• Dhaka Wed, 19 JUNE 2024,
Rain likely in all divisions including Dhaka: Met office
Cyclone Remal likely to hit coastal areas by Sunday evening: state minister
State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief, Md Mohibur Rahman said that cyclone Remal is expected to hit in the coastal districts Satkhira and Cox's Bazar  during the early hours of Sunday (May 26). He said this at a press briefing at the Secretariat on Saturday (May 25). Mohibur Rahman said, 'In coordination with the Meteorological Office of Bangladesh, India, China, Japan and Meteorological Offices of other countries of the world, we clearly understand that the cyclone is imminent. We are preparing accordingly.' The state minister stated that about 4,000 shelter centres have been readied in the coastal districts and they are equipped with adequate dry food supplies. The state minister said the meeting will be held again at 8 pm. We have called an inter-ministerial meeting at 11 am tomorrow. In a word, this cyclone is imminent, keeping that in mind, we have completed the preparations and started our activities. The deep depression has moved further towards the coast. It was about 60 to 65 kilometers ahead of the morning and was 425 kilometers away from the coast at noon. Distant Warning Signal No. 1 has been diverged and instead hoisted local cautionary signal No. 3. All fishing boats and trawlers in the sea have been advised to go to a safe shelter immediately.  
Met office issues heat alert for Dhaka, 3 divisions
A strong cyclone to form in the Bay of Bengal, may hit this month
Heatweave to hit again
Met Office issues thunderstorm warning 
Biodiversity: Can extinctions be stopped?
Humans actions are pushing countless plant and animal species to the verge of extinction. Can this be reversed?  Researchers last spotted the tiny, dark red splendid poison frog five years ago in the humid, lowland forests of western Panama. Since 2022, it's joined the likes of the lumpy brown Wyoming toad, the black Hawaiian crow and vivid blue Spix's macaw on the growing list of species dying out in nature. Around 30% of 150,000 plant and animal species assessed by biologists face extinction through dangers like starvation as humans destroy habitat, poisoning from pesticides or hunting for profit and sport. The last time such huge numbers of flora and fauna died so rapidly was when a large chunk of rock hit the planet 66 million years ago. The strike ended the age of the dinosaurs and wiped out 75% of all species. Humans driving sixth mass extinction In the geological epoch that has become known as the Anthropocene, humans are the asteroid. The natural or "background" extinction rate is about 10 to 100 species a year. Human activity is pushing that number to around 27,000 annually. Amazon deforestation alone could wipe out over 10,000 species in Brazil — a global biodiversity hotspot home to 15 to 20% of the world's flora and fauna. Amphibians, insects, reptiles and fish are vanishing at ever-increasing rates. As species disappear, ecosystems lose stability and eventually collapse — with serious repercussions for humans.Fewer pollinators, for instance, reduces fruit, vegetable and nut production, while dwindling wild animal and fish populations means a loss of protein sources. Conservation measures, environmental laws, breeding stations and nature reserves have helped reverse declines in some species. But their recovery cannot compensate for rapid global extinction rates, with more and more species under threat. When breeding programs go wrong animals die Conservation measures can fail if the approach isn't right. Take Madagascar's Sahafary sportive lemur. A 2019 survey found 87 individuals, said Edward Louis, head of NGO Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership. Louis has devoted about 25 years of his life to saving the bug-eyed primate. Attempts to catch and breed the animals just haven't worked, explained Louis. "When you take them out of the wild, their bacteria flora changes, and they unfortunately die like 8 to 10 days later." The main problem for the sportive lemur is destruction of forest habitat by locals who need charcoal for cooking. That's why conservationists are now trying to find an alternative fuel source to get locals on board with protecting lemur habitat. Local acceptance is crucial for conservation success, said Magnus J.K. Wessel from German conservation group BUND. "Wherever people value animal species for their self-identification and that of the region, and they benefit financially, things change," said Wessel. "You can clearly see it in Indian national parks with the tiger, even though it is a very dangerous animal." Tiger numbers in India have risen from 1,400 animals 17 years ago to 3,600 today, thanks to protected areas, the fight against poaching and a $2.1 billion (€1.94 billion) investment over the last decade. Communities now see value in protecting the big cat and benefit from tourism. Current populations are still far from the 100,000 animals that lived in India around 1900 but conservationists see the increase as a success. Still, there are no guarantees that numbers will go up, and even well-intentioned measures can have disastrous side effects. "You also have to be honest and face up to uncertainties," said BUND's Wessel. In the 1990s, the WWF campaigned for an end to hunting rhinos for their horns used in Chinese medicine. Instead, they suggested saiga antelope antlers be used as a substitute. Antelope populations collapsed by 97%. Conservation mascots: Naked mole-rats and rhinos Few people directly experience the consequences of species' extinction, so getting the message out is important. According to Wessel, large, charismatic animals like rhinos and tigers, as well as little, cute furry ones can help to win the public over to the cause. "Whimsical works too," he said. "There is a large fan community for the naked mole-rat and, it's certainly not a pretty an animal."  But the wrinkly rodent is an exception. Most species are found in the ground and as Wessel points out, humans tend not to like creepy crawlies. So, the only way to protect these animals is by establishing reserves for the more charismatic species. And such conservation costs money, which is problematic given that not all countries are deeply invested in environmental protection, and even those that are, usually commit a maximum of 1 to 1.5% GDP to the cause. European countries invest the most, followed by Asian and South American states. Senegal leads Africa with 0.5% of its GDP. Even the countries that do invest more in conservation are seeing species go extinct. Since 1990, the proportion of endangered species has risen sharply in Malaysia, Uganda and Tanzania, which spend comparatively little on protection, as well as in higher spending France, China and New Zealand. Calculating the survival chances of species The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) tries to assess when conservation pays off, using a kind of scale. It predicts the potential of a species to recover with or without conservation efforts, for instance, as well as the maximum population size for each species. Southern Africa's blue crane is one species that could see major benefits from intervention. Over the next decade, the population could nearly fully recover in the wild. But the outlook for the Sahafary sportive lemur, which Edward Louis is trying to save, isn't as bright. Populations could become viable in the next 10 years if reforestation efforts are carried out, but the animal is currently on the brink of extinction. Louis is now working with a local company in Madagascar to produce fuel briquettes from fast-growing eucalyptus as an alternative to charcoal made from clear cutting lemur forest habitat. So far, the briquettes have not caught on with locals. "They don't seem to want eucalyptus," said Louis. "They [would] rather use endemic trees." The eucalyptus aroma is absorbed into the rice during cooking. Still, Louis is trying everything he can to save the lemur.
Almost all global warming indicators behind target: report
A new study has found that 41 out of 42 indicators are significantly behind in their efforts to reach the goal of limiting global warming by 2030. The measures taken to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius are "lagging significantly," according to a new research released on Tuesday. The report comes ahead of the COP28 UN Climate Change Conference going to be held in Dubai at the end of the month. The report was published by a consortium of think tanks including Climate Action Tracker, the United Nations Climate Change High-Level Champions and World Resources Institute. What are the findings of the report? The "State of Climate Action" report found that 41 of 42 indicators assessed are not on track to achieve their 2030 targets. It reveals that only one indicator — focused on increasing sales of electric trucks and the share of EVs in the passenger car fleet was on track to meet the goals that were set as per the 2015 Paris Agreement. Another key finding of the report is that half of the indicators are falling behind by an extent so large that to get them on track, efforts need to be expedited twice as quickly as at present. The report also reveals that six indicators are moving in a direction that's counter-productive to the goal of limiting global warming temperatures. Fossil fuels need to be phased out seven times faster but government subsidies for oil, gas and coal nearly doubled from 2020 to 2021. "Despite decades of dire warnings and wake-up calls, our leaders have largely failed to mobilize climate action anywhere near the pace and scale needed," lead author Sophie Boehm said. "There's no time left to tinker at the edges. Instead, we need immediate, transformational changes across every single sector this decade."
2023 likely hottest year recorded: EU monitor
2023 is "virtually certain" to be the warmest in 125,000 years, the EU climate monitor said as data showed last month was the world's hottest October. This October was the hottest on record globally, the European Union's climate agency said on Wednesday, making 2023 "virtually certain" to be the warmest in 125,000 years. Last month was 0.4 degrees Celsius (0.7 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the previous record for October in 2019, the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) said. Parts of the United States and Mexico were left parched by drought during October as other areas on the planet saw wetter than normal conditions often due to storms and cyclones, the C3S said. Sea surface temperatures were also the highest ever recorded for the month — a phenomenon driven by global warming that scientists say is a factor in storms becoming more violent and destructive. Continued greenhouse gas emissions from human activity, along with the emergence this year of the El Nino weather pattern, which warms the surface waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean, has caused the heat to rise. "October 2023 has seen exceptional temperature anomalies, following on from four months of global temperature records being obliterated," Samantha Burgess, C3S deputy director, said. October was 1.7C warmer than an estimate of the October average for the preindustrial era, Copernicus added. The record-breaking October means 2023 is now "virtually certain" to be the warmest year recorded, C3S said.  The previous record was in 2016 — another El Nino year. As world leaders prepare to meet at the UNCOP28 climate conference in Dubai in November, climate experts say that there is an urgent need for action to stop planet-warming emissions. "The sense of urgency for ambitious climate action going into COP28 has never been higher," Burgess said.
2023 on track to be hottest year on record
This year is set to become the hottest year ever recorded, with last month being the warmest September on record, according to a report by the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S). It found that the global temperature for January-September 2023 was 0.52 degrees Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than average. It was also hotter than the first nine months of the warmest calendar year, 2016, by 0.05 C. The global mean temperature so far this year is 1.40 C higher than the preindustrial average between 1850 and 1900. "The sense of urgency for ambitious climate action has never been more critical," said Samantha Burgess, deputy director of C3S, pointing out that the report's release comes just two months ahead of UN climate talks in Dubai. Scientists say climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels is making extreme weather such as heat waves and storms more intense and frequent.  What does the report say about September? According to the the report, September 2023 was the warmest September on record. Average surface air temperature reached 16.38 degrees Celsius, which is 0.93 C above the monthly average during 1991-2020. It is also 0.5 C warmer than the previous warmest September to date, in 2020. That month was roughly 1.75 C warmer than the September average of the preindustrial reference period. "The unprecedented temperatures for the time of year observed in September — following a record summer — have broken records by an extraordinary amount," Burgess said. 'Wetter-than-average' September In Europe, the month was not only the hottest on record but also one with "wetter-than-average" conditions along many parts of the continent's western seaboard, according to the report. It cited the extreme rainfall in Greece, associated with Storm Daniel. The storm also caused devastating flooding in Libya, killing thousands and largely destroying its eastern city of Derna. Other areas affected by rain in Europe include the western Iberian Peninsula, Ireland, northern Britain, and Scandinavia. Beyond Europe, the Latin American countries of Brazil and Chile also experienced what the report said were "extreme precipitation events," in the countries' southern regions. The C3S is implemented by the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts on Behalf of the European Commission. It is funded by the EU. The service said the findings are all based on computer-generated analyses, using measurements from satellites, ships, aircraft and weather stations worldwide. She described the month as "extreme," crediting it for pushing 2023 "into the dubious honor of first place — on track to be the warmest year and around 1.4 C above preindustrial average temperatures."
Why do earthquakes happen?
An earthquake measuring 6.8 on the moment magnitude scale (MMS) has shaken Morocco. With its epicenter in the Atlas Mountains, about 70 kilometers (40 miles) from Marrakech, the earthquake was also felt in neighboring Algeria and as far north as Portugal. The Atlas Mountains span about 2,300 kilometers across Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Known as fold mountains, they were created by the collision of tectonic masses: the Eurasian Plate to the north and the African Plate to the south. "The Atlas Mountains are on the border between the two plates and are therefore a known as earthquake zone," said Fabrice Cotton, a professor of seismology at the German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam. How earthquakes happen The Earth's crust is formed like a jigsaw puzzle, with different individual pieces slotting together. There are some gigantic oceanic plates and several smaller continental plates. Exactly how many small and very small tectonic plates there are is subject to scientific debate. All of these plates are "swimming" in the molten core of the Earth. Because magma swells from the core at certain fracture points, the plates have shifted and migrated a few centimeters every year for billions of years. They move away from each other, rub against each other or push up against each other, causing the continent above them to move. Such movements are known as plate tectonics. These tectonic shifts regularly cause plates to collide. When the resulting tension that builds up in the plate's rock become too great, they can fracture and parts break away with a jolt. Waves of pressure emanate from this epicenter and reach the Earth's surface, where they are felt as earthquakes. Regions that fall on fault lines, where tectonic plates meet, are therefore particularly prone to earthquakes. Any quake reaching 5.0 or above on the MMS can cause visible damage to buildings, for example. If a quake happens under an ocean, tsunamis may occur. These high-velocity, expanding waves can cause deadly flooding if they hit the mainland. It is very, very difficult to predict quakes in such regions due to constant seismic activity, Cotton said. Powerful earthquakes are nearly always followed by smaller aftershocks, which occur because the tectonic plates at the epicenter continue moving until they eventually settle again. Aftershocks, too, can cause serious damage. Buildings that were damaged during the original quake may collapse, leading to more deaths, injuries and displacement. "The only way to protect people from earthquakes is to build earthquake-proof buildings," Cotton said.
Will the Middle East run out of groundwater soon?
It is the invisible ingredient responsible for this year's bumper wheat harvest in Iraq, a country generally considered one of the most endangered by climate change and drought in the world. It has also helped increase the number of Tunisia's all-important date-palm oases, is keeping Yemen's agriculture going despite war and ensures that Libya's bustling coastal cities are supplied with water. Groundwater — fresh water stored underneath the earth and accessed mostly by wells — has always played a significant role in arid Middle East countries. Because it is underground, it is not as impacted by drought and heat , and it's the main source of fresh water for at least 10 Arab nations, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, or ESCWA, stated in a 2020 report. But as climate change impacts what little rainfall these countries get and extremely hot summers dry up more rivers and lakes, groundwater is becoming even more important. Unseen underground rivers "Awareness of groundwater is rising," said Annabelle Houdret, a senior researcher at the German Institute of Development and Sustainability, or IDOS, who's been looking into groundwater management in Morocco specifically. "In general, people have not thought about it as much as they should because they don't see it. If you see a river where levels falls dramatically, it immediately gets a reaction," she continued. "But [groundwater] is an abstract. By the time we become aware of what's happening with groundwater, it may well be too late." Making it even more complicated is the variable nature of groundwater, Mohammed Mahmoud, director of the climate and water program at Washington-based think tank, the Middle East Institute, told DW. There is growing pressure on groundwater in the region, Mahmoud says, but it's also a complicated resource. How to manage groundwater depends on what sort of ground or rocks it's stored in, how deep it's stored, how it flows and how it's connected to nearby surface water like rivers and lakes. It also depends on whether the groundwater comes from renewable sources. For instance, some groundwater in the Middle East has collected underground over thousands of years. This is called "fossil groundwater" and it's hard to replenish. Like oil in the ground, it's a single-use resource, experts say. "These groundwater resources are found at great depths and are hardly, or not at all, renewable," explained Ramon Brentführer, a project manager at the groundwater policy advisory of Germany's Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources. "But in recent decades, these aquifers have been increasingly tapped." On the other hand, some groundwater sources do renew regularly because of, for example, rain, Brentführer says. However, even when groundwater resources are renewable, anybody using it needs to be careful to maintain a balance: Don't take out more water than is coming in. Measuring groundwater is crucial but difficult Organizations like ESCWA warn that this balance may not be maintained in the Middle East. But it's also very hard to know how bad the imbalance is, or how to manage it. Part of the reason is that it's very hard to measure groundwater levels simply because of where it's located. Additionally, the degree to which any country in the region measures its water, whether above or below ground, varies widely. For example, in Yemen, which has been in the throes of a civil war for almost a decade now, it is extremely difficult to measure supplies. Other countries like Saudi Arabia appear to be well aware of groundwater levels. In 2018, Saudi Arabia halted its own expansionist agricultural program, started in the 1970s. It had relied on using groundwater to grow wheat. The end of the program indicates the Saudis realized they were depleting their own groundwater.  It is possible to measure groundwater from outer space, using satellites like NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, or GRACE. These measure the world's water movements — things like melting ice caps and rising ocean levels — by measuring Earth's gravity. Whenever a mass shifts, it changes Earth's gravity just a little. When there's less groundwater, there's also less mass, and satellites report this information.  "However, GRACE does not provide data for local water management," Brentführer said. "This is where remote sensing reaches its limits." For that, one needs things like local observation wells, the water expert told DW. These have to be financed, built and regularly monitored by trained staff, which makes them a non-feasible option in some places. And, Brentführer added, not having the information is just one aspect of this: "In Jordan, for example, the groundwater situation is well known but there is a lack of enforcement to regulate water abstraction for agriculture. And the rich Gulf countries — like Saudi Arabia — know their water resources quite well, but are not transparent with their data." Many Middle Eastern countries already have regulations about water use, the IDOS' Houdret says. "But enforcement can be problematic," she added. Houdret tells of a local water authority employee in Morrocco who's sent out to check on illegal wells. He has one car, limited fuel and a huge amount of territory to cover, she explains, and he's regularly greeted by stone-throwing villagers who don't want him to inspect anything. When will groundwater run out? The question is, if nobody really knows how much groundwater there still is and at the same time its use is increasing, is there a possibility the Middle East could run out? Recent information captured by GRACE satellites appears to show the Middle East's groundwater has been significantly depleted over the past decade. The UN's ESCWA reports that many local groundwater aquifers are already being used up at a faster rate than they can be replenished. Despite such warnings though, the truth is that nobody really knows if, or when, the Middle East might run out of groundwater. "Groundwater involves a very complicated system that interacts with other natural systems," said Youssef Brouziyne, regional representative for the Middle East and North Africa at the International Water Management Institute, a research organization headquartered in Sri Lanka. Systems involved include nearby rivers or wetlands, associated ecosystems, rainfall and coastlines as well as pressures from salinity and pollution.