climate change

Malawi Fears Hunger as Lake Chilwa Dries

Malawi’s Lake Chilwa could dry up completely in 2013 or 2014, scientists warn. The prediction has created fears of hunger and economic ruin among the more than one million people in fishing and farming communities around the lake.

The drying of Lake Chilwa is a national food security concern. The basin is a rice growing area, and fish from the lake provide a source of nutritious protein to many rural Malawians.

Lake Chilwa

Lake Chilwa in eastern Malawi is drying up. (Photo courtesy Lake Chilwa Basin Climate Change Adaptation Programme)

Located on Malawi’s eastern border with Mozambique, Lake Chilwa is 60 kilometers long and 40 km wide (40 miles long by 25 wide).

Surrounded by extensive wetlands of international importance protected under the Ramsar Convention, the lake seasonally hosts migratory birds that fly from the Northern Hemisphere seeking to breed and escape winter’s harsh cold.

Environment News Service (http://s.tt/1lF9Y)

Arctic sea ice extent now at record low levels

Satellite observations began in 1979. In the graph above, the dark line is the average summer extent for the period 1979 – 2000. The gray area around it is the measurement uncertainty (2σ if you want to be exact). The dashed green line is the extent for 2007 – the previous record low year – and the blue line is 2012. I added the red line so you can compare 2007 to now. The data numbers show the record is broken, though on the graph they look tied. [UPDATE: The new plot made by the NSIDC for August 26 clearly shows the extent is now lower than the lowest point in 2007.]

As you can see, we’re still on the way down, weeks ahead of the date of the lowest extent in 2007. The minimum extent in 2007 was reached on September 16. In 2011 – which had the second-lowest extent on record, essentially equaling that of 2007 – lowest extent happened on September 9. This year it was August 25.

Notice any trend there? I don’t want to make too much of the idea that it’s happening earlier every year because there aren’t enough data points, but it’s consistent with the Earth’s temperature increasing. The massive heat wave that melted so much ice in Greenland this summer may have something to do with this as well.

Read more: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2012/08/27/arctic-sea-ice-extent-now-at-record-low-levels/