Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Rapid glacier retreat in Peru

Seracs on a melting glacierThe Peruvian tropics are host to many Andean glaciers. These are retreating rapidly due to global warming and it is anticiapted that all glaciers below 5500m will have melted in just TEN years time. The population of Peru mainly occupies a strip of arid desert lying between the oceans and the Andean mountains, and rely on glacial meltwater for their primary water supply. This meltwater supplies domestic, industrial and agricultural uses as well as providing a key source of hydroelectric power. The future for Peruvians looks gloomy.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Massive permafrost thaw in Siberia

The sub-Arctic region of western Siberia, an area spanning more than a million sq km, is undergoing permafrost thaw on a scale previously unprecedented. The delicate climatic threshold which maintains permafrost has been breached. As this essentially frozen peat bog thaws it will potentially release sufficient quantities of methane (a greenhouse gas considerably more damaging than CO2) to significantly raise global temperatures. Climatologists are said to be 'alarmed' at the finding by Sergei Kirpotin (Tomsk State University, western Siberia) and Judith Marquand (Oxford University). Further details can be found in The Guardian and New Scientist (11th August 2005).

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Tsunami warning system for Indian Ocean countries

It has been agreed by countries flanking the Indian Ocean that a system of seabed sensors and sea-level buoys will be established to warn of potential tsunami threats. While installation of these various devices is expected to take until summer 2006 to be fully operational, the earliest sensors could be in place by December 2005.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Soil erosion produces biggest desert in Europe

Centuries of unmanaged sheep grazing in Iceland has produced the biggest desert in Europe. Over 60% of the country is officially classified as desert, though the sand here is black and there is no shortage of water. Andres Arnalds, the Deputy Director of the Soil Conservation Service in Iceland, warns that desertification will happen elsewhere in the world where trees are being cleared and land is being over-used.