Tag: Global warming

What Would Happen If Earth Became 2 Degrees Warmer?

In 2015, the Paris Agreement declared that the world should try to keep Earth’s warming trend to well below 2°C by 2100. Here’s what would happen if temperatures did increase by 2° C.

Sea levels will likely rise by 1.6 feet. Flooding coastlines worldwide.

While the amount of fresh water may increase for high latitudes, East Africa, and parts of India and Sahel, subtropical regions may lose nearly one-third of its fresh water.

Making matters worse, heat waves could intensify. Tropical regions may experience heat waves for up to 3 months which will affect the growth of certain staple crops.




These areas will likely produce less wheat and corn but slightly more soy and rice.Which could affect overall diets worldwide.

Likewise, North Asia may see a boost in soy crops. Growing up to a quarter more soy each year.

For sea life, the situation is more dire. Warmer oceans will do irreversible damage to 99% of coral reefs. As the reefs die off, it will disrupt ecosystems for up to 9 million different species.

This scenario was forecasted by the European Geosciences Union in 2016. In 2017, another team of scientists estimated there’s a 95% chance Earth will warm more than 2 ºC by 2100.

Bleak forecasts may not be enough to stop humans from warming Earth. But at least they’re a guide on how to prepare for a frightening future.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

This City In Alaska Is Warming So Fast, Algorithms Removed The Data Because It Seemed Unreal

Last week, scientists were pulling together the latest data for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s monthly report on the climate when they noticed something strange: One of their key climate monitoring stations had fallen off the map.

All of the data for Barrow, Alaska — the northernmost city in the United States — was missing.

No, Barrow hadn’t literally been vanquished by the pounding waves of the Arctic Sea (although it does sit precipitously close).




The missing station was just the result of rapid, man-made climate change, with a runaway effect on the Arctic.

The temperature in Barrow had been warming so fast this year, the data was automatically flagged as unreal and removed from the climate database.

It was done by algorithms that were put in place to ensure that only the best data gets included in NOAA’s reports.

They’re handy to keep the data sets clean, but this kind of quality-control algorithm is good only in “average” situations, with no outliers. The situation in Barrow, however, is anything but average.

If climate change is a fiery coal-mine disaster, then Barrow is our canary. The Arctic is warming faster than any other place on Earth, and Barrow is in the thick of it.

With less and less sea ice to reflect sunlight, the temperature around the North Pole is speeding upward.

The missing data obviously confused meteorologists and researchers, since it’s a record they’ve been watching closely, according to Deke Arndt, the chief of NOAA’s Climate Monitoring Branch.

He described it as “an ironic exclamation point to swift regional climate change in and near the Arctic.

Just this week, scientists reported that the Arctic had its second-warmest year — behind 2016 — with the lowest sea ice ever recorded.

The announcement came at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, and the report is topped with an alarming headline: “Arctic shows no sign of returning to reliably frozen region of recent past decades.

Changes in the Arctic extend beyond sea ice. Vast expanses of former permafrost have been reduced to mud. Nonnative species of plants, types that grow only in warmer climates, are spreading into what used to be the tundra.

Nowhere is this greening of the Arctic happening faster than the North Slope of Alaska, observable with high-resolution clarity on NOAA satellite imagery.

The current observed rate of sea ice decline and warming temperatures are higher than at any other time in the last 1,500 years, and likely longer than that,” the NOAA report says.

At no place is this more blatantly obvious than Barrow itself, which recently changed its name to the traditional native Alaskan name Utqiagvik.

In just the 17 years since 2000, the average October temperature in Barrow has climbed 7.8 degrees. The November temperature is up 6.9 degrees.

The December average has warmed 4.7 degrees. No wonder the data was flagged.

The Barrow temperatures are now safely back in the climate-monitoring data sets. Statisticians will have to come up with a new algorithm to prevent legitimate temperatures from being removed in the future.

New algorithms for a new normal.

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Tesla Just Built The World’s Biggest Battery In Record Time

Elon Musk has won. The Tesla CEO made a bet that he could install the world’s biggest battery in South Australia within 100 days, and the whole installation would be free if the company failed.

Last November 23, Thurday, it was revealed that the project has been completed with 46 days to spare.

Congratulations to the Tesla crew and South Australian authorities who worked so hard to get this manufactured and installed in record time!” Musk said on his Twitter page Thursday.

The batteries are designed to provide reliable power to a part of Australia that desperately needs it. South Australia has dealt with 18 months of blackouts.

A 50-year storm event in September 2016 knocked out pretty much the entire state’s elect.




The Powerpack system provides 100 megawatts of storage to renewable energy firm Neoen’s Hornsdale wind farm near Jamestown in South Australia, holding enough power for 30,000 homes.

The two companies will join engineering company Consolidated Power Projects and state premier Jay Weatherill next week to officially unveil the battery.

The project forms part of a AU$530 million ($404 million) state plan to improve renewable energy production.

Last September, South Australia suffered from severe blackouts after a storm cut off production.

The state receives around a third of its energy from renewables, but the plan will boost this by building a solar thermal power plant and emergency generators along with the battery.

The world’s largest lithium-ion battery will be an important part of our energy mix and it sends the clearest message that South Australia will be a leader in renewable energy with battery storage,” Weatherill told the Associated Press.

Tesla first set itself the 100 days goal after a discussion between Musk and Australian software-billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes.

In March, Cannon-Brookes asked if Lyndon Rive, Tesla’s vice-president for energy products, was telling the truth when he said the company could install between 100 to 300 megawatt-hours of storage in 100 days.

This led to a bidding process where the state government agreed to fund $113 million of battery storage. Tesla beat out a number of competitors to score the contract.

Musk was a bit sly with the deadline, though. Tesla started counting down 54 days ago from September 30, the point at which the Australian energy regulator gave clearance to the project.

The company was building the battery for a while prior to this. The project came well under the January 8, 2018 deadline, but Tesla did not build a battery in less than two months.

Between now and next week’s unveiling, the battery will undergo a series of checks to ensure it meets state and energy regulations.

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Why Renewable Energy Is Good For Business?

Gone are the days where a focus on renewable energy can be relegated to the “environmentally conscious.”

Now, issues surrounding commercial alternative energy solutions encompass a company’s financial performance as well as its corporate social responsibility.

As a result, an increasing number of organizations are taking a deeper look into the benefits of renewable energy for business.




In October last year, the Energy Collective reported that well-known brands including Apple, Bank of America and General Motors are not only looking to reduce their environmental impact but are actively gaining a competitive edge over other companies by investing in and utilizing renewable energy.

These corporations are leveraging their clean energy usage to bolster their business sustainability strategies and financial success. The article states:

Early adopters are building a critical advantage by being ahead of this market …

And goes on to conclude:

… the buying or selling of renewable power directly to corporations will be a barometer of success for businesses of all types.

Far from being simply a fad, investing in renewable energy is taking the stage like never before. Here’s why businesses are taking the concept of using renewable energy seriously:

  1. Consumers are evaluating and prioritizing companies that are committed to reducing and/or eliminating dependence on fossil fuels.
    The Apple brand isn’t only loved for its great technology. Recently, the company illustrated its dedication to sustainability planning by announcing goals for 100% clean energy reliance
  2. Government regulations will likely soon have an even bigger impact on companies and their energy usages.
    In the US, the EPA’s Clean Power Plan may have a significant role in putting the pressure on businesses for clean energy use.
  3. Companies are seeing the advantage of investing in renewable energy initiatives, and the possibility of financial savings.
    A major player in this effort is the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), which is an organization that helps businesses understand the advantages of moving to renewables, and has over 100 major corporate buyers on its roster.

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Artificial Volcanoes Designed To Reverse Global Warming Could Risk Natural Disasters

Efforts are underway to reverse global warming by mimicking volcanic eruptions but such dramatic interventions should be approached with caution, according to a new study.

When volcanoes erupt they spew sulphate particles into the air, cooling the Earth by creating a shield that reflects sunlight away from its surface.

By emitting similar particles into the stratosphere, some scientists have suggested we could imitate this process and reverse climate change in a process termed solar geoengineering.

But creating artificial volcanic eruptions might be as dangerous as it sounds.




New research published in Nature Communications suggests that while geoengineering may indeed have positive impacts, it could also have catastrophic effects in parts of the world already battered by natural disasters.

The researchers used simulations to examine the effect that geoengineering would have on tropical cyclone frequency in the North Atlantic.

While aerosol injections in the northern hemisphere decreased projected cyclone frequency, when applied in the southern hemisphere they could actually enhance cyclone risk.

To make matters worse, the team’s simulation suggested that the positive effects in the northern hemisphere would be offset by an increase in droughts in the Sahel region of sub-Saharan Africa – an area already ravaged by desertification.

The prospect of geoengineering climates may seem remote, but scientists are already engaged in large-scale projects to investigate its feasibility.

The eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 sent planet-cooling aerosols into the atmosphere.

One team at Harvard University estimates the whole planet could be solar geoengineered for the “very inexpensive” cost of $10bn.

Dr Jones and his team suggest that while such endeavours might have positive effects they need to be dealt with on an international scale.

If solar geoengineering were ever to occur, it would have to be in a uniform fashion,” he said.

We are extremely concerned that there is no regulation to stop a country doing geoengineering now. This hasn’t been taken seriously by policymakers so far, and that taboo needs to end.

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How Do We Know That Global Warming Is Real?

The Earth’s climate has changed throughout history.

Just in the last 650,000 years there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat, with the abrupt end of the last ice age about 7,000 years ago marking the beginning of the modern climate era and of human civilization.

Most of these climate changes are attributed to very small variations in Earth’s orbit that change the amount of solar energy our planet receives.

The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is extremely likely to be the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over decades to millennia.




Earth-orbiting satellites and other technological advances have enabled scientists to see the big picture, collecting many different types of information about our planet and its climate on a global scale.

This body of data, collected over many years, reveals the signals of a changing climate.

The heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide and other gases was demonstrated in the mid-19th century.

Their ability to affect the transfer of infrared energy through the atmosphere is the scientific basis of many instruments flown by NASA.

There is no question that increased levels of greenhouse gases must cause the Earth to warm in response.

Ice cores drawn from Greenland, Antarctica, and tropical mountain glaciers show that the Earth’s climate responds to changes in greenhouse gas levels.

Ancient evidence can also be found in tree rings, ocean sediments, coral reefs, and layers of sedimentary rocks.This ancient, or paleoclimate, evidence reveals that current warming is occurring roughly ten times faster than the average rate of ice-age-recovery warming.

This ancient, or paleoclimate, evidence reveals that current warming is occurring roughly ten times faster than the average rate of ice-age-recovery warming.

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Cargo Ships Are Creating Sea Lightning

Thunderstorm aficionados, if you really want to see some action then get yourself aboard a cargo ship.

A new study has shown that lightning strikes occur nearly twice as often above busy shipping lanes than in the regions to either side.

It turns out the belching fumes from ship exhausts are helping to trigger extra lightning.

While analysing data from the Worldwide Lightning Location Network, a web of sensors around the world that track lightning strikes, researchers noticed nearly straight lines of lightning strikes across the Indian Ocean and South China Sea.




By comparing the lightning data with maps of ships’ exhaust emissions they were able to show that there were nearly twice as many lightning strikes along the main shipping routes between Sri Lanka and Sumatra, and between Singapore and Vietnam.

This enhanced level of lightning was visible at least as far back as 2005.

Writing in Geophysical Research Letters, the researchers explain how the ship exhaust fumes add more particles to the air, which encourages more cloud droplets to form.

Because the cloud droplets are smaller and lighter than they would otherwise be they travel higher into the atmosphere and are more likely to reach the freezing line, so creating more ice particles.

Collision between ice particles causes storm clouds to electrify, and lightning is the atmosphere’s way of neutralising the built-up electric charge.

It’s one of the clearest examples of how humans are actually changing the intensity of storm processes on Earth through the emission of particulates from combustion,” said Joel Thornton, from the University of Washington, in Seattle, the lead author of the study.

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Light Can ‘Heal’ Defects In New Solar Cell Materials

Now, a team of researchers at MIT and elsewhere say they have made significant inroads toward understanding a process for improving perovskites’ performance, by modifying the material using intense light.

The new findings are being reported in the journal Nature Communications, in a paper by Samuel Stranks, a researcher at MIT; Vladimir Bulovic, the Fariborz Maseeh (1990) Professor of Emerging Technology and associate dean for innovation; and eight colleagues at other institutions in the U.S. and the U.K.

The work is part of a major research effort on perovskite materials being led by Stranks, within MIT’s Organic and Nanostructured Electronics Laboratory.

Tiny defects in perovskite’s crystalline structure can hamper the conversion of light into electricity in a solar cell, but “what we’re finding is that there are some defects that can be healed under light,” says Stranks, who is a Marie Curie fellow jointly at MIT and Cambridge University in the U.K.




The tiny defects, called traps, can cause electrons to recombine with atoms before the electrons can reach a place in the crystal where their motion can be harnessed.

This is the first time this has been shown,” Stranks says, “where just under illumination, where no [electric or magnetic] field has been applied, we see this ion migration that helps to clean the film. It reduces the defect density.

While the effect had been observed before, this work is the first to show that the improvement was caused by the ions moving as a result of the illumination.

This work is focused on particular types of the material, known as organic-inorganic metal halide perovskites, which are considered promising for applications including solar cells, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), lasers, and light detectors.

They excel in a property called the photoluminescence quantum efficiency, which is key to maximizing the efficiency of solar cells.

But in practice, the performance of different batches of these materials, or even different spots on the same film, has been highly variable and unpredictable.

The new work was aimed at figuring out what caused these discrepancies and how to reduce or eliminate them.

Stranks explains that “the ultimate aim is to make defect-free films,” and the resulting improvements in efficiency could also be useful for applications in light emission as well as light capture.

Previous work reducing defects in thin-film perovskite materials has focused on electrical or chemical treatments, but “we find we can do the same with light,” Stranks says.

One advantage of that is that the same technique used to improve the material’s properties can at the same time be used as a sensitive probe to observe and better understand the behavior of these promising materials.

Another advantage of this light-based processing is it doesn’t require anything to come in physical contact with the film being treated — for example, there is no need to attach electrical contacts or to bathe the material in a chemical solution.

Instead, the treatment can simply be applied by turning on the source of illumination. The process, which they call photo-induced cleaning, could be “a way forward” for the development of useful perovskite-based devices, Stranks says.

The effects of the illumination tend to diminish over time, Stranks says, so “the challenge now is to maintain the effect” long enough to make it practical.

Some forms of perovskites are already “looking to be commercialized by next year,” he says, and this research “raises questions that need to be addressed, but it also shows there are ways to address” the phenomena that have been limiting this material’s performance.

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The World’s Parasites Are Going Extinct. Here’s Why That’s a Bad Thing

What if the world’s parasites suddenly went extinct? Given how much work we’ve put into combating malaria-carrying mosquitoes and horrifying Guinea worms, it sounds like a reason for celebration.

But think twice: Actually, losing these much-despised mooches, bloodsuckers and freeloaders could have disastrous consequences for the environment and human health.

A parasite, in essence, is any organism that makes its living off another organism.

These freeloaders have been rather successful: up to half of Earth’s 7.7 million known species are parasitic, and this lifestyle has evolved independently hundreds of times.




But in a study published this week in the journal Science Advances, researchers warn that climate change could drive up to one-third of Earth’s parasite species to extinction by the year 2070.

That kind of mass die-off could spell ecological disaster.

One thing we’ve learned about parasites in the past decade is that they’re a huge and important part of ecosystems that we’ve really neglected for years,” says Colin Carlson, a graduate student studying global change biology at the University of California at Berkeley and lead author on the study.

Carlson had experience researching how climate change is driving the current spate of species die-offs. But four years ago, he saw the potential to look into a lesser known group: parasites.

There has been a lot of work that’s been done in the late couple of decades focused on understanding why big mammals go extinct, or how crops respond to climate change,” Carlson says, “but there’s a lot of types of animals and plants that we don’t know a lot about.

He formed a team to find out more about how parasite species could feel the heat in the coming decades.

The team based their predictions for this research on a “deceptively simple model” from a landmark 2004 study in the journal Nature, which connected species extinction rates to how much of their habitat they’re expected to lose.

The problem is, we don’t know very much about where parasites live,” Carlson says.

The key to answering that question lay in the Smithsonian-run National Parasite Collection, a 125-year-old accumulation that contains more than 20 million parasite specimens from thousands of species dating back to the early 1800s—a massive yet still relatively small slice of global parasite diversity.

Carlson knew that the collection, which has specimens primarily from North America but represents every continent, could serve as a historical database from which to figure out estimates of geographic ranges for specific parasites.

So he reached out to the curator of the collection, research zoologist Anna Phillips, at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

The first step was to sort through a lot of old paper records. “Since this is such an old collection, many of these still used a precise locality written out, such as ‘this stream at this crossing of this highway, 10 miles down east of this town,” Phillips says. “While that’s very helpful, usually today we prefer to have GPS coordinates.

Her team of researchers digitzed tens of thousands of specimens and their locations in an online database, creating what Carlson calls the biggest parasite record of its kind.

Using this immense resource, researchers could then use computer models to predict what would happen to more than 450 different parasite species when climate change altered their habitats, based on how their ranges have changed over the past two centuries.

Their conclusion: Even under the most optimistic scenarios, roughly 10 percent of parasite species will go extinct by 2070. In the most dire version of events, fully one-third of all parasites could vanish.

This kind of die-off would have myriad unfortunate consequences. Consider that parasites play an important role in regulating the populations of their hosts and the balance of the overall ecosystem.

First, they kill off some organisms and make others vulnerable to predators. For example, when infected with nematode Trichostrongylus tenuis, the red grouse bird emits more scent that helps predators find and eat it more easily, thus serving to control the bird’s population.

Parasites can also have more indirect effects. Periwinkle snails infected with the trematode species Cryptocotylelingua, for instance, eat significantly less algae along their Atlantic coast homes, because the parasite weakens their digestive tracts.

Their small appetites make more algae available for other species to consume. And there are millions of undiscovered parasite species, whose ecological niches we can only guess at.

It’s hard to predict what their impact on the ecosystem will be if we don’t know about it yet,” says Phillips. “That’s one of the things that’s scariest about these model predictions … it creates a much more urgent feeling about the recognizing the diversity that’s out there.

In the future, she and Carlson hope to do further analysis using this new database at finer scales, to predict how certain parasites will fare in different regions under climate change.

They expect that, like many organisms, parasite species that are better able to migrate and adapt to new habitats will do better than those that are more tied to certain places.

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How Pollution Makes Bigger Thunderstorms

Pollution causes taller and bigger anvil-shaped clouds, say experts.

Pollution makes thunderstorms worse by creating bigger, longer lasting clouds and cooling temperatures with their shadows, according to experts.

Computer simulations of cloud data from the western Pacific, south eastern China and Oklahoma showed pollution increased their size, thickness and duration.

Taking a closer look at the properties of water droplets and ice crystals within, the researchers found pollution resulted in smaller droplets and ice crystals regardless of location.

In clean skies ice particles were heavier and fell faster causing the clouds to dissipate. But in polluted skies they were smaller and too light to drop leading to the larger clouds.




Dr. Jiwen Fan, of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington, said: “This study reconciles what we see in real life to what computer models show us.”

Observations consistently show taller and bigger anvil-shaped clouds in storm systems with pollution.

A polluted sky has many more aerosols – natural and manmade particles – making more but smaller cloud droplets.

Researchers have long believed smaller droplets start a chain reaction that leads to bigger, longer-lasting clouds.

Instead of raining down, the lighter droplets carry their water higher, where they freeze. The freezing squeezes out the heat the droplets carry with them and causes the thunder cloud to become draftier.

Dr. Fan said: “Modelling the details of cloud microphysical properties is very computationally intensive so models don’t usually include them.

Polluted clouds have an effect on temperatures, with afternoon thunderstorms lasting long into the night rather than dissipating and trapping heat like a blanket.

In the day the clouds’ shadows diminish sunlight penetration and so keep the Earth cooler.

Accounting for pollution effects on storm clouds could affect the ultimate amount of warming predicted for the earth in the next few decades.

Accurately representing clouds in climate models is key to improving the accuracy of predicted changes to the climate.

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