Daily Archives: August 10, 2017

BBC World Service – Science in Action, Risk of Lethal Heat Waves

Science in Action

Europe has been hit by a deadly heat wave with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius. The combination of high humidity and high temperatures is proving lethal. A new study has shown that between 48% and 74% of the world’s population will have to endure life-threatening heat for 20 days a year.

The world is racing to be at the forefront of rechargeable battery technology. The UK has just followed France in pledging to only sell electric vehicles by 2040, with India setting the same target for 2030. However the high demand for elements such as lithium and cobalt must be met, some of which come from politically unstable areas. What alternative batteries are being developed?

Stars orbiting the supermassive black hole in the centre of our galaxy obey Einstein’s theory of General Relativity.

Penguin tail feathers are chemically analysed to reveal their migration routes.

Sea snakes near the coast of Australia lose their stripes to rid their bodies of pollutants.

The number of unidentified dead bodies in the populous Gauteng province in South Africa is rising. Part of this is due to the high number of undocumented immigrants to the region. The forensic science service is under increasing pressure to put a name to the dead. With often only skeletal remains, the scientists are resorting to ‘geo-profiling’ the bones to get an idea of who this person might be and where they came from.

Presenter: Roland Pease
Producer: Caroline Steel

Image: Heat waves. Credit: David McNew / Getty Images

Changing climate shifts timing of European floods | Science


A warming climate is expected to have an impact on the magnitude and timing of river floods; however, no consistent large-scale climate change signal in observed flood magnitudes has been identified so far. We analyzed the timing of river floods in Europe over the past five decades, using a pan-European database from 4262 observational hydrometric stations, and found clear patterns of change in flood timing. Warmer temperatures have led to earlier spring snowmelt floods throughout northeastern Europe; delayed winter storms associated with polar warming have led to later winter floods around the North Sea and some sectors of the Mediterranean coast; and earlier soil moisture maxima have led to earlier winter floods in western Europe. Our results highlight the existence of a clear climate signal in flood observations at the continental scale.

(read more).

Climate change is shifting when Europe’s rivers flood | Science News

Seasonal events such as snowmelt affect when, and if, waterways overflow their banks

By Laurel Hamers  2:28pm, August 10, 2017

HIGH WATER In August 2005, severe floods hit alpine communities like this village in Tirol, Austria.

Across Europe, rivers aren’t flooding when they used to.

Long-term changes in temperature and precipitation are making some rivers flood days, weeks or even months earlier than they did 50 years ago, and pushing flooding in other areas much later, researchers report August 11 in Science. Those changes could impact people, wildlife and farms near rivers.

Previous studies have shown that climate change is likely to increase the severity and frequency of coastal floods, but it can be tricky to concretely link river flooding to climate change, says Günter Blöschl, a hydrologist at the Vienna University of Technology who led the study.

Coastal flooding is worsened largely by one overriding variable that can be tracked: sea level rise. But river flooding is affected by a complex set of factors, says Rob Moore, a policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council in Chicago who specializes in water issues. Both the timing and quantity of precipitation matter, as does the type of soil and whether it’s dry or already waterlogged when rain hits. What’s more, changes in land use around a river or engineering projects such as dams that change river flow can also affect flood risk — but aren’t necessarily related to the climate.

Fickle floods

Many rivers across Europe now typically flood at different times in the year than they did 50 years ago. The shift is as small as a few days in some areas and as big as several months in others. This map shows those changes, which vary widely across Europe. In red regions, floods are happening earlier; blue regions are flooding later.

G. Blöschl et al/Science 2017

So instead of tracking the size or frequency of river floods, the researchers examined the seasonal timing of those floods. That measurement is less impacted by factors that have nothing to do with climate. Blöschl worked with researchers from 38 countries to analyze hydrological data collected at 4,262 sites across Europe from 1960 to 2010.

Flood season shifted as much as 13 days earlier or nine days later per decade, the researchers found. Over the entire study period, that shift added up to floods in some regions occurring, in the most extreme cases, as much as 65 days earlier or 45 days later. The biggest changes were in Western Europe, where a quarter of the monitoring sites recorded flood timing shifts of more than 36 days over the 50-year period. Elsewhere, effects were more moderate, though still measurable: In northeastern Europe and the area around the North Sea, for instance, more than half of the stations showed shifts of more than 8 days.

…(read more).

Report: More Than 2,400 Have Died in 2017 Crossing Mediterranean + Migrant Helper in France Gets Suspended Four-Month Sentence

Aug 10, 2017

In the Mediterranean, Libya’s coast guard said Wednesday it fired warning shots to drive off a Spanish vessel after it wandered into Libya’s territorial waters. But members of the migrant aid group Proactiva dispute the account, saying their boat “Open Arms” was patrolling international waters. Earlier this week, Proactiva said Italy and Malta barred the group from disembarking migrants rescued at sea. Aid groups have come under increasing pressure from Libyan and European governments not to assist refugees and other migrants attempting the perilous crossing. A report this week from the International Organization for Migration found more than 115,000 migrants have crossed into Europe so far this year, and more than 2,400 have died crossing the Mediterranean.


Aug 10, 2017

A French court on Tuesday ordered a four-month suspended jail sentence for farmer Cédric Herrou, who led a team of volunteers who provided food and shelter to migrants entering France from Italy in 2016. Outside the court, Herrou told reporters he has no regrets, adding, “It’s the role of a citizen in a democracy to act when the state is failing.”

Why Is U.S. Threatening War with North Korea Instead of Pushing for Negotiations?

Democracy Now!

Published on Aug 10, 2017

https://democracynow.org – The war of words between the U.S. and North Korea continues to intensify, with North Korea threatening to strike the U.S. territory of Guam, while Defense Secretary General Mattis warned North Korea’s actions could result in the “destruction of its people.” This came after Trump vowed to strike at North Korea with “fire and fury.” Meanwhile, the U.N. Security Council recently imposed a new round of sanctions against North Korea over its test launches of two intercontinental ballistic missiles last month. We speak with journalist Tim Shorrock, who recently returned from South Korea.

Four Star General: Donald Trump’s North Korea Threat Was ‘A Real Blunder’ | The 11th Hour | MSNBC


Published on Aug 8, 2017

After Donald Trump threatened North Korea with ‘fire and fury,’ Pyongyang threatened to attack the U.S. territory Guam. Andrea Mitchell, Gen. Barry McCaffrey, and Malcolm Nance discuss.

Lawrence Wilkerson: Donald Trump Acting Like He’s Negotiating A Casino Deal | All In | MSNBC


Published on Aug 8, 2017

‘We need to curb this president, who seems to think he’s negotiating the Taj Mahal or some other casino with Steve Wynn,’ says Col. Lawrence Wilkerson about Trump’s actions with regard to North Korea.
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Wilkerson: Trump and Kim Jong-un Sound the Same


Published on Aug 9, 2017

As Defense Secretary Mattis warns North Korea of “the end of its regime and destruction of its people,” Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, the former chief of staff to Colin Powell, says the Trump administration is playing a reckless game

Wilkerson: Trump is Clueless on North Korea


Published on Aug 7, 2017

As the US pushes through new sanctions on North Korea, direct negotiations are the only way to defuse the nuclear standoff, says Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson

Andrew Bacevich: Trump’s Handling of N. Korea, His First National Security Crisis, is Very Troubling

Democracy Now!

Published on Aug 10, 2017

https://democracynow.org – On Tuesday, President Trump shocked the world by hinting the U.S. could carry out a nuclear strike on North Korea. Hours after he spoke, North Korea threatened to strike the U.S. territory of Guam in the western Pacific. China has warned that a “war of words” between the U.S. and North Korea could spiral out of hand. We speak with Andrew Bacevich, professor emeritus of international relations and history at Boston University. He is a retired colonel and Vietnam War veteran.