Earth’s largest hot desert, the Sahara, is getting bigger, a new study finds. It is advancing south into more tropical terrain in Sudan and Chad, turning green vegetation dry and soil once used for farming into barren ground in areas that can least afford to lose it. Yet it is not just the spread of the Sahara that is frightening, the researchers say. It’s the timing: It is happening during the African summer, when there is usually more rain. But the precipitation has dried up, allowing the boundaries of the desert to expand.
Carbon dioxide in the air is causing the planet to warm—but the higher temperatures may cause still more carbon dioxide to end up in the atmosphere. A new study suggests the impact could be larger and more complicated than scientists had previously expected, not to mention difficult to counter.
The grasslands of U.S. Great Plains have seen one of the sharpest increases in large and dangerous wildfires in the past three decades, with their numbers more than tripling between 1985 and 2014, according to new research. The study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, found that the average number of large Great Plains wildfires each year grew from about 33 to 117 over that time period, even as the area of land burned in these wildfires increased by 400 percent.
Experts say parts of five corn-growing states, including Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio, are experiencing severe or extreme drought conditions. And in at least nine states, conditions in one-fifth to one-half of cornfields have been deemed poor or very poor, federal authorities reported this week, a notable shift from the high expectations of just a month ago. Crop insurance agents and agricultural economists are watching closely, a few comparing the situation with the devastating drought of 1988, when corn yields shriveled significantly, while some farmers have begun alluding, unhappily, to the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
Global warming may initially make the grass greener, but not for long, according to new research results. The findings, published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change, show that plants may thrive in the early stages of a warming environment but then begin to deteriorate quickly. Ecologists subjected four grassland ecosystems to simulated climate change during a decade-long study. Plants grew more the first year in the global warming treatment, but this effect progressively diminished over the next nine years and finally disappeared.
Massive amounts of greenhouse gases trapped below thawing permafrost will likely seep into the air over the next several decades, accelerating and amplifying global warming, scientists warn. Those heat-trapping gases under the frozen Arctic ground may be a bigger factor in global warming than the cutting down of forests, and a scenario that climate scientists hadn't quite accounted for, according to a group of permafrost experts. The scientists predict that over the next three decades a total of about 45 billion metric tons of carbon from methane and carbon dioxide will seep into the atmosphere when permafrost thaws during summers. That's about the same amount of heat-trapping gas the world spews during five years of burning coal, gas and other fossil fuels.
China will face yield losses in rice, wheat and corn -- the country's three main crops -- unless it takes steps to offset the effects of climate change, an expert warns. "The impact of climate change, especially extreme weather and plant diseases and insects, will cause a bigger grain production fluctuation in China and bring more serious threats to the country's food supplies," said the deputy dean of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.
Scientists now wonder if an unusual rise in day-time and, especially, night-time summer temperatures being seen in crop belts around the world. Interviews with crop researchers at American universities paint the same picture: high temperatures have already shrunken output of many crops and vegetables.
“Potentially catastrophic” impacts on food production from slow-onset climate changes are expected to increasingly hit the developing world in the future, and action is required now to prepare for those impacts, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned in a report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The desert is making a comeback in the Middle East, with fertile lands turning into barren wastes that could further destabilise the region, experts said at a water conference. "Desertification spreads like cancer, it can't be noticed immediately," said Wadid Erian, a soil expert with the Arab League, at a conference on Thursday in the Egyptian coastal town of Alexandria. Its effect can be seen in Syria, where drought has displaced hundreds of thousands of people, ruining farmers and swelling cities, Erian said.
Humanity's carbon-belching habit is a feast for plants, which consume the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) as they grow. But Earth's hungry greenery is going to start running low on nitrogen. That could leave billions of tons of excess carbon in the atmosphere that would warm the climate an additional 1.19 degrees Centigrade (2.14 degrees Fahrenheit) above current estimates by the year 2100.
Carbon that forests absorbed over thousands of years is stored in peat and suspended in waterlogged bogs or permafrost. When it is disturbed or drained - as is happening in some areas - the peat can start to decompose and dry out, unleashing greenhouse gases. In North America alone, the peat and the trees growing in it hold as much carbon as would be emitted worldwide by 26 years of burning fossil fuels at current rates.
Climate has been a major driver of armed conflict in Africa, research shows - and future warming is likely to increase the number of deaths from war.
Global warming would be bad news for the corn and soybeans that are plentiful throughout the Midwest. Even moderate increases in temperature will decrease yields of corn, wheat, sorghum, bean, rice, cotton and peanut crops.
Even if global temperatures rise slowly, climate change could slash the yields of some of the world's most important crops almost in half, according to a new study co-authored by an N.C. State University scientist.
As the world warms over the next century, global deserts could expand by as much as 34 percent, according to a new study, swallowing an area roughly the size of the United States.
Regions of Arctic tundra around the world are heating up very rapidly, releasing more greenhouse gases than predicted and boosting the process of global warming. The study indicated a 1* C rise in warmth could release some 40 gigatonnes per years of CO2.
By the end of the century, the hottest temperatures in recent history will become typical, and the world's food supply will be in deep trouble as a result.Rapidly warming climate is likely to seriously alter crop yields in the tropics and subtropics by the end of this century and, without adaptation, leave half of the world's population facing serious food shortages.
Groundwater seems to be taking on carbon dioxide 100 times faster than the atmosphere, according to a new study. A team of researchers have discovered that dissolved carbon dioxide levels in the groundwater flowing beneath the pristine Konza Prairie in Kansas rose 20 percent from 1991 to 2005.
Plants are unlikely to soak up more carbon dioxide from the air as the planet warms, research suggests.
Fast-growing foreign crops used as biofuels can disrupt new habitats by ousting local plants and animals, an international report said.
Thousands of Inner Mongolians have been forcibly moved off their traditional pastures in the past few years as China fights desertification, the ecological disaster that has triggered massive dust storms across northern China. The Mongolian herders, like millions of other impoverished people around the planet, have become environmental refugees.
Soaring prices for basic foods are beginning to lead to political instability, with governments being forced to step in to artificially control the cost of bread, maize, rice and dairy products. The FAO is expected to say that global food reserves are at their lowest in 25 years and that prices will remain high for years.
Desertification could drive tens of millions of people from their homes, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and central
Much of the western
The place where most of the world's people could first begin to feel the consequences of global warming may come as a surprise: in the stomach, via the supper plate. A group of agricultural experts are increasingly worried that global warming will trigger food shortages long before it causes better known but more distant threats, such as rising sea levels.
Urgent action is needed to make sure a warming climate doesn't slash crop yields, heighten the risk of famine and deepen poverty for the world's most vulnerable.
Tropical peat bogs is a vast uncharted source of greenhouse gases that may be doing more to stoke global warming than fossil fuels. Researchers said that "annual peatland emissions from South-East Asia far exceed fossil fuel contributions from major polluting countries." He estimated emissions from Indonesian peatlands alone total 2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year -- almost a tenth of world greenhouse gas emissions from human activities led by burning coal, oil and natural gas.
Ancient roots and bones locked in long-frozen soil in Siberia are starting to thaw, and have the potential to unleash billions of tonnes of carbon and accelerate global warming.
This years world grain harvest is projected to fall short of consumption by 61 million tons, marking the sixth time in the last seven years that production has failed to satisfy demand.
If the weather this year is unusually good, then grain price rises may be less than those projected, but if this years harvest is sharply reduced by heat or drought, they could far exceed the projected rises.
The level of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere is likely to grow more than expected as soil bacteria, in response to rising temperatures, break down more organic material and produce more CO2, according to results by an international research team.
Warming temperatures could melt the top 11 feet of permafrost in Alaska by the end of the century -- damaging roads and buildings with sinkholes, transforming forest and tundra into swamps, and releasing vast amounts of greenhouse gases into the air. A new study released applied one of the most sophisticated supercomputer climate models ever developed to the future of permafrost. The results were startling.
Global warming could melt almost all of the top layer of Arctic permafrost by the end of the century. Scientists say the thaw would release vast stocks of carbon into the atmosphere, threaten ocean currents and wreck roads and buildings across Canada, Alaska and Russia.
Damage to the Amazon rain forest may be twice as large than previously thought due to undetected "selective" logging, US and Brazilian forest experts reported on Thursday.
Melting snow has triggered the warmest summers across Arctic Alaska in at least 400 years, setting in motion tree and shrub growth that will accelerate warming by two to seven times as the century unfolds.
Europe's devastating heat wave, which claimed 35,000 lives in 2003, also reduced plant growth across the continent by 30 percent and may have contributed to global warming.
Global warming is causing soil to release huge amounts of carbon, making efforts to fight global warming tougher than previously thought.
A vast expanse of western Sibera is undergoing an unprecedented thaw that could dramatically increase the rate of global warming -- and could produce a scenario climate scientists have feared since first identifying "tipping points.
Illinois is going through its worst dry spell in nearly 20 years. And because the state accounted for nearly one-fifth of the nation's corn crop last year, the market is watching closely.
One in six countries in the world face food shortages this year because of severe droughts that could become semi-permanent under climate change, UN scientists warned yesterday.
Since 1962, Baker and his colleagues have been recording soil temperatures as deep as 42 feet below an open field on the north edge of the university's St. Paul campus. The measurements show sub-surface soil temperatures have increased more than 3 degrees Fahrenheit, a much faster rise than would be expected in a more stable climate.
Worldwide production of essential crops such as wheat, rice, maize and soya beans is likely to be hit much harder by global warming than previously predicted, an international conference in London has heard. The benefits of higher levels of the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, will in fact be outweighed by the downsides of climate change.
Australians are in for a rough ride from global warming and will have to cope with a warmer, drier world swinging wildly between extremes of drought and flood, bushfires and dust storms.
Researchers examining ancient tree ring records have linked prolonged periods of epic drought in the West with warmer temperatures, suggesting that global warming could promote long-term drought in the interior West. The study maps a 400-year period of recurring mega-droughts that make the West's current five-year dry spell look puny.
Dramatic results made public today from a unique 20-year American experiment are raising the spectre of runaway warming above the Arctic tundra that would accelerate global climate change. The findings, if confirmed with additional studies, could also doom Canada's Kyoto plan targets for reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas. This double whammy arises because U.S. researchers discovered climate warming might trigger conditions where tundra decomposition will dump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere faster than it's soaked up by accelerated plant growth.
This year's world grain harvest is falling short of consumption by 93 million tons, dropping world grain stocks to the lowest level in 30 years. As rising temperatures and falling water tables hamstring farmers' efforts to expand production, prices of wheat and rice are turning upward. For the first time, the grain harvest has fallen short of consumption four years in a row.
The closest look yet at climate change in the United States predicts trouble for many U.S. farmers. While corn production in the Northern Plains should increase, productivity would drop through the Midwest's Corn Belt and Southeast -- where researchers project a one-third loss to the agricultural economy if farmers don't prepare for climate change -- and a one-fifth loss even if they do change crops to reflect warmer conditions.
Tiny fungi that live under the Rocky Mountain snowpack get busy reproducing in the winter and may affect global warming, U.S. scientists said yesterday. Unlike most life, which hibernates or hunkers down in the winter, these fungi proliferate - creating measurable amounts of nitrogen and carbon dioxide, the researchers said. This could affect global warming - caused to a large degree by both natural and human-made carbon dioxide.
One in every five species of wild flower could die out over the next century if levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere double in line with predictions, scientists said. A study of the impact of global warming on plants has found that most of the environmental changes are likely to result in a substantial loss of plant life. Even though plants need carbon dioxide to survive, the research found that higher levels of the gas reduced numbers of wild flowers by 20 per cent, and cut overall plant diversity by 8 per cent.
Climate change during the past two decades has improved conditions for much of the world's plant life. Global changes in temperature, rainfall and cloud cover have given plants more heat, water and sunlight in areas where climatic conditions once limited growth, according to the study jointly funded by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the U.S. Department of Energy.
The most important anthropogenic influences on climate are the emission of greenhouse gases and changes in land use. Researchers now project that half of the observed decrease in diurnal temperature range is due to urban and other land-use changes. They also estimate that warming due to land-use changes is at least twice as high as previous estimates.
Since the 1940s, harvests across the United States have become ever more bountiful as farmers have planted better varieties of crops, generously fertilized them, and gained the upper hand against pests and weeds. But over the past 2 decades, they have had a little help: A new study shows that a surprisingly high percentage of the improvement in yield was due not to farm management but to climate change.The finding suggests that food production in the United States may be more vulnerable to shifts in climate than was previously suspected, a fact that could affect global food security.
Southern Africa is in the midst of a famine; the World Food Program estimates that nearly one-third of Lesotho's 2.1 million residents will need emergency handouts this year. Many scientists say that nearly 40 million other Africans, at risk of starvation, may be among the first human victims of global climate change.
Researchers at Stanford University concluded that elevated atmospheric CO2 actually reduces plant growth when combined with other likely consequences of climate change -- namely, higher temperatures, increased precipitation or increased nitrogen deposits in the soil.
Global warming will have a devastating effect on the availability of water in the western United States, according to a new study done by a team of scientists. Even a best-case scenario forecasts a virtual train wreck, with supplies falling far short of the projected future demands for water by cities, farms and wildlife, scientists said.
Rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels may increase agricultural productivity, but reduce the nutritional quality of some crops, a new study suggests. Carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas linked to global warming, could help crop plants grow and reproduce more in the temperate zones that now produce most of the world's food. But the price of that bonus could be a reduction in the nutritional value of crops.
According to a new study, the world may soon see the end of the "free ride," in which carbon absorption by natural ecosystems ameliorates the rise in atmospheric CO2 due to fossil fuel burning and loss of forest.The ecosystem study of the reaction of a Texas grassland to a range of carbon dioxide levels has shown that soil nitrogen availability may limit the capacity of ecosystems to absorb expected increases in atmospheric CO2.
Driven by overgrazing, overpopulation, drought, and poor land management, deserts are slowly consuming vast areas of the country in a looming ecological disaster. From 1994 to 1999, desertified land grew by 20,280 square miles. Desert blankets more than a quarter of China's territory. Sands threaten herders and farmers in a nation with one-fifth of the world's population but only one-15th of its arable land.
Harvests of some of the world's key food crops could drop by up to 30 percent in the next 100 years due to global warming. New studies indicate that yields could fall by as much as 10 per cent for every one degree Celsius rise in areas such as the Tropics.
Global warming may be set to accelerate as rising temperatures in the Arctic melt the permafrost causing it to release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Droughts caused by global warming could set off a biochemical process in northern soils that would release large amounts of carbon dioxide into the air and possibly speed changes in the climate, researchers are reporting today in the journal Nature. The increase in droughts predicted by some climate models could abruptly activate a dormant enzyme in moist, peaty northern soils, triggering decomposition of their organic matter.This decay would release large amounts of carbon dioxide, a "greenhouse gas" thought to cause global warming. The soils are believed to hold 460 billion tons of carbon, or about 60 percent of the amount in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.
The Sahara has crossed the Mediterranean, forcing thousands to migrate as a lethal combination of soil degradation and climate change turns parts of southern Europe into desert.Up to a third of Europe's soil could eventually be affected.
Temperature increases anticipated as part of global warming appear to reduce rice yields, a finding with worrisome implications for the third of the world's population that relies on rice as a food staple. University of Florida (UF) researchers have found that above average temperatures interfere with the life cycle and pollination process in rice plants. Modest temperature increases predicted by some climate change scenarios would reduce rice yields by 20 to 40 percent by 2100, while the most severe predicted temperature increases could force yields to zero.
Much of the country's midsection and a broad swath of its southern tier from Arizona to Florida -- roughly a quarter of the territory of the contiguous 48 states in all -- is already experiencing a moderate to severe drought with the peak months for drought still ahead. If long-range forecasts are accurate, conditions may well get worse -- threatening farmers' chronically sagging fortunes.
Parts of the central U.S. may experience more frequent drought conditions because of increasing greenhouse gases. The central U.S.will likely experience substantial percentage reductions in soil moisture during the summer season by the middle of the next century. The region will be particularly vulnerable to more frequent drought conditions and associated reduction in crop yield, according to researchers at NOAA.
The 20th century was the hottest for more than 500 years. The earth's temperature has increased by about one degree Centigrade (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) since the 1500s, according to scientists who recently completed a study of borehole measurements. In the Northern Hemisphere it was even faster: 1.1C (2F) in the last 500 years and 0.6 C (1.1F) in the 20th century alone.