Climate Science Glossary

Term Lookup

Enter a term in the search box to find its definition.


Use the controls in the far right panel to increase or decrease the number of terms automatically displayed (or to completely turn that feature off).

Term Lookup


All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

Home Arguments Software Resources Comments The Consensus Project Translations About Donate

Twitter Facebook YouTube Pinterest

RSS Posts RSS Comments Email Subscribe

Climate's changed before
It's the sun
It's not bad
There is no consensus
It's cooling
Models are unreliable
Temp record is unreliable
Animals and plants can adapt
It hasn't warmed since 1998
Antarctica is gaining ice
View All Arguments...

Keep me logged in
New? Register here
Forgot your password?

Latest Posts


Climate Hustle

Explaining climate change science & rebutting global warming misinformation

Scientific skepticism is healthy. Scientists should always challenge themselves to improve their understanding. Yet this isn't what happens with climate change denial. Skeptics vigorously criticise any evidence that supports man-made global warming and yet embrace any argument, op-ed, blog or study that purports to refute global warming. This website gets skeptical about global warming skepticism. Do their arguments have any scientific basis? What does the peer reviewed scientific literature say?


Video: Textbook Trauma – The Emotional Cost of Climate Change

Posted on 18 September 2018 by greenman3610

This is a re-post from Climate Denial Crock of the Week



California plans to show the world how to meet the Paris climate target

Posted on 17 September 2018 by dana1981

Last week, California Governor Jerry Brown signed State Senator and US Senate candidate Kevin de León’s SB 100, which mandates that the state obtain all of its electricity from zero-carbon sources by 2045. That in itself was a big deal, but Brown didn’t stop there; he also issued an executive order calling for the entire California economy to become carbon-neutral by 2045. That’s a huge deal.

In order to stay below the Paris climate threshold of 2°C global warming above pre-industrial temperatures, humanity must become carbon-neutral by around 2060 or 2070. If California can meet Brown’s target, it will be providing the rest of the world a blueprint for meeting the Paris target. As the world’s fifth-largest economy, California can provide a powerful roadmap for others to follow.

carbon budget

Global emission reduction trajectories associated with a 66% chance of avoiding more than 2°C warming by starting year. Solid black line shows historical emissions, while dashed black line shows emissions constant at 2016 levels. Data and chart design from Robbie Andrew at CICERO and the Global Carbon Project. Illustration: Carbon Brief

Brown’s executive order directs the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to work with relevant state agencies to develop a framework for implementation and accounting of progress toward statewide carbon neutrality. While state agencies can figure out a plan to achieve carbon neutrality, the state legislature will have to pass laws to implement that plan.

California has been all-in on tackling climate change, as its carbon cap and trade system and SB 100 illustrate, but Californians will have to keep electing climate realists to state office in order to make the dream of carbon neutrality a reality.



2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #37

Posted on 16 September 2018 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Opinion of the Week... Toon of the Week... Quote of the Week... Photo of the Week... Video of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Poster of the Week... SkS Week in Review...

Story of the Week...

California Had Its Own Climate Summit. Now What?

Protestors at Global Climate Action Summit San Francisco Sep 2018 

Protesters at the Global Climate Action Summit this week in San Francisco. Credit Marian Carrasquero for The New York Times

For years, presidents and prime ministers have been the public face of the fight against climate change, gathering at United Nations summit meetings and pressuring each other to reduce emissions.

The results have often been lackluster.

climate conference in California this week tried something different. The meeting, organized by the state’s governor, Jerry Brown, had far fewer national leaders present. Instead, an array of governors, mayors and business executives from around the globe met to promote their successes in cutting greenhouse gas emissions locally and to encourage one another to do more.

A key premise of the conference was that if a handful of leading-edge states, cities and businesses can demonstrate that it’s feasible — and even lucrative — to go green in their own backyards, they might inspire others to follow suit. That, in turn, could make it easier for national leaders to act more forcefully.

“If a researcher does an experiment, and you find out they’ve got a medicine that works, it spreads,” Governor Brown said.

California Had Its Own Climate Summit. Now What? by Brad Plumer, Climate, New York Times, Sep 15, 2018 



2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #37

Posted on 15 September 2018 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week.

Editor's Pick

Paris Conundrum: How to Know How Much Carbon Is Being Emitted? 


An industrial complex in Oberhausen, Germany in January 2017. LUKAS SCHULZE/GETTY

As climate negotiators consider rules for verifying commitments under the Paris Agreement, they will have to confront a difficult truth: There currently is no reliably accurate way to measure total global emissions or how much CO2 is coming from individual nations.   

Will we be able to verify the Paris climate accord? Right now science is not up to the task, say the people in charge of assessing our annual emissions of CO2. There is, they say, no sure way of independently verifying whether national governments are telling the truth about their own emissions or of knowing by how much global anthropogenic emissions are actually increasing.

And that is distinctly alarming, given the contradiction between reports that anthropogenic emissions have stopped rising and atmospheric measurements showing that annual increases in CO2 levels have reached record levels.

Climate negotiators are committed to concluding a rule book for implementing the Paris Agreement at their next annual conference, in Katowice, Poland, in December. Central to that will be an agreed plan to monitor, report, and verify the pledges made by almost 200 countries.

Paris Conundrum: How to Know How Much Carbon Is Being Emitted? by Fred Pearce, Yale Environment 360, Sep 10, 2018 



New research, September 3-9, 2018

Posted on 14 September 2018 by Ari Jokimäki

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

Climate change mitigation

Climate change communication

Inconvenience vs. rationality. Reflections on different faces of climate contrarianism in Poland and Norway

A new, valid measure of climate change understanding: associations with risk perception

Climate Policy

Optimal design of carbon tax to stimulate CCS investment in China's coal‐fired power plants: A real options analysis

Measuring success: improving assessments of aggregate GHG emissions reduction goals (open access)

Gender and climate policy: a discursive institutional analysis of Ethiopia’s climate resilient strategy

Energy production

Has coal use peaked in China: Near-term trends in China's coal consumption

Estimating the value of offshore wind along the United States’ Eastern Coast (open access)

A new approach for assessing synergies of solar and wind power: implications for West Africa (open access)

Governance of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS): accounting, rewarding, and the Paris agreement

Linking ecosystem services with epibenthic biodiversity change following installation of offshore wind farms (open access)

Renewable Energy Cooperatives as an instrument towards the energy transition in Spain

Renewable energy in Turkey: Great potential, low but increasing utilization, and an empirical analysis on renewable energy-growth nexus



High ice and hard truth: the poets taking on climate change

Posted on 13 September 2018 by Guest Author

Greenland poet Aka Niviana’s way of life is disappearing as her country thaws, while the subsequent meltwater threatens Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner and her fellow Marshall Islanders thousands of miles away. Their joint trip to the melting glaciers inspired a climate call to arms


High up on a melting Greenland glacier, at the end of this summer from climate hell, two young women shout a poem above the roar of the wind. Aka Niviana, grew up on the northern coast of Greenland; as its ice inexorably thaws, her traditional way of life disappears. And the water that melts off that ice sheet is drowning the home of Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner and everyone else in her home nation, the Marshall Islands of the Pacific. One poet watches her heritage turn to water; the other watches that same water sweep up the beaches of her country and into the houses of her friends. The destruction of one’s homeland is the inevitable destruction of the other’s.

I’ve spent 30 years thinking about climate change – talking with scientists, economists and politicians about emission rates and carbon taxes and treaties. But the hardest idea to get across is also the simplest: we live on a planet, and that planet is breaking. Poets, it turns out, can deliver that message.



Warming oceans are changing the world's rainfall

Posted on 12 September 2018 by John Abraham

Global warming means truly global warming. The atmosphere, the oceans, and the ground are all warming. As a result, ice is melting, seas are rising, storms are getting more severe, and droughts are getting worse. But these things are not happening in isolation. The tricky thing about the climate is that things are connected all across the globe. And those connections are revealing changes that may not be obvious at first glance.

One such change was exposed in a recent paper published in the journal Environmental Research Letters by a team of top scientists from China and Brazil, an instructive video is available here. The scientists focused their study on the Amazon rainforest. There, the year is broken into “wet” and “dry” seasons. The researchers wanted to know how rainfall has changed during the wet seasons over the past few decades.

What they found was astonishing – the rain in this tropical rainforest has increased 180–600 mm (7–24 inches). They learned about the increase in wet-season rainfall by reviewing old weather data – information from rain gauges for example. They also used satellite measurements to complement the rain gauge readings. The trend they found was clear – the rains are increasing.



Getting involved with Climate Science via crowdfunding and crowdsourcing

Posted on 11 September 2018 by BaerbelW

This article was orginially published in December 2016 and we are reposting it now to give the mentioned projects some more exposure and to highlight a new Shortterm crowdfunding project initiated by DeSmog UK.

At a guess, many of you reading this post are already making good personal choices to help mitigate climate change. Some of you would perhaps like to do more. So, here are some suggestions where you can get actively involved either via crowdfunding, where you make a monetary donation or via crowdsourcing, where you donate your or your computer's time to sift through different sets of data.

This post is divided into three sections:

Ongoing crowdfunding - sites and groups listed here are continously looking for donations

Shortterm crowdfunding - these are projects with a target amount and a set deadline

Crowdsourcing - projects looking for your (or your computer's) time

Ongoing crowdfunding

Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF)

Logo-CSLDF The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund was established to make sure that legal actions are not viewed as an attack against one scientist or institution, but as attacks against the scientific endeavor as a whole. As well. the CSLDF protects individual scientists facing unfair legal attacks by organized groups. Given the current climate - pun most definitely intended - in the U.S. the CSLDF's work is unfortunately becoming ever more important. Link to donation page

Dark Snow Project

Jason Box's and Peter Sinclair's The Dark Snow Project gathers ‘hard numbers’ from the Arctic to quantify the distant snow/ice melting impact of industrial and wildfire black carbon soot; mineral dust; and microbes, each melt factor having some human driven enhancement. Link to donation page LogoDarkSnow

The Australian Climate Council

LogoClimateCouncil After thousands of Australians chipped in to Australia's biggest crowd-funding campaign, the abolished Climate Commission has relaunched as the new, independent Climate Council. We exist to provide independent, authoritative climate change information to the Australian public. Why? Because our response to climate change should be based on the best science available. Link to donation page

Citizens’ Climate Education (CCE)

Your donation to Citizens’ Climate Education will train ordinary citizens to promote fair, effective, and non-partisan climate change solutions. Citizens’ Climate Education’s volunteers understand that we owe it to tomorrow’s generations to face our climate challenges today. These informed, respectful citizens work to build a clean and prosperous future, leading elected officials towards solutions that reduce carbon pollution, create jobs, and strengthen the American economy. Link to donation page Logo-CCE

Real Skeptic Blog

Logo-RS The goal of Real Skeptic is to look at claims about science and investigate what the scientific literature has to say about it. Since the official start of Real Sceptic a wide array of articles about skepticism were written for this website. There’s a heavy emphasis on the accuracy of the articles published and the usage of high quality sources. Link to Patreon page

Inside Climate News

InsideClimate News is an essential, global voice that exposes the truth about the climate crisis. We connect the dots to those responsible, so that you can hold them accountable. As we enter our 10th year, we’re launching The InsideClimate Circle to ensure that our award-winning nonprofit news organization remains fiercely independent and courageously persistent. Link to membership page ICN-Log




Kavanaugh’s views on EPA’s climate authority are dangerous and wrong

Posted on 10 September 2018 by dana1981

Donald Trump’s latest Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh accepts that humans are causing global warming and we need to take action to stop it.  The problem is that he doesn’t trust the experts at EPA to do so and wants to erode their authority to regulate carbon pollution.

Chevron is the key

When discussing Chevron and climate change, we usually focus on the company’s legal liability.  However, in Kavanaugh’s context, ‘Chevron deference’ is even more important.  The term refers to the fact that courts will generally defer to government agency interpretations of laws as long as Congress hasn’t spoken directly to the issue at hand. 

David Doniger, director of the climate and clean air program at the Natural Resources Defense Council noted that Kavanaugh doesn’t believe Chevron deference applies on issues of major importance.  In a recent net neutrality case, Kavanaugh argued, “While the Chevron doctrine allows an agency to rely on statutory ambiguity to issue ordinary rules, the major rules doctrine prevents an agency from relying on statutory ambiguity to issue major rules.”

That’s Kavanaugh’s position on climate change.  In oral arguments before his DC Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2016 Clean Power Plan case, Kavanaugh said:

This is huge case … it has huge economic and political significance … it’s fundamentally transforming an industry by telling existing units you in essence have to pay a penalty, a huge financial penalty in order to continue to exist, in order to shift from coal plants to solar and wind plants, at the same time the coal mining industry is in essence greatly harmed, as well.

But while regulating carbon pollution would have a major impact on the fossil fuel industry, the same is true of most pollutant regulations.  It’s nevertheless EPA’s job to regulate pollutants, and the agency has been doing exactly that since its inception. 



2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #36

Posted on 9 September 2018 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Editorial of the Week... Toon of the Week... Quote of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... John Cook Sighting... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week...

Story of the Week...

Rise for Climate: thousands march across US to protest environment crisis

Protests spearheaded by march in San Francisco ahead of climate change summit in the city next week

Rise for Climate March New York 09-08-18.

Several thousand people took part in a climate march in New York City on Thursday. Ten activists were arrested after blocking the street in front of Andrew Cuomo’s Manhattan office. Photograph: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock 

Tens of thousands of people took part in marches and other events across the US on Saturday, calling for a swift transition to renewable energy in order to stave off the various perils of climate change.

The Rise for Climate protests was spearheaded by what organizers called the largest ever climate march on the US west coast. The march, which snaked through the heart of San Francisco, came ahead of a climate change summit in the city next week that will gather mayors and business leaders from around the world.

The San Francisco march, which called for California governor Jerry Brown to end fossil fuel extraction in the state, attracted around 30,000 people, organizers said.

An array of activities, including rallies, voter registration drives and vigils, were scheduled to take place across the US, in cities such as Boston, Miami and Portland, Oregon. Events were also planned in Puerto Rico. In New Orleans, protesters planned to agitate for the halt of the Bayou Bridge pipeline, an extension of the controversial Dakota Access project that last year spurred a lengthy standoff at the Standing Rock reservation.

Rise for Climate: thousands march across US to protest environment crisis by Oliver Milman, Environment, Guardian, Sep 8, 2018 



2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #36

Posted on 8 September 2018 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week.

Editor's Pick

A powerful current just miles from SC is changing. It could devastate the East Coast.

 Historical Map of Gulf Stream

Ben Franklin and Timothy Folger’s map of the Gulf Stream in 1768. Library of Congress

Off South Carolina, the ocean suddenly changes color, from green to deep blue. You’re in the Gulf Stream now, in warm and salty water from the tropics, with swordfish, tuna and squid, in a current so strong that it lowers our sea level.

Benjamin Franklin would learn about this current’s force. He was a Colonial postmaster before the American Revolution, and he’d noticed British mail ships were slow, much slower than other merchant ships. Why?

He mentioned this to his cousin, Timothy Folger, a ship captain who’d hunted whales off New England. Ah, yes, that current off the East Coast, Folger told Franklin. Any fishermen worth their nets cut in and out to make better time — the whalers had even warned the mail ships to steer clear. But the Brits “were too wise to be counseled by American fishermen.”

A map might help, and so they made a chart of this “Gulf Stream” from Florida toward Europe. It was one of the first maps to document its tremendous reach.

A powerful current just miles from SC is changing. It could devastate the East Coast. by Tony Bartelme, Special Reports, Charleston Post & Courier, Sep 5, 2018 



New research, August 27 - September 2, 2018

Posted on 7 September 2018 by Ari Jokimäki

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

Climate change impacts 


Climate Change and Heat-Related Excess Mortality in the Eastern USA

Climate change impacts on peak building cooling energy demand in a coastal megacity (open access)

Flood prediction and mitigation in coastal tourism areas, a case study: Hurghada, Egypt

Drivers of response to extreme weather warnings among marine fishermen

Are farmers’ adaptations enhancing food production? Evidence from China

Climate trends, risks and coping strategies in smallholder farming systems in Uganda (open access)

Views from two mountains: exploring climate change impacts on traditional farming communities of Eastern Africa highlands through participatory scenarios (open access)

Implementing climate change adaptation: lessons from India’s national adaptation fund on climate change (NAFCC)

Broadening understandings of drought – The climate vulnerability of farmworkers and rural communities in California (USA) (open access)

Traumatic and Nontraumatic Driving Accidents Due to Dry Spells in Northern Iran: A Time Series Analysis

Climate change beliefs in an agricultural context: what is the role of values held by farming and non-farming groups?



An alternative to propping up coal power plants: Retrain workers for solar

Posted on 6 September 2018 by Guest Author

Joshua M. Pearce, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, and Electrical and Computer Engineering, Michigan Technological University.  This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

The Trump administration announced new pollution rules for coal-fired power plants designed to keep existing coal power plants operating more and save American coal mining jobs.

Profitability for U.S. coal power plants has plummeted, and one major coal company after another has filed for bankruptcy, including the world’s largest private-sector coal company, Peabody Energy.

The main reason coal is in decline is less expensive natural gas and renewable energy like solar. Coal employment has dropped so low there are fewer than 53,000 coal miners in total in the U.S. (for comparison, the failing retailer J.C. Penny has about twice as many workers).

The EPA estimates the new rules will cause about 1,400 more premature deaths a year from coal-related air pollution by 2030. The Trump administration could avoid the premature American deaths from coal pollution – which amount to about 52,000 per year in total – and still help the coal miners themselves by retraining them for a more profitable industry, such as the solar industry.

A study I co-authored analyzed the question of retraining current coal workers for employment in the solar industry. We found that this transition is feasible in most cases and would even result in better pay for nearly all of the current coal workers.

How to make the jump?

What is left of the coal mining industry represents a unique demographic compared to the rest of America. It is white (96.4 percent); male (96.2 percent); aging, with an average age of 43.8 years old; and relatively uneducated, with 76.7 percent having earned only a high school degree or equivalent. Many are highly skilled, however, with the largest sector of jobs being equipment operators at 27 percent. Many of these skills can be transferred directly into the solar industry.



Rising CO2 levels could push ‘hundreds of millions’ into malnutrition by 2050

Posted on 5 September 2018 by Guest Author

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

An additional 290 million people could face malnutrition by 2050 if little is done to stop the rise of greenhouse gas emissions, a study finds.

The increased presence of CO2 in the atmosphere could cause staple crops to produce smaller amounts of nutrients such as zinc, iron and protein, the researchers say.

Using international datasets of food consumption, the study estimates that these changes could cause an additional 175 million people to be zinc deficient and an additional 122 million people to be protein deficient by 2050.

The findings show that malnutrition is most likely to affect parts of the world that are already grappling with food insecurity, such as India, parts of North Africa and the Middle East, the lead author tells Carbon Brief.

Growing problems

Climate change is known to threaten food security by increasing the chances of extreme weather events such as heatwaves and drought – which can cause crop failures.

However, climate change could also threaten food security by worsening malnutrition.

Across the world, humans get the majority of the key nutrients they need from plants. Crops, including cereals, grains and beans, provide humans with 63% of their protein, which is needed to build new body tissue.



California's response to record wildfires: shift to 100% clean energy

Posted on 3 September 2018 by dana1981

In America today, it’s rare to see political leaders respond to a threat with an appropriate evidence-based policy solution. At the national level, more often we see actions that aggravate existing problems or create new ones. California – the country’s most populous and economically powerful state – has been a welcome exception.

California has been battered by extreme weather intensified by climate change. From 2012 to 2016 the state was scorched by its worst drought in over a millenniumWeather whiplash struck in 2017, when much of the state broke precipitation records. This combination led to devastating mudslides and created the conditions for the most destructive and costly wildfire season on record in 2017, followed by the state’s largest-ever wildfire in 2018, which broke the previous record (set in 2017) by more than 60%.

All of these impacts have been exacerbated by global warming. The past five years have been California’s five hottest on record. And so, the state’s leaders decided to do something about it. California had already set a renewable portfolio standard in 2002, strengthened by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2008 executive order requiring that 33% of electricity be generated by renewable sources by 2020. Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill (SB) 350 in 2015, expanding the requirement to 50% renewables by 2030. 

Last week, California state lawmakers passed State Senator (and candidate for US Senate) Kevin de León’s SB 100, which amps up the target to 50% renewables by 2026, 60% by 2030, and 100% from “renewable energy resources and zero-carbon resources” by 2045.

The more aggressive clean energy targets are justified. Not only does California need to make up some of the climate slack created by the Trump administration, but the state is now ahead of its targets, with 29% of electricity last year generated from renewables and over 50% from zero-carbon sources (including nuclear and hydroelectric power).

clean energy

 Percentage of California’s electricity generated by renewables (black) and zero-carbon sources (gray) to date, based California Energy Commission data. The previous renewable target is shown in blue and targets under SB 100 in green. Illustration: Dana Nuccitelli



2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #35

Posted on 2 September 2018 by John Hartz

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

Calls to Action*...

Looking ahead...

Rise for Climate Sep 8, 2018

Sat Sep 8 is an extremely important day for climate activists because they will be gathering in cities throughout the world to Rise Up for Climate. If you re not already plugged into an event in your area, you can easily do so by going to the official Rise Up for Climate website. From the global campaign's website:

On September 8, we’re planning thousands of rallies in cities and towns around the world to demand our local leaders commit to building a fossil free world that puts people and justice before profits.

No more stalling, no more delays: it’s time for a fast and fair transition to 100% renewable energy for all.

Real climate leadership rises from below. It means power in the hands of people not corporations. It means economic opportunity for workers and justice and dignity for frontline communities that are the hardest hit by the impacts of the fossil fuel industry and a warming world. 

Looking inside... 

Be sure to check out the next two sections of this digest — Story of the Week and Opinion of the Week. They address two inter-related issue re the human race's ability to come to grips with the reality of man-made climate change and the need to effectively mitigate it starting now.

Looking behind...

Something that flew under my radar screen when it was released earlier this year...

Narrated by Danny Glover, A documentary special reveals how climate change science has been under systematic attack; the multi-million dollar campaign allowed a climate change denier to be elected president (a new version with updated content and music)

TRNN Documentary: Trump, The Koch Brothers and Their War on Climate Science, May 23, 2018

TRNN = The Real News Network, Baltimore, MD

*The views expressed in this section are those of John Hartz and do not necessarily reflect  consensus views of the SkS author team — it's nearly impossible to achieve consensus within a herd of cats.  



2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #35

Posted on 1 September 2018 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week.

Editor's Pick

Most land-based ecosystems worldwide risk ‘major transformation’ due to climate change


Researchers compiled and evaluated pollen and plant-fossil records from nearly 600 sites worldwide for their study of vegetation change. Map reprinted with permission from Nolan et al., Science, 2018 (10.1126/science.aan5360).

Without dramatic reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions, most of the planet’s land-based ecosystems—from its forests and grasslands to the deserts and tundra—are at high risk of “major transformation” due to climate change, according to a new study from an international research team.

The researchers used fossil records of global vegetation change that occurred during a period of post-glacial warming to project the magnitude of ecosystem transformations likely in the future under various greenhouse gas emissions scenarios.

They found that under a “business as usual” emissions scenario, in which little is done to rein in heat-trapping greenhouse-gas emissions, vegetation changes across the planet’s wild landscapes will likely be more far-reaching and disruptive than earlier studies suggested.

The changes would threaten global biodiversity and derail vital services that nature provides to humanity, such as water security, carbon storage and recreation, according to study co-author Jonathan Overpeck, dean of the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan.

“If we allow climate change to go unchecked, the vegetation of this planet is going to look completely different than it does today, and that means a huge risk to the diversity of the planet,” said Overpeck, who conceived the idea for the study with corresponding author Stephen T. Jackson of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Most land-based ecosystems worldwide risk ‘major transformation’ due to climate change, Michigan News (University of Michigan), Aug 30, 2018



New research, August 20-26, 2018

Posted on 31 August 2018 by Ari Jokimäki

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

Climate change

Effect of coupled global climate models sea surface temperature biases on simulated climate of the western United States (open access)

Temperature, precipitation, wind

Global bimodal precipitation seasonality: A systematic overview

Spatiotemporal variations of annual shallow soil temperature on the Tibetan Plateau during 1983–2013

Lake surface water temperature change over the Tibetan Plateau from 2001–2015: A sensitive indicator of the warming climate

Estimating changes in temperature distributions in a large ensemble of climate simulations using quantile regression

Surface air temperature variability over the Arabian Peninsula and its links to circulation patterns

Urbanization effects on changes in the observed air temperatures during 1977–2014 in China

Annual cycle of temperature trends in Europe, 1961–2000

Analyses of the oceanic heat content during 1980–2014 and satellite‐era cyclones over Bay of Bengal



Unprecedented summer heat in Europe ‘every other year’ under 1.5C of warming

Posted on 30 August 2018 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from Carbon Brief.  Dr Andrew King is a climate scientist at the University of Melbourne and Dr Markus Donat is a climate scientist at the University of New South Wales

As summer gets underway in the northern hemisphere, much of Europe has already been basking in temperatures of 30C and beyond.

But while the summer sun sends many flocking to the beach, with it comes the threat of heatwaves and their potentially deadly impacts. Tens of thousands of people across Europe died in heatwaves in 2003 and 2010, for example, while the “Lucifer” heatwave last year fanned forest fires and nearly halved agricultural output in some countries.

With international ambition to limit global temperature rise to “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels now enshrined in the Paris Agreement, we have examined what impact that warming could have on European summer temperatures.

Our results, published today in Nature Climate Change, find that more than 100 million Europeans will typically see summer heat that exceeds anything in the 1950-2017 observed record every other year under 1.5C of warming – or in two of every three years under 2C.

Human influence on European climate

There has been a substantial amount of work showing that recent heatwaves and hot summers in Europe have been strongly influenced by human-caused climate change.

This includes the very first “event attribution” study that made a direct connection between human-caused climate change and Europe’s record hot summer of 2003. As a densely populated continent, recent hot summers and heatwaves have hit Europe with spikes in mortality rates.

Europe is also a particularly good location to study the implications of the Paris Agreement limits because it has among the longest and highest quality climate data in the world. This means we have a better understanding of what past summers in Europe have been like and we can evaluate our climate model simulations with a higher degree of confidence, relative to other regions of the world.



Global warming is intensifying El Niño weather

Posted on 29 August 2018 by John Abraham

As humans put more and more heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, the Earth warms. And the warming is causing changes that might surprise us. Not only is the warming causing long-term trends in heat, sea level rise, ice loss, etc.; it’s also making our weather more variable. It’s making otherwise natural cycles of weather more powerful.

Perhaps the most important natural fluctuation in the Earth’s climate is the El Niño process. El Niño refers to a short-term period of warm ocean surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific, basically stretching from South America towards Australia. When an El Niño happens, that region is warmer than usual. If the counterpart La Niña occurs, the region is colder than usual. Often times, neither an El Niño or La Niña is present and the waters are a normal temperature. This would be called a “neutral” state.

The ocean waters switch back and forth between El Niño and La Niña every few years. Not regularly, like a pendulum, but there is a pattern of oscillation. And regardless of which part of the cycle we are in (El Niño or La Niña), there are consequences for weather around the world. For instance, during an El Niño, we typically see cooler and wetter weather in the southern United States while it is hotter and drier in South America and Australia.

It’s really important to be able to predict El Niño/La Niña cycles in advance. It’s also important to be able to understand how these cycles will change in a warming planet. Fortunately, a study just published in Geophysical Research Letters helps answer that question. The authors include Dr. John Fasullo from the National Center for Atmospheric Research and his colleagues.

El Niño cycles have been known for a long time. Their influence around the world has also been known for almost 100 years. It was in the 1920s that the impact of El Niño on places as far away as the Indian Ocean were identified. Having observed the effects of El Niño for a century, scientists had the perspective to understand something might be changing. 



The Consensus Project Website


(free to republish)

Smartphone Apps


© Copyright 2018 John Cook
Home | Links | Translations | About Us | Contact Us