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El Nino caused record CO2 spike in 2015-16: NASA




Washington, Oct 13, 2017: Scientists have found that the impact of the 2015-16 El Nino-related heat and drought occurring in tropical regions of South America, Africa and Indonesia was responsible for the largest annual increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration seen in at least 2,000 years.

El Nino is a cyclical warming pattern of ocean circulation in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean that can affect weather worldwide.

The findings, published in the journal Science as part of a collection of five research papers, are based on analysis of the first 28 months of data from NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite.

“These three tropical regions released 2.5 gigatonnes (a billion tonnes) more carbon into the atmosphere than they did in 2011,” said lead author of the study Junjie Liu of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

“OCO-2 data allowed us to quantify how the net exchange of carbon between land and “atmosphere in individual regions is affected during El Nino years,” Liu added.

In 2015 and 2016, OCO-2 recorded atmospheric carbon dioxide increases that were 50 per cent larger than the average increase seen in recent years preceding these observations.

That increase was about three parts per million of carbon dioxide per year — or 6.3 gigatonnes of carbon. In recent years, the average annual increase has been closer to two parts per million of carbon dioxide per year — or four gigatonnes of carbon.

These record increases occurred even though emissions from human activities in 2015-16 are estimated to have remained roughly the same as they were prior to the El Nino.

Using OCO-2 data, Liu’s team analysed how Earth’s land areas contributed to the record atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration increases.

The team compared the 2015 findings to those from a reference year — 2011 — using carbon dioxide data from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite (GOSAT).

In 2011, weather in the three tropical regions was normal and the amount of carbon absorbed and released by them was in balance.

“Understanding how the carbon cycle in these regions responded to El Nino will enable scientists to improve carbon cycle models, which should lead to improved predictions of how our planet may respond to similar conditions in the future,” said OCO-2 Deputy Project Scientist Annmarie Eldering of JPL.

“The team’s findings imply that if future climate brings more or longer droughts, as the last El Nino did, more carbon dioxide may remain in the atmosphere, leading to a tendency to further warm Earth,” Eldering added.


Israel opens probe into Facebook after data scandal



Cambridge Analytica data scandal

JERUSALEM: Israeli authorities said Thursday (Mar 22) they had launched an investigation into Facebook’s activities following a scandal over the hijacking of personal data from millions of the social network’s users.

Israel’s privacy protection agency “informed Facebook” of the probe after revelations over data transfers from the tech giant to consultant Cambridge Analytica, the agency said.

It said it was also looking into “the possibility of other infringements of the privacy law regarding Israelis”, it said in a statement released by the justice ministry.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper has reported that Israeli hackers offered material to Cambridge Analytica.

But an Israeli justice ministry spokeswoman said the probe did not involve hackers, focusing rather on whether Israeli users’ rights were violated.

Under Israel’s privacy law, personal data may only be used with consent and for the purpose for which it was handed over, the privacy protection agency said.


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Middle East

Loud explosion heard outside busy hotel in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu

Explosion hits busy road outside popular hotel in central Mogadishu.



Somalia Car Bombing

MOGADISHU: 16 people killed and 20 injured in a bomb attack at the entrance of  Wehliye hotel in Mogadishu. Most of the casualties are auto rickshaw drivers and passengers, according to witnesses.

The death toll is expected to rise.

The attacked was claimed by al-Shabab, Reuters news agency reported, citing the armed group’s military operation spokesman.

Al-Shabab, which is fighting to overthrow Somalia’s internationally recognised government, is frequently carrying out attacks in and around the capital.

More to follow.

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Twitter’s chief information security officer quits




San Francisco, March 22: As tech companies reel under mounting pressure to prevent their platforms from data breach and fake news, Twitter’s Chief Information Security Officer Michael Coates has decided to quit.

In a tweet on Thursday, Coates who joined Twitter in 2015 announced his departure from the micro-blogging website.

“Twitter has been an amazing ride, but as I mentioned internally a few weeks back, my time is coming to an end. I’m confident to leave the program with an amazing security team,” Coates tweeted.

According to The Verge, Coates’ interim replacement is Joseph Camilleri, a senior manager for information security and risk.

Coates’ departure comes soon after reports surfaced that Facebook’s Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos is planning to leave the company by August.

Facebook is facing the heat after Cambridge Analytica, a British consulting company, was accused of harvesting data of up to 50 million Facebook users without permission and using the data to help politicians, including US President Donald Trump and the Brexit campaign.

Meanwhile, Michael Zalewski, Director of Information Security Engineering at Google, has also announced his departure from that company after 11 years.


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