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Climate science - Sept 12

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Mediterranean's rich marine life under threat: study

AFP via Yahoo
Climate change has warmed up the Mediterranean Sea and threatens its rich animal and plant life, Italy's Institute of Marine Research (ICRAM) warned in a new report Tuesday.

The alarm bell came a day before the start of a national conference on climate change in Rome.

The experts said a cold current emanating from the Gulf of Trieste off northern Italy, which allowed the waters of the Adriatic and the Mediterranean to mix, had vanished since 2003 due to warming.

This threatened to turn the Adriatic Sea into a salt lake with no marine life, it said.

The body said the warming of the Mediterranean Sea prevented the mixing of waters and could lead to the disappearance of micro-algae crucial to the marine food chain.
(11 September 2007)

FAO Warns Climate Change Could be Major Threat to Food Security
(text, video and audio)
Joe De Capua, Voice of America
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization says climate change could become a "major threat to world food security." It calls climate change one of the "main challenges humankind will have to face for many years to come."

About 140 international experts are meeting in Rome this week to discuss the issue. One of them is Jeff Tschirley, chief of the FAO's Environment, Climate Change and Bio-Energy Division. From Rome, he told VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua that a fourth assessment report on climate change is about to be released.

"It's the fourth time that scientific experts have come together to assess the data related to climate change. What we have now between this fourth report and the third report is ...a validation that the climate change impacts we're now starting to see already. And we know quite surely that the countries that are at risk from climate change, at more risk, are the developing countries rather than the developed countries. And when you look at that in the context of food security and institutional capacity it really does face, at least the agricultural sector, with a significant new set of challenges over the short and long term," he says.

Why are developing countries more at risk? Tschirley says, "If you look at a map, you'll see that the greatest part of the land mass is above the equator. And you'll see also that most of the developing countries are on the equator or just slightly above and a lot of them below. The fact that you have less of a buffering action against changes in climate by having more land mass simply means that (in) the northern latitudes, there will be negative impacts there, but not to the extent of the southern latitudes, where we expect to see more drought; we expect to see more floods, more intense flooding. We are already seeing more fires...the developing countries by virtue of their location on the planet are really feeling the impact more directly than many of the developed countries will over the short term, " he says.

When it comes to climate change, the FAO says agriculture is "both a culprit and victim."
(11 September 2007)

Britain's mosquito explosion

Jon Henley, The Guardian
After the wet, then warm, summer, Britain is in the midst of a mosquito explosion. Will the little monsters become a growing menace? And, worse still, is malaria on the way back? ---
...But back to our present-day plague. Does it, we wonder, herald a new and apocalyptic invasion triggered by climate change and global warming? Could, as some experts and plenty of tabloid newspapers have predicted, Britain once again become malarial - as, in recent years, have Georgia, Turkey and Azerbaijan? What exactly, in short, are the chances of the mini-epidemic that hit a small Kentish village in the summer of 1918 and spread so rapidly and unstoppably recurring here any time soon?

The general feeling among British scientists, fortunately, is: not high. What is clear is that climate change could allow "species that are not native to this country to gain a toehold, and become established here," says Pearce-Kelly.

Nor is malaria the only disease we need worry about.
(12 September 2007)

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