Icy Siberian caves show tiny warming, may mean big thaw

Quelle: Reuters (By Environment Correspondent Alister Doyle) vom 21.02.2013

Ancient records from icy caves in Siberia show that a small amount of global warming can thaw vast areas of frozen ground and release harmful stores of greenhouse gases, a study showed.

Any melt of permafrost, or permanently frozen soil that covers almost a quarter of the northern hemisphere from Alaska to China, can also destabilise everything from oil and gas pipelines to buildings and roads.


"Global climates only slightly warmer than today are sufficient to thaw significant regions of permafrost," experts in Britain, Russia, Switzerland and Mongolia wrote in Friday's edition of the journal Science after studying Siberian caves.


A global rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7F) above late 19th century temperatures - less than a 2.0 C (3.6F) ceiling for global warming set in 2009 by almost 200 nations - could bring a substantial thaw as far north as 60 degrees latitude, they said.


Sixty degrees girdles the world through Siberia, Nordic nations, the southern tip of Greenland, Canada and south Alaska. U.N. studies show that temperatures have already risen by about 0.7 degree C (1.4F) since the 19th century and are still rising.


The scientists studied caves in Siberia and found a 500,000-year record of stalactites and stalagmites, rocks which only grow when water drips and so show periods when permafrost melted.



The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that permafrost contains about 1,700 billion tonnes of heat-trapping carbon, or twice the amount in the atmosphere.


A UNEP report said in December that permafrost had already begun to thaw in some areas and could release between 43 and 135 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, by 2100.


Almost 200 nations agreed to the 2.0C limit on global temperatures above pre-industrial times - comparable to late 19th century temperatures - to avert more floods, storms and rising sea levels.



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CO2-Emissionen steigen wieder

Quelle: n-tv vom 19.02.2013

Beim Ziel, bis zum Jahr 2020 den Ausstoß klimaschädlicher Gase um 40 Prozent zu verringern, liegt Deutschland gut im Plan. Bisher. Niedrige Kohlepreise und Emissionszertifikate auf Ramschniveau bremsen die Energiewende aus. Umweltminister Altmaier zeigt sich besorgt.

Zum ersten Mal seit Jahren haben die umweltschädlichen Klimagasemissionen in Deutschland wieder zugenommen. Das sagte Bundesumweltminister Peter Altmaier der "Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung." Endgültige Zahlen nannte der CDU-Politiker zunächst nicht. Deutlicher wurde er beim Thema Fracking und schloss es laut der Zeitung faktisch aus.

Im Jahr 2011 war der Treibhausgasausstoß nach Angaben des Umweltbundesamtes noch um mehr als zwei Prozent gesunken. Dies lag vor allem daran, dass die privaten Haushalte wegen der warmen Witterung weniger heizten. Besorgniserregend im Jahr 2012 war nun laut Altmaier, dass immer mehr Kraftwerke wieder verstärkt auf Braun- und Steinkohle für die Stromerzeugung setzten – eine Folge des niedrigen Kohlepreises auf dem Weltmarkt. Das führe in Deutschland dazu, dass die Erzeugung von Elektrizität aus Kohle wieder deutlich zu Lasten der Stromproduktion durch Gas zugenommen habe, sagte der Minister der "Frankfurter Allgemeinen". "Das kann uns nicht gleichgültig sein, weil es die Erfüllung unserer Klimaziele gefährdet".

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Climate Change’s Links to Conflict Draws UN Attention

Quelle: Bloomberg vom 15.02.2013

Imagine India in 2033. It has overtaken China as the most populous nation. Yet with 1.5 billion citizens to feed, it’s been three years since the last monsoon. Without rain, crops die and people starve.

The seeds of conflict take root.

This is one of the scenarios Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, presented today to members of the United Nations Security Council in New York to show the connection between climate change and global security challenges.

Either rich nations will find a way to supply needy nations suffering from damaging climate effects “or you will have all kinds of unrest and revolutions, with the export of angry and hungry people to the industrialized countries,” Schellnhuber said in an interview yesterday.

In the Marshall Islands -- site of U.S. nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s and now being lost to a rising Pacific Ocean -- global warming has “threatened our very existence,” said Tony deBrum, minister-in-assistance to the president of the island state. In the future, the 68,000 inhabitants of the low- lying coral atolls could become stateless.

“Our roads are inundated every 14 days,” he told reporters in New York after the meeting. “We have to ration water three times a week. People have emergency kits for water. We can no longer use well water because it’s inundated with salt.”

Serious Consequences

The Security Council session was evidence of the increased focus on the link between climate change and global security.

Climate change is a “reality that cannot be washed away,” according to notes prepared for diplomats at today’s session. “There is growing concern that with faster than anticipated acceleration, climate change may spawn consequences which are harsher than expected.”

Yet, today’s discussions were not held as a formal meeting of the council because China and Russia, two of the larger emitters of the greenhouse gases that scientists tie to climate change, raised objections, said two UN diplomats who asked not to be named given the sensitivity of the subject. China was the largest gross emitter of carbon dioxide in 2011, followed by the U.S., the European Union, India and Russia, according to the European Commission’s Joint Research Center.


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Saturday the 20th. www.sustainable-impact.de