2022 sets record fire activity in southwest Europe: EU

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Globall 2022 is currently the four highest year for wildfire carbon emissions.

Blazes that have torched tens of thousands of hectares of forest in France, Spain and Portugal have made 2022 a record year for wildfire activity in southwestern Europe, the EU’s satellite monitoring service said Friday.

Amid a prolonged heatwave that saw temperature records tumble, the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) said that France had in the last three months reached the highest levels of carbon pollution from wildfires since records began in 2003.

It follows Spain registering its highest ever wildfire carbon emissions last month.

CAMS said the daily total radiative power—a measure of the blazes’ intensity—in France, Spain and Portugal in July and August was “significantly higher” than average.

The service warned that a large proportion of western Europe was now in “extreme fire danger” with some areas of “very extreme fire danger”.

“We have been monitoring an increase in the number and resulting emissions of wildfires as heatwave conditions have exacerbated fires in southwestern France and the Iberian Peninsula,” said Mark Parrington, CAMS senior scientist.

“The very extreme fire danger ratings that have been forecasted for large areas of southern Europe mean that the scale and intensity of any fires can be greatly increased, and this is what we have been observing in our emissions estimates and the impacts it has on local air quality.”

CAMS released showing a plume of smoke from the huge in southwestern France extending hundreds of kilometres over the Atlantic.

France has received help battling the latest blaze—which is 40-kilometres (25 miles) wide and which forced some 10,000 people to evacuate the region—in the form of 361 firefighters from European neighbours including Germany, Poland, Austria and Romania.

Globally, 2022 is currently the fourth highest year in terms of carbon, CAMS said.

Scientists say heatwaves such as the exceptional hot and dry spell over western Europe are made significantly more likely to occur due to manmade climate change.



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2022 sets record fire activity in southwest Europe: EU (2022, August 12)
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First record of a gall-forming aphid fighting off predator

Saliva injected into leaf stalks by the aphids induces the plant to form small growths called galls that the aphids live inside. Credit: Andrew Legan

A researcher reports evidence of a gall-forming aphid defending itself against predators, a first for the species, Mordwilkoja vagabunda. The insects inject saliva into leaf stalks, inducing the plant to form small growths called galls that the aphids live inside.

The were recorded attacking their moth larvae , by clawing the larvae with their tarsi and using their syringe-like mouths to cut the predator’s cuticle. They were also observed twitching collectively in unison, a defensive that has been documented in other aphid species.

“I’ve never personally seen this behavior where they collectively twitched; they sync up their movement in a regularly timed pulse, they all shake,” said Andrew Legan, a doctoral student in the lab of Michael Sheehan, a Nancy and Peter Meinig Family Investigator in the Life Sciences, and assistant professor of neurobiology and behavior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Legan is the author of the paper, “First Record of Anti-Predator Behavior in the Gall-Forming Aphid, Mordwilkoja Vagabunda,” published May 18 in the journal Ecosphere.

Though it’s hard to confirm exactly why the aphids shake in unison, one theory is that aphids are generally defenseless, but if they collectively shake, they might trick a predator, such as a bird, into thinking they constitute a larger organism. Other theories suggest the movements may startle and dislodge a predator from the surface of the silver-dollar-sized gall, or make it fall into a crevasse inside the gall, or that they shake to test if an object is in fact a threat, by seeing if it moves after such twitching.

Aphids attack their moth larvae predators. Credit: Andrew Legan

Legan also observed that when two aphids from the same gall encountered each other on its surface, they shook in synced intervals before they walked away from each other.

“My favorite hypothesis, but one that I haven’t tested, is that this is a recognition mechanism,” said Legan, whose dissertation-in-progress is on nest mate recognition in social wasps “If you sync, then you can stay, and if you don’t, then the aphid attacks.”

For the study, Legan collected aphid galls in Ithaca. The galls are started at the base of a leaf stalk by a single aphid, which excretes a substance that stimulates the plant to make a gall. The gall’s structure is made of plant cells but its shape is determined by the aphids genes. The female then clones herself, giving to hundreds of aphid daughters. An entire colony lives inside the gall.

Once collected, Legan dissected the galls and observed them under a microscope. Since the galls can be very irregularly shaped, with pockets and folds, he emptied aphids onto a and then dropped a would-be predator among them. Predators can include ladybird beetles, moth larvae and even birds. For the study, Legan used pyralid moth larvae, a common predator. “It was pretty quickly mounted by the aphids,” to be clawed and cut, Legan said.

Legan believes that more study of these gall-forming aphids may help diversify how social behaviors are defined between species.

“There isn’t a lot of behavioral work being done on gall-forming aphids,” he said. “It’s a cool system for everyone to study, including students, because it’s not an expensive system to work with. Studying gall-forming aphid behavior is a great way to learn to use a dissecting microscope.”



More information:
Andrew Wesley Legan, First record of antipredator behavior in the gall‐forming aphid Mordwilkoja vagabunda, Ecosphere (2022). DOI: 10.1002/ecs2.4060

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First record of a gall-forming aphid fighting off predator (2022, May 19)
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Record low Antarctic sea ice extent could signal shift

Pristine snow and ice reflect more than 80 percent of the Sun’s energy back into space.

Sea ice around Antarctica shrank to the smallest extent on record in February, five years after the previous record low, researchers said Tuesday, suggesting Earth’s frozen continent may be less impervious to climate change than thought.

In late February, the ocean area covered by ice slipped below the symbolic barrier of two million square kilometers (around 772,000 square miles) for the first time since satellite records began in 1978, according to a study in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences.

Researchers found that the key driver of ice loss was change in temperature, though shifts in also played a lesser role.

Both the North and South pole regions have warmed by roughly three degrees Celsius compared to late 19th-century levels, three times the .

Antarctica encountered its first recorded heatwave in 2020, with an unprecedented 9.2C above the mean maximum, and in March a in eastern Antarctica saw temperatures soar 30 degrees above normal.

But extreme aberrations of this kind are recent.

Unlike sea ice in the Arctic, which has diminished by three percent a year since the late 1970s, sea ice in Antarctica expanded over the same period by one percent per decade, albeit with large annual variations.

Ice cover during this year’s austral summer shrank most around West Antarctica, which has been more vulnerable to global warming than the far larger East Antarctica.

Sea-ice budget

Melting sea ice has no discernable impact on sea levels because the ice is already in ocean water.

But diminished ice cover is nonetheless a major concern because it helps accelerate , explained co-author Qinghua Yang, a professor at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou.

When white sea ice—which bounces the Sun’s energy back into space—is replaced by dark, unfrozen sea, “there is less reflection of heat and more absorption,” he said in a statement.

“This in turn melts more sea ice, producing more absorption of heat, in a vicious circle.”

Pristine snow and ice reflect more than 80 percent of the Sun’s energy back into space whereas absorb the same percentage.

Startlingly, the record low 1.9 million square kilometers on February 25 was 30 percent below the 1981-2010 average. The previous record was just over two million square kilometers in 2017.

Maximum sea ice extent in Antarctica has averaged about 18 million square kilometers in recent years.

To analyze the causes of this year’s record ice loss, researchers examined Antarctica’s “sea-ice budget”—ice added and ice lost, year by year—as well as daily sea-ice drift, or movement.

“In summer, thermodynamic”—or temperature-related—”processes dominate the sea melting through poleward heat transport,” the study concluded.

The minimum sea ice extent in the Arctic—3.4 million square kilometers—occurred in 2012, with the 2nd and 3rd lowest ice-covered areas in 2020 and 2019, respectively. Maximum sea ice extent has averaged about 15 million square kilometers.

Ice sheets atop West Antarctica hold the equivalent of six meters of sea level rise, where as East Antarctica’s massive glaciers would raise global oceans by more than 50 meters.



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Record low Antarctic sea ice extent could signal shift (2022, April 19)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Record deforestation in Brazilian Amazon in February

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Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon set a new record for the month of February, official data show.

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon set a new record for the month of February, according to official data released Friday, the latest sign of a surge in destruction under President Jair Bolsonaro.

Satellite images show 199 square kilometers (77 square miles) of —an area more than half the size of the US capital Washington—were lost in Brazil’s Amazon region last month, according to Brazilian space agency INPE’s Deter monitoring program.

That was the highest figure for February since the program began in August 2015, and a 62 percent increase from February last year.

Environmentalists said the figure was all the more worrying given that February is the rainy season in the Amazon, typically a low period for .

“The first two months of this year both set records for deforestation—629 square kilometers so far, more than triple last year,” said Romulo Batista of environmental group Greenpeace.

That fueled fears 2022 could see even worse destruction in the Brazilian Amazon than last year, when deforestation hit a 15-year high of 13,235 square kilometers from August 2020 to July 2021, according to another INPE monitoring program, Prodes, whose records go back to 1988.

“This absurd increase shows the lack of policies to combat deforestation and environmental crimes in the Amazon, driven by the current administration. The destruction just isn’t stopping,” Batista said in a statement.

Bolsonaro, who has pushed to open protected lands to agribusiness and mining, has drawn international outcry over a surge in deforestation and fires in the Amazon.

Since the far-right president took office in 2019, Brazil’s average annual deforestation in the Amazon, a crucial resource in the race to curb climate change, has risen more than 75 percent from the previous decade.

The destruction is mainly driven by farming and land speculation in agricultural powerhouse Brazil, the world’s biggest exporter of beef and soy.



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Record deforestation in Brazilian Amazon in February (2022, March 11)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Record heat, forest fires in Colombia’s Amazon in January

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Aerial view of the Putumayo River in Colombia’s Amazon rainforest, in the Putumayo region on November 6 2021.

January of this year was the hottest month in the Colombian Amazon in a decade, leading to an increase in forest fires in the southeastern region and very likely impacting air quality in the capital Bogota, according to an Environment Ministry report seen by AFP Friday.

It said the month of January recorded the “highest hot spot values in the last 10 years” in the Colombian Amazon.

The phenomenon occurs, the ministry said, when the country goes through a season of low rainfall, and is due to “anthropic activities,” that is to say human activities, of which “the most important is associated with deforestation fronts.”

At least 80 percent of the “hot spots” were , a ministry spokesman told AFP. At the end of January, the ministry identified more than 3,300 “hot spots” in the six departments that make up the Colombian Amazon, including 1,300 in the Guaviare region alone.

According to testimonies collected by AFP in October in the region, peasants and landowners take advantage of the dry season, from January to April, to burn or cut down trees and plant coca plants in their place, or to let cattle graze there.

The Serrania del Chiribiquete National Park, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is particularly threatened, as is the Nukak National Nature Reserve, a vast territory of jungle inhabited by the last nomadic indigenous people of Colombia.

The Foundation for Conservation and Sustainable Development (FCDS), which keeps its own count and regularly flies over the areas concerned, recorded at least 938 fires, the highest monthly January figure since 2012.



© 2022 AFP

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Record heat, forest fires in Colombia’s Amazon in January (2022, February 5)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove India saw record 126 tiger deaths in 2021: data

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India recorded the deadliest year in a decade for tigers, with 126 deaths in 2021.

India’s tiger conservation body said 126 of the endangered big cats died in 2021, the most since it began compiling data a decade ago.

The previous highest number of deaths per year before the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) began compiling data in 2012 was in 2016, when 121 perished.

India is home to around 75 percent of the world’s tigers.

It is believed there were around 40,000 tigers at the time of independence in 1947 but hunting and habitat loss has slashed the population to dangerously low levels.

In 2010, India and 12 other countries signed an agreement to double tiger numbers by 2022.

Last year, the government announced that it had reached the target ahead of schedule, with an estimated 2,967 tigers in 2018 versus a record low of 1,411 in 2006.

The number is still lower than 2002 when the tiger population stood at around 3,700 but Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed it as a “historic” achievement.

The 2018 data may have been partly down to the survey size, however, which used an unprecedented number of camera traps to identify individual tigers using stripe pattern recognition software.

‘Natural causes’

Over the past decade the biggest reason for deaths recorded by the NTCA was “natural causes”, but many also fell victim to poachers and “human-animal conflict”.

Human encroachment on tiger habitats has increased in recent decades in the country of 1.3 billion people.

Nearly 225 people were killed in tiger attacks between 2014 and 2019, according to government figures.

Kartick Satyanarayan, founder of Wildlife SOS, told AFP deaths due to human-animal conflict were driven by “the fragmentation of the tiger’s natural habitat.”

“Tigers range over large jungle areas and find it impossible to migrate to other forests without crossing human habitations, increasing chances of conflict,” he said.

Critics say that the government has also loosened environmental regulations for projects including mining.

Satyanarayan also said increasing demand for tiger skins and use of tiger body parts in traditional Chinese medicine were some of the major reasons for poaching.

The government has made efforts to manage the tiger population better, however, reserving 50 habitats across the country for the animals.

Conservation group WWF said in a report last year that tigers were making a “remarkable comeback” in much of South Asia as well as Russia and China.

But tigers were still under threat from poaching and habitat destruction and the wild animal populations had fragmented, increasing the risk of inbreeding, the WWF said.

“This has reached critical levels in much of Southeast Asia, where a snaring crisis is decimating wildlife, including tigers and their prey,” the group said.

The Indian government’s 2020 report meanwhile warned that many tiger populations were confined to small protected areas.

Many of the “habitat corridors” enabling the animals to roam between these areas were at risk due to human activity and development, it warned.



© 2021 AFP

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India saw record 126 tiger deaths in 2021 (2021, December 30)
retrieved 30 December 2021

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Last seven years on track to be hottest on record: UN

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Recent years have seen an onslaught of extreme weather, including wildfires made more intense by climate change.

The years from 2015 to 2021 are on track to be the seven hottest on record, the World Meteorological Organization said on Sunday, warning that the planet was heading into “uncharted territory”.

The preliminary WMO state of the report, launched as the UN COP26 climate conference opens, said that from greenhouse gas emissions threatens “far-reaching repercussions for current and future generations”.

Based on data for the first nine months of the year, the WMO said 2021 was likely to be between the fifth and seventh on record—despite the cooling effect of the La Nina phenomenon that lowered temperatures at the beginning of the year.

“From the ocean depths to mountain tops, from melting glaciers to relentless extreme weather events, ecosystems and communities around the globe are being devastated,” said United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a statement on the report.

He added that the two-week COP26 climate conference “must be a turning point for people and planet”.

The WMO found that the average temperature for 2021 was around 1.09 degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial levels.

And the average temperature over the last 20 years (2002-2021) for the first time exceeded the symbolic threshold of 1C above the mid-19th century, when humans began burning on an industrial scale.

This will “focus the minds of delegates at COP26 aspiring to keep global temperature rise to within the limits agreed in Paris six years ago”, said Stephen Belcher, chief scientist at Britain’s Met Office.

The 2015 Paris Agreement saw countries agree to cap global warming at “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels, and 1.5C if possible.

Since then the world has seen a litany of weather disasters including record-shattering wildfires across Australia and Siberia, a once-in-a-thousand-years heatwave in North America and extreme rainfall that caused massive flooding in Asia, Africa, the US and Europe.

“Extreme events are the new norm,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

“There is mounting that some of these bear the footprint of human-induced .”

‘Unimaginable’ consequences

The state of the climate report is a snapshot of planetary health, including temperatures, extreme weather, glacier retreat and ice melt.

Ocean acidification due to the absorption of carbon dioxide by the seas was “unprecedented” in at least 26,000 years, the WMO said, adding that this will lessen the ability of the oceans to take in more C02.

Meanwhile, sea level rise—mainly caused by the expansion of warming sea water and the melting of ice on land—was at a new high.

The report is “shocking and deeply disturbing and yet another wake-up call to world leaders that time has run out for talk”, said Jonathan Bamber, Director of the Bristol Glaciology Centre, in comments to the Science Media Centre.

He said on the current trajectory, sea level rise could exceed two metres (more than six feet) by 2100, which could displace some 630 million people worldwide.

“The consequences of that are unimaginable,” said Bamber.

“What is required now is profound and comprehensive action by every nation and state actor to limit further and deeper climate breakdown.”



© 2021 AFP

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Last seven years on track to be hottest on record: UN (2021, October 31)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove New June record for deforestation of Brazilian Amazon thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove New June record for deforestation of Brazilian Amazon

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This file photo taken on August 16, 2020, shows a burnt area of Amazon rainforest reserve in Para, Brazil.

Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon reached a record in June for the fourth consecutive month, according to official data released Friday.

A total of 1,062 square kilometers of forest was destroyed—an area almost the size of the city of Rio de Janeiro.

This was up from 1,043 km2 in the same month last year, said the INPE research institute, which uses to measure .

In total, 3,609 km2 of Amazon was lost in the first quarter of 2021, up 17 percent from the same period last year.

The figure was the highest for a month of June since the INPE started gathering data in 2015.

Since coming to power in 2019, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has promoted the commercialization of the Amazon and described NGOs trying to protect the jungle as a “cancer.”

However, he recently pledged to eliminate Brazil’s illegal deforestation by 2030, some 10 years ahead of target, though environmentalists say he is insincere.

Last month, vice president Hamilton Mourao announced a against Amazonian deforestation.

Two weeks ago, Brazilian Environment Minister Ricardo Salles resigned after the Supreme Court ordered an investigation into allegations he was involved in a timber trafficking scheme.

He was replaced by Joaquim Alvaro Pereira Leite, allied to one of the country’s largest agricultural lobby groups.

The Brazilian Amazon also marked its worst June for since 2007 this year, with some 2,308 fires detected—an increase of 2.3 percent from the same month last year.



© 2021 AFP

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New June record for deforestation of Brazilian Amazon (2021, July 9)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Researchers record largest aggregation of fishes in abyssal deep sea thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Researchers record largest aggregation of fishes in abyssal deep sea

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Cutthroat eels (Ilyophis arx, Family Synaphobranchidae) swarming at a small bait package deployed on the summit of an unnamed abyssal seamount in the southwestern Clarion Clipperton Zone at a depth of 3083 m. Credit: Deep Sea Fish Ecology Lab, Astrid Leitner and Jeff Drazen, Department of Oceanography, SOEST University of Hawaii Manoa, DeepCCZ expedition

The largest aggregation of fishes ever recorded in the abyssal deep sea was discovered by a team of oceanographers from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa (UH, U.S.), Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI, U.S.) and the National Oceanography Centre (NOC, UK). Their findings were published recently in Deep-Sea Research.

“Our observations truly surprised us,” said Astrid Leitner, lead author on the study, who conducted this work as graduate researcher in the UH Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST). “We had never seen reports of such high numbers of fishes in the sparsely-populated, food-limited .”

The researchers, including Leitner, Jennifer Durden (NOC) and professors Jeffrey Drazen (Leitner’s doctoral research advisor) and Craig Smith, made the observation on an expedition to the Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ). The CCZ is a large region stretching nearly from Hawai’i to Mexico, which is being explored for deep sea mining of nodules containing metals such as copper, cobalt, zinc and manganese.

Abyssal seamounts, deep underwater mountains whose summits are 9,800 ft (3,000 m) below the sea surface, dot the deep seascape and are some of the least explored habitats on the planet. During the expedition, the research team sampled three of these seamounts and their surrounding plains as part of an effort to establish an ecological baseline prior to extraction activities.

Cutthroat eels (Ilyophis arx, Family Synaphobranchidae) swarming at a small bait package deployed on the summit of an unnamed abyssal seamount in the southwestern Clarion Clipperton Zone at a depth of 3083 m. Credit: Deep Sea Fish Ecology Lab, Astrid Leitner and Jeff Drazen, Department of Oceanography, SOEST University of Hawaii Manoa, DeepCCZ expedition

On the summit of one of the three previously unmapped and completely unexplored seamounts, the team captured on video a swarm of 115 cutthroat eels (Family Synaphobranchidae) at a small bait package containing about two pounds (1 kg) of mackerel. A few eels were caught in a baited trap and identified to be of the species Ilyophis arx, a poorly known species with fewer than 10 specimens in fish collections worldwide.

These eels were observed at the top of all of the seamounts, but not on the surrounding abyssal plain. The findings provide evidence for an abyssal seamount effect (where these mountains can support much higher numbers of animals than other surrounding habitats), and also indicate these eels are likely to be specialists.

After returning from the expedition, the team determined they had documented the highest number of fishes ever been recorded at one time in the abyssal ocean—almost double the previous record.

“If this phenomenon is not just isolated to these two seamounts in the CCZ, the implications on deep sea ecology could be widespread,” said Leitner, who is now a postdoctoral researcher at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. “Our findings highlight how much there is still left to discover in the deep sea, and how much we all might lose if we do not manage mining appropriately.”



More information:
Astrid B. Leitner et al, Synaphobranchid eel swarms on abyssal seamounts: Largest aggregation of fishes ever observed at abyssal depths, Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers (2020). DOI: 10.1016/j.dsr.2020.103423

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Researchers record largest aggregation of fishes in abyssal deep sea (2020, November 23)
retrieved 24 November 2020
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