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:: Rare constellation of clouds and warm air allowed record-breaking 2012 ice melt in Greenland

Thin, low-lying clouds over the central Greenland Ice Sheet last July allowed the sun’s energy to warm the surface of the ice, while at the same time trapping infrared radiation near the surface which led to additional warming. This combination played a significant role in last summer's record-breaking melt, according to a new study by scientists at NOAA, the Universities of Wisconsin, Idaho and Colorado as well as at the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL. The results of the study are published now in Nature.

:: Water in trouble 3/4

Even in today’s water-rich Central Europe we are heading for a water shortage. Our water is being used, contaminated and wasted. Poison in water, chemical waste, fertilizers and air pollution threaten our most important means of survival.

:: So water is more than H2O 2/4

All founders of religions, philosophers and wisdom teachers from all periods and civilizations knew about that. The wonderful young man from Nazareth, an ecologist even 2,000 years ago, said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Responsible handling of water is religious service. And to those who wanted to follow him, ecologically-minded Jesus called out; “Be springs of living water.” He did not speak of impure or contaminated water. Parson Kneipp taught in the 19th century: “Aqua sanat – water heals!“

:: Water is becoming more precious than gold 1/4

Water shortage is the logical consequence of climate change, which Angela Merkel calls “the question of survival for mankind”. In Central Europe we are not suffering from thirst – not yet! In Africa, however, 15 million people are currently on the run for the nearest water hole. 1.1 billion people worldwide have no access to clean drinking water. It could be over 3 billion by the middle of the century, according to a United Nations estimate. Water is becoming more precious than gold - according to a study conducted by the UN about the future of water. In 40 years there will be 9 billion people. The world is facing a historic water shortage.

:: Waste Dump at the End of the World

Ecologists propose managing strategies to protect the Antarctic. On their mission to the moon in 1969 the Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin created arguably the most famous footprints ever. Since the time the astronauts of the Apollo 11 Mission stepped onto the surface of our satellite their footprints remain almost unchanged. And as no breath of wind will ever be able to blow them away they will be visible forever.

:: Renewable energy: A choice, not a foregone conclusion

The future of renewable energy is a choice, not a foregone conclusion. The recently launched REN21 Renewables Global Futures Report (GFR) presents the range of credible energy options. REN21 launched its new flagship publication, the REN21 Renewables Global Futures Report (GFR) at the Abu Dhabi International Renewable Energy Conference (ADIREC), produced by REN21 in co-operation with ISEP, the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policy of Japan.

:: Global warming has increased monthly heat records by a factor of five

Monthly temperature extremes have become much more frequent, as measurements from around the world indicate. On average, there are now five times as many record-breaking hot months worldwide than could be expected without long-term global warming, shows a study now published in Climatic Change. In parts of Europe, Africa and southern Asia the number of monthly records has increased even by a factor of ten. 80 percent of observed monthly records would not have occurred without human influence on climate, concludes the authors-team of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Complutense University of Madrid.

:: Natural catastrophe statistics for 2012 dominated by weather extremes in the USA

The USA accounted for a higher proportion of global natural catastrophe losses than usual in 2012, due to a series of severe weather-related catastrophes. Last year, natural catastrophes caused US$ 160bn in overall losses and US$ 65bn in insured losses worldwide. Some 67% of overall losses and 90% of insured losses were attributable to the USA – the respective averages are 32% and 57%. The year's highest insured loss was caused by Hurricane Sandy, with an estimated amount of around US$ 25bn.

:: Why early Earth was no snowball

In the early history of planet Earth, the Sun was up to 25 per cent less luminous than today. Yet there is strong evidence that the Earth’s oceanic surface was not completely frozen. High concentrations of warming greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) seem to be the most obvious solution to this famous “faint young Sun paradox”.

:: More ice loss through snowfall on Antarctica

Stronger snowfall increases future ice discharge from Antarctica. Global warming leads to more precipitation as warmer air holds more moisture – hence earlier research suggested the Antarctic ice sheet might grow under climate change. Now a study published in Nature shows that a lot of the ice gain due to increased snowfall is countered by an acceleration of ice-flow to the ocean.

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