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The huge iceberg in Ferryland, Newfoundland on April 16 via jodymartin_3298.

A massive iceberg is towering over a Newfoundland town, as climate change continues to cause dramatic and spectacular events.

The giant iceberg near Ferryland, Canada has created quite a stir and even caused traffic jams as locals stop to take pictures.

Icebergs commonly appear off the coast of Ferryland—in fact, this area called "Iceberg Alley" is famous for iceberg tours that start in May. However, this particular iceberg is unusual for its mammoth size and early appearance.

The Canadian Ice Service classified the iceberg as "large," their second largest category that includes heights of 151-240 feet and lengths of 401-670 feet.

According to Gabrielle McGrath, commander of the United States Coast Guard International Ice Patrol, 616 icebergs have already moved down the North Atlantic this year, while last year, 687 were counted by late September.

"When you look at the iceberg chart, it's truly incredible," Rebecca Acton-Bond, acting superintendent of ice operations with the Canadian Coast Guard, told CBC News.

"Usually, you don't see these numbers until the end of May or June. So the amount of icebergs that we're seeing right now, it really is quite something."

Acton-Bond said that the high number of icebergs is evidence that a major calving event has happened in Greenland. Ice calving is the process of ice chunks breaking loose from the edge of a glacier.

This rare climate event is only one of several reported this month. Scientists discovered a giant waterfall forming in Antarctica and an entire river in Canada's Yukon territory suddenly and unexpectedly changing direction.

NASA

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency Wednesday for coastal Louisiana to highlight the state's need for more federal funding to address extreme weather events.

"We are in a race against time to save our coast, and it is time we make bold decisions," Edwards said. "The Louisiana coast is in a state of crisis that demands immediate and urgent action to avert further damage to one of our most vital resources."

More than half of Louisiana's 4.65 million residents live on the coast. "Parts of our state remain unprotected from or vulnerable to future hurricane and flood events," Edwards emphasized, and estimated that 2,250 square miles of coastal Louisiana will be lost in the next 50 years unless immediate action is taken.

Edwards attributed the problem to factors including climate change, sea level rise, subsidence, hurricanes, storm surges, flooding, disconnecting the Mississippi River from coastal marshes and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Louisiana is still reeling from last August's historic flooding, which killed 13 people and caused more than $8 billion in damage. The Shreveport Times reported in January that Edwards was vigorously seeking more federal flood recovery funding beyond the $1.6 billion, which was finally made available last week.

According to The Advocate, Edwards "is seeking $2.2 billion in additional federal flood aid, nearly half of which would go toward homeowner assistance programs."

Also on Wednesday, Louisiana's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority approved the 2017 Coastal Master Plan and the 2018 Annual Plan, in which spending priorities for restoration and protection were identified.

America's Wetland Foundation praised Edwards' announcement and said it could expedite federal help needed to enact coastal restoration projects.

"This declaration of emergency could greatly speed up the process and eliminate delays in permitting for some of these crucial projects," said King Milling, the foundation's chairman. "We urge President Trump to act on this declaration now."

According to the state of emergency announcement:

"Louisiana and its citizens have suffered tremendously as a result of the catastrophic coastal land and wetlands loss, and the threat of continued land loss to Louisiana's working coast threatens the viability of residential, agricultural, energy, and industrial development, and directly affects valuable fish and wildlife production that is vital to the nation;

Louisiana continues to experience one of the fastest rates of coastal erosion in the world, and this complex and fragile ecosystem is disappearing at an alarming rate—more than 1,800 square miles of land between 1932 and 2010, including 300 square miles of marshland between 2004 and 2008 alone."

New Orleans Public Radio WWNO reported that Edwards has written letters to Trump and to Congress, and if Louisiana is to get more federal aid, it could take months.

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The 2006 drought in Jowzjan province of northern Afghanistan made the land unfarmable. Photo credit: UNHCR/V.Tan

Climate change is helping terrorism and organized crime thrive in fragile states, boosting recruitment for groups like Boko Haram and ISIS, according to a new report.

The report, commissioned by the German Department for Foreign Affairs, looked at four case studies in Syria, Afghanistan, the Lake Chad region and Guatemala. The report found that terrorist groups in these regions are taking advantage of the changing climate, using increasingly scarce natural resources as a "weapon of war." The authors recommend that climate adaptation, humanitarian aid and counterterrorism efforts will help prevent conflict.

"The scarcer resources become, the more power is given to those who control them, especially in regions where people are particularly reliant on natural resources for their livelihoods," Lukas Rüttinger wrote in the Adelphi think tank report.

"As climate change affects food security and the availability of water and land, affected people will become more vulnerable not only to negative climate impacts but also to recruitment by terrorist groups offering alternative livelihoods and economic incentives."

For a deeper dive:

Reuters, The Guardian, Deutsche Welle, ThinkProgress, New York Post

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.


If you don't agree with 97 percent of climate scientists that climate change is real, you should at least believe your own eyes.

The Earth's rapidly rising temperatures has dramatically transformed our landscapes, as you can see quite clearly in these vivid photos of the world's melting glaciers.

Retreat of the Columbia Glacier, Alaska, USA, by ~6.5 km between 2009 and 2015. Credit: James Balog and the Extreme Ice Survey

The photos appeared in the new paper "Savor the Cryosphere," published in the peer-reviewed GSA Today, a publication of the Geological Society of America. The cryosphere is the Earth's frozen waters.

"We have unretouched photographic evidence of glaciers melting all around the globe," co-author Gregory Baker, adjunct professor of geology at the University of Kansas, said.

"That includes the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica—they're reduced in size. These aren't fancy computer models or satellite images where you'd have to make all kinds of corrections for the atmosphere. These are simply photos, some taken up to 100 years ago, and my co-authors went back and reacquired photos at many of these locations. So it's just straightforward proof of large-scale ice loss around the globe."

Baker's research career centers on geophysical imaging of Earth's subsurface and geoscience education.

Stein Glacier, Switzerland, retreat of ~550 m from 2006 to 2015. Credit: James Balog and the Extreme Ice Survey

Photographer James Balog, who was featured in the Emmy Award winning climate change documentary, Chasing Ice, contributed photographs from the Extreme-Ice Survey.

Other co-authors of the paper include Richard Alley, an American geologist who was invited to testify about climate change by Vice President Al Gore; Patrick Burkhart of Slippery Rock University; Lonnie Thompson of the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University; and Paul Baldauf of Nova Southeastern University also contributed to the paper.

The team hopes the paper will raise awareness about the world's melting glaciers.

"We have all heard of the impact of melting ice on sea level rise, but the public also need to be aware that places around the world depend on glaciers for their water and are going to come under increasing stress, and we already see how water shortages lead to all kinds of conflict," Baker said.

"The other critical point often overlooked is that when glaciers melt we're losing these scientific archive records of past climate change at specific locations around the Earth, as if someone came in and threw away all your family photos."

Solheimajokull, Iceland, retreat of ~625 m from 2007 to 2015. Credit: James Balog and the Extreme Ice Survey

"Glacier ice contains fingerprint evidence of past climate and past biology, trapped within the ice," Baker continued.

“Analyzing ice cores is one of the best ways to analyze carbon dioxide in the past, and they contain pollen we can look at to see what kind of plant systems may have been around. All of this information has been captured in glaciers over hundreds of thousands of years, and sometimes longer—Greenland and Antarctica cover perhaps up to a million years. The more that glacial ice melts, the more we're erasing these historical archives that we may not have measured yet in some remote glaciers, or deep in ice caps, that can tell us the history of the Earth that will be gone forever."

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NOAA

New interactive maps from NOAA show you how your region's vegetation has shifted due to climate change.

The maps are based off of the official U.S. Climate Normal, which are updated every 10 years and last updated in 2010. By averaging the coldest days each year for the 30-year window and sorting those averages into 10-degree Fahrenheit "planting zone" bins, they were able to make a continuous map with similar minimum temperatures between the two time periods.

This map shows the planting zones between 1971 and 2000.

This map shows the planting zones between 1981 and 2010.

As a whole it may not look like much has changed. But, when you zoom in on your region, you'll see that those slight changes made a huge difference. The 1970s was an unusually cool decade, while the 10 year period between 2001 and 2010 was the warmest ever recorded, causing for drastic shifts. For this reason, according to NOAA, planting zones have shifted northward and upward in elevation in many parts of the country, because warming winter nights are allowing plants to migrate. This is evident in the third map, which shows shifts in planting zones:

By basing it off of winter averages, we know that plants that used to survive in the region, may no longer make it in these changing times. Some plants need a long enough winter to go into dormancy and return in the spring to flower while other plants can't survive at all in sub-freezing temperatures. Climate.gov said these changes are also causing longer and more severe wildfire seasons, and allowing pests to thrive and spread to what used to be colder regions. Overall, this could be having adverse effects on pollination patterns, the food chain and ultimately the biodiversity of any given region.

"Species, including many iconic species, may disappear from regions where they have been prevalent or become extinct, altering some regions so much that their mix of plant and animal life will become almost unrecognizable," reported the Third National Climate Assessment in 2014.

These new "climate normals" can help people know exactly what to plant to ensure their garden is a healthy environment for native species.

The meltwater of Canada's Kaskawulsh glacier was suddenly rerouted last May due to human-induced climate change. Photo credit: Jim Best

By Andy Rowell

New research published in the journal Nature Geoscience Monday outlines the first documented case in modern times of what is being called "river piracy," in which one huge river suddenly flows into another.

On a research trip last summer in Canada's remote Yukon territory, scientists found that the vast Slims River had suddenly and unexpectedly changed direction.

For centuries, the Slims River had flowed north, carrying meltwater from the massive Kaskawulsh Glacier towards the Bering Sea. It was not a small river, spanning some 150 meters (492 feet) at its widest point.

However, the unusually hot spring last year caused an intense melting of the glacier that cut a new channel through the ice to the Alsek River, which flows southwards and into the Pacific. Where once the two rivers were comparable in size, the Slims has been reduced to a trickle and the Alsek is now some 60-70 times larger.

The Alsek had stolen the waters of the Slims.

The first recorded case of "river piracy" in the modern era shows how quickly climate change can alter natural topography. And more troubling for the scientists is that a phenomenon that they would expect to happen over hundreds of years occurred in a matter of days. Moreover, they do not expect it to be reversed. The river theft "is likely to be permanent," they argued.

"We were pretty shocked. We had no idea what was really in store," said Professor Dan Shugar, the paper's lead author and a geoscientist at the University of Washington Tacoma. "Day by day, we could see the water level dropping."

Another of the scientists involved, James Best, a geologist at the University of Illinois, described the discovery. "We went to the area intending to continue our measurements in the Slims River, but found the riverbed more or less dry," he said. "The delta top that we'd been sailing over in a small boat was now a dust storm. In terms of landscape change, it was incredibly dramatic."

The paper outlines that climate change is to blame.

In just fifty years, the Kaskawulsh Glacier has retreated by up to 700 meters (2297 feet). But last year, that rate increased dramatically with the unseasonably warm weather. The scientists argue that the chance of the "river piracy" occurring due to natural variability is at 0.5 percent. "So it's 99.5 percent that it occurred due to warming over the industrial era," said Best.

The phenomenon could have major ramifications for areas such as the Himalayas, the Andes or Alaska as global warming continues and glaciers continue to retreat. Professor Shugar told the New York Times that, as climate change causes more glaciers to melt, "We may see differences in the river networks and where rivers decide to go ... We may be surprised by what climate change has in store for us—and some of the effects might be much more rapid than we are expecting."

Indeed, the Nature Geoscience paper was published alongside an essay from Rachel M. Headley, an Assistant Professor of Geoscience at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. "As the world warms and more glaciers melt, populations dependent upon glacial meltwater should pay special attention to these processes," she warned.

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Wildflowers north of Los Padres National Forest in early December 2016 (before the winter rains) and in late March during the wildflower super bloom. Photo credit: Planet Labs

Thanks to above-average rainfall after an epic drought, spectacular flowers are blossoming throughout California, and now you can track it from space.

A few weeks ago, a colorful "super bloom" of sunflowers, sand verbena, dune evening primrose and ocotillos drew crowds of botany enthusiasts to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. These blooms were followed by similar phenomena in Carrizo Plain National Monument, Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge and an area close to Los Padres National Forest.

Check out the images below courtesy of Planet Labs, a company founded by former NASA scientists.

Last month, Planet Labs launched Planet Explorer Beta, where you can track satellite images for about 85 percent of Earth's changing terrain. If all of this looks to you like Google Earth on steroids, there's a good reason for that. The 2014 startup company in February acquired Google's satellite business, Terra Bella, responsible for Google Earth, and now boasts the world's largest fleet of Earth-imaging satellites.

To see how regions have changed as recorded by the satellite images, click on the white scroll bar in the middle, and slide the bar back and forth.

Near Los Padres National Forest


Carrizo Plain National Monument

Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge

The northern California coast is the latest area to bloom. A wildflower forecast for all areas of California through July can be found at Visit California.

ARC conducted an aerial and underwater survey of the reef which concluded that two-thirds of it has been hit by mass coral bleaching for second time in 12 months. Photo credit: Ed Roberts / ARC

Warming oceans have caused a large bleaching event in the Great Barrier Reef for the second year in a row, new aerial surveys show.

This year's bleaching extends much further south than areas impacted by the 2016 event and two thirds of the reef's corals have now been impacted by bleaching.

Reef scientists worry that the "shocking" back-to-back bleaching gives the reef little chance to recover and that increasing frequency of bleaching events could be ultimately devastating. Scientists recorded previous bleaching events at the Great Barrier Reef in 1998 and 2002.

"The significance of bleaching this year is that it's back to back, so there's been zero time for recovery," Professor Terry Hughes, who led the surveys, told the Guardian. "It's too early yet to tell what the full death toll will be from this year's bleaching, but clearly it will extend 500km south of last year's bleaching."

ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

Jon Brodie, a water quality expert, told the Guardian the reef was now in a "terminal stage."

"We've given up. It's been my life managing water quality, we've failed," Brodie said. "Even though we've spent a lot of money, we've had no success."

News: Washington Post, CNN, The Guardian, Mashable, BBC, Buzzfeed

Video: Washington Post, The Guardian

Commentary: The Guardian, David Ritter op-ed, The Guardian, video explainer

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

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