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January Smashed Another Global Temperature Record,By

The calendar may have turned to 2016, but temperatures are picking up where 2015 left off. January was record warm, according to data released this week by NASA.

You may recall that last year was the hottest on record for the globe. And by NASA’s accounting, it ended with a bang. This past December was the warmest December on record and the most abnormally warm month on record, too.

That is until now.

This January was the warmest January on record by a large margin while also claiming the title of most anomalously warm month in 135 years of record keeping. The month was 1.13°C — or just a smidge more than 2°F — above normal. That tops December’s record of being 1.11°C — or just a smidge below 2°F — above average.

It marks the fourth month in a row where the globe has been more than 1°C (1.8°F) above normal. Incidentally, those are the only four months where the globe has topped that mark since record keeping began.

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Large swaths of the globe were painted red by warmth to the point where it’s easier to talk about where the heat wasn’t (that would be Antarctica, Scandinavia, East Africa and a few parts of Russia for the record). The telltale signal of El Niño’s heat in the Pacific continues to be notable, but it’s the Arctic that truly stands out as the most abnormally warm place on the planet.

According to NASA, temperatures in some parts of the Arctic averaged up to 23°F above normal for the month. No, that’s not missing a decimal point.

full story at ClimateCentral









Penguin Disaster As Iceberg Blocks Route To Sea

photo credit: These Adélie penguins are thriving at the edge of the sea ice, but their fellows are dying when trapped too far from the ocean. Annette Turney/Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013-14

A penguin apocalypse is unfolding in Commonwealth Bay, Antarctica, as tens of thousands of birds are cut off from their food supply by a stranded iceberg. The iceberg in question,B09B, has altered the penguins’ frigid environment, resulting in a mass of deaths. The finding is a worrying sign for other penguin colonies confronted with climate change.

When the explorer Douglas Mawson established a base at Cape Denison at the head of Commonwealth Bay in 1912, he complained about the noise of the Adélie penguin colony, estimated to contain 100,000 birds. Considering the location is the windiest place on Earth, the birds must have been loud.

However, Professor Chris Turney of the University of New South Wales recently found numbers around a tenth of that, and many were not even trying to hatch eggs. In Antarctic Science, Turney and his co-authors attribute the difference to the iceberg B09B, grounded offshore, filling the bay with ice. The penguins of Cape Denison now have an almost impossibly long walk to the ocean to feed.

In normal times, the sea ice is driven offshore, leaving gaps into which the penguins can dive to feed. However, powerful winds now sweep down from the Antarctic highlands and freeze the waters of Commonwealth Bay.

The cause of the penguin’s suffering is, as Turney put it to IFLScience, the size of a small country. B09B broke off the Ross Ice Shelf in 1987 and in December 2011 became frozen to the seabed at the mouth of Commonwealth Bay. The sea ice is now blocked, and has built up to form what is called “fast ice,” which is ice fastened to the shore by some blockage.

The paper reports there was still some open water off the glacier a year after the fateful stranding, but by January 2012 “fast ice extended around 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers) offshore from Cape Denison.” A long way for penguins to waddle.

It is not clear whether the 5,500 surviving penguins pairs have found rare cracks in the ice to jump through, or if they are journeying all the way to the edge.

What the authors were able to determine was that the surviving birds are not doing well. In December 2013, “Hundreds of abandoned eggs were noted, and the ground was littered with the freeze-dried carcasses of the previous season’s chicks,” they wrote.

One of the few healthy-looking penguins left at Cape Denison. Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013-2014

Turney told IFLScience: “We have no idea how long B09B will stay there. It could move this year, or it could be there for decades to centuries.”

Based on long-abandoned rookeries, “There is some evidence that this might have happened in the past,” Turney added. Nevertheless, the fear is that global warming will cause an increase in iceberg calving, creating situations such as the one at Cape Denison all around Antarctica. Already, Turney noted, it appears that icebergs have become drastically more frequent off the Antarctic Peninsula, the area of the continent most affected by climate change.

Turney said the penguins appear unable to move to new colonies and there is no prospect for rescuing them by carving holes in the ice, as these would rapidly freeze over.

source and more fascinating stories at IFLScience









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