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Arctic Ocean

Recent data shows that, since 2007, conditions in the Arctic have changed. Between 2007 and 2021, the marginal zones of the Arctic Ocean experienced 11 marine heatwaves which produced an average temperature rise of 2.2 degrees Celsius above the seasonal norm. On average these marine heatwaves lasted for 37 days.

These Arctic marine heatwaves will become a regular occurrence in the near future. They are a result of higher anthropogenic greenhouse-gas emissions.

Since 2015 they have occurred every single year, the most powerful one being in 2020, lasting 103 days and having peak temperatures that were 4° above the long-term average.

Without the influence of anthropogenic greenhouse gases, the probability of such heatwaves occurring has been calculated to be less than 1%. According to the same calculation, annual marine heatwaves will be the norm in the future.

When sea ice melts early and rapidly after the winter, considerable heat energy accumulates in the darker water and by the time maximum solar radiation is reached in July, this heat accummulation causes the water temperature to rise significantly. Each year the permanent ice in the Arctic gets thinner, while the amount of seasonal ice is consistently increasing. The thinner ice is less durable and melts more quickly, allowing incoming solar radiation to warm the water, causing even more ice to melt.

The marine heatwaves cvan have a dramatic negative effect on the Arctic ecosystem. Food chains might collapse and fish stocks could be reduced; causing a decline in overall biodiversity.

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Arctic Ocean

Chile

Forest fires kill at least 123 people in Chile, in the worst disaster since its 2010 earthquake.

Firefighters battled to quell fierce forest fires in central Chile this week. The fires have killed at least 123 people so far and destroyed entire neighborhoods. President Gabriel Boric warned that the country faces a "tragedy of very great magnitude".

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Chile

Iceland

On 8 January 2024, a volcano erupted on the Reykjanes peninsula in the southwest of Iceland for the third time in recent weeks. This time a 3km long fissure expelling molten lava appeared near the town of Grindavik. Lava is flowoing into the ocean.

During the previous eruption lava reached the village itself, which was then evacuated. Several buildings caught fire when the lava reached them. The region has seen increased volcanic activity ever since the first eruption in 2021.

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Iceland

Cabo Verde

The World Health Organization (WHO) has certified Cabo Verde as a malaria-free country, marking a significant achievement in global health. With this announcement, Cabo Verde joins the ranks of 43 countries and 1 territory that WHO has awarded this certification.

Cabo Verde is the third country to be certified in the WHO African region, joining Mauritius and Algeria which were certified in 1973 and 2019 respectively.

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Cabo Verde

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Destination of the week

On these pages a different destination will be highlighted every week. Sometimes it's a tourist trap like one of the Spanish resorts; sometimes we will bring you detailed information on some more exotic places.

This week we will have a closer look at
Japan
Japan
Japan is a country of great differences. Japanese manners are elegant and formal, while boisterous exchanges can take place over a few drinks. In Japan you'll find modern and very clean shopping malls, while rural areas can be outright dirty. Anyway, everyone has their own opinion of Japan and mostly these opinions are positive, no matter how much they differ.

The best time to visit Japan is probably spring from March to May, when the skies are clear and cherries blossom. Unfortunately, that period is also the holiday season for the Japanese and the most popular places tend to be very crowded. In autumn, from September to November, temperatures are pleasant too and the Japanese countryside is filled with marvelous autumn colors. Winter can be extremely cold, while summer is usually too hot to do anything.

Try to avoid traveling in Japan during one of the major holidays, such as New Year, from 29 December to 6 January and Golden Week, which takes place from 27 to 6 May. During these periods accommodation is sold out and it is very busy at sights.

Two of the most popular places to visit in Japan include the capital of Tokyo and nearby Mount Fuji. Other interesting destinations are Kyoto, Daisetsuzan National Park, Nagasaki, Kirishima National Park and the Noto-Hanto Peninsula.

Click on the images to learn more about this interesting destination. A map of Japan will open full-screen. Just click on towns and places you want to know more about.


Next week: Laos


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World
Global warming could doom hundreds of land plants and animals to extinction over the next 50 years by marooning them in harsh, changed surroundings, scientists warn.

A sweeping new analysis enlisting scientists from 14 laboratories around the globe found that more than one-third of 1103 native species they studied could vanish or plunge to near extinction by 2050 as climate change turns plains into deserts or alters forests.

Among the already threatened species that could go extinct are Australia's Boyd's forest dragon, Europe's azure-winged magpie and Mexico's Jico deer mouse.

The researchers concede there are many uncertainties in both climate forecasts and the computer models they used to forecast future extinctions. But they said their dire conclusions may well come to pass if industrial nations do not curtail emissions of greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere.

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the World