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Southern Hemisphere ozone hole surpasses size of Antarctica

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The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service is keeping a close eye on the Antarctic region to monitor the development of this year´s ozone hole over the South Pole, which has now reached an extent larger than Antarctica. After a pretty standard start, the 2021 ozone hole has considerably grown in the past week and is now larger than 75 % of ozone holes at that stage in the season since 1979.

Scientists from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) have been closely monitoring the development of this year´s Antarctic ozone hole. On the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer (16 September) CAMS is gave a first status update on the stratospheric hole that appears every year during Austral spring, and the ozone layer that protects the Earth from the harmful properties of sunrays. CAMS is implemented by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts on behalf of the European Commission with funding from the EU.

Vincent-Henri Peuch, director of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, said: “This year, the ozone hole developed as expected at the start of the season. It seems pretty similar to last year's, which also wasn't really exceptional in September, but then turned into one of the longest-lasting ozone holes in our data record later in the season. Now our forecasts show that this year´s hole has evolved into a rather larger than usual one. The vortex is quite stable and the stratospheric temperatures are even lower than last year. We are looking at a quite big and potentially also deep ozone hole.”

CAMS’ operational monitoring of the ozone layer is using computer modelling in combination with satellite observations in a similar way to weather forecasts in order to provide a comprehensive three-dimensional picture of the state of the ozone hole. For that, CAMS effectively combines different pieces of available information. One part of the analysis consists of observations of the total column of ozone from measurements in the ultraviolet-visible part of the solar spectrum. These observations are of very high quality but are not available in the region that is still located in the polar night. A different set of observations is included, which provide crucial information about the vertical structure of the ozone layer, but has limited horizontal coverage. By combining altogether five different sources and bringing them together using its sophisticated numerical model, CAMS can provide a detailed picture of the ozone distribution with consistent total column, profile and dynamics. More information in attached press release.

CAMS_Newsflash_Ozone Day_15092021_BEEN.docx
 
Copernicus is a component of the European Union’s space programme, with funding by the EU, and is its flagship Earth observation programme, which operates through six thematic services: Atmosphere, Marine, Land, Climate Change, Security and Emergency. It delivers freely accessible operational data and services providing users with reliable and up-to-date information related to our planet and its environment. The programme is coordinated and managed by the European Commission and implemented in partnership with the member states, the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), EU Agencies and Mercator Océan, amongst others. ECMWF operates two services from the EU’s Copernicus Earth observation programme: the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) and the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S). They also contribute to the Copernicus Emergency Management Service (CEMS), which is implemented by the EU Joint Research Council (JRC). The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) is an independent intergovernmental organisation supported by 34 states. It is both a research institute and a 24/7 operational service, producing and disseminating numerical weather predictions to its member states. This data is fully available to the national meteorological services in the member states. The supercomputer facility (and associated data archive) at ECMWF is one of the largest of its type in Europe and member states can use 25% of its capacity for their own purposes. ECMWF is expanding its location across its member states for some activities. In addition to an HQ in the UK and Computing Centre in Italy, new offices with a focus on activities conducted in partnership with the EU, such as Copernicus, will be located in Bonn, Germany from Summer 2021.

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Defence

Essential infrastructure: New rules to boost co-operation and resilience

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Civil Liberties Committee MEPs endorse new rules to better protect essential services like energy, transport and drinking water.

With 57 votes in favour and six against (no abstentions), the Committee adopted its negotiation position on new rules on EU critical infrastructure entities. MEPs are aiming to better protect essential services (e.g. energy, transport, banking, drinking water and digital infrastructure) by improving member state resilience strategies and risk assessments.

Climate change is included as a potential source of disruption of essential infrastructure, and cyber-security is seen as an important aspect of resilience. As services are increasingly interdependent, the reformed directive requires local authorities to set up a single point of contact responsible for communicating with other jurisdictions. It also creates a new Critical Entities Resilience Group to facilitate communication between stakeholders, with Parliament participating as an observer.

MEPs push for broader scope, more transparency

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MEPs want to see more transparency when disruptions happen, requiring critical entities to inform the general public about incidents or serious risks. They also want to make sure that member states can provide financial support to critical entities, where this is in the public interest, without prejudice to state aid rules.

The Civil Liberties Committee proposes to widen the definition of essential services, so that protecting the environment, public health and safety, and the rule of law are also mentioned.

To make cross-border co-operation frictionless, MEPs finally want service providers to be considered “of European significance” if they offer similar services in at least three member states.

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After the vote, rapporteur Michal Šimečka (Renew, SK) said: "Critical entities provide essential services across the EU, while facing a growing number of both man-made and natural threats. Our ambition is to strengthen their ability to cope with risks to their operations while improving the functioning of the internal market in essential services. We are expected to deliver on a Europe that protects and that means also bolstering the collective resilience of the critical systems underpinning our way of life."

Background

The European Critical Infrastructure (ECI) directive currently covers only two sectors (transport and energy), whereas the reformed directive would expand this to ten (energy, transport, banking, financial market infrastructures, health, drinking water, waste water, digital infrastructure, public administration and space). At the same time, the new directive introduces an all-hazard risk approach, where the ECI was largely focused on terrorism.

Next steps

Before negotiations with the Council can start, the draft negotiating position will need to be endorsed by the whole house in a future session.

Further information 

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Climate change

Climate change: Raise global ambitions to achieve strong outcome at COP26

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The Environment Committee calls on all countries to implement a green recovery and increase their 2030 climate targets in line with the Paris Agreement.

Ahead of the UN COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November 2021, on Tuesday the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee has adopted its input to the COP26, with 60 votes for, 15 votes against and three abstentions.

In their resolution, MEPs express concern that the targets announced in Paris in 2015 would result in warming well above three degrees by 2100 compared to pre-industrial levels. They say that the EU must remain a world leader in the fight against climate change and that MEPs will work to ensure that the EU’s “Fit for 55 in 2030” climate package is fully in line with the Paris Agreement.

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To accelerate the pace of climate action, MEPs wants the EU to support a five-year timeframe for all countries instead of the current ten-year plan. They also say that all direct and indirect fossil fuel subsidies should be phased out in the EU by 2025 and call on all other countries to take similar measures.

MEPs recall that biodiversity plays a crucial role in enabling humans to combat and adapt to global warming and stress that nature-based solutions are win-win solutions, ones which involve protecting, restoring and sustainably managing ecosystems.

G20 must lead the way

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MEPs say that all G20 nations should show global leadership and commit to achieving climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest. They also call on the Commission to create an international climate club with other major greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters with the aim of setting common standards and raising ambition across the globe through a common carbon border adjustment mechanism.

They welcome the return of the US to the Paris Agreement and President Biden’s commitment to cut US GHG emissions in half by 2030 compared to 2005. MEPs expect concrete policy measures and financing to meet this goal.

While MEPs acknowledge China’s willingness to be a constructive partner in global climate negotiations, it is concerned with the country’s dependency on coal and underlines that China’s climate targets should cover all GHG emissions and not only carbon dioxide emissions.

More financial support to fight climate change

MEPs say that developed countries must deliver on their promise to raise at least $100bn in climate finance per year for developing countries, increasing that amount from 2025, when emerging economies should also start to contribute. A roadmap outlining each developed country’s fair contribution to this financing plan should be agreed. They also want to ensure that all developing countries can participate in COP26 in spite of COVID-19.

Next steps

The resolution will be voted by all MEPs during the plenary session 18-21 October.

A delegation from Parliament led by Pascal Canfin (Renew, FR) will be in Glasgow from 8-13 November.

Background

Parliament has been pushing for more ambitious EU climate and biodiversity legislation and declared a climate emergency on 28 November 2019. In June 2021, the European Climate Law was adopted by Parliament. It transforms the European Green Deal’s political commitment to EU climate neutrality by 2050 into a binding obligation for the EU and member states. It also increases the EU’s target for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 from 40% to at least 55%, compared to 1990 level. In July 2021, the Commission presented the “Fit for 55 in 2030” package in order to enable the EU to reach the more ambitious 2030-target.

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Biodiversity

Biodiversity: New report shows progress made on invasive alien species but challenges remain

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The European Commission has published the first Report on the application of the Invasive Alien Species (IAS) Regulation, which aims to minimize the threat posed by these species to native animals and plants. The report finds that the IAS Regulation is delivering on its objectives, as prevention and management measures, information-sharing and awareness of the problem have improved. Yet, implementation is a challenge in several respects. Environment, Fisheries and Oceans Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius said: "Invasive alien species are a major driver of biodiversity loss in Europe. Today's report shows that taking action at EU level has real added value. This Regulation will be an essential tool to continue to address this threat and put biodiversity on the path of recovery under the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030.”

The projected increase in global trade and travel, together with climate change, are expected to increase the risk of the spread of invasive alien species for instance plants such as the water hyacinth, and animals like the Asian hornet or the raccoon. This may lead to increased adverse impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems, human health and the economy. Based on the analysis of data from 2015 to 2019, the report shows that Member States have often taken effective measures to prevent the intentional or unintentional introduction of invasive alien species of concern into the EU. Nevertheless, the report also reveals that that there remain numerous challenges and areas for improvement. The Commission will take steps to improve compliance with the IAS Regulation. More information is in this news item.

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