Planet Earth Just Experienced second-Hottest Winter Ever Recorded

February 2020 was the second-hottest February ever recorded. And according to a Friday report by scientists at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Northern Hemisphere winter months as a whole – December 2019 through February 2020 – were also the second-hottest in recorded history.

According to the scientists, the first two months of 2020 also ranked as the second-warmest such period in the 141-year climate history record.

The global temperature in February 2020 “was the highest monthly temperature departure without an El Niño present in the tropical Pacific Ocean,” the NOAA noted. The El Niño is a series of climate variations that usually result in warm water along the equatorial Pacific region.

Record-warm December to February temperatures were observed across much of the western half of Russia and parts of Europe, eastern Asia, northern Australia and across the Atlantic, Indian and western Pacific Oceans.

Arctic sea ice coverage was 4% below the 1981-2010 average in February, while Antarctic ice coverage was 6.5% below that average, NOAA scientists added.

An analysis by the Ice Sheet Mass Balance Intercomparison Exercise (IMBIE), an international collaboration of polar scientists, released on March 11 revealed that polar ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica are melting six times faster than they were in the 1990’s.

The scientists found that the rapid melting of polar ice caps could lead to an “extra 17 centimeters of sea level rise by 2100.”

The United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization also revealed in early December that the past decade was the hottest ever experienced in recorded history.

NOAA / Crickey Conservation Society 2020.

US National parks are suddenly free to visit, But this might put people in danger

Three days of rejuvenation in Canyonlands National Park seemed the perfect bridge from winter to summer. But like so many other spring break national park escapes, our plans to pitch tents in the Needles Campground next week were undone by Corona-virus.

Confusion about whether it’s safe to social distance at national parks was heightened by U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s announcement Wednesday that park fees would be waived. But, during the Corona-virus pandemic, it’s “irresponsible” to flock to wilderness areas, experts say.

The decision to waive park fees and encourage Americans to head to the great outdoors runs contrary to ongoing closures, public concerns—and to official White House guidance instructing that all gatherings of 10 or more people be canceled.

Bernhardt’s message drew condemnation from the National Parks Conservation Association and the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, where Phil Francis highlighted concerns about the virus’ contagiousness.

It is irresponsible to urge people to visit national park sites when gathering at other public spaces is no longer considered safe,” Francis said. “We are concerned that the Secretary’s decision to waive entrance fees will lead to overcrowding and a greater risk to the health and well-being of our NPS employees and visitors.

Options are quickly dwindling for a relaxing getaway within the National Park System. Though many NPS units remain open, facility and service closures are stacking up across the country, from Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor National Memorial (closed) to Virgin Islands National Park (the Cruz Bay Visitor Center has locked its doors, and food service and ranger programs at Trunk Bay have been suspended).

Iconic destination lodges have also closed their doors, including Yosemite’s Ahwahnee, the Grand Canyon’s El Tovar, and Zion National Park’s namesake lodge. On Friday, Xanterra Parks & Resorts, which runs the Zion Lodge, closed its other park lodgings in Grand Canyon, Death Valley, and Yellowstone until at least late May, with hopes the Corona-virus pandemic will wane before summer.

Utah health officials have gone so far as to post “not welcome” messages for the Beehive State’s southeastern corner, a traditionally crowded—and rowdy—spring break destination due to the Slickrock mountain bike trail system and the red-rock beauty of Moab, Arches, and Canyonlands National Parks.

So unprecedented is the Corona-virus threat that the National Park Hospitality Association, which includes most major park concessionaires and outfitters, wrote President Trump this week seeking rescue. Along with a waiver of franchise fees paid to the National Park Service, the association is also asking for current concessions contracts to be extended two years.

The American Alpine Club has asked its members to restrict recreational travel in order to “flatten the curve,” or keep Covid-19 cases at a manageable daily level for healthcare providers. “This is not the time to head to the desert or rally to your favorite national park for ‘social distancing,’” the club wrote.

Considering the closing of facilities and campgrounds and the threat of contracting COVID-19, your clearest option instead might be to spend spring break binging the Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan documentary, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.

National Geographic / Crickey Conservation Society 2020.

USA and Brazil agree to develop Amazon

The USA and Brazil have agreed to promote private-sector development in the Amazon, during a meeting in Washington in 2019.

They also pledged a $100m (£80m) biodiversity conservation fund for the Amazon led by the private sector.

Brazil’s foreign minister said opening the rain forest to economic development was the only way to protect it? Ernesto Araujo also hit back at criticism of Brazil’s handling of the forest fires.

Araujo said: “We want to be together in the endeavor to create development for the Amazon region which we are convinced is the only way to protect the forest.

“So we need new initiatives, new productive initiatives, that create jobs, that create revenue for people in the Amazon and that’s where our partnership with the United States will be very important for us.”

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has faced criticism for failing to protect the region. However, more than 80,000 forest fires have broken out in the Amazon rain forest so far this year.

Experts believe the majority of the fires across Brazil this year are caused by human activity such as farmers and loggers clearing land for crops or cattle grazing.

Finland urged EU countries to consider stopping importing beef and soybeans from Brazil in order to put pressure on Brazil to tackle the fires.

Environmentalists will say this scheme is a ruse to open up the Amazon for mining, logging and farming.

When roads are driven into the forest it attracts more settlers, who clear land and hunt wildlife. The land clearance – even on a quite small basis – leads to changed weather patterns, which harm the forest.

Environmentalists will argue the best way of saving the rain forest is to leave it in the hands of indigenous people.

Environmentalists say Bolsonaro’s policies have led to an increase in fires this year and that he has encouraged cattle farmers to clear large areas of the rain forest since his election in 2018.

Now, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the (so-called) biodiversity investment fund would support businesses in hard to reach areas of the Amazon.

The Brazilians and the American teams will follow through on our commitment that our presidents made in March. We’re getting off the ground a 100 million dollar, 11-year Impact Investment Fund for Amazon biodiversity and that project will be led by the private sector.

On the opposite side, seven South American countries agreed on measures to protect their Amazon river basin.

Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Suriname signed a pact, setting up a disaster response network and satellite monitoring.

At a summit in the city of Leticia, Colombia they also agreed to work on reforestation. Goodwill alone is not enough anymore.

Crickey Conservation Society 2020.

Smoke from Australian Wild Fires reaching Brazil

Smoke from devastating bush fires in Australia that have led to the death of over two dozen people has reached South America.

According to the Brazilian Metsul Meteorologia company, smoke from the Australian fires is beginning to arrive in the northwest of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil’s southernmost state.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison pledged to allocate 2 billion Australian dollars ($1.4 billion) to help his fire-hit country through the newly-established National Bush fire Recovery Agency.

The Australian prime minister specified that this new commitment would come in addition to the government’s emergency and disaster payments and support for volunteer firefighters.

Wildfires started burning in Australia in September 2019. But in the last few weeks, hot and dry weather has contributed to the rapid spread of bush fires, which have claimed at least 25 lives and have destroyed almost 2,000 homes.

The bush fire crisis in Australia is getting worse day by day. Nearly half a million animals have likely been killed or displaced by the blazes, but humans will also have a hand in bringing down the animal population.

The Australian government said that over 10,000 camels will be shot from helicopters because they are overrunning the drought-afflicted southern parts of the country.

The operation is set to begin on Wednesday and is expected to take around five days. The camels’ bodies will be left to dry off, where possible, before they are burnt or buried.

Sputnik / Crickey Conservation Society 2020.

Japan’s ‘Tuna King’ spends $1.8 million for a 267 kg Fish

A Japanese businessman known as the Tuna King really goes to great lengths when it comes to giving sushi lovers the “best” Bluefin tuna. This year he paid 193.2mn yen ($1.8mn) for one, the second-highest price on record.

It is the second year in a row that Kiyoshi Kimura, who heads a popular sushi restaurant chain, was the most successful bidder at the traditional New Year’s auction at Tokyo’s main fish market, Toyosu.

On Sunday, he bought a 276 kg (608-pound) Bluefin tuna, caught off the Aomori region in northern Japan, to please his customers.

The entrepreneur added that despite the high price, he was happy to win as it is the first New Year’s auction in the new era, Reiwa, which started in May of last year when Crown Prince Naruhito became the emperor.

A fish weighing just 2 kg more was sold for a record $3.1 million at last year’s auction in Tokyo – the most expensive tuna ever sold. The record belongs to Kimura, who is also famous for buying very expensive fish at past auctions.

Crickey Curacao Conservation Society 2020.

Survival rates for Salmon just 3% on the West Coast of the USA

A recent die-off of fall Chinook salmon in the Wilson River has prompted fishery managers to close the entire North Coast to all salmon angling, effective December 13 – 31.

The U.S. Salmon demise is being blamed on global warming, but scientists also found an increase of 27% in radiation from 2012 to 2017. Survival rates for Salmon are now just 3% on the West Coast of the USA.

US officials closed all North Coast basins from the Nestucca River to the Necanicum River. The monitoring of North Coast basins, in response to the recent die-off, revealed substantial deaths of Chinook salmon prior to spawning.

The federal government issued a disaster declaration for Alaska’s pink salmon fishery and several other salmon and crab fisheries along the West Coast earlier this year. 

The demise of salmon is even worse in Scotland. It used to be the best salmon fishing in the world but climate change is being blamed for Scotland’s worst salmon season in living memory. 

Some beats on famous rivers like the Spey and the Nith recorded not a single salmon caught during the entire season, during November, 2018.

Just two salmon were caught on the River Fyne in Argyll, where once more than 700 were caught each season.

Survival rates for salmon at sea have fallen as low as 3% with global warming, pollution and ocean fishing fleets among the likely causes.

In August this year, a report claimed, from the Koyukuk River to the Kuskokwim, to Norton Sound, to Bristol Bay’s Igushik River, unusually warm temperatures across Alaska had led to massive die-offs of un-spawned chum, sockeye, and pink salmon.

Warm waters also sometimes this summer acted as a “thermal block” – essentially a wall of heat salmon don’t swim past, delaying upriver migration.

This month brought more misery for Alaskan fisheries. The season was marked by low flow and high pre-spawn mortality. This year, virtually no rain led to extremely low flows and field crews observed unprecedented pre-spawning die-offs and unusually late migration into the streams .

According to Prince William Sound Science Center, the fish finally started, what was for many, an ill-fated journey into the streams after some rain in early September.

The rain stopped and the rivers dried up again. Soon thousands of fish were restricted to tide pools without enough water to return to the bays. They all suffocated.

Our field crews estimated 10,000 died over a single night. We have never documented anything like that in the past.

Earlier this 2019, a sudden surge in algae killed at least eight million salmon in one week across Norwegian fish farms, the state-owned Norwegian Seafood Council has said. 

The enormous algal blooms, due to recent warm weather, have spread rapidly around Norway’s northern coast, sticking to fishes’ gills and suffocating them.

The Salmon fishing industry is on the verge of collapse after almost 10 million fish died in Norway.

The salmon problem from the radioactive pollution from Fukushima is even worse. A professor and biologist, talking in a public place about their salmon fishing was saying that at least 3 of her family members were dying from cancer, some of them having been given just weeks to live.

She was a set-netter and her family depended on salmon for part of their livelihood. I asked her if they eat the salmon they catch and she said since they like natural, organic food, they do. Her personal family consumes between 250 and 300 salmon a year.

She was totally unaware the fish were radiated but thought that might explain why her family was being destroyed by cancer, especially since there was no history of cancer in her family. 

Crickey Conservation Society 2019

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Planet Earth shifting on its Axis caused Historic Climate change

Scientists have found that our ancestors were forced out of Africa by pre-historic climate change caused by dramatic shifts in earth’s orientation 125,000 years ago.

The fascinating discovery was made by researchers at the University of Hawaii using complex computer programs to measure the effects of global warming and sea level patterns on human migrations over thousands of years ago.

They found long periods of ice age pushed people towards Asia and Europe through the Arabian Peninsula and the Mediterranean as temperatures fell and humidity rose across what is now North Africa.

Major migrations occurred during four significant and prolonged waves, the first beginning around 106,000 years ago and the most recent starting 45,000 years ago, according to the study published in the journal Nature.

Our pre-historic forebears took advantage of the wetter stages of this glacial era to travel across the land that today makes up the bone-dry Sahara and Arabian deserts of North Africa.

At the time there was enough vegetation and water to provide food for long-distance treks across continents.

Nature said the study, led by Alex Timmermann, uncovered the essential role of climatic variations in “orbital scale” on the distribution of populations across the world.

It said Dr Timmermann and his team used “the most comprehensive model so far, including data on climate, vegetation and human movements”

University of Columbia researcher Peter Demenocal told the journal, today the Sahara and Arabian deserts form an effective barrier against the spread of African wildlife

But in the past, changes in the Earth’s orientation axis caused a monsoon climate and established wetter conditions, which allowed outward migration paths with vegetation.

Crickey Conservation Society 2019.

Spain and Portugal hit by devastating Storms

Two powerful storms that struck Spain and Portugal in quick succession over the past three days have killed at least eight people and caused widespread flooding and damage.

In the southern region of Andalusia, emergency services said they had recovered the body of a windsurfer in the province of Huelva, and a second man died in Granada attempting to ford a swollen river in his car.

In Madrid a woman died on Saturday after being injured by a piece of falling masonry dislodged by strong winds in the city center on Friday.

The arrival of Storm Fabien on Saturday brought a fresh round of high winds and heavy rainfall to the region, just as Storm Elsa, which hit the Iberian peninsula on Wednesday, began to subside.

Spain’s civil defense agency said the latest front could bring winds of up to 140 km per hour (85 mph) and waves of up to 9 meters (30 feet), to the country’s northwest Atlantic coast.

However, the effects of the storms have been felt across the peninsula.

On Friday a person died in a landslide in Asturias, a second was killed when a stone wall crumbled in Galicia and a third person was swept away by floodwaters in Castile and Leon.

In Portugal, one man died in Montijo, near Lisbon, on Thursday after a tree fell on his truck, and a second man was killed in Castro Daire, northern Portugal, when his house collapsed.

Portugal’s civil protection authority said on Saturday the heavy rain and strong winds had felled trees and caused flooding and damage to infrastructure.

More than 250 people were evacuated from their homes in villages in central Portugal on Saturday due to rising river waters, Portuguese news agency Lusa said.

EDP, the country’s largest utility, said on Friday that thousands of people were without electricity due to storm damage.

Crickey Conservation Society 2019.

How Heavy Snow covered the Sahara Desert in 2018

In 2018, more than 15 inches (40cm) of heavy snowfall has blanketed the sand dunes across the small town of Ain Sefra, Algeria.

It is the second time snow has hit in nearly 40 years, with a dusting also recorded in December 2016. Before that, snow was last seen in Ain Sefra on February 18, 1979, when the snow storm lasted just half an hour.

Locals, who endure temperatures of 37C in summer, were stunned as dense snow settled on the town, known as ‘the gateway to the desert’.

Photographer Karim Bouchetata, who captured the remarkable images, said: “We were really surprised when we woke up to see snow again. It stayed all day on Sunday and began melting at around 5 pm.

Last year’s flurry brought chaos across the town, with passengers stranded on buses after the roads became slippery and icy. Children made snowmen and even sledged on the sand dunes.

More than 15 inches of snow has covered the Sahara Desert town of Ain Sefra

The cold snap comes as Europe and the United States froze in bitter temperatures.

Winter Storm Grayson, battering the US east coast, has seen the sea freeze in Cape Cod, along with the Niagara Falls in stunning scenes.

A spokesman for the Met Office said this morning: “Cold air was pulled down south in to North Africa over the weekend as a result of high pressure over Europe.

“The high pressure meant the cold weather extended further south than normal.” Ain Sefra is about 1,000 meters above sea level and surrounded by the Atlas Mountains.

Its average temperature for January is 6C, with average lows at -0.3C.

The Sahara Desert covers most of Northern Africa and it has gone through shifts in temperature and moisture over the past few hundred thousand years.

Crickey Conservation Society 2019.

Country-size fires became the New Normal around the entire Planet in 2019!

Sydney, Australia’s biggest city with a population of over 5 million people is suffering its worst pollution ever as smoke, caused by Australia’s record-breaking wildfire season blankets the city turning it into a “gas chamber.”

The smoke has caused a huge spike in respiratory illnesses along with the cancellation of outdoor sporting and leisure activities.

Sydney is quite literally under siege, surrounded by huge wildfires leaving a chief firefighter to claim the fires can only be extinguished by flooding rains, (rains are not expected until late January).

The fires which have reached the Greater Sydney area have scorched almost one million acres and to make matters worse a nationwide heatwave has pushed the mercury to 45 deg C, 113 deg F.

Wildfires dominated 2019, the first week of December, another Australian heatwave when temperatures reached an incredible 49 Deg C, 121 deg F causing petrol pumps to seize up, sparked wildfires over numerous towns resulting in the evacuation of thousands of residents.

At the same time, massive wildfires in Chile caused by extremely high temperatures and strong winds had killed two and destroyed almost 50,000 acres of land.

In May 2019 more than 200 fires surrounded Mexico City causing dangerously high levels of ash particles and ozone, again resulting in a spike in respiratory illnesses, see the picture above.

In June, Spain, Portugal and Italy suffered massive wildfires as an “enormous” reservoir of warm air drawn from northern Africa caused temperatures to hit 45 deg C, 113 deg F.

Crickey Conservation Society 2019.