Surrey is hit by forest fires as aerial footage shows smoke billowing for miles

Surrey is hit by forest fires as aerial footage shows smoke billowing for miles in county suffering from drought and Thames Water shortagesIncredible footage captured by a drone shows the scale of forest fires in Surrey in the south of England Drought was officially declared in eight areas of southern and central England yesterdaySurrey experienced water shortages today after ‘technical issues’ from Thames Water meant taps ran dryParts of southern England experienced the driest July since records began as millions face a hosepipe ban By Eleanor Dye For Mailonline Published: 13:37 EDT, 13 August 2022 | Updated: 13:41 EDT, 13 August 2022

Continue Reading Surrey is hit by forest fires as aerial footage shows smoke billowing for miles

Surrey is hit by forest fires as aerial footage shows smoke billowing for miles

Surrey is hit by forest fires as aerial footage shows smoke billowing for miles in county suffering from drought and Thames Water shortagesIncredible footage captured by a drone shows the scale of forest fires in Surrey in the south of England Drought was officially declared in eight areas of southern and central England yesterdaySurrey experienced water shortages today after ‘technical issues’ from Thames Water meant taps ran dryParts of southern England experienced the driest July since records began as millions face a hosepipe ban By Eleanor Dye For Mailonline Published: 13:37 EDT, 13 August 2022 | Updated: 13:41 EDT, 13 August 2022

Continue Reading Surrey is hit by forest fires as aerial footage shows smoke billowing for miles

Equilibrium/Sustainability — Scientists: World isn’t prepared for volcanic eruption

A large volcanic eruption could disrupt world food production and trade networks, causing damage to the global society equivalent to a strike from a giant asteroid, scientists argue. 

There is a 1-in-6 chance of a “magnitude seven” eruption in the next century — a volcanic explosion equivalent in power to a half-mile wide asteroid hitting the planet, according to a commentary published in Nature on Wednesday.  

“That’s a roll of the dice,” coauthor Lara Mani, a researcher at the University of Cambridge’s Center for the Study of Existential Risk, said in a statement.  

Yet while “hundreds of millions of dollars are pumped into asteroid threats every year, there is a severe lack of global financing and coordination for volcano preparedness,” Mani added. 

A magnitude-seven eruption is one that ejects more than 100 cubic kilometers (about 24 cubic miles) of lava, rock, ash and particulate matter, according to the United States Geological Survey. 

The last such explosion happened in 1815 in Indonesia, cutting out sunlight and dropping average global temperatures by 1 degree Celsius (1.8 Fahrenheit), according to co-author Mike Cassidy, a visiting researcher at Cambridge now at the University of Birmingham. 

In the U.S. and Europe — on the other side of the world — crops failed and famine, disease and political upheaval spread around the world at the time of the Indonesian explosion, the authors noted, warning that the impacts of such an event today would be much worse. 

“We now live in a world with eight times the population and over forty times the level of trade,” Cassidy said in a statement.  

“Our complex global networks could make us even more vulnerable to the shocks of a major eruption,” he added.

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Welcome to Equilibrium, a newsletter that tracks the growing global battle over the future of sustainability. We’re Saul Elbein and Sharon Udasin. Send us tips and feedback. A friend forward this newsletter to you? Subscribe here.

Today we’ll take a look at new research linking proximity to fracking sites to early childhood leukemia. Plus: what scientists have to say about the Inflation Reduction Act. Then we’ll explore findings that could help future explorers survive on Mars and see just how much damage wildfires are causing to global forests.

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Study: Greater leukemia risk for kids near frack sites

Pennsylvania children who live near fracking sites before birth and during infancy are two to three times more likely to be diagnosed with early-childhood leukemia than kids who didn’t live near such facilities, a new study has found.  

The study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives on Wednesday, explored the connection between the development of cancer and proximity to unconventional oil and gas drilling — also known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”  

What’s fracking? It’s a drilling technique that allows for the extraction of oil and gas deep underground by injecting fluid at high pressure into the rock and releasing the trapped fuels to the surface.  

Looking into health impacts: Scientists have previously reported on potential threats posed by fracking such as air pollution, water contamination or wastewater spills, the researchers said.  

Chemicals with known or suspected cancer links have reportedly been used in the water injection process that occurs during fracking.  Yet data on the association between fracking and childhood cancer remains scarce.  

A major concern: “Unconventional oil and gas development can both use and release chemicals that have been linked to cancer,” senior author Nicole Deziel, of the Yale School of Public Health, said in a statement.  

As a result, Deziel continued, the possibility that children living near such sites are “exposed to these chemical carcinogens is a major public health concern.” 

Broad health impacts: The study included 405 Pennsylvania kids aged 2-7, who were diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) between 2009 and 2017 as well as 2,080 control subjects.  

ALL is the most common form of childhood leukemia. Although long-term survival rates are high, patients may end up at higher risk of other physical and mental health problems.   

Vulnerable windows: The authors probed the link between in-utero exposure and ALL diagnosis in two different exposure periods:  

A “primary window,” from three months pre-conception to one year before diagnosis. A “perinatal window,” from pre-conception to birth.  

What did they find? Children with at least one fracking well within 1.24 miles of their birth residence during the primary window had 1.98 times the odds of developing ALL in comparison to those with no such wells.  

Meanwhile, children with at least one fracking well within 1.24 miles of their birth residence during the perinatal window were 2.8 times more likely to develop ALL than their peers who had no wells nearby.  

To read further about the implications of these findings, please click here for the full story.

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Scientists applaud climate bill but demand action

Scientists across the world are applauding the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act — signed into law on Tuesday — for its potential to help combat climate change.  

At the same time, however, these researchers are urging the U.S. to do more, according to Nature’s news magazine.  

On board to fight climate change: With $369 billion in climate investments, the Inflation Reduction Act could reduce emissions by about 30 to 40 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, Nature reported.  

The legislation also “signals to other nations that the United States, a major emitter,” is now “on board to address climate change,” according to Nature.  

Where’s that climate money going? The Inflation Reduction Act will funnel a significant amount of money — $490 million — directly into climate and weather forecasting research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Nature reported. Much higher sums will go to other purposes that could also help the climate, including $60 billion in grants and tax credits for clean-energy investments and pollution clean-up in disadvantaged communities.

The transition to green energy will be worth $128 billion in tax credits.Another $60 billion is being allocated to U.S. manufacturing of renewable technologies.  

Talk and action: “This is the biggest thing to happen to the U.S. on climate policy,” Bill Hare, of the nonprofit Climate Analytics, told The Associated Press.  

Over the past few decades, there has been “a lot of talk, but not action,” added Hare, whose organization published an independent analysis of the bill.  

A ‘radical shift’ — with some caveats: This analysis, called the “Climate Action Tracker,” acknowledges the new progress made but still rates American action on climate as “insufficient.”  

The legislation signifies “a radical shift in U.S. climate action” and sends a positive “global signal,” according to the tracker. Nonetheless, its climate finance allocations do not match the country’s “fair share contribution” to combatting climate change, the analysts argued. The bill also “includes several concessions for the fossil fuel industry,” they added.  

International accountability: Mohamed Adow, of the Nairobi-based think tank Power Shift Africa, told Nature that the U.S. must take responsibility for its historical emissions and help deliver climate finance to poorer nations.  

Wealthy countries promised $100 billion a year through 2025 to poorer ones several years ago, but that pledge has yet to be fulfilled, Adow said. “That’s what we need to see for a real jump in progress on the global stage,” he added.

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How future Mars explorers can live off the land

Scientists have identified techniques by which humans could potentially both grow food and harvest oxygen from Mars’s inhospitable environment. 

If their approach ends up viable in real Martian territory, it could help future Mars explorers to live off the land. 

Nitrogen fixers and salt removers: Scientists found that alfalfa — a flowering plant commonly used for cattle feed — could grow in simulated Martian soil, according to a study published Wednesday in PLoS One.

Alfalfa is a “nitrogen fixer” that puts nutrients back into the soil — in this case allowing the cultivation of turnips, radishes and lettuce on previously lifeless soil.The authors also found a kind of cyanobacteria (commonly called blue-green algae) that naturally pulls salt from water. 

Preparing the ground: Long-term human missions to Mars will require explorers to turn local resources like soil, water, solar radiation, nitrogen and carbon into the necessities of life, according to the paper. 

The alfalfa and cyanobacteria helps get around two key problems with using those resources, the authors explained.

Martian “soil” is crushed, sterile volcanic rock — not the nutrient-rich, water-trapping and biologically-active dirt that plants on Earth depend on. And Martian water comes in the form of salty brines unsuitable for plants used to freshwater. 

Treating the simulated Martian soil and water with alfalfa and cyanobacteria allowed the scientists to “sustain normal growth and productivity of the next generation of crops.” 

Harvesting air is possible too  

Breathable oxygen can be pulled from the Martian air using the high-energy states known as plasmas, an international team of scientists also found this week. 

Oxygen production would be  a starting point not only for creating usable air but for the manufacture of liquid fuels and building materials, according to the study, published in the Journal of Applied Physics.

Martian air is mostly carbon dioxide, which contains potentially usable oxygen but is a “very difficult molecule to break,” coauthor Vasco Guerra of the University of Lisbon said in a statement. Even once oxygen is separated out, that leaves behind toxic carbon monoxide that requires filtration.   

Pulling oxygen with plasmas: To break oxygen off cleanly with fewer byproducts, the scientists used plasmas — a high-energy state where electrons are “light and easily accelerated up to very high energies with electric fields,” according to a statement from the American Institute of Physics.  

The scientists found that this characteristic of the ”fourth state of matter” (in addition to solids, liquids and gasses) eased the process of breaking carbon dioxide into carbon and oxygen.

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Fires claim an additional Belgium each year

Wildfires are growing worse around the world, with tree cover loss from fires worldwide today double its rate 20 years ago, a new study has found. 

Losing a Belgium-sized area: Destructive fire claims an area of forest the size of Belgium each year on top of what it took two decades ago, according to research published on Wednesday by the World Resources Institute.

Wildfires have caused a quarter of global tree loss over the past 20 years.A wave of “unprecedented” subarctic forest fires making 2021 the worst fires season in recorded history. 

The U.S. is third-worst: Under this new fire regime, blazes of growing intensity have cost the U.S. a combined 30 million acres of forest since 2001 — an area of forest roughly the size of New York state. 

But that was only enough to put the country in third place for forest losses to wildfire. 

The enormous fires in the boreal forests of Canada and Russia made those two the biggest losers of forest last year — with a combined 190 million acres in forest losses since 2021.Russia’s losses alone cost it an area of forest the approximate size of France.

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Water Wednesday

Waste chokes a holy river, seaweed rottting on Caribbean beaches and drying rivers bring a message of global warning. 

Himalayan holy river littered with waste 

Nepal’s holy Bagmati River is now “choked with debris, its contents undrinkable and unsuitable even for cleaning,” according to The Associated Press. While people used to cleanse bodies of the deceased in the Bagmati prior to cremation, many families now resort to using purified water bought at nearby stores, the AP reported.  

Smelly seaweed covering Caribbean beaches 

Millions of tons of a foul-smelling seaweed called sargassum have been washing up on Caribbean shores — blanketing coastlines from Puerto Rico to Barbados, according to Euronews. Researchers blame the increase in sargassum on a variety of factors, including climate change, human sewage, washed up fertilizers from Brazil’s rivers and dust blowing from Africa’s Saharan Desert, Euronews reported. 

Rhine recovery doesn’t dispel river warnings 

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Please visit The Hill’s Sustainability section online for the web version of this newsletter and more stories. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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Continue Reading Equilibrium/Sustainability — Scientists: World isn’t prepared for volcanic eruption

Radical Drought Caused by Military Weather Weapons – Dane Wigington

by Greg Hunter, USA Watchdog:
Last month, climate engineering researcher Dane Wigington predicted “40 million in West would be without water in 2023.”  Looks like the U.S. government is just as worried as Wigington about the extreme drought conditions.  The Bureau of Reclamation just announced a first-ever forced water cut plan as the Colorado River dwindles to a trickle in Western America.  Wigington contends the severe drought in the West and around the world is not a natural event but caused by man-made weather modification called geoengineering. Wigington explains, “What do we see around the globe?  It’s not just Europe and not just the Western U.S., but South America also.  We are seeing radical protracted drought that is crushing crops everywhere while Las Vegas is being deluged in an engineered scenario.  This is all technology.  They control the spigot, period.  We have said this at GeoEngineeringWatch.org for a decade and a half.  Everything is manifesting itself.  What are we seeing?  While Vegas is being flooded, we are seeing in the bread basket in the Midwest and California 110 degree temperatures, single digit humidity in some places, and crops are virtually imploding here.”
TRUTH LIVES on at https://sgtreport.tv/
Who is responsible for the biggest drought in the last 1,200 years?  Wigington says documents show it is the U.S. military.  Wigington says, “Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor to Presidents Johnson and Carter, stated on the record that climate modification operations were the exceptional covert weapon of the U.S. military to make countries and their populations more compliant.  Climate modification is the Crown Jewel weapon of the Military Industrial Complex.  It’s not just for foreign adversaries, but for their own populations.  They can bring them to their knees without them ever knowing they are under assault.  Think how absurd this is when we have climate modification operations cutting off precipitation to tens of millions in the U.S., and nobody seems to have a clue.  Nobody is willing to acknowledge this elephant in the sky.”
The military is also using forest fires as a weapon.  Wigington says, “We have found a document that is titled ‘Forest Fires as a Military Weapon.’   (Wigington also has produced a video with the same title.)  It actually names the processes or road map to prepare for intense incineration.  What is most damning about this document is it specifically cites not only many locations in the U.S., including Mount Shasta where I live, it also cites the ‘prime burn windows’ for other U.S. allies that are on fire now such as Portugal, Spain and Greece.  How much more damning can a document be?  This is business as usual for the U.S. military.  Think about the insanity of this.  You incinerate forests as a military weapon and inflict damage on your own citizens.”
Wigington says there is a short window to fully wake people up to stop geoengineering, but the most important group is the U.S. military.  Wigington says, “Our military personnel are unknowingly participating in this . . . .  They are being told they are doing something for the greater good.  It’s something that is saving the planet when it is, in fact, killing the planet.”
Wigington talks about all the contaminated rain water, nuclear war, nano lipid particles, aluminum in your body and how much time we have left before the entire ecosystem implodes because of man-made weather modification called geoengineering.
There is much more in the 36 min interview.
Join Greg Hunter of USAWatchdog.com as he goes One-on-One with climate researcher Dane Wigington, founder of GeoEngineeringWatch.org, with an update to the ongoing global drought calamity for 8.16.22.
Read More @ USAWatchdog.com

Continue Reading Radical Drought Caused by Military Weather Weapons – Dane Wigington

Time Magazine Climate Anarchy

Roger Caiazza

Based on the Time Magazine opinion piece, “What Comes After the Coming Climate Anarchy?”, we may have reached a point where no facts have to be included in a climate fear porn editorial.  This is just a short introduction to the piece and the author.  I encourage you to read it yourself.

The author is Parag Khanna who Time describes as a founder of Future Map and author of the new book MOVE: The Forces Uprooting Us.  According to Khanna’s long bio, he is a “leading global strategy advisor, world traveler, and best-selling author”. He is Founder & CEO of Climate Alpha, an AI-powered analytics platform that forecasts asset values because “the next real estate boom will be in climate resilient regions”.   He also is Founder & Managing Partner of FutureMap, a data and scenario based strategic advisory firm that “navigates the dynamics of globalization”.  Dr. Khanna “holds a PhD in international relations from the London School of Economics, and Bachelors and Masters degrees from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University”.  A quick look at the School of Foreign Service Georgetown core curriculum offers no suggestion of any scientific requirements that could provide a basis for Dr. Khanna’s climate beliefs.

The opinion piece starts out with correlation causation fallacy endemic to the scientifically illiterate and climate innumerate crisis mongers.  He notes that in 2021, “global carbon dioxide emissions reached 36.3 billion tons, the highest volume ever recorded” and that this year “the number of international refugees will cross 30 million, also the highest figure ever”. Then he explains the basis for his climate anarchy belief: “As sea levels and temperatures rise and geopolitical tensions flare, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that humanity is veering towards systemic breakdown”.

This is just a windup to:

Today it’s fashionable to speak of civilizational collapse. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) states that just a 1.5 degree Celsius rise will prove devastating to the world’s food systems by 2025. Meanwhile, the most recent IPCC report warns that we must reverse emissions by 2025 or face an irreversible accelerating breakdown in critical ecosystems, and that even if the Paris agreement goals are implemented, a 2.4 degree Celsius rise is all but inevitable. In other words, the “worst case” RCP 8.5 scenario used in many climate models is actually a baseline. The large but banal numbers you read—$2 trillion in annual economic damage, 10-15% lower global GDP, etc.—are themselves likely massively understated. The climate bill just passed by the Senate is barely a consolation prize in this drama: a welcome measure, but also too little to bring rains back to drought-stricken regions in America or worldwide.

Then there is this:

Let’s assume that we are indeed hurtling towards the worst-case scenario by 2050: Hundreds of millions of people perish in heatwaves and forest fires, earthquakes and tsunamis, droughts and floods, state failures and protracted wars. Henry Gee, editor of the magazine Nature, wrote in an essay in Scientific American in late 2021 that even absent the hazards of climate change and nuclear war, humankind was heading towards extinction due to declining genetic variety and sperm quality.

He goes on to predict that even in the most plausibly dire scenarios billions of people will survive.  He says that current population stands at eight billion but claims as a result of these dire scenarios “the world population would likely still stand at 6 billion people by 2050”.  As you read on this opinion piece is simply an infomercial for Climate Alpha and FutureMap.  He believes that climate migrations will be necessary for the survivors.  His future vision is pockets of reliable agricultural output and relative climate resilience that may become havens for climate refugees.

He concludes:

What these surviving societies and communities will have in common is that they are able to unwind the complexity that has felled our predecessors. They rely less on far-flung global supply chains by locally growing their own food, generating energy from renewable resources, and utilizing additive manufacturing. A combination of prepping and nomadism, high-tech and simple, are the ingredients for species-level survival.

These demographic, geographic, and technological shifts are evidence that we are already doing things differently now rather than waiting for an inevitable “collapse” or mass extinction event. They also suggest the embrace of a new model of civilization that is both more mobile and more sustainable than our present sedentary and industrial one. The collapse of civilizations is a feature of history, but Civilization with a big ‘C’ carries on, absorbing useful technologies and values from the past before it is buried. Today’s innovations will be tomorrow’s platforms. Indeed, the faster we embrace these artifacts of our next Civilization, the more likely we are to avoid the collapse of our present one. Humanity will come together again—whether or not it falls apart first.

Comments

In my opinion there are several major flaws in his arguments.  Apparently, his projections are based on the RCP 8.5 scenario because he thinks it is “actually a baseline”.  Roger Pielke, Jr. has noted that the misuse of RCP8.5 is pervasive.  Larry Kummer writing at Climate Etc. explains that it is a useful worst-case scenario, but not “business as usual”.  For crying out loud even the BBC understands that the scenario is “exceedingly unlikely”.  Relying on that scenario invalidates his projections.

Khanna’s worst-case scenario statement “Hundreds of millions of people perish in heatwaves and forest fires, earthquakes and tsunamis, droughts and floods, state failures and protracted wars” is absurd.  He has to address the many examples that show that weather-related impacts have been going down as global temperatures have increased such as those described by Willis Eschenbach in “Where Is The “Climate Emergency?”.   The theme of his opinion is climate anarchy so why are earthquakes and tsunamis included?  I concede that his flawed climate projections could stress states and prolong wars but I am not convinced that climate is a major driver.

Finally, his argument that climate is a major driver is contradicted by his dependence on the Sustainable Development Index, a “ranking of countries that meet their people’s needs with low per capita resource consumption”.  He states that the best performers are “Costa Rica, Albania, Georgia, and other less populated countries around middle-income status”.  The fact that Costa Rica is in a tropical region and thus much warmer than mid-latitude Albania and Georgia suggests that warm climates are not a limiting factor for sustainable development.

Khanna may be a leading global strategy advisor, world traveler, and best-selling author but his lack of understanding of the uncertainties associated with climate change are evident in this editorial.  Not unlike many of those advocates for climate change action, upon close review it appears that following the money is his motivation.

—————————————————————————————————————————————

Roger Caiazza blogs on New York energy and environmental issues at Pragmatic Environmentalist of New York.  This represents his opinion and not the opinion of any of his previous employers or any other company with which he has been associated. 

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Desert regions may be best predictors of climate change in wetter areas – Hebrew U study

Severe forest fires on the West Coast of the US, deadly violent rainstorms and floods in various locations, record-breaking heat spells in Europe, early snowmelts at the poles and other extreme weather have become regular – and shocking – news items in recent years. When it comes to the world’s climate in the past decade, planet Earth keeps sending us worrisome reminders of the effects of man’s pollution and global warming. According to NASA, 10 of the hottest years have occurred since 2000, with 2016 and 2020 tied for the hottest on record. Even cool England had summer temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius. If heat waves and severe droughts are trends that will continue to hold across the globe, what will the future bring to temperate and tropical forest and cropland regions of the world?  console.log(“BODY1. CatId is:”+catID);if(catID == 69 || catID == 2){console.log(“BODY. YES for connatix script”);cnxps.cmd.push(function () { cnxps({ playerId: ’36af7c51-0caf-4741-9824-2c941fc6c17b’ }).render(‘4c4d856e0e6f4e3d808bbc1715e132f6’); });}console.log(“BODY2. CatId is:”+catID);if(catID==120){console.log(“BODY. YES for anyclip script”);document.getElementsByClassName(“divConnatix”)[0].style.display =”none”;var script = document.createElement(‘script’); script.src = ‘https://player.anyclip.com/anyclip-widget/lre-widget/prod/v1/src/lre.js’; script.setAttribute(‘pubname’,’jpostcom’); script.setAttribute(‘widgetname’,’0011r00001lcD1i_12258′); document.getElementsByClassName(‘divAnyClip’)[0].appendChild(script);}else if(catID!=69 && catID!=2){console.log(“BODY. YES for vidazoo script”);document.getElementsByClassName(“divConnatix”)[0].style.display =”none”; var script = document.createElement(‘script’); script.src = ‘https://static.vidazoo.com/basev/vwpt.js’; script.setAttribute(‘data-widget-id’,’60fd6becf6393400049e6535′); document.getElementsByClassName(‘divVidazoo’)[0].appendChild(script); }Scientists are looking at the unique adaptations of desert life, which functions by its own set of rules long considered to be unique to dry areas. Now, new research by an international team of scientists led by Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU) Prof. José Grünzweig and co-authored by his HU colleagues Prof. Efrat Sheffer and Prof. Ori Adam and Dr. David Helman, suggests that climate change is causing these dryland mechanisms to increasingly affect Earth’s wetter areas. Their findings were published in Nature Ecology and Evolution under the title “Dryland mechanisms could widely control ecosystem functioning in a drier and warmer world.”To better predict how the world’s wetter regions will operate in a hotter and drier climate, we should begin to apply what my colleagues and I have learned from how nature functions in dry regions,” suggested Grünzweig. Impact of extreme heatwave and drought in summer 2018 compared to summer 2017, on fields near Slagelse in Zealand, Denmark. (credit: European Space Agency)Prompted by a recent meeting of the European Ecological Federation and an action of the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST), the research team compiled a list of unique rules of life driving dryland ecosystems. More than a third of the Earth’s land area is now drylands. Many of these key processes including rapid cycling between wet and dry conditions that influence plant and animal activity; redistribution of water in soils by plant roots; and formation of living crusts on soil surfaces by microscopic organisms had previously been considered relevant only to arid regions. What did the team identify?The team identified a dozen different dryland mechanisms affecting vegetation distribution, plant growth, water flow, energy budget, carbon and nutrient cycling and decomposition of dead material. These mechanisms were categorized as either more likely to be fast-responding – those that we might expect to see occurring from short-term droughts, such as dry-wet cycles, heat and sunlight breaking down dead material, or slow-responding – those that would happen after years of dry conditions, such as the formation of living crust on soils, as a result of changes in plant distribution. The researchers presented 12 dryland mechanisms that are routine in drylands but not commonly found or studied in wet systems and then categorized these mechanisms based on how likely it is that they would occur among wetter systems in the future.  “I have been studying drylands and their unique behaviors throughout my academic life that, until now, were considered unique to regions such as ours in Israel,” said Grünzweig. “Today I think it is crucial to bring these ideas to the attention of researchers and the public elsewhere, calling people to look for the unprecedented emergence of these dryland mechanisms in response to climate change in their backyard.”For example, much of Europe experienced a severe drought and heat wave in the summer of 2018. As a result, the low plant cover in agricultural fields during this time likely led to desert-like biological processes occurring in these historically wet locations. A new heat wave has now hit Europe. Under these conditions, plant growth decreases dramatically, leading to more soil exposure on surfaces that aren’t covered by plants.Dry soil conditions will spur many dryland mechanisms, such as redistribution of soil water through plant roots. Other mechanisms will respond to changes in vegetation, with more sparsely distributed vegetation increasing the number of organisms forming soil surface crusts and increasing the role of sunlight in breaking down dead leaves.  “We’ve been studying for years how in our dry environments plants are organized in a patchy structure compared to the dense cover of vegetation typical of wet areas, but now we understand that plants anywhere will reorganize to meet new climate conditions,” Sheffer explained. To better understand the potential effects of dryland mechanisms on vegetation distribution and decomposition of dead material, the research team used its drylands’ data to model how the forces driving drylands will increasingly be applied to temperate regions under future climate conditions. The results were stunning.“Our data predict that by the end of the 21st century, the total non-dryland area with average topsoil temperature of more than 40 degrees Celsius is estimated to increase by about 17 million square kilometers – equal roughly to the combined land area of the US and Brazil,” said Adam. “In this study, we present the first estimation of global soil water potential – a measure of drought relevant to most dryland mechanisms,” described Helman. “Our projections for the end of this century imply that soil drought will increase markedly in the humid regions of South America, Africa, and Oceania, with considerable regional drying also in North America and Europe.”Some of these projected changes will occur in regions with large human populations, and significantly affect the well-being of society in these regions. The new insights of this study can contribute to advancing society’s capacity to withstand climate extremes and lessen their impacts on nature and people, the authors suggested.“A better understanding of our desert systems could lead society to set more realistic expectations for climate change’s effects on historically wetter areas and a more successful attempt to heed Mother Nature’s warnings.” 

Continue Reading Desert regions may be best predictors of climate change in wetter areas – Hebrew U study