Coring in Ethiopia to create a half million year sedimentary record

How was human evolution and migration influenced by past changes in climate? This question has led researchers to drill to great depths in a dried up lake in east Africa.

The Chew Bahir Drilling Project, in a remote part of south Ethiopia, will provide a sedimentary record of changes in rainfall, temperature and vegetation, spanning the last 500,000 years of human evolution.

Chew Bahir, is one of a chain of lake basins in Africa’s Great Rift Valley, close to the sites of the earliest known fossils of modern human, Homo sapiens.

Speaking of the importance of the project, Professor Henry Lamb, of Aberystwyth University’s Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, said:

“Ideas about how climatic change may have influenced the emergence and dispersal of modern humans have remained largely speculative. We are now going to be able to place the fossil and archaeological data against a detailed record of climatic variation. This will allow us to make more rigorous tests of these hypotheses.” Read more.

Global flood toll to triple by 2030-

The number of people affected by river flooding worldwide could nearly triple in the next 15 years, analysis shows. Climate change and population growth are driving the increase, according to the World Resources Institute (WRI). In the UK, about 76,000 people a year could be at risk of being affected by flooding if defences aren’t improved, it says. The yearly cost of damage to urban areas could reach more than £1bn. The centre says this is the first public analysis of all world data on current and future river-flood risks. It demonstrates some 20 million people are at risk of being affected by flooding, and it costs almost £65bn in GDP.

According to the new evaluation, in just 15 years time these numbers could rise to around 50 million people with an annual potential cost to the world economy of around £340bn.

Much of this is attributed to climate change and socioeconomic development.

By 2030, if there isn’t any increased investment in flood prevention, the UK could be facing a yearly bill of more than £2bn.

The World Bank says that this calculator will help to inform governments about mitigation and defence strategies.

According to the Red Cross, almost half of natural disasters they dealt with last year were caused by floods.

NASA: The U.S. is headed for a disaster not seen in 1,000 years 

A new study, compiled by scientists from the space agency, Cornell University and Columbia University, predicts an 80% chance that the Great Plains and the American Southwest will endure a major weather shift beginning in 2050. 

"We really need to start thinking in longer-term horizons about how we’re going to manage it."

“The cost of living is going up and the chance of living is going down. “ –Flip Wilson

A new publication issued by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in the journal “Nature” has reported that the chances of keeping temperatures below a 2 degree rise is now largely in the hands of policy makers.

The challenge of a changing climate can now only be fought with the backing of political agenda – and as most people will agree, this seems bleak.

Of all the uncertainties with regard the effects of climate change, including geophysical and social uncertainties; political uncertainty ranked as the number 1 factor in determining the fate of our species and our planet.

Keep reading

The American Pika (Ochotona princeps)

… lives among boulder fields above the treeline in the mountains of western North America. They create dens in crevices or nooks among the rocks, sometimes digging to expand the space as necessary. They don’t hibernate for the winter, but food can be difficult to find in the often deep snow found at high altitudes.

To ensure they get enough to eat they spend much of the summer “haying” - collecting grasses and other meadow vegetation and caching it in their den. They may make up to 13 haying trips per hour when busy with it.

Pikas are sensitive to higher temperatures and don’t do very well at lower elevations as a result - they don’t occur as far down the mountain in the southern part of their range than they do in the north. Adults will die in just six hours at 78°F (25.5°C) if they can’t find suitable cover.

Recent studies have shown declines in populations of American Pika; while there are multiple causes, the primary one is climate change - the animals’ available range is shrinking as they retreat up the mountainsides to stay in areas with acceptable temperatures.

photo by Daniele Colombo on Flickr

(via: Peterson Field Guides)

Not all individuals who call themselves climate change skeptics are deniers. But virtually all deniers have falsely branded themselves as skeptics. By perpetrating this misnomer, journalists have granted undeserved credibility to those who reject science and scientific inquiry.

Hey Sen. Inhofe, Science would like a word with you and your snowball

In late February, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) made the amazingly unconvincing argument that the science behind climate change was the product of a hoax because it was “unseasonably cold” outside. To illustrate his point, Inhofe tossed a snowball right onto the Senate floor. Inhofe has no clue how science actually works.

Humans may have migrated out of Africa in phases based on the weather

Considerable debate surrounds the migration of human populations out of Africa. Two predominant hypotheses concerning the timing contrast in their emphasis on the role of the Arabian interior and its changing climate. In one scenario, human populations expanded rapidly from Africa to southern Asia via the coastlines of Arabia approx. 50,000 to 60,000 years ago. Another model suggests that dispersal into the Arabian interior began much earlier (approx. 75,000 to 130,000 years ago) during multiple phases, when increased rainfall provided sufficient freshwater to support expanding populations.

Ash Parton and colleagues fall into the second camp, “The dispersal of early human populations out of Africa is dynamically linked with the changing climate and environmental conditions of Arabia. Although now arid, at times the vast Arabian deserts were transformed into landscapes littered with freshwater lakes and active river systems. Read more.

reddre302 asked:

If every human on earth disappeared right now both in on earth and in space could the worlds climate be change back to normal or would it be too late

The effects of climate would likely continue for centuries before it equalizes. If every source of Carbon stopped completely today we will still have climate change into the future (just not as bad if we were to continue as is).

This is because each greenhouse gas has a different ‘life span’ before it is removed from the environment. Even when its not added it stays there for decades or centuries.

CO2 has a life span in the atmosphere of 100-300 years.

Methane is 12 years.

Nitrous Oxide is 121 years.

Eventually the climate will equalize if we leave it alone, but a lot of harm will be caused and a lot of species will go extinct even if we stop now.