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Climate change issues, prevention, adaptation 5

This is a continuation of the topic Climate change issues, prevention, adaptation 4.

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Apr 13, 9:44am Top

How Big Business Is Hedging Against the Apocalypse
Investors are finally paying attention to climate change — though not in the way you might hope.


...Depending on whom you ask, climate change doesn’t exist, or is an engineering problem, or requires global mobilization, or could be solved by simply nudging the free market into action. Absent a coherent strategy, opportunists can step in and benefit in wily ways from the shifting landscape. Tax-supported renewables in Texas take coal plants offline, but they also support oil extraction. Technology advances, but not the system underneath. Faced with this volatile and chaotic situation, the system does what it does best: It searches out profits in the short term...


Apr 13, 10:58am Top

Sweden is a leader in the energy transition, according to latest IEA country review
9 April 2019

Sweden has shown that ambitious energy transition policies can accompany strong economic growth

ESKILSTUNA – Sweden is a global leader in building a low-carbon economy, with the lowest share of fossil fuels in its primary energy supply among all IEA member countries, and the second-lowest carbon-intensive economy.

Sweden has been successful in its energy transformation through market-based policies that focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy, notably CO2 taxation, which has helped drive decarbonisation across several sectors...

The report pays special attention to transport-related emissions. This sector accounts for less than a quarter of Sweden’s final energy consumption, but over half of its energy-related CO2 emissions. Sweden has set a target to reduce transport emissions by 70% between 2010 and 2030.

...The electricity system is another important element in Sweden’s energy transition. Sweden has largely decarbonised its electricity generation through investments in nuclear power, hydropower, and most recently, other renewables...

One key factor for maintaining a secure electricity supply is the regional power market. Sweden is well‑connected with its Nordic and Baltic neighbours and has become a large net exporter of electricity. As the share of wind power continues to increase, supported by green electricity certificates, regional trade becomes even more important...


Edited: Apr 14, 3:03pm Top

#1 contd. (How Big Business Is Hedging Against the Apocalypse)

Climate Chaos Is Coming — and the Pinkertons Are Ready

As they see it, global warming stands to make corporate security as high-stakes in the 21st century as it was in the 19th.


...According to the World Bank, by 2050 some 140 million people may be displaced by sea-level rise and extreme weather, driving escalations in crime, political unrest and resource conflict. Even if the most conservative predictions about our climate future prove overstated, a 1.5-degree Celsius rise in temperature during the next century will almost certainly provoke chaos, in what experts call climate change’s “threat multiplier”: Displacement begets desperation begets disorder. Reading these projections from the relative comforts of the C-suite, it wasn’t difficult to see why a company might consider enhancing its security protocols.

For Pinkerton, the bet is twofold: first, that there’s no real material difference between climate change and any other conflict — as the world grows more predictably dangerous, tactical know-how will simply be more in demand than ever. And second, that by adding data analytics, Pinkerton stands to compete more directly with traditional consulting firms like Deloitte, which offer pre- and postdisaster services (supply-chain monitoring, damage documentation, etc.), but which cannot, say, dispatch a helicopter full of armed guards to Guatemala in an afternoon. In theory, Pinkerton can do both — a fully militarized managerial class at corporate disposal.

...The best outcome for these new data-driven Pinkertons is that this century lapses into the kind of lawlessness and disorder that makes it look more like the 19th — which many scientists and economists think it could. Since 1980, a period that includes all 20 of the warmest years in recorded history and 18 of the 20 most intense hurricane seasons in the satellite era, losses in the United States from storms, wildfires and droughts topped $1.6 trillion — nearly a third of which occurred in just the last five years. And this exponential destruction is just the beginning of what David Wallace-Wells, in his book “The Uninhabitable Earth,” calls the Great Dying: a worldwide economic decline, sharply deteriorated living conditions, disruption to basic government functions and widespread hunger. Looking deeper still into the future, the predictions are even more dire. Over the next century, 3.7 degrees of warming could contribute to an additional 22,000 murders and 1.3 million burglaries in the United States.

...with the environment increasingly weaponized against the poor, to borrow Wallace-Wells’s phrase, the sectors that rely on cheap labor will face more unrest among workers; the state will struggle to keep up with crime; and in the aftermath of storms, with landslides blocking first responders, regional offices will be cut off.

And this, of course, is exactly the sort of environment in which the Pinkertons thrive.

...Pinkerton is a 150-year-old start-up, still pitching the same basic vision: You aren’t prepared enough, and the government is too clumsy to save you...


Apr 25, 8:29am Top

Union of Concerned Scientists is urging all of us to write or call our respective Congressional representatives to support "Climate Action Now". (I don't expect my uber-R Rep, pockets stuffed with Koch cash, comfortably ensconced in a gerrymandered district to support HR 9, but at least he won't be able to say none of his constituents contacted him!)

H.R. 9: Climate Action Now Act
...The text of the bill below is as of Apr 18, 2019 (Reported by House Committee)...

Reported from the Committee on Foreign Affairs...
Reported from the Committee on Energy and Commerce; committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union and ordered to be printed...

1. Short title...

2. Findings...

3. Prohibition on use of funds to advance the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement...

4. Plan for the United States to meet its nationally determined contribution under the Paris Agreement...

5. Paris Agreement defined...


Apr 28, 5:19am Top

These Scientists Are Radically Changing How They Live To Cope With Climate Change
Zahra Hirji | April 23, 2019

When the US government is doing nothing to stop climate change, do your personal choices even matter? Here’s how climate scientists are — and aren’t — changing their lives...

...The top actions you can take to cut your own emissions, in order of impact, include having one fewer child (equaling, for someone in a rich country, an estimated 58.6 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year), living car-free (about 2.4 tons per year), avoiding air travel (about 1.6 tons per round-trip transatlantic flight), and eating a plant-based diet (roughly 0.8 tons per year), according to a 2017 study in the journal Environment Research Letters.*

The study authors also looked at what recommendations were being shared in textbooks, government material, and other sources. They found the biggest actions, mentioned above, were often omitted, whereas moderate- and low-impact choices — like recycling, buying energy-efficient products, and taking public transportation — were featured. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency’s “What You Can Do” website includes a “green vehicle guide” and “fuel economy guide” but doesn’t suggest ditching cars altogether.

Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University regularly engages with the public about climate change. She gave a TED Talk and created a YouTube series. Over and over again, she’s been asked the same question: What can I do about climate change?

This has led her down a multiyear journey of experimentation, giving up certain things and seeing how it felt. Over the past decade, she’s invested in solar panels for her home, bought an electric vehicle, and switched from a dryer to a drying rack. Increasingly, she’s been giving virtual talks to cut down on travel.

Hayhoe’s biggest climate impact, she said, is not cutting her own emissions or serving as a model for others on this front. It’s simply talking to as many people as possible about the perils of climate change.

“The most important thing I’ve done is restructure my life to tell as many people in as efficient and effective ways as I can,” Hayhoe said. “It is real. It is us. It is serious and there are solutions if we act now.”



*Seth Wynes and Kimberly A Nicholas. 2017. The climate mitigation gap: education and government recommendations miss the most effective individual actions. Environ. Res. Lett.12 074024 . (10 p) https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aa7541/pdf


List of countries by ecological footprint

This is a list of countries by ecological footprint. The table is based on data spanning from 1961 to 2013 from the Global Footprint Network's National Footprint Accounts published in 2016. Numbers are given in global hectares per capita. The world-average ecological footprint in 2012 was 2.84 global hectares per person (22.1 billion in total). With a world-average biocapacity of 1.73 global hectares (gha) per person (9.2 billion in total), this leads to a global ecological deficit of 1.1 global hectares per person (7.8 billion in total).

For humanity, having a footprint smaller than the planet's biocapacity is a necessary condition for sustainability. After all, ecological overuse is only possible temporarily. A country that consumes more than 1.73 gha per person has a resource demand that is not sustainable world-wide. Countries with a footprint below 1.73 gha per person might not be sustainable. The quality of the footprint may still lead to ecological destruction. If a country does not have enough ecological resources within its own territory to cover its population's footprint, then it runs an ecological deficit and the country is termed an ecological debtor. Otherwise, it has an ecological reserve and it is called a creditor.



Edited: Apr 28, 8:00pm Top

Can Humans Help Trees Outrun Climate Change?

(sorry, NYT pay wall)

The dark synergy of extreme weather and emboldened pests could imperil vast stretches of woodland.

So foresters in Rhode Island and elsewhere have launched ambitious experiments to test how people can help forests adapt, something that might take decades to occur naturally. One controversial idea, known as assisted migration, involves deliberately moving trees northward.
In Rhode Island, the state’s largest water utility is experimenting with importing trees from hundreds of miles to the south to maintain forests that help purify water for 600,000 people. In Minnesota, a lumber businessman is trying to diversify the forest on his land with a “300-year plan” he hopes will benefit his grandchildren. And in five places around the country, the United States Forest Service is running a major experiment to answer a basic question: What’s the best way to actually help forests at risk?
One humid day last fall, Christopher Riely hiked to an 8-foot-tall wire fence in the forest. “It’s amazing how high deer can jump,” he said, unlocking the towering gate.

Mr. Riely helps manage 20 square miles of woodland for Rhode Island’s largest water utility, Providence Water. Inside the five-acre enclosure, among the native oaks and pines, he had planted southern trees including persimmon and shortleaf pine — species better adapted to hotter, drier conditions. And they were thriving.

Mr. Riely is particularly delighted by the Virginia pine, brought in from a nursery nearly 400 miles away in Maryland. “For New England, this is quite incredible growth,” he said, pointing to a young tree now taller than he is. It suggests that climate has already changed enough in Southern New England for some mid-Atlantic species to survive.

(three more tales in Colorado, Minnesota and Michgan)

Apr 29, 4:15am Top

Tree husbandry in Canada and Uganda (National Geographic)...
Tree-planting is perhaps second only to fire-fighting as hard, dirty work--according to fellow students working for Ontario government back in the day:

Tree planting is a rite of passage for young Canadians
“It’s an experience that is hard to put in words.” A photographer reflects on how the excruciating work prepared her for a career covering conflict.

Laurence Butet-Roche | April 22, 2019



How sustainable plantations help save Uganda’s decimated forests (8 min video)
Sustainable forestry is helping the country electrify, cutting down on firewood use—and providing livelihoods.

Rachel Link | April 19, 2019


Apr 30, 9:02am Top

Per madpoet discussion on bedrock rebound etc. as glaciers melt (earlier thread):

Some good news for far-future (2250) sea level rise
Scott K. Johnson - 4/27/2019

New model finds processes that could help slow loss at some glaciers.

...The retreat of these glaciers can be accelerated or slowed by a number of processes, including changing sea level out front. As sea level rises, the floating effect obviously increases, accelerating ice loss. And there are weirder factors: glaciers actually exert a gravitational attraction on the seawater around them, pulling a mound of water in close. If the glacier shrinks, that gravitational pull also shrinks, which actually lets water slosh away—lowering sea level at the coast.

Bedrock also responds to changes in the mass of ice on top. Increasing ice acts to slowly depress the land surface (which is why the land beneath Greenland’s ice sheet is roughly bowl-shaped). Losing ice allows the bedrock to rebound upward. And in this case, that means that the bedrock at the grounding line beneath a sensitive glacier can spring upward to meet the ice, helping to maintain the friction that slows retreat.

The question is, how much of an effect does this have? Many models that are used to simulate changing glaciers try to include these processes but are limited to coarser resolutions. In this new study, the researchers modeled Antarctica down to a resolution of 1 kilometer. It turns out, that makes a pretty big difference.

The study* is focused on Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier, which is among the continent’s most sensitive and vulnerable—and therefore a major wildcard when it comes to how quickly future sea level rise will accumulate. Several versions of the model were run to simulate the next 500 years, each time adding another process to see what impact it had.

The two largest effects were rebounding bedrock followed by the gravitational attraction, both of which slowed Thwaites Glacier’s shrinkage. The higher model resolution showed that these processes were stronger in the immediate vicinity of the glacier than you would see in coarser models that average over larger areas. Together, they reduced the movement of the glacier’s grounding line by almost 40 percent in the year 2350, reducing its contribution to sea level rise by 25 percent.

While that result indicates that these processes could be important and helpful in the long run for glaciers like Thwaites, there was unfortunately very little difference this century. Around 2100, there was only a 1-percent change in sea level rise contribution. Larger changes in mass were required before rebounding bedrock or weaker gravitational attraction could become significant factors...



* E. Larour et al. 2019. Slowdown in Antarctic mass loss from solid Earth and sea-level feedbacks. Science 25 Apr 2019:eaav7908
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav7908 . https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2019/04/24/science.aav7908

May 2, 2:22am Top

In a Switch, Some Republicans Start Citing Climate Change as Driving Their Policies
Lisa Friedman | April 30, 2019

WASHINGTON — When John Barrasso, a Republican from oil and uranium-rich Wyoming who has spent years blocking climate change legislation, introduced a bill this year to promote nuclear energy, he added a twist: a desire to tackle global warming.

...The comments represent an important shift among Republicans in Congress. Driven by polls showing that voters in both parties — particularly younger Americans — are increasingly concerned about a warming planet, and prodded by the new Democratic majority in the House shining a spotlight on the issue, a growing number of Republicans are now openly discussing climate change and proposing what they call conservative solutions.

“Denying the basic existence of climate change is no longer a credible position,” said Whit Ayers, a Republican political consultant, pointing out the growing climate concern among millennials as well as centrist voters — two groups the G.O.P. will need in the future.

It is at least partly opportunism, given that some lawmakers are simply reframing longstanding policies or priorities as “climate” policy. Still it is a significant shift, indicating that at least a few prominent Republicans see an advantage to breaking from right-wing orthodoxy that has long dismissed or openly derided concerns about the climate...


May 3, 3:51am Top

Sen. Whitehouse targets dark money to address climate change
JENNIFER McDERMOTT | April 11, 2019

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The U.S. Senate's most persistent voice for addressing climate change introduced a bill Thursday aimed at unlimited political spending, with fossil fuel companies in his crosshairs.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, is targeting so-called "dark money" because he thinks opposition to addressing climate change in Congress is propped up by the fossil fuel industry.

"If you kicked out that support, the opposition would fall," said Whitehouse, who was sworn in for a third term in January.

His bill introduced Thursday would require organizations spending money in federal elections, including super PACs and certain nonprofit groups, to promptly disclose donors who gave $10,000 or more during an election cycle. Whitehouse has introduced similar legislation each Congress since 2012, but he said he's more hopeful now because Democrats control the House and there's mounting public pressure to address climate change.

A growing number of Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, now say they believe climate change is real and humans play a role in it, though they don't agree with Democrats on possible solutions...

Before the Supreme Court's landmark 2010 Citizens United ruling, Whitehouse said there were bipartisan climate hearings, discussions and negotiations. But those ceased after the Supreme Court ruling helped open the door to allowing businesses, unions and nonprofits to spend unlimited amounts to influence elections.

Groups that track political spending say it's difficult to verify Whitehouse's assertion about the fossil fuel industry propping up opposition to addressing climate change in Congress because dark money is secretive by nature...

Climate opposition in Congress can potentially encompass a wide range of activities and groups, according to the Campaign Legal Center, though there's good reason to suspect that fossil fuel interests are responsible for a sizable portion of dark money.


Edited: May 4, 7:04am Top

“One fifth of frozen soils at high latitudes are thawing rapidly and becoming unstable, leading to landslides and floods that release carbon into the atmosphere”
Map and photos in article are worth a look:

Merritt R. Turetsky et al. 2019. Permafrost collapse is accelerating carbon release. (Comment) NATURE, 30 April 2019 https://www.nature.com/magazine-assets/d41586-019-01313-4/d41586-019-01313-4.pdf

The sudden collapse of thawing soils in the Arctic might double the warming from greenhouse gases released from tundra, warn Merritt R. Turetsky and colleagues.

...But models are ignoring an even more troubling problem. Frozen soil doesn’t just lock up carbon — it physically holds the landscape together. Across the Arctic and Boreal regions, permafrost is collapsing suddenly as pockets of ice within it melt. Instead of a few centimetres of soil thawing each year, several metres of soil can become destabilized within days or weeks. The land can sink and be inundated by swelling lakes and wetlands.

Abrupt thawing of permafrost is dramatic to watch. Returning to field sites in Alaska, for example, we often find that lands that were forested a year ago are now covered with lakes. Rivers that once ran clear are thick with sediment. Hillsides can liquefy, sometimes taking sensitive scientific equipment with them.

This type of thawing is a serious problem for communities living around the Arctic (see (map) ‘Arctic permafrost’). Roads buckle, houses become unstable. Access to traditional foods is changing, because it is becoming dangerous to travel across the land to hunt. Families cannot reach lines of game traps that have supported them for generations.

...Around 20% of frozen lands have features that increase the likelihood of abrupt thawing, such as large quantities of ice in the ground or unstable slopes. Here permafrost thaws quickly and erratically, triggering landslides and rapid erosion. Forests can be flooded, killing large areas of trees. Lakes that have existed for generations can disappear, or their waters can be diverted...

...We estimate that abrupt permafrost thawing in lowland lakes and wetlands, together with that in upland hills, could release between 60 billion and 100 billion tonnes of carbon by 2300. This is in addition to the 200 billion tonnes of carbon expected to be released in other regions that will thaw gradually. Although abrupt permafrost thawing will occur in less than 20% of frozen land, it increases permafrost carbon release projections by about 50%. Gradual thawing affects the surface of frozen ground and slowly penetrates downwards. Sudden collapse releases more carbon per square metre because it disrupts stockpiles deep in frozen layers...


The Ice Age @Jamie_Woodward_ | May 4, 2019

“Soils in the permafrost region hold twice as much carbon as the atmosphere does — almost 1,600 billion tonnes”

May 5, 9:10am Top

Climate change has contributed to droughts since 1900—and may get worse
Lisa W. Foderaro | May 1, 2019L

A first-of-its-kind study* confirms the connection between climate change and droughts and deluges over the past century.

Using studies of tree rings going back centuries, scientists have unearthed clear evidence that the rise of human-generated greenhouse gases was having an effect on global drought conditions as early as 1900.

A new, first-of-its-kind study by scientists at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, largely confirms what climate models have shown. In the absence of strong historic data on precipitation, those computer models forecast not only future scenarios, but shed light on historical trends.

The dovetailing of the tree-ring studies, which correlate to soil moisture, with climate models gives scientists the assurance that the computer models are, in fact, correct, they say...



* Kate Marvel et al. 2019. Twentieth-century hydroclimate changes consistent with human influence. Nature volume 569, pages59–65 ( May 1, 2019) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1149-8


Although anthropogenic climate change is expected to have caused large shifts in temperature and rainfall, the detection of human influence on global drought has been complicated by large internal variability and the brevity of observational records. Here we address these challenges using reconstructions of the Palmer drought severity index obtained with data from tree rings that span the past millennium. We show that three distinct periods are identifiable in climate models, observations and reconstructions during the twentieth century. In recent decades (1981 to present), the signal of greenhouse gas forcing is present but not yet detectable at high confidence. Observations and reconstructions differ significantly from an expected pattern of greenhouse gas forcing around mid-century (1950–1975), coinciding with a global increase in aerosol forcing. In the first half of the century (1900–1949), however, a signal of greenhouse-gas-forced change is robustly detectable. Multiple observational datasets and reconstructions using data from tree rings confirm that human activities were probably affecting the worldwide risk of droughts as early as the beginning of the twentieth century.

May 6, 6:43am Top

The Observer view on the pressing need to save the Arctic
Observer editorial | May 5, 2019

This vital region must be conserved, not least from Trump’s ignorant policies

Scientifically, the life-threatening dangers of global warming in the Arctic are increasingly understood. But political understanding – and action – lag far behind. Attempts by Donald Trump to sabotage initiatives by Arctic Council countries, who meet in Finland this week, are a disgrace and must be vigorously resisted...



USA’s Climate Skepticism Causes Concern Prior to Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting
Martin Breum | May 03 2019

The Trump administration’s reluctance to acknowledging climate changes as a real problem is at present frustrating a series of climate efforts in the Arctic – efforts that most of the other Arctic states, including the Nordic countries, want to prioritize.

...The Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting is a bi-annual event that is by far the most decisive political forum in the Arctic, and the fact that all eight (foreign) ministers (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, US, plus representatives of indigenous peoples) are attending carries significant symbolic value. However, pre-meeting negotiations about concrete climate efforts in the Arctic have been severely hampered by the Americans’ climate skepticism....

There is a risk that the foreign ministers will be influenced by the Americans and allow joint climate and environmental efforts in the Arctic to come to a stillstand or even be reduced, rather than strengthening the efforts against climate changes and increasing climate support for Arctic societies, fauna and the environment.

That is the report from a surprisingly pessimistic professor Timo Koivura over the phone from Rovaniemi. Koivurova is Director of the Arctic Centre research institute at University of Lapland, Rovaniemi and he is one of the best experts on the Arctic Council. To him, the major question prior to Tuesday’s summit is no longer whether the climate efforts can be expanded and strengthened, but rather whether the Arctic Council will be able at all to maintain the current level of efforts.

...At the previous Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting, which took place in Fairbanks, Alaska in 2017, then-US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would only be persuaded in the eleventh hour to support a series of climate initiatives. Koivurova has serious doubts about whether a similar change of direction will take place this time.

...cooperation in the Arctic Council and its various bodies gives a series of solid results. In 2018, a historic ban on fisheries in the Arctic Ocean was introduced, a ban currently in force for a period of 16 years or until scientists get an overview over how fish stocks move in keeping with global warming. Binding agreements on preventing oil spill disasters, search and rescue at sea as well as research are slowly being implemented into practice. Scientists in the Council’s scientific working groups produce heaps of data included in the development of Arctic communities, international climate negotiations and in work for global biodiversity. It is also slowly seeping into China, Japan, South Korea and other countries that have been admitted as observers at the Arctic Council. The Finns, who have held the chairmanship of the Arctic Council for the past two years, are proud that the World Meteorological Organization now contributes to more precise climate models and better ice and weather forecasts for the Arctic.

The fact that all eight Arctic foreign ministers are present in Rovaniemi on Tuesday will rightfully be interpreted as a testimony to the strength of Arctic cooperation. However, the attendance of in particular Michael Pompeo may, according to Timo Koivurova, also prove to complicate matters. Being one of president Trump’s closest allies, Pompeo may not be inclined to accept co-responsibility for even mildly worded declarations if these were to commit the USA to new or even just existing agreements about climate efforts.


May 7, 12:56pm Top

United States Rattles Arctic Talks With a Sharp Warning to China and Russia
Somini Sengupta | May 6, 2019

ROVANIEMI, Finland — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday sharply warned China and Russia against “aggressive” actions in the Arctic, while resisting a diplomatic push by other countries in the region to avert the worst effects of climate change.

“This is America’s moment to stand up as an Arctic nation,” Mr. Pompeo said. “The region has become an arena of global power and competition.”

He was speaking at a meeting of the Arctic Council, an international organization made up of eight Arctic countries and representatives of the indigenous people of the area. The Council’s mission is to cooperate on Arctic issues, especially how to protect its fragile environment.

The Arctic is heating up far faster than the world average because of rising greenhouse gas emissions, scientists have warned. Over the past five years, the region has been warmer than at any time since 1900, when record keeping began.

Describing the rapidly warming region as a land of “opportunity and abundance,” Mr. Pompeo cited its untapped reserves of oil, gas, uranium, gold, fish, and rare earth minerals. Melting sea ice, he said, is opening up new shipping routes. “We’re entering a new age of strategic engagement in the Arctic, complete with new threats to Arctic interests and its real estate,” Mr. Pompeo said.

His remarks appeared to shock many diplomats and observers, because the Arctic Council’s mandate has nothing to do with security issues...


A leading security expert says the Secretary of State's branding of a longtime disagreement on Arctic policy is a 'stunning rebuke'
The Canadian Press | May 7, 2019

OTTAWA — Canada’s claim over the Northwest Passage is “illegitimate,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday in a major speech to the Arctic Council that Canadian experts called both provocative and frequently inaccurate.

Pompeo offered his characterization during a wide-ranging speech in Finland in which he also warned against China’s increased Arctic presence, saying it threatens North American security and could be harmful to the environment.

Pompeo reiterated long-held concerns about Russia’s military build-up in the Arctic and how that, too, is viewed as being counter to American security interests.

“No one denies Russia has significant Arctic interests,” Pompeo said in a transcript of remarks circulated by the U.S. State Department. “We recognize that Russia is not the only nation making illegitimate claims. The U.S. has a long-contested feud with Canada over sovereign claims through the Northwest Passage.”

Pompeo’s branding of a longtime disagreement on Arctic policy between the Canada and the U.S. is a “stunning rebuke” of the 1988 Arctic Co-operation agreement between the two countries, said Fen Hampson, the head of the international-security program at the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, Ont.

...The routes between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans run between Canadian islands but the two countries disagree about whether that makes them internal Canadian waters or international waters that have Canadian territory nearby. The disagreement matters more now that melting Arctic sea ice means the Northwest Passage is getting closer to being a viable commercial shipping route.

The agreement reached by Mulroney and then-president Ronald Reagan allows the U.S. to designate the Northwest Passage as an international waterway while allowing Canada to say that it is a part of Canadian sovereign territory.

The treaty recognizes the “close and friendly relations between their two countries, the uniqueness of ice-covered maritime areas, the opportunity to increase their knowledge of the marine environment of the Arctic through research conducted during icebreaker voyages, and their shared interest in safe, effective icebreaker navigation off their Arctic coasts.”

The Canadian government pointed to that agreement in responding to Pompeo’s speech.

“Canada and the U.S. have differing views regarding the status of the Northwest Passage under international law,” said Guillaume Berube, a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs. “The situation is well managed, including through the 1988 Arctic Co-operation Agreement, according to which the U.S. government seeks Canada’s consent for its icebreakers to navigate the waterways. Canada remains committed to exercising the full extent of its rights and sovereignty over its territory and its Arctic waters, including the various waterways commonly referred to as the Northwest Passage. Those waterways are part of the internal waters of Canada.”

...There is little that Canada can do if the U.S. sends a ship through the passage without prior notification...We can remind them, though, that if they are worried about a growing Chinese and Russian presence in the North and aspirations to create a circumpolar Silk Road, they might want to work more closely with their NORAD partner and refrain from challenging our sovereignty. This isn’t the time to be throwing snowballs.” said Hampson.

Michael Byers, an Arctic expert at the University of British Columbia, said Pompeo’s characterization of the Canadian position as illegitimate is actually factually correct, but it is “the only accurate and rational statement in the speech.” The federal government should be worried that the top diplomat from one of its key Arctic allies got his facts so wrong...One of the most glaring of several mistakes...is Pompeo’s assertion that China is trying to build infrastructure in the Canadian Far North. “I have not heard of any Chinese plans to build infrastructure in the Canadian Arctic...There’s no factual basis, certainly not in the public domain, and that would also require the full involvement of the Canadian government. It’s just flat-out wrong.”

(Byers did note that northern Quebec has a Chinese-owned lithium mine.)

A senior government official...said Pompeo did not appear to refer to specific Chinese projects in Canada related to the Belt and Road Initiative and may have been speculating. “There are no investments here, nor are there any contemplated.”

Berube, the spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Department, said Canada “welcomes continued discussions with China on Arctic issues,” which the two countries can have through existing two-way and multinational mechanisms.


May 13, 7:04am Top

Eric Holthaus @EricHolthaus | 5:07 PM - May 12, 2019:
This is the first time in human history our planet's atmosphere has had more than 415ppm CO2.
Not just in recorded history, not just since the invention of agriculture 10,000 years ago. Since before modern humans existed millions of years ago.
We don't know a planet like this.

Keeling_Curve @Keeling_curve | 9:41 AM - 12 May 2019
415.26 parts per million (ppm) CO2 in air 11-May-2019
First daily baseline over 415ppm

May 14, 2:17pm Top

In the last year or so atmospheric CO2 increased from 400 to 415 ppm. Below is discussion of what that means for plankton--apparently 450 ppm may be the tipping point where acidification is such that the tiny creatures can't build shells. Not only do they support myriads of ocean creatures via food chain, phytoplankton generate much of the oxygen we terrestrials breathe....

Dr. Heather Price @huprice | May 12

This is not good news.

MIT: Phytoplankton decline coincides with warming over the last 150yr. Jennifer Chu | May 7, 2019. https://phys.org/news/2019-05-phytoplankton-decline-coincides-temperatures-years...

( Industrial-era decline in subarctic Atlantic productivity, Nature (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1181-8 , https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-019-1181-8 )

50-80% of the oxygen in every breath you take is thanks to phytoplankton photosynthesis in our oceans.

Begs the ?: How does ocean acidification affect plankton?


Dos Santos Dias PR @DosSantosDiasPR | 1:40 AM - 13 May 2019
Replying to @huprice @WeDontHaveTime0


Should the Ocean Acidification Tipping Point be a matter of concern?

Should it trigger our collective alarm?

Should adults speak up the Human Right to mitigate #climatechange?


Ben I. McNeil and Richard J. Matear. 2008. Southern Ocean acidification: A tipping point at 450-ppm atmospheric CO2.
PNAS December 2, 2008 105 (48) 18860-18864; https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0806318105 . https://www.pnas.org/content/105/48/18860


Southern Ocean acidification via anthropogenic CO2 uptake is expected to be detrimental to multiple calcifying plankton species by lowering the concentration of carbonate ion (CO32−) to levels where calcium carbonate (both aragonite and calcite) shells begin to dissolve. Natural seasonal variations in carbonate ion concentrations could either hasten or dampen the future onset of this undersaturation of calcium carbonate. We present a large-scale Southern Ocean observational analysis that examines the seasonal magnitude and variability of CO32− and pH. Our analysis shows an intense wintertime minimum in CO32− south of the Antarctic Polar Front and when combined with anthropogenic CO2 uptake is likely to induce aragonite undersaturation when atmospheric CO2 levels reach ≈450 ppm. Under the IPCC IS92a scenario, Southern Ocean wintertime aragonite undersaturation is projected to occur by the year 2030 and no later than 2038. Some prominent calcifying plankton, in particular the Pteropod species Limacina helicina, have important veliger larval development during winter and will have to experience detrimental carbonate conditions much earlier than previously thought, with possible deleterious flow-on impacts for the wider Southern Ocean marine ecosystem. Our results highlight the critical importance of understanding seasonal carbon dynamics within all calcifying marine ecosystems such as continental shelves and coral reefs, because natural variability may potentially hasten the onset of future ocean acidification.

May 16, 6:26am Top

The Ice Stupas: Artificial glaciers at the edge of the Himalayas.
Photographs by Vasantha Yogananthan. Text by Elizabeth Kolbert | May 13, 2019

...The stupas are created in winter, using runoff or spring water that’s been piped underground and downslope. The water is released at night, when temperatures can drop below zero degrees Fahrenheit. It shoots through a sprinkler into the air and freezes. In the course of the season, elaborate conical structures take shape, with the contours of the drip castles that kids make on the beach.

Ice stupas can reach the height of a ten-story building. They start to melt in March, and at higher elevations—some villages in Ladakh sit more than fifteen thousand feet above sea level—the process can last through July. The meltwater helps farmers get through the crucial spring planting season, when they sow vegetables, barley, and potatoes. (Rainfall in the region averages only around four inches a year.)

...In contrast to natural glaciers, which are shrinking rapidly all around the world, the artificial ones are proliferating. The Ice Stupa Project began with a single prototype; this past winter, stupas were erected in at least ten villages in Ladakh. Stupas have also been made in the Alps, and the project has received inquiries from Canada. Verma and others have drafted a manual on how to build an ice stupa, available upon request.

...There is a legacy of other water-harvesting practices in the Himalayas. For decades, farmers have been augmenting the water supply by creating sheets of ice that melt into a network of canals during the growing season...

(See photos at website ... https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/05/20/the-art-of-building-artificial-gla... )

May 18, 4:39pm Top

Sounds like climate lost another round:
Australia's right-wing Liberal–National coalition government, led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, won May 18 election...

How Australia’s election will decide its role in climate change
The result could make the country a world leader on global-warming action — or leave it lagging.
Adam Morton | 16 May 2019

For the fourth time in little more than a decade, an Australian election features a fierce battle over climate-change policy. Analysts say the result will decide whether the country stays on its current path, with national greenhouse gas emissions increasing, or adopts an ambitious target to reduce its pollution, which could pressure other nations to increase their commitments.

Australians are increasingly experiencing the effects of climate change, from extreme weather to mass coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef. But the country also remains one of the world’s biggest carbon emitters per capita and is responsible for exporting one-third of global coal. These issues have had an outsized effect on the nation's politics, playing a part in the downfall of the past five prime ministers.

Whether that becomes six will be decided on 18 May. Voter surveys suggest a tight race, but that the right-wing Liberal–National coalition government, led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, is likely to be ousted by the main opposition, the centre-left Australian Labor Party.

Australians are more concerned about climate change than ever. A March survey of 2,130 people by the Lowy Institute in Sydney, a research group focused on international affairs, found that 64% of those polled consider global warming to be the greatest threat to national interests, an 18-percentage-point increase in five years...


May 19, 6:55am Top

The Glaciers of Vancouver Island May Disappear Within Our Lifetime (01:54)
Smithsonian Channel | May 1, 2019

In the 1970s, Vancouver Island was home to more than 170 glaciers. Rising global temperatures have reduced that number to five – with some scientists predicting they could all be gone within 25 years.

From the Series: Undiscovered Vistas: Canadian Rainforest http://bit.ly/2L1Fksf


May 20, 4:28am Top

See Fig 3 map at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0012825218305907#f0015 .

Sebastian Westerman et al. 2019. Northern Hemisphere permafrost map based on TTOP modelling for 2000–2016 at 1 km2 scale. Earth-Science Reviews
Volume 193, June 2019, Pages 299-316 . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.earscirev.2019.04.023 . https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0012825218305907

... Fig. 3. Average MAGT (mean annual ground temperature) at TTOP (temperature at top of the permafrost) of all model realizations for the Northern Hemisphere. Glacier/ice-sheet areas are extracted from the ESA (European Space Agency) CCI (Climate Change Initiative) Landcover product. Background topography is from the GMTED2010 (Global Multi-resolution Terrain Elevation Data 2010) elevation model....

May 20, 5:01am Top

Urban Tree Cover Saves The U.S. Up To $12 Billion Annually
Linh Anh Cat | May 9, 2019

A new study demonstrates that urban tree cover saves up to $12 billion annually in the U.S. This includes reduced deaths, injuries and electricity consumption for air-conditioning.

High air temperatures in the summer as well as heat waves threaten those with existing health conditions, especially those with cardiovascular, pulmonary, and renal conditions. Spikes in temperature cause electricity demand to rise in tandem, which puts increasing loads on the electrical grid during the day. One way to reduce heat-related injury and death, as well as smooth out electricity usage, is urban tree cover. Trees provide shade and cool down the air around them through evapotranspiration, a process trees use to move water through their branches.

Researchers from the Nature Conservancy, NASA, and Stanford University examined urban tree cover in 97 cities across the U.S. and applied their findings across the entire U.S. urban population. Their study is one of the most comprehensive studies on the impact of heat in cities, especially since they quantified the connection to human health and electrical demand across a large dataset.

In the past, urban tree cover prevented more heat-related mortality, when air-conditioning was not common in U.S. households. However, as we rely more on air-conditioning, electricity costs have gone up. The researchers decided to capture costs saved by urban tree cover from reduced electricity consumption as well as mortality and morbidity from heat-related health problems.

Within the 97 cities that were studied, each person saved about $21 to 49 each year from the presence of tree cover. When the researchers applied their results across urban populations in the U.S., the total amount saved in "heat-reduction services" by urban trees is estimated at $5.3 to 12.1 billion each year.

The temperature of buildings and pavement can be up to 10 to 20 degrees Celsius cooler on a summer day thanks to shade from trees. Changes in air temperature are more modest at 0.5 to 2.0 degrees Celsius, but this is still enough to significantly reduce impacts on people and the electrical grid. Cities with forests in their larger parks have seen air temperatures reduced by up to 5 degrees Celsius. This cooling effect is found downwind up to several hundred meters away (a few city blocks).

It's worth noting that urban tree cover likely benefits those with a higher socioeconomic status. Urban areas that are poor have less tree cover are suffering more from heat waves. Among other changes, increasing urban tree cover in these areas could save many more lives and prevent expensive hospital visits for those who cannot afford it.



Robert I. McDonald et al. 2019. The Value of US Urban Tree Cover for Reducing Heat-Related Health Impacts and Electricity Consumption. Ecosystems.
pp 1–14. First Online: 06 May 2019. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10021-019-00395-5 . https://link.springer.com/epdf/10.1007/s10021-019-00395-5


High air temperatures are a public health threat, causing 1300 deaths annually in the United States (US) along with heat-related morbidity and increased electricity consumption for air-conditioning (AC). Increasing tree canopy cover has been proposed as one way to reduce urban air temperatures. Here, we assemble tree cover and developed land-cover information for 97 US cities, housing 59 million people, and use regression relationships to analyze how much current urban tree cover reduces summer (JJA) air temperatures and associated heat-related mortality, morbidity, and electricity consumption. We find that 78% of urban dwellers are in neighborhoods with less than 20% tree cover. Some 15.0 million people (25% of total) experience a reduction of 0.5–1.0°C from tree cover, with another 7.9 million (13% of total) experiencing a reduction of greater than 1.0°C. Current relationships between temperature and health outcomes imply that urban tree cover helps avoid 245–346 deaths annually. Heat–mortality relationships in the 1980s, when a smaller fraction of US households had AC, imply a greater role in the past for urban tree cover in avoiding heat-related mortality. As AC availability has increased, the value of tree cover for avoiding heat-related mortality has decreased, while the value of tree cover for reducing electricity consumption likely has increased. Currently, for the 97 cities studied, the total annual economic value of avoided mortality, morbidity, and electricity consumption is an estimated $1.3–2.9 billion, or $21–49 annually per capita. Applying our results to the entire US urban population, we estimate urban tree cover annually supplies heat-reduction services worth $5.3–12.1 billion.

May 20, 10:54am Top

Octopuses May Go Blind As Climate Change Sucks Oxygen Out of the Ocean
Brandon Specktor | May 16, 2019 ( updated at 11:20 a.m. E.D.T. on Friday, May 17)

Turning light particles into visual information is hard work, and your body relies on oxygen to get the job done. This is true whether you walk the land on two limbs or swim through the sea with eight.

In fact, according to a recent study in the Journal of Experimental Biology*, the amount of oxygen available to marine invertebrates like squids, crabs and octopuses may be far more important to their vision than previously thought. In the study, published online April 24, researchers saw a significant drop in retinal activity in four species of marine larvae (two crabs, an octopus and a squid) when the animals were exposed to reduced-oxygen environments for as little as 30 minutes.

...some form of vision impairment may be a daily reality for these species, which migrate between the ocean's highly oxygen-saturated surface and its hypoxic (low-oxygen) depths during their daily feeding routines. And as ocean oxygen levels continue to drop around the globe, in part due to climate change, the risks to these creatures could intensify.

...the market squid (Doryteuthis opalescens), two-spot octopus (Octopus bimaculatus), tuna crab (Pleuroncodes planipes) and graceful rock crab (Metacarcinus gracilis). These species are all local to the Pacific Ocean off of Southern California, and they all engage in a daily diving routine known as vertical migration. By night, they swim near the surface to feed; by day, they descend to greater depths to hide from the sun (and the hungry predators it brings).

As these creatures migrate up and down the water column, the oxygen availability changes dramatically. The ocean is replete with oxygen near the surface, where air and water meet, and significantly less saturated with oxygen at 165 feet (50 meters) below the surface, where many crustaceans and cephalopods hide away during the day.

...larvae of all four (species) took a marked blow to vision when exposed to the low-oxygen environment. Overall, each larva's retinal activity dropped between 60% and 100% in low-oxygen conditions. Some species, particularly the market squid and the rock crab, proved so sensitive that they started losing their vision as soon as the researchers started decreasing the oxygen in the tank.

...The good news is that the vision loss wasn't permanent. Within about an hour of returning to a fully saturated oxygen environment, all of the larvae regained at least 60% of their vision, with some species bouncing back to 100% functionality.
Blind in the water

It's likely that because the Pacific naturally experiences a lot of low-oxygen conditions near Southern California...rapid deoxygenation caused by climate change could make it harder for these species to adapt. According to a 2017 study in the journal Nature, total ocean oxygen levels have declined by 2% globally in the last 50 years and are projected to decline by up to an additional 7% by the year 2100. Climate change is a significant factor driving these losses, the Nature study found, especially in upper parts of the ocean, where the larvae McCromick studied tend to spend most of their lives.

This warming-induced deoxygenation — coupled with natural forces like wind and water circulation patterns that make near-surface oxygen levels inconsistent in the region — could result in more vulnerable creatures losing their vision when they need it most. At-risk animals could become less effective at hunting for food near the surface, and might miss subtle signs of predators in their midst, McCormick said. It’s a grim possibility — however, more research is needed to determine the amount of oxygen-related vision loss it really takes before these creatures make potentially harmful mistakes...



* Lillian R. McCormick et al. 2019. Vision is highly sensitive to oxygen availability in marine invertebrate larvae. Journal of Experimental Biology 2019 : jeb.200899 doi: 10.1242/jeb.200899 Published 24 April 2019 . http://jeb.biologists.org/content/early/2019/04/24/jeb.200899


For many animals, evolution has selected for complex visual systems despite the high energetic demands associated with maintaining eyes and their processing structures. The metabolic demands of visual systems therefore make them highly sensitive to fluctuations in available oxygen. In the marine environment, oxygen changes over daily, seasonal, and inter-annual time scales and there are large gradients of oxygen with depth. Vision is linked to survival in many marine animals, particularly among the crustaceans, cephalopods, and fish, and early life stages of these groups rely on vision for prey capture, predator detection, and their distribution in the water column. Using in vivo electroretinogram recordings, we show that there is a decrease in retinal sensitivity to light in marine invertebrates when exposed to reduced oxygen availability. We found a 60-100% reduction in retinal responses in the larvae of cephalopods and crustaceans: the market squid (Doryteuthis opalescens), two-spot octopus (Octopus bimaculatus), tuna crab (Pleuroncodes planipes), and brachyuran crab (Metacarcinus gracilis). A decline in oxygen also decreases the temporal resolution of vision in D. opalescens. These results are the first demonstration that vision in marine invertebrates is highly sensitive to oxygen availability and that the thresholds for visual impairment from reduced oxygen are species-specific. Oxygen-impaired retinal function may change the visual behaviors crucial to survival in these marine larvae. These findings may impact our understanding of species’ vulnerability to ocean oxygen loss and suggest that researchers conducting electrophysiology experiments should monitor oxygen levels, as even small changes in oxygen may affect the results.

May 20, 12:15pm Top

‘Earthworm Dilemma’ Has Climate Scientists Racing to Keep Up
Worms are wriggling into Earth’s northernmost forests, creating major unknowns for climate-change models.

The world’s boreal forests have been largely earthworm-free since the last Ice Age. But as invaders arrive and burrow into the leaf litter, they free up carbon and may accelerate climate change...


May 21, 5:00am Top

E.P.A. Plans to Get Thousands of Deaths Off the Books by Changing Its Math
Lisa Friedman | May 20, 2019

WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency plans to change the way it calculates the health risks of air pollution, a shift that would make it easier to roll back a key climate change rule because it would result in far fewer predicted deaths from pollution, according to five people with knowledge of the agency’s plans.

The E.P.A. had originally forecast that eliminating the Obama-era rule, the Clean Power Plan (upheld by courts), and replacing it with a new measure would have resulted in an additional 1,400 premature deaths per year. The new analytical model would significantly reduce that number and would most likely be used by the Trump administration to defend further rollbacks of air pollution rules if it is formally adopted.

...the agency’s analysis of the final version of the replacement regulation, known as the Affordable Clean Energy rule, which is expected to be made public in June.

...“Particulate matter is extremely harmful and it leads to a large number of premature deaths,” said Richard L. Revesz, an expert in environmental law at New York University. He called the expected change a “monumental departure” from the approach both Republican and Democratic E.P.A. leaders have used over the past several decades and predicted that it would lay the groundwork for weakening more environmental regulations....


May 21, 5:28am Top

Counter-intuitive climate change solution
Profitable approach to cleaning the air
Stanford University | May 20, 2019

A seemingly counterintuitive approach -- converting one greenhouse gas into another -- holds promise for returning the atmosphere to pre-industrial concentrations of methane, a powerful driver of global warming.

...In 2018, methane -- about 60 percent of which is generated by humans -- reached atmospheric concentrations two and a half times greater than pre-industrial levels. Although the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is much greater, methane is 84 times more potent in terms of warming the climate system over the first 20 years after its release.

Most scenarios for stabilizing average global temperatures at 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels depend on strategies for both reducing the overall amount of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere and removing what's already in the atmosphere through approaches such as tree planting or underground sequestration. However, removing other greenhouse gases, particularly methane, could provide a complementary approach, according to the study's authors, who point to the gas's outsized influence on the climate.

Most scenarios for removing carbon dioxide typically assume hundreds of billions of tons removed over decades and do not restore the atmosphere to pre-industrial levels. In contrast, methane concentrations could be restored to pre-industrial levels by removing about 3.2 billion tons of the gas from the atmosphere and converting it into an amount of carbon dioxide equivalent to a few months of global industrial emissions, according to the researchers. If successful, the approach would eliminate approximately one-sixth of all causes of global warming to date.

Methane is challenging to capture from air because its concentration is so low. However, the authors point out that zeolite, a crystalline material that consists primarily of aluminum, silicon and oxygen, could act essentially as a sponge to soak up methane. "The porous molecular structure, relatively large surface area and ability to host copper and iron in zeolites make them promising catalysts for capturing methane and other gases," said Ed Solomon, the Monroe E. Spaght Professor of Chemistry in the School of Humanities and Sciences.

The whole process might take the form of a giant contraption with electric fans forcing air through tumbling chambers or reactors full of powdered or pelletized zeolites and other catalysts. The trapped methane could then be heated to form and release carbon dioxide, the authors suggest.

A profitable future

The process of converting methane to carbon dioxide could be profitable with a price on carbon emissions or an appropriate policy. If market prices for carbon offsets rise to $500 or more per ton this century, as predicted by most relevant assessment models, each ton of methane removed from the atmosphere could be worth more than $12,000.

A zeolite array about the size of a football field could generate millions of dollars a year in income while removing harmful methane from the air....


Counterintuitive Climate Change Solution (02:29)
Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment | May 20, 2019

Stanford researchers have outlined a vision for profitable climate change solution. The seemingly counterintuitive approach–converting one greenhouse gas into another–holds promise for returning the atmosphere to pre-industrial concentrations of methane, a powerful driver of global warming. Read more: woods.stanford.edu


R. B. Jackson et al. 2019. Methane removal and atmospheric restoration. Nature Sustainability (May 20, 2019) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41893-019-0299-x

Zeolites and other technologies should be evaluated and pursued for reducing methane concentrations in the atmosphere from 1,860 ppb to preindustrial levels of ~750 ppb. Such a goal of atmospheric restoration provides a positive framework for change at a time when climate action is desperately needed.

Edited: May 22, 6:45am Top

>24 margd: Trump Admin seeks to weaken Clean Energy Rules.
Meanwhile, floods, tornadoes, wildfires, hurricanes (ETA drought) in the headlines:

After 19 tornadoes ripped through 4 states, millions are now under flash flooding threat

Wildfire burns out of control near High Level, Alta.
A wildfire in northwestern Alberta led to an evacuation alert

State of emergency declared along Lake Ontario shoreline for flooding

Subtropical storm Andrea forms in the Atlantic, before the 2019 hurricane season has even begun

Low snowpack, hot spring lead to drought declaration for nearly half of Washington state
May 20, 2019 at 12:05 pm Updated May 21, 2019

May 22, 6:42am Top

Sea levels could rise faster than expected, swamping coastal cities: study
Rachel Frazin - 05/21/19

..."plausible" that sea level rising could exceed two meters (by 2100), potentially resulting in the displacement of up to 187 million people and significant land loss in "critical regions of food production...A SLR sea level rise of this magnitude would clearly have profound consequences for humanity"

...coastal cities are the most at-risk including cities in Florida, Louisiana and California...

Across the world, “such a rise in global sea level could result in a land loss of almost 700,000 square miles"

the new findings..."grim...Two meters is not a good scenario"



"...global total SLR exceeding 2 m by 2100 lies within the 90% uncertainty bounds for a high emission scenario. This is more than twice the upper value put forward by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in the Fifth Assessment Report...Beyond 2100, uncertainty and projected SLR increase rapidly. The 95th percentile ice sheet contribution by 2200, for the +5 °C scenario, is 7.5 m..."

Jonathan L. Bamber et al. 2019. Ice sheet contributions to future sea-level rise from structured expert judgment. PNAS first published May 20, 2019 https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1817205116 https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2019/05/14/1817205116.short


Future sea level rise (SLR) poses serious threats to the viability of coastal communities, but continues to be challenging to project using deterministic modeling approaches. Nonetheless, adaptation strategies urgently require quantification of future SLR uncertainties, particularly upper-end estimates. Structured expert judgement (SEJ) has proved a valuable approach for similar problems. Our findings, using SEJ, produce probability distributions with long upper tails that are influenced by interdependencies between processes and ice sheets. We find that a global total SLR exceeding 2 m by 2100 lies within the 90% uncertainty bounds for a high emission scenario. This is more than twice the upper value put forward by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in the Fifth Assessment Report.

Despite considerable advances in process understanding, numerical modeling, and the observational record of ice sheet contributions to global mean sea-level rise (SLR) since the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, severe limitations remain in the predictive capability of ice sheet models. As a consequence, the potential contributions of ice sheets remain the largest source of uncertainty in projecting future SLR. Here, we report the findings of a structured expert judgement study, using unique techniques for modeling correlations between inter- and intra-ice sheet processes and their tail dependences. We find that since the AR5, expert uncertainty has grown, in particular because of uncertain ice dynamic effects. For a +2 °C temperature scenario consistent with the Paris Agreement, we obtain a median estimate of a 26 cm SLR contribution by 2100, with a 95th percentile value of 81 cm. For a +5 °C temperature scenario more consistent with unchecked emissions growth, the corresponding values are 51 and 178 cm, respectively. Inclusion of thermal expansion and glacier contributions results in a global total SLR estimate that exceeds 2 m at the 95th percentile. Our findings support the use of scenarios of 21st century global total SLR exceeding 2 m for planning purposes. Beyond 2100, uncertainty and projected SLR increase rapidly. The 95th percentile ice sheet contribution by 2200, for the +5 °C scenario, is 7.5 m as a result of instabilities coming into play in both West and East Antarctica. Introducing process correlations and tail dependences increases estimates by roughly 15%.

May 22, 7:23pm Top

Artificial photosynthesis transforms carbon dioxide into liquefiable fuels
Lois Yoksoulian | May 22, 2019

...As exciting as the development of this CO2-to-liquid fuel may be for green energy technology, the researchers acknowledge that Jain's artificial photosynthesis process is nowhere near as efficient as it is in plants.

"We need to learn how to tune the catalyst to increase the efficiency of the chemical reactions," he said. "Then we can start the hard work of determining how to go about scaling up the process. And, like any unconventional energy technology, there will be many economic feasibility questions to be answered, as well."


Sungju Yu et al, Plasmonic photosynthesis of C1–C3 hydrocarbons from carbon dioxide assisted by an ionic liquid, Nature Communications (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-10084-5 https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-10084-5


Photochemical conversion of CO2 into fuels has promise as a strategy for storage of intermittent solar energy in the form of chemical bonds. However, higher-energy-value hydrocarbons are rarely produced by this strategy, because of kinetic challenges. Here we demonstrate a strategy for green-light-driven synthesis of C1–C3 hydrocarbons from CO2 and H2O. In this approach, plasmonic excitation of Au nanoparticles produces a charge-rich environment at the nanoparticle/solution interface conducive for CO2 activation, while an ionic liquid stabilizes charged intermediates formed at this interface, facilitating multi-step reduction and C–C coupling. Methane, ethylene, acetylene, propane, and propene are photosynthesized with a C2+ selectivity of ~50% under the most optimal conditions. Hydrocarbon turnover exhibits a volcano relationship as a function of the ionic liquid concentration, the kinetic analysis of which coupled with density functional theory simulations provides mechanistic insights into the synergy between plasmonic excitation and the ionic liquid.

May 25, 7:22am Top

Invasive earthworms may release CO2 from leaf litter in boreal forests...

‘Earthworm Dilemma’ Has Climate Scientists Racing to Keep Up
Alanna Mitchell | May 20, 2019

Worms are wriggling into Earth’s northernmost forests, creating major unknowns for climate-change models.

The world’s boreal forests have been largely earthworm-free since the last Ice Age. But as invaders arrive and burrow into the leaf litter, they free up carbon and may accelerate climate change.

...Native earthworms disappeared from most of northern North America 10,000 years ago, during the ice age. Now invasive earthworm species from southern Europe — survivors of that frozen epoch, and introduced to this continent by European settlers centuries ago — are making their way through northern forests, their spread hastened by roads, timber and petroleum activity, tire treads, boats, anglers and even gardeners.

As the worms feed, they release into the atmosphere much of the carbon stored in the forest floor. Climate scientists are worried.

“Earthworms are yet another factor that can affect the carbon balance,” Werner Kurz, a researcher with the Canadian Forest Service in Victoria, British Columbia, wrote in an email. His fear is that the growing incursion of earthworms — not just in North America, but also in northern Europe and Russia — could convert the boreal forest, now a powerful global carbon sponge, into a carbon spout.

Moreover, the threat is still so new to boreal forests that scientists don’t yet know how to calculate what the earthworms’ carbon effect will be, or when it will appear.

...The relationship between carbon and earthworms is complex. Earthworms are beloved by gardeners because they break down organic material in soil, freeing up nutrients. This helps plants and trees grow faster, which locks carbon into living tissue. Some types of invasive earthworms also burrow into mineral soil and seal carbon there.

But as earthworms speed decomposition, they also release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. As they occupy more areas of the world, will they ultimately add more carbon to the atmosphere — or subtract it?

The boreal is special. In warmer climates, the floor of a typical forest is a mix of mineral soil and organic soil. In a boreal forest, those components are distinct, with a thick layer of rotting leaves, mosses and fallen wood on top of the mineral soil.

Soil scientists once thought that cooler temperatures reduced mixing; now, they wonder if the absence of earthworms is what made the difference.

This spongy layer of leaf litter contains most of the carbon stored in the boreal soil. As it turns out, most of the invading earthworms in the North American boreal appear to be the type that love to devour leaf litter and stay above ground, releasing carbon.

...(Cindy Shaw, a carbon-research scientist with the Canadian Forest Service) found that 35 to 40 percent of the plots she examined in northern Alberta contained earthworms. The leaf litter, which can be more than a foot thick, was thin and churned up where earthworms were present.

...The global boreal forest is a muscular part of Earth’s carbon cycle; at least one-fifth of the carbon that cycles through air, soil and oceans passes through the boreal, said Sylvie Quideau, a soil biogeochemist at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. Currently, the boreal absorbs more carbon from the atmosphere than it adds, but that is changing.

On one hand, warmer temperatures could extend the growing season, allowing trees to grow bigger and store more carbon, said Dr. Kurz, the forest researcher in British Columbia. But rising temperatures also release carbon to the atmosphere, by thawing permafrost and increasing the number of forest fires.

All told, he sees earthworms as another factor — if not the main one — nudging the boreal toward becoming a global source of carbon.

...In severely affected areas, the biomass of earthworms underground is 500 times greater than the biomass of moose in the same areas. Even where earthworms were sparse, they still matched the biomass of moose, which is considered a keystone species in Alaska.

To his horror, Dr. (Kyungsoo Yoo, a soil scientist at the University of Minnesota) also found earthworms right on the edge of the permafrost in the northern boreal. The pace of permafrost melt and its release of carbon is of great concern to researchers who model climate change.

His biggest concern is that earthworms will penetrate even further north in the boreal and spread into the permafrost. “Their impact alone could be quite devastating, based on what we have been seeing in Minnesota and New England and in parts of Canada,” said Dr. Yoo.

...earthworms move less than 30 feet a year on their own. Educating people to not transport them into unaffected parts of the forest might help keep those areas earthworm-free, said Mr. Wackett.

As scientists analyze the effects of the earthworms they know about, they also are keeping an eye on a new invader: Asian earthworms, which have made their way to southern Quebec and Ontario...pretty aggressive and they seem potentially to be better competitors than European earthworms...


Edited: May 28, 4:39pm Top

Oklahoma, Arkansas cities brace for 'the worst flood in our history'
John Bacon | May 27, 2019

Lake Ontario expected to peak at or above 2017 flood level in next few days
Fernando Narro | May 27, 2019

B.C.'s bad fire seasons 'a new norm of unprecedented wildfires'
Randy Shore | May 27, 2019
Up to 60 per cent of the snowpack already melted due to unseasonably hot weather.

Western Washington faces especially bad wildfire season

ETA: 11 Straight Days of Tornadoes Have U.S. Approaching ‘Uncharted Territory’
Kevin Williams and Alan Blinder | May 28, 2019

...Patrick Marsh, the warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center. “What has really set us apart has been the last 10 days or so. The last 10 days took us from about normal to well above normal.”

Monday, Dr. Marsh said, was the 11th consecutive day with at least eight tornado reports, tying the record. The storms have drawn their fuel from two sources: a high-pressure area that pulled the Gulf of Mexico’s warm, moist air into the central United States, where it combined with the effects of a trough trapped over the Rockies, which included strong winds.

“We are flirting in uncharted territory,” Dr. Marsh said of the sustained period of severe weather. “Typically, you’d see a break of a day or two in between these long stretches, but we’re just not getting that right now.”

Forecasters said that even the briefest of reprieves might not come until late this week...

...limited historical information, especially when compared with temperature data that goes back more than a century, has made it difficult for researchers to determine whether rising temperatures are making tornadoes more common and severe...



Hot Arctic and a Chill in the Northeast: What’s Behind the Gloomy Spring Weather?
Brenda Ekwurzel | May 17, 2019

...Eurasian October snow cover extent indicator | It may seem counter-intuitive, but the story of the strange weather unfolding this spring in the US is related in part to snow last October in Eurasia...

...the science as Judah Cohen explains, “There is a growing consensus that it is Barents-Kara sea ice in the late fall and early winter that has the greatest impact across Eurasia. Therefore, low Barents-Kara sea ice in November for example, favors a strengthened Siberian high, increased poleward heat flux, a weak stratospheric Polar Vortex and finally a negative Arctic Oscillation. An important point regarding the Siberian high is that it strengthens or expands northwest of the climatological center. For low snow cover and/or high sea ice the opposite occurs.” Translation, a weakened polar vortex means more cold outbreaks deep into US territory like this past winter and spring...



Air pollution around Beijing rebounds as coal consumption rises by 13%
Lauri Myllyvirta | 22.05.2019

Air pollution levels increased in the region - which spans Beijing, Tianjin and 26 surrounding cities - by 6.5% vs the previous year between the months of October and March, when the government’s winter air pollution action plan was in force...buoyed by demand from power plants and metals industry, based on proprietary data from Fenwei Energy Information.

The 6 provinces around Beijing burn about 1,200 million tonnes of coal, 30% of the national total and more than the EU and the U.S. put together. The increase from winter 2017-18 to 2018-19, about 60 million tonnes, is more than Poland’s total consumption over the same period...

...Better Beijing

Beijing itself achieved a 2% year on year decline in PM2.5 during this time, which was reached despite less favorable weather conditions than the previous year and a relaxation of industrial output restrictions. In the region as a whole, weather conditions remained much more favorable than during the most polluted winter seasons, but not as good as previous winter which saw strong winds from the northern grasslands for much of the winter. Less favorable weather conditions account for a part of the rebound in pollution levels, but even accounting for weather there was little to no progress.

Major improvements were seen in a number of southern provinces where thermal power generation fell and heavy industry output cooled, compounding the effects of air quality policies. PM2.5 levels fell by over 20% in Guangdong and Guangxi and over 10% in neighboring Fujian and Hunan.

Coal consumption outside the provinces that are a part of the Beijing air pollution control area increased by 3% over the same period, slowing to zero growth on the first quarter.

For the past two years, environmental regulators have expended heroic efforts to keep air pollution levels falling while industrial output and coal consumption climb. As PM2.5 pollution tends to peak in the winter, they have also pushed industrial output to summer months, contributing to worsening summertime ozone episodes.

This winter’s defeat in key northern China cities suggests that it is getting harder and harder to maintain air quality improvements unless coal consumption starts falling again.

China’s record improvements in air quality since 2012 have shown how enforcing strong emissions standards and shifting away from coal can reduce pollution and save lives. The next step is long-term planning away from coal and heavy industry. Future air quality gains are dependent on successfully reducing reliance on coal through accelerated clean energy investment and by setting strong coal reduction targets in energy plans and targets beyond 2020.


May 28, 5:18pm Top

Big Pharma emits more greenhouse gases than car industry
In partnership with The Conversation | May 28th 2019

...the pharmaceutical sector is far from green. We assessed the sector’s emissions for each one million dollars of revenue in 2015. Larger businesses will always generate more emissions than smaller ones; in order to do a fair comparison, we evaluated emissions intensity.

We found it was 48.55 tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) per million dollars. That’s about 55 per cent greater than the automotive sector at 31.4 tonnes of CO2e/$M for that same year. We restricted our analysis to the direct emissions generated by the companies’ operations and to the indirect emissions generated by the electricity purchased by these companies from their respective utilities companies.

The total global emissions of the pharma sector amounts to about 52 megatonnes of CO2e in 2015, more than the 46.4 megatonnes of CO2e generated by the automotive sector in the same year. The value of the pharma market, however, is smaller than the automotive market. By our calculations, the pharma market is 28 per cent smaller yet 13 per cent more polluting than the automotive sector...


May 29, 4:56am Top

"the most effective guard against climate breakdown may not be technological solutions, but a more fundamental reimagining of what constitutes a good life on this particular planet"

Climate change: ‘We’ve created a civilisation hell bent on destroying itself – I’m terrified’, writes Earth scientist
James Dyke | May 24, 2019

... I straight out asked (a very senior member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) during a coffee break at a workshop) how much warming he thought we were going to achieve before we manage to make the required cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.

“Oh, I think we’re heading towards 3°C at least,” he said.

“Ah, yes, but heading towards,” I countered: “We won’t get to 3°C, will we?” (Because whatever you think of the 2°C threshold that separates “safe” from “dangerous” climate change, 3°C is well beyond what much of the world could bear.)

“Not so,” he replied.

That wasn’t his hedge, but his best assessment of where, after all the political, economic, and social wrangling we will end up.

“But what about the many millions of people directly threatened,” I went on. “Those living in low-lying nations, the farmers affected by abrupt changes in weather, kids exposed to new diseases?”

He gave a sigh, paused for a few seconds, and a sad, resigned smile crept over his face. He then simply said: “They will die.”

...human-centric approach should lead to more sustainable development. It should constrain growth. But the technological world system we have built is clever at getting around such constraints. It uses the ingenuity of humans to build new technologies – such as geoengineering – to reduce surface temperatures. That would not halt ocean acidification and so would lead to the potential collapse of ocean ecosystems. No matter. The climate constraint would have been avoided and the technosphere could then get to work overcoming any side effects of biodiversity loss. Fish stocks collapse? Shift to farmed fish or intensively grown algae.

As defined so far, there appears nothing to stop the technosphere liquidating most of the Earth’s biosphere to satisfy its growth. Just as long as goods and services are consumed, the technosphere can continue to grow.

And so those who fear the collapse of civilisation or those who have enduring faith in human innovation being able to solve all sustainability challenges may both be wrong.

After all, a much smaller and much richer population of the order of hundreds of millions could consume more than the current population of 7.6 billion or the projected population of nine billion by the middle of this century. While there would be widespread disruption, the technosphere may be able to weather climate change beyond 3°C. It does not care, cannot care, that billions of people would have died...

Escape plan

The situation, then, may all seem rather hopeless. Whether or not my argument is an accurate representation of our civilisation, there is the risk it produces a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because if we believe we can’t slow down the growth of the technosphere, then why bother?

This goes beyond the question of “what difference could I make?” to “what difference can anyone make?” While flying less, cutting down on eating meat and dairy and cycling to work are all commendable steps to take, they do not constitute living outside the technosphere.

It’s not just that we give tacit consent to the technosphere by using its roads, computers, or intensively farmed food. It’s that by being a productive member of society, by earning and spending, above all by consuming, we further the technosphere’s growth.

Perhaps the way out from fatalism and disaster is an acceptance that humans may not actually be in control of our planet. This would be the vital first step that could lead to a broader outlook that encompasses more than humans.

For example, the mainstream economic attitude about trees, frogs, mountains, and lakes is that these things only have value if they provide something to us. This mindset sets them up as nothing more than resources to exploit and sinks for waste.

What if we thought of them as components or even our companions in the complex Earth system? Questions about sustainable development then become questions about how growth in the technosphere can be accommodated with their concerns, interests, and welfare as well as ours.

This may produce questions that seem absurd. What are the concerns or interests of a mountain? Of a flea? But if we continue to frame the situation in terms of “us against them”, of human well-being trumping everything else in the Earth system, then we may be effectively hacking away the best form of protection against a dangerously rampant technosphere.

And so the most effective guard against climate breakdown may not be technological solutions, but a more fundamental reimagining of what constitutes a good life on this particular planet. We may be critically constrained in our abilities to change and rework the technosphere, but we should be free to envisage alternative futures. So far our response to the challenge of climate change exposes a fundamental failure of our collective imagination.

To understand you are in a prison, you must first be able to see the bars. That this prison was created by humans over many generations doesn’t change the conclusion that we are currently tightly bound up within a system that could, if we do not act, lead to the impoverishment, and even death of billions of people....


May 30, 7:28am Top

Himalayan glacier melting threatens water security for millions of people
Large bodies of ice are losing mass faster than they are accumulating it
Carolyn Gramling | May 29, 2019

Meltwater from glaciers in Asia’s high mountain ranges, including the Himalayas, meets the basic water needs of about 221 million people each year. But that store of freshwater is shrinking, a study finds, threatening regional water security within just a few decades.

Glaciers can store water for decades or even centuries before releasing it into rivers, providing a steady supply to sustain downhill populations even in times of drought, writes glaciologist Hamish D. Pritchard of the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge.

But glaciers in the mountains are melting faster than they can be replenished by snowfall, Pritchard reports in the study, published online May 29 in Nature. To estimate the extent of the imbalance, Pritchard calculated summertime meltwater volumes and winter snowfall rates using a range of datasets, including altitude-adjusted precipitation and temperature records from 1951 to 2007, as well as observed changes in glacier volumes from 2000 to 2016.

Based on those data, the overall volume of meltwater rushing down the mountains each year from 2000 to 2016 was 1.6 times as much as it would have been if the system were in balance.

As the global average temperature continues to increase, summertime glacial melt will continue to outpace snowfall, shrinking the glaciers — until eventually, runoff from the mountains tapers off, Pritchard notes. If countries fail to rein in greenhouse gas emissions, the annual meltwater flowing into the region’s rivers could be noticeably decreased by 2090.


H.D. Pritchard. Asia’s shrinking glaciers protect large populations from drought stress. Nature. Published online May 29, 2019. doi:10.1038/s41586-019-1240-1. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1240-1 *



* Abstract
About 800 million people depend in part on meltwater from the thousands of glaciers in the high mountains of Asia. Water stress makes this region vulnerable to drought, but glaciers are a uniquely drought-resilient source of water. Here I show that seasonal glacier meltwater is equivalent to the basic needs of 221 ± 59 million people, or most of the annual municipal and industrial needs of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. During drought summers, meltwater dominates water inputs to the upper Indus, Aral and Chu/Issyk-Kul river basins. This reduces the risk of social instability, conflict and sudden migrations triggered by water scarcity, which is already associated with the large, rapidly growing populations and hydro-economies of these basins. Regional meltwater production is, however, unsustainably high—at 1.6 times the balance rate—and is expected to increase in future decades before ultimately declining. These results update and reinforce a previous publication in Nature on this topic, which was retracted after an inadvertent error was discovered.

May 30, 8:00am Top

NASA NASA | 7:02 PM - 29 May 2019 :

Record-setting precipitation leaves soils soggy as the continental United States recently finished its wettest twelve months in 124 years of modern recordkeeping. The results are visible in NASAEarth satellite measurements of fresh water: https://go.nasa.gov/2Qzwt03

Edited: May 31, 4:51am Top

The Ice Age @Jamie_Woodward_ | 1:37 AM - 31 May 2019:
“In Alaska, ice is infrastructure”

Record-Breaking Heat in Alaska Wreaks Havoc on Communities and Ecosystems
Abnormally high temperatures have led to unsafe travel conditions, uncertain ecological futures and even multiple deaths
Tim Lydon | May 30, 2019

Alaska in March is supposed to be cold. Along the north and west coasts, the ocean should be frozen farther than the eye can see. In the state’s interior, rivers should be locked in ice so thick that they double as roads for snowmobiles and trucks. And where I live, near Anchorage in south-central Alaska, the snowpack should be deep enough to support skiing for weeks to come. But this year, a record-breaking heatwave upended norms and had us basking in comfortable—but often unsettling—warmth.

Across Alaska, March temperatures averaged 11 degrees Celsius above normal. The deviation was most extreme in the Arctic where, on March 30, thermometers rose almost 22 degrees Celsius above normal—to 3 degrees. That still sounds cold, but it was comparatively hot.

“It’s hard to characterize that anomaly, it’s just pretty darn remarkable for that part of the world,” says Rick Thoman, a climate specialist with the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy in Fairbanks. The state’s wave of warmth was part of a weeks-long weather pattern that shattered temperature records across our immense state, contributing to losses of both property and life. “When you have a slow grind of warming like that, lasting weeks or months, it affects people’s lives,” Thoman says...


May 31, 1:10pm Top

"Whereas the rest of the world has warmed, the corn belt's summer temperatures have dropped as much as a full degree Celsius, and rainfall has increased up to 35%, the largest spike anywhere in the world." - Science magazine, Feb 16, 2018 via David Trump

Corn That Won't Get Planted This Year Could Shatter All U.S. Records
Michael Hirtzer, Isis Almeida,, and Dominic Carey | May 30, 2019

Prevented plant claims could surge to about 6 million acres
Corn planting pace is slowest on record amid relentless rain

For months, traders debated which crops U.S. farmers would sow this year. That discussion is now turning to how many acres may be left unplanted as relentless rainfall sweeps the Midwest.

Rabobank is predicting an unprecedented number of unplanted acres of corn, the most widely grown American crop. A Bloomberg survey of 10 traders and analysts indicates growers could file insurance claims for about 6 million corn acres they haven’t been able to sow, almost double the record in 2013.

Corn futures surged more than 20% to a three-year high over the past few weeks on fears farmers wouldn’t be able to get seeds in the ground ahead of crop-insurance deadlines. So-called prevented plant claims reached 3.6 million acres in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency...


Jun 2, 1:20pm Top

India heatwave temperatures pass 50 Celsius
June 2, 2019

The thermometer hit 50.6 degrees Celsius (123 Fahrenheit) in the Rajasthan desert city of Churu (n India) on Saturday,

In May 2016, Phalodi in Rajasthan recorded India's highest-ever temperature of 51 Celsius (123.8 Fahrenheit).

The Indian Meteorological Department said severe heat could stay for up to a week across Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh states.

Several deaths from heatstroke have already been recorded.

A red alert severe heat warning has been issued in the capital New Delhi as temperatures passed 46 Celsius, and residents were advised not to go out during the hottest hours of the day.

Even in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh, where many wealthy Indians go to escape the summer heat, temperatures reached 44.9 Celsius in Una.

Several major cities, led by Chennai, have reported fears of water shortages as lakes and rivers start to dry up.

In the western state of Maharashtra, farmers struggled to find water for thirsty animals and crops.

...many Beed residents had stopped washing and cleaning clothes due to the water shortage.

More than 40 percent of India faces drought this year, experts from Gandhinagar city's Indian Institute of Technology, warned last month.

...The Indian peninsula has seen a drastic change in rainfall patterns over the past decade, marked by frequent droughts, floods and sudden storms.


Jun 3, 3:38pm Top

New Report Suggests ‘High Likelihood of Human Civilization Coming to an End’ in 2050

The new policy briefing is written by David Spratt, Breakthrough’s research director and Ian Dunlop, a former senior executive of Royal Dutch Shell who previously chaired the Australian Coal Association.

In the briefing’s foreword, retired Admiral Chris Barrie—Chief of the Australian Defence Force from 1998 to 2002 and former Deputy Chief of the Australian Navy—commends the paper for laying “bare the unvarnished truth about the desperate situation humans, and our planet, are in, painting a disturbing picture of the real possibility that human life on Earth may be on the way to extinction, in the most horrible way.”

The only way to avoid the risks of this scenario is what the report describes as “akin in scale to the World War II emergency mobilization”—but this time focused on rapidly building out a zero-emissions industrial system to set in train the restoration of a safe climate.

Jun 5, 1:22pm Top

1 Billion Acres At Risk For Catastrophic Wildfires, U.S. Forest Service Warns
Kirk Siegler | June 5, 2019

The chief of the U.S. Forest Service is warning that a billion acres of land across America are at risk of catastrophic wildfires like last fall's deadly Camp Fire that destroyed most of Paradise, Calif.

...hazardous conditions in forests that result from a history of suppression of wildfires, rampant home development in high-risk places and the changing climate.

Christiansen's agency is the nation's lead firefighting apparatus. It's trying to prioritize treatments such as thinning, brush clearing and prescribed burning on 80 million acres of its own land, mostly in the West. (Her billion acre estimate includes land across multiple federal, state and local jurisdictions as well as private land.)

...In line with a controversial Trump administration executive order pushing for "active forest management," the agency was directed to treat 3.5 million acres this year alone, though it's behind target because of weather and administrative holdups. Part of the administration policy has also included an attempt to ramp up commercial logging on federal lands, an objective that conservation groups say will not reduce fire risk, unlike clearing of the smaller diameter wood that the timber industry has so far found little market for.

...Christiansen's comments follow one of the worst wildfire seasons in U.S. history last year. Wildfires in Northern California destroyed parts of whole cities and killed nearly 100 people.

Even with the push for more mitigation under Christiansen, the Forest Service is predicting it could spend upward of $2.5 billion just fighting fires this year alone. The agency was budgeted $1.7 billion and will likely again have to transfer money from existing forest management and fire mitigation programs to cover the difference, a paradoxical problem that won't end until reforms kick in next year.



Government argues for halt to youth climate lawsuit, saying there is no constitutional right to a stable climate
Brady Dennis | June 4

21 young people sued in 2015, hoping to force an end to fossil-fuel-friendly U.S. policies...

...In early November, the (Supreme) court refused to grant the Trump administration’s plea to stop the case before trial, instead sending it back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

The three judges presiding over Tuesday’s hearing grilled both attorneys on the particulars of their arguments, and they seemed to wrestle with whether the courts could make such sweeping demands of the government.

“Look, you’re arguing for us to break new ground,” Judge Andrew D. Hurwitz told (Julia Olson, the attorney for the plaintiffs and executive director of Our Children’s Trust) at one point. “You may be right. I’m sympathetic to the problems you point out. But you shouldn’t say this is just an ordinary suit. . . . You’re asking us to do a lot of new stuff, aren’t you?”

“We’re asking the court to apply bedrock constitutional law and principles to a wholly new set of facts,” Olson replied.

...The Supreme Court’s three-page order in November, which sent the case back to the 9th Circuit, noted the government’s assertion that the “suit is based on an assortment of unprecedented legal theories, such as a substantive due process right to certain climate conditions, and an equal protection right to live in the same climate as enjoyed by prior generations.”

The justices acknowledged that the 9th Circuit had previously turned down the government but said those decisions came when there was a “likelihood that plaintiffs’ claims would narrow as the case progressed.” That no longer seems the case, the unsigned opinion said, suggesting the possibility that the 9th Circuit might see things differently now.

The order also left open the possibility that the government could ultimately return to the Supreme Court.

In briefs to the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco wrote that “the assertion of sweeping new fundamental rights to certain climate conditions has no basis in the nation’s history and tradition — and no place in federal court.”

Even before Tuesday, lawyers in two administrations had made similar arguments in lower courts. But again and again, judges allowed the case to proceed.

In an interview last fall, Olson was optimistic that the young plaintiffs will get the trial they seek.

“We’ve been confident throughout this case that we would get to trial, and I believe we will get to trial,” she said. “We have overcome everything the government has thrown at us. It is not luck. It is the strength of the case and the strength of the evidence and the strength of the legal arguments we are making.”


Jun 6, 5:05am Top

Worth a try, Prince Charles...

Trump says 'climate change goes both ways'
5 June 2019

Mr Trump said he was moved by Prince Charles' passion, but the conversation did not change his views

...following a 90-minute discussion with environmentalist Prince Charles (meant to last only 15 minutes)...."I believe that there's a change in weather and I think it changes both ways"...

...he shared the prince's desire for a "good climate" but blamed (China, India and Russia) for increasing pollution (while claiming the US has one of "the cleanest climates there are")....(but) He has rolled back many US climate laws despite warnings from his own agencies.

.."He did most of the talking, and he was really into climate change and I think that's great...He wants to make sure future generations have climate that is good climate as opposed to a disaster and I agree."

"Don't forget, it used to be called global warming, that wasn't working, then it was called climate change, now it's actually called extreme weather because with extreme weather you can't miss," the president said.

Mr Trump pointed to past examples of weather disasters to refute the idea that "extreme weather" is becoming more common due to climate change. "I don't remember tornados in the United States to this extent but then when you look back 40 years ago we had the worst tornado binge we ever had. In the 1890s we had our worst hurricanes."

The president said he was moved by Prince Charles' "passion for future generations" but stopped short of changing any of his views on climate science...


Jun 7, 9:38am Top

The Great Lakes are overflowing with record amounts of water
Ian Livingston | June 6 at 3:52 PM

...“Over the past two decades, water levels on the Great Lakes have gone through an unprecedented period of persistent below-average conditions, a record-setting rate of water level rise and, now, a series of record-setting high levels,” said Drew Gronewold, a hydrologist at the University of Michigan.

While experts work to better understand the effects of climate change on Great Lakes water levels, they are seeing increased evidence of a new normal, characterized by rapid shifts between extreme high and low levels. To see this in action, we need look no further than the flooding of today, compared with the record lows six years ago.

“We are undoubtedly observing the effects of a warming climate in the Great Lakes,” wrote Richard Rood, a University of Michigan climate scientist. “We are at the beginning of what’s going to be a number of decades where the climate is going to be changing very fast. During that time, we will have many unexpected weather events, and we need to learn from these events to better prepare for the future.”


Jun 7, 3:38pm Top

Companies See Climate Change Hitting Their Bottom Lines in the Next 5 Years
Brad Plumer | June 4, 2019

...In 2018, more than 7,000 companies submitted such reports to CDP, formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project. And, for the first time, CDP explicitly asked firms to try to calculate how a warming planet might affect them financially.

After analyzing submissions from 215 of the world’s 500 biggest corporations, CDP found that these companies potentially faced roughly $1 trillion in costs related to climate change in the decades ahead unless they took proactive steps to prepare. By the companies’ own estimates, a majority of those financial risks could start to materialize in the next five years or so.

The disclosures show how business leaders expect climate change, and the policy responses to it, to ripple through every corner of the global economy...



Automakers Tell Trump His Pollution Rules Could Mean ‘Untenable’ Instability and Lower Profits
Coral Davenport | June 6, 2019

...In a letter signed by 17 companies including Ford, General Motors, Toyota and Volvo, the automakers asked Mr. Trump to go back to the negotiating table on the planned rollback of one of President Barack Obama’s signature policies to fight climate change.

The carmakers are addressing a crisis that is partly of their own making. They had sought some changes to the pollution standards early in the Trump presidency, but have since grown alarmed at the expanding scope of the administration’s plan.

Mr. Trump’s new rule, which is expected to be made public this summer, would all but eliminate the Obama-era auto pollution regulations, essentially freezing mileage standards at about 37 miles per gallon for cars, down from a target of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The policy makes it a near certainty that California and 13 other states will sue the administration while continuing to enforce their own, stricter rules — in effect, splitting the United States auto market in two.

For automakers, a bifurcated market is their nightmare scenario. In the letter to Mr. Trump, they warned of “an extended period of litigation and instability” should his plans be implemented.

The letter was delivered to the White House on Thursday morning, the same time as a similar letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, according to a senior auto industry lobbyist.

In the letter to Mr. Newsom, the automakers said they would like to see a standard that is “midway” between the current Obama rules and the rollback proposed by Mr. Trump.

The letter to Mr. Trump said, “We strongly believe the best path to preserve good auto jobs and keep new vehicles affordable for more Americans is a final rule supported by all parties — including California.”...


Jun 8, 1:31pm Top

White House Tried to Stop Climate Science Testimony, Documents Show
Lisa Friedman | June 8, 2019

WASHINGTON — The White House tried to stop a State Department senior intelligence analyst from discussing climate science in congressional testimony this week, internal emails and documents show.

The State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research declined to make changes to the proposed testimony and the analyst, Rod Schoonover, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, was ultimately allowed to speak before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Wednesday.

But in a highly unusual move, the White House refused to approve Dr. Schoonover’s written testimony for entry into the permanent Congressional Record. The reasoning, according to a June 4 email seen by The New York Times, was that the science did not match the Trump administration’s views.

“The testimony still has serious concerns with internal components and focuses heavily on the science,” Daniel Q. Greenwood, deputy assistant to the president in the White House office of legislative affairs, wrote in an email. “Because it doesn’t reflect the coordinated IC position, or the administration’s position, there is no way this can be cleared ahead of the hearing,” he wrote, using government shorthand for the intelligence community...


Jun 13, 5:46am Top

Miami's fate?

Britain’s Atlantis: Evidence of Stone Age human activity found beneath North Sea
Exclusive: Two potential prehistoric settlement sites on the banks of a long-vanished ancient river

David Keys | June 11, 2019

...seabed sites (25 miles north of Blakeney, Norfolk)

...potential settlements themselves – on opposite sides of an ancient river estuary – are even older – probably dating from between 8200 and 7700 BC.

...suggests that the site was being used as a tool-manufacturing base

...32 metres down to the seabed

...the partial melting of the Ice Age ice sheets at the end of the last glaciation led to a massive rise in sea levels worldwide.

Back in the Stone Age, as people still do today, very significant proportions of the population lived on the coast (where resources were often more plentiful) – and so their ancient habitats now lie, more often than not, at the bottom of the sea.

The Stone Age landscape, submerged when the North Sea was formed, is one of the largest such drowned landscapes on Earth.

....“Our ongoing research will hopefully enable us to reconstruct what life was like on more than 100,000 square miles of former land under what is now the North Sea and the Irish Sea, before it was inundated by sea level rise 10,000 to 7,000 years ago,” said a key archaeologist involved in the project, Dr Simon Fitch of the University of Bradford....



Similar archeological finds in L Huron, Black Sea, continental shelf of North America. Historical inundation was huge loss at the time, but cities now at risk have even more to lose...

Jun 13, 3:47pm Top

After a miserable May with unusual warmth, Arctic sea ice hits a record low for early June
Tom Yulsman | June 13, 2019

With Arctic temperatures running well above average in May, sea ice in the region continued its long-term decline, finishing with the second lowest extent for the month.

And since then, things have gotten worse.

On June 10, Arctic sea ice reached a record low for this time of year. Its extent was 494,983 square miles below the 1981-2010 median for the date.

Here’s another way to think about this: Sea ice has gone missing from an area exceeding the size of California, Nevada, Arizona and Oregon combined...


Edited: Jun 14, 6:58am Top

Climate Change Poses Major Risks to Financial Markets, Regulator Warns
Coral Davenport | June 11, 2019

...(trading regulator) Rostin Behnam, who sits on the federal government’s five-member Commodity Futures Trading Commission, a powerful agency overseeing major financial markets including grain futures, oil trading and complex derivatives, said in an interview on Monday that the financial risks from climate change were comparable to those posed by the mortgage meltdown that triggered the 2008 financial crisis.

“If climate change causes more volatile frequent and extreme weather events, you’re going to have a scenario where these large providers of financial products — mortgages, home insurance, pensions — cannot shift risk away from their portfolios,” he said. “It’s abundantly clear that climate change poses financial risk to the stability of the financial system.”

...Mr. Behnam...detail(ed) the formation of a panel of experts at the trading commission assigned to produce a report on how global warming could affect the financial sector, potentially impacting food costs, insurance markets, the mortgage industry and other economic pillars.

...the report, expected late this year or early next, would focus in particular on potential harm to the nation’s agriculture sector, is likely to emerge at a moment when Mr. Trump will be making the case to farm states, which have already been hurt by his crop tariffs, to re-elect him in 2020.

...He left the (Senate) Agriculture Committee (2011 - 2017) to join the trading commission. Earlier, he had worked as a financial trader and a corporate lawyer in New York.

...In 2010, the Securities and Exchange Commission began requiring publicly traded companies to disclose the risks to their bottom lines associated with climate change. Coca-Cola (water supply)...the California electricity provider Pacific Gas and Electric (wildfire bankruptcy)...the Bank of England (“doomsday scenario” stress tests)...investors in electric utility stocks were quick to sell following extreme weather, setting up a pattern of market volatility...coalition of 39 central banks, representing about half the global economy (but not the United States), has convened a working group to study to study the effects of climate change on financial markets.

...Mr. Behnam said he had incidents like these (withdrawal from Paris Agreement, regulation rollbacks, interfering with science reports and utilization) in mind when he decided to commission the financial risk study. “When I see people being shut down and muzzled, it concerns me that we are not taking steps to protect the people of our country with the best facts, the best science, the best numbers,” he said.


Edited: Jun 15, 6:35am Top

'The Changes Are Really Accelerating': Alaska at Record Warm While Greenland Sees Major Ice Melt
Eoin Higgins | June 14, 2019

...The northernmost point on the planet is heating up more quickly than any other region in the world. The reason for this warming is ice–albedo feedback: as ice melts it opens up land and sea to the sun, which then absorb more heat that would have been bounced off by the ice, leading to more warming. It's a vicious circle of warmth that's changing the environment at the north pole.

...Massachusetts-based Woods Hole Research Center scientist Susan Natali..."The changes are really accelerating in Alaska...It's a real challenge because in the U.S. there isn't the precedence to deal with this and there isn't the political framework to deal with it either...The numbers needing relocation will grow, the costs are going up, and people's lives and cultural practices will be impacted."

Meanwhile, in Greenland, 45 percent of the island's massive ice sheet is melting—much higher than the 10 percent that is normally melting at this point in the year. While much of the melt is expected to refreeze once temperatures stabilize, the integrity of the ice after the early melt makes it more likely to accelerate later in the year.

That means the unprecedented June melt will likely combine with the ice–albedo feedback for record melting, Xavier Fettweis, a Greenland researcher at Belgium's University of Liege..."Due to a lower winter accumulation than normal, the bare ice area has been exposed very early in this area enhancing the melt due to the melt-albedo feedback...Therefore, at the beginning of the melt season, the snowpack along the west coast is now preconditioned to break records of melt."

....It remains to be seen if we'll get a meltdown like July 2012 when the entire ice sheet's surface destabilized, but regardless, it's a disconcerting June for an ice sheet that, if it completely melted away, would raise sea levels by about 24 feet.

...Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy climate specialist Rich Thoman..."by...late September, there's going to be no sea ice within hundreds of miles of Alaska" ....



There's some really intense melting in the Arctic right now
Mark Kaufman | 6/14/2019
1 day ago

...The Arctic summer has a long way to go, but already sea ice levels over great swathes of the sprawling Arctic ocean are at historic lows (in the 40-year-long satellite record) for this time of year. The most striking declines are in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, located above Alaska.

The melt is exceptional, but right in line with accelerating melting trends occurring as the Arctic warms.

"Every year we smash a record that we’re shocked at," said Jeremy Mathis, a longtime Arctic researcher and a current board director at the National Academies of Sciences.

By the end of May, Arctic sea ice overall was vastly diminished, running some 436,000 square miles below average. Now, the downward trend continues, with the lowest sea ice on record for mid-June.

We should get used to these Arctic records..."The extraordinary change is a given. The Arctic is superseding any projection we had for how quickly sea ice was going to go away. I’m losing the ability to communicate the magnitude of change. I’m running out of adjectives to describe the scope of change we’re seeing."

Even if global civilization is able to slash carbon emissions and curb temperatures at levels that would avoid the worst consequences of climate change, the exceptionally warmed Arctic will still feel the heat.

"Regardless of any mitigating efforts, the Arctic is going to be a fundamentally different place" ...


Jun 17, 5:08am Top

No laughing matter
Caitlin McDermott-Murphy | June 6, 2019

A recent study* shows that nitrous-oxide emissions from thawing Alaskan permafrost are about 12 times higher than previously assumed.

...permafrost...beds of soil, rock, and sediment are...thawing at an increasing rate.

...Forests are falling; roads are collapsing; and, in an ironic twist, the warmer soil is releasing even more greenhouse gases, which could further exacerbate the effects of climate change.

...nitrous oxide (N2O) — known in dentistry as laughing gas — ... emissions from thawing Alaskan permafrost are about 12 times higher than previously assumed. Since N2O traps heat nearly 300 times more efficiently than carbon dioxide does, this revelation could mean that the Arctic — and the global climate — are in more danger than we thought. ...

...“The assumption is that these permafrost soils are so cold there wouldn’t be much microbial activity,” (Jordan) Wilkerson (Ph.D. student at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences based in the lab of James G. Anderson, the Philip S. Weld Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry at Harvard) said. “Until 2009 there was no indication by any study whatsoever that emissions could actually be quite large in permafrost regions.”

...In December NOAA reported that the Arctic is warming almost twice as fast as the rest of the planet, and the permafrost, too, is predicted to thaw at an ever-increasing rate. The warm temperatures could also bring more vegetation to the region, which could help decrease future nitrous-oxide levels, since plants absorb nitrogen. But to understand how plants might mitigate the risk, researchers need more data on the risk itself...



* Wilkerson, J., Dobosy, R., Sayres, D. S., Healy, C., Dumas, E., Baker, B., and Anderson, J. G.: Permafrost nitrous oxide emissions observed on a landscape scale using the airborne eddy-covariance method, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 19, 4257-4268, https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-19-4257-2019, 2019. https://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/19/4257/2019/


The microbial by-product nitrous oxide (N2O), a potent greenhouse gas and ozone depleting substance, has conventionally been assumed to have minimal emissions in permafrost regions. This assumption has been questioned by recent in situ studies which have demonstrated that some geologic features in permafrost may, in fact, have elevated emissions comparable to those of tropical soils. However, these recent studies, along with every known in situ study focused on permafrost N2O fluxes, have used chambers to examine small areas (less than 50 m2). In late August 2013, we used the airborne eddy-covariance technique to make in situ N2O flux measurements over the North Slope of Alaska from a low-flying aircraft spanning a much larger area: around 310 km2. We observed large variability of N2O fluxes with many areas exhibiting negligible emissions. Still, the daily mean averaged over our flight campaign was 3.8 (2.2–4.7) mg N2O m−2 d−1 with the 90 % confidence interval shown in parentheses. If these measurements are representative of the whole month, then the permafrost areas we observed emitted a total of around 0.04–0.09 g m−2 for August, which is comparable to what is typically assumed to be the upper limit of yearly emissions for these regions.

Jun 17, 5:25am Top

From North American perspective, this map shows " exactly what lies on the other side of the ocean".
Astonishing that UK is same latitude as Newfoundland and Labrador.

This map tells you exactly what lies on the other side of the ocean
Christian Cotroneo | June 6, 2019

Jun 17, 10:18am Top

Fertilizers + floods + warm water = large dead zones

This Year’s Gulf Dead Zone Forecast to Be One of the Biggest
Jason Daley | Jun 16 2019

Each summer for at least the last 35 years, part of the Gulf of Mexico dies. That’s because the Mississippi River, which drains a massive swathe of the Midwest, Great Plains, and the Southeast United States, and transports tons of excess fertilizer and nutrients into the gulf, leading to a massive dead zone. This year, as record spring floods flush even more pollutants into the river, the hypoxic zone is forecast to be one of the worst ever, maxing out at around 8,000 square miles—an area larger than the state of Massachusetts.

While agricultural fertilizers, usually forms of nitrogen and phosphorous, can be toxic to fish and aquatic wildlife on their own, that’s not what causes the dead zone in the gulf. Instead, it’s caused by a process called eutrophication. When the excess nutrients are flushed into the warm waters along coastal Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, they cause large algae blooms, some of which can be toxic. Those mats of algae also block sunlight from reaching into the sea. But the big problem comes when all that algae dies. The process of decomposition sucks almost all of the dissolved oxygen out of the water near the bottom, leading to large-scale hypoxic zones where fish, shrimp, and other creatures cannot live. Those that can swim or skitter away do, and those that can’t suffocate.

Usually, by fall the dead zone dissipates, with the process primed to start all over again in the spring. To get a grip on just how large the dead zone will be each year, government institutions cooperate on a detailed analysis. The forecast is actually a compilation of predictions created by models from five different universities, based on various factors including data from the USGS, which operates 3,000 stream gauges, 50 nitrate sensors, and 35 long-term monitoring sites in the Mississippi watershed. In August, NOAA then sends out a research vessel to measure oxygen levels in the gulf to determine the actual size of the dead zone to figure out if their estimates were right.

...The Gulf of Mexico dead zone is not unique; similar zones exist at the mouths of rivers that drain agricultural areas around the world. The gulf hypoxic zone, however, is the second largest, behind the almost 19,000-square-mile dead zone in the Baltic Sea. The Chesapeake Bay also has a large annual dead zone that is expected to reach near record levels this year. Lake Erie, Green Bay, the St. Lawrence River, and coastal Oregon also have dead zones that fluctuate year to year.

...Getting rid of the dead zone, however, will be a long and difficult process, if it ever happens. Research indicates that there’s so much excess fertilizer in Midwest soils that even if farmers stopped adding them to their fields, the eutrophication in the gulf would persist another 30 years.

And though millions of dollars have been spent on volunteer and incentive-based programs like planting buffer strips and using fertilizer more strategically to decrease the nutrient loads in rivers, Scavia says, the impact has been negligible. “I’ve been doing this analysis since the late 1990s, and the nutrient load in the gulf has not changed,” he says. “The prognosis is not very good. Unless we do something different, it’s unlikely to change.”

Chances are things will get worse before any technical or political fixes can be found for the problem. Climate change is expected to increase the average annual precipitation in the Midwest, increasing nutrient input into the river, and warming temperatures in the gulf are predicted to worsen the hypoxic zones.

(Don Scavia, professor emiritus at University of Michigan) says there are some small things individuals can do, besides pressing for changes in agriculture. Nonagricultural runoff accounts for only about 15 percent of nutrient discharge into the Mississippi basin, but keeping lawn fertilizers out of local streams and rivers is a start. The biggest change takes place at the dinner table. Scavia points out that the vast majority of the corn and soy grown in the Midwest goes to beef production. Cutting down on meat consumption, he says, could prevent a drop or two of fertilizer from making the long journey downstream.


Edited: Jun 18, 6:52am Top

Greenland is pretty massive, even compared to Antarctica!
See: Figure 16.8
Simplified cross-sectional profiles the continental ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica – both drawn to the same scale.

How glaciers work (chapter)
open textbook "Physical Geology"

Jun 18, 9:35pm Top

Climate change eroding the coastline in Tuktoyaktuk (1:10)
CBC News | 6/18/2019

Climate change is eroding the coastline in Tuktoyaktuk, forcing the Arctic community to move homes before they collapse into the ocean.


Jun 19, 3:19pm Top

What are they smokin' in the Trump Administration, anyway???
(Oh yeah, coal...criminal!)

Trump EPA finalizes rollback of key Obama climate rule that targeted coal plants
'We are leveling the playing field': EPA rolls back Obama climate rule that targeted coal plants
Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis | June 19, 2019

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the Affordable Clean Energy rule on June 19, a rollback of key Obama climate rule policies that targeted coal plants.

...requiring the U.S. power sector to cut its 2030 carbon emissions 35 percent over 2005 levels — less than half of what experts calculate is needed to avert catastrophic warming of the planet.

...demand(ing) much smaller carbon dioxide reductions than the industry is already on track to achieve, even without federal regulation. As of last year, the U.S. power sector had cut its greenhouse gas emissions 27 percent compared with 2005...


Jun 19, 8:55pm Top

Rising Temperatures Ravage the Himalayas, Rapidly Shrinking Its Glaciers
Somini Sengupta | June 19, 2019

Climate change is “eating” the glaciers of the Himalayas, posing a grave threat to hundreds of millions of people who live downstream, a study based on 40 years of satellite data has shown.

The study, published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances*, concluded that the glaciers have lost a foot and a half of ice every year since 2000, melting at a far faster pace than in the previous 25-year period. In recent years, the glaciers have lost about eight billion tons of water a year. The study’s authors described it as equivalent to the amount of water held by 3.2 million Olympic-size swimming pools.

The study adds to a growing and grim body of work that points to the dangers of global warming for the Himalayas, which are considered the water towers of Asia and an insurance policy against drought...



J. M. Maurer et al. 2019. Acceleration of ice loss across the Himalayas over the past 40 years. Science Advances 19 Jun 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 6, eaav7266 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav7266 https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/6/eaav7266


Himalayan glaciers supply meltwater to densely populated catchments in South Asia, and regional observations of glacier change over multiple decades are needed to understand climate drivers and assess resulting impacts on glacier-fed rivers. Here, we quantify changes in ice thickness during the intervals 1975–2000 and 2000–2016 across the Himalayas, using a set of digital elevation models derived from cold war–era spy satellite film and modern stereo satellite imagery. We observe consistent ice loss along the entire 2000-km transect for both intervals and find a doubling of the average loss rate during 2000–2016 −0.43 ± 0.14 m w.e. year−1 (meters of water equivalent per year) compared to 1975–2000 (−0.22 ± 0.13 m w.e. year−1). The similar magnitude and acceleration of ice loss across the Himalayas suggests a regionally coherent climate forcing, consistent with atmospheric warming and associated energy fluxes as the dominant drivers of glacier change.

Jun 19, 8:59pm Top

See photo!

Abandoned Chacaltaya Ski Resort
The world’s highest ski resort was deserted after an 18,000-year-old glacier melted away.

The Chacaltaya Ski Resort was once the only ski resort in Bolivia. The popular resort also had the honor of being both the highest ski resort in the world and home to the world’s highest restaurant. But when the mountain’s glacier melted, it was all but abandoned.

...At 17,519 feet above sea level, the Chacaltaya Ski Resort was higher than the North Base Camp of Mount Everest. For decades it held the record as the world’s highest ski resort, and the resort’s restaurant is still recognized by Guinness as the highest restaurant in the world...


Jun 20, 9:43am Top

India is running out of water, fast
Delayed monsoon rains highlight fragility of the water supply in the deeply agrarian South Asian country.

At least 21 cities in India, including capital New Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad, will run out of groundwater by 2020, affecting around 100 million people.

India's news network NDTV said 40 percent of India's population will have no access to drinking water by 2030, according to a report by the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) - the country's principal planning organisation.

One of the worrying predictions of climate change has been a weakening monsoon season in South Asia. For the last five years, rainfall in the region has been below average, with 2015 being the worst at 86 percent.

This year's late monsoon progress is worrying, with a prolonged heatwave aggravating the situation. From Andhra Pradesh to Bihar, the late onset of monsoon cloud and rain has allowed daily temperatures to remain higher than normal...


Jun 20, 9:53am Top

Fields of Dreams
Diana Zlomislic | June 20, 2019

The microscope in Tannis and Derek Axten’s farm office in Minton, Sask., is a good clue these third-generation grain growers are managing their land a little differently than their neighbours.

A more obvious sign is found while walking the rows of flax and lentils, mustard and forage peas, chickpeas and flax. In a province known for fields of gold thanks to a monoculture mentality that prizes growing a single crop in a given area, the Axtens are seeding 13 different combinations of grains and legumes.

While many of their neighbours stay true to a 100-day growing season, leaving the land almost bare after fall harvest, the Axtens work to keep their acreage green for more than 200 days of the year with cover crops such as sweet clover, chickling vetch and oats whose main jobs are to protect the earth from sun and wind and feed the soil with their live roots.

When the couple took over Derek’s family farm in 2006, part of which his grandfather worked more than a century ago, they inherited a rich history but also some incredibly fragile soil and no dependable source of water.

The 5,000 acres they’re farming is almost smack dab in the heart of North America’s “geographic centre,” which (according to the 1931 U.S. Geological Survey) is Rugby, N.D., — 422 kilometres southeast of Minton following Highway 18.

...Climate variation between seasons on the prairies is among the most dramatic on Earth, characterized by repeated wet and dry cycles. With warming temperatures, future droughts are projected to be “more frequent and intense” across the southern Canadian Prairies, according to Canada’s Changing Climate Report, which was released in 2019 by the federal government.

International and Canadian researchers are predicting warmer winters for the region, potentially one of the few great news stories to come out of climate change research because it would bring a longer growing season, the promise of significantly higher yields for farmers and a big bump to the national economy. But a hotter climate without adequate moisture in the soil could also spell disaster. Moisture is a transformative element driving the physics, chemistry and biology of healthy soil. Water brings life. Without it, you’re looking at a pile of lifeless, and increasingly useless, dirt.

That’s why the Axtens are among a small but growing group of farmers across the province — some supported by commercial agricultural players known as “Big Ag” — who are working overtime on this challenge. A big part of their solution requires turning their soil into the world’s biggest sponges...


Jun 20, 9:57am Top

Canada Approves Expansion of Controversial Trans Mountain Pipeline
Ian Austen | June 18, 2019

OTTAWA — Canada will move forward with a pipeline project that has set the country’s provinces against one another, opened rifts among its Indigenous communities and prompted major protests.

The project — which will expand the Trans Mountain pipeline that links Alberta’s oil sands to British Columbia — is a critical component of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s longstanding position that Canada needs to maintain a strong energy industry to support its efforts to combat climate change. His government bought the pipeline from its American owners a year ago to ensure its expansion.

...Mr. Trudeau said construction will begin this summer on the expansion, which by some estimates will cost 9.3 billion Canadian dollars, or $6.95 billion.

With Trans Mountain, Mr. Trudeau has found himself trapped in the middle of an issue that has provoked heated rhetoric on both sides, divided Canada’s two westernmost provinces and exposed a rift in the country’s Indigenous communities. It is also likely to become a flash point in the upcoming national elections, in October...


Jun 20, 10:04am Top

>57 margd: Liz Carlisle documents this movement in her book Lentil Underground. It's truly revolutionary. And these farmers have the energy to engage with USDA, land grant colleges and farmers' organizations to educate and spread the goodness.

Jun 21, 2:59am Top

Oregon Gov. Sends Police After GOP Senators Who Fled Capitol
Republican lawmakers fled in an attempt to block a vote on a landmark climate plan that would be the second of its kind in the nation.
Associated Press | 20 June 2019

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown deployed the state police Thursday to try to round up Republican lawmakers who fled the Capitol in an attempt to block a vote on a landmark climate plan that would be the second of its kind in the nation.

Minority Republicans want the cap-and-trade proposal aimed at dramatically lowering the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 to be sent to the voters for approval instead of instituted by lawmakers. Negotiations with Democrats fell apart late Wednesday prompting conservatives to pursue a walkout...

Some members have even left the state to avoid a vote...State police don’t have jurisdiction beyond state lines.

Democrats have an 18 to 12 majority in the chamber, but need 20 members present for a quorum.

...Under the proposed cap and trade program, the state would put an overall limit on greenhouse gas emissions and auction off pollution “allowances” for each ton of carbon industries plan to emit.

The legislation would lower that cap over time to encourage businesses to move away from fossil fuels: The state would reduce emissions to 45% below 1990 levels by 2035, and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

Democrats have presented the proposal as an efficient way to lower emissions while investing in low-income and rural communities’ ability to adapt to climate change. It has the support of environmental groups, farmworkers and some trade unions.

Brown, a Democrat, said Wednesday she’s willing to extend the legislative session...


Jun 21, 6:48am Top

>60 margd: My question on that story was - Did she catch and return any of those fleeing rats?

Jun 21, 8:18am Top

It's an interesting tactic--like a filibuster with legs. Far better I think, than merely passing a note to Senate leader. At least, people who leave or drone on in the Senate (Paul) are more invested in that they inconvenience themselves as well as others. A few years ago, Wisconsin Dems likewise left rather than allow a vote on unions. Just wish Oregon Republicans were't so opposed to climate protection. While they're away, they should spend some time with their kids and grandkids...

Jun 22, 7:37pm Top

No, no, no--Oregon Rs go too far! Lock them up!!!

Oregon Statehouse Shut Down After Lawmakers Team Up With Right-Wing Militias
Kelly Weill | 06.22.19
While leaving the statehouse before the walkout, one Republican senator implied that police who pursued them should be ready to die: “Send bachelors and come heavily armed.”
1:37PM ET / Published 06.22.19 1:12PM ET

Oregon’s statehouse shut down for safety concerns on Saturday. But the threats weren’t coming from anonymous trolls or foreign fighters—they were coming from the state’s Republican senators, who have teamed up with right-wing militias to threaten violence over a climate change bill.

Eleven of Oregon’s Senate Republicans fled the state this week to avoid a vote on a bill that would cap greenhouse emissions. The group, believed to be hiding in Idaho, left the state senate with too few lawmakers to hold a vote. But the move is more than a legislative maneuver. The missing senators have partnered with right-wing paramilitary groups to threaten violence, should they be brought back to Oregon.

The state senate had scheduled sessions on Saturday, but cancelled them after reports of several militias’ two-day “Rally to Take the Capitol” this weekend.

...Walkouts are not unique to Republicans. Democrat lawmakers fled their states in 2003 and 2011 to prevent votes on redistricting and curbing union rights, The Daily Beast previously reported. Oregon has a long history of senate walkouts, including a four-day walkout in May, when Republicans refused to vote on a tax package that would fund schools. They returned to session with the agreement that they would not walk out again.

But this walkout also came with violent threats. Multiple senators are believed to have fled to Idaho, with right-wing militias flocking to their aid. While leaving the statehouse before the walkout, Republican Sen. Brian Boquist implied that police officers who pursued them should be ready to die. “Send bachelors and come heavily armed,” Boquist warned police in a televised interview shortly before his walkout. “I’m not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon. It’s just that simple.”...


Edited: Jun 23, 2:31am Top

With More Storms and Rising Seas, Which U.S. Cities Should Be Saved First?
Christopher Flavelle | June 19, 2019

As disaster costs keep rising nationwide, a troubling new debate has become urgent: If there’s not enough money to protect every coastal community from the effects of human-caused global warming, how should we decide which ones to save first?

After three years of brutal flooding and hurricanes in the United States, there is growing consensus among policymakers and scientists that coastal areas will require significant spending to ride out future storms and rising sea levels — not in decades, but now and in the very near future. There is also a growing realization that some communities, even sizable ones, will be left behind.

New research offers one way to look at the enormity of the cost as policymakers consider how to choose winners and losers in the race to adapt to climate change. By 2040, simply providing basic storm-surge protection in the form of sea walls for all coastal cities with more than 25,000 residents will require at least $42 billion, according to new estimates from the Center for Climate Integrity, an environmental advocacy group. Expanding the list to include communities smaller than 25,000 people would increase that cost to more than $400 billion.

“Once you get into it, you realize we’re just not going to protect a lot of these places,” said Richard Wiles, executive director of the group, which wants oil and gas companies to pay some of the cost of climate adaptation. “This is the next wave of climate denial — denying the costs that we’re all facing.”...


Jun 23, 7:36am Top

Blue States Roll Out Aggressive Climate Strategies. Red States Keep to the Sidelines.
Brad Plumer | June 21, 2019

...the partisan split on climate policy has become stark. Of the 15 state governors who now support 100 percent clean electricity goals, only one is a Republican: Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, who last month allowed an expanded renewable-power mandate adopted by the Democratic legislature to pass into law.

States have always competed with each other for business by offering beneficial tax rates, labor laws or health care policies. However, some of the new climate policies are striving to be much more far-reaching, affecting so many different industries that they could reshape the geography of America’s economy.

...California has become a hub for clean-tech companies like Tesla, the electric vehicle maker that has benefited from the state’s clean-car incentives. By contrast, petrochemical and plastic companies are expanding greatly in the Gulf Coast and Appalachia, where states like Texas and Ohio have avoided limits on carbon pollution and instead embraced the fracking boom that has led to a glut of cheap natural gas.

...heavily polluting industries, like steel or cement manufacturers, could start leaving states with strict climate policies and move to areas with looser pollution rules.

...states with stricter environmental policies...have tried to structure their carbon-pricing programs so that energy-intensive industries effectively get subsidies to stay in the state, even as they have to lower their emissions.

The lack of a federal commitment to tackle climate change — the Trump administration has pledged to withdraw from the Paris agreement, the 2015 global pact among nations to reduce emissions — makes the job of blue states trying to address the issue more difficult. ...

...the states that have so far pledged to uphold the Paris agreement on their own make up only about one-third of the nation’s emissions.

Even so, states like California and New York, which would rank as the world’s 5th- and 11th-largest economies if they were stand-alone countries, have the ability to sway large markets. For instance, their purchasing power can increase demand for things like electric buses or efficient heating pumps and potentially drive down prices.

They can also force even some global industries to embrace technological advances. America’s automakers, for instance, are now grappling with the prospect that 14 states, led by California, could soon enforce stricter pollution standards for cars than federal law will mandate, potentially splitting the American auto market in two.

...In the future, of course, Congress could step in and enact a federal climate policy that covers all states throughout the country. But in the meantime, few if any of the GOP-led states so far are envisioning aggressive policies to transition away from fossil fuels altogether...As some states race ahead to curb their emissions and others lag behind, that could make it more complicated to design national climate policies, such as a carbon tax or national clean-electricity standard that would put a heavier burden on the most carbon-intensive states.

...Climate policy didn’t always divide quite so neatly along partisan lines...as global warming became more politically divisive during the Obama era and conservative and libertarian groups stepped up their attacks on state renewable energy laws, the era of climate bipartisanship has faded.

...Just because a blue state adopts an ambitious new climate policy is no guarantee that it will actually follow through...

...On the flip side, a number of Republican states have been making major strides in adding renewable energy even without stringent mandates to do so...

And many red states have managed to cut their own emissions over the past decade largely through market forces, as cheaper and cleaner natural gas, wind and solar power have pushed dirtier coal plants...into retirement...

Still, most experts agree that completely decarbonizing the nation’s energy system, which scientists say is a necessary step for averting the worst effects of climate change, will require major new policies such as carbon pricing or new regulations that go well beyond what market forces can deliver...


Jun 25, 3:32am Top

Plastic pollution and the climate crisis are symptoms of the same disease
Rhiannon Moore | Jun 19, 2019

...As much as eight per cent of global oil goes directly to plastic production — an estimate that excludes the transportation of single-use plastics to global markets, the energy used to transport plastic to landfill, and the energy used to sort or recycle items, or incinerate them...


Jun 25, 9:28pm Top

genuinely surprised at the sudden emergence of discussion starting >59 2wonderY: , ending >62 margd:

im a newcomer to this entire site, so also to this discussion group, so mb i just dont understand how things work around here

like, r there that many ppl excited to check this discussion board and see that the 50 most recent posts r all just article links/summaries? with no hope or regularity of discussion? if thats what ppl r here for, then... i guess thats just how it is. i just think discussion is a bit more fun

Jun 26, 3:19am Top

Go for it. I

Edited: Jun 26, 6:30pm Top

I read it for the excellent synopses. Although most threads are for discussion, I don’t think they all have to be.

Jun 27, 7:19pm Top

UN report on 1.5C blocked from climate talks after Saudi Arabia disputes science
Chloé Farand | 27/06/2019

There will be no further formal discussions of the IPCC’s findings at the UN after Saudi Arabia fought to undermine the findings of the global scientific community

Climate science was buried at a meeting in Bonn. Meanwhile diplomats planted trees to symbolise their intention to combat desertification...

A major report on 1.5C has been excluded from formal UN climate negotiations, after Saudi Arabia tried to discredit its scientific underpinnings.

Discussions came to a deadlock at the talks in Bonn after a small group of countries refused to engage in substantive discussions over how the report’s findings could be used to inform policies on increasing the pace and scale of decarbonisation.

The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) lays out the differences between 1.5C and 2C of warming – a matter of survival for many vulnerable countries including small island states which pushed for the findings to lead to more ambitious carbon-cutting policies.

At the closing plenary, which took place amid soaring summer temperatures in the former west German capital, a five-paragraph watered-down agreement put an end to formal discussions on the report.*

The agreed text expressed “appreciation and gratitude” to the scientific community for the report, which it said “reflects the best available science” and notes “the views expressed on how to strengthen scientific knowledge on global warming of 1.5C”.

It offers no way forward for the report to be considered further in formal negotiations...



* https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/resource/sbsta2019_L08_adv.pdf

Jun 28, 8:44am Top

Climate change got just 15 minutes out of 4 hours of Democratic debates
Umair Irfan Jun 28, 2019

Climate is one of the most important issues for Democratic primary voters. It deserves its own event.

The first two Democratic presidential debates for the 2020 election this week devoted more attention to climate change than in all the 2016 debates combined. But the climate crisis got just 15 minutes across four hours of airtime. ...

...activists...the Democratic National Committee should hold a separate climate change debate...

DNC Chair Tom Perez has declared that the party does not want to host an event centered on the issue and that candidates who create their own climate debates would be barred from other DNC debates. (A climate change “forum” or a “town hall” would be allowed.)...a climate change debate would show unnecessary prejudice toward the issue and end up favoring the candidates like Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who has built his entire campaign around climate....

However, the debates ended up revealing several reasons why holding a separate climate debate makes sense:
1) Many candidates have thoughtful ideas about climate change and want to present them...
2) The moderators’ climate questions were insufficient and, at times, muddled...
3) There’s an appetite for a climate change debate...

...A debate asking presidential hopefuls to walk through how they plan to cope with a warming world would be a public service and help educate voters who may not realize just how much a warming world will impact agriculture, the economy, health, and national security.


Jun 28, 6:06pm Top

What Offshore Wind Means for U.S. Utilities
Travis Miller & Daniel Grunwald | 28 Jun 2019

After reviewing the latest developments in the U.S. offshore wind industry, we are reaffirming our fair value estimates, economic moat ratings, and moat trend ratings for the U.S. utilities we cover.

....The U.S. East Coast is the focus of activity with more than 10 gigawatts of projects due on line by 2023 and six states with legislative mandates. The East Coast’s long, shallow continental shelf allows wind turbines to be sited far from the coast, reducing “not in my backyard” opposition. But with only one small project on line, we remain skeptical that investments in the region will be value-accretive, given the high costs and execution risk.

...Maine holds some of the most potential, although early plans stalled out under its previous governor...

However, the whole East Coast down through South Carolina has the ability to add offshore wind farms with greater than 40% capacity factors...

A number of major state mandates have come to pass in the last couple of years. Newcomers such as New Jersey (3.5 GW), Massachusetts (3.2 GW), and New York (2.4 GW) have all been big hitters. ...

Connecticut and Maryland also have passed offshore wind mandates. ...

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is the main agency that must review and sign off on offshore projects. While state and other federal permits are needed, the first step in siting these projects is a BOEM lease. ...

The biggest permitting headwind for the COP-stage projects appears to be the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service...

...Thanks to offshore wind, the ISO New England*, NYISO**, and PJM*** power markets will all see a further fuel mix change in the coming years. Cheaper gas has been displacing coal and oil, but renewables will now extend coal displacement on the East Coast. New England and New York only tend to call on coal during some high-demand periods. In PJM, on the New Jersey side of transmission, coal is also stripped out. With coal generation already diminished, wind power will start cutting into natural gas demand in the region. We estimate the potential gas displacement from the initial 3,300 MW of offshore wind at a conservative 40% capacity factor would be as much as 0.76 billion cubic feet per week. If the more than 10,000 MW of proposed wind projects are all built, gas displacement could top 2.3 bcf/week. That could start causing some gas demand disruption.


* ISO New England is the independent, not-for-profit corporation responsible for keeping electricity flowing across the six New England states and ensuring that the region has reliable, competitively priced wholesale electricity today and into the future.

**NY Independent System Operator: Reliably managing NY’s power grid & energy markets

***PJM is a regional transmission organization (RTO) that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of 13 states and the District of Columbia.

Jun 29, 5:58am Top

See photo, map...
Wonder why Russians didn't tap wind energy as in Antarctica:

Russia plans to tow a nuclear power station to the Arctic. Critics dub it a 'floating Chernobyl'
Mary Ilyushina | June 28, 2019

...The Admiral Lomonosov will be the northernmost operating nuclear plant in the world, and it's key to plans to develop the region economically. About 2 million Russians reside near the Arctic coast in villages and towns similar to Pevek, settlements that are often reachable only by plane or ship, if the weather permits. But they generate as much as 20% of country's GDP and are key for Russian plans to tap into the hidden Arctic riches of oil and gas as Siberian reserves diminish...


Edited: Jun 29, 7:33am Top

One ray of hope for sweltering Europe, India, etc.:

With transition to “cleaner” coal burning in the developing world, Mann et al. (2018) expect a drop-off in anthropogenic sulfate aerosol production over the next half century. Even in a “business-as-usual” scenario of steadily increasing carbon emissions through the end of the 21st century, "a reduction in midlatitude aerosol loading could actually lead to Arctic de-amplification this century, ameliorating potential increases in persistent extreme weather events."


Europe has had five 500-year summers in 15 years. And now this
Stephen Leahy | June 28, 2019

...Record temperatures topped 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius) in parts of France, Germany, Poland and Spain, with hotter days to come. The same thing happened last year—record-breaking heat was responsible for 700 deaths in Sweden and more than 250 in Denmark, countries that have never needed air conditioning before this new era of climate-change-driven extreme events.

Europe’s five hottest summers in the past 500 years have all occurred in the last 15 years, not including this summer. All have been deadly. The 2003 heat wave was the worst, having led to the deaths of over 70,000 people; in 2010, 56,000 died in Russia alone.

These extreme heat events are all connected to a slower jet stream that locks weather systems into place, says Michael Mann of Penn State University. Mann co-authored a study* last year that linked the slowdown in the jet stream—the band of high-altitude winds that sweep around the globe from west to east—to last summer’s unprecedented droughts, heat waves, wildfires, and flooding events across the entire Northern Hemisphere. And it is likely behind India’s weak monsoon rains and the widespread flooding in the U.S. Midwest this year.

...Like a slow-moving river, a slower jet stream forms deep meanders, which can stall during the summer, sometimes for weeks. Weather patterns stall with them, whether they be heat waves or torrential rains.

While temperatures in Europe are nowhere near as hot as India’s current month-long heat wave—temperatures on the Asian subcontinent have reached 123°F (51°C)—most Europeans, particularly in the north, are unused to anything over 85°F. Air-conditioning remains rare. It’s found in less than five percent of homes in France, for example, and less than two percent of German homes...



* Michael E. Mann et al. 2018. Projected changes in persistent extreme summer weather events: The role of quasi-resonant amplification. Science Advances 31 Oct 2018: Vol. 4, no. 10, eaat3272
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aat3272 https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/4/10/eaat3272


Persistent episodes of extreme weather in the Northern Hemisphere summer have been associated with high-amplitude quasi-stationary atmospheric Rossby waves, with zonal wave numbers 6 to 8 resulting from the phenomenon of quasi-resonant amplification (QRA). A fingerprint for the occurrence of QRA can be defined in terms of the zonally averaged surface temperature field. Examining state-of-the-art Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) climate model projections, we find that QRA events are likely to increase by ~50% this century under business-as-usual carbon emissions, but there is considerable variation among climate models. Some predict a near tripling of QRA events by the end of the century, while others predict a potential decrease. Models with amplified Arctic warming yield the most pronounced increase in QRA events. The projections are strongly dependent on assumptions regarding the nature of changes in radiative forcing associated with anthropogenic aerosols** over the next century. One implication of our findings is that a reduction in midlatitude aerosol loading could actually lead to Arctic de-amplification this century, ameliorating potential increases in persistent extreme weather events.

Jun 29, 10:46am Top

Hardly anyone has airconditioning in their home here in Holland. Today we have a maximum of 32 C, which is hot enough, in high humidity. I would love to have the kind of shutters that houses in France have, so outside shutters. Our houses haven't been built for the climate we are getting. And mine is a municipal monument, so no changes to the outside allowed, I need a permit. We will have to adapt to changing circumstances I think. And do it wisely so as not to create even more emissions.

Jun 29, 12:37pm Top

I have a hundred year old house and no air conditioning. A roof mounted exhaust fan makes all the difference. And I can vouch for it more this season, because the motor seized recently. It's now pretty stuffy upstairs, and too hot in the attic to attempt a replacement at present. The motors seem to last about a dozen years. This will be the second replacement.

Jun 29, 7:02pm Top

Her on the West coast of Norway we have about 12-16 C today which is ok but not really summer, it is supposed to go down to perhaps 10 C next week. It is better than extreme heat and drought of course. In the North it is down to 5 C and snow some places.

Jun 30, 7:05am Top

Here where L Ontario empties into the St Lawrence R, we've had flooding and a cool, rainy spring: shore is eroding, well was contaminated, nesting swallows had insufficient insects for a while there, most farmers couldn't get their crops in. And we are lucky compared to Europe, India, western America and Canada... Expecting food inflation this fall...

On the upside:

In a first, renewables generated more electricity in the U.S. than coal for a month
Mary Jo DiLonardo | June 26, 2019

The renewable energy sector in the United States generated more energy than coal-fired plants for the month of April, according to data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). That's the first time this has happened, and according to projections from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), it may have happened again in May. Renewables include hydroelectricity, biomass, wind, solar and geothermal.

Renewable energy generated more than 68 million megawatt-hours of power in April, according to the EIA data, surpassing the 60 million megawatt-hours produced by coal that month. As Bloomberg News reports, that's the most clean energy the U.S. has ever produced, and the least coal the country has consumed in years...


Edited: Jul 2, 7:30am Top

"More than half of (anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions) are projected to come from the electricity sector, and (existing) infrastructure in China, the USA and the EU28 countries represent approximately 41 per cent, 9 per cent and 7 per cent of the total, respectively."

CO2 emissions are on track to take us beyond 1.5 degrees of global warming
Current and planned energy infrastructure could emit around 850 gigatons of the greenhouse gas

Carolyn Wilke | July 1, 2019

The world’s existing power plants, industrial equipment, vehicles and other CO₂-emitters are on track to pump out enough carbon dioxide to blow past that target by midcentury*...Add in future power plants that are already planned, permitted or under construction, and we could emit enough by 2033 to raise average global atmospheric temperatures by 1.5 degrees...

...In the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, nearly all the world’s nations agreed to try to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to limit warming to “well below” 2 degrees by 2100. The United States has said it would pull out of the agreement, though the exit wouldn’t be complete until 2020.

Still, calls have increased since 2015 for the more ambitious goal of keeping warming to 1.5 degrees...fewer heat waves, spells of extreme weather and species extinctions.

Human activity has already increased global temperatures by 1 degree...

...Nearly 10 years ago, Davis and some colleagues performed a census of CO2–emitting infrastructure. The new study updates that census to include all known CO2 sources at the end of 2018, including power plants and industrial emitters, such as cement kilns, as well as transportation sources such as airplanes and vehicles. The update also accounts for shifts in greenhouse gas emissions caused by things such as the U.S. natural gas boom and China’s burgeoning economy. The resulting calculation is how much CO2 is “committed” to be created, unless policy or technology triggers change. The calculations don’t consider current and future efforts to mitigate emissions, for example by expanding renewable energy sources. Nor do the results account for projected emissions increases in developing economies.

This work also doesn’t consider other sectors, for instance agriculture, which contributes methane, a potent greenhouse gas...



* D. Tong et al. Committed emissions from existing energy infrastructure jeopardize 1.5 °C climate target. Nature. Published online July 1, 2019. doi:10.1038/s41586-019-1364-3. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1364-3


Net anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions must approach zero by mid-century (2050) to stabilize global mean temperature at the levels targeted by international efforts. Yet continued expansion of fossil-fuel energy infrastructure implies already ‘committed’ future CO2 emissions. Here we use detailed datasets of current fossil-fuel-burning energy infrastructure in 2018 to estimate regional and sectoral patterns of ‘committed’ CO2 emissions, the sensitivity of such emissions to assumed operating lifetimes and schedules, and the economic value of associated infrastructure. We estimate that, if operated as historically, existing infrastructure will emit about 658 gigatonnes (Gt) of CO2 (ranging from 226 to 1,479 Gt CO2 depending on assumed lifetimes and utilization rates). More than half of these emissions are projected to come from the electricity sector, and infrastructure in China, the USA and the EU28 countries represent approximately 41 per cent, 9 per cent and 7 per cent of the total, respectively. If built, proposed power plants (planned, permitted or under construction) would emit approximately an additional 188 (range 37–427) Gt CO2. Committed emissions from existing and proposed energy infrastructure (about 846 Gt CO2) thus represent more than the entire remaining carbon budget if mean warming is to be limited to 1.5 °C with a probability of 50–66 per cent (420–580 Gt CO2)5, and perhaps two-thirds of the remaining carbon budget if mean warming is to be limited to below 2 °C (1,170–1,500 Gt CO2). The remaining carbon budget estimates are varied and nuanced, depending on the climate target and the availability of large-scale negative emissions. Nevertheless, our emission estimates suggest that little or no additional CO2-emitting infrastructure can be commissioned, and that infrastructure retirements that are earlier than historical ones (or retrofits with carbon capture and storage technology) may be necessary, in order to meet the Paris Agreement climate goals. On the basis of the asset value per ton of committed emissions, we estimate that the most cost-effective premature infrastructure retirements will be in the electricity and industry sectors, if non-emitting alternative technologies are available and affordable.

Jul 3, 4:11am Top

In the Philippines, students now have to plant 10 trees before they graduate
Rachel Genevieve Chia | 29 May 2019

Here’s one way to plant 175 million trees within a year: get young people to do it for school.

On May 15, the Philippine Congress officially passed (“Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act 2016”) stating that all students from elementary school, high school, and college (roughly equivalent to primary school, secondary school and university) must plant at least 10 trees in order to graduate....

The trees can be planted in either forests, mangroves, reserves, urban areas, abandoned mining sites, or in indigenous territory...must be also appropriate for the area’s climate, and indigenous tree species are preferred.

...promote “inter-generational responsibility” over environmental protection.


Jul 3, 5:03am Top

(US) Coal-Fired Power Plants Just Had Their Worst Month in Decades
The rise of renewables, a surprising resilience in nuclear power, and the fall of coal were all clearly evident in April power generation data.

Maxx Chatsko | Jul 2, 2019

...there are permanent forces driving the historical performance seen in April. On the other hand, moderate temperatures significantly reduce heating and cooling demand for much of the country every April, which makes it the low point of the year for electricity demand. In recent years, that's been compounded by the fact that the fourth month on the calendar is typically one of the strongest for wind power.

Power generators take advantage of -- or, in the case of wind power, are forced by -- the seasonality to perform routine maintenance at their facilities. Therefore, April data typically reflects the lowest monthly output levels for all thermal power plants, although coal is clearly on the ropes. Consider that:

American coal-fired power plants saw electricity generation in April 2019 fall 18% from the year-ago period and 26% from April 2017.

American coal-fired power plants are on pace to generate the lowest annual output of electricity since the 1970's, when the country consumed 46% less electricity.

American coal-fired power plants are expected to comprise just 24% of the nation's electricity production in 2019, down from 50% in 2005. That suggests the EIA's headline-grabbing forecast in which coal generates 22% of American electricity in 2050 is... a little optimistic.

Nuclear power plants generated a record amount of electricity in 2018, and then followed that up with their highest April output in years -- and perhaps ever. Can that continue in the face of planned reactor retirements?

Wind power surpassed 30,000 gigawatt-hours of generation in a month for the first time. It should eclipse that mark this fall on its way to becoming America's top renewable-energy source this year.

Low-cost natural gas, wind, and solar and aggressive state-mandated clean-energy plans are expected to continue sending coal-fired power plants to early retirements. That explains why the EIA expects coal consumption to drop to 602 million short tons in 2019 and just 567 million short tons in 2020 -- each marking the lowest level in over 40 years.

The immediate takeaway from April's data and the latest EIA outlook is that coal is going extinct in the United States. Since that's driven almost entirely by economics, power generators and electric utilities stubbornly hanging on to their coal-fired power plants might be costing ratepayers and shareholders. While geographic realities dictate power asset portfolios, that tussle is increasingly playing out between natural gas, wind, and solar -- not coal...


Jul 8, 8:17am Top

I suppose recycling CO2 in ocean is better than not if airplanes can't fly without such fuel?
Sounds awfully expensive--surely, ships and trucks have cheaper options?
Are there coral reefs in proposed ocean areas?

Limestone-buffered areas of the Great Lakes colonized by dreissenid mussels (all but L Superior and Georgian Bay) are net emitters of CO2, due to the mussels' impact on primary productivity. Maybe some spot in the middle of Lakes Huron, Michigan, and/or Ontario could host such islands, if least damage to ecosystem... :( Better than wind turbines beating migrating birds out of the air and desecrating spawning shoals?

Giant Floating Solar Farms Could Make Fuel and Help Solve the Climate Crisis, Says Study
Jordan Davidson | Jun. 25, 2019

Millions of solar panels clustered together to form an island could convert carbon dioxide in seawater into methanol, which can fuel airplanes and trucks, according to new research from Norway and Switzerland and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, PNAS*...The floating islands could drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels.

The paper argues that the technology exists to build the floating methanol islands on a large scale in areas of the ocean free from large waves and extreme weather. Areas of the ocean off the coasts of South America, North Australia, the Arabian Gulf and Southeast Asia are particularly suitable for mooring these islands.

"...carbon-based liquid fuels will in the foreseeable future continue to be important energy storage media..."

The paper suggests floating islands are similar to floating fishing farms. The researchers envision clusters that would consist of approximately 70 circular solar panels, or islands, covering an area of roughly a half of a square mile. The solar panels would produce electricity, which would split water molecules and isolate hydrogen. The hydrogen would then react with the carbon dioxide pulled from the seawater to produce usable methanol, according to NBC News.

...A single floating solar farm could produce more than 15,000 tons of methanol a year — enough to fuel a Boeing 737 airliner on more than 300 round-trip flights between New York City and Phoenix, according to NBC News reported. "We'd mostly want to use the fuel in airplanes, long-haul trucks, ships and non-electrified railroad systems," said Bruce Patterson, a physicist at the University of Zurich and one of the study's co-authors, as NBC News reported...


* Bruce D. Patterson et al. 2019. Renewable CO2 recycling and synthetic fuel production in a marine environment. PNAS June 18, 2019 116 (25) 12212-12219; first published June 3, 2019 https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1902335116 https://www.pnas.org/content/116/25/12212

Humankind must cease CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning if dangerous climate change is to be avoided. However, liquid carbon-based energy carriers are often without practical alternatives for vital mobility applications. The recycling of atmospheric CO2 into synthetic fuels, using renewable energy, offers an energy concept with no net CO2 emission. We propose to implement, on a large scale, marine-based artificial islands, on which solar or wind energy powers the production of hydrogen and the extraction of CO2 from seawater and where these gases are catalytically reacted to yield liquid methanol fuel. The present work proposes specifications for such facilities and highlights essential challenges in physics, chemistry, and engineering which must be met to realize this ambitious proposal.

A massive reduction in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning is required to limit the extent of global warming. However, carbon-based liquid fuels will in the foreseeable future continue to be important energy storage media. We propose a combination of largely existing technologies to use solar energy to recycle atmospheric CO2 into a liquid fuel. Our concept is clusters of marine-based floating islands, on which photovoltaic cells convert sunlight into electrical energy to produce H2 and to extract CO2 from seawater, where it is in equilibrium with the atmosphere. These gases are then reacted to form the energy carrier methanol, which is conveniently shipped to the end consumer. The present work initiates the development of this concept and highlights relevant questions in physics, chemistry, and mechanics.

Jul 9, 7:46am Top

>83 LolaWalser:

Ten years. We have ten years...or so...
Doesn't look good, does it? :(

Jul 9, 1:05pm Top

Hmm, ten years... I don't think so. It still hasn't sunk in in the West/North/where the rich people live, that time has already run out in the South, the East, where the poor people live.

All scenarios of redressment pushed by the West avoid the only real solution, which is the wiping out of all the capitalist pig societies.

China, India, Africa, South America are not the problem. North America, Australia, Western Europe are the problem.

But the latter will sooner see the former die out than give up the bloody SUVs, steaks, golf courses in the desert, the whole fascistic ideology of limitless rapacity and might-making-right.

That's what it's come down to.

Jul 9, 6:05pm Top

Bad enough that there are precious few conservatives even willing to take climate change seriously--then we have a very large batch of evangelicals and right wing Christians with their God's quirky will b.s. or God's need to punish us for something or other (abortion, homosexuality for instance) and/or those just hoping to hurry things up by provoking Armageddon--on the other side of the right wing ledger are the super capitalists--something's either making them a lot of money or it's not and that's all they care about. That's kind of where transactional Donald is but then you got another big bunch of no hopers and fugitives from failure who are never going to have shit really that believe everything that Donald tells them and it doesn't matter how stupid it is. None of the above are at all interested in what a scientist might tell them. That's a good 35% of the voting age public right there. So then all you need is a few cynical pieces of shit like Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham or Bill Barr and a stacked Supreme Court full of jerk offs.

And the waters are rising and they don't give a fuck about that or the increasing amounts of wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes--at least not until they happen in their own backyard......and even then the fallback will be God's punishing us for the Mexicans we didn't stop at the border or the gay guys living down the street kissing in public.

The United States is a really fucked up country.

Jul 11, 6:39am Top

Cities of the Future: Visualizing Climat Change to Inspire Action
(Interactive Map)


By 2050, many U.S. cities will have weather like they’ve never seen
Stephen Leahy | July 10, 2019

...The shift of warmer temperatures northward of 12 miles a year seems reasonable, as do the findings, said Michael Mann from Pennsylvania State University. Still, the conclusions are “sobering” Mann said in an email. Also sobering is the likelihood that more than two-thirds of the world’s population will be living in urban areas by 2050.

The carbon emission trajectory used in the study is the very conservative 1.5 to 2.0 degrees Celsius stabilization projected by 2050. Actual carbon emissions are much higher and more on a 3 to 4 degree Celsius trajectory. However, the temperature increases on both trajectories are very similar up until 2050, when the current high-emission forecast diverges substantially, said Mann.

Regions like the Middle East will only get hotter and drier, with major consequences for food production and the ability of the cities there to provide enough water and cooling, said (Tom Crowther, a researcher at ETH Zürich, and co-author*). For most cities the implications of the study are pretty “horrible,” he says.


* Jean-Francois Bastin et al. 2019. Understanding climate change from a global analysis of city analogues.
PLOS (July 10, 2019) https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0217592 https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0217592


Combating climate change requires unified action across all sectors of society. However, this collective action is precluded by the ‘consensus gap’ between scientific knowledge and public opinion. Here, we test the extent to which the iconic cities around the world are likely to shift in response to climate change. By analyzing city pairs for 520 major cities of the world, we test if their climate in 2050 will resemble more closely to their own current climate conditions or to the current conditions of other cities in different bioclimatic regions. Even under an optimistic climate scenario (RCP 4.5), we found that 77% of future cities are very likely to experience a climate that is closer to that of another existing city than to its own current climate. In addition, 22% of cities will experience climate conditions that are not currently experienced by any existing major cities. As a general trend, we found that all the cities tend to shift towards the sub-tropics, with cities from the Northern hemisphere shifting to warmer conditions, on average ~1000 km south (velocity ~20 km.year-1), and cities from the tropics shifting to drier conditions. We notably predict that Madrid’s climate in 2050 will resemble Marrakech’s climate today, Stockholm will resemble Budapest, London to Barcelona, Moscow to Sofia, Seattle to San Francisco, Tokyo to Changsha. Our approach illustrates how complex climate data can be packaged to provide tangible information. The global assessment of city analogues can facilitate the understanding of climate change at a global level but also help land managers and city planners to visualize the climate futures of their respective cities, which can facilitate effective decision-making in response to on-going climate change.

Edited: Jul 11, 8:17am Top

See maps at website...

Historic Heat in Alaska
NASA Earth Observatory | July 8, 2019

An upper-level ridge of high pressure that slid over Alaska in June 2019 unleashed a heat wave of astonishing intensity. With temperatures soaring into the 80s and even 90s (Fahrenheit) in some parts of Alaska, several all-time and daily temperature records fell...

...In many parts of Alaska, the heat has been accompanied by thick smoke...As of July 9, there were 38 large fires burning in Alaska. They had consumed a total of 697,000 acres, about 52 percent of all acreage burned in the United States in 2019...



Canadian wildfires continue to send smoke, haze across borders
CTV National News: Wildfires prompt evacuations

...smoke from Canadian wildfires was covering most of Michigan, and would continue to do so because of the flow of wind.

Last month, smoke from Canadian wildfires reached the U.K., causing “stunning colours” to appear in sunsets due to the smoke particles “scattering blue light, leaving only red light which gives the sky its notable appearance.”

...In the Arctic Circle, which encompasses territory belonging to eight countries including Canada, more than 100 June wildfires released 50 megatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, as they burn through layers of peat soil. Many are still burning.

Across Canada, wildfires continue to force evacuations of communities caught in the path of the flames...


Jul 11, 7:53am Top

New Orleans, LA:
Mississippi R at 16 feet just below flood stage (17')
one ft of rain Wednesday am ("Flash Flood Emergency" declared)
Barry: storm surge of 20 ft forecast for weekend--the height of levees--plus as much as two ft of rain forecast for the state...

Parts of New Orleans Are Flooded. Worse Is on the Way.
A brewing storm surge could elevate the Mississippi River to 20 feet above sea level—as high as the levees that protect the city.

Henry Grabar | July 10, 2019

There was quite a lot of water in the streets of New Orleans on Wednesday morning, thanks to intense thunderstorms that prompted the National Weather Service to issue a “Flash Flood Emergency” warning. Parts of the city received nearly a foot of rain before noon, turning neighborhoods that rarely flood into canoe routes.

...A rain forecast like Barry’s is never welcome news in New Orleans. But what makes this storm particularly ominous is that it comes at a time when the Mississippi River in New Orleans is just below flood stage, an unusual and unprecedented development this late in the year. As I wrote in June, the river—swollen by a record year of rainfall in the Midwest—has never been so high, so long. A few feet of rain and a midsized storm surge are projected to bring the river to a height it hasn’t hit in more than 90 years, reaching the top of the levees. Another foot would cause river water to crash into the neighborhoods below. Katrina hit when the river was running at 3 feet; it currently sits at 16 feet...

Edited: Jul 12, 6:45am Top

The anthropology of climate change and glacier retreat
Jeremy Hinsdale | July 11, 2019

...Can you give an example of some communities that are already having to adapt to climate change?

I published a paper last month "Framing climate change in frontline communities" which examines three mountain communities: one in the Peruvian Andes, one in the Italian Alps and a third in the North Cascades of Washington. They're all facing glacier retreat due to climate change, and they're all responding.

Tourism has been an important source of income in Washington State—especially since the decline of the forest extraction industry and the lumber mills—and a key element for tourism are the glaciers. The glaciers bring hikers and ice climbers and even support skiing in the summer. However, these days there is generally less ice. So communities have been developing a large number of non-ice based tourist activities. There's a Heritage Festival with chainsaw and axe-throwing competitions, there's an eagle watching event, and even a ghost walk around Halloween. So they're adapting to the loss of ice by substituting other activities in the tourism sector.

The community in the Italian Alps consists mainly of German speakers whose territory shifted to Italy from Austria right after World War I. Small hydropower plants have supplied the people there with steady and inexpensive electricity for almost a century—an enterprise the locals take pride in. But with less runoff from the glaciers, the water isn't as reliable. They also have problems with occasional floods that carry a great deal of sediment, which is very destructive to the power turbines. So they've shifted to wood. Wood can be burned to run steam turbines, generating electricity and also providing district heating. So when faced with a threat to the glacier energy sector they found a substitute.

In the Peruvian Andes the problem has been water for irrigation. This is an area that can grow a single crop with rainfall, but also a second crop with irrigation. The terrain there is steep and the agricultural surface is limited, so it's important for people to harvest two crops—maize and potatoes and some cash crops such as strawberries and roses—a year. But here too there have been declines in the supply of irrigation water, due at least in part to glacier retreat. So what they've been doing is making the irrigation water delivery systems more efficient. They've lined canals with cement and in some cases shifted to plastic pipe.

Though all three of these communities have found their own solutions, they share two things in common. One is that these are largely instances of what's termed "autonomous adaptation" in IPCC lingo. That just means from the bottom up, do it yourself. I think these examples illustrate the capacity of people to self-organize and develop small scale responses.

The other thing that is fascinating to me is that people in all three communities talk relatively little about climate change. They know the glaciers are shrinking and they're concerned about that, but they don't always connect the dots directly from climate change to glacier retreat to these responses. They speak much more of the long-term wellbeing of the community, and particularly of younger generations—teaching them the community history through the festivals in Washington, improving drinking water supplies as well as irrigation through the cement canals in Peru, and so on. So you could say that the people care as much or more about the social co-benefits as the climate adaptation benefits.

A high-level awareness of climate change can promote top-down adaptation programs that require scientific guidance, planning and significant funding. The UN's C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and 100 Resilient Cities are good examples of such programs in large cities. But mountain communities often show the power of a more grassroots, bottom up approach. The hope is to find ways to connect the two. Mountain communities have sometimes been burned by experts who do not fully explain their plans or stay around for very long, so community understanding and involvement is an important part of the process...



I think I'm seeing this disconnect in our little township:
It declared a climate emergency (the thing to do these days).
It assailed higher authorities for relief from record floods.
And yet, so far at least, no apparent change in how it zones, buys fuel, chops trees on roadsides.
Solar panels on a muni building languishes on to-do list.

Jul 14, 5:27pm Top

Following the Money That Undermines Climate Science
Tik Root, Lisa Friedman and Hiroko Tabuchi | July 10, 2019

It’s difficult to figure out who’s funding climate denial, because many of the think tanks that continue to question established climate science are nonprofit groups that aren’t required to disclose their donors. That’s true of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free-market research organization in Washington that disputes that climate change is a problem.

So, the program for a recent gala organized by the institute, which included a list of corporate donors, offered a rare glimpse into the money that makes the work of these think tanks possible.

...groups that have long been aligned with fossil fuel interests, including the Charles Koch Institute and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers...

...also included major corporations, like Google and Amazon, that have made their commitment to addressing climate change a key part of their corporate public relations strategies...


Jul 16, 7:55am Top

What is permafrost and why might it be the climate change time bomb? (maps & graphics)
Marco Hernandez & Pablo Robles | February 19, 2019

Forget about carbon emissions and carbon neutrality – if permafrost continues to melt at current rates, it could be game over for humanity

...According to Nature and the Harvard Review the amount of carbon sequestered in permafrost is four times that of the carbon already released into the atmosphere from modern human activity...


Jul 19, 6:52am Top

Satellite Images Show Vast Swaths of the Arctic on Fire
Brian Kahn | July 18, 2019

Vast stretches of Earth’s northern latitudes are on fire right now. Hot weather has engulfed a huge portion of the Arctic, from Alaska to Greenland to Siberia. That’s helped create conditions ripe for wildfires, including some truly massive ones burning in remote parts of the region that are being seen by satellites.

Pierre Markuse, a satellite imagery processing guru, has documented some of the blazes attacking the forests and peatlands of the Arctic. The imagery reveals the delicate landscapes with braided rivers, towering mountains, and vast swaths of forest, all under a thick blanket of smoke...


...All told, northern fires released as much carbon dioxide in June as the entire country of Sweden does in a year, according to data crunched by the European Union’s Copernicus program. The agency said the wildfire activity is “unprecedented” amidst what was, incidentally, the hottest June ever recorded for the planet with the Arctic particularly sweltering. All that carbon dioxide released by fires represents one of the scarier feedback loops of climate change as hot weather ensures more fires, which releases carbon dioxide and makes climate change worse. The boreal forest that rings the northern portion of the world is witnessing a period of wildfire activity unseen in at least 10,000 years, and this summer is another worrying datapoint.


Jul 19, 7:42am Top

Viking History Is Melting Away in Greenland
Stephanie Pappas | July 11, 2019

Climate change is already rotting archaeological sites in the Arctic, and Norse Viking-era settlements are at high risk...

...As the Arctic warms, archaeological sites face multiple threats. Coastal erosion and sea level rise can swamp ruins. Thickening vegetation can hide surface traces of archaeological sites, and roots can penetrate into and scramble archaeological layers. Finally, microbes in warmer soil can become more active, devouring organic material that had long stayed preserved.

The new research focuses on that final risk...Norse settlements, which existed between about A.D. 985 and A.D. 1350; they also included sites from the Saqqaq culture (2500 B.C. to 800 B.C.), the Dorset culture (300 B.C. to A.D. 600) and the Thule culture (A.D. 1300 to modern times).

...if temperatures rise 2.5 degrees Celsius or 5 degrees C, these sites stood to lose between 30 percent and 70 percent of their organic materials. The Norse Viking-era sites were at the top end of the scale because they are located inland, where soils are dry, Hollesen says. Drier soil gives microbes access to more oxygen, making them more active. The researchers estimate that 35 percent of the organic materials at Viking sites could be gone in a mere 30 years.

...Greenland is unique in the Viking world for preserving hair, textiles, animal bones and other fragile material...Some of these materials open windows on aspects of society that would otherwise be invisible...Textiles, for example, are one of the few enduring artifacts of women’s work.

...It would be impossible to excavate the 180,000-plus known archaeological sites in Greenland before the damage is done, (Jørgen Hollesen, a senior researcher at the National Museum of Denmark) notes. Russian, Canadian and Alaskan sites are all undergoing similar losses, he says—and even if archaeologists could save everything, there would not be enough museum space in the world to preserve it...



Jørgen Hollesen et al. 2019. Predicting the loss of organic archaeological deposits at a regional scale in Greenland. Scientific Reports volume 9, Article number: 9097 (July 11, 2019) | https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-45200-4


Across the Arctic, microbial degradation is actively destroying irreplaceable cultural and environmental records that have been preserved within archaeological deposits for millennia. Because it is not possible to survey the many sites in this remote part of the world, new methods are urgently needed to detect and assess the potential degradation. Here, we investigate organic deposits at seven archaeological sites located along the dominating west-east climatic gradient in West Greenland. We show that, regardless of age, depositional history and environmental conditions, all organic deposits are highly vulnerable to degradation. A state-of-the-art model that simulates the effect of future climate change on degradation indicates that 30–70% of the archaeological fraction of organic carbon (OC) could disappear within the next 80 years. This range reflects the variation within the climatic gradient and the future climate scenario applied (RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5). All archaeological deposits are expected to experience a substantial loss, but the most rapid degradation seems to occur in the continental inland areas of the region, dominated by dry and warm summers. This suggests that organic remains from the Norse Viking Age settlers are especially under threat in the coming years.

Jul 19, 10:21am Top

‘Quite phenomenal’: Arctic heatwave hits most northerly settlement in world
Tom Batchelor @_tombatchelor | July 17, 2019

The planet’s most northerly human settlement is in the midst of an “unprecedented” heatwave as parts of the Arctic endure one of their hottest summers on record.

Canada’s weather agency confirmed on Tuesday that temperatures in Alert, Nunavut, peaked at 21C at the weekend – far exceeding the July average for the area of around 5C.

Overnight temperatures on Sunday remained above 15C; again, well in excess of nighttime lows that usually hover around freezing in a settlement that lies less than 900km from the North Pole.

The previous temperature record for the town, of 20C, was set in 1956.

In a further alarm bell for the region, the mercury climbed above 20C for a second day on Monday – the first time Alert’s climate station has recorded two consecutive days of 20C-plus temperatures in its history.

...Alert’s heatwave comes as nearby Alaska saw its own record temperatures earlier this month.

Anchorage, the state’s largest city, sweltered in 32C on 4 July – shattering the seasonal high of around 24C.

...Research published at the start of the year found Arctic summers may be hotter than they have been for 115,000 years.

...As glaciers melt in the Canadian Arctic, landscapes are emerging that have not been ice-free for more than 40,000 years.

...“The Arctic is currently warming two to three times faster than the rest of the globe,” said Simon Pendleton, a PhD student at the University of Colorado at Boulder who led the research.


Edited: Jul 20, 4:58am Top

Alternative NOAA @altNOAA | 4:31 AM · Jul 20, 2019

Just noticed there are some lightning strikes occurring in the Arctic Circle, north of Russia in the Kara Sea at about 77° N.
That’s further north than mainland Canada.
A bit unusual to have thunderstorms producing lightning at such latitudes.

Jul 20, 5:08am Top

What happens if the permafrost disappears?
If the Arctic permafrost thaws, the results could be catastrophic.
Belinda Smith | 14 December 2015

...Climate scientists such as Columbia University’s James Hansen have long warned about “runaway” climate change – feedback loops where climate levers get pushed to the point where out planet enters a phase of unstoppable warming.

One of the most worrisome runaway warming scenarios involves the thawing Arctic permafrost. This causes microbes entombed in the frozen soil for millennia to begin releasing methane, a greenhouse gas with 20 times the warming power of carbon dioxide.

The thaw triggers a vicious cycle. The vented methane amps up the rate of warming. That, in turn, thaws more permafrost, triggering the release of more methane. Before we know it, the planet has left two degrees of warming in the dust.

Where the tipping point lies for runaway permafrost thaw is so uncertain that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change doesn’t factor it into its reports. But new research shows we might reach it sooner than we think.

An American study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in October showed that, once reawakened, the hungry microbes in permafrost can pump out greenhouse gases remarkably quickly. After only 200 hours of thawing almost half the carbon in a sample of 35,000-year-old Alaskan permafrost was released into the atmosphere.

And there’s a lot of patches to worry about. Permafrost accounts for 23 million square kilometres of the land surface inside and around the Arctic Circle. That’s around a quarter of the northern hemisphere’s landmass that is not under ice, including 85% of Alaska and around half of Canada and Russia.

Permafrost formed during the ice ages, when glaciers and ice sheets expanded and shrank, grinding the rock below into fine dust called glacial flour. Over tens of thousands of years plants and animals became part of the mix. Some permafrost patches are 1,500 metres thick. These vast tracts of frozen soil are thought to contain almost 1.7 trillion tonnes of carbon trapped within them – double the amount of carbon now in the atmosphere.

An April Nature review led by Northern Arizona University soil ecologist Ted Schuur calculated that almost a tenth of that carbon, 160 billion tonnes, might be released into the atmosphere from thawing permafrost between now and 2100. That first tranche of carbon could contribute up to a quarter of a degree of global warming on its own and “could have catastrophic global consequences”, says Max Holmes, a climate scientist at the Woods Hole Research Centre in Massachusetts – especially when humanity is already perilously close to pushing the planet beyond two degrees of warming.

...The top, or active, permafrost layer thaws and re-freezes seasonally. The real trouble starts when heat seeps into the rock-hard layers below, which have been frozen for millennia. Like peas in your freezer the ensconced organic matter largely stays intact while it remains frozen. Ancient animals occasionally found in the permafrost are beautifully preserved, such as the 39,000-year-old Yuka woolly mammoth unearthed in Siberia in 2010 – complete with brain.

As these soils thaw and the cryogenically preserved microbes start to devour the plant and animal remnants around them, they release greenhouse gases including methane. But exactly what gases will be released and how much they will contribute to global warming is diabolically hard to predict.

For example, the type of gassy waste the microbes burp out depends on whether they are sitting in water. If they are dry the microbes have access to oxygen and emit carbon-dioxide. But if the microbes are smothered by water and oxygen-starved, methane-emitters or “methanogens” come to the fore.

Around 10% of the microbial population are methanogens, says Ben Woodcroft, a microbiologist at the University of Queensland who last year with colleagues identified a new species of methanogen in a patch of Swedish permafrost called the Stordalen Mire.

The amount of liquid water in the active layer also controls the microbes’ menu. In a 2014 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper, Florida State University geochemist Suzanne Hodgkins reported that when the active layer of Stordalen Mire is merely damp, that favours the growth of peat moss which is tough for microbes to break down. But when the active layer is very wet, it provides perfect conditions for grass-like sedges – the methanogens’ favourite food.

The permafrost also supports vast evergreen forests more than twice the size of the Amazon rainforest. They have made the Arctic a carbon sink, sucking in more carbon from the atmosphere than is released by the reawakened microbes. Global warming changes that equation. Schuur says some permafrost regions are already emitting more carbon than they’re absorbing – probably for the first time since the permafrost was formed.

“We are near that tipping point – and maybe over it already,” he says. “Arctic sea ice is shrinking. They know this because it’s been photographed since the 1970s. But we don’t know what the permafrost is doing. Do you think it’s been sitting there doing nothing the whole time?”

So how do we stop the vicious cycle? That’s the billion-dollar question, Woodcroft says. Measures we can take now include curbing fossil fuel use, keeping forests intact and limiting emissions of “black carbon” – sooty particles that darken snow and ice and absorb heat...


Jul 20, 6:12am Top

We Went to the Moon. Why Can’t We Solve Climate Change?
John Schwartz | July 19, 2019

...The idea of a moon shot for climate has been gaining supporters. Beto O’Rourke and Kirsten Gillibrand use the idea in their presidential campaigns, as did Michael Bloomberg in unveiling his recently announced $500 million Beyond Carbon campaign. In a commencement speech this year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology he said, “It is time for all of us to accept that climate change is the challenge of our time.” He concluded, “It may be a moon shot — but it’s the only shot we’ve got.”

...In 1970, Dr. (John M. Logsdon, historian of the space program and founder of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University) wrote a book, “The Decision to Go to the Moon,” that laid out four conditions that made Apollo possible...
(1) stimulus was the first human spaceflight of the Russian cosmonaut Yuri A. Gagarin, which filled Americans with dread of losing the space race...
(2) “a singular act that would force action, that you couldn’t ignore.” ...(“Manhattan going under water”)...
(3) leaders in a position to direct the resources necessary to meet the goal on “a warlike basis,” with very deep national pockets...
(4) “the objective has to be technically feasible.” ...(“there were no technical show stoppers in sending humans to the moon — it would just take a hell of a lot of engineering.”)...

...he noted, “Apollo did not require changing human behavior” as fighting climate change would...One more important difference between sending people to the moon and solving a problem like climate change was...lobbyists fighting against them...

Kate Marvel, a climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City,...good comparison to the challenge ahead: fixing the ozone hole. It required international cooperation, detailed in the Montreal Protocol of 1987, and a concerted effort of nearly 200 countries to rid the world of the chlorofluorocarbons that were damaging our atmospheric protection...

...Hal Harvey, chief executive of the research firm Energy Innovation. The deceptively simple goal...should be to “decarbonize electricity, and then electrify everything.” That would involve building up renewable energy and dropping electrical generation from fossil fuel plants, and building up the use of technologies like heat pumps that can make home heating and cooling more efficient. China has invested heavily in electric buses, electric scooters, and other ways to stop burning fossil fuels. There are further advances in industrial processes and power systems engineering that will help, he said, ticking off a dizzying array of avenues that would allow society to reach those goals.

But mostly, he said, it will require a shift in national attitude..."we need...political will.”


Jul 20, 8:40am Top

Think globally, act locally: plant trees!

Planting trees could buy more time to fight climate change than thought
Earth has 0.9 billion hectares that are suitable for new forests
Susan Milius | July 17, 2019

...Planting trees on 0.9 billion hectares of land could trap about two-thirds the amount of carbon released by human activities since the start of the Industrial Revolution...Without knocking down cities or taking over farms or natural grasslands, reforested pieces could add up to new tree cover totaling just about the area of the United States

...The benefit of tree planting will shrivel if people wait, the researchers warn. Earth’s climate could change enough by 2050 to shrink the places trees can grow by some 223 million hectares if the world keeps emitting greenhouse gases as it does now

...Ultimately, in the struggle against climate change, such heroic tree planting merely “buys us time”...But that’s time human societies could use to stop emitting greenhouse gases, the real solution to climate change...


J-F Bastin et al. The global tree restoration potential. Science. Vol. 365, July 5, 2019, p. 76. doi:10.1126/science.aax0848. https://science.sciencemag.org/content/365/6448/76

The potential for global forest cover. The restoration of forested land at a global scale could help capture atmospheric carbon and mitigate climate change. Bastin et al. used direct measurements of forest cover to generate a model of forest restoration potential across the globe (see the Perspective by Chazdon and Brancalion). Their spatially explicit maps show how much additional tree cover could exist outside of existing forests and agricultural and urban land. Ecosystems could support an additional 0.9 billion hectares of continuous forest. This would represent a greater than 25% increase in forested area, including more than 500 billion trees and more than 200 gigatonnes of additional carbon at maturity. Such a change has the potential to cut the atmospheric carbon pool by about 25%.

Abstract. The restoration of trees remains among the most effective strategies for climate change mitigation. We mapped the global potential tree coverage to show that 4.4 billion hectares of canopy cover could exist under the current climate. Excluding existing trees and agricultural and urban areas, we found that there is room for an extra 0.9 billion hectares of canopy cover, which could store 205 gigatonnes of carbon in areas that would naturally support woodlands and forests. This highlights global tree restoration as our most effective climate change solution to date. However, climate change will alter this potential tree coverage. We estimate that if we cannot deviate from the current trajectory, the global potential canopy cover may shrink by ~223 million hectares by 2050, with the vast majority of losses occurring in the tropics. Our results highlight the opportunity of climate change mitigation through global tree restoration but also the urgent need for action.



Edited: Jul 21, 6:56am Top

The End of Coal
Ontario’s story

...Coal went from 25% of Ontario’s supply mix in 2003 to zero in 2014, all while grid reliability and domestic supply improved. The elimination of coal stands as the single largest GHG emissions reduction action on the continent and was primarily responsible for Ontario achieving its ambitious 2014 emissions reduction target of 6% below 1990 levels...



Ontario Power Generation

OPG owns and operates generating plants that draw from nuclear, hydro-electric, combined gas, biomass, solar and some wind. In 2018, it generated about half of the electricity in Ontario or 74.0 terawatt hours (TWh).

Hydroelectric 7,480 MW
Nuclear 5,728 MW
Thermal* 2,305 MW
Biomass* * 205 MW
Solar 44 MW
Wind 7 MW


* almost entirely natural gas https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_generating_stations_in_Ontario
** e.g., steam-treated wood pellets

Jul 21, 9:05am Top

Crisis on the Colorado: Part II
On the Water-Starved Colorado River, Drought Is the New Normal

With the Southwest locked in a 19-year drought and climate change making the region increasingly drier, water managers and users along the Colorado River are facing a troubling question: Are we in a new, more arid era when there will never be enough water? Second in a series.

Jim Robbins • January 22, 2019

...The region is locked in a 19-year-long drought, the most severe in 1,250 years.

...The 1922 compact, though, is based on (1905-1922 precipitation was well above average). The river’s long-term average flow is about 12 to 15 million acre-feet, in a good year. Meanwhile, the lower basin states — Arizona, California, and Nevada — use 7.5 million acre-feet, and in 1922 no one factored in evaporative losses from the desert sun at the yet-unbuilt Lake Mead reservoir, which amount to another 1.2 million acre-feet, or the water taken up by plants. Nor did anyone factor in a subsequent 1944 treaty that requires the United States to provide 1.5 million acre-feet to Mexico. A conservative estimate on how much Colorado River water is actually used is 20 million acre-feet.

...Warmer temperatures also mean that of the precipation that does come, more of it will fall as rain instead of snow. The Colorado’s engineering infrastructure was built around the natural long-term storage that snowpack provides, but rain pulses quickly through the system.

Meanwhile, the rapid development of everything from housing developments to solar installations in the Southwest has created more dust particles which go airborne and settle on to the snow fields of the Rockies, five to seven times as much dust as was seen a century ago. The darker snow melts sooner and faster, a phenomenon that costs the river about 5 percent of its flow. And as the drought continues, there’s more dust from more dry ground and that creates more dust.

...water managers in the Southwest...see the writing on the wall, and there are few skeptics about climate change among them. The plight of Cape Town, South Africa, which came to the brink of a water system crash last year, is on many people’s minds along the Colorado River.

This era of drying is especially serious because so much — some 40 million people and an economy that includes the world’s fifth largest, in California — is riding on the flow of the Colorado. The specter of a region facing an existential crisis because of a warming climate becomes more real every day...


Jul 22, 10:06am Top

Forget new crewed missions in space. NASA should focus on saving Earth.
Lori Garver (deputy NASA administrator, 2009-2013) | July 18, 2019

NASA was not created to do something again. It was created to push the limits of human understanding — to help the nation solve big, impossible problems that require advances in science and technology. Fifty years ago, the impossible problem was putting a human on the moon to win the space race, and all of humanity has benefited from the accomplishment.

The impossible problem today is not the moon. And it’s not Mars. It’s our home planet, and NASA can once again be of service for the betterment of all.

...In a July Pew Research Center study, 63 percent of respondents said monitoring key parts of Earth’s climate system should be the highest priority for the United States’ space agency — sending astronauts to the moon was their lowest priority, at 13 percent ; 18 percent favor Mars...

...In 2018, the National Academy of Sciences released its decadal survey for Earth science and declared that NASA should prioritize the study of the global hydrological cycle; distribution and movement of mass between oceans, ice sheets, ground water and atmosphere; and changes in surface biology and geology.

...NASA could also move beyond measurement and into action — focusing on solutions for communities at the front lines of drought, flooding and heat extremes.

...Standardizing data collection and coordinating its storage, analysis and distribution require experience working across disciplines, government agencies and universities as well as the private sector and international community. Only NASA has done this sort of thing before; only NASA has the credibility and expertise to do it again.

Assigning NASA this task would require an Apollo-scale change — but could be accomplished within its existing mandate and by shifting funding priorities.

...Apollo’s legacy should not be more meaningless new goals and arbitrary deadlines. Let’s not repeat the past. Let’s try to save our future....


Jul 22, 4:24pm Top

Icelandic memorial warns future: ‘Only you know if we saved glaciers’
Jon Henley | 22 Jul 2019

Plaque marking Okjökull, the first glacier lost to climate crisis, to be unveiled in August

...The former Okjökull glacier, which a century ago covered 15 sq km (5.8 sq miles) of mountainside in western Iceland and measured 50 metres thick, has shrunk to barely 1 sq km of ice less than 15 metres deep and lost its status as a glacier.

...“In the next 200 years, all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path,” the plaque reads, in Icelandic and English. “This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it.”...

The memorial is dated August 2019 and also carries the words “415ppm CO2”, referring to the record-breaking level of 415 parts per million of carbon dioxide recorded in the atmosphere in May this year.

...A glacier is defined as a persistent mass of compacted ice that accumulates more mass each winter than it loses through summer melt and is constantly moving under its own weight. When this ceases to be the case, the remains are known as “dead ice”...


Jul 24, 10:32am Top

Trees versus grass: Which is the better carbon sink?
Connor Ertz | 07-09-2018

...While forests consume roughly a quarter of the human-caused carbon dioxide pollution worldwide, there are some forested areas that are now lacking in efficiency...

Trees store much of their carbon within their leave and woody biomass, while grass stores most of its carbon underground. This means that when a tree catches fire, it releases its stores of carbon back into the atmosphere. But when a fire burns through grasslands, the carbon fixed underground tends to stay in the roots and soil.

“In a stable climate, trees store more carbon than grasslands,” says co-author Benjamin Houlton, director of the John Muir Institute of the Environment at UC Davis. “But in a vulnerable, warming, drought-likely future, we could lose some of the most productive carbon sinks on the planet. California is on the frontlines of the extreme weather changes that are beginning to occur all over the world. We really need to start thinking about the vulnerability of ecosystem carbon, and use this information to de-risk our carbon investment and conservation strategies in the 21st century.”

The authors of the study suggest that grasslands and rangelands should be given opportunities in California’s cap-and-trade market, which was designed to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. Their findings could also influence other carbon offset efforts around the world, especially those in semi-arid environments.

The researchers ran model simulations of four scenarios: global carbon emissions largely cease, carbon emissions continue, periodic drought intervals (similar to La Niña/El Niño weather patterns), and megadrought – which could last for a century or more. The only scenario in which California’s trees were better carbon sinks than grasslands was the first one, which is an unlikely scenario at best. Our current path of global carbon emissions dictates that grasslands are the most viable net carbon dioxide sink through 2101, as they’re able to store carbon even during extreme drought simulations.

This study doesn’t suggest that grasslands should replace forests or diminish the many benefits of trees. Instead, it states that, from a cap-and-trade and carbon-offset perspective, conserving grasslands and promoting rangeland practices that lead to reliable rates of carbon sequestration may help meet the state’s emission-reduction goals.

“Trees and forests in California are a national treasure and an ecological necessity,” says Houlton. “But when you put them in assuming they’re carbon sinks and trading them for pollution credits while they’re not behaving as carbon sinks, emissions may not decrease as much as we hope.”

The author’s findings can help California – and similar climates around the world – better meet greenhouse gas reduction goals, and help improve our chances of surviving climate change in the future...



Pawlok Dass et al. 10 July 2018. Grasslands may be more reliable carbon sinks than forests in California. Environmental Research Letters, Volume 13, Number 7. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aacb39

Although natural terrestrial ecosystems have sequestered ~25% of anthropogenic CO2 emissions, the long-term sustainability of this key ecosystem service is under question. Forests have traditionally been viewed as robust carbon (C) sinks; however, extreme heat-waves, drought and wildfire have increased tree mortality, particularly in widespread semi-arid regions, which account for ~41% of Earth's land surface. Using a set of modeling experiments, we show that California grasslands are a more resilient C sink than forests in response to 21st century changes in climate, with implications for designing climate-smart Cap and Trade offset policies. The resilience of grasslands to rising temperatures, drought and fire, coupled with the preferential banking of C to belowground sinks, helps to preserve sequestered terrestrial C and prevent it from re-entering the atmosphere. In contrast, California forests appear unable to cope with unmitigated global changes in the climate, switching from substantial C sinks to C sources by at least the mid-21st century. These results highlight the inherent risk of relying on forest C offsets in the absence of management interventions to avoid substantial fire-driven C emissions. On the other hand, since grassland environments, including tree-sparse rangelands, appear more capable of maintaining C sinks in 21st century, such ecosystems should be considered as an alternative C offset to climate-vulnerable forests. The further development of climate-smart approaches in California's carbon marketplace could serve as an example to offset programs around the world, particularly those expanding into widespread arid and semi-arid regions.

Jul 25, 10:39am Top

London becomes world's first ‘National Park City.’ What does that mean?
Stephen Leahy | 21 July 2019

On Monday London will be officially confirmed as the world’s first National Park City. Saturday kicks off a free, eight-day festival celebrating the city’s outdoor spaces. Along with the Mayor of London, organisations and individuals will sign a London National Park City Charter demonstrating their support for making the city greener, healthier, and wilder.

...The National Park City Foundation (NPCF), in partnership with World Urban Parks and Salzburg Global Seminar, created the first International Charter for National Park Cities (NPC). While London is the first, NPCF is aiming to name at least 25 National Park Cities by 2025 and is already in discussion with other UK and world cities to help them gain NPC status...


Jul 30, 7:09am Top

Climate change: 12 years to save the planet? Make that 18 months
Matt McGrath | 24 July 2019

...there's a growing consensus that the next 18 months will be critical in dealing with the global heating crisis, among other environmental challenges.

...the challenges are huge, the political involvement patchy...


Jul 30, 7:11am Top

Climate change: Tree planting rise 'needs to happen quickly'
Rob England | July 30, 2019

Significant rises in tree planting in the UK "need to happen quickly" if other targets to cut carbon are not met, government advisers have warned.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) recommends 30,000 hectares of woodland should be planted annually, more than double the new trees planted last year.

And it said this may have to rise to 50,000 hectares if other carbon reduction targets are not achieved.

The government said it planned to "rapidly grow forest cover".

It has signed up to the CCC's goal of the UK of cutting all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 - so-called net zero.

The committee - made up of experts in science, economics, and business - said this required woodland to increase from 13% of land in the UK to 17%...


Jul 30, 8:48am Top

And then we've got this happening at the other side of the planet from the UK ~

Deforestation in the Amazon is shooting up, but Brazil’s president calls the data ‘a lie’

The NYT has the story too:

Protecting the Amazon was at the heart of Brazil’s environmental policy for much of the past two decades. At one point, Brazil’s success in slowing the deforestation rate made it an international example of conservation and the effort to fight climate change.

But with the election of President Jair Bolsonaro, a populist who has been fined personally for violating environmental regulations, Brazil has changed course substantially, retreating from the efforts it once made to slow global warming by preserving the world’s largest rain forest.

While campaigning for president last year, Mr. Bolsonaro declared that Brazil’s vast protected lands were an obstacle to economic growth and promised to open them up to commercial exploitation.

Jul 30, 4:52pm Top

The Arctic Is Experiencing Its Worst Wildfire Season on Record
Meilan Solly | July 29, 2019

Arctic infernos released 50 megatons of carbon dioxide—the equivalent of Sweden’s total annual emissions—into the atmosphere in June alone

...The Arctic Circle is in the midst of an "unprecendented" wildfire season on record, with more than 100 blazes raging across the region since the start of June.

Per the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), June 2019 was Earth’s warmest June on record. Due in large part to this heat surge, wildfires are now running rampant in Siberia, Greenland, Alaska and Canada, producing plumes of smoke visible from space.

...peat, made up of decomposing organic matter such as moss, hardens into coal when enough pressure is applied. In healthy ecosystems, water-heavy peatland can actually prevent the spread of wildfires, but when peat dries up, as is the case in much of the warming Arctic, it becomes highly flammable.

As Thomas Smith, an environmental geographer at the London School of Economics, says to Hines, peat fires act much like cigarettes, smoldering for months at a time.

“The fires are burning through long-term carbon stores, … emitting greenhouse gases, which will further exacerbate greenhouse warming, leading to more fires,” Smith notes.

...Arctic infernos released 50 megatons of carbon dioxide—the equivalent of Sweden’s total annual emissions—into the atmosphere in June alone. This amount represents more than was emitted by Arctic fires in the same month between 2010 to 2018 combined.

...As the WMO’s Claudia Volosciuk tells CNN, “When particles of smoke land on snow and ice, they cause the ice to absorb sunlight that it would otherwise reflect, and thereby accelerate the warming in the Arctic.”...


Edited: Jul 31, 1:35pm Top

The Ice Age @Jamie_Woodward_ | 7/31/2019

The 10 hottest years in the UK since 1884 ranked:

The 10 coldest in the record:

Source @metoffice https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/about-us/press-office/news/weather-and-climate/2019...

Aug 1, 4:24am Top

The Greenland ice sheet is in the throes of one of its greatest melting events ever recorded
Jason Samenow and Andrew Freedman | July 31, 2019

The same heat dome that roasted Europe and broke national temperature records in five countries last week has shifted to Greenland, where it is causing one of the biggest melt events ever observed on the fragile ice sheet.

By some measures, the ice melt is more extreme than during a benchmark record event in July 2012...During that event, about 98 percent of the ice sheet experienced some surface melting, speeding up the process of shedding ice into the ocean.

The fate of Greenland’s ice sheet is of critical importance to every coastal resident in the world, since Greenland is already the biggest contributor to modern-day sea level rise. The pace and extent of Greenland ice melt will help determine how high sea levels climb and how quickly. (To illustrate the magnitude of ice contained in Greenland, consider that if the entire ice sheet were to melt, it would raise sea levels by 23 feet.)

...both surface melting and a lack of snow on the ice sheet this summer...

...the peak of this melt event is likely still to come Wednesday or Thursday...Already this year, the ice sheet has endured exceptional melting...The current record-setting heat dome parked over the ice sheet is bringing nearly cloudless skies and temperatures up to 30 degrees above average.

...Twila Moon, a research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, says the bigger picture of Arctic warming, permafrost melt, spring snow melt, ice loss and other trends are the major concern, as compared with short-lived melt events...There’s still time to take action and limit Greenland ice loss, she emphasized, saying that decisions we make now about greenhouse gas emissions will “have an influence on how much and how quickly we lose ice in Greenland and all around the world.”


Aug 2, 5:02am Top

Greenland's ice sheet melting so fast it has caused global sea levels to rise 0.5mm in just a month
Jon Sharman | Aug 1, 2019

Half of ice sheet's surface thought to be melting as African plume that baked Britain now blasts the Arctic...


Aug 2, 5:09am Top

New Zealand Just Urged the Entire Country to Eat Plant-Based
Jemima Webber | August 1, 2019

A new report by the Ministry of Health encourages New Zealand residents to eat more vegan and vegetarian food in a bid to reduce the health sector’s carbon footprint.

The report uncovered various avenues that can be taken to improve the environmental impact of the health sector, including using less electricity.

Agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Ministry for the Environment, it accounts for 49 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions...


Aug 2, 9:13am Top

How does one invest responsibly--for one's retirement, say:

Investing to Curb Climate Change: A Guide for the Individual Investor
The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible investment
7 p


Tough to do with mutual funds, as this fellow discovered:
(Try googling title if you encounter pay wall.)

How a Climate Scientist Invests His Money
Sophia Cai | August 1, 2019


3 Ways to Create a Climate Change Investment Strategy
Paul Sullivan | Oct. 26, 2018

...It has been getting easier for individuals to invest with climate change as a focus. Since 1995, assets in sustainable and responsible investments have grown 18-fold, to more than $11 trillion, according to US SIF, a membership organization of sustainable investors.

There are two main approaches to creating a climate change investment strategy. One is investing in alternative energy. This can be done in a variety of areas, including solar, wind or geothermal production and distribution, or companies that make the infrastructure, like battery cells that power electric cars.

The other way is what some call climate-proofing a portfolio. The premise is that a warmer Earth will create economic disruption and that companies need to prepare for this.

...Here are three ways to consider climate change as a criterion for making investments:

Tap public markets for green investing...

Seek companies expanding responsible business...

Look to Asia for a big impact...



Climate-Change Funds Try to Profit From a Warming World
Tim Gray | April 12, 2019

...“More and more clients, individuals and institutions, are asking for funds that address climate change and climate risk,” said Leslie Samuelrich, president of Green Century Capital Management in Boston. “Because of that, asset managers are starting to develop portfolios to meet that demand.”

The Hartford Environmental Opportunities Fund is one such fund....

...Or you might consider investing in nontraditional sorts of farms — which is why aquaculture is one of the themes of the GMO Climate Change Fund...copper mining...

...Not every manager in this niche views renewable energy as a crucial play. The Pax Global Environmental Markets Fund mostly avoids the sector. Instead, it holds big slugs of agriculture and water stocks; together, those total more than 40 percent of its assets.

...investors can find offerings with an ecological bent among those that more broadly incorporate environmental, social and governance factors into their stock picking...An example is Brown Advisory’s Sustainable Growth Fund.

...Active fund managers may have an advantage in this niche, compared with index funds and E.T.F.s. They may be able to identify and exploit the new risks and opportunities presented by a warming world and wilder weather...(There is at least one index offering with a climate focus, the ETHO Climate Leadership U.S. E.T.F.)

...Dimensional Fund Advisors offered its first two sustainable funds more than a decade ago. They aim to buy the best environmental performers in each economic sector

...Gerard K. O’Reilly, (Dimension Fund) co-chief executive and chief investment officer...saw nothing wrong with investing with the hope of achieving good returns while helping along the climate transition. “Customers have the right to express their preferences around what kind of investments they want to make. Will that action help get companies to pay more attention to sustainability? Well, every little bit helps.”



The Investor’s Guide to Climate Change: Divestment isn't the only option.
The Atlantic / Morgan Stanley

...Chris Geczy, adjunct finance professor and academic director of the Wharton Wealth Management Initiative26...research shows that you can do good for the planet’s future while also doing well for yourself.

“It’s not a question of whether to adopt” a sustainable investment strategy, Geczy said, “but how to adopt and how much27.”

And those who act decisively and early, with a deliberate analysis of their investments’ exposure to climate risk, are likely to see the greatest benefit from changes in patterns of investment in sectors most exposed to climate change.


Aug 2, 5:27pm Top

>113 margd: Just got some of the Beyond Meat burgers at the store to try. At least they look like beef.

Aug 2, 6:52pm Top

>115 mamzel: Apparently there are some new such faux foods in the works, like a whey ice-cream? (Here & Now on radio this aft.) Let us know how the burgers taste--I haven't been brave enough yet to taste. We don't eat much beef anyway--venison instead. Little lamb for same reason. Little pork because my sister once told me a slaughterhouse story I can't unhear... Open season on chicken and fish, though...


Wow--the lost capital in Illinois of moundbuilders "Cahokia was larger than London, centrally planned, the Manhattan of its day...And then, relatively abruptly, it ceased to exist...adversity brought by climate change caused societies to break apart, magnified pre-existing divisions, and made desperate people easy prey for dangerous people." :-(

Lost Cities and Climate Change
Kate Marvel on July 29, 2019

Some people say “the climate has changed before,” as though that should be reassuring. It’s not


Edited: Aug 3, 7:34am Top

>115 mamzel: You also might like Trader Joe's soy chorizo, if you haven't tried it yet. Come fall, I'll be using it in chili and a red-lentil version of Portuguese potato and kale soup. My meat eaters have no complaints with this meat substitute in those two dishes! :) Only $2.39! (Unfortunately no Trader Joe's in Canada, but soy chorizo freezes well if one happens to be in US. Store is owned by German chain, I think, so might be in Europe in some form?)

Aug 4, 4:46am Top

The Arctic is burning and Greenland is melting, thanks to record heat
Carolyn Gramling | August 2, 2019

...Record-breaking temperatures and strong winds are fueling an unprecedented number of wildfires across the (arctic) region this summer. In Siberia alone, hundreds of wildfires captured by satellite images July 28 spanned about 3 million hectares of land. Across Alaska, as many as 400 wildfires were burning as of mid-July. And the heat is also melting Greenland’s ice at an alarming rate.

...Wildfires most often occur in the Arctic in July and August, sparked by lightning strikes. But this year, unusually hot and dry conditions in the Northern Hemisphere in June exacerbated the problem and drove the fire season’s start earlier...

...Greenland is also sweltering in the Northern Hemisphere’s heat wave: The island lost nearly 200 billion tons of ice in July...On July 31, a record-breaking 56.5 percent of Greenland’s ice sheet was showing signs of melting... Images from the Copernicus satellite captured August 1 show multiple melt ponds, as well as burn scars from a recent fire and smoke from an active fire on the island.

The Arctic blazes are not only scorching vast swaths of Earth; they’re also releasing copious amounts of carbon dioxide. June’s fires alone released more than 50 metric megatons of carbon dioxide, the WMO said, more than the total released by all June fires from 2010 to 2018.

...Such Arctic wildfires are expected to become more common as the planet warms. There’s geologic precedent for that: Layers of black charcoal in sediments in the Canadian Arctic suggest that wildfires frequently raged across the region during the Pliocene Epoch, when global atmospheric CO₂ levels were between 350 and 450 parts per million — similar to today

...Normally, the icy peatlands are soggy enough to be fire-resistant, but they are thawing and drying out. Once set ablaze, the carbon-rich peat can burn for months, releasing large amounts of CO₂ back into the atmosphere and fueling the warming feedback loop...


Aug 6, 4:42am Top

This is, of course, unless we pass some unanticipated threshold or tripping point:

What will happen if the planet’s temperature rises by just half a degree? Scientists analyzed what the impact on the planet would be if global warming reached the ceiling of 1.5°C or 2°C and the difference.

The difference half a degree makes: life

1.5 degrees C v 2.0 degrees C:

Access to water--14% worse
Arctic melting--10X worse (= flooding)
Sea level--6 cm worse
Vertebrate population--100% worse
Plant loss--double
Insect loss--triple
Ecosystem--1.86X change
Permafrost--38% more km
Crop output--2.3X less corn in tropics
Coral reefs--29% more loss (= just about every coral reef on earth)
Fishing--2X reduction fish in sea
Extreme heat--more than 2X population exposed

...To try to keep global warming to 1.5°C in the long term, the world will have to reduce CO2 emissions by 45% by 2030, with respect to 2010, and reach zero net emissions (carbon neutrality) by 2050...Radical measures are also needed to replace fossil fuels in transport and improve food production and avoid waste...the world does have at its disposal the scientific understanding, technological capacity and financial means to tackle climate change.


Aug 6, 8:01am Top

Boston #1?
Miami #2?
New Orleans #3?
Tampa / NYC #4?

How the 5 riskiest U.S. cities for coastal flooding are preparing for rising tides
Mary Caperton Morton | August 6, 2019

...The five U.S. cities most at risk from coastal flooding have begun to make plans for adapting to rising sea levels. Some are further along than others. Here’s where their flood resilience efforts stand:

Miami...After 2017’s Hurricane Irma caused more than $50 billion in damage, Miami residents voted in favor of a new tax to fund coastal flooding resilience projects across the city. The first project, in the city’s low-lying Fair Isle neighborhood, broke ground in March and will construct a drainage collection system and raise roadways.

New York City...2012, Hurricane Sandy...with a 3.4-meter storm tide, causing over $19 billion in damage. Although there are now several programs to guide rebuilding and resiliency efforts, few adaptation projects have come to fruition...

New Orleans...In May, Louisiana released a $40 billion plan called LA SAFE to build needed levees, restore shorelines and, if necessary, relocate entire communities at risk from flooding. The first LA SAFE projects are slated for completion in 2022.

Tampa...In April, Tampa’s Climate Science Advisory Panel recommended that the city begin preparing for seas to rise an extra 30 to 76 centimeters by 2050 and 60 to 260 centimeters by 2100...A timeline for starting adaptation projects hasn’t been announced.

Boston...A deployable flood wall is being installed along the East Boston Greenway and a section of Main Street in Charlestown is being elevated to protect the adjacent neighborhood. In several areas, including around South Boston and the Seaport, concrete is being removed and replaced by floodable parks and green space. Mayor Martin Walsh has pledged 10 percent of the city’s $3.49 billion capital budget in 2020 for such resiliency projects.


Miami Dade County. Sea Level Rise Strategy. 2019. http://www8.miamidade.gov/global/economy/resilience/sea-level-rise-strategy.page

NYC Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency. Sandy and its Impacts. June 2013. http://www.nyc.gov/html/sirr/downloads/pdf/final_report/Ch_1_SandyImpacts_FINAL_...

Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission. Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment for the City of Tampa. February 2017. http://www.planhillsborough.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Sea-Level-Rise-Vulner...

LA SAFE. Our Land and Water: A Regional Approach to Adaptation. April 2019. https://s3.amazonaws.com/lasafe/Final+Adaptation+Strategies/Regional+Adaptation+...

Further Reading

C. Gramling. A freshwater, saltwater tug-of-war is eating away at the Everglades. Science News. Vol. 294. August 18, 2018, p. 19. https://www.sciencenews.org/article/florida-everglades-freshwater-saltwater-sea-...

M.C. Morton. Boston steps up to meet rising seas. Science News. Vol 196, August 17, 2019. p. 16. https://www.sciencenews.org/article/boston-adapting-rising-sea-level-coastal-flo...


Aug 6, 8:36am Top

Rice is losing nutrients because of rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

USDA Scientist Quits, Claims Trump Administration Tried To Bury His Climate Study

Researchers from Harvard University have confirmed Ziska’s findings about rice losing nutrients in a carbon-rich environment.

Global Health Implications of Nutrient Changes in Rice Under High Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide


A growing literature has documented that rising concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere threaten to reduce the iron, zinc, and protein content of staple food crops including rice, wheat, barley, legumes, maize, and potatoes, potentially creating or worsening global nutritional deficiencies for over a billion people worldwide. A recent study extended these previous nutrient analyses to include B vitamins and showed that, in rice alone, the average loss of major B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, and folate) was shown to be 17–30% when grown under higher CO2. Here, we employ the EAR cut‐point method, using estimates of national‐level nutrient supplies and requirements, to estimate how B vitamin dietary adequacy may be affected by the CO2‐induced loss of nutrients from rice only. Furthermore, we use the global burden of disease comparative risk assessment framework to quantify one small portion of the health burden related to rising deficiency: a higher likelihood of neural tube defects for folate‐deficient mothers. We find that, as a result of this effect alone, risk of folate deficiency could rise by 1.5 percentage points (95% confidence interval: 0.6–2.6), corresponding to 132 million (57–239 million) people. Risk of thiamin deficiency could rise by 0.7 points (0.3–1.1) or 67 million people (30–110 million), and riboflavin deficiency by 0.4 points (0.2–0.6) or 40 million people (22–59 million). Because elevated CO2 concentrations are likely to reduce B vitamins in other crops beyond rice, our findings likely represent an underestimate of the impact of anthropogenic CO2 emissions on sufficiency of B vitamin intake.

Plain Language Summary

Rice is a crucially important food globally, providing more calories than any other. Meanwhile, the environmental conditions where we grow rice are changing as global carbon dioxide levels rise. Recently, researchers have shown that rice grown under CO2 levels that we may reach by as soon as 2050 lower rice's content of many important nutrients—riboflavin, thiamin, and folate—by 17–30%. These nutrients are vital for proper neural and cardiovascular system function, and deficiencies in folate among mothers have been linked to neural birth defects in their children. We find that even moderate losses of these nutrients in rice caused by higher CO2 could have potentially large impacts on global health, placing tens of millions of people at new risk of deficiencies in one or more of these nutrients. However, we estimate that the rise in folate‐related birth defects may be relatively small due to a mismatch between the countries becoming newly deficient and those already suffering from high rates of such defects. However, these results only represent one health outcome, and the combined health effects of multiple new deficiencies may emerge a significant threat to global health.

(my bolding)

Aug 6, 9:29am Top

My mum lost a baby to folate deficiency. It broke her heart--not an experience I'd wish on anybody.

Nowadays, our foods are supplemented and western medicine can do much to help afflicted kids, so I expect the burden of decreasing folate in crops will be borne by less advantaged communities. Of course... :(

Aug 6, 10:57am Top

CNN posts a story from Russia today that is very scary:

Fires, floods (and even bugs) are challenging Russia's stance on the climate crisis

While the surface of eastern Russia is on fire and flooding, its foundation is literally melting away. Two thirds of the country sit on permafrost, which is degrading rapidly, puncturing places like the Yakutia region with giant sinkholes.

The biggest known one is the Batagai crater, another thousand kilometers north of Yakutsk. Locals dubbed the gaping hole in the permafrost the "Gateway to Hell."

Global climate change is often imperceptible. But at the Batagai sinkhole, you can witness the effects in near-real time.

The locals are worried it might envelop their village, and that other holes could endanger more populated areas, where much of the infrastructure sits precariously on permafrost.

"This is massive social issue," said Alexander Fedorov, the lead scientist at Yakutsk Permafrost Institute. "The infrastructure -- buildings, gas lines, water pipes, railroads, roads -- is decaying which comes at a big cost."

For now, the Russian government is tentatively acknowledging the effects of climate change. Putin paid a visit to Irkutsk flood victims on his way to the G20 summit in Osaka in June, where he delivered a message about climate change.

"I want to remind you that in Russia we are warming 2.5 times faster than the rest of the planet. This is a serious challenge to us. We must understand this," Putin said. "Hence the floods and the melting of permafrost in areas where we have big settlements. We need to understand how to respond to the climate change happening there."

Standing up to this challenge would require an environmental policy to cut dependence on fossil fuels -- a cornerstone of the Russian economy.

But a summer of wildfires and flooding may be changing the way Russians feel about action on climate change.

"We need to lessen the human impact. When climate change meets human factor, the effect is colossal," Fedorov said. "If we don't cut down the forests, if we don't cause fires the permafrost can be more stable... The point of no return is almost here, we are at a critical point already when it comes to permafrost."

Aug 7, 6:39am Top

Another exceptional month for global average temperatures
Copernics: Europe's Eyes on Earth | 5th August 2019

...Every month in 2019 has ranked among the four warmest for the month in question, and June was the warmest June ever recorded. It is now confirmed that July was also an exceptional month.

The global average temperature for July 2019 was on a par with, and possibly marginally higher than, that of July 2016, which followed an El Niño event. This was previously the warmest July and warmest month of all on record. However, the difference between temperatures in July 2019 and July 2016 is small.

July is generally the warmest month of the year. This is because the large land masses of the Northern Hemisphere warm up faster than the oceans of the Southern Hemisphere can cool down during the northern summer months, and vice versa in the northern winter, so the seasonal patterns of the Northern Hemisphere drive the overall global temperatures. However, the warming trend is not limited to Julys. The animation below shows that the monthly global average surface air temperature has been increasing in all months of the year over the last four decades. When we look back over the last four years - 2015-2018 - they have been the four warmest years on record...


Aug 7, 8:13am Top

Climate change made Europe's July heat wave up to 3 degrees Celsius hotter, scientists say
Rob Picheta | August 2, 2019

London (CNN) The scorching heat wave that broke records across Europe last month was made more likely, more intense and up to three degrees Celsius hotter by climate change*...

Scientists found that the event would have been a once-in-a-millennium occurrence without a changing climate, but was made up to 100 times more probable because of the process.

The UK, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands all recorded their highest temperatures ever in the July heat wave, with the mercury topping 40 degrees in much of mainland Europe.

Without climate change, temperatures would have been between 1.5 and 3 degrees lower, according to the report from the World Weather Attribution group, an international alliance of meteorological researchers...



* Human contribution to the record-breaking July 2019 heat wave in Western Europe (31 p)

Robert Vautard, Olivier Boucher (IPSL Paris)
Geert Jan van Oldenborgh (KNMI)
Friederike Otto, Karsten Haustein (University of Oxford)
Martha M. Vogel, Sonia I. Seneviratne (ETH Zürich)
Jean-Michel Soubeyroux, Michel Schneider, Agathe Drouin, Aurélien Ribes (Météo France)
Frank Kreienkamp (Deutscher Wetterdienst)
Peter Stott (UK Met Office)
Maarten van Aalst (ITC/University of Twente and Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre)

Key findings

●A second record-breaking heat wave of 3-4 days took place in Western Europe in the last week of July 2019, with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees in many countries including Belgium and the Netherlands where temperatures above 40°C were recorded for the first time. In the U.K. the event was shorter lived (1-2 days), yet a new historical daily maximum temperature was recorded exceeding the previous record set during the hazardous August 2003 heatwave.

●In contrast to other heat waves that have been attributed in Western Europe before, this July heat was also a rare event in today’s climate in France and the Netherlands. There, the observed temperatures, averaged over 3 days, were estimated to have a 50-year to 150-year return period in the current climate. Note that return periods of temperatures vary between different measures and locations, and are therefore highly uncertain.

●Combining information from models and observations, we find that such heatwaves in France and the Netherlands would have had return periods that are about a hundred times higher (at least 10 times) without climate change. Over France and the Netherlands, such temperatures would have had extremely little chance to occur without human influence on climate (return periods higher than ~1000 years).

●In the U.K. and Germany, the event is less rare (estimated return periods around 10-30 years in the current climate) and the likelihood is about 10 times higher (at least 3 times) due to climate change. Such an event would have had return periods of from a few tens to a few hundreds of years without climate change.

●In all locations an event like the observed would have been 1.5 to 3 ºC cooler in an unchanged climate.

●As for the June heatwave, we found that climate models have systematic biases in representing heat waves at these time scales and they show about 50% smaller trends than observations in this part of Europe and much higher year-to-year variability than the observations. Despite this, models still simulate very large probability changes.

●Heatwaves during the height of summer pose a substantial risk to human health and are potentially lethal. This risk is aggravated by climate change, but also by other factors such as an aging population, urbanisation, changing social structures, and levels of preparedness. The full impact is only known after a few weeks when the mortality figures have been analysed. Effective heat emergency plans, together with accurate weather forecasts such as those issued before this heatwave, reduce impacts and are becoming even more important in light of the rising risks.

●It is noteworthy that every heatwave analysed so far in Europe in recent years (2003, 2010, 2015, 2017, 2018, June 2019 and this study) was found to be made much more likely and more intense due to human-induced climate change. How much more depends very strongly on the event definition: location, season, intensity and durations. The July 2019 heatwave was so extreme over continental Western Europe that the observed magnitudes would have been extremely unlikely without climate change...


Aug 7, 8:16am Top

Alaska's sea ice has completely melted away
Mark Kaufman

The most rapidly changing state in the U.S. has no sea ice within some 150 miles of its shores, according to high-resolution sea ice analysis from the National Weather Service. The big picture is clear: After an Arctic summer with well above-average temperatures, warmer seas, and a historic July heat wave, sea ice has vanished in Alaskan waters.

..."This is definitely an extreme year — even by more recent standards in a changed Arctic," noted Walt Walt Meier, a senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

In the continually warming Arctic, sea ice has completely melted around the Alaskan coast before, notably during 2017's melt season, but never this early. "It's cleared earlier than it has in any other year," said (Rick Thoman, a climate specialist at the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy). (Sea ice starts regrowing again in the fall, when temperatures drop.)...


Aug 7, 6:06pm Top

Humans must adopt vegetarian or vegan diets to stop climate change, UN report warns

By Afp and Dianne Apen-sadler For Mailonline 05 Aug 2019


The world must turn towards healthy plant-based diets to stop climate change, a UN-backed report has warned.

Our food system accounts for between 25 and 30 per cent of greenhouse gases, and is choking the life from fresh and coastal waterways with excess nitrogen.

In order to feed the predicted 9.8 billion people on Earth in 2050, the world will need to produce 56 per cent more food compared to 2010.

If the level of meat and dairy consumption rises in line with current food habits, six million square kilometres (2.3 million square miles) of forests would need to be converted to agriculture - an area twice the size of India.

Two-thirds would be changed to pasture land, with the final third being used for crops, according to the Creating a Sustainable Food Future report.

Johan Rockstrom, former director of the Potsdam Institute of Climate Change Impact Research, said: 'To have any chance of feeding ten billion people in 2050 within planetary boundaries, we must adopt a healthy, plant-based diet, cut food waste, and invest in technologies that reduce environmental impacts.'

The 'great food transformation' proposed in the report is at odds with other schemes that aim to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.

One report by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) proposes to convert areas the size of India to biofuel crops or CO2-absorbing trees.

Nearly all Paris-compatible climate models slot in a major role for a two-step process that draws down carbon by growing biofuels, and then captures CO2 released when the plants are burned to generate energy.

The amount of 'bioenergy with carbon capture and storage', or BECCS, required in coming decades will depend on how quickly we sideline fossil fuels and shrink our carbon footprints.

Capping global warming at 1.5C would require converting some 7.6 million square kilometres (2.9 million square miles) to BECCS.

Even if temperatures were allowed to climb twice as high, the report concluded, biofuels would still need to cover some 5 million square kilometres (1.9 million square miles).

But these proposals 'could compromise sustainable development with increased risks - and potentially irreversible consequences - for food security, desertification and land degradation,' a draft summary of the 1,000-page IPCC report warns.

Meanwhile, the fundamental drivers of Earth's environmental meltdown - CO2 and methane emissions, nitrogen and plastics pollution, human population - continue to expand at record rates, further reducing our margin for manoeuvre.

And yet, 2018 saw a record 41.5 billion tonnes of planet-warming CO2 added to the atmosphere, up two per cent from the previous record, set the year before.

At this pace, humanity will exhaust its 'carbon budget' for a 1.5C world before US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, co-sponsor of the Green New Deal, turns 45 (in 16 years).

'Forest restoration is the best climate change solution available today,' said Tom Crowther, a professor at the university ETH Zurich.

'If we act now, this could cut carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by up to 25 per cent, to levels last seen almost a century ago.'

Crowther's 'trillion tree' initiative made headlines, but has come in for a drubbing.

His calculations, according to several climate scientists, appear to assume that every tonne of CO2 stored in replanted trees would be a tonne of CO2 removed from the atmosphere.

In fact, the ratio is 2:1 due to the nature of Earth's carbon cycle, which vastly reduces the scheme's projected benefits.

In addition, it takes decades for trees to reach their maximum CO2-absorbing potential, as the authors themselves point out.

Other critics warn against the 'moral hazard' of an apparently simple solution that may dampen resolve to purge fossil fuels from the global economy, a danger underscored, perhaps, by the enthusiasm of oil and gas giants for planting trees.

'Heroic reforestation can help, but it is time to stop suggesting there is a 'nature-based solution' to ongoing fossil fuel use,' noted Myles Allen, a professor of geosystem science at the University of Oxford. 'There isn't.'

The sharpest objections - which may also apply to BECCS - had to do with assumptions made about the type and quantity of land available for reforestation.

'It might sound like a good idea, but planting trees in savannahs and grasslands would be damaging,' Kate Parr and Caroline Lehmann from, respectively, the Universities of Liverpool and Edinburgh, commented recently in a blog.

The landscapes of lions, giraffes and vast herds of wildebeest cover more than 20 percent of Earth's land surface and can be as rich in biodiversity as tropical forests.

They are also home to a billion people, many of whom grow crops and raise livestock.

Andre Laperrière, Executive Director of Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition, said: 'Our industrialised farming practices are in fact the largest contribution to soil erosion and pollution, and perhaps the biggest hurdle we face is to try and teach about half a billion farmers globally to re-work their agricultural model to be carbon sensitive.

Other steps we can take would involve changing our collective diets to be environmentally ethical (avoiding mass produced, resource intensive and land pollutant foods such as avocados, palm oil and red meat), protect natural habitats and prevent largescale natural destruction (like in the amazon rainforest), improve crop varieties and engage in agri-forestry (instead of cutting down forests to farm).'


Eating meat, eggs and dairy products hurts the environment in a number of different ways.

Cows, pigs and other farm animals release huge amounts of methane into the atmosphere. While there is less methane in the atmosphere than other greenhouse gases, it is around 25 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat.

Raising livestock also means converting forests into agricultural land, meaning CO2-absorbing trees are being cut down, further adding to climate change. More trees are cut down to convert land for crop growing, as around a third of all grain produced in the world is used to feed animals raised for human consumption.

Factory farms and crop growing also requires massive amounts of water, with 542 litres of water being used to produce just a single chicken breast.

As well as this, the nitrogen-based fertiliser used on crops adds to nitrous oxide emissions. Nitrous oxide is around 300 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere. These fertilisers can also end up in rivers, further adding to pollution.

Overall, studies have shown that going vegetarian can reduce your carbon emissions from food by half. Going vegan can reduce this further still.

Aug 8, 2:48am Top

A Quarter of Humanity Faces Looming Water Crises
Somini Sengupta and Weiyi CaiAug 6, 2019

Countries that are home to one-fourth of Earth’s population face an increasingly urgent risk: The prospect of running out of water.

From India to Iran to Botswana, 17 countries around the world are currently under extremely high water stress, meaning they are using almost all the water they have, according to new World Resources Institute data published Tuesday.

Many are arid countries to begin with; some are squandering what water they have. Several are relying too heavily on groundwater, which instead they should be replenishing and saving for times of drought.

In those countries are several big, thirsty cities that have faced acute shortages recently, including São Paulo, Brazil; Chennai, India; and Cape Town, which in 2018 narrowly beat what it called Day Zero — the day when all its dams would be dry.

... How to fix the problem?

The stakes are high for water-stressed places. When a city or a country is using nearly all the water available, a bad drought can be catastrophic.

After a three-year drought, Cape Town in 2018 was forced to take extraordinary measures to ration what little it had left in its reservoirs. That acute crisis only magnified a chronic challenge. Cape Town’s 4 million residents are competing with farmers for limited water resources.

Likewise, Los Angeles. Its most recent drought ended this year. But its water supply isn’t keeping pace with its galloping demand and its penchant for private backyard swimming pools doesn’t help.

For Bangalore, a couple of years of paltry rains revealed how badly the city has managed its water. The many lakes that once dotted the city and its surrounding areas have either been built-over or filled with the city’s waste. They can no longer be the rainwater storage tanks they once were. And so the city must venture further and further away to draw water for its 8.4 million residents, and much of it is wasted along the way.

A lot can be done to improve water management, though.

First, city officials can plug leaks in the water distribution system. Wastewater can be recycled. Rain can be harvested and saved for lean times: lakes and wetlands can be cleaned up and old wells can be restored. And, farmers can switch from water-intensive crops, like rice, and instead grow less-thirsty crops like millet.

“Water is a local problem and it needs local solutions,” said Priyanka Jamwal, a fellow at the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment in Bangalore.


Aug 8, 8:48am Top

#90 The anthropology of climate change and glacier retreat, contd.

A photo essay...

The New Ruins of the Melting Alps
Emily Atkin, Tomaso Clavarino | August 6, 2019

...While the planet as a whole has warmed about 1° Celsius because of greenhouse gas emissions, average temperatures the Alps have risen just under 2° Celsius. Since 1960—when the Alps first began to be exploited by ski-oriented tourism—the average snow season there has shortened by 38 days.

...there are now almost 200 abandoned ski resorts in the Italian Alps: cemeteries of steel cables, concrete, parking lots, abandoned hotels, and deforested slopes. That number stands to rise. If greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked, the Alps will lose 90 percent of their remaining glaciers by 2100*...

...As the tourism economy has suffered, so have the residents who depend on it—and they’re reluctant to leave in search of opportunities elsewhere. “...

Clavarino’s images of these near-abandoned places, and the people who remain there, are not simply mementos of a dying region. They’re a warning to the rest of us about the economic and human toll to come as our planet warms....



* Glaciers in the Alps Could Lose Nearly All Their Ice by 2100
Yale 360 | April 10, 2019

* Zekollari, H., Huss, M., and Farinotti, D.: Modelling the future evolution of glaciers in the European Alps under the EURO-CORDEX RCM ensemble, The Cryosphere, 13, 1125-1146, https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-13-1125-2019, 2019. https://www.the-cryosphere.net/13/1125/2019/

Glaciers in the European Alps play an important role in the hydrological cycle, act as a source for hydroelectricity and have a large touristic importance. The future evolution of these glaciers is driven by surface mass balance and ice flow processes, of which the latter is to date not included explicitly in regional glacier projections for the Alps. Here, we model the future evolution of glaciers in the European Alps with GloGEMflow, an extended version of the Global Glacier Evolution Model (GloGEM), in which both surface mass balance and ice flow are explicitly accounted for. The mass balance model is calibrated with glacier-specific geodetic mass balances and forced with high-resolution regional climate model (RCM) simulations from the EURO-CORDEX ensemble. The evolution of the total glacier volume in the coming decades is relatively similar under the various representative concentrations pathways (RCP2.6, 4.5 and 8.5), with volume losses of about 47 %–52 % in 2050 with respect to 2017. We find that under RCP2.6, the ice loss in the second part of the 21st century is relatively limited and that about one-third (36.8 % ± 11.1 %, multi-model mean ±1σ) of the present-day (2017) ice volume will still be present in 2100. Under a strong warming (RCP8.5) the future evolution of the glaciers is dictated by a substantial increase in surface melt, and glaciers are projected to largely disappear by 2100 (94.4±4.4 % volume loss vs. 2017). For a given RCP, differences in future changes are mainly determined by the driving global climate model (GCM), rather than by the RCM, and these differences are larger than those arising from various model parameters (e.g. flow parameters and cross-section parameterisation). We find that under a limited warming, the inclusion of ice dynamics reduces the projected mass loss and that this effect increases with the glacier elevation range, implying that the inclusion of ice dynamics is likely to be important for global glacier evolution projections.

Aug 8, 10:47am Top

Climate Change Threatens the World’s Food Supply, United Nations Warns
Christopher Flavelle | Aug. 8, 2019

The world’s land and water resources are being exploited at “unprecedented rates,” a new United Nations report warns, which combined with climate change is putting dire pressure on the ability of humanity to feed itself.

The report, prepared by more than 100 experts from 52 countries and released in summary form in Geneva on Thursday, found that the window to address the threat is closing rapidly. A half-billion people already live in places turning into desert, and soil is being lost between 10 and 100 times faster than it is forming, according to the report.

Climate change will make those threats even worse, as floods, drought, storms and other types of extreme weather threaten to disrupt, and over time shrink, the global food supply. Already, more than 10 percent of the world’s population remains undernourished, and some authors of the report warned in interviews that food shortages could lead to an increase in cross-border migration.

A particular danger is that food crises could develop on several continents at once, said Cynthia Rosenzweig, a senior research scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of the lead authors of the report.* “The potential risk of multi-breadbasket failure is increasing,” she said. “All of these things are happening at the same time.”...



* Climate Change and Land: An IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems

...The IPCC will be considering Climate Change and Land: an IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems on 2 – 6 August 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland. The press conference to present the approved Summary for Policymakers is scheduled for 10am (CEST) on 8 August 2019....


Edited: Aug 13, 6:27am Top

See world map of ice loss from glaciers distinct from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.

Glaciers have lost 9 trillion tonnes of ice since 1961, says satellite study
Michael Irving | April 8th, 2019


Map originally Fig 1:

M. Zemp et al. 2019. Global glacier mass changes and their contributions to sea-level rise from 1961 to 2016. Nature volume 568, pages382–386 (2019) | https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1071-0

Glaciers distinct from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets cover an area of approximately 706,000 square kilometres globally1, with an estimated total volume of 170,000 cubic kilometres, or 0.4 metres of potential sea-level-rise equivalent2. Retreating and thinning glaciers are icons of climate change3 and affect regional runoff4 as well as global sea level5,6. In past reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, estimates of changes in glacier mass were based on the multiplication of averaged or interpolated results from available observations of a few hundred glaciers by defined regional glacier areas7,8,9,10. For data-scarce regions, these results had to be complemented with estimates based on satellite altimetry and gravimetry11. These past approaches were challenged by the small number and heterogeneous spatiotemporal distribution of in situ measurement series and their often unknown ability to represent their respective mountain ranges, as well as by the spatial limitations of satellite altimetry (for which only point data are available) and gravimetry (with its coarse resolution). Here we use an extrapolation of glaciological and geodetic observations to show that glaciers contributed 27 ± 22 millimetres to global mean sea-level rise from 1961 to 2016. Regional specific-mass-change rates for 2006–2016 range from −0.1 metres to −1.2 metres of water equivalent per year, resulting in a global sea-level contribution of 335 ± 144 gigatonnes, or 0.92 ± 0.39 millimetres, per year. Although statistical uncertainty ranges overlap, our conclusions suggest that glacier mass loss may be larger than previously reported11. The present glacier mass loss is equivalent to the sea-level contribution of the Greenland Ice Sheet12, clearly exceeds the loss from the Antarctic Ice Sheet13, and accounts for 25 to 30 per cent of the total observed sea-level rise14. Present mass-loss rates indicate that glaciers could almost disappear in some mountain ranges in this century, while heavily glacierized regions will continue to contribute to sea-level rise beyond 2100.

Aug 13, 7:47am Top

An example of far-reaching effects of minute amount of dust from today's relatively subdued volcanoes and fires
the cold winter after Mt Pinnatubo eruption in Philippines (1991) affected fish production in Lake Ontario,
i.e., Northern Pike and Lake Whitefish benefited, Smallmouth Bass suffered.

(I left in "Further Reading" references for those of you who mused about mechanics of 2017's fires.)

God forbid we should see truly huge conflagrations from runaway climate change, nukes, asteroid strike, huge volcanoes... We can prevent the first two at least...

The worst wildfires can send smoke high enough to affect the ozone layer
Megan Sever | August 8, 2019

...Cooler air closer to Earth’s surface normally keeps smoke from rising too high. But as dozens of fires raged in western Canada and the U.S. Pacific Northwest in the summer of 2017, they created their own giant storm clouds called pyrocumulonimbus, or pyroCb, clouds. Within two months, these clouds had lofted smoke 12 to 23 kilometers up into the stratosphere...

...Smoke persisted in the stratosphere for about eight months

...(2017 N American) “mother of all pyroCbs” offered the first direct observation of a process called “self-lofting”...

...confirmed what simulations had suggested would happen if large amounts of smoke were injected into the stratosphere via a nuclear war

...organics and soot in the (stratosphere) smoke layer have to absorb sunlight or reflect it back into space. When major volcanic eruptions...dimming effect has led to crop failures and famines...unlikely that wildfires could loft enough smoke to cause a hemispheric dimming effect. But the smoke can damage the ozone layer...it pushes out ozone-rich air...ozone losses up to 50 percent over parts of Canada during the 2017 fires.

In addition,...when water vapor breaks down, it releases reactive hydrogen oxide molecules called radicals that destroy ozone.

...PyroCbs occur from three to six dozen times a year globally, Fromm says. But these fire clouds range in size, with the biggest and most intense ones requiring “a perfect storm” of hot, dry, windy conditions along with clusters of very hot fires in close proximity in order to reach the stratosphere...


P. Yu et al. Black carbon lofts wildfire smoke high into the stratosphere to form a persistent plume. Science. Vol. 365, August 9, 2019, p. 587. doi: 10.1126/science.aax1748. https://science.sciencemag.org/content/365/6453/587

M. Fromm et al. The untold story of pyrocumulonimbus. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. Published online September 1, 2010. doi:10.1175/2010BAMS3004.1. https://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/2010BAMS3004.1

J. Ditas et al. Strong impact of wildfires on the abundance and aging of black carbon in the lowermost stratosphere. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Vol. 115, December 11, 2018. doi:10.1073/pnas.1806868115. https://www.pnas.org/content/115/50/E11595

Further Reading

C. Gramling. The Arctic in burning and Greenland is melting, thanks to record heat. Science News Online, August 2, 2019.

C. Gramling. Half a degree stole the climate spotlight in 2018. Science News. Vol. 194, December 22, 2018, p. 18.

L. Hamers. Wildfires make their own weather, and that matters for fire management. Science News. Vol. 194, October 27, 2018, p. 21.

T. Sumner. Wildfire shifts could dump more ice-melting soot in Arctic. Science News Online, April 18, 2016.

S. Perkins. Smoke from a distant fire. Science News. Vol. 178, November 6, 2010, p. 128.

S. Perkins. Ash Clouds: Severe storms can lift smoke into stratosphere. Science News. Vol. 164, December 27, 2003, p. 388.


Aug 14, 7:36am Top

Those trees we hope to sequester CO2? ~450 invasive pests threaten to reduce 40% of cover to potential tinder... :(

Trees in the U.S. facing devastating threats due to invasive species
Bob Yirka , Phys.org | Aug 13, 2019

A team of researchers from Purdue University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has found that trees in the United States are facing devastating threats due to invasive species. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes analyzing thousands of forest plots across the U.S. and the mortality rates due to 15 major tree pest infestations, and what they found.

The United States has long been associated with large expanses of forest—but large-scale cutting has reduced forests over the past century. Now, forest trees confront a new threat—infestation by invasive pests unintentionally introduced into the country. Some infestations have already made headlines, such as the widespread loss of trees due to Dutch elm disease, the loss of most American chestnuts due to a fungal disease; additionally, ash borers have decimated ash tree populations in the Chicago area. In addition to providing wood-based products and beautiful parklands, forests are part of the carbon cycle—each tree sequesters a lot of carbon—when they die, they release that carbon into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. Prior research has shown that there are now approximately 450 invasive tree pests in the U.S. that damage or kill trees. Most are believed to have been carried into the country through international trade and travel. In this new effort, the researchers set a goal of learning the scale of the threat U.S. forests face.

To gain some perspective on the threats to U.S. forestlands, the researchers carried out an analysis of 92,978 forest plots from across the country. They noted tree types in each plot and the rates of infestation by 15 major tree-killing pests.

The researchers found that approximately 40 percent of all forested land in the U.S. is under threat from invasive species. They also found that such pests are already killing so many trees that 6 million tons of carbon is released into the atmosphere each year. They note that not much can be done for trees already infected, but quarantine programs could be implemented to prevent the spread of pests.



Songlin Fei et al. Biomass losses resulting from insect and disease invasions in US forests, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2019). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1820601116 https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2019/08/06/1820601116

Forests provide a wide variety of vital ecosystem services but are increasingly affected by anthropogenic disturbances. Among these, invasions by nonnative pests can adversely affect ecosystem services. Comprehensive estimates of the impacts of nonnative pest on forest biomass loss are limited, however. Using more than 92,000 field plots, we quantified pest-induced biomass loss across the conterminous United States for the first time. We show that invasive pests are causing significant shifts in carbon dynamics in US forests. In addition, >40 margd:% of the total live biomass in US forests is at risk for invasion by currently established pest species. Our findings are of potential significance in justifying the selection of future policy options and in future carbon dynamics modeling research.

Worldwide, forests are increasingly affected by nonnative insects and diseases, some of which cause substantial tree mortality. Forests in the United States have been invaded by a particularly large number (>450) of tree-feeding pest species. While information exists about the ecological impacts of certain pests, region-wide assessments of the composite ecosystem impacts of all species are limited. Here we analyze 92,978 forest plots distributed across the conterminous United States to estimate biomass loss associated with elevated mortality rates caused by the 15 most damaging nonnative forest pests. We find that these species combined caused an additional (i.e., above background levels) tree mortality rate of 5.53 TgC per year. Compensation, in the form of increased growth and recruitment of nonhost species, was not detectable when measured across entire invaded ranges but does occur several decades following pest invasions. In addition, 41.1% of the total live forest biomass in the conterminous United States is at risk of future loss from these 15 pests. These results indicate that forest pest invasions, driven primarily by globalization, represent a huge risk to US forests and have significant impacts on carbon dynamics.

Aug 14, 2:10pm Top

The loss of redwoods due to beetles in California is tragic, catastrophic, and hazardous due to the fire danger. Not to mention so depressingly ugly.

Edited: Aug 19, 6:54am Top

Sounds like Antarctic is at a tipping point? Warm El Nino winds have resulted in shift from mean easterlies (1920s), mean zero direction (today), to, at current C emissions, warm/shelf-melting increase in mean westerlies by 2100. Alone, this could mean 10' rise in ocean levels.

ETA: The Reason Antarctica Is Melting: Shifting Winds, Driven by Global Warming
A new study helps solve the puzzle of why the continent’s western glaciers are melting so fast
Annie Sneed | August 16, 2019

The Antarctic ice sheet is melting and, yeah, it’s probably our fault.
Eric Steig | 14 August 2019

Glaciers in West Antarctica have thinned and accelerated in the last few decades. A new paper* provides some of the first evidence that this is due to human activities.

...The key finding is that we now have evidence that the increasing loss of ice from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is a result of human activities — rising greenhouse gas concentrations in particular.

...glacier melt in West Antarctica has increased because more Circumpolar Deep Water (which is relatively warm) is getting from the ocean surrounding Antarctica onto the Antarctic continental shelf and reaching the floating ice shelves of the large outlet glaciers that drain the West Antarctic ice sheet into the ocean...how much Circumpolar Deep Water (CDW) gets onto the continental shelf is strongly influenced by the strength and direction of the winds at the shelf edge. Essentially, stronger westerlies (or simply weaker easterlies) tend to cause more CDW inflow, and hence, more glacial melt.

...It is clear from this work, and much other recent research, that ENSO (El Niño-Southern Oscillation) plays a dominant role in determining the climate conditions in West Antarctica that are relevant to the ice sheet.

... Although we humans have evidently caused a long-term increase in westerly winds along the Amundsen Sea coast (which is bad for the West Antarctic ice sheet), the future is not yet written (which is an opportunity). Lowering greenhouse gases to a more modest rate of increase might be enough to prevent further changes in those winds.

Of course, many glaciologists believe we have already passed the point of no return for West Antarctica. I personally think the jury is still out on that. But that’s a discussion for another time.



* Paul R. Holland et al. 2019. West Antarctic ice loss influenced by internal climate variability and anthropogenic forcing. Nature Geoscience. 10 p. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-019-0420-9.epdf

Recent ice loss from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has been caused by ocean melting of ice shelves in the Amundsen Sea. Eastward wind anomalies at the shelf break enhance the import of warm Circumpolar Deep Water onto the Amundsen Sea continental shelf, which creates transient melting anomalies with an approximately decadal period. No anthropogenic influence on this process has been established. Here, we combine observations and climate model simulations to suggest that increased greenhouse gas forcing caused shelf-break winds to transition from mean easterlies in the 1920s to the near-zero mean zonal winds of the present day. Strong internal climate variability, primarily linked to the tropical Pacific, is superimposed on this forced trend. We infer that the Amundsen Sea experienced decadal ocean variability throughout the twentieth century, with warm anomalies gradually becoming more prevalent, offering a credible explanation for the ongoing ice loss. Existing climate model projections show that strong future greenhouse gas forcing creates persistent mean westerly shelf-break winds by 2100, suggesting a further enhancement of warm ocean anomalies. These wind changes are weaker under a scenario in which green-house gas concentrations are stabilized


Aug 17, 1:15pm Top

Like growing trees, growing coastal wetlands sequester more carbon than mature, stable ones: "...tidal marshes on coastlines that experienced rapid RSLR rapid sea level rise over the past few millennia (in the late Holocene, from about 4,200 years ago to the present) have on average 1.7 to 3.7 times higher soil carbon concentrations within 20 centimetres of the surface than those subject to a long period of sea-level stability. This disparity increases with depth..."

"Soft" engineering shorelines wherever possible with vegetation--not shorewalls--will allow wetlands to persist, maximizing their sequestration of carbon during sea level rise as well as serving as biodiverse refuges in a time of changing habitat.

Wetland mud is 'secret weapon' against climate change
Victoria Gill | 6 March 2019

...Many habitats that are rich in plant life are important stores of carbon. But coastal wetlands are particularly efficient at locking it away. When the marshland plants die, rather than decomposing and releasing their carbon into the atmosphere, they become buried in the mud.

As sea levels rise, more sediment layers wash over tidal marshes and bury the carbon-rich material, locking it beneath the muddy layers.

Lead researcher Prof Kerrylee Rogers*, from the University of Wollongong, explained: "This sediment not only buries and traps root material and other organic matter, but also increases the elevation of wetlands.

...But for coastal wetlands to build up and store more carbon, they will need space, as Patrick Megonigal from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Maryland, US, explained. "The important question is how many wetlands will remain wetlands and how humans manage the land adjacent to them...Wetlands can migrate on land as long as they have space, so that's an important decision that we're left with."

...salt marshes on the coastlines of Australia, China and South America could be the "sleeping giants of carbon sequestration".

Doubling of the carbon stored in these wetlands would mean an additional five million tonnes of atmospheric carbon is "stuck in the mud" every year - that would be equivalent to taking more than one million cars off the road.

Coastal wetlands are suffering in part because of the many communities that have built up along seaboards.

"Things like shipping and shrimp farming have a direct impact, but land-based businesses also benefit from the protection of sea walls which prevent wetlands from adjusting to sea level change," said Rob Shore, head of conservation programmes at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. "Because the coast crosses national boundaries, the only way to tackle this is through international cooperation, so we and other NGOs are calling for countries to sign up to a global forum involving all these diverse interests. The potential carbon benefits of coastal wetlands are huge and this is the only way to make sure we don't miss this opportunity."...


*Kerrylee Rogers et al. 2019. Wetland carbon storage controlled by millennial-scale variation in relative sea-level rise. (Letter) Nature 567: 91-95. 7 March 2019. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-0951-7.epdf

Coastal wetlands (mangrove, tidal marsh and seagrass) sustain the highest rates of carbon sequestration per unit area of all natural systems, primarily because of their comparatively high productivity and preservation of organic carbon within sedimentary substrates. Climate change and associated relative sea-level rise (RSLR) have been proposed to increase the rate of organic-carbon burial in coastal wetlands in the first half of the twenty-first century, but these carbon–climate feedback effects have been modelled to diminish over time as wetlands are increasingly submerged and carbon stores become compromised by erosion. Here we show that tidal marshes on coastlines that experienced rapid RSLR over the past few millennia (in the late Holocene, from about 4,200 years ago to the present) have on average 1.7 to 3.7 times higher soil carbon concentrations within 20 centimetres of the surface than those subject to a long period of sea-level stability. This disparity increases with depth, with soil carbon concentrations reduced by a factor of 4.9 to 9.1 at depths of 50 to 100 centimetres. We analyse the response of a wetland exposed to recent rapid RSLR following subsidence associated with pillar collapse in an underlying mine and demonstrate that the gain in carbon accumulation and elevation is proportional to the accommodation space (that is, the space available for mineral and organic material accumulation) created by RSLR. Our results suggest that coastal wetlands characteristic of tectonically stable coastlines have lower carbon storage owing to a lack of accommodation space and that carbon sequestration increases according to the vertical and lateral accommodation space created by RSLR. Such wetlands will provide long-term mitigating feedback effects that are relevant to global climate–carbon modelling...

Aug 17, 2:47pm Top

>137 margd: I fervently hope that governments listen to this wisdom and act on it.

Aug 19, 7:08am Top

'I Am Afraid': A First-Ever Poll Shows How Worried Greenlanders Are About Climate Change
Brian Kahn | Aug 19, 2019

A new survey (Greenlandic Perspectives on Climate Change) reveals that climate change is putting undue stress on Greenlanders’ lives, livelihoods, and emotions as it changes everything. Three-quarters of Greenlanders surveyed said they’ve felt the impacts of climate change personally, with many expressing concerns about everything from its impact on sled dogs to food security.

...The island is shedding ice six times faster than it was in the 1980s. Unprecedented wildfires have ignited on the island in recent years. Sea ice is melting out.

...76 percent of Greenlanders reported feeling the impacts of climate change directly...three-quarters of survey respondents also reported getting at least some of their food through hunting, fishing, or gathering. ...

Nearly 80 percent of survey respondents reported sea ice conditions have become more dangerous in recent years....two-thirds of respondents worry in particular about the impact climate change is having on sled dogs, which ranked as the highest concern even above future generations of humans. (Many Greenlanders rely on sled dogs to travel, a process that requires firm snow or sea ice)...


Yesterday, 7:23am Top

Aramco IPO (Initial Public Offering) Could Spell Disaster For Big Oil
Philip Verleger - Aug 19, 2019

Saudi Arabia is again discussing selling a small share of its national oil company, Aramco, to the public...could be a big event – and a big disaster for Big Oil, as well as those holding oil company shares. Here is why.

The oil sector today has become a pariah industry for many investors...divestitures have contributed to the underperformance of energy shares relative to the major indices. For example, the S&P Energy index is unchanged in 2019, while the S&P 500 is up seventeen percent.

The shunning of energy shares has reduced the market capitalization of the world’s largest publicly held oil companies...(BP, Chevron, ENI, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Shell, Petrobras, and Total) have an aggregate market cap of $1.3 trillion...a relatively modest sum.

The sector’s unpopularity with investors means these companies must compete with Aramco for the investment dollars of a limited number of participants. ...Aramco’s IPO, should it proceed, would cause the aggregate market capitalization of other firms to decline as their equities are sold to fund purchases of Aramco shares...It is hard to see why (any money that left nonrenewable sector) would reallocate back to nonrenewables to buy Aramco shares.)

If investors do sell shares in other “nonrenewable” firms such as ExxonMobil, one should expect the managers of these firms to take steps to offset the price decline...: buy back shares or raise dividends.

...(if) Aramco IPO raises $75 billion, all of which comes from the sale of shares in the eight largest oil companies. Those sales would cause a six-percent decline on average in these firms’ share prices. The $75 billion reduction would also equal sixty percent of their announced capital expenditures.

...share buybacks if the IPO takes place...would require them to divert capital from exploration and production or issue more debt. In many cases, they would reduce capital expenditures substantially.

...In effect, the Aramco IPO would slow or reverse the oil production increases from non-OPEC countries, particularly those in the United States.

The impact might be particularly severe for Shell and BP should the Aramco shares be listed on the London Stock Exchange. These two firms would need to react quickly if investors sought to maintain balanced portfolios...


Yesterday, 9:35am Top

#136 The Reason Antarctica Is Melting: Shifting Winds, Driven by Global Warming...Sounds like Antarctic is at a tipping point? Warm El Nino winds have resulted in shift from mean easterlies (1920s), mean zero direction (today), to, at current C emissions, warm/shelf-melting increase in mean westerlies by 2100. Alone, this could mean 10' rise in ocean levels...contd.

WIRED WIRED | 6:07 AM · Aug 20, 2019:

This Florida-sized hunk of frozen water in Antarctica is collapsing into the sea. And, yes, there's cause for concern. In fact, this could be the kind of event that changes the course of civilization.

The Race to Understand Antarctica’s Most Terrifying Glacier (article was previously posted on this thread)
Jon Gertner | 12/10/2018


Wikipedia: Thwaites Glacier is closely watched for its potential to raise sea levels. Along with Pine Island Glacier, it has been described as part of the "weak underbelly" of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, due to its apparent vulnerability to significant retreat. This hypothesis is based on theoretical studies of the stability of marine ice sheets and observations of large changes on both of these glaciers. In recent years, the flow of both of these glaciers has accelerated, their surfaces have lowered, and the grounding lines have retreated.

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