Close to half of all living species on the Earth could disappear by the end of this century, and humans will be the cause. This is the Sixth Mass Extinction — a loss of life that could rival the die-out...
Severe storms pummeled parts of eastern Texas Sunday into early Monday morning with softball-sized hail, damaging winds and tornadoes. A tornado struck Rio Vista, Texas, about 40 miles south of Fort Worth, late Sunday night. Local emergency management reported of overturned trucks and various building damage, including to the local high school. Earlier Sunday night, additional tornadoes touched down near Stephenville and Glen Rose, Texas. Strong winds, some reaching near the 70-mph mark, sent trees crashing down from Fort Worth to Houston. Thousands of people were without power into Monday morning as electric crews rushed to repair downed power lines. Early Monday morning, Navasota, Texas, was struck by a tornado and two residences were reportedly hit. Flash flooding also sparked travel delays across the region with multiple water rescues conducted in Johnson County. Mammatus clouds over Fort Worth, Texas, on Sunday, April 26, 2015. (Twitter Photo/@JasonDasho) AccuWeather Meteorologist Brandon Sullivan captured a supercell thunderstorm, which was producing a tornado, over Stephenville, Texas, on Sunday, April 26, 2015. (Twitter Photo/Brandon Sullivan) This photo was taken from Blanket, Texas, looking northeastward to a storm with a tornado warning on Sunday, April 26, 2015. (Twitter Photo/@MaxWeather) Scott Williams captured this shot of a tornado-warned storm north of Hico, Texas, on Sunday, April 26, 2015. (Twitter Photo/@ScottWilliams78 Visible roof damage to a building in Wharton County, Texas, after strong winds blasted the Houston area. (Photo/NWSHouston/Wharton OEM) This panoramic picture captures a tornado-warned supercell east of Sydney, Texas, on Sunday, April 26, 2015. (Twitter Photo/@aaronjayjack) A severe storm approaching Dublin, Texas, on Sunday, April 26, 2015. (Twitter Photo/@BrianKhoury)
<p>If you find yourself sweating out a day that is monstrously hot, chances are you can blame humanity. A new report links three out of four such days to man's effects on climate. And as climate change worsens around mid-century, that percentage of extremely hot days being caused by man-made greenhouse gases will push past 95 percent, according to the new study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change.</p>
Highwater Road in Granada Hills, California around 11 a.m. Monday, April 27. Firefighters have nearly extinguished the conflagration.
<p>Americans tend to take it for granted that when we open a tap, water will come out. Western states have been dealing with water problems for a while, but they won't be alone for long.</p>
Blooms of algae in the Arctic Ocean could add a previously unsuspected warming feedback to the mix of factors driving temperatures in the north polar regions up faster than any other place on the planet, according to the authors of a new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences . “By the end of the century, this could lead to 20 percent more warming in the Arctic than we would see otherwise,” said lead author Jong-Yeon Park, of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, in Hamburg Germany. Average temperatures in the region are already 2.7°F higher than the 1971-2000 average — twice as much as the warming seen in other parts of the world. Even without this newly identified algae feedback, summer temperatures in the region could be as much as 23.4° F warmer in summer than they were before human emissions began in the 1800s. Add 20 percent to that and you’re up to 28° — a level that could thaw permafrost drastically, and release even more heat-trapping CO2 into the air. This true-color image captures a bloom in the Ross Sea on January 22, 2011, as viewed NASA’s Aqua satellite. Bright greens of plant-life have replaced the deep blues of open ocean water. Credit: NASA There’s no question that algae blooms are on the increase as Arctic ice thins. Scientists have generally believed that more algae — more specifically, the type known as phytoplankton — would be good for the climate, since they thrive on CO2 while alive, then carry the carbon they’ve absorbed down to the sea bottom when they die. Some experts have even suggested that fertilizing the oceans to encourage algal growth would be one way to counteract global warming. But Park and his co-authors point out that thicker layers of algae on the sea surface would prevent sunlight from penetrating deeper into the water. “More heat is trapped in the upper layers of the ocean, where it can be easily released back into the atmosphere,” Park said. He and his team reached this conclusion by marrying computer models of how ocean ecosystems behave to models that simulate the climate. Then they ramped up levels of CO2 to see how the algae would respond to the resulting warming, the extra carbon dioxide itself, and changes in sea ice. The analysis makes sense, according to independent scientists — up to a point, anyway. “The authors show that phytoplankton plays a role in the vertical distribution of solar energy reaching the Arctic Ocean,” Mar Fernández-Méndez, a sea-ice biologist at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Biology, in Bremen, Germany, said. “But while the study is credible, it’s based on model results, not observations.” That being the case, Fernández-Méndez said, any incorrect assumptions in the model would lead to an incorrect conclusion. The particular model Park and his colleagues used, she said, is not specifically designed for the Arctic, where a number of factors could skew the results. Scientists have generally believed that more phytoplankton, which thrive on CO2 while alive, would be good for the climate. Credit: NOAA One, which the authors themselves note, is that the warming of the Arctic Ocean that is already happening could trap nutrients in deeper, cooler layers that would make them less available to feed algae blooms. Another is that an increase in Arctic cloud cover — a plausible outcome of global warming, which promotes evaporation from the oceans — could deprive algae of the sunlight they need to thrive. Nevertheless, said Fernández-Méndez, “the results stress the importance of taking biological processes into account in climate models.” This study, like virtually all research that breaks new ground, is hardly likely to be the final word on the matter. “This aspect of climate change has not been adequately modelled in the past,” said Victor Smetacek, of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar Research, in Bremerhaven, Germany. The new study, he said, is an important step in the right direction.
11:16AM ET 04.27.15 Meteorologist Ari Sarsalari talks about the big changes coming after severe storms.
Iceland recently marked the first day of summer at a time when freezing temperatures gripped the country. Jóhann decided to add to the irony by taking part in a summertime activity; mowing the lawn! “It was just a joke, something we recorded because my sister had started mowing the lawn in Sweden,” Jóhann told mbl.is. “The reaction is a little stronger than we expected—it’s been watched around the world.” Credit: YouTube/Jóhann Birgisson
A photographer captured the moment an avalanche on Mt. Everest barreled into a group of people.
<p>A stargazer enjoys a dazzling view of the planet Venus in this spectacular photo taken above the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.</p>
07:41AM ET 04.27.15 Matt Sampson talks to Dr. Greg Forbes about why tornado alley is much bigger than you might think.
The persistent water shortage is illustrating parallel worlds in which wealthy communities guzzle water as poorer neighbors conserve by necessity.
<p>Practices in sustainability offer a glimpse of hope amid a severe world hunger crisis brought on most predominately by severe weather events. "Sustainable agriculture enables us to feed our growing population while protecting the environment, human health, rural communities and animal welfare," Chris Hunt, director of Grace Communications Foundation's Food Program, said.</p>
<p>Shelter, fuel, food, medicine, power, news, workers — Nepal's earthquake-hit capital was short on everything Monday as its people searched for lost loved ones, sorted through rubble for their belongings and struggled to provide for their families' needs.</p>
<p>It's called "the blob," and some blame it for the thousands of dead seabirds and emaciated sea lion pups that have washed ashore on California beaches since late last year.</p>
PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Heavy rains and strong winds tore through northwest Pakistan on Sunday, uprooting trees, collapsing buildings and killing at least 37 people, officials said.The storm also injured over 200 people, provincial Information Minister Mushtaq Ghani said. Winds reached up to 120 kph (75 mph), said Lutfur Rehman,...
Water sustainability has recently been receiving more international attention after the U.N. released a report that stated that within the next 15 years,...
Ash from Chile's Calbuco volcano visited more misery on air passengers across South America on Sunday, as towns and cities struggled to clean up from last week's two powerful eruptions.
California plays an utterly pivotal role in American agriculture. The state produces one-third of the country's vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts. That includes 99 percent of almonds, 95 percent of broccoli, 90 percent of tomatoes, and 74 percent of lettuce. So you'd think that the state's four-year drought and serious water crisis would have a devastating impact on our produce. But that hasn't really happened — certainly not yet. Recently, the US Department of Agriculture reported that supermarket prices rose just 2.9 percent in 2014, and were only expected to increase 2 to 3 percent in 2015. Those numbers are basically in line with average annual increases over the past 20 years. What's and growing conditions, which has blunted the impact. Add it all up, and you get a very complicated picture. Carrot prices have risen 48 percent in the last year — but strawberry prices have fallen 8 percent. Asparagus has fallen 7 percent. The vast majority of those fruits and vegetables all come from California. There's no single drought story here. Farmers are also adapting to drought — though at a long-term cost Low water levels are visible at the Los Capitancillos Recharge Ponds on April 3, 2015, in San Jose, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) There's also another important angle here. Many of California's farmers have found ways to adapt to water shortages, albeit in ways that could have long-term ramifications. The one that's gotten a lot of attention is groundwater pumping. The federal government has been cutting back on the amount of water delivered to farmers in the Central Valley, due to lower-than-expected snowfall and runoff from the Sierra Nevada mountains. To compensate, many farmers are pumping the water out of underground aquifers that have accumulated over hundreds of years. That has helped stave off short-term disaster. The UC Davis study found that Central Valley farmers are pumping groundwater to replace about 75 percent of the water they've lost due to cutbacks from reservoirs. The problem is that those aquifers are getting depleted rapidly — and they don't recharge easily. Another 2012 study in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences found that the Central Valley's aquifers don't refill completely during wet periods (because pumping doesn't cease then). What's more, in a few areas, groundwater pumping causes the ground to sink, and the aquifers don't spring back to their original capacity. That means farmers are losing a crucial buffer against both this drought — if it persists — and future droughts. (California has begun regulating groundwater depletion, but rules on sustainability will only be slowly phased in between 2020 and 2040.) California's drought has been more costly to farmers than to consumers Of course, just because supermarket prices are staying steady doesn't mean the drought has been painless. As that UC Davis study noted, farmers are certainly feeling the brunt of it, in part because they've been hit by additional costs. That study, which came out in June 2014, estimated that farmers faced direct costs of about $1.5 billion — which included $1 billion in revenue losses (about 3 percent of the state's agricultural value) and $500 million in additional groundwater pumping costs. The costs were particularly high in the Central Valley. There was also a loss of about 17,100 jobs. Dairy and livestock farmers were also facing losses from both reduced pasture and higher feed costs — about $203 million in all. It remains to be seen what the future brings. The USDA keeps warning that at some point, "the ongoing drought in California could have large and lasting effects on fruit, vegetable, dairy, and egg prices." But for now, it's been a lot more painful for farmers than for shoppers at the grocery store. Read more: A guide to California's water crisis — and why it's so hard to fix
Surveillance video of the moment the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck in Nepal. CNN's Derek Van Dam reports.
<p>Northern New England's annual amphibian migration is always perilous, but critters that cross roads to breed are facing an additional challenge this year: a delayed start after the long winter. Every spring, several species of salamanders and frogs travel to vernal pools — temporary bodies of water created by melted snow — to mate and lay eggs, and the resulting offspring need several months to develop and grow legs before the pools dry up in summer. Wildlife officials say the migration is running a week or two behind this year, cutting into that critical development time.</p>
Permafrost _ a vast, frozen subsurface layer of soil _ covers nearly a quarter of the land in the Northern Hemisphere. It contains centuries worth of carbon in the form of plants that have died since the last ice age but remained frozen rather than decomposing. Now scientists are learning that the "perma" part of its name may no longer be accurate. As the Arctic heats up at a rate twice that of the rest of the globe and as sea ice and glaciers turn to water, the permafrost is also thawing.
The sun has finally risen above the horizon in the Arctic after months of darkness. That means the floating ice that clogs the world’s northernmost seas every winter is beginning to loosen and it’s time for Christopher Zappa to head for the town of Ny-Ålesund, in the Svalbard Archipelago, a group of islands located about halfway between the northern tip of Norway and the North Pole. A Coast Guard C-130 flies over the Arctic Ocean during an Office of Naval Research-sponsored study of sea ice, ocean and atmosphere conditions. Credit: U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/lickr Zappa, an oceanographer at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, wants to understand the details of exactly how sea ice breaks up and melts, and he is going to call on a quintessentially 21st century technology to help him do it. Zappa is among a small group of scientists globally who are pioneering the use of “unmanned airborne systems” — or drones, to you and me — in a campaign to better understand Earth’s changing climate. Svalbard is an ideal place for Zappa’s studies. The islands lie astride Fram Strait, where sea ice blowing out of the Arctic Ocean streams southward every summer: breakup and melting are going constantly there from April through September. By September, the ice will dwindle to its annual minimum extent — a minimum that has trended dramatically downward since the late 1970s, largely as a result of global warming. The open water exposed as the ice melts absorbs solar energy that would otherwise bounce back into space, further heating the planet. For these last two weeks of April and the first week of May, Zappa and several colleagues will be launching their drones, which fly autonomously, on alternating four-hour sorties westward over the ice to measure water and ice temperatures; ocean salinity; albedo (that is, the reflectivity of the ice) and more. “ Satellite observations are important, but they only give you a big-picture sense of how much ice is there,” Zappa said. Research ships come much closer to the action, but they only let scientists study limited areas of ice. A scientist prepares a Manta UAV for launch in the Arctic. Credit: NOAA “With drones, we can study melting and other processes as they’re happening, on a very fine scale,” Zappa said. And they can cover hundreds of square miles of ice and ocean with every flight. “They’ll go about halfway to Greenland and back on every flight,” he said. It takes just two people to launch and recover the drones, which take off and land like conventional winged aircraft. Unlike the high-altitude Global Hawk drones NASA uses to study hurricanes, the unmanned vehicles that Zappa uses, known as Manta UAVs, are modest in size and cost. They run between $100,000 and $250,000, compared with a Global Hawk’s price tag of more than $200 million; they have an 8-foot wingspan compared with the Hawk’s 130 feet; and they carry up to 10 lbs. of scientific instruments vs. the bigger aircraft’s ton and a half. The drones not only skim just feet above the surface for close-up observations, they’re also designed so the scientists can swap instruments in and out quickly between flights, then send the aircraft back out, like the pit crew at a NASCAR race. One instrument package, for example, uses heat-sensitive, near-infrared cameras to measure variations in temperature in both ice and the water. Another has cameras that detect both infrared and partly visible light, allowing the scientists actually to see the structure of the disintegrating ice. Another carries a radar altimeter, which makes high-precision measurements of the ice’s surface texture. Yet another drops “microbuoys,” which plop into the frigid water to gauge salinity, then beam the data back to base. Scientists watched from the deck of the Healy as it cut a path through thick multiyear ice on July 6, 2011. Credit: NASA/Kathryn Hansen/flickr While the instruments on these flights are focused on studying changes in sea ice, Zappa said, “the technology is applicable all over the world.” You could go to the equator to look at algal blooms or the day-night cycle of carbon dioxide going into and out of the ocean or dozens of other phenomena, he said. But useful as drones are, Zappa wants to make them even more useful. Launch a drone from land and you can cover hundreds of square miles. Launch it from a ship, and you can cover a different, equally large swath of ocean every time. Next summer, he’ll be doing just that, from the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s research vessel Falkor. “We’re going to be studying the sea-surface microlayer,” he said — the top five one-hundredths of an inch of the ocean’s surface. “It’s not well understood, but lots of biology happens there, and it turns out to be important to the exchange of gases between the air and the water.”
Ash from the Chilean volcano Calbuco, which erupted without warning this week, reached as far as southern Brazil on Saturday and prompted some airlines to cancel flights to the capitals of Chile, Argentina and Uruguay.
The people of New Delhi step up to CNN's Open Mic and give us their take on the air pollution they deal with everyday.