Wednesday, December 12, 2018
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Arctic’s record warming driving ‘broad change’ in environment
Photo: Thinkstock

Arctic’s record warming driving ‘broad change’ in environment

11 Dec 2018 | 9:21 PM

WASHINGTON: Global warming is heating the Arctic at a record pace, driving broad environmental changes across the planet, including extreme storms in the mid-latitudes, a major US scientific report said Tuesday.

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Washington, December 12

Global warming is heating the Arctic at a record pace, driving broad environmental changes across the planet, including extreme storms in the mid-latitudes, a major US scientific report said Tuesday.

Persistent heat records have rattled the fragile Arctic for each of the past five years, a record-long warming streak, said the 2018 Arctic Report Card, released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The mounting heat in the north is upsetting typical weather patterns, a trend that “coincides” with severe winter storms in the eastern United States and an extreme cold snap in Europe in March, it said.

“Continued warming of the Arctic atmosphere and ocean are driving broad change in the environmental system in predicted and, also, unexpected ways,” warned the report.

“New and rapidly emerging threats are taking form and highlighting the level of uncertainty in the breadth of environmental change that is to come.”                 

Arctic air temperatures for the past five years, from 2014 to 2018, “have exceeded all previous records since 1900”, when record-keeping began, it said.

This warming trend “is unlike any other period on record”, said the peer-reviewed report compiled by 81 scientists working for governments and academia in 12 nations.

During the latest period studied, October 2017 through September 2018, annual average temperature in the Arctic was 3.1 Fahrenheit (1.7 Celsius) higher than the 1981-2010 average.

“The year 2018 was the second warmest year on record in the Arctic since 1900 (after 2016),” it said.

The Arctic also saw the second-lowest overall sea-ice coverage and the lowest recorded winter ice in the Bering Sea.

“One of the more remarkable features of Arctic sea ice in 2018 was the dearth of ice in the Bering Sea, which was at a record low extent for virtually the entire 2017-2018 ice season,” said the report.

The Arctic continues to heat up at twice the rate of the rest of the planet, but the effects are far from isolated, and are now spilling over into the mid-latitudes.

That’s because a warmer Arctic reduces the north-south temperature difference, which provides the main fuel for the polar jet stream, or a river of strong wind, at levels where jet aircraft fly, NOAA said.

In this warming environment, the jet stream has become wavier, a pattern that “allows warm air to penetrate farther north and cold air to plunge farther south, compared to when the jet is strong and relatively straight”, said the report.

Scientists now see evidence that this changing jet stream may be sparking extreme storms.

“Growing atmospheric warmth in the Arctic results in a sluggish and unusually wavy jet-stream that coincided with abnormal weather events in both the Arctic and mid-latitudes,” said the report.

“Notable extreme weather events coincident with deep waves in the jet-stream include the heat wave at the North Pole in autumn 2017, a swarm of severe winter storms in the eastern United States in 2018, and the extreme cold outbreak in Europe in March 2018 known as the Beast from the East.’”          

The warmer Arctic temperatures are wreaking havoc on the Arctic ecosystem, decimating reindeer and caribou populations, allowing harmful algae blooms to move northward and sickening marine life, said the report, now in its 13th year.

“Considerable concentrations of algal toxins have been found in the tissues of Arctic clams, seals, walrus, and whales and other marine organisms,” it said.

Even though melting ice has freed up more land for grazing, herds of caribou and wild reindeer across the Arctic tundra have declined by nearly 50 per cent over the last two decades, for reasons that aren’t well understood.

Another emerging threat in the Arctic involves marine microplastics.

“A recent global survey of marine microplastics revealed that concentrations in the remote Arctic Ocean are higher than all other ocean basins in the world,” said the report.

Ocean circulation patterns could be to blame for delivering particularly high levels of microplastics in the Greenland and Barents seas.

This microplastic contamination “has increased over the last decade and pose(s) a threat to seabirds and marine life that can become entangled or ingest debris”. — AFP

Humans reversing climate clock by 50 million years

Humans reversing climate clock by 50 million years

11 Dec 2018 | 4:25 PM

WASHINGTON: Humans are reversing a long-term cooling trend tracing back at least 50 million years, and it has taken us just two centuries to do so, according to a study.

More glaciers in Antarctica losing ice: NASA

More glaciers in Antarctica losing ice: NASA

11 Dec 2018 | 2:58 PM

WASHINGTON: A group of glaciers spanning one-eighth of East Antarctica's coast have begun to lose ice over the past decade, hinting at widespread changes in the ocean, a NASA study has found.

Humans learned to walk upright while on trees

Humans learned to walk upright while on trees

11 Dec 2018 | 1:18 PM

LONDON: Human ancestors became efficient upright walkers while they were still substantially tree dwelling, analysis of the world's most complete skeleton of our early ancestor shows.

Voyager 2 probe reaches interstellar space: NASA

Voyager 2 probe reaches interstellar space: NASA

11 Dec 2018 | 11:56 AM

WASHINGTON: NASA's Voyager 2 has become the second human-made object in history to reach the edge of our solar system, after the spacecraft exited the protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields created by the Sun, the US space agency said.

Arctic sea ice decline slows down temporarily: NASA

Arctic sea ice decline slows down temporarily: NASA

09 Dec 2018 | 4:32 PM

WASHINGTON: The decline of the Arctic sea ice cover may have temporarily slowed down, despite climate change and global warming, a NASA study has found.

Human brain responds to aggressive voices more quickly

Human brain responds to aggressive voices more quickly

09 Dec 2018 | 12:58 PM

LONDON: Human brains notice a voice much faster when it is considered threatening or aggressive than when it is perceived as normal or happy in an auditory environment, according to a new study.

Buy Apple's first Beddit sleep tracker for $150

Buy Apple's first Beddit sleep tracker for $150

09 Dec 2018 | 12:54 PM

SAN FRANCISCO: Apple has released its new Beddit 3.5 sleep monitor for $150, the first since the tech giant bought the company in 2017.

Google announces 'Journalism AI' project

Google announces 'Journalism AI' project

08 Dec 2018 | 2:45 PM

LONDON: To help news industry use Artificial Intelligence (AI) in more innovative ways, Google has announced a partnership with Polis, the international journalism think-tank at London School of Economics and Political Science, to create "Journalism AI".

Parrot genome reveals insights into longevity, cognition

Parrot genome reveals insights into longevity, cognition

08 Dec 2018 | 1:08 PM

WASHINGTON: Scientists have sequenced the genome of the blue-fronted Amazon parrot, unveiling new insights into longevity and highly-developed cognitive abilities that give the talkative birds so much in common with humans.

Long-lasting ‘rewritable’ paper developed

Long-lasting ‘rewritable’ paper developed

08 Dec 2018 | 1:04 PM

BEIJING: Scientists have developed an easy-to-make “rewritable” paper that can be drawn or printed on over and over again.

Rice plants may help clean wastewater from farms

Rice plants may help clean wastewater from farms

08 Dec 2018 | 12:59 PM

WASHINGTON: Rice plants can be used to clean water draining from farms—which contain pesticides—before it gets into rivers, lakes, and streams, scientists suggest.

NASA’s InSight lander ‘hears’ wind on Mars

NASA’s InSight lander ‘hears’ wind on Mars

08 Dec 2018 | 11:49 AM

TEMPA: Humans can now hear the haunting, low rumble of wind on Mars for the first time, after NASA’s InSight lander captured vibrations from the breeze on the Red Planet, the US space agency said on Friday.

'Sun in a box' system to store renewable energy

'Sun in a box' system to store renewable energy

07 Dec 2018 | 5:26 PM

BOSTON: MIT scientists have designed a system that could store renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, and deliver it back into an electric grid on demand.

NASA's Mars InSight lander flexes its robotic arm

NASA's Mars InSight lander flexes its robotic arm

07 Dec 2018 | 4:40 PM

WASHINGTON: Latest images from NASA's Mars InSight lander—which successfully touched down on the Red Planet last week—show its robotic arm is ready to do some lifting, the US space agency said.

Google starts rolling out gender specific translation to reduce bias

Google starts rolling out gender specific translation to reduce bias

07 Dec 2018 | 2:26 PM

SAN FRANCISCO: In a bid to reduce gender biases in its translation service, Google has started rolling out a feature that provides feminine and masculine translations for some gender-neutral words on the Google Translate website.

AI-driven audio news feed comes to Google Assistant

AI-driven audio news feed comes to Google Assistant

07 Dec 2018 | 11:09 AM

SAN FRANCISCO: Google has partnered with some of the top news organisations and publishers to let people listen to curated, customised and long-form news stories via its Google Assistant-enabled smart home speakers.

Nobel laureates: Despite progress, cancer won't be wiped out

Nobel laureates: Despite progress, cancer won't be wiped out

06 Dec 2018 | 9:37 PM

STOCKHOLM: The winners of this year's Nobel Prize for Medicine say they expect substantial advances toward treating cancer in the next several decades although they say it's unlikely the disease could be eradicated.

Google releases Chrome 71, takes aim at deceptive websites

Google releases Chrome 71, takes aim at deceptive websites

06 Dec 2018 | 4:51 PM

SAN FRANCISCO: Google has announced its newly-released Chrome 71, the latest version of its web browser, is now rolling out for Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems (OS), which aims to keep deceptive websites off.

Smallest wearable, battery-free device developed

06 Dec 2018 | 3:35 PM

WASHINGTON: Scientists have developed the world's smallest wearable, battery-free device that can measure exposure to light across multiple wavelengths, from the ultra violet (UV), to visible and even infrared parts of the solar spectrum.

Novel smartphone app can detect anaemia without blood test

Novel smartphone app can detect anaemia without blood test

06 Dec 2018 | 3:07 PM

NEW YORK: Biomedical engineers have developed a novel smartphone application that could non-invasively detect anaemia without the need for a blood test.

The $3 bn map: Scientists pool oceans of data to plot Earth’s final frontier

The $3 bn map: Scientists pool oceans of data to plot Earth’s final frontier

06 Dec 2018 | 12:46 PM

LONDON: For experts in the field of ocean mapping it is no small irony that we know more about the surfaces of the Moon and Mars than we do about our planet’s sea floor.

Extinction warning for Australia's truffle-eating 'rat-kangaroo'

Extinction warning for Australia's truffle-eating 'rat-kangaroo'

06 Dec 2018 | 12:52 PM

SYDNEY: A truffle-eating Australian marsupial known as the rat kangaroo has suffered a dramatic population decline and could become extinct without urgent action to save the species, a report warned on Thursday.

New graphene-based sensor could boost food safety

New graphene-based sensor could boost food safety

05 Dec 2018 | 12:24 PM

BEIJING: Scientists have designed a graphene-based sensor that could make it easier to detect pathogens in products before they hit the supermarket, thus preventing dangerous illnesses from contaminated food.

Why people feel urge to squeeze cute puppies, babies

Why people feel urge to squeeze cute puppies, babies

05 Dec 2018 | 12:13 PM

LOS ANGELES: Scientists have analysed brain activity to better understand why people experience 'cute aggression' —the urge to squeeze a puppy or pinch a baby's cheeks.

Wild yeasts may hold key to better wines: Study

Wild yeasts may hold key to better wines: Study

04 Dec 2018 | 10:11 PM

MELBOURNE: Yeasts that naturally occur on wine grapes may improve wines produced in warmer climates, according to a study.

Humour replaces bickering as married couples age

Humour replaces bickering as married couples age

04 Dec 2018 | 2:57 PM

LOS ANGELES: Prickly disagreements that can mark the early and middle years of a marriage mellow with age as conflicts give way to humour and acceptance, according to a study.

Apple launches online store with discounts for veterans

Apple launches online store with discounts for veterans

04 Dec 2018 | 12:45 PM

SAN FRANCISCO: Apple has launched a dedicated online store for military veterans, personnel and their immediate families, with deep discounts.

Google brings eSIM to Pixel 3 in India with Jio, Airtel

Google brings eSIM to Pixel 3 in India with Jio, Airtel

04 Dec 2018 | 9:27 AM

NEW DELHI: Google on Tuesday announced eSIM wireless service on its Pixel 3 smartphone with Reliance Jio and Airtel telecom carriers in India.

Google starts rolling out 'Call Screen' feature for Pixel smartphones

Google starts rolling out 'Call Screen' feature for Pixel smartphones

02 Dec 2018 | 3:12 PM

SAN FRANCISCO: Google has started rolling out a feature for its Pixel smartphones that lets users make use of the Google Assistant to see who is calling and why before they answer a call.

NASA rocket to image Earth's leaky atmosphere

NASA rocket to image Earth's leaky atmosphere

02 Dec 2018 | 11:35 AM

WASHINGTON: NASA is set to launch a sounding rocket to get a closer look at the how the Earth's atmosphere is slowly leaking into space.

Amazon Echo to start streaming Apple Music soon

Amazon Echo to start streaming Apple Music soon

01 Dec 2018 | 5:19 PM

SAN FRANCISCO: Amazon's Echo smart speakers would work with Apple Music beginning December 17, the company has announced.

Google to retire Hangouts by 2020

Google to retire Hangouts by 2020

01 Dec 2018 | 3:18 PM

SAN FRANCISCO: Google will shut its popular Hangouts service for consumers by 2020, 9to5Google has reported, citing sources aware of the product's roadmap.

AI system can identify wild animals from photographs

AI system can identify wild animals from photographs

01 Dec 2018 | 1:42 PM

WASHINGTON: Scientists have developed an artificial intelligence system that can identify images of wild animals from camera-trap photographs, and could help make study and conservation of wildlife easier.

Now, share Instagram Stories with close friends

Now, share Instagram Stories with close friends

30 Nov 2018 | 4:59 PM

NEW DELHI: Popular photo-sharing platform Instagram on Friday announced its users can now make a "close friends" list on its "Stories" to share it with the people they've selectively added.

Phasing out coal power would benefit Indian consumers, taxpayers

Phasing out coal power would benefit Indian consumers, taxpayers

30 Nov 2018 | 12:33 PM

NEW DELHI: Renewable source of energy can provide more power in much less cost than new coal-powered power plants in India, and it costs more to run 62 per cent of the country's coal capacity than to build new renewable power generation facilities, according to a new study.

Blue whales worldwide singing little flat

Blue whales worldwide singing little flat

29 Nov 2018 | 4:34 PM

MELBOURNE: Blue whales around the world are singing a little flat, according to a study which found that increase in their population and climate change may be to blame.

Global warming will increase heat-related death and disease

Global warming will increase heat-related death and disease

29 Nov 2018 | 12:31 PM

LONDON: Climate change is making more people around the world vulnerable to heat exposure, putting them at greater risk of heart and kidney disease, heat stress, and other heat-related killers, scientists warned on Wednesday.

Scientists regrow hair on wounded skin

Scientists regrow hair on wounded skin

28 Nov 2018 | 3:34 PM

NEW YORK: Researchers have regrown hair strands on damaged skin by stirring crosstalk among skin cells that form the roots of hair.

Google inks pact with Disney to run online ads

Google inks pact with Disney to run online ads

28 Nov 2018 | 12:25 PM

SAN FRANCISCO: Google has said it will now power advertising for Disney's collection of brands and properties — including Disney, ABC, ESPN, Marvel, Pixar and Star Wars — across multiple channels, including live streaming and direct-to-consumer content offerings.

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