Heat Wave Causes Massive Melt of Greenland Ice Sheet

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK – Greenland’s ice sheet has experienced a “massive melting event” during a heat wave that has seen temperatures more than 10 degrees above seasonal norms, according to Danish researchers.
Since Wednesday, the ice sheet covering the vast Arctic territory has melted by about 8 billion tons a day, twice its normal average rate during summer, reported the Polar Portal website, which is run by Danish researchers.
The Danish Meteorological Institute reported temperatures of more than 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit), more than twice the normal average summer temperature, in northern Greenland.
And Nerlerit Inaat airport in the northeast of the territory recorded 23.4 degrees C (74.1 F) on Thursday — the highest recorded there since records began.
With the heat wave affecting most of Greenland that day, the Polar Portal website reported a “massive melting event” involving enough water “to cover Florida with two inches of water” (five centimeters).
The largest melt of the Greenland ice sheet still dates to the summer of 2019.
The area where the melting took place this time, though, is larger than two years ago, the website added.
The Greenland ice sheet is the second-largest mass of freshwater ice on the planet with nearly 1.8 million square kilometers (695,000 square miles), second only to Antarctica.
The melting of the ice sheets started in 1990 and has accelerated since 2000. The mass loss in recent years is approximately four times greater than it was before 2000, according to the researchers at Polar Portal.
One European study published in January said ocean levels would rise between 10 and 18 centimeters by 2100 — or 60 percent faster than previously estimated — at the rate at which the Greenland ice sheet was now melting.
The Greenland ice sheet, if completely melted, would raise the ocean levels by six to seven meters.
But with a relatively cool start to the Greenland summer, with snowfalls and rains, the retreat of the ice sheet so far for 2021 remains within the historical norm, according to Polar Portal. The melting period extends from June to early September.

Source: Voice of America

Why Canada Leaped Ahead of US in COVID-19 Vaccinations

VANCOUVER, CANADA – When the COVID-19 vaccines started rolling out across the United States, Canada was short of supply and its leaders faced harsh criticism for not being better prepared. Expected deliveries from Europe were delayed and the country had no capability to produce its own vaccines.
By mid-July, that changed. More doses of vaccines started to arrive and Canada quickly passed the United States in vaccination rates.
As of Wednesday, 71.4% of Canadians had received at least one dose, with 57.6% having received two doses. In the United States, by comparison, 57.7% had received the first dose and 49.8% the second.
It was a different story three months earlier, when the United States had inoculated 43.2% with one dose and 29.9% were fully vaccinated with two doses. In Canada at that time, 31.3% had received a first dose and only 2.8% had gotten the second.
All vaccines being used in Canada — Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca — require two doses. The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is approved but has not yet been utilized.

Dr. Brian Conway, the medical director of the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Center, believes Canada has overtaken the U.S. in vaccinations because its political leaders are in greater agreement about the value of the vaccines than their southern neighbors.
“All politicians of all stripes, in terms of major political parties, and even minor political parties, have been supportive of the vaccination program. And within the next couple of weeks, 80% of eligible Canadians aged 12 and up will be doubly vaccinated,” Conway said.

Nazeem Muhajarine, an epidemiologist at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon and part of a national research committee on COVID-19 variants, echoes Conway and says Canadians themselves have approached vaccinations with more unity.
“The sense of, you know, that you are part of a collective purpose versus kind of, you know, you being an individual person, individual rights and responsibilities, which is so important in the U.S., is not as important here,” Muhajarine said.

“So added this extra incentive for people, which is not just protect yourself or others, but also to get your province over the percentage that you need to keep going on a reopening plan,” Tworek said.
Many public health officials across Canada are starting to wind down mass vaccination clinics and are now going to beaches, farmers markets, summer fairs and sporting events.
It is hoped this will not only motivate more people to get vaccinated, but also make it easier to get the vaccine, especially for those in more remote communities or facing other challenges.

Source: Voice of America

OMERS Infrastructure Agrees to Purchase 19.4% Stake in Azure Power

Transaction expands Canadian pension plan’s direct investment holdings in India, while increasing its global exposure to renewables sector

SINGAPORE, July 30, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — OMERS Infrastructure today announced that it has signed a Stock Purchase Agreement to acquire from International Finance Corporation and IFC GIF Investment Company I an approximately 19.4% stake in Azure Power Global Limited (NYSE: AZRE), for a total consideration of approximately US$219m. Founded in 2008, Azure Power is a leading independent renewable power producer located in India, with an asset base of ~2 GW of operational capacity and ~5 GW of capacity under construction or awarded.

“This agreement to invest in Azure Power demonstrates OMERS strong global interest in high-quality renewable power and energy transition assets, as well as our interest in India as an investment destination and Asia-Pacific more broadly,” said Annesley Wallace, Executive Vice President and Global Head of OMERS Infrastructure. “This transaction directly supports our mission of building a strong portfolio of well-run assets that will help pay pensions to our members over the long term,” she added.

“Azure Power’s vision is to provide affordable, clean energy in an efficient, sustainable and socially-responsible manner. OMERS is proud to be working with the management and our fellow investors to help Azure Power achieve its goals,” said Prateek Maheshwari, Managing Director, Asia, OMERS Infrastructure. “The closing of this transaction would mark our second direct infrastructure investment in India, following our 2019 investment in the IndInfravit toll road platform. In support of our goal of prudently diversifying OMERS investments across global markets, we will continue to explore additional promising opportunities in India and throughout Asia-Pacific,” he added.

OMERS Infrastructure’s global renewable energy holdings include Leeward Renewable Energy, a growth-oriented renewable energy company that owns and operates a portfolio of 22 renewable energy facilities across nine U.S. states, totaling more than 2 GW of installed capacity. Leeward is headquartered in Dallas, Texas.

The transaction is expected to close in early August. Ambit Private Limited acted as financial advisor to OMERS Infrastructure.

Neil Hrab
Manager, Media Relations

About OMERS and OMERS Infrastructure:
OMERS Infrastructure manages investments globally in infrastructure on behalf of OMERS, the defined benefit pension plan for municipal employees in the Province of Ontario, Canada. Investments are aimed at steady returns to help deliver sustainable, affordable and meaningful pensions to OMERS members.

OMERS diversified portfolio of large-scale infrastructure assets exhibits stability and strong cash flows, in sectors including energy, digital services, transportation and government-regulated services. OMERS teams work in Toronto, London, New York, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Singapore, Sydney and other major cities across North America and Europe – serving members and employers, and originating and managing a diversified portfolio of high-quality investments in public markets, private equity, infrastructure and real estate. OMERS is one of Canada’s largest defined benefit pension funds, with net assets of C$105 billion.

For more information, please visit: www.omersinfrastructure.com


The following is an extract from the “CNH Industrial 2021 second quarter results” press release. The complete press release can be accessed by visiting the media section of the CNH Industrial corporate website: https://www.cnhindustrial.com/en-us/media/press_releases/Pages/default.aspx or consulting the accompanying PDF:

CNH Industrial reports strong second quarter performance. Consolidated revenues of $8.9 billion (up 60% compared to Q2 2020), net income of $699 million, adjusted diluted EPS of $0.42, and adjusted EBIT of Industrial Activities of $699 million (up $757 million). $1.0 billion free cash flow of Industrial Activities.

Financial results presented under U.S. GAAP

Net sales of Industrial Activities of $8,490 million, up 65%, with solid performance from all segments, as a result of higher volumes driven by strong industry demand and price realization.

Adjusted EBIT of Industrial Activities of $699 million (loss of $58 million in Q2 2020), with all segments up year over year. Agriculture adjusted EBIT margin at 14.7%. Adjusted EBIT of $100 million for Commercial and Specialty Vehicles, $74 million for Powertrain and $24 million for Construction.

Adjusted net income of $583 million, with adjusted diluted earnings per share of $0.42 (adjusted net loss of $85 million in Q2 2020, with adjusted diluted loss per share of $0.07).

Reported income tax expense of $188 million, with adjusted effective tax rate (adjusted ETR) of 25%.

Free cash flow of Industrial Activities was positive $1.0 billion due to the strong operating performance. Total Debt of $24.5 billion at June 30, 2021 ($26.1 billion at December 31, 2020). Industrial Activities net cash position at $1.4 billion, an increase of $0.8 billion from March 31, 2021.

Available liquidity at $14.4 billion as of June 30, 2021. In May 2021, CNH Industrial paid €150 million (~$180 million) in dividends to shareholders. In the same month, CNH Industrial Capital LLC issued $600 million in aggregate principal amount of 1.450% notes due 2026.


Malawi Ready to Store, Distribute Incoming COVID-19 Vaccine: Official

BLANTRYE, MALAWI – Malawi expects to receive more than 600,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine soon. In May, the country had to discard 20,000 doses due to a lack of demand. But officials say that when the new vaccine arrives, demand will be high and Malawi will be prepared.
Over the next two months, Malawi is expected to receive about 372,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and about 300,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Experts are warning the country needs to be ready to store and distribute it.
In May, authorities burned about 20,000 expired doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that went unused due to a shortage of distribution centers and widespread vaccine hesitancy, the latter caused by myths and misinformation about their safety.

Queen Dube is chief of health services in Malawi’s Ministry of Health. She said there will be no repeat of that incident, because a government campaign has now convinced Malawians the vaccines are safe and protective.
She notes that a recent consignment of 192,000 AstraZeneca vaccines, which the country received last Saturday were gone within days.
Even if some of the donated vaccines are due to expire soon, they will be distributed within sufficient time, she said.
“It’s this scenario where you have one week of shelf-life left that puts you in very difficult circumstances,” Dube said. “But, you know, we have created demand. Remember on 27th [July] we vaccinated 75,000 people and so even if we had all those doses that were to expire in two weeks, say for example 100,000 doses, we should be able to quickly use them within two, three days.”
Dr. Alinafe Kasiya is a public health expert with Village Reach, an international health charity that is supporting vaccine delivery in African countries.
He said countries need to think about their storage and distribution systems.
“That means a number of things; Do we have enough capacity to be able to store the vaccines that are coming?” Kasiya said. “I mean some of the vaccines might have different cold chain requirements. But also do we have a logistic system in place to be able to move these vaccines around? Do we have enough people trained? Are we opening up enough sites? Are we looking at doing more to create demand?”
Kasiya, the country director for Village Reach in Malawi, applauds Malawi’s government for creating demand for the vaccine.
Queen Dube says even though the Pfizer vaccine needs ultra-cold storage, no doses will be wasted.
“There are two things with Pfizer,” Dube said. “We now have evidence that if you take it out of an ultra-cold system you can store it at temperatures between two to eight degrees. These are normal temperatures that we store our vaccines in; and you can use it for 31 days.”
So far, Malawi has recorded about 51,000 cases of COVID-19 and nearly 1,600 deaths. Only a tiny fraction of the country’s 18 million people have been inoculated, though that number will quickly rise if more people cooperate with the government’s vaccination campaign.

Source: Voice of America

Russia Blames Its Software for Repositioning Space Station

Russian space officials said Friday that a software malfunction had caused the unexpected firing of thrusters on a newly arrived module, moving the International Space Station out of its intended attitude.
The incident occurred Thursday, hours after the long-delayed Russian laboratory module, known as Nauka, docked with the ISS.  It took mission controllers nearly an hour to reposition the ISS, which had been bumped 45 degrees out of alignment.  Ground controllers fired Russian thrusters on other Russian elements at the station to fix the positioning.
In a statement Friday, ISS Russian segment flight director Vladimir Solovyov said the software failure had prompted a direct command to turn on the module’s engines.
Communications between the ground and the crew went out twice for several minutes, but in a statement, the U.S. space agency NASA said the ISS crew was never in danger.
On Twitter Friday, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky said not to worry and the work to integrate the new module into the ISS was continuing as scheduled.
The Russian unmanned, 20-ton, nearly 13-meter-long Nauka module — also known as the Multipurpose Laboratory Module — docked with the ISS following a long and, at times, uncertain journey.
Nauka is now the first new module in the Russian segment of the station since 2010.
The troubled trip to the orbiting space station followed years of problems getting the module off the ground. Nauka — designed to provide more room for scientific experiments and space for the crew — was initially scheduled to launch in 2007 but was repeatedly delayed because of technical problems.

Source: Voice of America