In the latest round-up of climate-related news:
From Deutsche Welle: “German forest fire risk spikes amid high temperatures, drought.”
Sun and warmth might seem like the perfect weather for Easter. But experts warn that Germany is far too dry, almost everywhere in the country.
Normally, the lucrative cash crop known as rapeseed, or canola, blooms throughout the German state of Thuringia at the end of May. But this year, you would look in vain for the yellow blossoms that are usually turned into one of the western world's main sources of cooking oil.
According to Andre Rathgeber of the Farmers' Association of Thuringia, the prognosis for rapeseed is so bad, most farmers have decided to clear the land for other crops.
This is because the land is far too dry, especially in the key area about 60 cm (23 inches) below the surface, said German Weather Service (DWD) meteorologist Corina Schube.
The risk is especially dire for the country's many pine forests, where extremely thirsty trees drain the soil much more quickly than other types of timber. Unusually massive storms in recent years have added to the problem, as now dead wood and leaves litter the forest floor in much greater amounts — making perfect kindling.
From CNN: “Greenland is melting even faster than experts thought, study finds.”
Climate change is eliminating giant chunks of ice from Greenland at such a speed that the melt has already made a significant contribution to sea level rise, according to a new study. With global warming, the island will lose much more, threatening coastal cities around the world.
Forty percent to 50% of the planet's population is in cities that are vulnerable to sea rise, and the study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is bad news for places like New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Mumbai.
Researchers reconstructed the mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet by comparing estimates of the amount of ice that has been discharged into the ocean with the accumulation of snowfall in the drainage basins in the country's interior for the past 46 years. The researchers found that the rate of ice loss has increased sixfold since then -- even faster than scientists thought.
From the Washington Post: "Vietnam just observed its highest temperature ever recorded: 110 degrees, in April.”
Vietnam broke its national high temperature record Saturday, the latest in a mounting list of records to fall as the world continues to warm.
The scorcher set the mercury thermometer soaring to 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.4 Celsius) in the community of Huong Khe, a rural district in Ha Tinh province. It’s situated in Vietnam’s northern central coast region, about 150 miles south of the capital, Hanoi. Its average temperature is in the 80s at this time of year.
A temperature of 110 degrees is enough to soften your crayons, liquefy chocolate and raise the temperature inside a parked car past 140 degrees.
The record was first reported by Etienne Kapikian, a forecaster with Meteo France, France’s meteorological agency.
Sweltering heat covered the entire Indochina peninsula over the weekend. Danang hit 100 degrees. Hue topped 105.
What makes the heat even more striking is that it’s only April. Most places in Vietnam see their hottest temperatures in June or July.
From the New Scientist: “The UK has already had more wildfires in 2019 than any year on record.”
The UK has been hit by nearly a hundred large wildfires in 2019, making it the worst year on record already.
The hot spell in February and the recent Easter heatwave have contributed to a total of 96 major wildfires of 25 hectares or larger, eclipsing the previous high of 79 across the whole of 2018.
Researchers told New Scientist that the figures, collated by the European Forest Fire Information System, were evidence that climate change had already heightened the risk of wildfires in the UK.
More than 100 firefighters battled wildfires over the Easter weekend across Illkley Moor and Marsden Moor in West Yorkshire. Another fire broke out on moorland near Marsden on Tuesday afternoon, requiring ten fire engines to attend.
There were also wildfires in Cornwall, Dorset, Derbyshire, Northern Ireland, the Peak District, Rotherham, Wiltshire and Wales, according to the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC).
Scotland was affected by fires across the Highlands, including a large one that posed a “serious risk” to the Moray windfarm.
The spate of blazes follows a series of major wildfires during the hot, dry weather of 2018, including the Saddleworth Moor fire near Manchester, which burned for five days and made pollution levels spike.
From the Boston Globe: “Climate change has increased world economic inequality, study says.”
A new study from Stanford University says global warming has increased the wealth gap between the world’s countries by enriching cooler, wealthier countries and dragging down growth in hotter, poorer countries.
The study found that “most of the poorest countries on Earth are considerably poorer than they would have been without global warming,” climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh, lead author of the study, said in a statement from Stanford.
The study, which looked at the period from 1961 to 2010, was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It was co-authored by Marshall Burke, a Stanford assistant professor of Earth system science.
From the Washington Post: “It’s been exceptionally warm in Greenland lately and ice is melting a month early.”
You might have heard about the exceptional heat this year in the northern hemisphere and around the world. March was just declared the second warmest on record globally.
Records have been shattered in Alaska. Scotland hit 70 degrees in February. Winter warmth has torched the U.K., Netherlands and Sweden as well — coming on the heels of Europe’s warmest year on record. But they’re not alone.
Greenland is baking, too. In fact, its summer melt season has already begun — more than a month ahead of schedule.
Marco Tedesco is a professor in atmospheric sciences at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. He monitors behavior of the cryosphere — the part of earth’s water system that is frozen. He says melting of this extent shouldn’t begin until May. “The first melt event was detected on April 7,” he wrote in email.
In business-as-usual news:
From Reuters: “Exxon Mobil makes new oil discovery offshore Guyana.”
Exxon Mobil Corp said on Thursday the U.S. oil major along with its partners have made an oil discovery offshore Guyana, which adds to the previously estimated 5.5 billion barrels of oil-equivalent.
The discovery was in the Turbot area of Stabroek Block, which is expected to become a major development hub, Exxon said.
This is the thirteenth discovery on the block, which is part of one of the biggest oil discoveries in the world in the last decade.
From Oilprice.com: “Kuwait Could Add 400,000 Bpd Heavy Oil Output By January 2020.”
Kuwait will start this year the first phase of a heavy oil field production, aiming to boost heavy crude output to 430,000 bpd from 60,000 bpd by January, the official Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reports.
Heavy crude oil production from the first phase of an oil field in northern Kuwait, known as “Al-Ritqa” is forecast to hit 11,000 bpd in August this year, KUNA quoted Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) as saying.
The Al-Ritqa oil field project is aimed at boosting heavy crude oil production to 430,000 bpd from 60,000 bpd via multiple production phases by January, Fatama Al-Kanderi, who is responsible for project planning at KOC, said at a recent panel discussion organized by the Kuwaiti oil ministry.
Increasing heavy crude output in northern Kuwait is one of the pillars of the Kuwaiti 2040 oil production strategy, KUNA quoted Al-Kanderi as saying at the panel.
Nearly two years ago, Kuwait announced plans to increase its crude oil production capacity to 4.75 million bpd by 2040, compared to a current capacity of 3.15 million bpd.
From Oilprice.com: “China’s Newest Oil Hotspot Is In America’s Backyard.”
Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua said on Tuesday that an affiliate of Chinese oil major CNPC, Great Wall Drilling, was drilling for oil off Cuba’s coast as part of a joint venture with state-owned oil firm Cuba Petroleum Company (CUPET).
"Our deposits extend out to sea, so increasingly, wells are longer and to reach them we need cutting-edge technology that we have accessed through the Great Wall Company," Julio Jimenez, CUPET's director of drilling, told Xinhua.
The site of the drilling operation is reportedly near the coastal town of Boca de Camarioca, about 75 miles east of Havana, and is a 1,475-meter-deep well extending some 4,692 meters out to sea. Workers hope to reach 6,950 meters where geological studies show a hydrocarbon deposit is located. Great Wall management claims that several new wells have been drilled more effectively using Chinese drilling technology.
"We have increased the efficiency of drilling, lowered the cost of building the wells, and drilled several highly productive wells, in addition, we have supported the finding of new deposits," said Meng Fanji, Great Wall’s deputy manager.
From S&P Global Platts: “Record 2018 US natural gas demand largely driven by power demand: FERC.”
US natural gas and power markets experienced higher average prices in 2018, while gas markets had record high demand and supply, and power generation capacity additions were led by gas-fired and wind-powered resources, federal regulators said Thursday.
"In 2018, natural gas demand reached a record high, driven primarily by increased demand for natural gas-fired generation and LNG export growth," according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's 2018 State of the Markets Report that was presented at the commission's monthly agenda meeting in Washington.
Record-high gas demand was coupled with record-high production, with the largest growth from the Marcellus Shale and the Permian Basin. But demand growth outpaced production growth, which resulted in consistently lower-than-average storage levels that "at times were the lowest in more than a decade," the report said.
From Inside Climate News: “Canada’s Tar Sands Province Elects a Combative New Leader Promising Oil & Pipeline Revival.”
The home province of Canada's tar sands elected a combative, conservative leader this week who came out swinging on the side of the country's struggling oil industry. Jason Kenney promised to cancel Alberta's carbon tax, lift a cap on greenhouse gas emissions from the tar sands and create a "war room" to combat the oil industry's opponents.
In his acceptance speech, Kenney told the crowd: "As long as there is growing global demand for oil and gas, the question is who will provide it.”
From Oilprice.com: “U.S. Greenlights Two Major LNG Export Projects.”
The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved on Thursday two liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects that will add to the growing U.S. export capacity of the super-chilled fuel.
FERC approved the project for the Driftwood LNG export terminal and associated pipeline on the west bank of the Calcasieu River, south of Lake Charles, Louisiana, proposed by Tellurian, and the Port Arthur LNG facility in Texas planned by Sempra Energy.
“We look forward to beginning construction and delivering first LNG in 2023,” Tellurian’s President and CEO Meg Gentle said today, commenting on the Driftwood LNG approval.
Tellurian’s timeline for the Driftwood LNG project includes final investment decision this year, the start of construction this year, and start of operations in 2023.
Another 10 proposed LNG export projects are pending FERC approval at the time being, the commission said today.