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2013 SkS Weekly News Roundup #3

Posted on 19 January 2013 by John Hartz

  • Black carbon causes twice as much global warming
  • Don't ignore the drought
  • Earlier spring flowers in US
  • Emissions limits could cut climate damage by two-thirds
  • Global food crisis will worsen as heatwaves damage crops
  • How Australia lost 20 years on climate change action
  • Megadrought took long-lasting toll on Amazon rainforest
  • National legislation key to combating climate change
  • The challenges of facing coming climate extremes
  • Two new reports on Canadian oil sands paint a dire picture
  • US scientists in fresh alert over effects of global warming
  • What’s causing Australia’s heat wave?

Black carbon causes twice as much global warming

Soot from burned wood and diesel exhausts may have twice the impact on global warming than previously thought, according to a new study published on Tuesday.

The "black carbon" is said to be the second most important man-made agent of climate change. 

The findings, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres, suggest there may be untapped potential to curb global warming by reducing soot emissions.

Black carbon causes twice as much global warming than previously thought, Guardian, Jan 15, 2013


Don't ignore the drought

Droughts, it could be argued, are the opposite of news. By definition, they  represent the absence of something (namely, adequate rain) happening. And they  only occur when that something has already been not-happening for a very long  time. As a result, droughts tend not to make the front page. When they do – as  happened last summer, when headlines trumpeted the worst U.S. drought conditions  in 50 years – the public gets concerned. But soon enough, droughts begin to feel  like business as usual again, invisible in their very ubiquity.

It's time to start paying attention.

Don't Ignore the Drought by Brooke Jarvis, Rolling Stone,  Jan 17, 2013


Earlier spring flowers in US

The warmest springs on record caused flowers to bloom at their earliest dates in decades at two historic sites, according to new research.
 
The findings, published online today (Jan. 16) in the journal PLoS ONE, show just how much climate change has altered ecosystems throughout the temperate areas of the United States. The study used 161-year-old data on flowering times from Henry David Thoreau's notebooks, as well as nearly 80-year-old data from the famous naturalist Aldo Leopold.

Global Warming Brings Earlier Spring Flowers by tia Ghose, LiveScience, Jan 16, 2013 


Emissions limits could cut climate damage by two-thirds

The world could avoid much of the damaging effects of climate change this century if greenhouse gas emissions are curbed more sharply, research showed on Sunday (Jan 12, 2013).

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, is the first comprehensive assessment of the benefits of cutting emissions to keep the global temperature rise to within 2 degrees Celsius by 2100, a level which scientists say would avoid the worst effects of climate change.

It found 20 to 65 percent of the adverse impacts by the end of this century could be avoided.

Emissions limits could cut climate damage by two-thirds - study by Nina Chestney, Reuters. Jan 13, 2013


Global food crisis will worsen as heatwaves damage crops

The world's food crisis, where 1 billion people are already going hungry and a further 2 billion people will be affected by 2050, is set to worsen as increasing heatwaves reverse the rising crop yields seen over the last 50 years, according to new research.

Global food crisis will worsen as heatwaves damage crops, research finds by Damian Carrington, The Guardian, Jan 13, 2013


How Australia lost 20 years on climate change action

The record shows a pivotal change occurred in social values and beliefs that set the public agenda from the mid-1990s on. Politicians and the press gallery, rather than scientists, more and more determined the daily narrative of what was “real”.

How we lost 20 years on climate change action, Maria Taylor, The Conversation, Jan 14, 2013


Megadrought took long-lasting toll on Amazon rainforest

"Our results suggest that if droughts continue at five- to 10-year intervals or increase in frequency due to climate change, large areas of the Amazon forest are likely to be exposed to persistent effects of droughts and corresponding slow forest recovery," Saatchi said. "This may alter the structure and function of Amazonian rainforest ecosystems." 

Megadrought Took Long-Lasting Toll on Amazon, LiveScience, Jan 17, 2013  


National legislation key to combating climate change

A majority of major economies have made significant progress in addressing climate change, with countries like South Korea and China taking aggressive action so they can benefit from energy- and resource-efficient economies, a new report released Monday found.

The study by GLOBE International and Grantham Research Institute profiled 33 major economies in an annual examination of climate and energy legislation. 32 of them, including the United States, made significant progress in 2012, while only Canada regressed.

“The study reveals a major trend is underway. More and more countries are acting on climate,” said Adam Matthews, secretary general of GLOBE International, an organisation of legislators.

National Legislation Key to Combating Climate Change by Stephen Leahy, Inter Press Service (IPS), Jan 15, 2013


The challenges of facing coming climate extremes

Katherine Bagley of InsideClimate News spoke with Gerrard*, a nationally known environmental lawyer, about where things stand with U.S. adaptation policy, what can be accomplished under current law and whether Sandy has changed thinking on adaptation.

*Michael Gerrard, director of the Center for Climate Change Law At Columbia University

Q&A: The Challenges of Facing Coming Climate Extremes by Katherine Bagley, Inside Climate News, Jan 16, 2013


Two new reports on Canadian oil sands paint a dire picture

Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline and the heavy Canadian crude oil that it would carry released two reports on Thursday asserting that the environmental impacts of the project are worse than previously estimated, and urged the Obama administration to veto it.

2 Reports on Oil Sands Paint a Dire Picture by John M Broder, the Green Blog, New York Times, Jan 17, 2013


US scientists in fresh alert over effects of global warming

Global warming is already having a major impact on life in America, a report by US government scientists has warned. The draft version of the US National Climate Assessment reveals that increasing storm surges, floods, melting glaciers and permafrost, and intensifying droughts are having a profound effect on the lives of Americans.

US scientists in fresh alert over effects of global warming by Robin McKie, The Guardian (UK), Jan 12, 2013


What’s causing Australia’s heat wave?

Australia has always experienced heat waves, and they are a normal part of most summers. However, the current event affecting much of inland Australia has definitely not been typical.

The most significant thing about the recent heat has been its coverage across the continent, and its persistence.

It is very unusual to have such widespread extreme temperatures — and have them persist for so long. On those two metrics alone, spatial extent and duration, the last two weeks surpasses the only previous analogue in the historical record (since 1910) – a two-week country-wide hot spell during the summer of 1972-1973.

What’s causing Australia’s heat wave? by Neil Plummer, Blair Trewin, David Jones, Karl Braganza, and Rob Smalley, The Conversation, Jan 18, 2013

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Comments 1 to 1:

  1. Thank you for putting together this round-up. I always find something interesting to learn.

    One thing I would point out --- in the article titled "Megadrought took long-lasting toll on Amazon rainforest" there is this quote from Sassan Saatchi, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the lead author of the paper:

    "Our results suggest that if droughts continue at five- to 10-year intervals or increase in frequency due to climate change, large areas of the Amazon forest are likely to be exposed to persistent effects of droughts and corresponding slow forest recovery," Saatchi said. "This may alter the structure and function of Amazonian rainforest ecosystems."

    I would point out that Ranga Myneni is a co-author on the paper. Myneni is the guy who Matt Ridley quotes in his Wall Street Journal article as saying that the increasing greening of the planet is half due to increased warming or rainfall and half due to carbon fertilization.

    All the more reason for someone to check with Myneni and see if his views were represented accurately.
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