Droughts in Syria and California linked to climate change

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Syria and California have both recently suffered their worst-ever droughts, exacerbated by global warming. Syria's may have helped trigger its bloody civil war, but not California's, which instead brought vermin invasions and wildfire. The difference points to the resilience that will be needed in a warming world.

Colin Kelley of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his colleagues analysed Syrian weather data since 1931, and found steadily less winter rainfall, which is crucial for crops, and higher temperatures, which dry soils faster. The only explanation for such a change over that timescale lies in man-made greenhouse emissions, says Kelley. Climate models, his team found, consistently predict such changes for the Fertile Crescent, the Middle Eastern area that includes Syria and Iraq .

Amazon deforestation soars after a decade of stability

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Deforestation in the Amazon has skyrocketed in the past half a year, according to analysis of satellite images issued by Brazil's non-profit research institute, IMAZON.

The results compared the deforestation in a particular month with figures from the same month a year before, and the difference ranged from a 136 per cent increase in August to a 467 per cent rise in October.

US Charges Duke With Illegal Pollution From 5 Coal Ash Dumps

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ederal prosecutors filed multiple criminal charges against Duke Energy on Friday over years of illegal pollution leaking from coal ash dumps at five North Carolina power plants.

The three U.S. Attorney's Offices covering the state charged Duke with nine misdemeanor counts involving violations of the Clean Water Act. The prosecutors say the nation's largest electricity company engaged in unlawful dumping at coal-fired power plants in Eden, Moncure, Asheville, Goldsboro and Mt. Holly.

Caribbean coral findings may influence Barrier Reef studies

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Corals may be better equipped to tolerate climate change than previously believed, according to research led by Griffith University's Dr Emma Kennedy.

Working with scientists from the University of Exeter in the UK, Dr Kennedy says the findings -- published in the journal Coral Reefs -- relate to an extensive study of Caribbean corals, but could influence future analysis of Australia's Great Barrier Reef.