Global Warming & Fires
Status of Global Temperatures is presented bellow (click to enlarge):
Time taken: 17:27 GMT (or 19:27 Greek time), 22 Sep 2007
Greatest Temperature: 39 ° C (Saudi Arabia)
Average Global Temperature was 19.6 ° C or 0,92 °C above Global Average Temperature in 1860.
Global Warming was today at +0,92 ° C (reduced by 4,1% from last reporting period)
Map is presented bellow (click to enlarge):
Time taken: 14:35 GMT (or 16:35 Greek time), 22 Sep 2007
Total Number of Fires: 17.376 (32% less than previous reporting period)
Extensive fires are still burning forests in South Africa and Americas. Fires appeared in Italy, Asia, Indonesia and Australia.
Global status of fires has improved since last week.
South Americas Fires
Butler 2 Fire, Southern California The skies over the heart of South America were thick with the smoke from thousands of fires on September 9, 2007.
Nearly 2.000 residents in the San Bernardino Mountains had to evacuate their homes over the weekend of September 15, 2007, when a fast-spreading wildfire raced through the San Bernardino National Forest.
This image was captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aquasatellite on Saturday, September 15. The area in which MODIS detected actively burning fire is marked in red. A thick plume of smoke cuts northeast across the Mojave Desert.
Fires in Europe
Total number of new fires in Europe during the last 48 hours (20/09/2007 – 22/09/2007) are presented bellow (click to enlarge):
Drought in Amazon Forests
Here we have probably some strange but maybe good news!
Deprive a tree of water, you might expect it to react like a manufacturing operation that suddenly finds its income cut off. It might shed a few leaves as it shuts down some of the factories that convert light, carbon dioxide and water into food. You might expect it to slow down its exhaling of water into the atmosphere in guarded self-defense. That’s what you would expect. The trees in the Amazon, however, apparently run on a different business model!
In 2005, widespread drought settled over the Amazon. The severity and extensiveness of the drought are illustrated in this rainfall anomaly image (top). The image is based on measurements taken by the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite between July and September 2005. Regions that received far less rain than average are red, and spots of greater-than-average rainfall are blue. While the drought spread over much of the Amazon basin, the worst conditions were in the southwest, where Brazil, Peru, and Bolivia meet.
The drought peaked between July and September, the “dry” season, when rainfall over much of the area is naturally lower than at other times of the year. This dual deprivation of rain plunged the forest into extremely dry conditions. If the trees were going to react negatively to their change in fortune, it would be during just such an extreme. Greenness is a general indicator of the area, density, and leafiness of vegetation; high greenness indicates more photosynthesis.
The lower image reveals the change in photosynthesis during the drought. Areas where more photosynthesis occurred than average are green, while places where vegetation growth slowed down are brown. As the overall green tone of the image reveals, the heart of the Amazon rainforest thrived in the drought. Why? It appears that the trees in the intact forests have deep root systems that can tap into a reserve of ground water stored up during the rainy season. During the drought, the skies over the forest were clear, allowing sunlight to reach the trees unfiltered by clouds. The boon in sunlight combined with access to deep ground water allowed the trees to be more productive than they were in other, rainier years.
This pattern does not hold true throughout the entire region. Shallow-rooted bamboo trees dominate the forest in far western Brazil, and these trees slowed their growth considerably when the rain failed. The savannas and wetlands of central Bolivia dried out, as did deforested areas in southern Brazil. Each of these vegetation regions rely on consistent rainfall.
Understanding how the Amazon reacts to drought is important because scientists want to know what will happen if global warming shifts rainfall patterns. When building models to understand the complicated relationship between earth and sky, scientists have assumed that forests respond to decreased rainfall by slowing photosynthesis and reducing the amount of water they release into the atmosphere.
As these results show, the Amazon might be more resistant to drought, at least in the short term, than modelers have assumed. The new research, published in Science Expresson September 20, 2007, confirms previous work in which Saleska and his colleagues showed that the Amazon forest is greener in the dry season than during the wet season.
Plume from Ol Doinyop Lengai
In early September 2007, Tanzania’s Ol Doinyo Lengai Volcano erupted, sending a cloud of ash into the atmosphere. The volcanic plume appears pale blue-gray, distinct near the summit, and growing more diffuse to the south. On the land surface, green indicates vegetation, and beige and gray indicate bare or thinly vegetated ground. The charcoal-colored stains on the volcano’s flanks appear to be lava, but they are actually burn scars left behind by fires that were spawned by fast-flowing, narrow rivers of lava ejected by the volcano.
An explosive eruption of ash and steam is rare for Ol Doinyo Lengai. Typically, volcanic activity at the volcano consists of lava flows that are restricted to the summit crater. This eruption, however, sent ash downwind at least 18 kilometers.
Ol Doinyo Lengai is an unusual volcano. Like many other volcanoes on Earth, it is a stratovolcanocomposed of alternating layers of hardened lava, solidified ash, and rocks from previous eruptions. Unlike other volcanoes, however, Ol Doinyo Lengai is the only active volcano on Earth known to produce natrocarbonatite lava.
Natrocarbonatite has a relatively low temperature, about 500 to 600 degrees Celsius, compared to typical lavas, which are about 700 to 1,200 degrees Celsius. Although still hot enough to burn much of what it directly touches, this lava is cool enough to allow close-up inspection without the routine layers of protective gear that volcanologists use elsewhere.
But while it is cooler than other lavas, natrocarbonatite lava is also less viscous. Its more fluid consistency means this lava is also faster than other lavas; in fact, it can flow faster than a person can run. Natrocarbonatite lava is composed of minerals that react easily with atmospheric moisture, and exposed lava begins to lighten shortly after eruption.
Significant Note taken from nature.org:
More than half of the world’s ecoregions studied (53%) depend on the existence of fire to maintain healthy plants and animals and related natural resources upon which people depend, such as clean water.
In 61% of lands assessed, the natural fire conditions were degraded or very degraded, with fire behaving significantly differently compared to its natural role. In only about 25% of the terrestrial world is fire behaving similarly to its ecological role.
The report identifies urban development, agriculture, fire exclusion and climate change as the main factors contributing to altered fire behavior.
Floods & Storms
The Sahel grassland is a rain-dependent ecosystem.
With no mountain snowpacks to provide water during the dry season or daily infusions of water from moist air masses, the fortunes of the great African grasslands depend entirely on seasonal rain. The contrast between the dry season and the rainy season is illustrated by this pair of images, both captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. MODIS took the top image on September 18, 2007, after severe weeks of unusually heavy rain had fallen over the Sahel. At the time, as many as 17 countries were flooded, from Senegal, bordering on the Atlantic Ocean in the west, to Kenya on the continent’s east coast.
The lower image was taken on July 4, 4007, a short time before the rains started in earnest. The images show Lake Firtri and the Batha River in southern Chad, a short distance east of Lake Chad. In the combination of infrared and visible light used to create these images, water is typically black, though in this case, it is bright blue. Sediment in the water scatters light, creating the blue color. In July, the only visible water is in Lake Fitri. Traces of green vegetation in the wetlands around the lake and along the Batha River are the only indication that water might be present elsewhere in the scene. Beyond these green areas, the landscape around the lake is mostly the rosy tan of barren land. The cluster of waves in the land to the north of Lake Fitri is likely a dune field along the southernmost edge of the Sahara Desert. Clouds, turquoise blue in this false-color image, gather on the southern edge of the scene.
By September 18, water had changed southern Chad completely. The region went from dry to flooded. Lake Fitri had nearly doubled in size as the wetlands filled with water. The Batha River ran high, its channel clearly defined by a bold blue line of water. The land is vibrant green, covered with the grasses that sprang up in response to the rains. The rains and resulting floods cut off or severely hampered access to refugee camps along Chad’s southeastern border with the Darfur region of Sudan, making the delivery of supplies difficult, said the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in a report issued on September 20. The rains were expected to continue through early October.
Chad was just of one many African countries that were flooded in September 2007. As many as 17 countries and more than a million people were affected by flooding across Africa, reported BBC News on September 17.
Floods in South Africa
Like many other countries in Africa’s Sahel region, Mali was flooded on September 15, 2007, when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured the top image.
Heavy rains pushed the converging Niger and Bani Rivers over their banks and filled the surrounding wetlands with water. In this false-color image, made with infrared and visible light, water is black or dark blue, in contrast to the pale tan earth and the bright green plant-covered areas. Clouds are light blue and white.
The lower image was taken on July 25, 2007, before the heaviest rains settled in. Smudges of light blue along the left edge of the lower image are water-soaked ground or extremely muddy water, typical of flooding, indicating that the floods had already started as early as July. The Niger and Bani Rivers, however, were still too small to be seen clearly.
By September 15, the rivers had widened, expanding into pools throughout the wetland. The Niger River remained flooded throughout its entire length, through Mali and Niger, and into Nigeria. A further testament to the rainfall is the greening of the landscape. The wetland in particular went from tan-red, a color typical of recently burned areas where few or no plants are growing, to vivid green. A small red dot in the top image indicates the location of a current fire.
ICE Cap Meltdown
A recent study (20 Sep 2007) from NASA demonstrates that ice is also melting on Antarctica. Using 20 years of data from space-based sensors, NASA researchers found snow mleting inland as far as 500 miles away from the Antarctic coast (!) and as high as 1.2 milesabove sea level (!!) in the Transantarctic Mountains.
In this new NASA study, researchers have confirmed that Antarctic snow is melting further inland and at higher altitudes than ever and increasingly melting on Antarctica’s largest ice shelf.
Antarctica contains 90 percent of Earth’s fresh water, making it the largest potential source of sea level rise. It is also a place where snow melting is quite limited because even in summer, most areas typically record temperatures well below zero.
The Special Sensor Microwave Imager they measure the radiation naturally emitted by snow and ice at microwave frequencies. Unlike visible sensors, Microwave instruments can also detect melting below the snow surface.
“Persistent melting on the Ross Ice Shelf is something we should not lose sight of because of the ice shelf’s role as a ‘brake system’ for glaciers.
West Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorila gorilla) is a species that has move up in the the most recent Red List of Endangered Species.
The Gorilla has moved from “Endangered” to “Critically Endangered” status. Main causes of its decline are Ebola virus and Commercial Hunting … ! The population has declined by more than 60% the last 20-25 years.
Ebola is a deadly virus trasmiting by fruit bats. Mortality rates are 80% among humans and more than 95% among Gorillas. It is estimated that about 45% of Gorilla’s declide is due to Ebola.
Climate change and commercial logging are causing habitat loses pressuring Gorilas. Because of their low fertiltity rates (only 3% of population increase) event marginal hunting is causing great troubly in their population. Climate Change is estimated to cause more habitat loss and therefore increase their threat index.