Filipinos count cost of climate crisis as typhoons get ever more destructive

A few days before Christmas, Super-typhoon Rai – known locally as Odette – ravaged the Philippines. Lost lives continue to climb two weeks on. Vast numbers of buildings were destroyed – from houses to schools; food crops lost to flooding.

On average, 20 storms and typhoons hit the Philippines each year and they are growing progressively more destructive. The culprit is greenhouse-gas emissions from human activities. The Philippines contributes less than 0.4% to the climate crisis; the global north is responsible for 92%. The Philippines pays the price for problems produced in the north.

Despite the Philippines’ small part in the worsening climate crisis, the threat to the country is huge. Rising sea levels from global heating will submerge parts of the country, creating thousands of climate refugees. Drought and flooding will hit agricultural production and destroy ecosystems. The risk and intensity of health emergencies, such as dengue and diarrhoea, will increase.

Natural defences have not been protected. Dams have been built on ecologically important rivers; dolomite mining continues, and new coal-powered plants are still being built. A few days after the typhoon, a four-year ban on open-pit mining was lifted to help economic recovery, disregarding the contribution of mining to the typhoons and rainfall that are battering the economy in the first place.

Scientist says time is running out for West Antarctic ice sheet

The last time carbon dioxide levels were where they are today, at more than 415 parts per million, was 4 million years ago, and the result of the associated warming due to greenhouse gas was melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and several meters of sea level rise. Unless we can bring our present atmospheric carbon dioxide level down, the eventual outcome will again be substantial loss of ice and open seas across West Antarctica.

Antarctic glaciers are melting in specific regions of West Antarctica in a mode that can’t be stopped. Ocean heat and the reverse slope of the marine continental shelf beneath the Thwaites Glacier, for example, is a runaway train, and large volumes of ice of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet will continue to enter the sea through this outlet.

Scientists from the United Kingdom and the United States are working together in this region to better understand the processes involved, to determine the rate and timing of changes, but this glacial system is in full-scale retreat.

Butressing of Thwaites glacier in Antarctica expected to fail within 10 years

Scientists have discovered a series of worrying weaknesses in the ice shelf holding back one of Antarctica’s most dangerous glaciers, suggesting that this important buttress against sea level rise could shatter within the next three to five years.

Until recently, the ice shelf was seen as the most stable part of Thwaites Glacier (shown on the left of the image above). Because of this brace, the eastern portion of Thwaites flowed more slowly than the rest.

Satellite images show several large, diagonal cracks extending across the floating ice wedge.

These weak spots are like cracks in a windshield, said Oregon State University glaciologist Erin Pettit. One more blow and they could spiderweb across the entire ice shelf surface. “This eastern ice shelf is likely to shatter into hundreds of icebergs,” she said. “Suddenly the whole thing would collapse.”

Even if the fractures don’t cause the shelf to disintegrate, it is likely to become completely unmoored from the seafloor within the next decade.

But when the shelf fails, the eastern third of Thwaites Glacier will triple in speed, spitting formerly landlocked ice into the sea. Total collapse of Thwaites could result in several feet of sea level rise, scientists say, endangering millions of people in coastal areas.

Without its protective ice shelf, scientists fear that Thwaites may become vulnerable to ice cliff collapse, a process in which towering walls of ice that directly overlook the ocean start to crumble into the sea. This process hasn’t been observed in Antarctica.

Record floods linked to climate change have left the people of South Sudan in crisis

Climate scientists say the floods in 2019 and 2020 were driven in part by global warming-linked changes in a weather pattern called the Indian Ocean Dipole.

In East Africa, this led to extreme floods. The rains this year have been so catastrophic for a different reason: The water from the past two years simply never receded.

Floods and wildfires are now normal life in small-town Canada

Three of British Columbia’s worst wildfire years have taken place in the last four years, and the widespread floods and mudslides last week took place after roughly a month’s worth of rain fell in a matter of days, leading to slides that tore apart highways and homes.

Floods, landslides kill 116 in India and Nepal

The death toll from days of flooding and landslides in India and Nepal crossed 100 on Wednesday, including several families swept away or crushed in their homes by avalanches of mud and rocks.

Experts say that they were victims of ever-more unpredictable and extreme weather across South Asia in recent years caused by climate change and exacerbated by deforestation, damming and excessive development.

Uttarakhand reported 178 mm rain in the first 18 days of October—almost 500% more than the average. And the state’s Mukteshwar area reported 340 mm rainfall in the 24 hours until Tuesday morning, the most since the weather station was set up there in 1897.

Flooding in Venice worsens off-season amid climate change

After Venice suffered the second-worst flood in its history in November 2019, it was inundated with four more exceptional tides within six weeks, shocking Venetians and triggering fears about the worsening impact of climate change.

“I can only say that in August, a month when this never used to happen, we had tides over a meter five times.

Venice’s worse-case scenario for sea level rise by the end of the century is a startling 120 centimeters (3 feet, 11 inches).

In the last two decades, there have been nearly as many inundations in Venice over 1.1 meters as during the previous 100 years: 163 vs. 166, according to city data.

Venice’s defense has been entrusted to the Moses system of moveable underwater barriers, a project costing around 6 billion euros (nearly $7 billion) and which, after decades of cost overruns, delays and a bribery scandal, is still officially in the testing phase.

Following the devastation of the 2019 floods, the Rome government put the project under ministry control to speed its completion, and last year start activating the barriers when floods of 1.3 meters (4 feet, 3 inches) are imminent.

The barriers have been raised 20 times since October 2020, sparing the city a season of serious flooding but not from the lower-level tides that are becoming more frequent.

Floods in China

Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi, recorded rainfall of 185mm, about seven times the pre-2010 average for October. Shanxi is a land-locked province SW of Beijing.

About 1.75 million people have been affected in total. Flooding has forced more than 120,000 people to leave their homes, destroyed 17,000 homes, forced the suspension of operations of hundreds of mines and damaged 190,000 hectares (470,000 acres) of farmland.

34 inches (864mm) of rain in 24 hours across parts of Northern Italy

Rossiglione, Italy, ended up with 34.8 inches (883.8 mm) of rainfall over 24 hours, equivalent to 82.9 percent of the city’s average annual rainfall.

In 12 hours, from 5:40 a.m. to 5:40 p.m. local time, the city recorded a staggering 29.2 inches (740.6 mm), which broke the record for the European continent.

Tropical Cyclone Shaheen produced as much as four years’ worth of rain in Oman

Up to 14½ inches (368mm) fell in Al Khaburah, which is just to the west of where the storm came ashore. The city of about 40,000 people averages between three and four inches (75 to 100mm) of rain per year.

Shaheen was the first tropical cyclone to make landfall along Oman’s northern coast since 1890 and only the third on record. None have been observed in the era of weather satellites (since the 1960s) or during the month of October. According to meteorologists Bob Henson and Jeff Masters, writing for Yale Climate Connections, it struck farther west in Oman than any previous tropical cyclone.

Henson and Masters wrote that Shaheen fed off the very warm waters of the Gulf of Oman, which were several degrees warmer than normal. Ocean temperatures have been rising worldwide because of human-caused climate change.

The changing climate in the U.S.

Tennessee floods show a pressing climate danger across America: ‘Walls of water’

“There is no place in the United States where you shouldn’t be resetting your expectations about Mother Nature disrupting your life,” said Roy Wright, president of the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety and former head of FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program. “Climate change has come barging through the front doors of America.”

The flooding in Waverly, Tennessee has no precedent in the historic record. Retired National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration hydrologist Geoffrey Bonnin said the chance of so much rain falling in such a short period is less than 1 in 1,000.

Flooding in China kills 21, as thousands escape to shelters

Friday August 12: The heavy rainfall, expected to continue through Friday night, has brought about 20 inches (510mm) of rain to areas of Hubei since Wednesday, officials said. Four people were missing in addition to the 21 deaths in the township of Liulin, according to local news reports.

India monsoon death toll climbs

Climate change is warming the Arabian Sea. The higher water temperatures are causing the air above to become warmer and hold more moisture.

“We are seeing a three-fold rise in widespread extreme rainfall events since 1950”. A hill station south of Mumbai, Mahabaleshwar, reported 594 millimetres of rain on Friday—the highest since the start of records a century ago.

Death toll rises and thousands flee homes as floods hit China

A year’s worth of rain – 640mm – fell in just three days.

Climate scientists shocked by scale of floods in Germany

This is not a localised freak event, it is definitely part of a coherent global pattern.”

Lapland and parts of Siberia also sweltered in record-breaking June heat, and cities in India, Pakistan and Libya have endured unusually high temperatures in recent weeks. Suburbs of Tokyo have been drenched in the heaviest rainfall since measurements began and a usual month’s worth of July rain fell on London in a day. Events that were once in 100 years are becoming commonplace. Freak weather is increasingly normal.

Some experts fear the recent jolts indicate the climate system may have crossed a dangerous threshold. Instead of smoothly rising temperatures and steadily increasing extremes, they are examining whether the trend may be increasingly “nonlinear” or bumpy as a result of knock-on effects from drought or ice melt in the Arctic. This theory is contentious, but recent events have prompted more discussion about this possibility and the reliability of models based on past observations.

New York City warned ‘climate change is here’ as storm floods streets and subway

Flooding in New York City “has already become more frequent than in the past, and as long as we continue to warm the planet, we can expect more of this, not less”.