Monthly Archives: April 2017

Sustainability is not Sustainable

US Senators to UN: End Anti-Israel Bias












Ocean Heating and Cooling Affects Global Temperatures

A. Oka and M. Watanabe. The post-2002 global surface warming slowdown caused by the subtropical Southern Ocean heating acceleration. Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1002/2016GL072184

The warming rate of global mean surface temperature slowed down during 1998–2012. Previous studies pointed out role of increasing ocean heat uptake during this global warming slowdown, but its mechanism remains under discussion. Our numerical simulations, in which wind stress anomaly in the equatorial Pacific is imposed from reanalysis data, suggest that subsurface warming in the equatorial Pacific took place during initial phase of the global warming slowdown (1998–2002), as previously reported. It is newly clarified that the Ekman transport from tropics to subtropics is enhanced during the later phase of the slowdown (after 2002) and enhanced subtropical Ekman downwelling causes accelerated heat storage below depth of 700 m in the subtropical Southern Ocean, leading to the post-2002 global warming slowdown. Observational data of ocean temperature also support this scenario. This study provides clear evidence that deeper parts of the Southern Ocean play a critical role in the post-2002 warming slowdown.

The Atmosphere is a Dynamic System, Always Adjusting, Changing

Liu, B. & Zhou, T. Atmospheric footprint of the recent warming slowdown. Sci. Rep. 7, 40947 (2017).

Growing body of literature has developed to detect the role of ocean heat uptake and transport in the recent warming slowdown between 1998–2013; however, the atmospheric footprint of the slowdown in dynamical and physical processes remains unclear. Here, we divided recent decades into the recent hiatus period and the preceding warming period (1983–1998) to investigate the atmospheric footprint. We use a process-resolving analysis method to quantify the contributions of different processes to the total temperature changes. We show that the increasing rate of global mean tropospheric temperature was also reduced during the hiatus period. The decomposed trends due to physical processes, including surface albedo, water vapour, cloud, surface turbulent fluxes and atmospheric dynamics, reversed the patterns between the two periods. The changes in atmospheric heat transport are coupled with changes in the surface latent heat flux across the lower troposphere (below approximately 800 hPa) and with cloud-related processes in the upper troposphere (above approximately 600 hPa) and were underpinned by strengthening/weakening Hadley Circulation and Walker Circulation during the warming/hiatus period. This dynamical coupling experienced a phase transition between the two periods, reminding us of the importance of understanding the atmospheric footprint, which constitutes an essential part of internal climate variability.

To Be a “Green” Country Means to be a Poor, Polluted Country?

What’s wrong with this picture (or table) below? The top “green” country has zero wastewater treatment. Carbon dioxide emissions could certainly be lowered if all wastewater treatment plants were shut down. This assessment (click here) completely ignores other aspects of  the environment and quality of life. But there’s more below….

Let’s consider the economy. Where do these countries fall on the graph below? How would they rank using measures of quality of life? Apparently, to be a “green” country is to be a poorer, polluted country.

Cholera Outbreak in Vietnam from Unsafe Water

Nguyen TV, Pham QD, Do QK, Diep TT, Phan HC, Ho TV, Do HT, Phan LT, Tran HN. Cholera returns to southern Vietnam in an outbreak associated with consuming unsafe water through iced tea: A matched case-control study. PLoS neglected tropical diseases. 2017 Apr 13;11(4):e0005490. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0005490.

BACKGROUND: After more than a decade of steadily declining notifications, the number of reported cholera cases has recently increased in Vietnam. We conducted a matched case-control study to investigate transmission of cholera during an outbreak in Ben Tre, southern Vietnam, and to explore the associated risk factors.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Sixty of 71 diarrheal patients confirmed to be infected with cholera by culture and diagnosed between May 9 and August 3, 2010 in Ben Tre were consecutively recruited as case-patients. Case-patients were matched 1:4 to controls by commune, sex, and 5-year age group. Risk factors for cholera were examined by multivariable conditional logistic regression. In addition, environmental samples from villages containing case-patients were taken to identify contamination of food and water sources. The regression indicated that drinking iced tea (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 8.40, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.84-39.25), not always boiling drinking water (aOR = 2.62, 95% CI: 1.03-6.67), having the main source of water for use being close to a toilet (aOR = 4.36, 95% CI: 1.37-13.88), living with people who had acute diarrhea (aOR = 13.72, 95% CI: 2.77-67.97), and little or no education (aOR = 4.89, 95% CI: 1.18-20.19) were significantly associated with increased risk of cholera. In contrast, drinking stored rainwater (aOR = 0.17, 95% CI: 0.04-0.63), eating cooked seafood (aOR = 0.27, 95% CI: 0.10-0.73), and eating steamed vegetables (aOR = 0.22, 95% CI: 0.07-0.70) were protective against cholera. Vibrio cholerae O1 Ogawa carrying ctxA was found in two of twenty-five river water samples and one of six wastewater samples.

CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The magnitude of the cholera outbreak in Ben Tre was lower than in other similar settings. This investigation identified several risk factors and underscored the importance of continued responses targeting cholera prevention in southern Vietnam. The association between drinking iced tea and cholera and the spread of V. cholerae O1, altered El Tor strains warrant further research. These findings might be affected by a number of limitations due to the inability to capture asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic infections, the possible underreporting of personal unhygienic behaviors, and the purposive selection of environmental samples.

Rainwater Harvesting in a Subarctic Community

Mercer N, Hanrahan M. Straight from the heavens into your bucket”: domestic rainwater harvesting as a measure to improve water security in a subarctic indigenous communityInternational journal of circumpolar health. 2017;76(1):1312223. doi: 10.1080/22423982.2017.1312223

BACKGROUND: Black Tickle-Domino is an extremely water-insecure remote Inuit community in the Canadian subarctic that lacks piped-water. Drinking water consumption in the community is less than a third of the Canadian national average. Water insecurity in the community contributes to adverse health, economic, and social effects and requires urgent action.

OBJECTIVES: To test the ability of domestic rainwater harvesting (DRWH) for the first time in the subarctic with the goal of improving water access and use in the community.

DESIGN: This project utilised quantitative weekly reporting of water collection and use, as well as focus group discussions. DRWH units were installed at seven water-insecure households chosen by the local government. Results were measured over a 6-week period in 2016.

RESULTS: Participants harvested 19.07 gallons of rainwater per week. General purpose water consumption increased by 17% and water retrieval efforts declined by 40.92%. Households saved $12.70 CDN per week. Participants reported perceived improvements to psychological health. Because no potable water was collected, drinking water consumption did not increase. The study identified additional water-insecurity impacts.

CONCLUSION: DRWH cannot supply drinking water without proper treatment and filtration; however, it can be a partial remedy to water insecurity in the subarctic. DRWH is appropriately scaled, inexpensive, and participants identified several significant benefits.