leeds) – A new international research study, including climate change experts from the University of Leeds, University of Exeter and the Met Office, reveals that permafrost is more sensitive to the effects of global warming than previously thought.

The study, published today in Nature Climate Change, suggests that nearly four million square kilometres of frozen soil – an area larger than India – could be lost for every additional degree of global warming experienced.

Permafrost is frozen soil that has been at a temperature of below 0ºC for at least two years. Large quantities of carbon are stored in organic matter trapped in the icy permafrost soils. When permafrost thaws the organic matter starts to decompose, releasing greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane which increase global temperatures.

It is estimated that there is more carbon contained in the frozen permafrost than is currently in the atmosphere.

Thawing permafrost has potentially damaging consequences, not just for greenhouse gas emissions, but also the stability of buildings located in high-latitude cities.

Roughly 35 million people live in the permafrost zone, with three cities built on continuous permafrost along with many smaller communities. A widespread thaw could cause the ground to become unstable, putting roads and buildings at risk of collapse.

Recent studies have shown that the Arctic is warming at around twice the rate as the rest of the world, with permafrost already starting to thaw across large areas.

The researchers, from Leeds, Exeter, Sweden, Norway, and the Met Office, suggest that the huge permafrost losses could be averted if ambitious global climate targets are met.

Dr Sarah Chadburn led the research project whilst based at the School of Earth and Environment at Leeds. She said:  “A lower stabilisation target of 1.5ºC would save approximately two million square kilometres of permafrost.

"Achieving the ambitious Paris Agreement climate targets could limit permafrost loss. For the first time we have calculated how much could be saved.”

In the study, researchers used a novel combination of global climate models and observed data to deliver a robust estimate of the global loss of permafrost under climate change.

The team looked at the way that permafrost changes across the landscape, and how this is related to the air temperature. They then considered possible increases in air temperature in the future, and converted these to a permafrost distribution map using their observation-based relationship.

This allowed them to calculate the amount of permafrost that would be lost under proposed climate stabilisation targets. 

As co-author Professor Peter Cox of the University of Exeter explained: “We found that the current pattern of permafrost reveals the sensitivity of permafrost to global warming.”

The study suggests that permafrost is more susceptible to global warming that previously thought, as stabilising the climate at 2ºC above pre-industrial levels would lead to thawing of more than 40% of today’s permafrost areas.

Co-author Dr Eleanor Burke, from the Met Office Hadley Centre, said: “The advantage of our approach is that permafrost loss can be estimated for any policy-relevant global warming scenario.

“The ability to more accurately assess permafrost loss can hopefully feed into a greater understanding of the impact of global warming and potentially inform global warming policy.”


University of Leeds Media Relations Officer Anna Martinez on or +44 (0)113 343 4196

Huge permafrost thaw can be limited by ambitious climate targets

ABSTRACT: Permafrost, which covers 15 million km2 of the land surface, is one of the components of the Earth system that is most sensitive to warming1, 2. Loss of permafrost would radically change high-latitude hydrology and biogeochemical cycling, and could therefore provide very significant feedbacks on climate change3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. The latest climate models all predict warming of high-latitude soils and thus thawing of permafrost under future climate change, but with widely varying magnitudes of permafrost thaw9, 10. Here we show that in each of the models, their present-day spatial distribution of permafrost and air temperature can be used to infer the sensitivity of permafrost to future global warming. Using the same approach for the observed permafrost distribution and air temperature, we estimate a sensitivity of permafrost area loss to global mean warming at stabilization of million km2 °C−1 (1σ confidence), which is around 20% higher than previous studies9. Our method facilitates an assessment for COP21 climate change targets11: if the climate is stabilized at 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, we estimate that the permafrost area would eventually be reduced by over 40%. Stabilizing at 1.5 °C rather than 2 °C would save approximately 2 million km2 of permafrost.

An observation-based constraint on permafrost loss as a function of global warming

On his last day as an Environmental Protection Agency employee, Mike Cox sent a tough letter to Administrator Scott Pruitt about administration policies. After 25 years, he retired in April 2017 from the EPA with a tough message for the boss, Administrator Scott Pruitt. Photo: Mike Cox

By Joe Davidson
7 April 2017

(The Washington Post) – When Mike Cox quit, he did so with gusto.

After 25 years, he retired last week from the Environmental Protection Agency with a tough message for the boss, Administrator Scott Pruitt.

“I, along with many EPA staff, are becoming increasing alarmed about the direction of EPA under your leadership … ” Cox said in a letter to Pruitt. “The policies this Administration is advancing are contrary to what the majority of the American people, who pay our salaries, want EPA to accomplish, which are to ensure the air their children breath is safe; the land they live, play, and hunt on to be free of toxic chemicals; and the water they drink, the lakes they swim in, and the rivers they fish in to be clean.”

Cox was a climate change adviser for EPA’s Region 10, covering Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. A former Peace Corps volunteer in Malawi, he’s been very involved in Bainbridge, Washington, coaching youth sports and serving on local boards and commissions. For two decades, the fit 60-year-old rode his bike eight miles to the ferry, then uphill to his Seattle office.

He can get away with being so blunt because he sent the letter on his last day on the job. Yet his views reflect the disgust and frustration among the agency employees he left behind. Interviews with staffers point to a workforce demoralized by President Trump’s and Pruitt’s statements that conflict with science. They are worried about a new, backward direction for the agency and nervous about proposed, drastic budget cuts. [more]

EPA staffer leaves with a bang, blasting agency policies under Trump

House Science, Space and Technology Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) led a hearing on climate science, 29 March 2017. Photo U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee

By Alex Kasprak
29 March 2017

(Snopes) – On 29 March 2017, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a hearing titled “Climate Science: Assumptions, Policy Implications, and the Scientific Method,” which heard the testimony of four scientists.

Just one of those espoused views and research that represents the mainstream scientific consensus surrounding anthropogenic climate change. That scientist, Dr. Michael Mann, Director of Penn State University’s Earth System Science Center, was asked by Representative Ami Bera what Mann would do if he were to guide the convened committee in the future.

During a testy exchange, Mann began his answer by suggesting that the chairman of the committee, Texas Representative Lamar Smith, had been abusing the the term “scientific method”, and pointed to an article published in Science magazine regarding Smith’s recent statements at a Heartland Institute conference to suggest that his words betrayed a lack of interest in the actual science, and a clear interest in furthering a preconceived viewpoint:

[…] DR. MANN: [Smith] indicated at this conference that he, according to Science, and I am quoting from them, he sees his role in this committee as a tool to advance his political agenda rather than a forum to examine important issues facing the US research community, as a scientist I find this deeply disturbing.

CHAIRMAN SMITH: Who said that?

DR. MANN: This is according to Science Magazine, one of the most respected outlets when it comes to science …

CHAIRMAN SMITH: Who are they quoting?

DR. MANN: This is the author, Jeffrey Mervis.

CHAIRMAN SMITH: That is not known as an objective writer or magazine.

[…] As Science is one of the oldest and most widely-respected scientific publications in the world, scientists and journalists (and audible members of the hearing’s viewing gallery) were shocked by Smith’s allegation that the outlet, or its writers, were not objective. Originally founded with financial help from Alexander Graham Bell, the periodical has been in continuous publication since 9 February 1883, as discussed in a history of its origins.

Among the numerous monumentally significant papers published in the journal are Albert Einstein’s formulation of gravitational lensing, the complete map of the entire human genome, the first evidence of a link between HIV and AIDS, and numerous Nobel Prize winning discoveries. Based on a combination of factors (including the number of times its papers are cited), Science is consistently ranked (including by the NIH, an organization over which Smith’s committee has jurisdiction) as being among highest-impact journals in all of science. [more]

Chair of House Science Committee Says the Journal ‘Science’ Is Not Objective

A heat wave and pollution episode struck the eastern portion of the United States and Canada in late June of 2005. Observations show the concurrence of high surface ozone, an abundance of fine particulate matter, and scorching temperatures. Graphic: Jordan Schnell / Princeton University

Irvine, California, 1 March 2017 (UCI News) – The combination of prolonged hot spells with poor air quality greatly compounds the negative effects of each and can pose a major risk to human health, according to new research from the University of California, Irvine.

“The weather factors that drive heat waves also contribute to intensified surface ozone and air pollution episodes,” said UCI professor of Earth system science Michael J. Prather, co-author of the study, published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “These extreme, multiday events tend to cluster and overlap, worsening the health impacts beyond the sum of their individual effects.”

Heat waves cause widespread discomfort and can be deadly for vulnerable individuals, while surface ozone and air pollution are linked to premature death from heart disease, stroke and lung ailments.

Prather’s group made the findings after examining 15 years of surface observations (1999-2013) for the eastern United States and Canada. The researchers overlaid a grid of one-degree-square segments onto a map of the region and analyzed the recorded levels of surface ozone, amounts of fine particulate matter (pollution) and maximum temperatures between April and September for each roughly 69-by-69-mile section of the map. This allowed them to construct a climatological picture of the duration, coincidence and overlap of each of these factors.

Meteorologically, slow-moving high-pressure systems accumulate pollutants and heat during the summer months. Scorching temperatures, low precipitation, strong sunlight and low wind speeds allow heat and poor-quality air to stagnate in a given location for an extended period of time.

“These conditions increase the emission of biogenic volatile organic compounds, which boost the production of surface ozone and other aerosols,” said lead author Jordan Schnell, a postdoctoral researcher at UCI when the study was conducted who is now at Princeton University. “The droughtlike conditions that exist in heat waves reduce soil moisture, making near-surface temperatures hotter and inhibiting the role played by vegetation in absorbing ozone, resulting in lower air quality.”

Humans only make the problem worse by consuming more fossil fuel-generated energy to run air conditioners, the researchers noted.

“It’s important to study the combined effects of pollution and prolonged heat events because we expect these conditions to become more prevalent in a warming climate,” Prather said. “Our evidence suggests that pollution and heat waves are synergistic stressors that produce disproportionately greater adverse health impacts. Policymakers should be taking these issues into consideration going forward.”

The work was supported by NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.

Concurrent heat waves, air pollution exacerbate negative health effects of each

ABSTRACT: Heat waves and air pollution episodes pose a serious threat to human health and may worsen under future climate change. In this paper, we use 15 years (1999–2013) of commensurately gridded (1° x 1°) surface observations of extended summer (April–September) surface ozone (O3), fine particulate matter (PM2.5), and maximum temperature (TX) over the eastern United States and Canada to construct a climatology of the coincidence, overlap, and lag in space and time of their extremes. Extremes of each quantity are defined climatologically at each grid cell as the 50 d with the highest values in three 5-y windows (∼95th percentile). Any two extremes occur on the same day in the same grid cell more than 50% of the time in the northeastern United States, but on a domain average, co-occurrence is approximately 30%. Although not exactly co-occurring, many of these extremes show connectedness with consistent offsets in space and in time, which often defy traditional mechanistic explanations. All three extremes occur primarily in large-scale, multiday, spatially connected episodes with scales of >1,000 km and clearly coincide with large-scale meteorological features. The largest, longest-lived episodes have the highest incidence of co-occurrence and contain extreme values well above their local 95th percentile threshold, by +7 ppb for O3, +6 µg m−3 for PM2.5, and +1.7 °C for TX. Our results demonstrate the need to evaluate these extremes as synergistic costressors to accurately quantify their impacts on human health.

Co-occurrence of extremes in surface ozone, particulate matter, and temperature over eastern North America

27 March 2017 (The Siberian Times) – The Asiatic black bear is facing catastrophe in areas of eastern Russia, a leading scientist has warned. A short video highlights a bear, also known as Himalayan, climbing a tree in a snowy November.

What's unusual about that? By now, this bear should have been hibernating for several weeks or longer.

Dr Sergey Kolchin told The Siberbian Times: “For the last two years extremely hard conditions developed in Khabarovsk region for wild animals that depend on Korean pine and Mongolian oak for their food.

“In 2015, across almost the entire area of cedar broad-leaf forests there was a simultaneous bad harvest of nuts and acorns, in Khabarovsk and Primorsky regions.

“In 2016 this was repeated in Khabarovsk region. The lack of autumn food for two years in a row is an abnormal phenomenon which has turned into  tragedy for the black bear.”

The animals missed their key feeding periods for two years in succession. Too hungry to hibernate, they became exposed to the harsh cold - and resulting diseases.

It is the first time in the history of  observations of these Asiatic bears in Russia that “exhausted” animals have failed to hibernate, and this applies to adults and cubs. […]

An emaciated Asiatic black bear in eastern Russia. Logging and global warming have been blamed for bear population declines in 2015 and 2016. Photo: Sergey Kolchin / Priamurye Nature Reserve

“The bears that managed to accumulate some strength and survive in autumn and hibernate, began to wake up earlier than usual - in the middle of February.

“By that time, the organism had completely exhausted its resource. The  probability is that some will not survive the spring.” […]

Significantly, in Bikin national park - protected from logging - the most numerous population of black bears is thriving. There was a reduced harvest of nuts and acorns, but sufficient for survival, say experts.

“The bears  hibernated in time,” said Dr Kolchin. “We did not observe here animals that failed to hibernate, or were exhausted, or died of hunger during the winter.” [more]

Hungry, exhausted, only half their normal weight: Tragedy for black bears


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