2014 Will Be Earth’s Hottest Year on Record, Despite US Cold

Published: Nov. 20th, 2014

By: Maria Vargas

Although the northern States, such as New York have been victims of the cold winter storms, 2014 will still be known as the hottest year on Earth since 1880, according to scientists. Last month was the hottest October on record for land and ocean temperatures. Combing land and sea, the average worldwide temperature for October was 58.43 F, which topped the temperature of October in 2003. November 2013-November 2014 are now the warmest 12-month record ever recorded since 1880. With less than two months left in 2014, Earth will experience the warmest years ever recorded. The northern Pacific Ocean hasn’t been this warm in 10 years. Surface sea waters are warmed up due to el Niño which has been hitting strong this year. Scientists say, “Whether it will stay this way, only time will tell.”

Land Ocean heating map

Source: http://www.livescience.com/48841-2014-predicted-warmest-year-ever.html

Global Warming Will Bring More US Lightning Strikes

Published: Nov. 13, 2014

By: Maria Vargas

By 2100 lightning strikes will increase by 50% if temperatures continue to rise due to the greenhouse effect. For every 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, researchers have found that lighting activity increases by 12%. Since lightning often causes wildfires, the outcome in the future would probably be increases in fire damage. Currently there are 25 million lightning flashes recorded yearly in the U.S. Researches predict future lightning patterns by first looking for factors that control the timing and location of lightning in the present day. After researchers complete this first task, they use climate models to estimate how these factors would change as global warming alternate climate and weather. Two factors that predicts 77% of geographic and time patterns seen in the U.S lightning strikes are precipitation and how we measure the atmosphere’s potential for creating towering clouds. Researches use metrics to predict future lightning storms and they do perform good approximations.

lightning stroms

Source: http://www.livescience.com/48751-global-warming-more-us-lightning.html

Polar Vortex

By: Alyssa Pino

The Polar Vortex is actually a rotating cold mass of air at the North Pole that has recently shifted southward causing unusual low temperatures across the North American continent. This polar vortex is causing the northern artic to warm up twice as fast as the south (United States). The temperature difference between the artic and the U.S. is shrinking which is causing the polar vortex to weaken which makes the air wavier. This may cause the air in the south to become unseasonably colder. The polar vortex is a good thing because its winds form a boundary that keeps the cold air contained and prevents us from freezing. When the vortex breaks down, a powerful blast of artic air can travel far south which causes the temperatures in places that don’t have such cold winters, for temperatures to drop. The polar vortex might be shocking to most of us, but cold breaks caused by cracks in the vortex has happened recently throughout the years. For example, in January of 1985 and January of 2014, the northern polar vortex had many cracks and bends which caused the polar air to push south into the eastern United States. If the polar vortex were to dramatically change the temperatures in states like Florida, there would be many economic problems that would affect agriculture.

Below is a map of the current polar vortex and temperatures.usa

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

November 12th, 2014

Also known as the Pacific Trash Vortex, the great pacific garbage patch is a collection of marine debris found in the north pacific. It was made from the piling up of debris left by humans in the pacific oceans that all converged in several locations. They are linked together by the subtropical convergence zone, and bounded by the North Pacific subtropical gyre, which is a system of currents formed by wind patterns and the Earth’s rotation. The debris accumulates so much because most pieces of trash dropped in the ocean are not biodegradable, like plastic, fishing gear, shoes and other funky items that are accidentally spilled from commercial ships. The trash vortex can effect the ocean’s ecology in several ways. One, most of the debris actually sinks to the bottom of the ocean, making living conditions there nearly impossible for plant and animal life. Many sea animals have died from consuming debris thinking its food, especially Sea Turtles and Albatrosses. Other animals like seals often choke to death from plastic and fishing nets. It also affects the food web chain, as layers of debris prevent algae and plankton from producing nutrients through sunlight. For years, conservation efforts have been made to try and patch up the trash vortex, but cleaning up piles of marine trash is not as easy as it sounds. Scientists agree that reducing or eliminating our use of plastics will prevent more plastic from becoming part of the masses.

Source: National Geographic

Surprise Blizzard, Avalanches Kill Hikers in the Himalayan Mountains.

By: Maria Vargas

October 15th, 2014

Avalanches in Nepal’s Himalayan Mountains have killed hikers in a popular hiking region. The Nepalese Tourism Ministry reported 23 dead bodies, including tourists. Nepal’s Thorung La route has the highest death toll with the highest point being at 17,770 feet. 250 hikers have been reported to go through this route and the route is considered a “trap” to experts. The Tourism Ministry states that they will send more helicopters and rescuers tomorrow to search for missing hikers in affected sites.

The Annapurna circuit is popular with inexperienced hikers, who come in herds to the region during October. Six months before, an avalanche in that circuit killed 16 mountain workers. Everest workers were involved in helping hikers go through Everest, only if those hikers would pay them well. On the other hand, the Annapurna circuit, approximately 200 miles west of Everest, is a much less demanding hike that attracts a wide range of tourist around the world.

Unexpected heavy snowstorm fell upon the Annapurna range. “Unexpected snow brings unexpected avalanches.” When there is a heavy snowfall with wind snow, you are increasing the chances of avalanches to occur.

After the blizzard, heavy rains followed which affected Nepal and India earlier in the week, triggering a Cyclone, which killed at least eight people.

Featured image

Source: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/10/141015-himalaya-nepal-avalanche-blizzard-deaths-annapurna/

Lava Flow from Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano Speeds Up

By: Maria Vargas

In the weekend of October 24th – 26th lava from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano started spreading, causing local authorities and residents to prepare for possible evacuation. According to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, lava flow was falling towards a small village of Pahoa in the night of October 26th and has already advanced through the Pahoa cemetery.

Featured image

The volcanic flow is moving at a rate of 15 to 20 yards per hour and shows no signs of stopping any time soon. Residents of Pahoa have not been ordered to evacuate yet, but emergency responders were going house to house to inform the residents about the flow condition and possible evacuation plans. The Red Cross also got involved by opening an emergency shelter in the nearby town of Keaau.

On the night of October 26th, lava flow was just 600 yards from Pahoa Village Road, which caused officials to close a portion of the road. Scientist worry that smoke conditions will burn through grass and vegetation and they also worry about methane explosions that have been observed in the lava flow. The orange edges of the lava flow can reach temperatures higher than 1,650 degrees Fahrenheit. Ever since, 1983 Kilauea has been spilling lava onto surrounding buildings near Puna’s region. Scientist are continuing to monitor the volcanic activity and flow from ground and from a flight over the area as well. 

Source: http://www.livescience.com/48469-kilauea-lava-flow-speeds-up.html

Toxic chemicals found near shuttered army base in Atlanta

by Emily Himes

Some homes near Fort Gillem, south of Atlanta, are accumulating toxic vapor, which could have been caused by Carcinogens that were dumped at the base more than 10 years ago may have migrated into the air these people breathe. Carcinogens are substances capable of causing cancer in living tissue.

ftgill

26 out of 29 houses sampled contain dangerous chemicals in the air, and many of them are hazardous to the residents’ health. Affected homeowners will be notified soon by the Army officials, and they will also install ventilation systems.

Nathan Deal, the Georgia governor, said that the level of contamination in the air was “significantly greater than originally anticipated.” He has been encouraging the military to quickly test all the homes and to install ventilation in the ones that need it.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has categorized both chemicals, benzene and trichloroethylene (TCE) as carcinogens.

Source: Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/09/04/4328523/toxic-chemicals-found-in-homes.html