By Jeff Masters, Ph.D.
Tropical Storm Josephine Also No Threat to Land<p>Meanwhile, the season's record-earliest tenth named storm, Tropical Storm Josephine, was also struggling with high wind shear as it traced out a path over the open ocean.</p><p>At 5 a.m. EDT Saturday, Josephine was located about 310 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands, moving west-northwest at 15 mph with top sustained winds at 45 mph. Josephine is expected to bring one to three inches of rain over portions of the northern Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico over the weekend. Josephine will encounter steadily rising wind shear through Monday, peaking at a very high 30 – 35 knots. This high shear is likely to destroy Josephine's circulation by Monday, before the storm can affect any other land areas.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2020/08/tropical-storm-kyle-forms-unlikely-to-affect-land/" target="_blank">Yale Climate Connections</a>. </em><em></em></p>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
If weather is your mood, climate is your personality. That's an analogy some scientists use to help explain the difference between two words people often get mixed up.
Size Matters<p>Climates are a bit like woven tapestries. The big picture is important, no question. But so are all the seemingly minor details found inside the larger whole.</p><p><a href="https://research-information.bris.ac.uk/en/persons/tommaso-jucker" target="_blank">Tommaso Jucker</a> is an environmental scientist at the University of Bristol. In an email, Jucker says he'd define the term microclimate as "the suite of climatic conditions (temperature, rainfall, humidity, solar radiation) measured in localized areas, typically near the ground and at spatial scales that are directly relevant to ecological processes."</p><p>We'll talk about that last bit in a minute. But first, there's another criteria to discuss. According to some researchers, a microclimate — by definition — must differ from the larger area that surrounds it.</p><p><a href="https://www.cfc.umt.edu/research/paleoecologylab/publications/Davis_et_al_2019_Ecography.pdf" target="_blank">Forests</a> provide us with some great examples. "The climate near the ground in a tropical rainforest is dramatically different from the climate in the canopy 50 meters [164 feet] above," says University of Montana ecologist <a href="https://www.cfc.umt.edu/personnel/details.php?ID=1110" target="_blank">Solomon Dobrowski</a> in an email. "This vertical gradient among other factors allows for the staggering biodiversity we see in the tropics."</p><p>Likewise, scientists observed that a 2015 partial <a href="https://animals.howstuffworks.com/insects/bees-stopped-buzzing-during-2017-solar-eclipse.htm" target="_blank">solar eclipse</a> caused the air temperature of an Eastern European meadow to <a href="https://rmets.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/wea.2802" target="_blank">change more dramatically</a> than it did in a nearby forest. That's because trees provide not only shade, but their leaves also reflect solar radiation. At the same time, forests tend to reduce wind speeds.</p><p>All those factors add up. A 2019 review of 98 wooded places — spread out across five continents — found that forests are 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) <a href="https://natureecoevocommunity.nature.com/posts/47363-forests-protect-animals-and-plants-against-warming" target="_blank">cooler on average</a> than the areas outside them.</p><p>Now if you hate the cold, don't worry; there's a cozy exception to the rule. According to that same study, forests are usually 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) warmer than the external environment during the wintertime. Pretty cool.</p>
A Bug's Life<p>When does a microclimate stop being, well, micro? In other words, is there a maximum size we should be aware of when discussing them?</p><p>Depends on who you ask. "In terms of horizontal scale, some have defined 'microclimate' as anything that is less than 100 meters [328 feet] in range," Jucker says. "I'm personally less prescriptive about this."</p><p>Instead, he says the "scale at which we want to measure [a particular] microclimate" ought to be "dictated" by the questions we're trying to answer.</p><p>"If I want to know how temperature affects the photosynthesis of a leaf, I should be measuring temperature at centimeter scale," Jucker explains. "If I want to know if and how temperature affects the habitat preference of a large, mobile mammal, it's probably more relevant to capture temperature variation across [tens to hundreds] of meters."</p><p>For instance, solitary plants have the power to generate itty-bitty microclimates. Just ask <a href="https://www.colorado.edu/geography/peter-blanken-0" target="_blank">Peter Blanken</a>, a geography professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder and the co-author of the 2016 book, "<a href="https://amzn.to/2XN6FT8" target="_blank">Microclimate and Local Climate</a>."</p>
The urban heat island effect is a good example of how microclimates work. NOAA
Microclimates on a Grand Scale<p>It's no secret that our planet is going through some rough times at the macro level. The global temperature is <a href="https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/global-temperature/" target="_blank">climbing</a>; nine out of the <a href="https://www.noaa.gov/news/2019-was-2nd-hottest-year-on-record-for-earth-say-noaa-nasa" target="_blank">10 hottest years on record</a> have occurred since 2005. And by one recent estimate, roughly 1 million species around the world are <a href="https://ipbes.net/sites/default/files/2020-02/ipbes_global_assessment_report_summary_for_policymakers_en.pdf" target="_blank">facing extinction</a> due to human activities.</p><p>"One of the big questions that ecologists and environmental scientists are trying to answer right now is how will individual species and whole ecosystems respond to rapid climate change and habitat loss," says Jucker. "...To me, [microclimates are] a key component of this research — if we don't measure and understand climate at the appropriate scale, then predicting how things will change in the future becomes a lot harder."</p><p>Developers have long understood the impact small-scale climates have on our daily lives. <a href="https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/urban-heat-island.htm#pt0" target="_blank">Urban heat islands</a> are cities that have higher temperatures than neighboring rural areas.</p><p>Plants release vapors that can moderate local climates. But in cities, natural greenery is often scarce. To make matters worse, plenty of our roads and buildings have a bad habit of absorbing or re-emitting heat from the sun. <a href="https://www.google.com/books/edition/Microclimate_and_Local_Climate/LHUZDAAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=urban%20heat%20island" target="_blank">Vehicle emissions</a> don't exactly help the situation.</p><p>Still, it's not like Boston or Beijing are thermal monoliths. Sometimes, the documented temperatures <a href="https://e360.yale.edu/features/can-we-turn-down-the-temperature-on-urban-heat-islands" target="_blank">within a single city</a> vary by 15 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (8.3 to 11.1 degrees Celsius).</p><p>That's where metro parks and city trees come in. They have nice cooling effects on nearby neighborhoods. "Several cities around the world have developed programs to increase urban green spaces," says Blanken. "Tree planting programs and green roof programs, have been shown to lower surface temperatures, decrease air pollution and decrease surface water runoff (urban flash-flooding) in urban areas."</p>
By Emma Charlton
The effects of climate change may more far-reaching than you think.
Hotter temperatures have been linked to a rise in energy poverty, with more people struggling to meet their energy bills from their household income, according to a new study published on ScienceDirect by researchers from Italy's Ca' Foscari University.
Value of air conditioning imports in selected OECD countries. ScienceDirect
The ‘Golden Thread’<p>The <a href="https://www.endenergypoverty.org/reports" target="_blank">Global Commission to End Energy Poverty</a> calls access to energy the "golden thread" that weaves together economic growth, human development, and environmental sustainability. And one of the <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/archive/sdg-07-affordable-and-clean-energy" target="_blank">United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals</a> is to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030.</p><p>Sustainability also has a large role to play in the future of energy and failing to embed green policies in COVID-19 stimulus packages and underinvesting in green infrastructure are current risks, according to the <a href="http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_COVID_19_Risks_Outlook_Special_Edition_Pages.pdf" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</p><p>In its vision for a 'Great Reset' – building a better world after the pandemic – the Forum and the IMF jointly backed the <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/06/end-fossil-fuel-subsidies-economy-imf-georgieva-great-reset-climate/" target="_blank">transition to a green economy</a> and called for an end to fossil fuel subsidies.</p>
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Along the northern shores of the Gulf of Mexico, oysters live in coastal estuaries where saltwater and freshwater meet and mix.
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By Martin Kuebler
With hotter summers, severe storms and prolonged dry spells in the forecast, the outlook for Europe's farmers is daunting.
<div id="7b57a" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a3140c63ff0a97771d0ad3f85329d728"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1174945780358008833" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">❓How concerned are you about the impact of #climatechange on #farming in #Europe? #Adaptation will be crucial - fin… https://t.co/XPkbPic6DY</div> — EU EnvironmentAgency (@EU EnvironmentAgency)<a href="https://twitter.com/EUEnvironment/statuses/1174945780358008833">1568963878.0</a></blockquote></div><p>Places in northern Europe, meanwhile, could see agricultural benefits from climate change, including longer growing seasons and a shorter frost period "allowing the cultivation of new crops and varieties," said the report. Suitable cropland around the Baltic Sea could more than double by 2100, from 32% of land area today to about 76%, with certain crops now common to southern Europe taking root further north.</p>
UK, Scandinavian Wines<p>Those climatic changes have already borne fruit — quite literally. In the northern German state of Lower Saxony, where average temperatures have risen nearly 2 degrees Celsius in the last several decades, some farmers have started cultivating fruits typically found further south, such as apricots and nectarines. And wine cultivation, typically associated with more southern slopes in France, Spain and Italy, is now taking off in places like Denmark, Sweden and the United Kingdom.</p><p><a href="https://www.ryedalevineyards.co.uk/" target="_blank">Ryedale Vineyards</a>, in northeastern England, has been producing British wines since 2006. As one of the UK's northernmost wineries, it relies mainly on hybrid disease-resistant grape varieties more suited to northern Europe's cooler regions.</p><p>The warming trend of the past decades has seen the UK's wine industry quadruple in size since 2000, with English vineyards producing some 13.2 million bottles in 2018. But the changing climate does pose other challenges, including unusual weather patterns and increased risk of disease associated with wetter summers. which have been linked to climate change.</p><p>"Unpredictable weather events, droughts and intense summer storms are a real problem and seem to have increased in frequency," said Jon Fletcher, who runs Ryedale Vineyards with his family. In an email to DW, he listed off the challenges: late frosts, destructive hailstorms and dry spells that can last for months. "This year we have already had the sunniest May on record and no rainfall for two months, so the unpredictable weather continues."</p><p>"Climate change is posing a risk for the sustainability of vineyard management at global scale and, particularly, in Europe," said Josep Maria Sole of <a href="http://visca.eu/" target="_blank">VISCA (Vineyards Integrated Smart Climate Application)</a>, an EU-funded project that aims to help Europe's wine industry develop medium- and long-term adaption strategies. He said wine producing areas will increasingly suffer from intense heat waves and droughts and, in certain regions in Spain, more intense spring frosts, which can damage grapevine buds.</p><p>Blaz Kurnik, an expert on climate change impacts and adaptation at the EEA, said these higher temperatures, especially warmer winters, will also favor the introduction of new diseases and pests, including the olive fruit fly. Increasing swarms are threatening Europe's olive oil industry, responsible for around three-quarters of the world's supply. "In the worst-case scenario, up to 80% of [Italy's] olive trees will be affected by this every year," said Kurnik, adding that flies were also infesting Spain's olive groves.</p>
Mango, Avocado and Lychee: Europe's Future Cash Crops?<p>Italy, which ranks second in the world for olive oil production, saw a disastrous harvest in 2018. Bad weather and frost caused production to drop by 57%, representing a loss of nearly €1 billion ($1.13 billion).</p><p>Sicily is one of Italy's top olive oil-producing regions, along with Calabria and Puglia. But some farmers there have begun focusing their attention on crops native to tropical regions, including mangoes, avocado and lychee fruit. </p><p>Tropical crops were first introduced to Sicily back in the 1970s, but recent years have seen an exponential growth of these crops and the introduction of new species such as papaya, replacing citrus fruits which "are no longer remunerative," said Vittorio Farina, an associate professor in agriculture at the University of Palermo.</p><p>"The favorable climate of many areas in the Mediterranean basin is promoting tropical fruit cultivations," he said in an email to DW. "In fact, the predominant mango and avocado production is concentrated in tropical countries, but recently its cultivation has spread outside the traditional geographical regions to the Mediterranean basin and in particular in Egypt, Israel, South Africa, Europe, mainly Spain and Italy."</p><p>Farina said a succession of milder winters has favored the expansion of mango, avocado and papaya orchards destined for export markets further north, though the corresponding drier summers and extreme weather events remain a challenge.</p><p><span></span>"The problem of the scarcity of water resources for agriculture will increasingly impose the introduction of species with low water requirements," said Farina, suggesting the possible introduction of fruit like the cactus pear. "For most other tropical species, irrigation in the warm months in the dry areas is an essential condition for obtaining a quality product." Farina said they were testing precision irrigation strategies to limit the water footprint of the tropical crops.</p>
Finding the Right Solution<p>Margarita Ruiz-Ramos, an associate professor at the Polytechnic University of Madrid, told DW that new crops were also being tested in Spain, including pistachios. However, she stressed that the priority now was experimenting with different varieties of existing crops that could withstand new growing conditions — such as types of fruit that don't rely as heavily on winter chill to produce spring blossoms.</p><p>"There already is the possibility to adapt the variety without changing the [main] crop in the short to medium term," she said, pointing out that some crops could also shift to other more suitable areas within the same country.</p><p>As part of her work at the <a href="http://ceigram.upm.es/" target="_blank">Research Center for the Management of Agricultural and Environmental Risks</a>, Ruiz-Ramos analyzes crop varieties, planting schedules, soil conditions, irrigation options and many other variables to find the optimum strategy for farmers and "design locally tailored adaptations." The most promising solutions are then tested in the field.</p><p>"It's a compromise between different needs. And that's why it's not so obvious as to just bring in some African crops," she said. However, she didn't rule out the fact that dramatic temperature changes could one day lead growers to take a chance on non-native crops.</p><p>Yves Madre, a co-founder of <a href="https://www.farm-europe.eu/" target="_blank">Brussels-based think tank Farm Europe</a>, said the EU's farming sector needs to be more open to new breeding techniques that would introduce drought and disease-tolerance genes to existing crops, which can include genome editing.</p><p>With more innovation and investment, he said the EU would be able to meet its goals in terms of food security and growth, especially in rural areas.</p>
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By Peter Beech
Using waste food to farm insects as fish food and high-tech real-time water quality monitoring: innovations that could help change global aquaculture, were showcased at the World Economic Forum's Virtual Ocean Dialogues 2020.
Fly fishing. nextProtein
BiOceanOr's AquaREAL system. BiOceanOr
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The big three broadcast channels failed to cover the disproportionate impacts of extreme weather on low-income communities or communities of color during their primetime coverage of seven hurricanes and one tropical storm over three years, a Media Matters for America analysis revealed.
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During summer in central New York, residents often enjoy a refreshing dip in the region's peaceful lakes.
But sometimes swimming is off-limits because of algae blooms that can make people sick.
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fotograzia / Getty Images
By Sara Peach
When your body gets too hot, you may experience a heat-related illness such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Such illnesses can be dangerous. In fact, on average, there are more heat-related deaths in the U.S. each year than hurricane- or flood-related fatalities combined.
But heat exhaustion and heat stroke are preventable. Read on for some do's and don'ts.
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It will be warmer in Fairbanks, Alaska, than it will be in New York City, Philadelphia, Cleveland and even Atlanta this weekend, AccuWeather predicted Wednesday.
Flooding is the most common and most expensive natural disaster in the U.S., according to FEMA. And the risk of catastrophic floods in the U.S. is only rising as climate change intensifies downpours in areas like the Northeast and Midwest. In the West, flooding risks rise following major wildfires that denude hills of trees and undergrowth.
DO: Take Steps Now to Protect Your Home From Future Flooding.<ul><li>Assess your level of risk. Search for your address in <a href="https://msc.fema.gov/portal/search" target="_blank">FEMA's map</a> to see how high the risk for flooding is in your area. Don't be lulled into a false sense of security simply because you live in an area with low or moderate risk. Even in these lower-risk areas, your home is still five times more likely to experience a flood than a fire during the next 30 years.<br></li><li>Seriously consider getting flood insurance. Most homeowner insurance does not cover damages from floods. Waiting until the last minute to get flood insurance doesn't work: It typically takes <a href="https://www.fema.gov/news-release/2018/05/01/dont-wait-buy-flood-insurance-today" target="_blank">about 30 days</a> to take effect. (There are some exceptions to this waiting period.)<br></li><li>Document and store important files and keepsakes in a safe location. Keep photographs of especially valuable property. Keep a digital copy of important documents and photos in a safe off-site location.</li></ul>
DO: Take Swift Action When a Flood Watch or Warning Is Announced.<ul><li>Listen to <a href="https://www.weather.gov/nwr&ln_desc=NOAA+Weather+Radio/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> for important updates.<br></li><li>Confirm that your emergency kit and evacuation plan are up to date and accessible.<br></li><li>Clear gutters and use sandbags if needed to divert water away from the foundation of your home.<br></li><li>Move valuables to a higher or otherwise safer room.<br></li><li>Prioritize personal safety, and don't walk, swim, or drive through floodwater.</li></ul>
DO: Address Flood Damage After the Fact.<ul><li>Avoid contact with floodwater, which may contain sewage or other contaminants or materials such as timber or solid wastes.<br></li><li>Call your insurance provider as soon as possible. If you're renting, call your landlord instead.<br></li><li>When the weather dries, open windows to improve ventilation and help your home air out.<br></li><li>Immediately discard anything that may pose a health risk, including food, clothes, rugs, and other belongings. (For insurance purposes, you'll need to take pictures of some items first, including serial numbers on major appliances.)</li></ul>
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Greenland's kilometers-long ice sheet underwent near-record imbalance last year, scientists have reported on Wednesday.
The ice sheet suffered a net loss of 600 billion tons, which was enough to raise the global watermark 1.5 millimeters, accounting for approximately 40% of total sea-level rise in 2019.
The alarming development was reported in "The Cryosphere," a peer-reviewed journal published by the European Geosciences Union.
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By Ellen Wright Clayton
Will SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, fade away on its own this summer?
Are Heat and Humidity Reason for Hope?<p>Although the U.S. is early in the course of the pandemic, there is evidence from other countries that SARS-CoV-2 spreads more rapidly in cold, dry weather.</p><p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.03.30.20044099" target="_blank">One preprint study of 30 Chinese provinces</a> showed that the number of COVID-19 cases went down by between 36% and 57% for every 1.8 degree Fahrenheit increase in temperature. When temperatures held steady in the low 40s F, the number of cases went down between 11% and 22% with each 1% increase in relative humidity (how much water is in the air).</p><p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.03.27.20045658" target="_blank">A larger preprint study looking at 310 regions in 116 countries</a> found that 11% more cases were reported when the temperature went down 9 degrees, the relative humidity went down 10% and when the wind speed went up.</p><p>Laboratory research also suggest that the virus survives longer in cold conditions. One study showed that SARS-CoV-2 lasts for 14 days at 40 F in lab media but <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S2666-5247(20)30003-3" target="_blank">is gone after one day at 98.6 F</a>.</p><p>These and other studies suggest that warm, humid weather may slow the spread of this virus, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.02.12.20022467" target="_blank">although not all</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.03.29.20046706" target="_blank">commentators agree</a>.</p><p>New research on this topic appears almost daily, and scientists are watching to see what happens as summer comes to the Northern Hemisphere.</p>
Which Clues Call for Caution?<p>COVID-19 is already spreading in many parts of the world where it's hot, including Australia and South America, demonstrating that high temperatures are not enough to stop the disease.</p><p>The most important reason to be concerned about ongoing spread is the fact that this is a brand new virus for humans, so almost everyone is susceptible to being infected.</p><p>In fact, weather actually appears to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.03.18.20036731" target="_blank">play a minor role</a> in the rate at which this virus spreads.</p><p><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/13/opinion/coronavirus-what-we-know.html" target="_blank">Other influences on infection rates</a> include individual behaviors, cultural practices, geography, income and living conditions. <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/social-distancing.html" target="_blank">Public health practices</a> such as social distancing, the intensity of testing for infection, contact tracing, quarantine of people who are exposed and isolation of people who are actually infected also play a big role in how the coronavirus spreads.</p><p>The news from other viral diseases <a href="https://www.nap.edu/catalog/25771/rapid-expert-consultation-on-sars-cov-2-survival-in-relation-to-temperature-and-humidity-and-potential-for-seasonality-for-the-covid-19-pandemic-april-7-2020" target="_blank">is not encouraging either</a>. The two most serious coronavirus diseases that are closely related to COVID-19, the first SARS outbreak and MERS, <a href="https://www.nap.edu/catalog/25771/rapid-expert-consultation-on-sars-cov-2-survival-in-relation-to-temperature-and-humidity-and-potential-for-seasonality-for-the-covid-19-pandemic-april-7-2020" target="_blank">did not vary with the seasons after they emerged</a>. In fact, MERS is still <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/mers/index.html" target="_blank">found year-round in the Middle East</a>, where it is hot and dry. Pandemic influenza infections have emerged at different times of the year as well.</p>
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