Extreme weather has been much in evidence around the globe this year, with superstorm Sandy’s devastating impact on New York being the most recent example. There has also been drought across much of the United States’s grain-growing area, and problems with the Indian monsoon.
In the UK, one of the worst droughts on record gave way to the wettest spring recorded, damaging crops and pushing up prices.
Scientists who have been analysing climate models believe we can expect much more of this in future. A survey by the US National Centre for Atmospheric Research has shown that climate change is likely to be more severe than some models have implied, meaning more extreme weather, sooner than we expected.
The new finding come just weeks ahead of a crucial UN conference in Doha, where ministers will discuss the future of international action on greenhouse gas emissions. There has already been increasing evidence of a warming effect this year – the Arctic’s summer ice sank to its lowest extent and volume yet recorded and experts have predicted that the Arctic seas could be ice-free in winter in the next decade.
The International Energy Agency warned earlier this year that on current emissions trends the world would be in for 6C of warming – a level scientists warn would lead to chaos.
Climate change ‘likely to be more severe than some models predict’ | Environment | guardian.co.uk.
Over 100,000 trees have already been destroyed to try to prevent the spread of ash dieback, but experts now believe the disease could be far more widespread than initially thought.
Ian Boyd, Chief Scientist with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has warned ministers that the disease is likely to spread across the UK by around 20 miles a year, infecting most of the country’s 90m ash trees within a decade. Mr Boyd was speaking at a meeting of the Government’s crisis committee Cobra on Friday and warned them that trees cannot be vaccinated.
Ash trees infected with the Chalara fraxinea fungus that causes ash dieback were first detected in the UK in a nursery in Buckinghamshire eight months ago. It is now infesting trees in Scotland, East Anglia and possibly Kent. The disease was confirmed in the wild last week and the Government introduced a ban on ash seedlings from infected areas from Monday.
The Woodland Trust has welcomed the ban and called on ministers to set up an emergency summit bringing together representatives from all areas of forestry, plant health and conservation to address the wider issues surrounding threats to our native trees and woods.
Meanwhile, the University of East Anglia has developed a mobile phone app for iPhone and Android which you can download from Ashtag.org. It will help you identify ash dieback and report any sitings you might find using your phone’s camera and GPS.
Most UK ash trees will be diseased within 10 years, ministers told | Environment | The Guardian.