It killed 739 people in Chicago 1995. In Europe in 2003, it claimed another 70,000 lives. Just seven years later, it would take down 55,000 more in Russia. Extreme heat can and does kill. And while those heatwaves garnered global attention, according to a study released today in the journal Nature, they're more common than we think. The study's authors note that worldwide, some 30 percent of people are exposed to life-threatening extreme heat for at least 20 days of each year. If we do nothing to reduce climate changing emissions that are helping to push the mercury higher, they write, 74 percent of people will experience routine extreme heat events by 2100. And as is already the case today, at least some of those people will die.
El Niño has given us a preview of West Antarctica's future, and things do not look good. For two weeks in January of 2016, unusually warm weather caused a 300,000 square mile patch of the Ross Ice Shelf to partially melt. The roughly Texas-sized area, blanketed in a slushy mixture of ice and water, represents one of the first times scientists have been able to catch such widespread Antarctic melting in action. The findings were published this week in Nature Communications.
Imagine: vast expanses of frozen sea, stretching from the northern coast of Alaska into the Arctic horizon. Welcome to the Southern Beaufort Sea—or at least, the Southern Beaufort Sea as it used to be. This icy Arctic ecosystem is dominated by the majestic polar bear, but warmer temperatures are changing both the landscape and its inhabitants.
There's an old childhood ditty about eating beans that starts off “beans, beans, they're good for your heart,” and ends with a snicker-inducing line about their other well-known effects. It turns out, though, that beans are good for more than your heart. Eating them could also be good for the climate.
Good luck studying glassfrogs. Even the largest ones are barely two inches long, they live only along secluded streams inside dense jungles, and their translucent green skin blends perfectly with the leaves they like to hide under. And just to make life even harder for biologists, some of them have completely transparent skin.