The Arctic ice cap reached its eighth-lowest extent on record for this time of year, when sea ice typically is at its minimum coverage. Scientists at the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center said the sea ice had set a record for the smallest winter extent earlier this year and was on track to rival the record minimum set in 2012. But a cloudy and cooler-than-normal August across the central Arctic slowed the seasonal melting. “It’s not going to be a staircase heading down to zero every year,” said the center’s Ted Scambos. “[But] the Arctic will continue to evolve toward less ice. There’s no dodging that.”
New research suggests that ships at sea spewing soot from their diesel engines are responsible for an increase in lightning strikes along busy maritime routes. By studying records of lightning strikes between 2005 and 2016 as detected by the World Wide Lightning Location Network, researcher Joel Thornton and colleagues at the University of Washington in Seattle uncovered the link between ship exhaust and lightning. They found that there were twice as many lightning strikes along two of the world’s busiest shipping lanes as in nearby areas. They believe that aerosols from engine exhaust helped water vapor to condense into cloud droplets, which can build into localized thunderstorms with more lightning.
A magnitude 7.1 earthquake killed hundreds as it collapsed buildings around Mexico City. Quakes also were felt in Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, northeastern Japan, the Yukon-British Columbia-Alaska border region and Los Angeles.
Indonesian officials on the resort island of Bali raised the alert level for a restive volcano twice within a week. Swarms of terrifying tremors at Mount Agung drove some nearby villagers to flee to safer ground.
Hurricane Maria, the second Category 5 storm to ravage the Leeward Islands within two weeks, left a trail of devastation from Dominica to Puerto Rico and was heading into the southeastern Bahamas by late Friday. Meanwhile, Hurricane José sent high surf and squalls into the Eastern Seaboard and New England. Norma briefly attained hurricane force south of Baja California. Hurricane Max drenched Mexico’s Guerrero state as Tropical Storm Lee formed briefly near the Cape Verde Islands. And at least one person was killed when Typhoon Doksuri roared ashore in Vietnam with sustained winds of 84 mph. Typhoon Talim sliced through the full length of Japan with tropical storm force and torrential rain.
Plants have been observed changing the way they conduct photosynthesis over the past 40 years, as levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide have steadily increased. Researchers led by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography found that land-based plants have adjusted to higher levels of the greenhouse gas by increasing the efficiency with which they use water. With more CO2 in the air, plants have evolved to have fewer or smaller microscopic holes that allow leaves to absorb the gas. The plants then don’t need to draw up as much water from their roots to flourish.
Rising ocean levels in the South Pacific have swallowed at least eight low-lying islands in the Solomon Islands and Micronesia, where sea levels have risen by about a half-inch each year since the early 1990s. Australian researchers conducted coastal surveys, analyzed satellite data and spoke with island residents before making the conclusion. They found six of the islands went underwater between 2007 and 2014.
©2015 Earth Environment Service
Source: Google News : http://www.dispatch.com/news/20170923/earthweek-diary-of-planet