The Stream, August 27, 2020: Heat From Under the Arctic Ocean Is Speeding Up Ice Melting

The Global Rundown

A heat blob could melt Arctic ice more quickly than anticipated. Pakistan faces devastation from monsoon flooding. A new stormwater wetland area aims to reduce flooding in Houston. Hurricane Laura threatens the U.S. Gulf Coast. Africa officially eradicates the water-borne wild poliovirus.

“This is an incredible and emotional day.” – World Health Organization (WHO) Africa director Matshidiso Moeti. WHO declared Africa free of the water-borne wild poliovirus after decades of effort to eradicate the disease in more than a dozen countries. Africa’s last reported case of the wild poliovirus was in Nigeria in 2016, although patchy surveillance across parts of the continent means some scattered cases could still remain undetected. The continent is not polio-free, as a rare form of the virus that can cause crippling outbreaks lingers in some countries. Eradicating polio entirely requires more than 90 percent of children to receive immunizations. Mass campaigns to spread the vaccine have been put on hold due to Covid-19. AP

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By The Numbers

90 The number of people killed by floods caused by three days of monsoon rains in Pakistan. At least a thousand homes were also damaged, including some in the city of Karachi, where outdated drainage and waste systems overwhelmed by the heavy rain caused sewage water to flood streets and homes. Monsoon season, which runs from July to September, comes as officials are trying to contain the spread of coronavirus, which has caused over 6,000 deaths since February. The Guardian

5 acres The amount of land at the Houston Botanic Garden that is being dedicated to planting a new stormwater wetland area. The wetland is designed to collect rainwater runoff from parking lots and other hard surfaces at the garden. It will be stored in the wetland for up 72 hours, reducing downstream flooding and giving specialized wetland plants and soil time to remove pollutants from the water. When the area is completed, it will contain more than 25,000 plants. AgriLife Today

Science, Studies, and Reports

A new study has suggested that deep heat in the Arctic Ocean has risen and is now melting the ice from below the surface. This adds to a long list of factors contributing to the melting of Arctic ice, including a warming atmosphere and strengthening currents and waves that pulverize the ice. The study found that the heat blob, which is usually found 150 meters (492 feet) below or deeper, has moved up to within 80 meters (263 feet) of the surface. If the cold surfaces ever dissipate, the blob could melt the Arctic’s ice three to four times over. American Meteorological Society

On the Radar

As of Tuesday, officials warned hundreds of thousands of people living on the Gulf Coast to evacuate immediately as Hurricane Laura is expected to hit landfall this week. The storm has the potential to hit Houston, Texas, the fourth-biggest city in the United States. Linda Hidalgo, the top executive for Harris County, which is home to Houston, told residents to “prepare for the worst.” The hurricane is expected to dissipate quickly after landfall, but wind and storm surges still threaten the region. Reuters

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