I, Science News-9 December 2019

It’s getting towards Christmas and the days are getting colder, but as it’s always fun to be reminded, the earth is still getting warmer.

This week’s I, Science News Roundup discusses how sea surface temperatures are causing extreme weather; climate change is causing the oceans to lose oxygen; and the drastic measures Samoa is taking to handle their measles outbreak.

The weather phenomenon wreaking havoc in two different continents

Global heating is “supercharging” an increasingly dangerous climate mechanism in the Indian Ocean known as the Indian Ocean Dipole.

It has played a role in disasters this year including flooding and landslides in East Africa have killed dozens of people and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes. Meanwhile, thousands of miles away in Australia, a period of hot, dry weather has led to a spate of bushfires.

Scientists and humanitarian officials say this year’s record dipole threatens to reappear more regularly and in a more extreme form as sea surface temperatures rise.

Climate change is quickening the ocean’s drop in oxygen

Climate change has meant the world’s oceans have lost around 2 per cent of their oxygen, on average, over half a century according to a study undertaken by conservation group International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and presented at the UN climate talks in Madrid

Around 700 ocean sites are now suffering from low oxygen, compared with just 45 in the 1960s.

The research predicts the oceans will lose 3 to 4 per cent of their oxygen globally by the end of the century if carbon emissions continue unchecked, which could have devastating effects on some marine species.

Drastic measures to fight Samoa’s measles outbreak

A measles outbreak on the Pacific island has led to drastic government measures to fight off the deadly disease – they’ve declared a state of emergency and made vaccinations compulsory.

The Samoan Ministry of Health declared the start of the measles outbreak on 16 October and there have been more than 4300 cases reported since then, including 63 deaths linked to measles.

Most of the deaths are among children under the age of 5.

Samoa has said nearly 90% of eligible people have now been vaccinated against measles.

An anti-vaccination campaigner has also been arrested as the outbreak is in part blamed on people spreading false information that states vaccinations are dangerous.

This week’s news was written by Harry Jenkins, who is studying for an MSc in Science Communication at Imperial College London.

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