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Antarctica’s Ice Is Melting 5 Times Faster Than in the 90s
Almost 25 percent of the West Antarctic ice shelf is now thinning, and the Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers are losing ice at five times the rate they were in the early 1990s, CNN reported.
"In parts of Antarctica, the ice sheet has thinned by extraordinary amounts," study lead author and Leeds University Prof. Andy Shepherd told The Guardian.
The study, published in Geophysical Research Letters, comes four months after another study of the entire Antarctic continent found that it was losing ice at six times the rate it was 40 years ago. The latest study found that ice loss from both East and West Antarctica had raised global sea levels by 4.6 millimeters since 1992, according to CNN.
The study relied on 25 years of satellite data covering 1992 to 2017. The satellites were fitted with altimeters to measure height changes to the ice sheets. Researchers then used weather models to separate seasonal variation due to snow fall from melting and ice loss caused by long term climate change, BBC News explained.
"Using this unique dataset, we've been able to identify the parts of Antarctica that are undergoing rapid, sustained thinning―regions that are changing faster than we would expect due to normal weather patterns," co-head of the UK Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM) and Lancaster University Environmental Sensing Reader Dr. Malcolm McMillan told BBC News. "We can now clearly see how these regions have expanded through time, spreading inland across some of the most vulnerable parts of West Antarctica, which is critical for understanding the ice sheet's contribution to global sea level rise."
That understanding is showing a contribution at the high end of projections. Shepherd told BBC News that the south pole's contribution to sea level rise by 2100 was likely to be 10 centimeters (approximately four inches) higher than the five centimeters (approximately two inches) predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
"There is a 3,000km (approximately 1,850-mile) section of coastline ― including the Bellingshausen, Amundsen and Marie Byrd Land sections ― that is clearly not properly modelled because that's where all the ice is coming from, and more ice than was expected," he told BBC News.
The major driver of ice loss is warm water that melts the glaciers where they hit the sea bed, The Guardian explained. The glaciers then slide faster into the ocean and grow thinner. In some places, glaciers lost more than 100 meters (approximately 1,640 feet) of thickness. The thinning is also spreading inwards: in some places, thinning had reached 300 miles into 600 mile ice streams.
"More than 50% of the Pine Island and Thwaites glacier basins have been affected by thinning in the past 25 years. We are past halfway and that is a worry," Shepherd told The Guardian.
If all the ice in West Antarctica were to melt, it would raise sea levels about five meters, enough to flood many coastal cities. If East Antarctica also melted, seas would rise 60 meters (approximately 197 feet).
- Lower Sea Level Rise but More 'Climate Chaos'? Two New Studies ... ›
- Key Part of World's Largest Ice Shelf Melting 10 Times Faster Than ... ›
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Farms with just one or a handful of different crops encourage fewer species of pollinating and pest-controlling insects to linger, ultimately winnowing away crop yields, according to a new study.
Up to half of the detrimental impacts of the "landscape simplification" that monocropping entails come as a result of a diminished mix of ecosystem service-providing insects, a team of scientists reported Oct. 16 in the journal Science Advances.
Monocrop palm oil plantation Honduras.
SHARE Foundation / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0
"Our study shows that biodiversity is essential to ensure the provision of ecosystem services and to maintain a high and stable agricultural production," Matteo Dainese, the study's lead author and a biologist at Eurac Research in Bolzano, Italy, said in a statement.
It stands to reason that, with declines in the sheer numbers of insects that ferry pollen from plant to plant and keep crop-eating pests under control, these services will wane as well. But until now, it hasn't been clear how monocultures affect the number and mix of these species or how crop yields might change as a result.
Aiming to solve these questions, Dainese and his colleagues pulled together data from 89 studies cutting across a variety of landscapes, from the tropics of Asia and Africa to the higher latitudes of northern Europe. They tabulated the number of pollinating and pest-controlling insects at these sites — both the absolute number of individuals and the number of species — along with an assessment of the ecosystem services the insects provided.
In almost all of the studies they looked at, the team found that a more diverse pool of these species translated into more pollination and greater pest control. They also showed that simplified landscapes supported fewer species of service-providing insects, which ultimately led to lower crop yields.
The researchers also looked at a third measure of the makeup of insect populations — what they called "evenness." In natural ecosystems, a handful of dominant species with many more individuals typically live alongside a higher number of rarer species. The team found as landscapes became less diverse, dominant species numbers dwindled and rare species gained ground. This resulting, more equitable mix led to less pollination (though it didn't end up affecting pest control).
"Our study provides strong empirical support for the potential benefits of new pathways to sustainable agriculture that aim to reconcile the protection of biodiversity and the production of food for increasing human populations," Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, one of the study's authors and an animal ecologist at the University of Würzburg in Germany, said in the statement.
The scientists figure that the richness of pollinator species explains around a third of the harmful impacts of less diverse landscapes, while the richness of pest-controlling species accounts for about half of the same measure. In their view, the results of their research point to the need to protect biodiversity on and around crops in an uncertain future.
"Under future conditions with ongoing global change and more frequent extreme climate events, the value of farmland biodiversity ensuring resilience against environmental disturbances will become even more important," Steffan-Dewenter said.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Mongabay.
Ivory Coast's rainforests have been decimated by cocoa production and what is left is put in peril by a new law that will remove legal protections for thousands of square miles of forests, according to The Guardian.
By Karin Kirk
Greenland had quite the summer. It rose from peaceful obscurity to global headliner as ice melted so swiftly and massively that many were left grasping for adjectives. Then, Greenland's profile was further boosted, albeit not to its delight, when President Trump expressed interest in buying it, only to be summarily dismissed by the Danish prime minister.
During that time I happened to be in East Greenland, both as an observer of the stark effects of climate change and as a witness to local dialogue about presidential real estate aspirations, polar bear migrations and Greenland's sudden emergence as a trending topic.
Heavy metals that may damage a developing brain are present in 95 percent of baby foods on the market. Cirou Frederic / PhotoAlto Agency RF Collections / Getty Images
Heavy metals that may damage a developing brain are present in 95 percent of baby foods on the market, according to new research from the advocacy organization Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF), which bills itself as an alliance of scientists, nonprofit organizations and donors trying to reduce exposures to neurotoxic chemicals during the first three years of development.
By Kerstin Palme
Creepy-crawlies are among the oldest life forms on this planet. Before dinosaurs ever walked the earth, insects were certainly already there. Some estimates date their origins to 400 million years ago. They're also extremely successful. Of the 7 to 8 million species documented on Earth, around three quarters are likely bugs.
But several insect species could disappear for good in the next few decades and that would have serious consequences for humans.
Volvo introduced its first-ever all-electric vehicle this week, kicking off an ambitious plan to slash emissions and phase out solely gas-powered vehicles starting this year.
The report, released Wednesday, found that almost every European who lives in a city is exposed to unhealthy air, Reuters reported.