Satellites are key to monitoring ocean carbon
Satellites now play a key role in monitoring carbon levels in the oceans, but we are only just beginning to understand their full potential.
Our ability to predict future climate relies upon being able to monitor where our carbon emissions go. So we need to know how much stays in the atmosphere, or becomes stored in the oceans or on land. The oceans in particular have helped to slow climate change as they absorb and then store the carbon for thousands of years, eurekalert.org wrote.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on the Oceans and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, published in September, identified this critical role that the ocean play in regulating our climate along with the need to increase our monitoring and understanding of ocean health.
But the vast nature of the oceans, covering over 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, illustrates why satellites are an important component of any monitoring.
The new study, led by the University of Exeter, said that increased exploitation of existing satellites will enable us to fill “critical knowledge gaps” for monitoring our climate.
The work reports that satellites originally launched to study the wind, also have the capability to observe how rain, wind, waves, foam and temperature all combine to control the movement of heat and carbon dioxide between the ocean and the atmosphere.
Additionally, satellites launched to monitor gas emissions over the land are also able to measure carbon dioxide emissions as they disperse over the ocean.
Future satellite missions offer even greater potential for new knowledge, including the ability to study the internal circulation of the oceans. New constellations of commercial satellites, designed to monitor the weather and life on land, are also capable of helping to monitor ocean health.
“Monitoring carbon uptake by the oceans is now critical to understand our climate and for ensuring the future health of the animals that live there,” said lead author Dr. Jamie Shutler, of the Center for Geography and Environmental Science on Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall.
“By monitoring the oceans we can gather the necessary information to help protect ecosystems at risk and motivate societal shifts towards cutting carbon emissions.”
The research team included multiple European research institutes and universities, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the European Space Agency.
The researchers call for a “robust network” that can routinely observe the oceans.
This network would need to combine data from many different satellites with information from automated instruments on ships, autonomous vehicles and floats that can routinely measure surface water carbon dioxide.
And recent computing advancements, such as Google Earth Engine, which provides free access and computing for scientific analysis of satellite datasets, could also be used.
The study suggests that an international charter that makes satellite data freely available during major disasters should be expanded to include the “long-term man-made climate disaster”, enabling commercial satellite operators to easily contribute.
The research was supported by the International Space Science Institute ISSI Bern, Switzerland, and initiated by Dr. Shutler at the University of Exeter and Dr. Craig Donlon at the European Space Agency (ESA).
Oil pollution puts over 6,000 infants at risk in Niger Delta
The Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission, has said that oil and gas pollution caused by the activities of multinational oil companies puts over 16,000 infants living in Niger Delta region at risk annually.
The chairman of the commission and Archbishop of York, England, Dr. John Sentamu, who disclosed this over the weekend while presenting the interim report on the commission’s findings to Governor of Bayelsa Henry Seriake Dickson, indicted oil companies operating in the region, describing their actions as “nothing less than environmental genocide”, allafrica.com reported.
He said that the commission, working alongside industry and environmental experts to investigate the impact of oil spills and the environmental and social damage done by international oil companies operating in Bayelsa State, discovered that oil companies are heaping environmental devastation on the people of the region.
He said, “Roughly 40 million liters of oil wind up in the Niger Delta annually, eight times more than is spilled in America, the world’s biggest producer and consumer of oil.
“It is estimated that the consequences of oil spills may kill around 16,000 infants in the Niger Delta annually within their first month of life.
“Our environment knows no bounds. We are all global citizens. It would never be acceptable to cause such environmental devastation in Europe or America, and accordingly it should never be acceptable in Africa or South America.
“Oil companies today have a moral obligation to uphold the same high environmental standards, wherever they operate, anything less is to knowingly continue an environmental genocide against the people of places like the Niger Delta,” he said.
Governor Seriake Dickson, who, earlier in the year set up the commission to investigate the cause of oil spillage and gas flaring in the state and proffer lasting solution, while receiving the report, said he was grateful to the archbishop, the commissioners and the global community for highlighting what he termed as ‘long-held injustice’ on the world
He said the commission has finally provided a voice for every man, woman and child in Bayelsa that has struggled for over half a century with what can be deemed as environmental terrorism.
He said, “I established the Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission to hold oil companies to account, to shift the mindset of multinationals operating in Bayelsa and to inspire a global sustainable change. Everyone deserves the same rights, whether you live in Nigeria or in the USA.
“Since the first oil well was drilled in Nigeria by Shell in Bayelsa in 1956, Bayelsan’s have rarely benefitted from oil. We have faced the destruction of our environment, rivers filled with oil, our farmlands destroyed, and a host of health problems including the on-going deaths of our children.
“I’m grateful to the archbishop for sharing what he has seen with the world. We, the people of Bayelsa and the world wait to hear the steps the oil companies will take in Nigeria and around the world to address this kind of environmental injustice and we eagerly anticipate the recommendations of the Commission in 2020”.
The Commission is chaired by the Archbishop of York Dr. John Sentamu, Baroness Valerie Amos, former undersecretary general at the UN, and John Kufuor, former president of Ghana, as well as a number of experts.
Severe pollution drives car rationing in Delhi
The Indian capital, Delhi, has launched a car rationing system as it battles hazardous levels of pollution.
Private cars with even and odd number plates will be allowed on roads only on alternate days from Nov. 4-15, officials said, BBC wrote.
The system was introduced in 2016 and 2017 as well, but it’s not clear if it actually helps bring down pollution.
Levels of dangerous particles in the air — known as PM2.5 — are far higher than recommended.
The deteriorating air quality has put millions of people at risk of respiratory illness.
Health officials have asked people to stay indoors and refrain from doing any physical activity. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the car rationing system, known as the “odd-even plan”, would take hundreds of thousands of cars off the road.
Those ignoring the decree will be fined 4,000 rupees (£44; $56), which has doubled from previous years.
Only public transport, emergency vehicles, taxis and two-wheelers will be allowed. Women driving alone will also be exempt from the rule.
But there are doubts that the scheme will do much to ease the smog. Similar measures in the past drastically reduced traffic congestion in Delhi but did not have a significant impact on pollution levels.
Experts say emissions from vehicles are just one of several factors that have turned the city into — in Kejriwal’s words — a “gas chamber”.
A major cause of the high pollution levels at this time of year is farmers in neighboring states burning crop stubble to clear their fields.
This creates a lethal cocktail of particulate matter — carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide — all worsened by fireworks set off during the Hindu festival Diwali a week ago.
Construction and industrial emissions have also contributed to the smog.
Identifying the cause has sparked a row between state and federal politicians, with Kejriwal calling on the neighboring states of Punjab and Haryana to crack down on crop burning.
But ordinary Indians are just hoping that scattered rainfall over the coming week will wash away the pollutants but this is not due until Thursday.
There is no escaping the oppressive smog which has descended on the city. According to Siddharth Singh, climate policy researcher and author of The Great smog of India, the air in Delhi “smells like burning leaves”.
“It’s smoky. Eyes are itchy. The throat is also a little iffy. And everyone’s feeling it,” he told the BBC.
According to official measurements, the levels of dangerous particles in the air — known as PM2.5 — are far higher than recommended and about seven times higher than in the Chinese capital Beijing, which has battled similar pollution problems in recent years.
An Indian health ministry official said the city’s pollution monitors did not have enough digits to accurately record pollution levels, which he called a “disaster”.
Five million masks were handed out in schools on Friday as officials declared a public health emergency and Kejriwal likened the city to a “gas chamber”.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said a third of deaths from stroke, lung cancer and heart disease are due to air pollution.
“This is having an equivalent effect to that of smoking tobacco,” the WHO said on its website.
This is the third time the Delhi government’s “odd-even plan” has been rolled out and it’s been introduced with a few tweaks.
2,000-year-old Roman discovery in Croatia offers major new insight into era
The chariot, thought to be around 2,000 years old, was discovered with the near perfect fossilized remains on the horses that would have pulled it. The discovery offered a glimpse into the world of the wealthy from ancient times and the lavish ways in which they buried their belongings.
The discovery was made near the city of Vinkovci in eastern Croatia, express.co.uk reported.
The city was a small part of the mighty Roman Empire which spanned much of Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Western Europe, including England and Wales.
The researchers found a large burial chamber in which the two-wheeled-carriage was unearthed.
The remains of the skeletons of two horses were also found, one strewn across the front of the carriage, the other neatly laid out in the exact position it was laid to rest.
Roman expert, Boris Kratofil, explained to local media that the ritual was common to those who were wealthy enough to own such luxuries in ancient Rome.
He said the custom was exceptional and particularly common during the Roman period in the province of Pannonia in which modern day eastern Croatia sits.
He said, “The custom is associated with extremely wealthy families who have played a prominent role in the administrative, social and economic life of the province of Pannonia.”
The chariot and horses are thought to be from the third century CE.
However, the researchers cannot be sure, and so are working to find a more accurate time stamp for the two discoveries.
Archeologists from the City Museum Vinkovci and Croatia’s Institute of Archeology were involved in the project.
Marko Dizdar, director of the Institute of Archeology, labelled the “sensational” discovery unique in Croatia.
He said, “After this comes a long process of restoration and conservation of the findings, but also a complete analysis of the findings.
“In a few years we will know a little more about the family whose members were buried in this area 1,800 years ago.”
Dizdar added that the horses may not have been local.
He continued, “We are more interested in the horses themselves, that is, whether they were bred here or came from other parts of the empire.”
“This will tell us more about the importance and wealth of this family.
“We will achieve this through cooperation with domestic as well as numerous European institutions.”
The concept of the chariot is thought to have originated in Mesopotamia in around 3000 BC, with monuments from Ur and Tutub from the period depicting battle parades that included heavy vehicles with solid wheels.
The chariot soon proved superior during battle, with horses being used to pull the carriage around 2000 BC, providing militaries with hitherto unprecedented mobility.
It spread across the world, being used by Egyptians, Celts and much of Europe as a means to transport goods and weaponry during battles and military expeditions.
Mesopotamia was an advanced civilization that emerged from the Neolithic revolution from around 10,000 BC.
Recently, scientists proposed what might have wiped the kingdom out in a groundbreaking study.
They proposed that the kingdom was victim to a brutal sandstorm that resulted in the inability to grow crops, famine and mass social upheaval.
The heaviest rains in years have fallen across parts of Australia’s east coast, bringing relief to some struggling livestock farmers, Reuters reported.