The Tibetan Plateau, known as the “water tower” of Asia, supplies freshwater for nearly 2 billion people who live downstream. New research led by scientists at Penn State, Tsinghua University and the University of Texas at Austin projects that climate change, under a scenario of weak climate policy, will cause irreversible declines in freshwater storage in the region, constituting a serious threat to the water supply for central Asia, Afghanistan, Northern India, Kashmir and Pakistan by the middle of the century. “The prognosis is not good,” said Michael Mann, distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Penn State. “In a ‘business as usual’ scenario, where we fail to meaningfully curtail fossil fuel burning in the decades ahead, we can expect a substantial — that is, nearly 100% loss — of water availability to downstream regions of the Tibetan Plateau. I was surprised at just how large the predicted decrease is even under a scenario of modest climate policy.” - Penn State
The thick layer of ice that has covered a Swiss mountain pass for centuries will have melted away completely within a few weeks, according to a local ski resort. After a dry winter, the summer heatwaves hitting Europe have been catastrophic for the Alpine glaciers, which have been melting at an accelerated rate. The pass between Scex Rouge and Tsanfleuron has been iced over since at least the Roman era. But as both glaciers have retreated, the bare rock of the ridge between the two is beginning to emerge – and will be completely ice-free before the summer is out. - The Guardian
A growing body of evidence suggests that a massive change is underway in the sensitive circulation system of the Atlantic Ocean, a group of scientists said Thursday. The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), a system of currents that includes the Florida Current and the Gulf Stream, is now “in its weakest state in over a millennium,” these experts say. This has implications for everything from the climate of Europe to the rates of sea-level rise along the U.S. East Coast. Although evidence of the system’s weakening has been published before, the new research cites 11 sources of “proxy” evidence of the circulation’s strength, including clues hidden in seafloor mud as well as patterns of ocean temperatures. The enormous flow has been directly measured only since 2004, too short a period to definitively establish a trend, which makes these indirect measures critical for understanding its behavior. - Washington Post
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