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For the First Time in Recorded History, Heat Above the Arctic Circle Reaches 94.6 Degrees



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(TMU) — This past summer, the Arctic saw an absolutely shocking rise in temperature that made the southern stretches of the Arctic Circle begin to resemble a tropical Summer paradise. And while the prospect of swimsuits and tiki cocktails in the Arctic may sound like an alluring vacation idea, the fast-heating conditions in the Arctic Circle are a grim sign of the unfolding climate catastrophe gripping the world.

On a global scale, July was the hottest month in all of recorded history, but frequent news of record-breaking heat has largely become the sort of background noise that people have blocked.

What should get our attention is the latest data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Global Climate Report for July 2019, which revealed that a remote weather station in northern Sweden on the southern edge of the Arctic Circle hit a jaw-dropping 94.6 degrees Fahrenheit (or 34.8 degrees Celsius) last month.

The sizzling, steamy temperature was recorded on the afternoon of July 26 and marked one of the highest temperatures recorded within the normally frigid Arctic Circle. The data was also vetted and analyzed by the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, and confirmed by NOAA climate researcher Deke Arndt as the “highest temperature north of the Arctic Circle” for the country.

The same report also highlights a temperature record of 96.1 degrees Fahrenheit (35.6°C) in the Norwegian town of Saltdal, the highest-ever temperature reached north of the Arctic Circle in Norway. Anchorage, Alaska also reached 90°F (32°C), ripping past the city’s previous record of 85°F (29.4°C).

To put all of this into perspective, consider the fact that the hottest temperature reached last month in New York City was 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius).

The report explained:

“The most notable warm temperature departures from average were present across parts of the Northern Hemisphere, specifically Alaska, northwestern Canada, and central Russia, where temperature departures from average were +2.0°C (+3.6°F) or higher.”

The report also comes as vast stretches of the Arctic are literally smoldering in massive, unprecedented fires, blanketing the Earth’s northern latitudes in thick layers of smoke and making a grievous contribution to the already-unmanageable carbon emissions fueling runaway global heating.

It also comes as reports emerge of lightning flashes a mere 300 miles (483 km.) from the North Pole—a phenomenon that likewise defies precedent.

The sweltering conditions have also sent temperatures soaring across Europe this past summer, with extraordinary temperature readings arising from France to the Czech Republic and the Mediterranean.

Around 90 percent of the Greenland ice sheet underwent a severe melting period over the course of five days (July 30 – August 3), with approximately 55 billion tons lost, per data compiled by the National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC). The melt area in July 2019 totaled 154,000 square miles. Total ice lost in Greenland over the summer has exceeded 250 billion tons.

The ongoing heating has been propelled by the ocean’s loss of reflective sea ice, which forces the ocean’s darker water to absorb more solar heat. Marine ecosystems have been devastated by the ocean heat waves as coral reefs, seagrasses and kelp forests bear the brunt of warming conditions, depriving diverse ocean life of their source of sustenance and shelter.

In May, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested that melting ice presents new opportunities for trade as new naval passageways are opened.

Scientists have suggested that since the mid-20th century—when human impacts on the environment began to rapidly accelerate through nuclear weapons testing and global industry’s exploitation of fossil fuels—the earth entered a new epoch whereby human society, driven by the global economy, became the primary geological force whose actions determine the future of the entire Earth system.

Dubbed the Anthropocene—a combination of the Greek word anthropos (“human”) and kainos (“new”)—the modern epoch is the first truly man-made geological period in the Earth’s history. It has also entailed mass extinctions of plants and animals alike.

A small yet vocal minority of climate deniers and skeptics have been dismissive toward concerns about humankind’s contribution to global heating, suggesting that climate change has been a factor since the beginning of time. Climate deniers—many of whom reside in the U.S. and align with ideologies influenced by fossil fuel industry-paid propaganda—also claim that the burning of fossil fuels is somehow not making a huge impact on the heating climate or, incredulously, that a far hotter planet is somehow desirable despite the catastrophic impact it will have on human and animal habitats.

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons |

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Scientists Thrilled by Discovery of Rare, Mammoth 400-Year-Old Coral



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A massive 400-year-old hard coral discovered on the Great Barrier Reef has scientists expressing their sense of surprise and excitement.

Named Muga dambhi by the Manbarra people, the Indigenous group who have traditionally taken care of the land, the “exceptionally large” brown and cream-colored coral is located off the coast of Goolboodi or Orpheus Island in the Great Barrier Reef.

It is believed that the coral was spawned some 421 to 438 years ago, meaning that its age predates the arrival of Captain James Cook and the advent of colonization in Australia, notes the Guardian.

The spectacular coral is about 35 feet wide and over 17 feet high, and is double the size of the nearest coral.

Scientists and members of the community participating in a marine science course discovered the specimen earlier this year.

While not the largest coral in the world, the huge find is of major significance to the local ecosystem, according to Adam Smith, an adjunct professor at James Cook University who wrote the field note on the find.

“It’s like a block of apartments,” Smith said. “It attracts other species. There’s other corals, there’s fish, there’s other animals around that use it for shelter or for feeding, so it’s pretty important for them.”

“It’s a bit like finding a giant redwood tree in the middle of a botanic gardens,” he added.

It is likely that the coral hasn’t been discovered for such a long time due to its location in a relatively remote and unvisited portion of a Marine National Park zone that enjoys a high degree of protection.

“Over the last 20 or 30 years, no one has noticed, or observed, or thought it newsworthy enough to share photos, or document, or do research on this giant coral,” Smith said.

The coral is in remarkable condition, with over 70 percent of its surface covered in live coral, coral rock and microalgae. No disease, bleaching or recently deceased coral has been recorded on the specimen.

“The cumulative impact of almost 100 bleaching events and up to 80 major cyclones over a period of four centuries, plus declining nearshore water quality contextualise the high resilience of this Porites coral,” the field note added.

The specific coral has been given the name Muga dhambi, meaning big coral, out of respect for the Indigenous knowledge, language, and culture of the Manbarra Traditional Owners.

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Greenland Ice Washed Away as Summit Sees Rain for First Time in Recorded History



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For the first time in recorded history, torrential downpours of rain have struck Greenland’s icy summit nearly two miles above sea level.

Greenland, an environmentally sensitive island, is typically known for its majestic ice sheet and snowy climate, but this is fast changing due to a massive melt taking place this summer.

However, the typical snowfall has been replaced in recent years not simply by a few showers, but by heavy rainfall. The torrential downpour last week was so huge, in fact, that it washed away a terrifying amount of ice across some 337,000 square miles of the ice shelf’s surface, reports Earther.

Temperatures at the ice shelf had simultaneously warmed to a significant degree, with the summit reaching 33 degrees Fahrenheit – within a degree above freezing and the third time that the shelf has surpassed freezing temperatures this decade.

The fact that rain is falling on ice rather than snow is also significant because it is melting ice across much of southern Greenland, which already saw huge melting events last month, while hastening rising sea levels that threaten to submerge whole coastal cities and communities.

To make matters worse, any new ice formed by the freezing rainwater will not last long. The ice shelf currently existing on Greenland was formed by the compression of snow over innumerable years, which shines bright white and reflects sunlight away rather than absorbing it, as ice from frozen rain does.

The huge scale of the melt and accompanying rainfall illustrate the growing peril of rapidly warming climate conditions across the globe.

“This event by itself does not have a huge impact, but it’s indicative of the increasing extent, duration, and intensity of melting on Greenland,” wrote Ted Scambos, a senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado. “Like the heat wave in the [U.S. Pacific] northwest, it’s something that’s hard to imagine without the influence of global climate change.”

“Greenland, like the rest of the world, is changing,” Scambos told the Washington Post. “We now see three melting events in a decade in Greenland — and before 1990, that happened about once every 150 years. And now rainfall: in an area where rain never fell.”

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South Korean Toilet Turns Poo Into Green Energy and Pays Its Users Digital Cash



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What if your morning #2 not only powered your stove to cook your eggs, but also allowed you to pay for your coffee and pastry on the way to class?

It seems like an absurd question, but one university in South Korea has invented a toilet that allows human excrement to not only be used for clean power, but also dumps a bit of digital currency into your wallet that can be exchanged for some fruit or cup noodles at the campus canteen, reports Reuters.

The BeeVi toilet – short for Bee-Vision – was designed by urban and environmental engineering professor Cho Jae-weon of the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), and is meant to not only save resources but also reward students for their feces.

The toilet is designed to first deliver your excrement into a special underground tank, reducing water use, before microorganisms break the waste down into methane, a clean source of energy that can power the numerous appliances that dorm life requires.

“If we think out of the box, feces has precious value to make energy and manure,” Cho explained. “I have put this value into ecological circulation.”

The toilet can transform approximately a pound of solid human waste – roughly the average amount people poop per day – into some 50 liters of methane gas, said Cho. That’s about enough to generate half a kilowatt hour of electricity, enough to transport a student throughout campus for some of their school day.

Cho has even devised a special virtual currency for the BeeVi toilet called Ggool, or honey in Korean. Users of the toilet can expect to earn 10 Ggool per day, covering some of the many expenses students rack up on campus every day.

Students have given the new system glowing reviews, and don’t even mind discussing their bodily functions at lunchtime – even expressing their hopes to use their fecal credits to purchase books.

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