Antarctica

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Most talked about climate papers in 2016 #science #climatechange #auspol 

Every year, thousands of scientific journal papers are published by researchers across the world, but only a tiny proportion make it into the pages of the newspapers.
Using Altmetric, we’ve compiled a list of the 25 most talked-about climate papers of 2016. You can see the Top 10 in our infographic above (zoomable version here).
Altmetric scores academic papers based on how many times they’re mentioned in online news articles and on social media platforms. You can read more about how the Altmetric scoring system works in last year’s article.
Top of the table

The highest scoring article of the year, with an Altmetric tally of 2,716, is the Nature paper “Contribution of Antarctica to past and future sea-level rise”, by Prof Robert DeConto of the University of Massachusetts and Dr David Pollard of Penn State University.
Published in March, the study found that Antarctica has the potential to contribute more than a metre of sea level rise by 2100 and more than 15 metres by 2500, if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated.

The paper had more coverage in the news than another other climate paper published in 2016. It was featured in 386 news stories and was covered by – among 271 outlets in total – the BBC, Guardian, MailOnline, Independent, Huffington Post, New York Times, Washington Post and the New Yorker.
The study made a particular splash in the US after further analysis, published in August by estate agent firm Zillow, highlighted that 1.8m of sea level rise by 2100 could put two million American homes underwater.

The paper – not the news stories – was also tweeted from 369 accounts and posted on 16 Facebook walls. Overall, the paper’s score puts it in the top 5% of all journal articles in the Altmetric database.
Runner-up

In second place is “Analysis and valuation of the health and climate change cobenefits of dietary change”, by lead author Dr Marco Springmann from the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food at the University of Oxford.
This paper was published in March in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), which also landed a paper in second place in last year’s list.
The research found that a worldwide switch to diets that rely less on meat and more on fruit and vegetables could reduce global mortality by up to 10% and food-related greenhouse gas emissions by up to 70% by 2050.

The paper’s overall Altmetric score of 1,981 includes 203 new stories from 156 news outlets, as well as 660 tweets from 627 users. This paper scored highest for Facebook, with 115 wall posts from 109 people.
Part of the popularity of the paper stems from being referenced in a press release for the “Kickstart Your Health Rochester” programme in which doctors in New York encouraged local residents to adopt a vegan diet for three weeks in May to improve their health.
Third place

Coming in third is another PNAS paper, “Temperature-driven global sea-level variability in the Common Era,” by lead author Dr Robert Kopp of Rutgers University.
The study compiled the first-ever estimate of global sea level change over the last 3,000 years. Their headline finding – that the speed of rising seas in the 20th century was faster than during any of the previous 27 centuries – generated headlines around the world, from the Boston Globe and Bangkok Post to Le Monde and the Hindu.
With a total score of 1,800, this paper appeared in 228 news stories from 186 outlets, was tweeted by 200 users, and posted on 21 Facebook walls.
Just missing out on the medals

In fourth place, published at the very beginning of 2016, is “The Anthropocene is functionally and stratigraphically distinct from the Holocene” in Science.
This study presented evidence that the impact of humans on the Earth is so severe and so enduring that the geological time period since the mid-20th century should be declared the “Anthropocene”.
This paper was one of the most tweeted about in our Top 25, with 904 tweets from 853 users, reaching a potential of more than three million followers.
The Anthropocene was also the subject of a feature article in Carbon Brief in October, which explored the history of the idea and the debate among geologists on whether they will formally inscribe a new epoch into their books.

In fifth is a paper that sounds like it could be the plot of a James Bond film. “The abandoned ice sheet base at Camp Century, Greenland, in a warming climate”, published in Geophysical Research Letters, assessed the possible fate of a US military base built in 1959 beneath the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet.
This nuclear-powered “city under the ice” doubled as a top secret site to study the feasibility of deploying missiles from the Arctic. The base was abandoned in 1967, under the assumption that all its chemical, biological, and radioactive wastes would forever be preserved in ice. However, the study shows that ice sheet melt as a result of climate change could uncover these wastes by the end of the century.
Completing the Top 10

Elsewhere in the Top 10, coming sixth is “Climate change decouples drought from early wine grape harvests in France” in Nature Climate Change.
This research found that increasingly hot summers are pushing wine grapes in French vineyards to mature earlier in the year. While this could bring some good years for French wine in the near future, it doesn’t bode well for the longer term, the researchers told Carbon Brief when we covered the paper in March.
The study was the second-most covered in the news of our Top 25, presumably because the fate of wine is a subject close to the hearts of many.

The topic of the paper in ninth place is quite a hot potato in climate science. “Greening of the Earth and its drivers”, published in Nature Climate Change, showed that up to half of the Earth’s vegetation-covered land is now “greener” than it was 30 years ago – mostly caused by rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere.
But any benefits of “CO2 fertilisation” may be temporary and are outweighed by the negative consequences of climate change, one of the authors told Carbon Brief.
And while the general principles of CO2 fertilisation are known, there is still much to learn about how these processes will act in future as the world continues to warm, said Prof Richard Betts, head of climate impacts research at the Met Office Hadley Centre, in a guest post for Carbon Brief.
Completing the Top 10 is “Consequences of twenty-first-century policy for multi-millennial climate and sea-level change” in Nature Climate Change. The paper aimed to tackle the “misleading impression in the public arena” that human-caused climate change is merely a 21st century problem.
Projecting changes in temperature and sea levels for the next 10,000 years, the researchers find that greenhouse gas emissions could eventually lead to 7.5C of warming and global sea level rise of 25-52m. With such stark results, it’s no surprise that the paper caught people’s attention.
Final score

If you want a closer look at the final scores, we’ve compiled all the data for the Top 25 climate papers of 2016 here. And there’s just space for a few honourable mentions…
Just missing out on the Top 10 in 11th place is “Observed Arctic sea-ice loss directly follows anthropogenic CO2 emission” in Science. This novel study calculated that for every tonne of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere, summer sea ice cover in the Arctic shrinks by three square metres.

Number 14 on the list is “Evidence for climate change in the satellite cloud record”, published in Nature, which used satellite data to gather evidence on how cloud patterns have changed in recent decades. The findings are another “brick in the wall” that “supports our confidence in the mainstream view of climate science,” a scientist not involved in the study told Carbon Brief.
Last month, scientists from the University of East Anglia and the Global Carbon Project released their annual stocktake of global CO2 emissions. Their paper, “Global Carbon Budget 2016”, published in Earth System Science Data, comes in 16th for 2016.
Their figures revealed that the amount of CO2 we put into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels, gas flaring and cement production has held steady for three years in a row. But it’s too early to say whether this constitutes a peak in global emissions, one of the scientists told Carbon Brief.
Elsewhere in the Top 25 are “Millions projected to be at risk from sea-level rise in the continental United States” in Nature Climate Change (21st), and “Climate change: The 2015 Paris Agreement thresholds and Mediterranean basin ecosystems” in Science (25th). You can read more about both in our coverage here and here, respectively, when the papers were originally published.
Overall, the Top 25 is made up of six papers each from journals Science and Nature Climate Change, followed by three in Nature, two each in Environmental Research Letters and PNAS, and one in each of Earth System Science Data, Geophysical Research Letters, Nature Geoscience, Progress in Human Geography, Science Advances, and The Lancet.
Top infographic by Rosamund Pearce for Carbon Brief.
Press link for more: Carbon Brief

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2016 warmest on record. #science #climatechange #auspol 

Earth’s 2016 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern recordkeeping began in 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Globally-averaged temperatures in 2016 were 1.78 degrees Fahrenheit (0.99 degrees Celsius) warmer than the mid-20th century mean. 

This makes 2016 the third year in a row to set a new record for global average surface temperatures.
The 2016 temperatures continue a long-term warming trend, according to analyses by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York. NOAA scientists concur with the finding that 2016 was the warmest year on record based on separate, independent analyses of the data.


Because weather station locations and measurement practices change over time, there are uncertainties in the interpretation of specific year-to-year global mean temperature differences. 

However, even taking this into account, NASA estimates 2016 was the warmest year with greater than 95 percent certainty.
“2016 is remarkably the third record year in a row in this series,” said GISS Director Gavin Schmidt. 

“We don’t expect record years every year, but the ongoing long-term warming trend is clear.”
The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere.
Most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years, with 16 of the 17 warmest years on record occurring since 2001. Not only was 2016 the warmest year on record, but eight of the 12 months that make up the year – from January through September, with the exception of June – were the warmest on record for those respective months. October, November, and December of 2016 were the second warmest of those months on record – in all three cases, behind records set in 2015.
Phenomena such as El Niño or La Niña, which warm or cool the upper tropical Pacific Ocean and cause corresponding variations in global wind and weather patterns, contribute to short-term variations in global average temperature. A warming El Niño event was in effect for most of 2015 and the first third of 2016. Researchers estimate the direct impact of the natural El Niño warming in the tropical Pacific increased the annual global temperature anomaly for 2016 by 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit (0.12 degrees Celsius).  
Weather dynamics often affect regional temperatures, so not every region on Earth experienced record average temperatures last year. For example, both NASA and NOAA found the 2016 annual mean temperature for the contiguous 48 United States was the second warmest on record. In contrast, the Arctic experienced its warmest year ever, consistent with record low sea ice found in that region for most of the year.

The planet’s long-term warming trend is seen in this chart of every year’s annual temperature cycle from 1880 to the present, compared to the average temperature from 1880 to 2015. Record warm years are listed in the column on the right. Credit: NASA/Earth Observatory.Joshua Stevens.

NASA’s analyses incorporate surface temperature measurements from 6,300 weather stations, ship- and buoy-based observations of sea surface temperatures, and temperature measurements from Antarctic research stations. These raw measurements are analyzed using an algorithm that considers the varied spacing of temperature stations around the globe and urban heating effects that could skew the conclusions. The result of these calculations is an estimate of the global average temperature difference from a baseline period of 1951 to 1980.
NOAA scientists used much of the same raw temperature data, but with a different baseline period, and different methods to analyze Earth’s polar regions and global temperatures.
GISS is a laboratory within the Earth Sciences Division of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The laboratory is affiliated with Columbia University’s Earth Institute and School of Engineering and Applied Science in New York.
The full 2016 surface temperature data set and the complete methodology used to make the temperature calculation are available at:
http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp

Press link for more: climate.nasa.gov

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Short-lived greenhouse gases cause centuries of sea-level rise. #auspol 

Short-lived greenhouse gases cause centuries of sea-level rise

Researchers report that warming from short-lived compounds; greenhouse gases such as methane and chlorofluorocarbons, that linger in the atmosphere for just a year to a few decades; can cause sea levels to rise for hundreds of years after the pollutants have been cleared from the atmosphere.


Even if there comes a day when the world completely stops emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, coastal regions and island nations will continue to experience rising sea levels for centuries afterward, according to a new study by researchers at MIT and Simon Fraser University.
In a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers report that warming from short-lived compounds — greenhouse gases such as methane, chlorofluorocarbons, or hydrofluorocarbons, that linger in the atmosphere for just a year to a few decades — can cause sea levels to rise for hundreds of years after the pollutants have been cleared from the atmosphere.

“If you think of countries like Tuvalu, which are barely above sea level, the question that is looming is how much we can emit before they are doomed. Are they already slated to go under, even if we stopped emitting everything tomorrow?” says co-author Susan Solomon, the Ellen Swallow Richards Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate Science at MIT. “It’s all the more reason why it’s important to understand how long climate changes will last, and how much more sea-level rise is already locked in.”

Solomon’s co-authors are lead author Kirsten Zickfeld of Simon Fraser University and Daniel Gilford, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences.
Short stay, long rise
Recent studies by many groups, including Solomon’s own, have shown that even if human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide were to stop entirely, their associated atmospheric warming and sea-level rise would continue for more than 1,000 years. These effects — essentially irreversible on human timescales — are due in part to carbon dioxide’s residence time: The greenhouse gas can stay in the atmosphere for centuries after it’s been emitted from smokestacks and tailpipes.
In contrast to carbon dioxide, other greenhouse gases such as methane and chlorofluorocarbons have much shorter lifetimes. However, previous studies have not specified what their long-term effects may be on sea-level rise. To answer this question, Solomon and her colleagues explored a number of climate scenarios using an Earth Systems Model of Intermediate Complexity, or EMIC, a computationally efficient climate model that simulates ocean and atmospheric circulation to project climate changes over decades, centuries and millenia.
With the model, the team calculated both the average global temperature and sea-level rise, in response to anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons.
The researchers’ estimates for carbon dioxide agreed with others’ predictions and showed that, even if the world were to stop emitting carbon dioxide starting in 2050, up to 50 percent of the gas would remain in the atmosphere more than 750 years afterward. Even after carbon dioxide emissions cease, sea-level rise should continue to increase, measuring twice the level of 2050 estimates for 100 years, and four times that value for another 500 years.
The reason, Solomon says, is due to “ocean inertia”: As the world warms due to greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide included — waters heat up and expand, causing sea levels to rise. Removing the extra ocean heat caused by even short-lived gases, and consequently lowering sea levels, is an extremely slow process.
“As the heat goes into the ocean, it goes deeper and deeper, giving you continued thermal expansion,” Solomon explains. “Then it has to get transferred back to the atmosphere and emitted back into space to cool off, and that’s a very slow process of hundreds of years.”
Stemming tides
In one particular climate modeling scenario, the team evaluated sea level’s response to various methane emissions scenarios, in which the world would continue to emit the gas at current rates, until emissions end entirely in three different years: 2050, 2100 and 2150.
In all three scenarios, methane gas quickly cleared from the atmosphere, and its associated atmospheric warming decreased at a similar rate. However, methane continued to contribute to sea-level rise for centuries afterward. What’s more, they found that the longer the world waits to reduce methane emissions, the longer seas will stay elevated. 
“Amazingly, a gas with a 10-year lifetime can actually cause enduring sea-level changes,” Solomon says. “So you don’t just get to stop emitting and have everything go back to a preindustrial state. You are going to live with this for a very long time.”
The researchers found one silver lining in their analyses: Curious as to whether past regulations on pollutants have had a significant effect on sea-level rise, the team focused on perhaps the most successful global remediation effort to date — the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty ratified by 197 countries in 1989, that effectively curbed emissions of ozone-depleting compounds worldwide.   
Encouragingly, the researchers found that the Montreal Protocol, while designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out pollutants such as chlorofluorocarbons — has also helped stem rising seas. If the Montreal Protocol had not been ratified, and countries had continued to emit chlorofluorocarbons to the atmosphere, the researchers found that by 2050, the world would have experienced up to an additional 6 inches of sea-level rise.
“Half a foot is pretty significant,” Solomon says. “It’s yet another tremendous reason why the Montreal Protocol has been a pretty good thing for the planet.”
In their paper’s conclusion, the researchers point out that efforts to curb global warming should not be expected to reverse high seas quickly, and that longer-term impacts from sea-level rise should be seriously considered: “The primary policy conclusion of this study is that the long-lasting nature of sea-level rise heightens the importance of earlier mitigation actions.”
This research was supported, in part, by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and NASA.

Press link for more: Climate.NASA.Gov

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Climate Change: feel the despair, then work harder. #auspol 

In the face of the mind-boggling peril of climate change, feel the despair, then work harder
From confirmation that 2016 was New Zealand’s warmest year on record to the imminent inauguration of a big-emissions US president, it’s easy to understand desperation in the face of climate change. But we need to channel all our energies into urgent action, writes James Renwick.

Climate change and global warming have been in the news a lot lately. The year 2016 is about to be confirmed as the warmest globally), in records going back over 130 years. A 5000km2 slab of the Larsen C ice shelf is poised to break away any day. Global sea ice extent has been running millions of square kilometres below normal for months now, and Santa sweltered in temperatures 20°C above normal at the North Pole over the Christmas period. Heatwaves, fires, droughts, floods, have all been ascribed to the effects of climate change over the past year and more, maybe not causing them outright, but making them ever more likely and contributing to the intensity of many events.

Now, thanks to the new NIWA annual climate summary, we know that 2016 was also the warmest year in New Zealand, in the historical record going back to 1909, just pipping 1998 and 2013. The New Zealand land mass covers just 0.05% of the earth’s surface so what happens here is hardly an indicator of global trends. Yet, just as with the global figures, it is getting warmer on average, up about a degree in the past century.
For New Zealand, last year’s warmth was a mix of local effects – winds from the north bringing subtropical air, warmer than normal regional sea temperatures – combined with the background global warming trend from increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. New Zealand temperatures vary a lot from year to year because the country is exposed to so many climate influences, but as time goes on the chances of a warm year keep going up while the chances of a cold year keep going down. NIWA scientist Brett Mullan points out that in the past two years, over 30 new high-temperature records have been set, and zero low temperature records.

The past year also saw two milestones: the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) passed 400 parts per million at every recording site in the world; and the Paris Agreement on limiting climate change came into effect, committing the global community to limiting global warming to less than 2°C above pre-industrial, and preferably closer to 1.5°C. The 400ppm threshold was last crossed something like three million years ago, so we are well into uncharted territory as far as humanity is concerned. The Paris Agreement is a clear commitment from the global community to take action.

And serious action is what’s needed – urgently. To limit warming globally to 1.5 or 2°C, there’s a maximum budget of CO2 we can put into the atmosphere. At current emissions rates, the 2°C budget will be blown within 20 years, and the 1.5°C budget in only four or five. Living up to Paris will take a huge concerted effort from every country. One other thing that became clear last year, thanks to research from VUW scientists and others, is that 2 degrees of warming, and around 400ppm CO2, is close to a threshold for irreversible loss of big parts of the West Antarctic ice sheet, and part of the East Antarctic as well. That fits with geological records showing that sea levels were 10-20 metres higher back 3 million years ago, the last time we had CO2 levels as high as they are now.


The Getz Ice Shelf, Antarctica. Photo: Jeremy Harback/NASA
What that means is that our actions (or lack of them) over the next 15-20 years will decide whether we get up to one metre of sea level rise, or 10-20 metres, over coming centuries. We as a global community will decide, over the next half dozen electoral cycles, what the world’s coastlines will look like for millennia to come.
Yet many are still arguing whether or not anything much is happening and whether we need to act at all. US President-elect Donald Trump is no friend of emissions reductions and his term in office will do nothing to spur action. No wonder that many in the climate community are very worried indeed. Veteran climate change journalist Eric Holthaus posted an impassioned series of tweets at the weekend about how he struggles to keep going in the face of what the future holds.
I’m starting my 11th year working on climate change, including the last 4 in daily journalism. Today I went to see a counselor about it. 1/
— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) January 6, 2017
Eric’s note of desperation and despair touched a chord, receiving hundreds of replies and words of support within hours. His words resonated with me – the challenge of climate change, the risks we face, and the number of lives in danger, are truly mind-boggling.
Despair may be a natural response to all this, but despair is not a constructive frame of mind. Now is the time for concerted action, for tackling emissions in all countries, all communities. To develop and deploy more efficient solar panels, wind turbines, and other renewables across the globe. To work harder on finding ways to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. To think seriously about how we adapt to a world of shrinking coastlines, extremes of heat, drought and flood and more precarious food supplies. To let our governments know that this is the one issue that must be tackled with everything we’ve got.
James Renwick is a professor in the School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington.
The Spinoff’s science content is made possible thanks to the support of The MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, a national institute devoted to scientific research.

Press link for more: The Spin Off

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Short lived Greenhouse Gases can drive sea level rise for centuries. #auspol 

Climate Change: Even Short-Lived Greenhouse Gases Can Drive Sea-Level Rise For Centuries

Over the past 100 years, the global average sea level has risen by roughly 7 inches. This rise has been fuelled by two key factors — the added water from melting land ice, and the expansion in volume of seawater as it absorbs heat from the atmosphere.
If we examine the trend over the past 20 years alone, world’s oceans have warmed at a rate of 0.12 degrees Celsius per decade — a continuation of the trend that began in the last half of the 20th century, when humans began pumping massive quantities of heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
In such a scenario, there is a question climate activists have often asked — what, if anything, can be done to prevent sea levels from rising to an extent that poses an existential threat to low-lying island nations such as Fiji, the Marshall Islands and the Solomon Islands?
The answer, going by the findings of a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is not much.
This is because oceans, once they have absorbed a certain amount of heat, take hundreds of years to cool down — a phenomenon the authors of the study called “ocean inertia.”
“As the heat goes into the ocean, it goes deeper and deeper, giving you continued thermal expansion,” study co-author Susan Solomon, a professor of climate science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in a statement. “Then it has to get transferred back to the atmosphere and emitted back into space to cool off, and that’s a very slow process of hundreds of years.”

In order to reach their conclusions, the researchers used a climate model to simulate three scenarios —global greenhouse gas emissions ending in 2050, 2100, and 2150. Even in the most optimistic scenario, wherein anthropogenic emissions of all heat-trapping gases ceased altogether in 2050, up to 50 percent of carbon dioxide would remain in the atmosphere for over 750 years. And, even after carbon dioxide emissions cease, sea levels will continue to rise, measuring twice the level of 2050 estimates for 100 years, and four times that value for another 500 years.
Even methane — a gas that has an atmospheric lifespan of just 10 years — would continue to contribute to sea level rise for centuries after it has cleared up from the atmosphere.

Effectively, this means that even if humans were to stop emitting all greenhouse gases right now, thermal expansion and the ensuing rise of ocean levels would continue for centuries to come — quite possibly inundating several island nations and low-lying coastal areas in cities across the world.
“If you think of countries like Tuvalu, which are barely above sea level, the question that is looming is how much we can emit before they are doomed. Are they already slated to go under, even if we stopped emitting everything tomorrow?” Solomon said. “It’s all the more reason why it’s important to understand how long climate changes will last, and how much more sea-level rise is already locked in.”

There is, however, one silver lining. As part of their study, the researchers also examined what impact the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which eliminated the use of the ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons, had had on stemming the rise of ocean levels. They found that if the deal had never been ratified, and if countries had continued to emit CFCs, the world would have experienced up to an additional 6 inches of sea-level rise by 2050.
“Half a foot is pretty significant,” Solomon said. “It’s yet another tremendous reason why the Montreal Protocol has been a pretty good thing for the planet.”

Press link for more: IBTimes.com

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We are already in danger! #auspol 

The risks of climate change are not easy to communicate clearly. 

 Since the atmosphere affects everything, everything will be affected by its warming — there’s no single risk, but a wide and varied array of risks, of different severities and scales, affecting different systems, unfolding on different timelines. It’s difficult to convey to a layperson, at least without droning on and on.
 One of the better-known and more controversial attempts to address this problem is a graphic from the reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The so-called “burning embers” graph attempts to render the various risks of climate change — “reasons for concern,” or RFCs — in an easy-to-grasp visual form.
 In a new paper in the journal Nature Climate Change, a group of 17 scholars examines the RFC conceptual framework and reviews the latest science. (Because IPCC reports take so long to produce, the science they contain is always a few years behind.)
 Long story short, they find that the graphic is generally accurate (though it has key limitations). They offer suggestions for how the RFC framework could be extended in the future to “better account for possible changes in social and ecological system vulnerability.”
 I won’t get into the details — I just want to have a look at their new and improved burning-embers graph, which is up at the top of this post.

 As you can see, there is a ton of information about the risks of climate change crammed in there, so it’s worth unpacking a bit. It offers a remarkably coherent overview of the various risks that lie ahead this century.

The thermometer on the right shows temperatures relative to preindustrial levels; the thermometer on the left shows them relative to 1986-2005. The distance between the two blue lines is warming that occurred through 2005. (As that note on the right indicates, warming is up a bit 2003-2012.)
Following the IPCC, risks are divided into five buckets or RFCs:
Risks to unique and threatened systems. These are ecological or human systems that are geographically constrained and have a high degree of “endemism” — they are uniquely adapted to a particular geography and climate. The authors cite as examples “tropical glacier systems, coral reefs, mangrove ecosystems, biodiversity hotspots, and unique indigenous communities.”

Risks associated with extreme weather events. This is what it says, i.e., “risk to human health, livelihoods, assets, and ecosystems from extremes such as heat waves, heavy rain, drought and associated wildfires, and coastal flooding.”

Risks associated with the distribution of impacts. This reflects the fact that some groups will be hit earlier and harder than others. Distribution of impacts can be uneven with respect to “geographic location, income and wealth, gender, age, or other physical and socioeconomic characteristics.”

Risks associated with global aggregate impacts. This refers to “impacts to socio-ecological systems that can be aggregated globally according to a single metric such as lives affected, monetary damage, number of species at risk of extinction, or degradation and loss of a number of ecosystems at a global scale.”

Risks associated with large-scale singular events. These are the much-discussed “tipping points,” whereby a series of incremental changes pushes some system over a threshold, at which point it shifts into a period of rapid, discontinuous, and sometimes irreversible change. The iconic example here is “disintegration of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets leading to a large and rapid sea-level rise.”

Scattered across these five buckets are eight “key risks,” coded by those little colored circles, and which RFC buckets they fall into. Here’s the key to those:
 key risks (Nature Climate Change)

These are the more granular risks: rising sea level, flooding, infrastructure damage, food insecurity, etc.
For each RFC, there are four levels of risk: undetectable, moderate, high, and very high.
The little graphics along the bottom are selected key risks, which are plotted at various points on the graph to illustrate specific dangers. Next to them is a letter indicating the level of confidence scientists feel in predicting the risk — M for medium, H for high.
So, for instance, scientists believe:
with a high degree of confidence that biodiversity hot spots, coral reefs, and Arctic systems will come under very high risk at 2 degrees;

with medium confidence that there is high risk of heat waves and extreme precipitation at 2 degrees;

with medium to high confidence that agriculture is already at moderate risk, which becomes high risk around 2 degrees.

RFCs 4 and 5 are the biggest, scariest dangers — the species-level impacts — but they’re also the ones in which scientists have the least confidence. Still, medium confidence that the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets will come under high risk by 3 degrees ought to terrify us. That’s gambling with trillions of dollars.
In short, panic
There’s a lot to glean from this graph, but here’s the takeaway: We’ve already crossed over into moderate risk on the first three RFCS. Pushing temperatures up 2 degrees Celsius over preindustrial levels — the target at which the world claims to want to stop warming — puts us at high risk on the first three and moderate risk on the last two. That is the best-case scenario.
Three degrees over preindustrial levels, where we are very likely headed this century, puts us at high risk across the board, very high for those uniquely threatened systems. Five degrees, which is entirely possible, puts basically every human and ecological system at high to very high risk.
We are already in danger, there’s more danger to come, and the best we can hope for is to slow and stop the process before the dangers are catastrophic. That’s the shape of things.

Press link for more: Vox.com

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We must not give up the fight on climate change! #auspol 

Canada (And Australia) must not give up the fight on climate change
Thomas Homer-Dixon is a professor in the Balsillie School of International Affairs and the faculty of environment at the University of Waterloo.
Those of us concerned about climate change generally inhabit an old-fashioned reality-based world. Scientific research and evidence drive our concern. Although we wish the climate problem would vanish – because, among other things, we want our kids and grandkids to have a safe future – that motivation doesn’t override what science tells us. And science tells us that climate change is a grave threat to humanity.


Now we also have to face the reality that Donald Trump’s election as President of the United States is calamitous for the fight against climate change. Because Mr. Trump and his key cabinet nominees are deeply committed to promoting carbon-based energy industries, they’re not inclined to believe that climate change is a pressing danger or even, in the case of some of nominees, real. The president-elect himself is ignorant of basic science and has an almost postmodernist contempt for facts or anything resembling the truth. He operates within and through a discourse of authority and force, not a discourse of reason.


For Mr. Trump, evidence either doesn’t matter or it can be created at will, which means he’s largely unreachable through evidence-based argument. His magical reality is unfalsifiable. Ice could completely disappear from the Arctic, forests in the U.S. West could erupt in fire, and a Category 5 hurricane could smash his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida to toothpicks, and it wouldn’t make any difference to his views on climate change. (While campaigning in California, Mr. Trump denied the state is suffering from a severe drought.)

Immediately after his inauguration, Mr. Trump and his cabinet will launch a full-scale assault on the national and international apparatus of climate policy and on the institutions of climate science within the U.S. Climate scientists will likely be muzzled, threatened, and purged, research programs curtailed and shut down, and climate data locked up or destroyed.
Meanwhile, surging populist movements are weakening the capacity and resolve of the European Union, the world’s other main actor in the climate-change fight. Yes, there are some positive developments: California and some other U.S. states are pressing ahead with carbon reductions, cities around the world are adopting meaningful climate plans, and China is rolling out renewable energy at a breakneck pace (although its coal consumption has recently bounced upward). Overall, though, the scene is vastly bleaker than when the Paris Accord was announced – just a year ago.

So what’s Canada to do? It might seem that it’s time for everyone, including Canada, to bolt for the exits. The Trudeau government’s remarkable achievement of a national climate policy, with broad agreement of the provinces, now appears thoroughly anomalous. Sure enough, folks who want Canada to curtail its efforts are repeating their favourite argument: Canada’s overall contribution to warming is so small that our emission cuts can’t make any real difference. So we shouldn’t do much, they say, and we certainly shouldn’t impose carbon prices, until the U.S. and China make big cuts.
The argument is logically flawed because if Canada’s emissions are trivial, and therefore its cuts won’t make a real difference, then the same must be true – even more so – for individual provinces, states, cities, industries, and households. So why, in the end, should anyone anywhere in the world make any cuts at all?
The argument is morally bankrupt, too. It excuses our bad actions by pointing to others who are doing worse things. We’d never say to our child: “It’s okay to shoplift that chocolate bar, Johnny, because other people are stealing a lot more.”
Yet some people are comfortable with the same moral reasoning when it comes to our carbon emissions, even though these emissions are relentlessly stealing our children’s future well-being.
In the end, it’s a simple moral principle – the Golden Rule – that tells us not to give up the fight against climate change. The Rule says we should treat people as we’d want to be treated if our situations were reversed. If we were our children – or if we were members of generations born later this century – we’d want today’s adults to be doing everything reasonable to stop climate change dead in its tracks.
In a world losing its grip on reality, it’s worth keeping such true principles in mind.

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Antarctica is melting. #auspol 

About 15,000 years ago, the ocean around Antarctica has seen an abrupt sea level rise of several meters. It could happen again. An international team of scientists with the participation of the University of Bonn is now reporting its findings in the magazine Scientific Reports.
University of Bonn’s climate researcher Michael E. Weber is a member of the study group. He says, “The changes that are currently taking place in a disturbing manner resemble those 14,700 years ago.” At that time, changes in atmospheric-oceanic circulation led to a stratification in the ocean with a cold layer at the surface and a warm layer below. Under such conditions, ice sheets melt more strongly than when the surrounding ocean is thoroughly mixed. This is exactly what is presently happening around the Antarctic.
The main author of the study, the Australian climate researcher Chris Fogwill from the Climate Change Research Center in Sydney, explains the process as follows: “The reason for the layering is that global warming in parts of Antarctica is causing land based ice to melt, adding massive amounts of freshwater to the ocean surface. At the same time as the surface is cooling, the deeper ocean is warming, which has already accelerated the decline of glaciers in the Amundsen Sea Embayment.” It appears global warming is replicating conditions that, in the past, triggered significant shifts in the stability of the Antarctic ice sheet.
To investigate the climate changes of the past, the scientists are studying drill cores from the eternal ice. Layer by layer, this frozen “climate archive” reveals its secrets to the experts. In previous studies, the scientists had found evidence of eight massive melting events in deep sea sediments around the Antarctic, which occurred at the transition from the last ice age to the present warm period. Co-author Dr. Weber from the Steinmann Institute of the University of Bonn says: “The largest melt occurred 14,700 years ago. During this time the Antarctic contributed to a sea level rise of at least three meters within a few centuries.”
The present discovery is the first direct evidence from the Antarctic continent which confirms the assumed models. The research team used isotopic analyzes of ice cores from the Weddell Sea region, which now flows into the ocean about a quarter of the Antarctic melt.
Through a combination with ice sheet and climate modeling, the isotopic data show that the waters around the Antarctic were heavily layered at the time of the melting events, so that the ice sheets melted at a faster rate. “The big question is whether the ice sheet will react to these changing ocean conditions as rapidly as it did 14,700 years ago,” says co-author Nick Golledge from the Antarctic Research Center in Wellington, New Zealand.

Press link for more: Phys.org

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“There is no such thing as climate change.” – A beautiful lie #auspol 

A paradise that has been degraded and destroyed. Man may be unwittingly changing the world’s climate through the waste products of its civilization. The burning of coal, oil and wood is releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The greenhouse effect has been detected and it is changing our climate now. Guess where the temperature goes? It goes up. Climate change is already in our backyards. It’s official.
Climate change is a rising danger for our planet, and Pakistan is confronting huge number of effects resulting from it. The Super Floods of 2010 and the typhoons of 1999 and 2007, are dreary indications of the way that we are arranging a genuine test postured by environmental change.


It is said, “Coming events cast their shadows before.” Scientists of the world, in government as well in private, under the umbrella of Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have confirmed that the climate of the Earth has undergone a significant change over the last 150 years or so. The most significant manifestation of this change is Global Warming i.e. rise in temperature of Earth. According to them, 1990 was the warmest decade and 2005 the warmest year on record since 1860. As a consequence, glaciers are melting/ retreating, sea levels are rising, more frequent storms and extreme weather events are taking place.
There is broad consensus by scientists that this change is a consequence of human activities, primarily burning of fossil fuels and deforestation due to population explosion, industrialization and urbanization. These human activities produce green house gases (GHG) mainly carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (NO2) which trap heat inside the atmosphere and warm the surface of the earth. It is said that Earth has warmed by over 0.740 C in the last 100 years. Warmer surface temperatures heat the oceans, melt ice sheets, and alter weather patterns across the globe. As a result, sea levels rose globally by 10-20 millimeters during the 20th century and snow cover has receded by 10% since 1960, with a 5- kilometer retreat in alpine and continental glaciers. The situation is so serious in the Arctic, where the ice cover has retreated faster than the global average, it is predicted that the summers in the North Pole will be ice free within 100 years.


It is observed that impact of any calamity is much more adverse if it strikes suddenly. However, if there is awareness and preparedness, its impact is much reduced. Let’s now look at this observation from the an angle which affects Pakistan. Sindh being the lowest riparian of the Indus River System, climate change is going to have a big impact on its water availability due to melting of glaciers, cultivation due to less water, delta due to no supplies of water, coast due to see level rise. Creating awareness about these impacts is like reducing the misery and getting people prepared for calamity.
Maybe the greatest security risk confronting Pakistan today is the likelihood of environmental change and ecological variables destabilizing Karachi, which is viewed as the nation’s financial spine. With a populace of roughly 17 million individuals, the city pulls in very nearly a million transients consistently because of its immense pool of work openings, per a report by Express Tribune. Karachi is also Pakistan’s principle port city, and records for 42 percent of its total GDP. It produces about half of the nation’s of tax revenue, and houses its stock trade, national bank, and the priciest land in the nation, as per the CEO of real estate portal Zameen.com. Karachi is also near the Indus River Delta, where the Indus streams into the Arabian Sea. Because of rising ocean levels, the delta is currently nearly at-level with the Arabian Sea. This undermines the strength of the ecosystem since it prompts to land disintegration and expands the saltiness of creeks spilling out of the Indus, making an unfriendly situation for amphibian animals and mangrove trees that rely on upon new water. Ocean interruption can bring about transitory and changeless flooding to vast land ranges, adversely affecting nearby ecosystems and fresh water supplies that villagers depend on for sustenance security and drinking water.

Pakistan runs on an agrarian economy. From 1949 to 1950, Pakistan’s agricultural sector was in charge of 53 percent of the total GDP. By 1980 to 1981, this number had dropped to 31 percent; lately, it has fallen much further to 21.4 percent. Among different variables, specialists accuse the drop for expanded surges and dry spells. The decrease in agricultural commitments to national GDP has hindered the monetary development of the nation. As indicated by leading financial analyst Ishrat Husain, the economy developed by 2.9 percent for each year in the most recent five years, yet it could have surpassed an anticipated rate of 6.5 percent if flooding had not brought about monetary and human misfortunes.
As per a report distributed by the U.S. Department of Defense, “environmental change will intensify worldwide instability, representing an immediate threat to national security.” Among different elements, the report recognized strained water supplies because of dissolving glaciers as a component that could trigger instability. Pakistan is the the 6th most crowded nation on the planet, and is as of now not able to take care of the developing water demand. The flooding and droughts destroy billions of dollars of yields each year, increasing the rates of inflation and unemployment. Notwithstanding the water deficiency, the long term damage to fields and products will prompt to nourishment shortage. On the off chance that this continues, Pakistan will not be able meet the demands of its populace, which is developing by about 2 percent every year.
What can be done. Pakistan ought to draw advantage from the Green Climate Fund, made by the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2010 for reducing greenhouse gas discharges in 3rd world countries and helping them set up climate-resilient tasks.
We also need to bring out the soul of self improvement. However, rather than swinging to renewable energy sources like daylight, wind, geothermal warmth and so forth, the government has expedited work on coal power projects and nuclear power plants.
Taking eco-accommodating initiatives is also extremely essential. Speaking of which, ventures like the Billion Tree Tsunami will help a great deal. Movements like ‘Save The Forests’ should be encouraged. Planting trees on both sides of the streets and avenues will add a huge number of more plants to the current ones. Therefore, more carbon dioxide will be expended and higher generation of oxygen will occur.
Facilities like the metro-bus service and mass transit trains in real urban areas of the nation will advance utilization of open transport. That way the utilization of private vehicles will be decreased which is useful for both money related and ecological reasons. Why not likewise advance cycling that is both a sound practice and a method for transport? These are just some areas that should be looked at by the people who can make a change – and have the cards in their hands.
We wait

We pray for the rain

For a rain

To wash away

We try

Deny

To believe to believe

We can’t believe

In anything

I don’t want to say goodbye

I don’t want to say goodbye

Stars falling from the sky

Stars falling from the sky.

Press link for more: Daily Pakistan

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Key Messages for 2017 #auspol 

KEY MESSAGES

1. Open Your Eyes

The numbers are overwhelming. The planet’s under unprecedented pressure. Too many forests cut down. Too many fish pulled from the sea. Too many species gone extinct. The Earth’s being battered by humanity—and it’s coming from every direction. Greenhouse gases. Ocean acidification. Chemical pollution. It has all reached a point where our future is at risk. For the first time in human history, we may have pushed the planet too far.
2. The Crisis is Global and Urgent

It’s happened so fast. In just two generations, humanity has overwhelmed Earth’s capacity to continue supporting our world in a stable way. We’ve gone from being a small world on a big planet to a big world on a small planet. The home we’ve known for 10,000 years—the one that’s supported us and encouraged our success—is changing, and our future depends on our ability to respond.
3. Everything is Hyper-connected

In a shrinking world, seemingly unrelated events can be links in the same chain of cause and effect. Nature, politics, and the economy are now interconnected. How a worker commutes in Stockholm affects the farmer in Ecuador. The web of life is fully connected, encompassing all of the planet’s ecosystems, and every link of the chain matters.


4. Expect the Unexpected

As the Earth changes, we can expect surprises. The forces driving planetary change are complex and likely to throw us a few curves. In the past, we could assume that the big systems we relied on—from political to ecological—were stable and predictable. In the future, the only constant will be change. Surprise is the new normal.
5. Respecting Planetary Boundaries

As many scientists have warned, nothing is more important than to keep from triggering disastrous tipping points in Earth’s fundamental processes. Fortunately, we now have enough data to define boundaries which, if transgressed, could lead to big problems, even catastrophes. If we respect those boundaries, we can follow a safe path to unlimited opportunities into the future.


6. The Global Mind Shift

Ever since the industrial revolution, we’ve had this crazy idea that are actions are without consequences. That we can take nature or leave it. But as any farmer can tell you, that isn’t the case. It’s not a question of choosing jobs or the environment, because they depend on each other. That’s why we say we need a “mind shift” to reconnect people with nature, societies with the biosphere, the human world with the Earth.
7. Preserving the Remaining Beauty on Earth

We take it for granted, the world that we love—and we’re destroying it so quickly. The light of dawn on the prairie. The silvery flash of fish in a stream. The cry of a hawk over a forest. Everybody has their own idea of the beautiful, and we’ll surely miss it when its gone. It’s time to fight for the remaining natural systems that support the beauty on Earth—not just for their own sake but also to safeguard our own prosperity.


8. We Can Turn Things Around

We have the tools to do what’s required—the intelligence, creativity, and technological know-how. We can bend the curves of all the negative trends. We can feed nine billion people without destroying our forests. We can deliver power to our economies without burning coal. But not the way we’re doing things now. Business as usual is no longer an option.
9. Unleashing Innovation

Humanity has an incredible ability to overcome even the most daunting of challenges. Once people understand the risks of continuing along the current path, they’ll search for creative—and profitable—alternatives. That’s how innovation works. The planetary boundaries will help. By defining thresholds and a maximum allowable use of resources, ecosystems, and the climate, we can trigger a new wave of sustainable technological inventions, with an abundance of ideas and solutions for human prosperity and planetary stability.
10. First Things First

Let’s be realistic. Inspiring a “mind shift” to sustainability could take a generation, and we should have started long ago. If we wait 30 more years, it will be too late. So we advocate a two track approach: 1) tackle the most urgent problems right now, such as climate change, nitrogen and phosphorus overload, and loss of biodiversity, but also 2) do everything we can to reconnect with nature over the long term. The Earth deserves nothing less. Our world depends on nothing less.

Press link for more: bwsp.org