Drought in Spain, floods in Australia, heat waves in China and Japan. Can we stop climate change

(ORDO NEWS) — Parts of Portugal and Spain are experiencing the worst drought in a thousand years today. A recent study showed that the reason for this is the area of ​​high atmospheric pressure, which has increased due to climate change.

The authors of the paper warn of the serious consequences of these changes for the productions important for the region: wine and olives.

But Spain exports olive oil alone for more than three billion dollars annually! This means that the economic damage that the region may suffer due to climate change will be more than tangible.

But in this material we will talk not only about threats, but also about hopes and quite realistic plans to combat climate change on the planet.

What led to the record drought in Portugal and Spain? Azores anticyclone. This is an area of ​​high pressure, in which the air masses rotate clockwise over the North Atlantic in the Azores. It has a great influence on the weather and long-term climate trends in Western Europe.

Climate modeling over the past 1200 years has shown that the changes in the high pressure system in the North Atlantic that occurred in the 20th century are unprecedented for the last millennium.

This area of ​​high pressure began to grow, covering an increasing area about 200 years ago. It was then that the pollution of the Earth‘s atmosphere with greenhouse gases began to increase in connection with the transition of the leading countries of the world from an agrarian to an industrial way of life.

Even more sharply, the Azores anticyclone expanded in the 20th century, keeping up with the pace of global warming.

The authors also examined physical evidence: rainfall levels reflected in the growth of Portuguese stalagmites over hundreds of years. Scientists have found that as the Azores High expands, winters in the western Mediterranean become increasingly dry.

Researchers warn that the Azores High will continue to expand over the 21st century as greenhouse gases rise in the Earth’s atmosphere. This will lead to an increased risk of drought in the Iberian Peninsula and new threats to key crops.

The area suitable for growing grapes in the Iberian Peninsula could be reduced by at least a quarter and potentially disappear almost completely by 2050 due to severe water shortages.

The researchers also predicted a fall in olive production in regions in southern Spain by 30% by 2100.

Winemakers are already looking for ways to adapt to the changing climate, such as moving vineyards to higher altitudes and experimenting with more heat-tolerant varieties.

In 2021, scientists found that severe spring frosts were more likely to kill vines in France. And climate change is also to blame: plants bud earlier and are therefore more susceptible to sudden and severe changes in weather conditions.

The climate modeling results have been published in the scientific journal Nature Geoscience.

Another new example of how climate change is changing the face of the Earth is Mead Reservoir, the largest in the US.

This is a huge man-made reservoir that appeared during the construction of the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River in the early 1930s.

The 640 km2 reservoir holds water for tens of millions of people and vast farmland in the southwestern United States.

But now the Mid is only a quarter filled, and the volume of life-giving moisture in it continues to decrease at a terrifying rate.

Climatologists say two decades of drought is not new to the western United States, but combined with human-induced global warming, such a drought is changing the region.

Warmer temperatures mean that less moisture falls in the form of snow in the Rocky Mountains, and the resulting snowpack melts faster (which, however, does not always happen).

This leaves the Colorado River without the slow, steady supply that fed it year-round for centuries and millennia before the region was inhabited by humans.

Changeable weather creates unprecedented challenges in all parts of the world. Scientists believe that all these abnormal weather patterns are signs of climate change, and in the current century they will only get worse.

Extreme heat in the summer of 2022 also hit China and Japan.

Japan has announced the fastest end of the summer rainy season since meteorological observations began in 1951. The rains usually moderate the summer heat, often lasting well into July.

But on Friday, July 1, 2022, the cities of Tokamachi and Tsunan set unprecedented heat records, while temperatures in some other regions and cities broke multi-year monthly records.

So, on Saturday in Tokyo, the temperature exceeded 35 degrees Celsius for the eighth day in a row. The capital of Japan has experienced such a heat wave only once since 1875.

The scorching heat also hit other cities in the Land of the Rising Sun. In Isesaki in Gunma Prefecture, temperatures hit the 40-degree mark on Friday, nearly beating the record set just two years ago.

In Japan, they have already started talking about possible power outages, since air conditioning requires huge energy costs. However, even the authorities do not dissuade the population from using them, as hospitals are overflowing with people with heat stroke.

Japan’s mainland neighbor China is also succumbing to the worst heat wave in decades, with June rainfall also reaching record highs.

In the northeastern provinces of Shandong, Jilin and Liaoning, rainfall reached the highest levels ever recorded in June.

The national average temperature reached 21.3 degrees Celsius in June, the highest since 1961.

On June 24, the air temperature in Xuchang City reached 42.1°C, while in Dengfeng it reached 41.6°C. This day was the hottest on record in these two cities in Henan province.

China’s meteorologists said no relief is expected anytime soon. Temperatures and precipitation in most of the Celestial Empire will go off scale throughout July.

Australia has also been plagued by climate change for several years now, with droughts, deadly wildfires, Great Barrier Reef bleaching and flooding increasing in frequency and intensity as global weather patterns change.

Higher temperatures mean the atmosphere holds more moisture, resulting in more precipitation.

In the hardest-hit areas, the ground is already saturated with water, so water levels quickly rose, flooding homes in Sydney’s western suburbs.

Rivers swollen with rain flooded houses and roads, forcing thousands of people to leave their usual places of life.

Drought in Spain floods in Australia heat waves in China and Japan Can we stop climate change 2
Tens of thousands of residents of Sydney and the suburbs are evacuated due to flooding

The federal government declared a natural disaster in 23 flooded areas of New South Wales by July 5, 2022, starting to pay benefits to affected residents.

About 50,000 people are currently being evacuated and another 28,000 are preparing to flee due to rising water levels in New South Wales, officials said.

Not for the first year, scientists have been discussing the safety of drinking water, which invariably falls during periods of floods.

Is it possible that the rapid climate change that has begun cannot be stopped? After all, every year we hear about ever higher temperatures, about an increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, about air, water and soil pollution in all corners of the world.

Recall that in order to limit further climate change, 196 countries of the world in 2015 signed an international treaty known as the Paris Agreement.

This document confirms the desire of the countries participating in the agreement to take measures to curb the increase in the global average temperature of the world to the level of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Are these commitments feasible? Or is it just empty talk? The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that they are quite feasible.

In the early days of the pandemic, no one knew how deadly the coronavirus was or how quickly it could spread. Therefore, governments around the world immediately introduced mass quarantines – so many people stayed at home, instead of going to work and doing their usual things.

As a result, world trade practically came to a halt. At this time, due to a sharp reduction in the movement of ships, trucks and cars, the closure of factories and the suspension of public transport, air and soil pollution decreased significantly.

Researchers noted a 6.3% drop in carbon dioxide emissions in 2020, down 2,200 metric tons from a year earlier!

The authors of the new study describe the drop as the largest of our time, and large enough to meet the 1.5°C target if the measures had been put in place.

But, of course, these measures were too extreme to be sustained for long. Restrictions have been lifted, people have begun to return to work, and CO2 emissions have risen to pre-pandemic levels.

However, the researchers emphasize that the experience of 2020 shows that the goals of the Paris Agreement are achievable.

Similar cuts could be made without major impediments to the development of the world economy.

For example, a third of the reduction in emissions in 2020 was due to significant restrictions on the movement of cars and trucks.

If countries around the world would regulate the activities of automakers and motorists more and better, actively introduce electric vehicles powered by electricity from renewable sources, making this a new and acceptable norm for people, the goals of the Paris Agreement would become achievable.

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