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2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #24

June 17, 2018 - 11:43am

Story of the Week... Editorial of the Week... El Niño/La Niña Update... Toon of the Week... Quote of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Reviews... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week... Uncovering the Mental Health Crisis of Climate Change

 

Source: Pexels

The young man believed he only had five years to live. “Not because he was sick,” said Kate Schapira, “not because anything was wrong with him, but because he believed that life on Earth would be impossible for humans.”

The sign on Schapira’s booth read: CLIMATE ANXIETY COUNSELING 5¢ THE DOCTOR IS IN. Time to earn her pennies.

On that muggy June day, she had set up shop in Kennedy Plaza in downtown Providence, Rhode Island. Schapira is not a trained therapist — a fact she makes clear to visitors — but she is happy to chat with anyone suffering from anxiety about climate change. “A lot of what I do is listen and ask questions,” she said.

Over the coming decades, rising temperatures will fuel natural disasters that are more deadly than any seen in human history, destabilizing nations and sending millions to their death. Experts say that we need to prepare for a hotter, less hospitable world by building sea walls, erecting desalination plants and engineering crops that can withstand punishing heat and drought, but few have considered the defenses we need to erect in our minds. Some, like Shapira, have called for more talking, more counseling to process our grief. But will that be enough? Climate change will do untold violence to life on this planet, and we have remarkably few tools to deal with its emotional cost.

Uncovering the Mental Health Crisis of Climate Change by Jeremy Deaton, Nexus Media, June 12, 2018

Editorial of the Week... Big Oil CEOs needed a climate change reality check. The pope delivered

Good common sense speaks even more loudly when it comes from unexpected corners.’ Photograph: Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images 

You kind of expect popes to talk about spiritual stuff, kind of the way you expect chefs to discuss spices or tree surgeons to make small talk about overhanging limbs.

Which is why it was so interesting this week to hear Pope Francis break down the climate debate in very practical and very canny terms, displaying far more mathematical insight than your average world leader and far more strategic canniness than your average journalist. In fact, with a few deft sentences, he laid bare the hypocrisy that dominates much of the climate debate.

The occasion was the gathering of fossil fuel executives at the Vatican, one of a series of meetings to mark the third anniversary of Laudato Si, his majestic encyclical on global warming. The meetings were closed, but by all accounts big oil put forward its usual anodyne arguments: any energy transition must be slow, moving too fast to renewable energy would hurt the poor by raising prices, and so forth. 

Big Oil CEOs needed a climate change reality check. The pope delivered, Opinion by Bill Mckibben, Comment is Free, Guardian, June 14, 2018

El Niño/La Niña Update... 

Well, well, well… what have we here? Favorable conditions for El Niño to develop? The June ENSO forecast estimates a 50% chance of El Niño developing during the late summer or early autumn, and an approximately 65% chance of El Niño conditions in the winter, so forecasters have instituted an El Niño Watch.

June 2018 ENSO Update: El Niño Watch! by Emily Becker, NOAA's Climate.gov, June 14, 2018

Toon of the Week...

  

Quote of the Week...

Grayling’s Commons speech did not even mention climate change, yet this omission attracted negligible attention until Lucas tweeted her incredulous dismay – which, I suggest, tells us that most people now think one more runway will make no difference to climate change, but a massive difference to the UK economy. Might they be right? Lucas addresses her reply to the carpet between our chairs, like a pop star performing an old hit she can’t believe anyone could still need to hear again.

“If you measured impact on climate change by each individual action then you’d never be able to talk about the cumulative impact of a set of actions on the climate. We know aviation is one of the fastest growing sources of emissions; we know emissions at altitude are a lot more damaging to the climate than they are at ground level; we know that if Heathrow expands then it’s almost like an arms race between the different airports across Europe, because they’re all in a fight for passengers.”

But we keep being told we must not concede a competitive advantage to rival European airports. She counters wearily: “If you were talking to campaigners in Charles de Gaulle [airport in Paris], they’d tell you they’re told exactly the same thing: don’t concede defeat to London! We’re all being pitted against one another in this incredibly dangerous race to the bottom. If we were to follow the logic of those people who think every time we build a runway our economy miraculously benefits, then why would you not just cover the whole country in concrete? That’s the logic of that argument. The bottom lines is that aviation is a very good example of why you can’t say: ‘We’ll have a demand-led approach’ – because the demand will go on. I think there needs to be a mature conversation about limits to growth. I think we need to ask: growth for what?”

Growth for jobs? Growth for our kids to leave home and afford a mortgage and enjoy the living standards our parents took for granted? “Growth that is not tackling inequality,” she rejoins. “Growth that’s destroying the planet we depend on. Growth that we know, by simply measuring prosperity in terms of GDP growth, is an incredibly blunt instrument. GDP simply measures the circulation of money in the economy, not whether or not the outcome of using that money is positive or negative. A major pile up on the M5 is wonderful for growth, because it means people go out and buy more cars. But by any other measure of what’s useful or helpful, a pile up on the M5 is bad news.”

Caroline Lucas on Heathrow and climate change: ‘The apocalypse is happening’, Saturday Interview by Decca Aitkenhead, Guardian, June 16, 2018

Coming Soon on SkS...
  • Should we be worried about surging Antarctic ice melt and sea level rise? (Dana)
  • Wally Broeker: Father of “Global Warming”, in a Warning to his Granddaughter (greenman)
  • Life after PhD (Climatesight Kate)
  • Guest Post (John Abraham)
  • New research this week (Ari)
  • 2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #25 (John Hartz)
  • 2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #25 (John Hartz)
Climate Feedback Reviews...

Washington Post article accurately describes latest estimate of accelerating Antarctic ice loss

 

Climate Feedback asked a team of scientists to review the article, Antarctic ice loss has tripled in a decade. If that continues we are in serious trouble. by Chris Mooney, Energy & Environment, Washington Post, June 13, 2018

Four scientists analyzed the article and estimate its overall scientific credibility to be 'high'.

A majority of reviewers tagged the article as: AccurateInsightful

Review Summary

This article in The Washington Post describes an important study from a project called the Ice sheet Mass Balance Intercomparison Exercise (or IMBIE), which synthesized many existing records of Antarctic ice based on different types of measurements. The resulting estimate shows that Antarctica alone lost enough ice between 1992 and 2017 to raise global sea level by around 7.6 millimeters—almost 10% of the total sea level change over that time period.

Scientists who reviewed the article found that it accurately summarized this result, while explaining some of the processes behind this mass loss and the sea level rise it produces. However, they note that future trends depend partly on complex natural variability, which the article could have made clear. 

Washington Post article accurately describes latest estimate of accelerating Antarctic ice loss, Edited by Scott Johnson, Climate Feedback, June 15, 2018

SkS Week in Review...  Poster of the Week...

 

2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #24

June 16, 2018 - 11:39am
A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week. Editor's Pick In a Warming World, Deadly Bacteria Are More Resistant to Antibiotics  

 

E. coli bacteria. Source: NIAID

Tom Patterson became ill in 2015 while vacationing in Egypt. He was felled by Acinetobacter baumannii, an often deadly bacterium resistant to every antibiotic his doctors tried. Patterson, a University of California San Diego psychiatry professor, should have died, but didn’t. (Experimental infusions of bacteria-killing viruses known as bacteriophages ultimately saved his life.) But his near-death experience from a superbug he picked up in a warm country — an organism that also has afflicted many hospitalized wounded troops in Iraq and Kuwait — raises provocative questions about drug-resistant bacteria and their relationship to our increasingly hotter planet.

“Travelers returning from tropical and other warm areas where multi-drug resistant pathogens have become more widespread will increasingly challenge the antibiotics on our shelves,” said Robert T. Schooley, an infectious diseases specialist at UC San Diego, who treated Patterson. “Turning up the temperature of the incubator in which we live will clearly speed the evolutionary clock of bacterial and other pathogens with which we must co-exist.”

Experts already know that climate change has become a significant threat to global public health, particularly as rising temperatures have produced greater populations of disease-transmitting insects, such as mosquitoes. But warmth also encourages bacteria to grow, providing them a chance to mutate and elude drugs that once easily killed them. While antibiotic resistance is believed largely due to the indiscriminate prescribing of antibiotics, experts now think that other environmental stresses — climate change among them — also may be at work.

The world is confronting a growing and frightening danger from multi-drug-resistant infections, with many now difficult or impossible to treat. The World Health Organization has described this scenario as “one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today.” There are more than 2 million cases and 23,000 deaths from antibiotic-resistant infections annually in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

In a Warming World, Deadly Bacteria Are More Resistant to Antibiotics by Marlene Cimons, Climate Nexus, June 14, 2018

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New research, June 4-10, 2018

June 15, 2018 - 4:48pm

A selection of new climate related research articles is shown below.

Climate change impacts

Mankind

The Inequality of Climate Change From 1.5 to 2°C of Global Warming (open access)

"The Paris Agreement aims to keep global warming well below 2°C above preindustrial levels with a preferred ambitious 1.5°C target. Developing countries, especially small island nations, pressed for the 1.5°C target to be adopted, but who will suffer the largest changes in climate if we miss this target? Here we show that exceeding the 1.5°C global warming target would lead to the poorest experiencing the greatest local climate changes. Under these circumstances greater support for climate adaptation to prevent poverty growth would be required."

Short-term effect of tropospheric ozone on daily mortality in Spain

Prediction of mortality resulted from NO2 concentration in Tehran by Air Q+ software and artificial neural network

Indicators of climate change in agricultural systems (open access)

Evaluating the effects of climate change on US agricultural systems: sensitivity to regional impact and trade expansion scenarios (open access)

The role of scientific expertise in local adaptation to projected sea level rise (open access)

Managing the risk of extreme climate events in Australian major wheat production systems

Comparing impacts of climate change and mitigation on global agriculture by 2050 (open access)

Understanding the divergences between farmer’s perception and meteorological records regarding climate change: a review

Influence of season and climatic variables on testicular cytology, semen quality and melatonin concentrations in crossbred bucks reared under subtropical climate

Strategic adaptation pathway planning to manage sea-level rise and changing coastal flood risk

Predicting shifting sustainability trade‐offs in marine finfish aquaculture under climate change

Biosphere

Coastal ecosystems on a tipping point: Global warming and parasitism combine to alter community structure and function

"Under present temperature (17°C) and level of parasitism, the parasite had little impact on the host community. However, elevating the temperature to 21°C in the presence of parasites induced massive structural changes: amphipod abundances decreased species‐specifically, affecting epibenthic species but leaving infaunal species largely untouched. In effect, species diversity dropped significantly. In contrast, four degree higher temperatures in the absence of parasitism had limited influence on the amphipod community."

Recovery of Ecosystem Carbon and Energy Fluxes From the 2003 Drought in Europe and the 2012 Drought in the United States

Characteristics of vegetation activity and its responses to climate change in desert/grassland biome transition zones in the last 30 years based on GIMMS3g

Ecosystem structure, functioning and stability under climate change and grazing in grasslands: current status and future prospects

Carbon assimilation and transfer through kelp forests in the NE Atlantic is diminished under a warmer ocean climate (open access)

Annual temperature variation as a time machine to understand the effects of long‐term climate change on a poleward range shift

Effects of climate legacies on above‐ and belowground community assembly

Large‐scale prerain vegetation green‐up across Africa

The effect of warmer winters on the demography of an outbreak insect is hidden by intraspecific competition (open access)

Other impacts

Climate Change Amplifications of Climate‐Fire Teleconnections in the Southern Hemisphere

Climate change mitigation

Ratcheting ambition to limit warming to 1.5 °C–trade-offs between emission reductions and carbon dioxide removal (open access)

Climate change communication

Is public awareness and perceived threat of climate change associated with governmental mitigation targets?

Does risk communication really decrease cooperation in climate change mitigation? (open acces)

Being Skeptical? Exploring Far-Right Climate-Change Communication in Germany

Emission savings

Remote assessment of extracted volumes and greenhouse gases from tropical timber harvest (open access)

Environmental impact of meal service catering for dependent senior citizens in Danish municipalities (open access)

Energy production

Why go green? Discourse analysis of motivations for Thailand's oil and gas companies to invest in renewable energy

Assessing the evolution of power sector carbon intensity in the United States (open access)

Potential of solar energy in Iran for carbon dioxide mitigation

Climate Policy

India in 2 °C and well below 2 °C worlds: Opportunities and challenges

Decision making under uncertainty in climate change mitigation: introducing multiple actor motivations, agency and influence (open access)

Climate change

Does global warming amplify interannual climate variability?

Anthropogenic and Natural Contributions to the Lengthening of Summer Season in the Northern Hemisphere

Regional and Seasonal Characteristics of the Recent Expansion of the Tropics

On the need for regional climate information over Africa under varying levels of global warming (open access)

Temperature, precipitation, wind

Elevation-dependent warming in global climate model simulations at high spatial resolution (open access)

Internal variability in European summer temperatures at 1.5 °C and 2 °C of global warming (open access)

Diversity in global patterns of observed precipitation variability and change on river basin scales

Robust changes in tropical rainy season length at 1.5 °C and 2 °C (open access)

"Specifically, we report a robust shortening of the rainy season for all of tropical Africa as well as north-east Brazil. About 27% of West Africa is projected to experience robust changes in the rainy season length with a mean shortening of about 7 days under 1.5 °C."

Trends in temperature extremes and their association with circulation patterns in China during 1961–2015

Developing a 1 km resolution daily air temperature dataset for urban and surrounding areas in the conterminous United States

Temperature extremes in Alaska: temporal variability and circulation background (open access)

Extreme events

Predictability of the European heat and cold waves (open access)

Risk and dynamics of unprecedented hot months in South East China

CMIP5 Projected Change in Northern Hemisphere Winter Cyclones with Associated Extreme Winds

Forcings and feedbacks

Radiative Feedbacks From Stochastic Variability in Surface Temperature and Radiative Imbalance

A test of emergent constraints on cloud feedback and climate sensitivity using a calibrated single-model ensemble

Future changes in the stratosphere-to-troposphere ozone mass flux and the contribution from climate change and ozone recovery (open access)

Spring snow albedo feedback over northern Eurasia: Comparing in situ measurements with reanalysis products (open access)

Understanding the role of sea surface temperature-forcing for variability in global temperature and precipitation extremes (open access)

Cryosphere

Spatial and temporal distributions of surface mass balance between Concordia and Vostok stations, Antarctica, from combined radar and ice core data: first results and detailed error analysis (open access)

Decadal variability of Great Lakes ice cover in response to AMO and PDO, 1963-2017 (open access)

Snow depth on Arctic sea ice from historical in situ data (open access)

Contributions of Ice Thickness to the Atmospheric Response From Projected Arctic Sea Ice Loss

The Unprecedented 2016–2017 Arctic Sea Ice Growth Season: The Crucial Role of Atmospheric Rivers and Longwave Fluxes

Multi-decadal mass balance series of three Kyrgyz glaciers inferred from modelling constrained with repeated snow line observations (open access)

Hydrothermal variations in soils resulting from the freezing and thawing processes in the active layer of an alpine grassland in the Qilian Mountains, northeastern Tibetan Plateau

Dynamic Response of a High Arctic Glacier to Melt and Runoff Variations

Reflective properties of melt ponds on sea ice (open access)

Hydrosphere 

Magnitude and robustness associated with the climate change impacts on global hydrological variables for transient and stabilized climate states (open access)

Relative Sea Level, Tides, and Extreme Water Levels in Boston Harbor From 1825 to 2018

Atmospheric and oceanic circulation

Local and Remote Responses of Atmospheric and Oceanic Heat Transports to Climate Forcing: Compensation versus Collaboration

Carbon cycle

Increasing Methane Emissions From Natural Land Ecosystems due to Sea‐Level Rise

Temperature response of permafrost soil carbon is attenuated by mineral protection

Toward understanding the contribution of waterbodies to the methane emissions of a permafrost landscape on a regional scale—A case study from the Mackenzie Delta, Canada

Influence of high-latitude warming and land-use changes in the early 20th century northern Eurasian CO2 sink (open access)

Potential strong contribution of future anthropogenic land-use and land-cover change to the terrestrial carbon cycle (open access)

Other papers

Palaeoclimatology

The importance of snow albedo for ice sheet evolution over the last glacial cycle (open access)

 

The legal fight to leave the dirtiest fossil fuels in the ground

June 14, 2018 - 1:36am

Tar sands are the dirtiest fossil fuels. These are low-quality heavy tar-like oils that are mined from sand or rock. Much of the mining occurs in Alberta Canada, but it is also mined elsewhere, in lesser quantities.

Tar sands are the worst. Not only are they really hard to get out of the ground, requiring enormous amounts of energy; not only are they difficult to transport and to refine; not only are they more polluting than regular oils; they even have a by-product called ”petcoke” that’s used in power plants, but is dirtier than regular coal.

This stuff is worse than regular oil, worse than coal, worse than anything. Anyone who is serious about climate change cannot agree to mine and burn tar sands. To maintain climate change below critical thresholds, tar sands need to be left in the ground.

This fact is what motivated me to testify to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission last November, to inform my state’s ruling commission about the impact of tar sands on the climate. Canadian energy company Enbridge has petitioned to put a pipeline through my state to carry this dirty tar to refining sites on the coast. 

The proposed pipeline is called “Line 3.” The pipeline would carry approximately 760,000 barrels per day – the new pipeline would make it easier and cheaper for the oil companies to transport tar sands and consequently, would boost their bottom line. We already move over two million barrels per day through Minnesota in Enbridge pipelines. This new pipeline would encourage them to extract and sell more tar sands.

So, how much pollution would this pipeline carry? 170bn kilograms of carbon dioxide each year. The emissions are equal to approximately 50 coal power plants. These are huge numbers, but more importantly, approval of pipelines like this make it more likely that all of the tar sands in Alberta will be extracted. If that happens, global temperatures will increase by approximately 0.65°F (0.36°C). An astonishing number – approximately 3 decades worth of global warming.

If you care about climate change, then it is not logically possible to approve any pipeline or other infrastructure that may further worsen our climate. We are already screwing up the climate enough as it is. 

The decision-making body in my state has heard climate arguments before. In fact, in 2016, the same body ruled against the coal giant Peabody. That ruling decided that fossil fuel companies low-balled the social cost of carbon. Back then, Peabody brought in a group of climate contrarians to argue their nonsense. My colleagues and I were able to convince the Commission that the facts were clear – we are causing climate change, and our decisions today can make tomorrow’s climate worse. This ruling was used when evaluating the social cost of carbon pollution for a new Line 3 pipeline. A judge found that emissions from this project would impose $287bn in social costs over 30 years.

In this case, the oil company Enbridge did not invite any contrarian climate scientists. They simply focused on arguments that a new pipeline will be safer to operate (fewer spills) and lessen other issues like rail traffic. They effectively conceded the climate arguments.

The decision will be revealed later this month. But already, an Administrative Law Judge has given a recommendation that the new pipeline be built, but in the exact same location as the current pipe. While this recommendation presents large costs to Enbridge, it completely misses the science. The judge’s opinion made no mention of climate change. How can a decision on extracting tar sands be made without considering climate effects?

Just last week, the staff of the commission also recommended construction of the new pipeline. They too omitted climate change from their decision.

I was proud to be able to stand alongside tomorrow’s leaders. Courageous youth became parties to the litigation and helped arrange the testimony of various climate experts like myself. One of the youth involved in the litigation, Frances Wetherall, summarized her view and told me why she was involved in the case.

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Benefits of curbing climate change far outweigh costs

June 12, 2018 - 1:40am

Those who oppose policies to cut carbon pollution and slow climate change always claim that doing so will be too expensive and cripple the economy. They argue that instead we should maximize economic growth so that we can pay for climate damages and adaptation in the future. It’s an argument helped by the fact that models have essentially treated economic growth as an external factor that won’t be significantly impacted by climate change.

That assumption has been challenged in recent years, starting with a 2012 paper in theAmerican Economic Journal finding that higher temperatures reduce economic growth rates, particularly in poorer countries. A 2015 paper by Stanford scientists published inNature Climate Change built on this work, similarly finding that global warming will particularly hurt economic growth in poorer countries, and that “Optimal climate policy in this model stabilizes global temperature change below 2 degrees C.” This finding is consistent with the target set by the Paris climate accords. 

Later in 2015, a team of scientists led by Marshall Burke published a paper inNature finding a relationship between temperature and Gross Domestic Product, or GDP. There’s a sweet spot where regions with an average temperature around 13 degrees Celsius (55 degrees Fahrenheit) have the highest economic productivity. When temperatures are much hotter or colder, GDP falls. Countries like the United States, Japan, China, and many European countries happen to have temperatures right near that sweet spot, while many developing countries closer to the equator—in regions like Africa and southeast Asia—are already hotter than optimal. Consistent with the findings of the aforementioned studies, the economies of these poorer tropical countries will be particularly hard hit by global warming, because their climates are already sub-optimally hot.

Just recently, Burke led another team of scientists in research quantifying these economic costs of higher temperatures. Their latest paper, also published in Nature, found that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius would likely save the global economy more than $20 trillion by the year 2100 as compared to 2 degrees Celsius warming—at a cost of about $300 billion. That means the benefits of curbing climate change would exceed the costs by about 70-to-1. The study also only accounts for temperature effects on GDP and not other damaging factors like sea level rise, and is thus likely a conservative estimate.

Burke’s study also estimated the economic impact of higher levels of global warming, if we fail to meet the Paris climate targets. For example, global warming of 3 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures in 2100 would reduce global GDP by about 10 percent as compared to 2 degrees Celsius global warming. A temperature of 4-to-5 degrees Celsius would make us 10 percent poorer yet, as compared to 3 degrees Celsius. Those would be massive economic losses that could exceed $100 trillion. And it wouldn’t just impact poor countries—a working paper recently published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond found that global warming could significantly hamper economic growth in the United States as well, especially in the hotter Southern states. The paper found that if we meet the 2 degrees Celsius Paris climate target, US economic growth will only slow by about 5-to-10 percent, but global warming of 3-to-3.5 degrees Celsius would dampen the American economy by twice as much—10-to-20 percent.

It’s also worth noting that these are not controversial findings. Even economists and organizations most-cited by climate contrarians agree that further global warming will hurt the economy, and has been hurting the economies of poorer countries for about 40 years.

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2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #23

June 9, 2018 - 12:41pm
A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week. Editor's Pick Artificial Intelligence—A Game Changer for Climate Change and the Environment

 

AI is continually improving climate models. Photo: Los Alamos National Lab 

As the planet continues to warm, climate change impacts are worsening. In 2016, there were 772 weather and disaster events, triple the number that occurred in 1980. Twenty percent of species currently face extinction, and that number could rise to 50 percent by 2100. And even if all countries keep their Paris climate pledges, by 2100, it’s likely that average global temperatures will be 3˚C higher than in pre-industrial times.

But we have a new tool to help us better manage the impacts of climate change and protect the planet: artificial intelligence (AI). AI refers to computer systems that “can sense their environment, think, learn, and act in response to what they sense and their programmed objectives,” according to a World Economic Forum report, Harnessing Artificial Intelligence for the Earth.

In India, AI has helped farmers get 30 percent higher groundnut yields per hectare by providing information on preparing the land, applying fertilizer and choosing sowing dates. In Norway, AI helped create a flexible and autonomous electric grid, integrating more renewable energy.

And AI has helped researchers achieve 89 to 99 percent accuracy in identifying tropical cyclones, weather fronts and atmospheric rivers, the latter of which can cause heavy precipitation and are often hard for humans to identify on their own. By improving weather forecasts, these types of programs can help keep people safe.

Artificial Intelligence—A Game Changer for Climate Change and the Environment by Renee Choo, State of the Planet, Earth Institute, June 5, 2018

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New research, May 28 - June 3, 2018

June 8, 2018 - 2:18pm

A selection of new climate related research articles is shown below.

Climate change

Overcoming early career barriers to interdisciplinary climate change research

Projected climate over the Greater Horn of Africa under 1.5 °C and 2 °C global warming (open access)

Temperature, precipitation, wind

Analysis of past changes in wet bulb temperature in relation to snow making conditions based on long term observations Austria and Germany

"The number of snow making days changes least in October and most in December when averaged over all stations. Very high stations show more change in October and less change in December than the lower stations. Several stations show a significant decrease of snow making days per month, particularly in more recent sub-periods, but trends vary strongly between stations and for different sub-periods. Sub-periods with positive trends are present in earlier phases of the time series at some stations and inter-annual variability is generally 1–2 orders of magnitude greater than detected trends."

On the concordance of 21st century wind-wave climate projections

Spatiotemporal extremes of temperature and precipitation during 1960–2015 in the Yangtze River Basin (China) and impacts on vegetation dynamics

Comparison of two long-term and high-resolution satellite precipitation datasets in Xinjiang, China

The effects of 1.5 and 2 degrees of global warming on Africa in the CORDEX ensemble (open access)

Spatial distribution of unidirectional trends in temperature and temperature extremes in Pakistan

Spatial and temporal stability of temperature in the first-level basins of China during 1951–2013

Quantification of the changes in intensity and frequency of hourly extreme rainfall attributed climate change in Oman

Extreme events

A climatological assessment of drought impact on vegetation health index

Short-term changes in thermal perception associated with heatwave conditions in Melbourne, Australia

Spatial distribution patterns of global natural disasters based on biclustering

Rethinking flood risk communication (open access)

Increasing extent and intensity of thunderstorms observed over the Congo Basin from 1982 to 2016

Forcings and feedbacks

Surface energy balance closure at ten sites over the Tibetan plateau (open access)

Sensitivity of surface temperature to oceanic forcing via q-flux Green’s function experiments Part II: Feedback decomposition and polar amplification

1990–2016 surface solar radiation variability and trend over the Piedmont region (northwest Italy)

Solar dimming above temperate forests and its impact on local climate (open access)

Cryosphere

Seasonal variations of the backscattering coefficient measured by radar altimeters over the Antarctic Ice Sheet (open access)

Warm winter, thin ice? (open access)

Changing snow seasonality in the highlands of Kyrgyzstan (open access)

Hydrosphere

On observed aridity changes over the semiarid regions of India in a warming climate

Lake storage variation on the endorheic Tibetan Plateau and its attribution to climate change since the new millennium (open access)

Atmospheric and oceanic circulation

Responses of the Tropical Atmospheric Circulation to Climate Change and Connection to the Hydrological Cycle

Atlantic-Pacific Asymmetry in Deep Water Formation

The downward influence of uncertainty in the Northern Hemisphere stratospheric polar vortex response to climate change

Statistical occurrence and mechanisms of the 2014–2016 delayed super El Niño captured by a simple dynamical model

Carbon cycle

Vulnerability and resilience of the carbon exchange of a subarctic peatland to an extreme winter event (carbon cycle)

Climate change impacts

Bibliometric analysis of Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment research

Mankind

Will climate change benefit or hurt Russian grain production? A statistical evidence from a panel approach

"Our results indicate that CC might have a positive effect on winter wheat, spring wheat and spring barley productivity in a number of regions in the Northern and Siberian parts of Russia. However, due to the highly damaging CC impact on grain production in the most productive regions located in the South of the country, the overall impact tends to be negative."

Climate change adaptation in small island developing states: Insights and lessons from a meta-paradigmatic study

Mean air temperature as a risk factor for stroke mortality in São Paulo, Brazil

Diverse landscapes, diverse risks: synthesis of the special issue on climate change and adaptive capacity in a hotter, drier Southwestern United States

Impacts of a lengthening open water season on Alaskan coastal communities: deriving locally relevant indices from large-scale datasets and community observations (open access)

Global seafood consumption footprint (open access)

Cascading impacts of climate change on southwestern US cropland agriculture (open access)

The best laid plans: Impacts of politics on local climate change adaptation

Biosphere

Increasing global vegetation browning hidden in overall vegetation greening: Insights from time-varying trends

Long-term changes in migration timing of Song Thrush Turdus philomelos at the southern Baltic coast in response to temperatures on route and at breeding grounds

Temperature influences habitat preference of coral reef fishes: Will generalists become more specialised in a warming ocean?

Root responses to elevated CO2, warming and irrigation in a semi‐arid grassland: Integrating biomass, length and life span in a 5‐year field experiment

Increased body size along urbanization gradients at both community and intraspecific level in macro‐moths

Differential ecophysiological responses and resilience to heat wave events in four co-occurring temperate tree species (open access)

Effects of elevated CO2 and temperature on phytoplankton community biomass, species composition and photosynthesis during an experimentally induced autumn bloom in the western English Channel (open access)

Later springs green-up faster: the relation between onset and completion of green-up in deciduous forests of North America

Climate change mitigation

Time Trends and Persistence in the Global CO2 Emissions Across Europe

Climate change communication

Climate change communication from cities in the USA

Bonding and Bridging Relationships in Collaborative Forums Responding to Weather Warnings

Emission savings

Estimating the global warming emissions of the LCAXVII conference: connecting flights matter

National research funding and energy efficiency: Evidence from the National Science Foundation of China

Assessing fossil fuel CO2 emissions in California using atmospheric observations and models (open access)

A life cycle assessment of the environmental impacts of a beef system in the USA (open access)

Energy efficiency as a means to expand energy access: A Uganda roadmap

Development path of Chinese low-carbon cities based on index evaluation (open access)

The carbon footprint of agricultural crop cultivation in India

Energy production

Quantification of methane sources in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region of Alberta by aircraft mass balance (open access)

Should future wind speed changes be taken into account in wind farm development? (open access)

Decentralised electric power delivery for rural electrification in Pakistan

Willing to participate in vehicle-to-grid (V2G)? Why not!

China’s nuclear power under the global 1.5 °C target: Preliminary feasibility study and prospects (open access)

“I can live with nuclear energy if…”: Exploring public perceptions of nuclear energy in Singapore

How to peak carbon emissions in China's power sector: A regional perspective

Climate Policy

Distributing the Global Carbon Budget with climate justice criteria

Which policy instruments attract foreign direct investments in renewable energy?

The participation of core stakeholders in the design of, and challenges to, the US Clean Power Plan

Global mean temperature indicators linked to warming levels avoiding climate risks (open access)

Should Ethiopia and least developed countries exit from the Paris climate accord? – Geopolitical, development, and energy policy perspectives

Aligning climate action with the self-interest and short-term dominated priorities of decision-makers

Estimation of the cost of greenhouse gas reduction in Korea under the global scenario of 1.5 °C temperature increase

Other papers

General climate science

Multiple symptoms of total ozone recovery inside the Antarctic vortex during austral spring (open access)

On ozone trend detection: using coupled chemistry–climate simulations to investigate early signs of total column ozone recovery (open access)

Palaeoclimatology

Placing the Common Era in a Holocene context: millennial to centennial patterns and trends in the hydroclimate of North America over the past 2000 years (open access)

Environmental issues

Spatial Effects of Air Pollution on Public Health in China

Tiny shrimp could influence global climate changes

June 7, 2018 - 1:42am

When we think of global warming and climate change, most of us ignore the impacts that animals have on the environment. Climate affects animals, but is the reverse true? Can animals affect the climate?

I don’t know how to answer that question definitively, but I was fortunate enough to read a very recent paper from a top fluid dynamics research team from Stanford. The team, led by Dr. John Dabiri, is well known for their work on bio-inspired flow. Part of what they study is the influence of living organisms on fluid flow, especially flow of water in the oceans.

This team’s recent work deals with something called aggregate motion of swimmers and it was published in Nature this year. The researchers wanted to know what happens when thousands (or millions) of small creatures swim in a single direction. Can the wakes they create add up to a larger scale motion and can these motions affect the ocean waters that they swim through?

Flow pattern caused by krill motion. Illustration: Houghton et al. (2018); Nature

The team fabricated large tanks and filled them with water and Artemis salina (a species of brine shrimp). Using LED lights they were able to get the shrimp to swim upwards and downwards in the tank, replicating their daily vertical migrations. In the oceans, the vertical motion is hundreds of meters, but in the experiment, the shrimp swam upwards and downwards just a few meters. 

Before the shrimp began their motion, the researchers measured the water stratification. That is, less dense water tends to rise to the top while heavier, more dense water sinks. In the oceans, as well as in experiments, the water density is dictated by its saltiness and the temperature. 

The authors discovered something amazing. After tricking the shrimp to swim upwards and downwards in the tank, the water stratification changed greatly. The shrimp brought heavier water upwards and lighter water downwards. While one or even a few hundred shrimp may not change the water structure, thousands of shrimp moving together can. A video of upward aggregate shrimp motion is shown here. Fluid motion from a single shrimp is shown here.

What the researchers also discovered was that shrimp, because they are dense, find it more difficult to swim upwards than downwards. Consequently, they have to create a strong propulsion jet when they swim upwards and virtually no propulsion jet when traveling downwards. Since these small propulsion jets are additive, shrimp cause much more mixing as they rise through the ocean waters compared to their descent. At the end of the day, the effect aggregate motion and turbulent mixing increased the normal mixing capacity of the water by a thousandfold.

I asked Dr. Dabiri about the importance of this project and he told me:

Click here to read the rest

Climate Science blogs around the world

June 6, 2018 - 10:03pm

After recently publishing an article about Climate Science websites around the world, some suggestions came in via comments or emails to add more sites to the post. But, these were mostly for blogs instead of full-fledged websites so they didn't quite fit the focus of that earlier post. So, here is the counterpart article introducing non-English blogs focused on climate science around the world.

Dutch - The Netherlands

Klimaatverandering

The Dutch blog "Klimaatverandering" (climate change) was started in 2008 by Bart Verheggen as the Dutch counterpart to his English blog “Our Changing Climate”. When confronted with certain myths he started to search the web for information, only to find that misinformation was often crowding out scientifically credible voices. This, combined with the large gap between public and scientific understanding of the issue, led him to start his own blog. His aim is to inject a scientifically grounded voice to the public debate about climate change.

Since 2012 Jos Hagelaars, Hans Custers en Bob Brand have joined his Dutch blog. Together they try to maintain a high quality blog by critiquing each other’s writings before publication, as an internal review procedure as it were (similar to what’s done at SkS). Some of their pieces have been featured at SkS as well, including e.g. the graph that Jos Hagelaars made about global average temperatures from the Last Glacial Maximum all the way to the projections for 2100. This figure has made its way to many different publications, sometimes in a slightly adapted form.

Bart Verheggen's student Max von Geuns recently published the aptly named article "Blogging as an Allergic Reaction to Climate Bullshit" in which Bart's motivation to blog gets explained in more detail.

Finland - Finnish

Ilmastotiedo

Ilmastotieto is a Finnish climate blog that started in 2010 when several individual bloggers decided to start a group blog. Subject areas covered are practically anything relating to climate and climate change. Among published articles are climate news pieces, feature articles on wide range of topics (basic climate science, climate change impacts, mitigation, etc.), and myth debunking. Ilmastotieto is closely tied to Skeptical Science, as the blog authors are the ones that have done the Finnish translations of some Skeptical Science articles. The Finnish translations, by the way, were the first published translations on Skeptical Science as announced in this blog post.

German - Germany

Klimalounge

Stefan Rahmstorf started his German-language blog Klimalounge (originally together with two colleagues) in 2008, because he sees it as part of his duty as a climate scientist to engage with the public about this important topic. His own research focus is on changes in the climate system both modern and in Earth's history. He has worked e.g. on the role of the oceans in climate change (including sea level rise and the Atlantic ocean circulation), on weather extremes and on changes in atmospheric dynamics including the jet stream. Some of his blog posts he publishes both in German at Klimalounge and in English on RealClimate, a blog he co-founded with other climate scientists in 2004. But many posts at KlimaLounge are focused on climate change in Germany and/or the public and policy debates in Germany - which was a key motivation for starting a German blog alongside Realclimate. In 2017 Rahmstorf was awarded the Climate Communication Prize of the American Geophysical Union, as the first scientist working outside the US. He also won the German Umweltmedienpreis.

If you know of any other similar non-English blogs focused on climate change, please let us know either in the comments or via the contact form. We'll add them to the post once we've verified that the content is science-based.

The latest weak attacks on EVs and solar panels

June 4, 2018 - 1:44am

Over the past two weeks, media attacks on solar panels and electric vehicles have been followed by Trump administration policies aimed at boosting their fossil fueled rivals.

Efforts to undermine solar power

The first salvo came via a Forbes article written by Michael Shellenberger, who’s running a doomed campaign for California governor and really loves nuclear power. Shellenberger’s critique focused on the problem of potential waste at the end of a solar panel lifespan when the modules must be disposed or recycled. It’s a somewhat ironic concern from a proponent of nuclear power, which has a rather bigger toxic waste problem.

About 80% of a solar panel module can be recycled, but some portions cannot, and create potentially hazardous waste due to the presence of metals like cadmium and lead. The Electric Power Research Institute notes that long-term storage of used panels until recycling technologies become available may be the best option for dealing with this waste stream. Ultimately, it’s an issue that will need to be addressed as solar panels become more widespread and reach the end of their 25-plus year lifespan, much like the issue of nuclear waste. But it’s an issue that we should be able to resolve with smart policies and technologies.

It’s also not a big near-term concern, unlike the urgent need to deploy low-carbon energy, or an immediate pollution problem like for example the environmental crises that result when oil rigs fail or coal barges sink into rivers.

Shellenberger also raised concerns about the possibility “that cadmium can be washed out of solar modules by rainwater.” But that’s only a problem for broken panels, which are relatively rare except perhaps in the wake a natural disaster like a hurricane or earthquake. In a disaster area, leaching of metals from some broken solar panels is the least of a city’s problems.

In short, it’s valid to note that end-of-life solar panel recycling and disposal is an issue that we’ll have to address smartly, but unlike climate change, it’s not a big or urgent concern. Meanwhile, the Trump administration is planning to order grid operators to buy electricity from struggling coal power plants to extend their lives. This is the latest in the administration’s misguided campaign to save the dying coal industry, which can no longer compete in the free market against cheaper, cleaner alternatives. As a result, coal power plants have continued to shut down at a rapid rate. Those coal plants pose a much greater threat of pollution, including from heavy metals.

Denying the imminent transition to EVs

In the New York Times, conservative opinion columnist Bret Stephens devoted an editorial last week to attacking Tesla specifically, and electric cars in general. There are valid reasons to criticize Tesla – the company regularly falls short of its ambitious production goals – but Stephens’ piece went far beyond what’s fair. For example, it called the Tesla Model 3 “a lemon” because Consumer Reports initially did not recommend the vehicle due primarily to issues with braking distance during its tests. Within about a week, Tesla issued a software update to correct the braking problem, and the Model 3 earned its Consumer Reports recommendation. Worse yet, Stephens declared that gasoline is the fuel of the future:

The terrible idea is that electric cars are the wave of the future, at least for the mass market. Gasoline has advantages in energy density, cost, infrastructure and transportability that electricity doesn’t and won’t for decades.

That’s equivalentt to saying in 1910 that horses have advantages over automobiles, and will continue to dominate the transportation market. The experts disagree. The International Energy Agency estimated that global electric vehicle ownership increased 54% from 2016 to 2017, to 3.1 million EVs, and projects that number will increase 40-fold to 125 million by 2030. Virtually every major automaker is developing electric cars. GM plans to launch 20 new all-electric models by 2023 and the company “believes in an all-electric future.” Nissan plans to launch 8 new all-electric models by 2020and hopes to sell 1 million EVs per year by that date.

As for the infrastructure disadvantage, California, New York, and New Jersey are spending a combined $1.3bn on EV charging to address that problem. But more than 80% of EV charging happens at home. The Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Bolt have 150- and 200-mile ranges, respectively, and the average American only drives 30 miles per day. An MIT study in 2016 found that EVs with a 74-mile range could meet 87% of American car owners’ needs with only overnight charging at home; Nissan and GM have doubled and nearly tripled that range. Infrastructure is no longer a big obstacle to EV adoption for many people.

Click here to read the rest

2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #22

June 3, 2018 - 3:56pm

Story of the Week... Editorial of the Week... Toon of the Week... Quote of the Week... SkS in the News... Scholarly Paper of Note... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Reviews... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week... Gov. Brown says fallout from Trump quitting Paris accord is 'far more serious than anyone is saying'

California Gov. Jerry Brown addresses the University of California Carbon and Climate Neutrality Summit in San Diego. (Howard Lipin / San Diego Union-Tribune)

His promised coal renaissance sputtered. Rollbacks of environmental protections are tangled in court. Even automakers aren’t on board for his push toward heavier-polluting cars.

But even so, a year after President Trump pulled out of the landmark Paris accord on climate change, the struggle to contain global warming has grown considerably more complicated without the prodding and encouragement once provided by the U.S. government.

And though many in the climate movement hope progress toward cutting emissions can continue despite Trump’s retreat, there are growing doubts about reaching the Paris agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, if Washington does not re-engage soon.

In an interview, Gov. Jerry Brown acknowledged the hope felt by many climate activists because of efforts from states like his and by private companies. But he also said the world is only just beginning to feel the environmental harm inflicted by the Trump administration. 

Gov. Brown says fallout from Trump quitting Paris accord is 'far more serious than anyone is saying' by Evan Halper, Los Angeles Times, June 1, 2018 

Editorial of the Week... Hope in the Era of Trump’s Climate Foolishness

Credit: Illustration by Matthieu Bourel; Photograph by Getty Images

Concluding paragraph...

In an ideal world, Americans would have a federal government that, as it has in the past, provides investment in new technologies, in research and development and in energy infrastructure. Instead, we are saddled with an administration that is preparing to force power companies to keep dirty and inefficient coal-burning power plants operating on the pretext that they are needed to protect national security. Until that changes, the voices of all those governors, mayors, corporate leaders and others who, after Mr. Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement, proclaimed, “We AreStill In,” deserve praise and support. 

Hope in the Era of Trump’s Climate Foolishness, Editorial Board, New York Times, June 1, 2018 

Toon of the Week...

  

Quote of the Week...

“He has set in motion initiatives that will cause damage,” (CA Gov Jerry) Brown said, comparing the planet under Trump’s climate policies to a person who has just fallen from the top of the Empire State Building. “You are falling down four stories, but have 80 to go,” he said. “Maybe you are not damaged yet, but it is certain you will die.”

The governor said his overriding concern is that global progress has stalled. “This is real,” Brown said. “It is far more serious than anybody is saying.”

Gov. Brown says fallout from Trump quitting Paris accord is 'far more serious than anyone is saying' by Evan Halper, Los Angeles Times, June 1, 2018 

SkS in the News...

Michael Svoboda concludes his article, Truthsquading: Books and reports on the denial and obstruction of climate science (Yale Climate Connections, May 31, 2018) with the following:

Three Reports from Skeptical Science

A pivotal figure in the effort to counter global warming skepticism is John Cook, who started the Skeptical Science website in 2007, while still a student at the University of Queensland in Australia. Since then Cook has (co)authored reports to alert readers to the manufactured arguments they’re likely to encounter when discussing climate change in public. Two – The Scientific Guide to Global Warming Skepticsm (2010) and The Debunking Handbook (2011) – can be downloaded from the Skeptical Science website. The third, The Consensus Handbook (2018), is available from the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University, where John Cook now works as a research assistant professor. 

Scholarly Paper of Note...

The underlying premise of this paper is that repetition of a narrow narrative that focuses exclusively on the impacts of climate change leaves the public with an overall sense of powerlessness. The paper focuses on five years of national media coverage of climate change in the U.S. Arctic, specifically stories about communities facing coastal erosion and relocation, to argue for journalism that provides a more representative view of the challenges posed by a warming climate. Such reporting would also include responses and innovations, and increase pressure on policymakers to act, rather than offering excuses for inaction.

Doom and Gloom: The Role of the Media in Public Disengagement on Climate Change by Elizabeth Arnold*, Harvard Kennedy School, May 29, 2018

*Joan Shorenstein Fellow, Spring 2018, and Associate Professor of Journalism, University of Alaska 

Coming Soon on SkS...
  • The attacks against solar power and EVs are ramping up (Dana)
  • New Video: Hot Ocean, Hurricanes, Houston, and Harvey (greenman)
  • Climate focused blogs around the world (BaerbelW)
  • Guest Post (John Abraham) 
  • New research this week (Ari)
  • 2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #23 (John Hartz)
  • 2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #23 (John Hartz)
Climate Feedback Reviews...  In a Warming West, the Rio Grande Is Drying Up

Climate Feedback asked a team of scientists to review the article, In a Warming West, the Rio Grande Is Drying Up by Henry Fountain, Climate, New York Times, May 24, 2018

Two scientists analyzed the article and estimate its overall scientific credibility to be 'high'.

A majority of reviewers tagged the article as: Sound reasoning

Review Summary 

This article in The New York Times discusses water supply issues along the Rio Grande in New Mexico, and the projected impacts of climate change.

Scientists who reviewed the article generally found it to be an accurate description of research on this topic. However, they note that it’s important to remember that precipitation in this region can naturally vary on timescales longer than just one year to the next. Even changes from one decade to the next should be considered carefully in the context of variability—and water supply risks depend on both human-caused trends and that natural variability.

New York Times story accurately describes Rio Grande’s climate context, Edited by Scott Johnson, Climate Feedback, May 31, 2018

SkS Week in Review...  Poster of the Week...

 

2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #22

June 2, 2018 - 2:44pm
A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week. Editor's Pick It’s time to think seriously about cutting off the supply of fossil fuels

A new paper makes the case for supply-side climate policy.

 

There is a bias in climate policy shared by analysts, politicians, and pundits across the political spectrum so common it is rarely remarked upon. To put it bluntly: Nobody, at least nobody in power, wants to restrict the supply of fossil fuels.

Policies that choke off fossil fuels at their origin — shutting down mines and wells; banning new ones; opting against new pipelines, refineries, and export terminals — have been embraced by climate activists, picking up steam with the Keystone pipeline protests and the recent direct action of the Valve Turners.

But they are looked upon with some disdain by the climate intelligentsia, who are united in their belief that such strategies are economically suboptimal and politically counterproductive.

Now a pair of economists has offered a cogent argument that the activists are onto something — that restrictive supply-side (RSS) climate policies have unique economic and political benefits and deserve a place alongside carbon prices and renewable energy supports in the climate policy toolkit.

“In our experience,” the authors write, “the climate policy community has for too long been excessively narrow in its preference for certain kinds of policy instruments (carbon taxes, cap-and trade), largely ignoring the characteristics of such instruments that affect their political feasibility and feedback effects.” I have written the same thing many times, so I think a climate policy argument that takes politics seriously deserves a close look.

To understand it, it helps to have a framework for classifying climate policies.

It’s time to think seriously about cutting off the supply of fossil fuels by David Roberts, Energy & Environment, Vox, May 31, 2018

Links posted on Facebook

Sun May 27, 2018

Mon May 28, 2018

Tue May 29, 2018

Wed May 30, 2018

Thu May 31, 2018

Fri June 1, 2018

Sat June 2, 2018

New research, May 21-27, 2018

June 1, 2018 - 3:49pm

A selection of new climate related research articles is shown below.

Climate change mitigation

Climate change communication

Climate change as a polarizing cue: Framing effects on public support for low-carbon energy policies

"• We evaluate how framing affects support for four low-carbon energy policies among U.S. partisans.

• For Republicans, a climate change frame lowers support relative to pollution or security frames.

• We find framing effects for renewable energy, carbon tax, and fuel efficiency policies, but not nuclear power.

• No framing effects are observed among Democrats or Independents.

• Results support a motivated reasoning rather than heuristic processing mechanism."

Emission savings

Impact of cutting meat intake on hidden greenhouse gas emissions in an import-reliant city (open access)

Domestic energy consumption and climate change mitigation

Carbon footprints of grain-, forage-, and energy-based cropping systems in the North China plain

Exploring the development of electric vehicles under policy incentives: A scenario-based system dynamics model

Profiling energy efficiency tendency: A case for Turkish households

Rising wages and energy consumption transition in rural China

Framing policy on low emissions vehicles in terms of economic gains: Might the most straightforward gain be delivered by supply chain activity to support refuelling? (open access)

Climate change and the building sector: Modelling and energy implications to an office building in southern Europe

Energy production

Promises and limitations of nuclear fission energy in combating climate change

"In a strategy to eliminate all non-CCS coal power stations, some 1600 MW of nuclear power would be required and sufficient to cover the base load for the electrical energy supply system. This nuclear expansion should be accompanied by effective international safety assurances, including a mandate to stop construction of unsafe nuclear power plants. In the long term, after 2065, we expect inherently safe molten salt thorium reactors to compete with fusion reactors."

Has the relationship between non-fossil fuel energy sources and CO2 emissions changed over time? A cross-national study, 2000–2013

"Wind’s association with CO2 emissions became increasingly negative after the Great Recession (i.e., suppressed emissions at a greater rate). Nuclear’s association with CO2resembled a distorted U-shaped curve over time. Biomass’ elasticity fluctuated between positive and negative values. Solar and geothermal’s elasticity remained fairly consistent over the course of the analysis, and hydro’s elasticity increased over time but remained negative throughout the study’s temporal period."

Scarcity in abundance: The challenges of promoting energy access in the Southern African region

Insights into wind sites: Critically assessing the innovation, cost, and performance dynamics of global wind energy development

Analysis on the synergistic effect of sustainable development of coal industry under 1.5°C scenario

Palm oil supply chain complexity impedes implementation of corporate no-deforestation commitments

Expansion of nuclear power technology to new countries – SMRs, safety culture issues, and the need for an improved international safety regime

The burden of sustainability: Limits to sustainable bioenergy development in Norway

Estimating the EROI of whole systems for 100% renewable electricity supply capable of dealing with intermittency

Electricity generation technologies: Comparison of materials use, energy return on investment, jobs creation and CO2 emissions reduction

Steady state of energy: Feedbacks and leverages for promoting or preventing sustainable energy system development

The changing risk perception towards nuclear power in China after the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan

Gone with the wind: A learning curve analysis of China's wind power industry

Explaining technological change in the US wind industry: Energy policies, technological learning, and collaboration

An information theory based robustness analysis of energy mix in US States

U.S. climate policy and the regional economics of electricity generation

Climate Policy

The global impacts of US climate policy: a model simulation using GCAM-TU and MAGICC

"Simulations by the Model for the Assessment of Greenhouse-gas Induced Climate Change (MAGICC) indicate that the temperature increase by 2100 would rise by 0.081°C–0.161°C compared to the three original RCPs (Representative Concentration Pathways) if US emissions were kept at their 2015 levels until 2100. The probability of staying below 2°C would decrease by 6–9% even if the US resumes mitigation efforts for achieving its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) target after 2025. It is estimated by GCAM-TU that, without US participation, increased reduction efforts are required for the rest of the world, including developing countries, in order to achieve the 2°C goal, resulting in 18% higher global cumulative mitigation costs from 2015 to 2100."

Striving for equivalency across the Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Québec carbon pricing systems: the Pan-Canadian carbon pricing benchmark

Can India grow and live within a 1.5 degree CO2 emissions budget?

Ecological modernization and responses for a low‐carbon future in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries

Whose carbon is burnable? Equity considerations in the allocation of a “right to extract”

The role of a low carbon fuel standard in achieving long-term GHG reduction targets

Achievability of the Paris Agreement targets in the EU: demand-side reduction potentials in a carbon budget perspective (open access)

Policy discussion for sustainable integrated electricity expansion in South Africa

Do electric vehicles need subsidies? Ownership costs for conventional, hybrid, and electric vehicles in 14 U.S. cities

Geoengineering

CESM1(WACCM) Stratospheric Aerosol Geoengineering Large Ensemble (GLENS) Project (open access)

Negative emissions: Part 1—research landscape and synthesis (open access)

Negative emissions—Part 2: Costs, potentials and side effects (open access)

Negative emissions—Part 3: Innovation and upscaling (open access)

Climate change

Temperature, precipitation, wind

Internal variability and regional climate trends in an Observational Large Ensemble

Detection of anthropogenic influence on fixed threshold indices of extreme temperature

Statistical analysis of trends in monthly precipitation at the Limbang River Basin, Sarawak (NW Borneo), Malaysia

Return times and return levels of July–September extreme rainfall over the major climatic sub-regions in Sahel

Extreme events

Rainfall–vegetation interaction regulates temperature anomalies during extreme dry events in the Horn of Africa (open access)

Hurricane Harvey Links to Ocean Heat Content and Climate Change Adaptation (open access)

Urbanization effects on heat waves in Fujian Province, Southeast China

Weathering Storms: Understanding the Impact of Natural Disasters in Central America

Forcings and feedbacks

Ocean Carbon Cycle Feedbacks Under Negative Emissions

Global Contributions of Incoming Radiation and Land Surface Conditions to Maximum Near‐Surface Air Temperature Variability and Trend (open access)

Memory of irrigation effects on hydroclimate and its modeling challenge (open access)

Cryosphere

Contrasting the Antarctic and Arctic atmospheric responses to projected sea ice loss in the late 21st Century

Atmospheric and oceanic circulation

Can the salt-advection feedback be detected in internal variability of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation?

Carbon cycle

Attributing the Carbon Cycle Impacts of CMIP5 Historical and Future Land Use and Land Cover Change in the Community Earth System Model (CESM1)

The impact of transport model differences on CO2 surface flux estimates from OCO-2 retrievals of column average CO2 (open access)

Multi-scale dynamics and environmental controls on net ecosystem CO2 exchange over a temperate semiarid shrubland

Climate change impacts

Mankind

Differences, or lack thereof, in wheat and maize yields under three low-warming scenarios (open access)

Economically robust protection against 21st century sea-level rise

Responding to multiple climate-linked stressors in a remote island context: the example of Yadua Island, Fiji (open access)

Climate variability and changes in the agricultural cycle in the Czech Lands from the sixteenth century to the present

Crop productivity changes in 1.5 °C and 2 °C worlds under climate sensitivity uncertainty (open access)

Drought and Distress in Southeastern Australia

Temporal and spatial variation in personal ambient temperatures for outdoor working populations in the southeastern USA

Biosphere

Ocean warming has a greater effect than acidification on the early life history development and swimming performance of a large circumglobal pelagic fish

Disentangling the effects of acidic air pollution, atmospheric CO2, and climate change on recent growth of red spruce trees in the Central Appalachian Mountains (open access)

Asymmetric effects of daytime and nighttime warming on spring phenology in the temperate grasslands of China

Temperature affects phenological synchrony in a tree-killing bark beetle

Scots pine radial growth response to climate and future projections at peat and mineral soils in the boreo-nemoral zone

Other papers

General climate science

SODA3: a new ocean climate reanalysis (open access)

A climatological study of air pollution potential in China

On the Identification of Ozone Recovery

Palaeoclimatology

The rise and fall of the Cretaceous Hot Greenhouse climate

Simulation of the Greenland Ice Sheet over two glacial–interglacial cycles: investigating a sub-ice-shelf melt parameterization and relative sea level forcing in an ice-sheet–ice-shelf model (open access)

How wet and dry spells evolve across the conterminous United States based on 555 years of paleoclimate data

 

Restricting global warming to 1.5C could ‘halve’ risk of biodiversity loss

May 31, 2018 - 1:54am

This is a re-post from Carbon Brief by Daisy Dunne

Limiting global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels rather than 2C could halve the number of vertebrate and plant species facing severe range loss by the end of the century, a study finds.

The analysis of more than 115,000 species finds that keeping warming at 1.5C – which is the aspirational target of the Paris Agreement – instead of 2C could also cut the number of insects facing severe range loss by two-thirds.

However, if countries fail to ramp up their efforts to address climate change, around a quarter of all vertebrates (animals with a spine), half of insects and 44% of plants could face severe range loss, the lead author tells Carbon Brief.

The greatest range losses are expected to occur in some of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, the author adds, including in the Amazon and southern Africa.

Although the findings are significant, the research does not explore all the factors relevant to species survival, including the impact of evolution, another scientist tells Carbon Brief.

Hostile planet

Climate change threatens wildlife in a host of ways. One way is by reducing a species’ geographical range – the extent of the area where it is able to survive.

This can occur when local temperatures become too hot for species to tolerate or when changing rainfall patterns affect the types of food available, for example. As a species’ range contracts, its risk of extinction can increase.

The new study, published in Science, uses a set of global climate models to explore how warming this century could affect the ranges of more than 115,000 species that live on land.

For the analysis, the researchers used four scenarios, including where warming is limited to, in order, 1.5C, 2C, 3.2C (which is the amount of warming anticipated if countries stick to their national pledges to cut emissions) and to 4.5C, the amount of warming expected under a “business as usual” scenario (“RCP8.5”).

The research finds that, if warming is limited to 2C, 8% of vertebrates, 18% of insects and 16% of plants could lose at least half of their current range by 2100.

However, if warming is limited to 1.5C, this risk is halved for vertebrates and plants, and cut by two-thirds for insects.

Unequal losses

The charts below show how future global warming is expected to affect the ranges of invertebrates (A), vertebrates (B) and plants (C) , and also a further breakdown of how warming could affect insects (D), mammals (E) and birds (F).

The x-axis shows temperature rise above pre-industrial levels, while the y-axis shows the proportion of species expected to lose more than half of their range.

On the charts, results for “no dispersal” (yellow) and “realistic dispersal” (blue) are shown. The “realistic dispersal” results consider the ability of animals to move away from their site of birth into new areas, explains lead author Prof Rachel Warren, a researcher of global change and environmental biology at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. She tells Carbon Brief:

“​’No dispersal’ means that we assume the animals don’t move. ‘Dispersal’ means species can move at rates they’ve been observed to move at in response to the climate change that has happened so far.”

The proportion of species expected to lose more than half of their range by 2100 under different levels of temperature rise. Results are shown for invertebrates (A), vertebrates (B), plants (C), insects (D), mammals (E) and birds (F). Source: Warren et al. (2018)

The results show how invertebrates (A), such as insects, spiders and worms, are expected to lose a larger proportion of their range than vertebrates (B), such as mammals, birds and reptiles.

Insect species at a particularly high risk include key crop pollinators, including bees, hoverflies and blowflies, the research notes. This is due to a range of factors linked to insect physiology and lifestyle, says Warren:

“It is probably because they are ectothermic, which means that their body temperature is controlled externally, not internally, as in humans. Also they have life stages – eggs, larvae, pupae, as well as adults. Each of these stages might be vulnerable to different things, such as eggs drying out if there is too little rainfall.”

Green Hairstreak Butterfly perched on a fern, Devon Coast, UK. Credit: Steve Bloom Images/Alamy Stock Photo.

For mammals (E) and birds (F), risks remain low at 1.5C but grow significantly larger as warming increases, the research finds. Mammals most at risk include critically endangered species such as the black rhino, which also faces significant challenges from habitat loss and poaching.

Warming hotspots

The maps below show how different levels of warming could affect global species diversity for vertebrates. The charts show the proportion of species expected to remain by 2100 – from 90-100% remaining (blue) down to just 0-10% of species remaining (red) – with and without the impact of dispersal.

The proportion of vertebrate species expected to remain in world regions by 2100 under different levels of temperature rise (from top to bottom: 1.5, 2, 3.2, 4.5C). Red shows 0-10% of species remaining while dark blue shows 90-100% remaining. Source: Warren et al. (2018)

The maps reveal that, if future global warming reaches 3.2-4.5C, striking biodiversity loss could occur in some of the world’s wildlife hotspots, including southern Africa and the Amazon – which is home to 30% of the world’s species.

Giraffe in front of Mount Kilimanjaro, Chyulu Hills National Park, Kenya. Credit: Lucas Vallecillos/Alamy Stock Photo.

This could be because temperatures in the tropics and subtropics are relatively consistent from one season to the next, which means resident species are less used to large swings in temperature, says Warren:

“Here in the UK, we can have terrible summers and very nice ones – whereas in the tropics it’s much more predictable. This means that, in temperate lands, species are likely to be buffered against quite large natural climate variability. Whereas in the tropics, as the average climate changes, it could get quickly outside the range of natural variability that species are adapted to.”

Other regions expected to suffer species losses include Australia, the last remaining habitat of marsupials, and the high Arctic, home of the polar bear, the Arctic fox and caribou.

BECCS trade-off

The results show that meeting the Paris Agreement’s aspirational target of limiting warming to 1.5C would bring “substantial benefits” for wildlife, the scientists write in their research paper:

“Successful implementation of the Paris Agreement could lead to substantial benefits for global terrestrial [land] biodiversity…However, restricting warming to 1.5C may be difficult.”

This difficulty lies in the assumption that “negative emissions technologies” will be able to help the world meet the 1.5C target, the researchers say. Most scenarios envisaging how the world could limit warming 1.5C incorporate a negative emissions technology known as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

Put simply, BECCS involves burning biomass – such as trees and crops – to generate energy and then capturing the resulting CO2 emissions before they are released into the air.

The technology has yet to be demonstrated on a commercial basis, and recent researchshows its potential may be more limited than previously thought.

Even if BECCS is developed on a wide scale, the researchers say, it could pose a significant threat to biodiversity.

That is because large scale BECCS could require up to 18% of the land surface to be converted to biomass plantations, they say, which would drive up competition for land.

This could lead to more deforestation and habitat loss to meet bioenergy and agriculture requirements, they say:

“New studies are exploring scenarios in which BECCS is produced from secondary biofuels, or in which there are dietary changes in humans, resulting in greatly reduced effects of indirect land-use change.”

Survival of the fittest

The study provides “phenomenal coverage” of how climate change could impact biodiversity, says Colin Carlson, a postdoctoral fellow at Georgetown University, who was not involved in the research. Carlson previously published a study looking at the impact of climate change on the world’s parasites. He tells Carbon Brief:

“I expect it’ll be one of the most significant papers in this discipline soon. The focus on climate change mitigation ties into a lot of hot button issues right now – not just Paris, but also alternative solutions for mitigation, like CO2 removal.”

However, the study does not include many of the factors that are key to species survival, says Prof Georgina Mace, director of the Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research at University College London, who was not involved in the research. She tells Carbon Brief:

“For example, the presence of critical resources, such as food, prey and nest sites; extreme events, pressures from habitat loss, or changes to biotic interactions, often overwhelm climate change effects. So the range loss estimates in this paper have a lot of uncertainty that is not represented.”

The research also does not consider the possibility that some species may be able to evolve new adaptations to cope with climate change, she adds:

“The year 2100 is a long way ahead and species are continuously adapting and evolving; the strong selective pressures mean that many will adapt to deal with climate change. Over this period of time, several hundred generations for many insects, we can expect evolutionary adaptation.”

 

Warren, R. et al. (2018) The projected effect on insects, vertebrates, and plants of limiting global warming to 1.5C rather than 2C, doi/10.1126/science.aar3646

2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #21

May 26, 2018 - 11:44am
A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week. Editor's Pick Climate change may lead to bigger atmospheric rivers

In early 2017, the Western United States experienced rain and flooding from a series of storms flowing to America on multiple streams of moist air, each individually known as an atmospheric river. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech 

A new NASA-led study shows that climate change is likely to intensify extreme weather events known as atmospheric rivers across most of the globe by the end of this century, while slightly reducing their number.

The new study projects atmospheric rivers will be significantly longer and wider than the ones we observe today, leading to more frequent atmospheric river conditions in affected areas.

"The results project that in a scenario where greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, there will be about 10 percent fewer atmospheric rivers globally by the end of the 21st century," said the study's lead author, Duane Waliser, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "However, because the findings project that the atmospheric rivers will be, on average, about 25 percent wider and longer, the global frequency of atmospheric river conditions — like heavy rain and strong winds — will actually increase by about 50 percent."

The results also show that the frequency of the most intense atmospheric river storms is projected to nearly double.

Atmospheric rivers are long, narrow jets of air that carry huge amounts of water vapor from the tropics to Earth's continents and polar regions. These "rivers in the sky" typically range from 250 to 375 miles (400 to 600 kilometers) wide and carry as much water — in the form of water vapor — as about 25 Mississippi Rivers. When an atmospheric river makes landfall, particularly against mountainous terrain (such as the Sierra Nevada and the Andes), it releases much of that water vapor in the form of rain or snow.

These storm systems are common — on average, there are about 11 present on Earth at any time. In many areas of the globe, they bring much-needed precipitation and are an important contribution to annual freshwater supplies. However, stronger atmospheric rivers — especially those that stall at landfall or that produce rain on top of snowpack — can cause disastrous flooding.

Atmospheric rivers show up on satellite imagery, including in data from a series of actual atmospheric river storms that drenched the U.S. West Coast and caused severe flooding in early 2017.

Climate change may lead to bigger atmospheric rivers by Esprit Smith, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, May 24, 2018

Links posted on Facebook

Sun May 20, 2018

Mon May 21, 2018

Tue May 22, 2018

Wed May 23, 2018

Thu May 24, 2018

Fri May 25, 2018

Sat May 26, 2018

New research, May 14-20, 2018

May 25, 2018 - 4:12pm

A selection of new climate related research articles is shown below.

Climate change impacts

Mankind

Assessing the Impacts of Extreme Agricultural Droughts in China Under Climate and Socioeconomic Changes (open access)

"Our simulations project a rise of 2.5~3.3% in average rice, maize, and wheat productivity before 2050 but decrease thereafter if climate warming continues."

Climate change adaptation strategies and food productivity in Nepal: a counterfactual analysis

"Based on a survey of 720 farming households in Nepal, our results show that adoption of adaptation strategies has significantly increased food productivity. Among the adaptation strategies, soil and water management are shown to have the largest impact on food productivity followed by adjustments to the timing of farm operations and crop and varietal adjustment."

Strengthening climate change adaptation capacity in Africa- case studies from six major African cities and policy implications

Adaptation to climate change at local level in Europe: An overview

The changing sensitivity of power systems to meteorological drivers: a case study of Great Britain (open access)

Interpreting nonlinear semi-elasticities in reduced-form climate damage estimation

The economic impacts of ocean acidification on shellfish fisheries and aquaculture in the United Kingdom

Human damage assessments of coastal flooding for Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta due to climate change-related sea level rise in the twenty-first century

Global exposure and vulnerability to multi-sector development and climate change hotspots (open access)

Evaluating climate change adaptation efforts on the US 50 states’ hazard mitigation plans

Coastal hazard risk assessment for small islands: assessing the impact of climate change and disaster reduction measures on Ebeye (Marshall Islands)

Differences between low-end and high-end climate change impacts in Europe across multiple sectors (open access)

"For example, for the 2080s, mitigation consistent with the Paris Agreement would reduce aggregate Europe-wide impacts on the area of intensive agriculture by 21% (on average across climate models), on the area of managed forests by 34%, on water stress by 14%, on people flooded by 10% and on biodiversity vulnerability by 16%."

The effect of meteorological conditions and air pollution on the occurrence of type A and B acute aortic dissections

Biosphere

Phytoplankton Do Not Produce Carbon‐Rich Organic Matter in High CO2 Oceans

How training citizen scientists affects the accuracy and precision of phenological data

21st century tundra shrubification could enhance net carbon uptake of North America Arctic tundra under an RCP8.5 climate trajectory (open access)

Plant cuticle under global change: Biophysical implications

Ecological genomics predicts climate vulnerability in an endangered southwestern songbird

Explaining European fungal fruiting phenology with climate variability

Roles of climate niche conservatism and range dynamics in woody plant diversity patterns through the Cenozoic

Coupled climate–forest growth shifts in the Chilean Patagonia are decoupled from trends in water–use efficiency

As temperature increases, predator attack rate is more important to survival than a smaller window of prey vulnerability

Catalytic power of enzymes decreases with temperature: New insights for understanding soil C cycling and microbial ecology under warming

Heat waves and their significance for a temperate benthic community: A near‐natural experimental approach

Spring phenology at different altitudes is becoming more uniform under global warming in Europe

Metapopulation dynamics in a changing climate: Increasing spatial synchrony in weather conditions drives metapopulation synchrony of a butterfly inhabiting a fragmented landscape (open access)

Global importance of large‐diameter trees

Other impacts

Climate Change Projected to Exacerbate Impacts of Coastal Eutrophication in the Northern Gulf of Mexico

Climate change mitigation

Energy production

Clean vehicles as an enabler for a clean electricity grid (open access)

Changes in European wind energy generation potential within a 1.5 °C warmer world (open access)

Climate, air quality and human health benefits of various solar photovoltaic deployment scenarios in China in 2030 (open access)

Climate Policy

Research on carbon market price mechanism and influencing factors: a literature review

Regional Climate Change Policy Under Positive Feedbacks and Strategic Interactions

Climate change

Temperature, precipitation, wind

Identification and analysis of recent temporal temperature trends for Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India

Preceding winter La Niña reduces Indian summer monsoon rainfall (open access)

Potential impact of 1.5 °C and 2 °C global warming on consecutive dry and wet days over West Africa (open access)

Global Character of Latent Heat Release in Oceanic Warm Rain Systems

Reduced Urban Heat Island intensity under warmer conditions (open access)

Extreme events

Risks from climate extremes change differently from 1.5°C to 2.0°C depending on rarity (open access)

A comprehensive flash flood defense system in China: overview, achievements, and outlook

Future heat waves and surface ozone (open access)

Can Regional Climate Modeling Capture the Observed Changes in Spatial Organization of Extreme Storms at Higher Temperatures?

Cloud Feedback Key to Marine Heatwave off Baja California

Forcings and feedbacks

Observations of Local Positive Low Cloud Feedback Patterns and Their Role in Internal Variability and Climate Sensitivity (open access)

"Objective analysis of two long‐term satellite cloud fraction data sets together with observed sea surface temperature (SST) during the same periods suggest strong patterned SST‐low cloud fraction feedback. Internal modes of variability, the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, emerge from this analysis, and associated with these SST variability modes are corresponding low cloud fraction patterns that suggest a strong and positive local low cloud feedback to the SST anomalies. Such SST‐LCC feedback is important for both internal variability and future climate change. We find that such feedback is too weak in current models, which implies stronger than expected future latent warming and possibly higher climate sensitivity."

Decadal evolution of the surface energy budget during the fast warming and global warming hiatus periods in the ERA-interim (open access)

The Combined Influence of Observed Southern Ocean Clouds and Sea Ice on Top‐of‐Atmosphere Albedo

Feedback mechanisms of shallow convective clouds in a warmer climate as demonstrated by changes in buoyancy (open access)

Global distribution of aerosol optical depth in 2015 using CALIPSO level 3 data

Improved Global Net Surface Heat Flux

Attribution of Local Temperature Response to Deforestation

Cryosphere

Impacts of extratropical storm tracks on Arctic sea ice export through Fram Strait

Links between the Amundsen Sea Low and sea ice in the Ross Sea: seasonal and interannual relationships

Intense Winter Surface Melt on an Antarctic Ice Shelf (open access)

"The station recorded temperatures well above the melting point even in winter. The occurrence of winter melt is confirmed by satellite images and by thermometers buried in the snow, which measured a warming of the snow even at 3 m depth. Between 2014 and 2017, about 23% of all melt in Cabinet Inlet occurred in winter. Winter melt is due to warm winds that descend from the mountains, known as föhn. We have not seen the amount of winter melt increasing since 2000. However, we expect winter melt to happen more frequently if greenhouse gas continues to accumulate in the atmosphere."

Topographic Steering of Enhanced Ice Flow at the Bottleneck Between East and West Antarctica (open access)

The Inferred Formation of a Subice Platelet Layer Below the Multiyear Landfast Sea Ice in the Wandel Sea (NE Greenland) Induced by Meltwater Drainage

Statistical Forecasting of Current and Future Circum‐Arctic Ground Temperatures and Active Layer Thickness

Bedrock Erosion Surfaces Record Former East Antarctic Ice Sheet Extent (open access)

Hydrosphere

Future hydroclimatological changes in South America based on an ensemble of regional climate models

Atmospheric and oceanic circulation

Underestimated AMOC Variability and Implications for AMV and Predictability in CMIP Models

Coherent Circulation Changes in the Deep North Atlantic from 16°N and 26°N Transport Arrays (open access)

The El Niño-Southern Oscillation and associated climatic conditions around the world during the latter half of the 21st century

Ocean circulation drifts in multi-millennial climate simulations: the role of salinity corrections and climate feedbacks (open access)

The Sensitivity of Future Ocean Oxygen to Changes in Ocean Circulation

Carbon cycle

Climate Sensitivity Controls Uncertainty in Future Terrestrial Carbon Sink

The Ephemeral Signature of Permafrost Carbon in an Arctic Fluvial Network

Dominant regions and drivers of the variability of the global land carbon sink across timescales

Plant Regrowth as a Driver of Recent Enhancement of Terrestrial CO2 Uptake

"Here using multiple terrestrial biosphere models, we demonstrate that despite a large contribution from CO2 fertilization, the enhanced CO2 uptake in the 2000s cannot be fully explained without an increasing uptake by land use change, in particular, plant regrowth. The regrowth effect is most pronounced in North America, Europe, and temperate Eurasia, and they account for 94% of the global total CO2 uptake enhancement by plant regrowth. The strengthening trends in both CO2 fertilization and plant regrowth suggest that the deceleration of the atmospheric CO2 increase continues in the future."

Characterizing biospheric carbon balance using CO2 observations from the OCO-2 satellite (open access)

Other papers

Palaeoclimatology

Where is the 1-million-year-old ice at Dome A? (open access)

Random and externally controlled occurrences of Dansgaard–Oeschger events (open access)

Climate Science websites around the world

May 24, 2018 - 5:40am

Skeptical Science is not alone when it comes to sharing reliable information about climate science. There are many websites around the world which regularly write about the latest studies or set the record straight when misinformation gets spread. Our website is however somewhat unique as the backbone of SkS is our database cataloging and debunking more than 220 false claims made about the science of human-caused global warming.

In this article we highlight some international resources which share information about climate change and possibly even throw in some debunking for good measure in other languages than English. To get the ball rolling, here is what we have and are aware of thus far:

Brazil - Portuguese

Ciência e Clima

Five years ago Raphael Romanizia decided to start a site about climate change during his master studies. Around that time, Brazil had been introducing several regulations and initiatives related to climate change, and he believed that the site would fit in with the momentum. A reliable reference exclusively specialized on climate science and climate change had been missing.

The site's main focus is to increase public awareness about human-caused climate change and the strategy is to make scientific information easily accessible. It presents scientific content in several different formats, including articles about climate science research, videos, or charts and graphics (or here) with important pieces of information (commented or explained by the site).

It is also a personal project, developed without financing or any kind of support - yet.

Germany - German

klimafakten.de

Klimafakten.de went live in November 2011 shortly before COP17 in Durban, South Africa. This is our German partnersite which started out with 18 professional translations of our myth rebuttals, made possible through a grant from the European Climate Foundation (ECF). It has grown a lot since then and currently features more than 45 rebuttals.

Beyond the fact-checking, klimfakten.de also focuses on climate change communications. In regular news reports and feature stories it writes about new social science insights, innovative communication strategies and best practice. In its work it partners with Climate Outreach. As a sister-project of the Clean Energy Wire, klimafakten.de today is jointly funded by the Mercator Foundation and the European Climate Foundation (ECF).

Poland - Polish

Nauka o klimacie

Nauka o Klimacie is run - among others - by Marcin Popkiewicz and Szymon Malinowski and is our and klimafakten.de's partner site in Poland. Their website, apart from general climate-related education, is focused on Poland and the denial of human-caused climate change they encounter there mostly due to the country's dependence on coal. They take this on by "conventional" means such as lectures and media presence and "unconventional" ones such as climate quizzes with prizes or the "Climate Nonsense of the Year" (link to a Google-translate version) voting for the dumbest statements on climate made by journalists, politicians or other persons appearing in the Polish media. Their website also features a myth-debunking section with much of the content originating from Skeptical Science.

Any other websites?

If you know of any other similar non-English websites focused on climate change, please let us know either in the comments or via the contact form. We'll add them to the post once we've verified that the content is science-based. In addition, our rebuttals and graphics all come with a creative commons (CC) license and you are most welcome to make use of the already available translations for your own websites or add to the translations as Klimafakten and Nauka o Klimacie have been doing for several years.

Global warming made Hurricane Harvey more destructive

May 23, 2018 - 1:41am

Last summer, the United states was pummeled with three severe hurricanes in rapid succession. It was a truly awesome display of the power of weather and the country is still reeling from the effects. In the climate community, there has been years of research into the effect that human-caused global warming has on these storms – both their frequency and their power. 

The prevailing view is that in a warming world, there will likely be fewer such storms, but the storms that form will be more severe. Some research, however, concludes that there will be both more storms and more severe ones. More generally, because there is more heat, there is more activity, which can be manifested in several ways.

Regardless, there is very little doubt that a warmer planet can create more powerful storms. The reason is that hurricanes feed off of warmer ocean water. In order to form these storms, oceans have to be above about 26°C (about 80°F). With waters that hot, and with strong winds, there is a rapid evaporation of moisture from the ocean. The resulting water vapor enters into the storm, providing the energy to power the storm as the water vapor condenses and falls out of the storm as rain.

As a large hurricane passes over warm water, it sucks in heat not only from the top layer of water but also from quite deep in the ocean, at least 160 meters (approximately 525 feet) or more. The main way heat is pulled out of the ocean is through the aforementioned evaporation process. There are also smaller effects from mixing the ocean waters and blocking sunlight to the ocean. Basically, when a hurricane passes over warm waters, the ocean “sweats” and cools off – a process enabled by the strong winds. The image below shows this evaporation and condensation process.

Diagram of evaporation and rainfall within a hurricane. Illustration: Trenberth et al. (2018), Earth's Future

A very recent publication in the journal Earth’s Future studied the impact of hurricanes on warm oceans in order to understand how warm waters fuel the storms and also how storms affect the water temperatures. With Hurricane Harvey, a near perfect natural laboratory was available in the Gulf of Mexico. Temperature measurements are plentiful there and the scientists were able to measure the total ocean heat content in the upper 160 meters just before Hurricane Harvey passed and compare the heat measured after the storm. 

What they found was very interesting. As seen in the image below, before the storm (top frame), the ocean heat content was very high (red colors). After the hurricane passed (bottom frame), the waters were notably cooler.

Cooling off of ocean waters because of Hurricane Harvey. Illustration: Trenberth et al. (2018), Earth's Future

The scientists calculated that the waters lost approximately 6 x 1020 Joules of heat because of Harvey. That’s about 10 million times as much energy as the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Then the scientists used rainfall data and calculated how much heat fell in the form of rain. The results were a nearly perfect match with the energy taken up by the storm. That is, they were able to balance the energy and water flows into and out of the storm to a very high level of accuracy.

Click here to read the rest

Climate change is already making droughts worse

May 22, 2018 - 1:32am

This is a re-post from Carbon Brief by Benjamin Cook

Dr Benjamin Cook is a climate scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Few areas of the world are completely immune to droughts and their often-devastating impacts on water resources, ecosystems and people.

Regions as diverse as California, the Eastern MediterraneanEast AfricaSouth Africa and Australia have all experienced severe – and, in some cases, unprecedented – droughts in recent years.

As with other climate and weather extremes, such as storms and floods, these events have spurred strong interest in questions surrounding the impact of climate change. For example, is climate change making droughts more frequent or severe? And can we expect climate change to contribute to increased drought risk and severity in the future?

The most recent research shows climate change is already making many parts of the world drier and droughts are likely to pack more punch as the climate warms further.

Defining drought

Droughts are among the most expensive weather-related disasters in the world (pdf), affecting ecosystemsagriculture and human society.

The scale of the impacts underlines how important it is to understand droughts and how their likelihood and severity can be made worse by climate change.

But this is easier said than done. For a start, drought is fundamentally a cross-disciplinary phenomenon – it extends across the fields of meteorology, climatology, hydrology, ecology, agronomy, and even sociology, economics, and anthropology.

This means how you define a drought may depend on your field of interest.

A meteorologist might characterise a drought as a straightforward lack of rainfall (known as “meteorological drought”). A farmer, however, would be most concerned when the lack of rain affects soil moisture and crop growth (“agricultural drought”). While a hydrologist would be most interested in when this has a noticeable impact on river flows, aquifers and surface reservoirs (“hydrological drought”).

Schematic illustrating the classical definitions of drought and the associated processes. Precipitation deficits are the ultimate driver of most drought events, with these deficits propagating over time through the hydrological cycle. Other climate variables, particularly temperature, can also affect both agricultural and hydrological drought. Credit: Cook et al. (2018)

The above definitions show that drought is rarely about precipitation – rain, hail, sleet and/or snow – alone. Warmer temperatures, for example, can increase evaporation of moisture from the surface, increase the fraction of precipitation falling as rain rather than snow, and advance the timing of the snow melt season in spring. Vegetation, soil type and topography can all affect droughts through the way they intercept and hold (or do not hold) rainwater.

Humans also play a key role through how we use water (irrigating farmland and withdrawing water from long-held groundwater sources, for example) and change the land surface through deforestation, expanding croplands and urban development.

Because there are many ways to define a drought, there are also numerous ways to quantify one. These “indices” take into account different variables that can be measured directly or indirectly, such as precipitation, temperature, evaporation, soil moisture, river flows and reservoir levels.

One of the most common, for example, is the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI). This uses monthly estimates of evapotranspiration (calculated largely as a function of temperature) and rainfall data, as well as information on the water-holding capacity of the soil.

It is also possible to use more than one drought indicator. For example, the US Drought Monitor classifies drought severity according to a combination of five different indices (including PDSI), along with drought impacts and local reports from expert observers. As the map below shows, this gives a score of drought intensity and impacts from “D0 – Abnormally dry” (yellow shading) up to “D4 – Exceptional Drought” (maroon).

Drought severity across the US as of 10 May. Intensity of drought indicated by colour of shading, from none (white) through to exceptional drought (maroon). Credit: US Drought Monitor

Detection and attribution

The multitude of contributing factors to a drought means that identifying the sometimes-subtle signal of climate change is tricky.

In part because of this, the fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2013 concluded that there was low confidence (pdf) that any significant trends in drought could be detected or attributed to climate change.

Since then, however, the science of detection and attribution – concerned with identifying changes in the climate system and their causes – has advanced considerably.

Findings from more recent studies using state-of-the-art models and techniques have significantly advanced our understanding of drought and climate change. These studies, using climate models, the observational record and palaeoclimate information, have clearly demonstrated that climate change has played a role in recent droughts.

In the Mediterranean, for example, declines in rainfall driven by climate change have increased drought risk across the region, amplifying recent events including the drought that preceded the Syrian civil war.

Along the Pacific coast of the US, warmer temperatures from climate change have pushed snow and soil moisture to record breaking deficits in California and the Pacific Northwest. In the Upper Colorado river basin, warmer temperatures have even caused significant river flow deficits, despite near normal levels of precipitation.

A climate change signal has not been detected with confidence for every drought, especially in regions where natural climate variability is more complex or less well understood – in Australia and East Africa, for example. But for many places, the fingerprints of climate change are undeniably clear.

Projecting precipitation

With climate change already having an impact on droughts, we can reasonably expect this impact to increase as the climate warms further. And model projections bear this out.

The maps below give some examples according to simulations under a high warming scenario (“RCP8.5”) using 17 climate models. They show the projected percentage change in annual rainfall (top left), summer rainfall runoff (top right), summer soil moisture in the top 10cm (bottom left) and summer total column soil moisture (various depths for different models; bottom right) between 1976-2005 and 2070-99. “Runoff” is the amount of rainfall that flows over land into streams and rivers rather than soaking into the ground.

The colour of the shading indicates whether an area is likely to get wetter (blue) or drier (brown).

End-of-century percentage changes in hydroclimate variables from 17 models in the CMIP5 archive (2070-2099 minus 1976-2005) under RCP8.5. Moving clockwise from the upper left: water-year (WY; October–September in the northern hemisphere and July–June in the Southern Hemisphere) precipitation (P), summer (June-July-August in the northern hemisphere; December-January-February in the southern hemisphere) total runoff, summer near surface soil moisture (0.1m), and summer full-column soil moisture. In all panels, drying tendencies are indicated in brown, wetting tendencies in blue. Hatching shows areas will little agreement between model results. Amended from Cook et al. (2018)

Although projections generally agree a little less across models for rainfall changesthan for temperature, they do show – unequivocally – an increased drying and drought risk for many regions of the world.

Most likely to be adversely affected are Mediterranean regions of Europe and Africa, Central America, southwest US and the subtropics of the southern hemisphere.

This drying occurs because of climate change-forced regional declines in rainfall, but also from the direct effect of warmer temperatures, which increases evaporative losses from the surface, causes earlier snowmelt and shifts precipitation from snow to rain.

Theewaterskloof Dam, the biggest reservoir for Cape Town, in February 2018. Credit: Robert McSweeney

Consequently, significant drying in the future is expected to affect large regions in the subtropics and mid-latitudes, even in areas where rainfall changes are negligible.

When rainfall does occur, it is more likely to be in shorter, more intense bursts. This might mean summers are increasingly likely to see periods of dry weather punctuated with heavy storms. As a result, summer runoff may actually increase for many areas because of more intense rains. While this might be beneficial for topping up rivers, lakes and reservoirs, it does not necessarily help relieve soil moisture deficits and groundwater shortages.

Challenges and opportunities

While a drier future – and, in some cases, present – poses significant challenges for the management of water resources, there are also substantial opportunities to alleviate the worst impacts.

These include policies for improving water conservation and stakeholder cooperation, exploiting surpluses during wet years (which still occur, even in the driest projections), and the clear benefits of cutting greenhouse gases for limiting the extent of climate change and reducing drought risk in many regions.

While studies of the physical climate system cannot provide recommendations for one path or the other, they do highlight the challenges that will be necessary to address in a world that will be warmer – and, in many places, drier – than anything humanity has experienced in the last 200 years.

Cook, B. I., et al. (2018) Climate Change and Drought: From Past to Future, Current Climate Change Reports, doi:10.1007/s40641-018-0093-2