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:: WMO annual statement confirms 2011 as 11th warmest on record

Climate change accelerated in 2001-2010, according to preliminary assessment. The World Meteorological Organization’s Annual Statement on the Status of the Global Climate said that 2011 was the 11th warmest since records began in 1850. It confirmed preliminary findings that 2011 was the warmest year on record with a La Niña, which has a cooling influence. Globally-averaged temperatures in 2011 were estimated to be 0.40° Centigrade above the 1961-1990 annual average of 14°C.

:: Water scarcity affects 2.7 billion, finds new detailed report

Water scarcity impacts at least 2.7 billion people in 201 river basins for at least one month each year, according to a new report published in the online journal PLoS ONE. Global Monthly Water Scarcity: Blue Water Footprints versus Blue Water Availability, which analysed 405 river basins around the world, marks an advance on previous estimations of water stress by looking at monthly rather than annual averages of water availability and consumption.

:: CFC substitutes: good for the ozone layer, bad for the climate

The Montreal Protocol led to a global phase-out of most substances that deplete the ozone layer, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). A happy side-effect of the gradual ban of these products is that the Earth’s climate has also benefited because CFCs are also potent greenhouse gases. However, now a „rebound effect“ threatens to accelerate the rate of global warming. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which have been used in recent years in increasing quantities as substitutes for CFCs, are also climatically very active and many are also extremely long-lived.

:: Global permafrost zones in high-resolution images on Google Earth

Thawing permafrost will have far-reaching ramifications for populated areas, infrastructure and ecosystems. A geographer from the University of Zurich reveals where it is important to confront the issue based on new permafrost maps – the most precise global maps around. They depict the global distribution of permafrost in high-resolution images and are available on Google Earth.

:: Damaging Earthquakes Database 2011 The Year in Review

2011 has played host to the largest two earthquakes, economically speaking, in the history of the countries of Japan and New Zealand. The M9.0 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami of 11th March, 2011 proved to be the most expensive earthquake of all time, causing between $400-700 billion USD in total losses and approximately 19000 deaths, while the Christchurch earthquake (a M6.3 quake close to the city of Christchurch) caused a huge building stock loss and approximately $15-20 billion USD damage with around 80% insured losses.

:: Industrial air pollution cost Europe up to €169 billion in 2009, EEA reveals

Air pollution from the 10,000 largest polluting facilities in Europe cost citizens between € 102 and 169 billion in 2009. This was one of the findings of a new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) which analysed the costs of harm to health and the environment caused by air pollution. Half of the total damage cost (between € 51 and 85 billion) was caused by just 191 facilities.

:: How did the first Arctic ozone hole form in spring 2011?

An international team of scientists has unravelled how the first ozone hole over the Arctic formed last spring. A comprehensive analysis of the unusually high ozone depletion in March/April 2011 has now been published in advance in the online issue of the journal “Nature”. “The ozone hole over the Arctic was not only the result of a combination of past pollution due to air pollutants, its development is also connected with long-term changes in the climate system,” summarises Dr. Markus Rex, Potsdam atmospheric physicist at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association, a key result of the study.

:: Greenpeace: 40 years of Inspiring Action

Believe it or not, Greenpeace celebrates its 40 birthday today! To mark the occasion, Kumi Naidoo, our International Executive Director, calls on us all to take inspiration from that first Greenpeace voyage, and to demand a better future for our planet: After four decades of putting environmental issues centre stage and achieving significant victories in defence of the planet, today we face a perfect storm of crises; economic, ecological and democratic. And none more challenging than climate change.

:: Permanent nuclear shutdown in Japan possible by 2012

Japan can switch off all nuclear plants permanently by 2012 and still achieve both economic recovery and its CO2 reduction goals, according to a new Greenpeace report. Released today, the Advanced Energy [R]evolution report for Japan (1), shows how energy efficiency and rapid deployment of renewable technology can provide all the power Japan needs.

:: Study on the Little Ice Age: Low solar activity just marginally cools the climate

The weakening sun was not the determinant factor for the Little Ice Age. Strong volcanic eruptions in particular, but also a smaller amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere were important factors during this period of cooler climate in the 16th and 17th century, a new study shows. This implies that low solar activity, which is expected by some researchers for the coming decades, cannot considerably slow down global warming caused by humankind’s greenhouse gas emissions.

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