Long permafrost temperature records for selected sites. a Location of boreholes with long time-series data. Because some regions lack long temperature records, shorter temperature records from Greenland and Chinese mountains are included for comparison. Depth of measurements is according to the Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost ID16: 24.4 m (ID 356), 20 m (ID 55, 79, 102, 117, 501, 710, 831, 1113, and 1710), 18 m (ID 386), 16.75 m (ID 871), 15 m (ID 854), 12 m (ID 287), 10 m (ID 265, 431), and 5 m (ID 528). The light blue area represents the continuous permafrost zone (>90% coverage) and the light purple area represents the discontinuous permafrost zones (<90% coverage). b Mean annual ground temperature over time. Colors indicate the location of the boreholes in a. Graphic: Biskaborn, et al., 2019 / Nature Communications

16 January 2019 (AWI) – Global warming is leaving more and more apparent scars in the world’s permafrost regions. As the new global comparative study conducted by the international permafrost network GTN-P shows, in all regions with permafrost soils the temperature of the frozen ground at a depth of more than 10 metres rose by an average of 0.3 degrees Celsius between 2007 and 2016 – in the Arctic and Antarctic, as well as the high mountain ranges of Europe and Central Asia. The effect was most pronounced in Siberia, where the temperature of the frozen soil rose by nearly 1 degree Celsius. The pioneering study has just been released in the online journal Nature Communications.

Roughly one sixth of the land areas on our planet are considered to be permafrost regions, which means the soils there have remained permanently frozen for at least two consecutive years. In most of these regions, however, the cold penetrated the ground millennia ago; as a result, in the most extreme cases, the permafrost continues to a depth of 1.6 kilometres. Especially in the Arctic, people rely on the permafrost soil as a stable foundation for houses, roads, pipelines and airports. Yet in the wake of global warming, the integrity of these structures is increasingly jeopardised, creating enormous costs. In addition, permafrost soils contain massive quantities of preserved plant and animal matter. If this organic material thaws along with the permafrost, microorganisms will begin breaking it down – a process that could produce enough carbon dioxide and methane emissions to potentially raise the global mean temperature by an additional 0.13 to 0.27 degrees Celsius by the year 2100.

AWI permafrost scientists investigate the eroding coastline at the Siberian island Sobo-Sise, Eastern Lena delta. Photo: Guido Grosse / Alfred Wegener Institut Helmholtz Zentrum für Polar und Meeresforschung

A new comparative study released by the GTN-P (Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost) shows for the first time the extent to which permafrost soils around the world have already warmed. For the purposes of the study, the participating researchers monitored and analysed the soil temperature in boreholes in the Arctic, Antarctic and various high mountain ranges around the world for ten years. The data was gathered at depths greater than 10 metres, so as to rule out the influence of seasonal temperature variations.

The complete dataset encompasses 154 boreholes, 123 of which allow conclusions to be drawn for an entire decade, while the remainder can be used to refine calculations on annual deviation. The results show that, in the ten years from 2007 to 2016, the temperature of the permafrost soil rose at 71 of the 123 measuring sites; in five of the boreholes, the permafrost was already thawing. In contrast, the soil temperature sank at 12 boreholes, e.g. at individual sites in eastern Canada, southern Eurasia and on the Antarctic Peninsula; at 40 boreholes, the temperature remained virtually unchanged.

In individual cases, temperature spiked up to 1 degree Celsius

The researchers observed the most dramatic warming in the Arctic: “There, in regions with more than 90 percent permafrost content, the soil temperature rose by an average of 0.30 degrees Celsius within ten years,” reports first author Dr Boris Biskaborn, a member of the research group Polar Terrestrial Environmental Systems at the Potsdam facilities of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research. In northeast and northwest Siberia, the temperature increase at some boreholes was 0.90 degrees Celsius or even higher. For the sake of comparison: the air temperature in the respective regions rose by an average of 0.61 degrees Celsius in the same period.

Farther south, in Arctic regions with less than 90 percent permafrost, the frozen ground only warmed by 0.2 degrees Celsius on average. “In these regions there is more and more snowfall, which insulates the permafrost in two ways, following the igloo principle: in winter the snow protects the soil from extreme cold, which on average produces a warming effect. In spring it reflects the sunlight, and prevents the soil from being exposed to too much warmth, at least until the snow has completely melted away,” Biskaborn explains.

Permafrost temperature and rate of change near the depth of zero annual amplitude. a, b Mean annual ground temperatures for 2014–2016 in the Northern Hemisphere and Antarctica, n = 129 boreholes. c, d Decadal change rate of permafrost temperature from 2007 to 2016, n = 123 boreholes (Eq. 3). Changes within the average measurement accuracy of ~±0.1 °C are coded in green. Continuous permafrost zone (>90% coverage); discontinuous permafrost zones (<90% coverage). Graphic: Biskaborn, et al., 2019 / Nature Communications

Significant warming can also be seen in the permafrost regions of the high mountain ranges, and in the Antarctic. The temperature of the permanently frozen soils in the Alps, in the Himalayas and in the mountain ranges of the Nordic countries rose by an average of 0.19 degrees Celsius. In the shallow boreholes in the Antarctic, the researchers measured a rise of 0.37 degrees.

“All this data tells us that the permafrost isn’t simply warming on a local and regional scale, but worldwide and at virtually the same pace as climate warming, which is producing a substantial warming of the air and increased snow thickness, especially in the Arctic. These two factors in turn produce a warming of the once permanently frozen ground,” says Prof. Guido Grosse, Head of the Permafrost Research Section at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam.

Permafrost monitoring calls for an institutional framework

These revealing insights are the reward for a decade-long international collaboration that involved experts from 26 countries. The majority of the boreholes used in the study were drilled and equipped with measuring equipment during the International Polar Year 2007/08, and offered a first “snapshot” of the permafrost temperatures. Since then, more than 50 different research groups have performed regular maintenance on the measuring stations, and recorded their readings on an annual basis. In the virtual network GTN-P, the findings were subsequently collated and standardised, ensuring their intercomparability.

According to Prof. Hanne H. Christiansen, co-author of the study and President of the International Permafrost Association (IPA), “Monitoring global permafrost temperatures and gathering the data in the freely accessible GTN-P database is tremendously important – and not just for researchers, educators and communicators, but for various other users.”

Annual permafrost temperature change. a–d Permafrost temperature departure ΔT¯y,b calculated from mean annual ground temperatures in boreholes near the depth of zero annual amplitude Z* relative to the 2008–2009 reference period. Mean values calculated as de-clustered, indexed area-weighted averages (Eq. 1). Temperature uncertainties are expressed at 95% confidence. Sample size shown is the number of borehole sites per year and region. Graphic: Biskaborn, et al., 2019 / Nature Communications

“The permafrost temperature is one of the most universally accepted climate variables. It offers a direct insight into how the frozen ground is reacting to climate change,” the researcher explains. This information is above all essential in those permafrost regions where the soil has already grown warmer or begun thawing, producing major damage when the ground buckles, destabilising roads and buildings. Accordingly, the researchers plan to continue monitoring the boreholes.

Unlike weather observations, there is still no single international institution that, following in the footsteps of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), successfully bundles national interests. Such an institution would be an essential asset in terms of coordinating these important scientific measurements, and to ensure the monitoring sites continue to be used in the future.

To date, the permafrost boreholes and the temperature sensors installed in them have been kept up and running by individual research groups in the context of various small-scale projects. The Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost (GTN-P) offers a web-based data management system (gtnpdatabase.org), which was jointly developed by the Alfred Wegener Institute and the Iceland-based Arctic Portal, and was made possible by the financial support of the European Union.


The pace at which the world’s permafrost soils are warming

Annual air temperature and snow depth changes. a–d Air temperature anomaly ΔT^y,b relative to the 1981–2010 reference period calculated from mean annual air temperatures at 2-m height above the ground level interpolated from the ERA Interim reanalysis data set. Mean values calculated as de-clustered, indexed area-weighted averages (Eq. 4). Dark colored dashed lines indicate 4-year end-point running means. Snow depth changes ΔS^y,b in a and b, indicated in gray, calculated as the difference relative to the 1999–2010 reference period from the CMC reanalysis data set (eq. 5). e, f Onset of snow SO, snow insulation maximum SIM (dashed line), and the end of snow melt SE. Uncertainties are expressed as shading at 95% confidence. Sample size n indicates the number of boreholes. Graphic: Biskaborn, et al., 2019 / Nature Communications

ABSTRACT: Permafrost warming has the potential to amplify global climate change, because when frozen sediments thaw it unlocks soil organic carbon. Yet to date, no globally consistent assessment of permafrost temperature change has been compiled. Here we use a global data set of permafrost temperature time series from the Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost to evaluate temperature change across permafrost regions for the period since the International Polar Year (2007–2009). During the reference decade between 2007 and 2016, ground temperature near the depth of zero annual amplitude in the continuous permafrost zone increased by 0.39 ± 0.15 °C. Over the same period, discontinuous permafrost warmed by 0.20 ± 0.10 °C. Permafrost in mountains warmed by 0.19 ± 0.05 °C and in Antarctica by 0.37 ± 0.10 °C. Globally, permafrost temperature increased by 0.29 ± 0.12 °C. The observed trend follows the Arctic amplification of air temperature increase in the Northern Hemisphere. In the discontinuous zone, however, ground warming occurred due to increased snow thickness while air temperature remained statistically unchanged.

Permafrost is warming at a global scale

Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who is mulling a White House bid, highlighted his clean-energy agenda and many traditional Democratic positions in his State of the State address on 15 January 2019. Photo: Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times

By Joseph O’Sullivan
15 January 2019

OLYMPIA (The Seattle Times) – Standing before a Washington Legislature that for years has balked at his carbon-reduction agenda, Gov. Jay Inslee implored lawmakers Tuesday to make bold moves to combat climate change.

The governor’s State of the State address before a joint session of the House and Senate comes as Democrats return to the Capitol with expanded majorities — and hopes of taking on bigger pieces of legislation.

But Inslee faces a hotter spotlight. The second-term Democratic governor is considering a presidential bid that would emphasize a national call to reverse climate change. This legislative session will show if he can finally bring his biggest ideas to fruition in his own state.

The governor cited the warming oceans and the wildfires that have either ravaged Washington lands or dirtied the skies in recent years as the new normal — unless swift action is taken.

“I don’t know of any other issue that touches the heart of so many of the things we all care about: our jobs, our health, our safety and our children’s future,” Inslee told those gathered. “This is the eleventh hour, but it is Washington state’s hour to shine. It’s a time of great peril, but it is also a time of great promise.” [more]

Gov. Jay Inslee uses State of the State to urge action on mental health, climate change, orcas

Screenshot of a video showing a protestor standing up to “object” to the Andrew Wheeler EPA hearing during the Trump shutdown, 16 January 2019. People in the hallway chant “shut down Wheeler, not the EPA”. Photo: Stephanie Ebbs / Twitter

By Timothy Cama
16 January 2019

(The Hill) – Environmental protesters on Wednesday disrupted Andrew Wheeler’s Senate confirmation hearing to be the permanent head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The protesters objected to Republicans on the Environment and Public Works Committee scheduling the hearing, and Wheeler participating, when the EPA is closed and most employees are furloughed due to the ongoing partial government shutdown.

“I really must object to this hearing happening during a government shutdown!” a protester yelled in the committee room, standing up just as Wheeler began giving his opening remarks. Wheeler stopped talking while protesters chanted.

The protester and another held signs with photos of Wheeler that read “Shut down Wheeler, not the EPA.”

Capitol Police officers quickly removed both protesters from the Capitol Hill hearing room. But other protesters continued chanting “shut down Wheeler, not the EPA” in the hallway outside the room. [more]

Protesters disrupt Wheeler confirmation hearing

By Timothy Cama
16 January 2019

(The Hill) – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a possible 2020 White House contender, on Wednesday vocally criticized acting Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler for not taking climate change seriously as a crisis.

Sanders first pushed Wheeler on whether he agrees with President Trump repeatedly calling climate change a “hoax,” pointing to the Trump's blaming it on the Chinese at one point.

“I believe that climate change is real. I believe that man has an impact on it,” Wheeler said during his Environment and Public Works Committee confirmation hearing to be the official EPA administrator. “I have not used the ‘hoax’ word myself.”

“The scientific community has said that climate change is one of the great crises facing our planet. And if there is not unprecedented action to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel, to sustainable energy and energy efficiency, there will be irreparable damage in the United States and virtually every country on earth,” Sanders told Wheeler.

“Do you agree with the scientific community?”

“I would not call it the greatest crisis, no sir. I consider it a huge issue that has to be addressed globally,” he responded. [more]

Bernie Sanders presses Wheeler to confront climate ‘crisis’

Cover of the book, 'La guerre des métaux rares : La face cachée de la transition énergétique et numérique' ('The rare metals war: the hidden face of the energy and digital transition'), by Guillaume Pitron and Hubert Vedrine. Graphic: French and European Publications, Inc.

By Marlowe Hood
14 January 2019

(Phys.org) – In a world where climate change, air and water pollution, biodiversity loss, water scarcity, ozone depletion, and other environmental problems overlap, a fix in one arena can cause trouble in another.

Here are a few examples of what might be called Earth's "zero-sum" dilemma in the 21st century.

Water vs. ocean pollution

A study released Monday shows for the first time that more than 16,000 desalination plants scattered across the globe produce more briny toxic sludge than fresh water.

For every litre of fresh water extracted, a litre-and-a-half of salty, chemical-laden sludge called brine is dumped—in most cases—into the ocean.

That's enough to cover the state of Florida in a 30-centimetre (one-foot) layer of slime.

"Desalination technology has benefited a large number of people," said co-author Manzoor Qadir, a researcher at the UN University. "But we cannot ignore the production of brine, which is going to become an even greater problem in the future." […]

Wind farms vs. biodiversity

There are some 350,000 wind turbines scattered across the globe producing more than 500 gigawatts of clean, green energy and supplying four percent of global electricity demand.

But wind farms are also bird killers: up to 328,000 birds—especially those that fly at night—are felled every year by fast-spinning blades in the United States alone, where there are some 50,000 turbines.

They also disrupt ecosystems. A scientific study of wind farms in the Western Ghats, a UNESCO-listed range of mountains and forest spanning India's west coast, found that predatory raptor birds were four times rarer than in adjacent areas.

Their absence cascaded down the food chain and radically altered the density and behaviour of the birds' prey. There was, in particular, an explosion in the raptors' favourite meal: fan-throated lizards.

Solar panels vs. ground pollution

Photovoltaic solar panels—which absorb sunlight to generate electricity—have a dirty little secret, according to French investigative journalist Guillaume Pitron.

The fastest growing renewable energy source includes critical metals and minerals that require a lot of energy to extract and often leave a trail of environmental devastation in their wake.

Wandering the world to research his book, The Rare Metals War, Pitron said he saw mountains in southern China "cut in half vertically," and "toxic lakes" in Inner Mongolia. [more]

Fixing the environment: when solutions become problems

Cover sheet of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management plan to force employees to work on sales of land for oil and gas drilling purposes in the Gulf of Mexico, during the Trump government shutdown, 8 January 2019. Graphic: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

By Ellie Kaufman
16 January 2019

(CNN) – The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is bringing back employees who were furloughed to work on sales of land for oil and gas drilling purposes in the Gulf of Mexico, according to an updated Department of Interior shutdown plan.

The plan was amended on 8 January 2019. The Department of Interior is using funds leftover from last year to cover the work, according to department spokeswoman Faith Vander Voort. Much of the department has been closed since the government shutdown began on 22 December 2019.

The plan states, "If the lapse in appropriations extends past 15 January 2019, additional personnel will be designated as exempt to complete work to publish Proposed Notice for Gulf of Mexico Sale 253 and Final Notice of Sale and Record of Decision for Gulf of Mexico Sale 252."

The employees will be brought back to work from their furloughed status for "only the amount of time needed to complete this work," according to the plan.

    Vander Voort said the Gulf of Mexico sales are scheduled for March and August, and if the "statute-driven processes" are not completed in a timely manner, "a lease sale(s) would be cancelled or delayed," and the money from those sales would not be given to the federal government.

    Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune criticized the agency's decision to bring furloughed employees back to work on these sales. The Sierra Club is an environmental advocacy organization.

      "Donald Trump may have closed the government to the American people, but he's hung up an 'open for business' sign for corporate polluters," Brune said in a statement. "During his shameful government shutdown, Trump is showing us his backwards vision for our country: a government that prioritizes fossil fuel industry profits at all costs, while American families are left out in the cold." [more]

      Interior brings back employees during shutdown to work on oil-drilling land sales

      Wildfire smoke from the Gell River Fire impacts Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, on 4 January 2019. Photo: Olivia Hicks

      By Ben Ehrenreich
      15 January 2019

      (The Nation) – Welcome to the future. It feels like it, doesn’t it? Like we have reached the end of something—of the days when the Arctic was not actually in flames, when the permafrost was not a sodden mush, when the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets were not rushing to join the quickly rising seas. Perhaps we have also, finally, reached the end of the days when we could soothe ourselves with lies, or delusions at least; when we imagined that we were the only masters here, that we could keep taking what we wanted, and that no one would ever have to pay.

      We are paying now. Twenty eighteen was the year that temperatures scraped 90 degrees in the Norwegian Arctic; that permafrost in northern Siberia failed to freeze at all; that wildfires burned on the taiga there, as well as above the Arctic Circle in Alaska and Sweden, in the moors of northern England, in Greece, and in California, where they showed no sense of poetic restraint whatsoever and reduced a place called Paradise to ash.

      And where there wasn’t fire, there were floods: Hundreds died and millions were evacuated from rising waters in Japan, southern China, and the Indian state of Kerala. Venice flooded too, and Paris, where the Louvre had to close its Department of Islamic Arts, which it had consigned, ahem, to a basement. It was also the year the United Nations’ climate change body warned that, to avoid full-on cataclysm, we, the humans of planet Earth, would have just 12 years (11 now) to cut carbon emissions by 45 percent, and 32 years (31 and counting) to eliminate such emissions altogether.

      Still, the weather may be the least of our problems. The fire that razed Paradise displaced 52,000 people overnight, forcing many into the ranks of California’s swelling homeless population and what passes for a safety net these days: free berths on the asphalt in a Walmart parking lot. Millions more of us will become refugees when a mega-storm drowns Miami or Manila, and when the Bay of Bengal rises high enough to swallow Bangladesh. Narendra Modi’s India is ready, and has nearly finished stretching barbed wire across the entire 2,500-mile border with Bangladesh. By conservative estimates, climate change will displace a quarter of a billion people over the next 31 years. Most will not be wealthy, and most will not be white.

      We do know, at least, how we got here. It was all that oil and coal that we burned, that we’re still burning. But that “we” is misleading. It isn’t all of us, and never was. As the Swedish scholar Andreas Malm recounts in Fossil Capital, his exhaustive account of the rise of the coal-powered steam engine, coal was initially embraced by a tiny subclass of wealthy Englishmen, the ones who owned the mills. They came to favor steam over hydropower in large part because it allowed them to erect factories in cities and towns—rather than submitting to the dictates of distant rivers and streams—giving them access to what we would now call a flexible workforce: masses of hungry urbanites accustomed to the indignities of factory labor, willing to toil for less, easily replaceable if they refused. […]

      From its inception, then, the carbon economy has been tied to the basic capitalist mandate to disempower workers, to squeeze the most sweat out of people for the least amount of money. For the last 200-odd years, the exploitation of the planet has been inseparable from the exploitation of living human beings. [more]

      To Those Who Think We Can Reform Our Way Out of the Climate Crisis

      In this 9 November 2018 file photo, Pacific Gas & Electric crews work to restore power lines in Paradise, California. Facing potentially colossal liabilities over deadly California wildfires, PG&E will file for bankruptcy protection. The announcement Monday, 14 January 2019, follows the resignation of the power company’s chief executive. Photo: Rich Pedroncelli / AP Photo

      By Sammy Roth
      15 January 2019

      (Los Angeles Times) – Climate change helped fuel the deadly fires that prompted California’s largest power company to announce Monday that it would file for bankruptcy in the face of $30 billion in potential liabilities.

      In a grim twist, the bankruptcy of PG&E Corp. could now slow California’s efforts to fight climate change.

      The Golden State has dramatically reduced planet-warming emissions from the electricity sector, largely by requiring utilities to increase their use of solar and wind power and fund energy efficiency upgrades for homes and businesses. Lawmakers recently set a target of 100% climate-friendly electricity by 2045.

      But those government mandates have depended on PG&E’s Pacific Gas & Electric unit and other utilities being able to invest tens of billions of dollars in clean energy technologies.

      PG&E’s ability to keep making those investments could be in serious jeopardy once it files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, some energy experts say. Even before the company said it would file for bankruptcy, the looming threat of wildfire liabilities had decimated its credit rating, which raises the cost of borrowing capital.

      The massive Topaz Solar Farm in California’s San Luis Obispo County, an electricity supplier to PG&E owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy, also saw its credit rating downgraded to junk status last week amid fears the San Francisco-based utility won’t be able to pay its bills in full.

      In the short term, PG&E might stop signing renewable energy contracts, although contracting had already slowed in the last few years as customers departed in droves for newly established local energy providers run by city and county governments. In the long term, renewable energy developers and their lenders may hesitate to do business with PG&E — and, potentially, with other California utilities that could also face significant future wildfire costs.

      “If we’re having a couple billion dollars a year of fire damage and insurance losses, quite apart from PG&E, this is going to put the entire state of California at risk,” said V. John White, executive director of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, a Sacramento-based trade group. [more]

      PG&E’s bankruptcy could slow California’s fight against climate change

      A Puerto Rican tody. In the Luquillo rainfoest, the tody population, which eats almost nothing but insects, has dropped by 90 percent due to global warming. Photo: W Arissen / Getty Images

      By Damian Carrington
      15 Jan 2019

      (The Guardian) – “We knew that something was amiss in the first couple days,” said Brad Lister. “We were driving into the forest and at the same time both Andres and I said: ‘Where are all the birds?’ There was nothing.”

      His return to the Luquillo rainforest in Puerto Rico after 35 years was to reveal an appalling discovery. The insect population that once provided plentiful food for birds throughout the mountainous national park had collapsed. On the ground, 98% had gone. Up in the leafy canopy, 80% had vanished. The most likely culprit by far is global warming.

      “It was just astonishing,” Lister said. “Before, both the sticky ground plates and canopy plates would be covered with insects. You’d be there for hours picking them off the plates at night. But now the plates would come down after 12 hours in the tropical forest with a couple of lonely insects trapped or none at all.”

      “It was a true collapse of the insect populations in that rainforest,” he said. “We began to realise this is terrible – a very, very disturbing result.”

      Earth’s bugs outweigh humans 17 times over and are such a fundamental foundation of the food chain that scientists say a crash in insect numbers risks “ecological Armageddon”. When Lister’s study was published in October, one expert called the findings “hyper-alarming”.

      The Puerto Rico work is one of just a handful of studies assessing this vital issue, but those that do exist are deeply worrying. Flying insect numbers in Germany’s natural reserves have plunged 75% in just 25 years. The virtual disappearance of birds in an Australian eucalyptus forest was blamed on a lack of insects caused by drought and heat. Lister and his colleague Andrés García also found that insect numbers in a dry forest in Mexico had fallen 80% since the 1980s.

      “We are essentially destroying the very life support systems that allow us to sustain our existence on the planet, along with all the other life on the planet,” Lister said. “It is just horrifying to watch us decimate the natural world like this.” […]

      As the data came in, the predictions were confirmed in startling fashion. “The number of hot spells, temperatures above 29C, have increased tremendously,” he said. “It went from zero in the 1970s up to something like 44% of the days.” Factors important elsewhere in the world, such as destruction of habitat and pesticide use, could not explain the plummeting insect populations in Luquillo, which has long been a protected area.

      Data on other animals that feed on bugs backed up the findings. “The frogs and birds had also declined simultaneously by about 50% to 65%,” Lister said. The population of one dazzling green bird that eats almost nothing but insects, the Puerto Rican tody, dropped by 90%.

      Lister calls these impacts a “bottom-up trophic cascade”, in which the knock-on effects of the insect collapse surge up through the food chain.

      “I don’t think most people have a systems view of the natural world,” he said. “But it’s all connected and when the invertebrates are declining the entire food web is going to suffer and degrade. It is a system-wide effect.” [more]

      Insect collapse: ‘We are destroying our life support systems’

      Penrith, NSW, Australia was the world's hottest place on  7 January 2018 (47.3C). But the most above average was the Arctic north of Finland, which really shouldn't be above -- or anywhere near -- 0C at this time of year. Graphic: Andrew B. Watkins / ClimateReanalyzer

      By Lisa Cox
      15 January 2019

      (The Guardian) – Port Augusta in South Australia has reached 48.9C on Tuesday, as a heatwave sets in across much of Australia threatening more record hot days.

      All-time highest minimum temperatures have also been broken in three places. Meekatharra in Western Australia and Fowlers Gap and White Cliffs in New South Wales all registered an overnight minimum of 33C on Monday.

      Severe to extreme heatwave conditions extending from the interior of WA across South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, the ACT and NSW will bring maximum temperatures of 8C to 12C above average, and in some places up to 16C above average before the end of the week.

      From Tuesday through to Friday, parts of South Australia, Victoria and NSW may break January heat records, with daytime maximums extending up to the mid-40s.

      “It’s quite a significant heatwave because we are expecting a number of records to fall across those areas for both minimum and maximum temperatures,” said Dean Sgarbossa, a senior meteorologist with the Bureau of Meteorology.

      On Tuesday, Port Augusta in South Australia reached 48.9C, an all-time high since records began in 1962.

      Port Augusta Hay in NSW had reached a high of 47.2C by Tuesday afternoon and several locations in Victoria reached temperatures in the mid-40s, with Walpeup in the state’s north-west recording 45.6C.

      South Australia is forecast to have three days of severe to extreme heat.

      The South Australian housing authority has issued a “code red” until 16 January 2019 for greater metropolitan Adelaide. [more]

      Australia extreme heatwave: 'code red' issued as Port Augusta hits 48.9C

      Screenshot of an iPhone that has shut down in the record-breaking Sydney heat wave, 7 January 2018. Photo: Ammy Kwong / Twitter

      By William McInnes
      8 January 2018

      (The Sydney Morning Herald) – High temperatures, combined with high humidity, made it an unpleasant sleep for some in Sydney overnight.

      The Bureau of Meteorology confirmed on Monday that Penrith had reached the highest temperature on earth in the past 24 hours when it reached 47.3 degrees on Sunday afternoon.

      "It looks like it's the highest temperature recorded in the Sydney area in 80 years," Jacob Cronje, a senior meteorologist with Weatherzone, said.

      "It was certainly the hottest place in Australia," he said.

      A map published by the University of Maine's Climate Change Institute shows Australia was the hottest continent globally. […]

      Penrith's record-breaking day didn't cool off quickly with temperatures above 30 degrees still being recorded at 7.30pm and humidity as high as 91 per cent overnight. [more]

      Sydney clocks the hottest place on Earth as hot weather continues


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