#FossilFueil; GasMethane; #ClimateChange; #ClimateWarming
New York, Feb 20 (Canadian-Media): Using fossil fuels releases much more of the potent greenhouse gas methane than previously thought — possibly 25 to 40 percent more, new research suggests. The finding could help scientists and policy makers target how and where to reduce these climate-warming emissions, researchers report February 19 in Nature, sciencenews.org news reports said.
Emission of methane by fossil fuels. Image credit: Twitter
The amount of methane released from geologic (rather than biological) sources is from 172 to 195 teragrams (trillions of grams) per year. Those geologic methane sources include not only the oil and gas industry, but also natural vents such as onshore and offshore gas seeps. Researchers previously had estimated that the natural portion of those geologic emissions released between 40 to 60 teragrams of methane each year, with the remainder coming from fossil fuels.
But new analyses of over two centuries of methane preserved in ice cores suggest that natural seeps — both in the past and in modern times — send far less methane into the atmosphere than once thought. That means that modern human activities are responsible for nearly all of the current geologic emissions of methane, atmospheric chemist Benjamin Hmiel of the University of Rochester in New York and his colleagues conclude.
Methane has about 80 times the atmosphere-warming potential of carbon dioxide — but only on short timescales, because methane only lingers in the atmosphere for 10 to 20 years, while CO2 can linger for hundreds of years. “So the changes we make to our [methane] emissions are going to impact the atmosphere much more quickly,” Hmiel says.
Coal mining, natural gas and other fossil fuel sources pushed atmospheric methane levels upward through the 20th century. Those emissions tapered off in the first few years of the 21st century. However, beginning in 2007, atmospheric methane began to increase again, and is now at a level not seen since the 1980s.
What’s causing the post-2007 buildup of the gas isn’t clear. Previous research points to some combination of amped-up microbial activity in wetlands — possibly linked to changes in temperature and rainfall — and more cow burps and leaky pipelines (SN: 11/18/15). Less methane is also getting broken down in the atmosphere (SN: 4/20/17).
If methane emissions continue rising, meeting the greenhouse gas reduction goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement (SN: 11/26/19) will be difficult, says Euan Nisbet, a geochemist at Royal Holloway, University of London, who was not involved in the new study. So identifying the portion of the methane bump that’s linked to the oil and gas industry offers opportunities for targeted reductions.
To calculate today’s methane emissions from all geologic sources, scientists first need to establish a baseline for preindustrial methane emissions from natural sources like seeps and mud volcanoes. One way to distinguish biological from geologic sources of methane is by using the radioactive isotope carbon-14, a version of the element. Biological sources produce methane with relatively high carbon-14 levels, while methane from geologic sources tends to be very old, so that the carbon-14 has long since decayed away.
To separate human-caused from natural geologic sources, researchers need to look into the past. So, in the new study, the team turned to methane preserved in ice cores from Greenland dating from 1750 to 2013.
Before the Industrial Revolution, the team discovered, methane emissions from geologic sources were around 1.6 teragrams per year on average — and no more than 5.4 teragrams per year at their highest. That’s an order of magnitude smaller than previous estimates.
Subtracting that amount from total methane emissions today, the researchers calculate that nearly all of the nonbiological methane measured today, from 172 to 195 teragrams per year, is coming from anthropogenic sources. That’s about 38 to 58 teragrams higher per year than previously estimated, an increase of 25 to 40 percent.
“Paradoxically, that’s actually a hopeful finding,” Nisbet says. Stopping gas leaks and reducing coal mine emissions are relatively easy ways of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, he says. So reducing methane emissions offers “an even bigger opportunity” for reducing greenhouse gases overall.
But such ice core–based work is not yet proven to be the most accurate technique to estimate natural geologic emissions, says Stefan Schwietzke, an environmental scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund who is based in Berlin. The ice core information is useful because it gives an immediate global snapshot of methane emissions, but “it has the challenge of interpretation and a lot of very complex analysis,” Schwietzke says.
Direct measurements of methane emitted from different seeps or over mud volcanoes suggest much larger natural emissions, he adds. The problem with this method, however, is that it’s difficult to scale up from local measurements to a global number. “To really understand the magnitudes, these two methods need to be reconciled. That hasn’t happened yet.”
Schwietzke and other researchers have proposed using airborne remote sensing to try to reconcile the two techniques. Airborne measurements can give a bigger-picture estimate, while also identifying local hot spots. Scientists have already been using this work to identify sources such as leaking pipelines, landfills or dairy farms (SN: 11/14/19). Similar projects are tracking methane emission hot spots in Arctic permafrost.
Still, Schwietzke adds, this debate over the technique doesn’t change the fact that human-caused emissions, including fossil fuels, are responsible for the dramatic rise of atmospheric methane over the last century. “It is very large. And reducing those emissions will reduce warming.”
#ClimateChange; #ColoradoRiver; #WaterShortage; #CarbonEmissions; #TemperatureRise
New York, Feb 20 (Canadian-Media): Climate change is threatening to dry up the Colorado River — jeopardizing a water supply that serves some 40 million people from Denver to Phoenix to Las Vegas and irrigates farmlands across the U.S. Southwest, www.sciencenews.org reports said.
Colorado river. Image credit: Twitter
Computer simulations of the Colorado River Basin indicate that, on average, a regional temperature increase of 1.4 degrees Celsius over the last century reduced the annual amount of water flowing through the river by more than 11 percent. Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey in Princeton, N.J., report these results online February 20 in Science.
These findings “should be a cause for serious concern,” says climate scientist Brad Udall of Colorado State University in Fort Collins. As the world continues to warm, significant changes to the Colorado River’s flow — like other snow-fed waterways around the globe — could leave many communities with severe water shortages (SN: 5/29/19).
For the study, research hydrologist Paul “Chris” Milly and physical scientist Krista Dunne simulated snow accumulation and water runoff in the Colorado River Basin from 1912 to 2017, based on factors including historical data on temperatures, precipitation and snowpack. Those simulations allowed the researchers to tease out how specific variables, like air temperature, affected the river.
The team found that over the 20th century, warmer weather allowed for less snow cover, exposing darker ground that absorbed more sunlight. That caused more water on the ground to evaporate before it could feed into the Colorado River, diminishing river flow.
To forecast the river’s future, Milly and Dunne combined their simulations with climate models that predict temperature increases under hypothetical emissions scenarios. If fossil fuel emissions are curbed so that atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations level off by midcentury, the simulations predict that annual river flow would drop 14 to 26 percent compared with the average annual flow during the last century.
In a “business-as-usual” scenario where carbon emissions continue apace, simulated river flow dropped 19 to 31 percent by midcentury compared with 20th century flow.
#ClimateChange; #RapidArcticWarming; #ArcticAmplification; #UniversityOfExeterResearch
United Kingdom, Feb 19 (Canadian-Media): Rapid Arctic warming has not led to a "wavier" jet stream around the mid-latitudes in recent decades, pioneering new research has shown, phys.org/news reports said.
The polar jet stream. Credit: NASA/Trent L Schindler
Scientists from the University of Exeter have studied the extent to which Arctic amplification—the faster rate of warming in the Arctic compared to places farther south—has affected the fluctuation of the jet stream's winding course over the North Hemisphere.
Recent studies have suggested the warming Arctic region has led to a "wavier" jet stream—which can lead to extreme weather conditions striking the US and Europe.
However, the new study by Dr. Russell Blackport and Professor James Screen, shows that Arctic warming does not drive a more meandering jet stream.
Instead, they believe any link is more likely to be a result of random fluctuations in the jet stream influencing Arctic temperatures, rather than the other way around.
The study is published in leading journal Science Advances on Wednesday 19 February 2020.
Dr. Blackport, a Research Fellow in Mathematics and lead author of the study, said: "While there does appear to be a link between a wavier jet stream and Arctic warming in year-to-year and decade-to-decade variability, there has not been a long-term increase in waviness in response to the rapidly warming Arctic."
Scientists have studied whether the jet stream's meandering course across the Northern Hemisphere is amplified by climate change in recent years.
For about two decades, the jet stream—a powerful band of westerly winds across the mid-latitudes—was observed to have a "wavier" flow, which coincided with greater Arctic warming through climate change.
These waves have caused extreme weather conditions to strike mainland Europe and the US, bringing intense cold air that leads to extreme cold weather.
In this new study, Dr. Blackport and Professor Screen studied not only climate model simulations but also the observed conditions going back 40 years.
They found that the previously reported trend toward a wavier circulation during autumn and winter has reversed in recent years, despite continued Arctic amplification.
This reversal has resulted in no long-term trends in waviness, in agreement with climate model simulations, which also suggest little change in "waviness" in response to strong Arctic warming.
The results, the scientists say, strongly suggest that the observed and simulated link between jet stream "waviness" and Arctic temperatures do not represent a causal effect of Arctic amplification on the jet stream.
Professor Screen, an Associate Professor in Climate Science at Exeter added: "The well-publicised idea that Arctic warming is leading to a wavier jet stream just does not hold up to scrutiny.
"With the benefit of ten more years of data and model experiments, we find no evidence of long-term changes in waviness despite on-going Arctic warming."
Insignificant effect of Arctic amplification on the amplitude of mid-latitude atmospheric waves is published in Science Advances.
#ClimateChange; #AirPollution; #GlobalEconomy;
United States, Feb 18 (Canadian-Media): Aerosol emissions from burning coal and wood are dangerous to human health, but it turns out that by cooling the Earth they also diminish global economic inequality, according to a new study by Carnegie's Yixuan Zheng, Geeta Persad, and Ken Caldeira, along with UC Irvine's Steven Davis. Their findings are published by Nature Climate Change, https://phys.org/news reports said.
Credit: CC0 Public Domain
Tiny particles spewed into the atmosphere by human activity, called "anthropogenic aerosols," interact with clouds and reflect some of the Sun's energy back into space. They have a short-term cooling effect that's similar to how particles from major volcanic eruptions can cause global temperatures to drop. This masks some of the warming caused by much-longer-lived greenhouse gases, which trap the Sun's heat in the planet's atmosphere.
"Estimates indicate that aerosol pollution emitted by humans is offsetting about 0.7 degrees Celsius, or about 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit, of the warming due to greenhouse gas emissions," said lead author Zheng. "This translates to a 40-year delay in the effects of climate change. Without cooling caused by aerosol emissions, we would have achieved 2010-level global mean temperatures in 1970."
Previous research has shown that climate change provides some economic benefits to countries in cool regions—which would be warmed to temperatures that are ideal for agricultural productivity and human labor—and economic harm to countries in already hot regions.
Does aerosol-related cooling have a similar distribution of economic impacts?
The four researchers set out to investigate the economic effects of cooling caused by aerosol emissions in different parts of the world. They found that, opposite to greenhouse gases, the cooling effect of aerosols benefited the economies of tropical, developing countries and harmed the economies of high latitude, developed countries.
"Although aerosols have many negative impacts, our simulations demonstrated that aerosol-induced cooling, in particular, could actually diminish global economic inequality," Persad said.
"However, when you look at the whole world at once, rather than region by region, the net economic effect of this cooling is likely to be small due to these effects between latitudes," added Davis.
Despite this, the team noted that aerosols are dangerous and that the public health benefits of cleaning them up would far outweigh the economic benefits of continuing to release them.
"We need to understand how human activities affect our planet so we can make informed decisions that can protect the environment while giving everyone a high quality of life," Caldeira concluded. "Aerosol pollution might appear to have some upsides, but at the end of the day their profound harm far outweighs their meager benefits."
#UN: #MigratorySpecies; #India; #CMS; #EndangeredSpecies; #WildlifeConservation
India, Feb 17 (Canadian-Media): Many animals – including birds, fish and mammals – migrate along set routes in search of food or breeding grounds. How best to protect them in a rapidly changing world is the focus of a major UN wildlife meeting which opened in Gandhinagar, India, on Monday, UN news reports said.
Each autumn, millions of Monarch butterflies make their 3,000 mile journey from the United States and Canada to winter in several locations, including biosphere reserves, in Mexico. Image credit: World Bank/Curt Carnemark
The Thirteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, or CMS COP13, is taking place as the world faces the threat of losing one million species to extinction unless protective efforts are increased.
“COP13 comes at a critical time for wildlife conservation, with continued downward trends of habitat loss and species decline,” said CMS Executive Secretary Amy Fraenkel.
“The conference will set in motion actions needed to better protect migratory species that rely on multilateral cooperation for their survival.”
Welcoming migratory species home
COP13, which runs through 22 February, is being held under the theme “Migratory species connect the planet and together we welcome them home”.
These creatures bring multiple benefits to humans, such as seed dispersal and pollination, and provide economic benefits and jobs such as in the tourism sector, for example.
“These species move between countries without any passports or visas, but are messengers of peace and prosperity, and it is our responsibility to protect that,” said Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi in his keynote address.
However, with increased warming and other weather extremes becoming the norm, migratory animals, as well as ecosystems, are also being affected.
Global map of animal migration. Image credit: CMS
Delegates at the meeting will consider the need for guidance and other measures to mitigate the impact of roads, railways and other infrastructure on migratory species, which can injure or kill birds and other animals, increase pollution and cut through natural habitats.
As countries work to prevent global temperature rise from exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius, in line with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, they will also discuss ways to ensure biodiversity and migratory species are considered in national policies to promote renewable energy that is “wildlife-friendly”.
Other deliberations will cover strengthening initiatives to combat the illegal killing and trade of migratory birds, and targeted action against aquatic wild meat, including from shark and ray species, which is a fast-emerging threat.
“Super year” for nature
COP13 kicks off what the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) calls “the super year” for nature.
Other events taking place in 2020 include the Ocean Summit in June, a UN ‘nature summit’ in September and the UN Biodiversity Conference at the end of the year.
Said UNEP deputy chief Joyce Myusa: “As we face the unprecedented crisis of species loss, 2020 is an important year to step up action to conserve species, protect ecosystems and make meaningful progress towards achieving the sustainable development goals. We must seize every opportunity we have, and the CMS COP is critical milestone in enabling biodiversity to flourish on this planet.”
The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) – the UN’s environmental treaty – is the only global convention that protects these animals.
It contains two appendices: one covering endangered migratory species, while the other lists animals with “an unfavourable conservation status”, requiring international action.
A new report to be released at COP13 indicates that despite some success stories, the populations of most migratory species covered by the Convention are declining.
Ten new species are expected to be added to the Convention, including the Asian Elephant, Jaguar and the Great Indian Bustard: the mascot of COP13.
Meanwhile, 12 animals currently included in the appendices are showcased in the latest series of UN Endangered Species stamps, issued on Monday.
#UN; #ClimateChange; #Refugees; #Pakistan; #UNHCR
Pakistan, Feb 16 (Canadian-Media): UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Sunday began a three-day visit to Pakistan, recognizing the country’s decades of “outstanding generosity and solidarity” as one of the world’s largest hosts of refugees, and highlighting its place in confronting climate change, UN news reports said.
Secretary-General António Guterres delivers an address at a 'Special Talk on Sustainable Development and Climate Change', in Islamabad, Pakistan. Credit: May Yaacoub/UN News
“One of the main purposes of my visit is to spotlight the real Pakistan — with all its possibility and potential,” Mr. Guterres told reporters in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, alongside Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
While in Pakistan, the UN chief will speak at an international conference on Monday marking 40 years of hosting Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Iran, one of the world’s largest and longest-standing refugee populations.
Organized by the Pakistan Government and the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) the conference will also be addressed by the agency’s chief, Fillipo Grandi. The Secretary-General is also expected to meet with refugees and senior Pakistani officials.
Speaking to reporters after delivering an earlier address on climate change and sustainable development, Mr. Guterres said it was time for the world to take a step back and “look at Pakistan through a wider frame.”
Indeed, he said, the role Pakistan had played for 40 years in sheltering and protecting Afghan refugees with limited international support, as well as its support to UN peacekeeping, and its steps to take concrete climate action with the ‘ten billion tree tsunami’ campaign among other initiatives, were vital aspects of the South Asian country’s contribution to the region and the wider international community.
“The United Nations will continue to support Pakistan, and I call on other countries to support Pakistan and indeed show similar leadership in sharing this responsibility in this region and around the world,” said Mr. Guterres.
#ClimateAction; #PolicyMakers; #MobileGames; #UNDP; #COP26
Geneva, Feb 14 (Canadian-Media): Millions of people worldwide will get to share their views on climate action through a UN campaign launched on Thursday aimed at connecting them with Governments and policy makers, UN news reports said.
UN staff and their families gather at UN Headquarters in New York in support of the youth-led global climate strike. Image credit: UN Photo/Loey Felipe
The Mission 1.5 campaign is built around an internet and mobile video game that educates people about climate policy and allows them to vote on possible solutions.
The campaign was developed by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), alongside experts in game development, climate science and public polling.
“Together with partners from across the private and public sectors, we have the ability with this campaign to connect millions of people with their governments in an innovative two-way discussion on solutions to the climate crisis, and increase ambition ahead of the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow later this year”, said Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator.
Mission 1.5 takes its name from the collective effort to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as agreed by world leaders meeting in Paris in 2015.
Described as the world’s biggest survey of public opinion on climate change, it aims to give 20 million people a chance to have their say. A previous survey ahead of the Paris talks canvassed 10,000 people in 76 countries.
Players will take on the role of climate policymakers who make decisions to meet the 1.5 degree goal.
Afterwards, they will vote on key climate actions that they would like to see adopted. The data will be analyzed and delivered to Governments.
The hope is that the game will bridge the gap between citizens and governments on climate action.
“People often feel disconnected from the leaders that must make urgent decisions on the climate crisis,” said Cassie Flynn, UNDP Climate Change Advisor.
“Mission 1.5 is a way to help people understand climate solutions and make their voices heard. In many ways, it is the People’s Climate Vote.”
New York, Feb 12 (Canadian-Media): When it comes to adapting to the effects of climate change, scientists and policymakers are thinking too small, according to a new research review, phys.org/news reports said.
Image Credit: CC0 Public Domain
The authors argue that society should focus less on how individuals respond to such climate issues as flooding and wildfires and instead figure out what it takes to inspire collective action that will protect humans from climate catastrophes on a much grander scale.
Ohio State University researchers analyzed studies that have been published to date on behavioral adaptation to climate change. They found that most studies have emphasized the psychology behind individual coping strategies in the face of isolated hazards, and came from the point of view of a single household managing their own risk.
What is needed, they propose, is systems-level thinking about what is truly adaptive for society, and research on the dynamics that lead people to change entire systems through transformational actions and on barriers that keep people from embracing transformative efforts.
"What we know about adaptation has come from a longer history of studying the sorts of things that are getting worse because of climate change," said Robyn Wilson, lead author of the paper and a professor of risk analysis and decision science in Ohio State's School of Environment and Natural Resources.
"If we want to really adapt to climate change, we're talking about transformational change that will truly allow society to be resilient in the face of these increasing hazards. We're focused on the wrong things and solving the wrong problems."
The research review is published today (Feb. 10, 2020) in the journal Nature Climate Change.
Wilson and colleagues are not being critical of their peer scientists -- or of themselves. When the incremental nature of adaptation research became evident, the review became a platform to sound an alarm: We can't take baby steps anymore when it comes to being ready for all that climate change will bring.
"Thinking holistically is part of what transformation research is all about -- saying we have to work together to really think differently," Wilson said. "We can't all be individually running around doing our own thing. We need to think beyond the selfish individual who says, 'What do I need to do to be better off?'"
Take, for example, preservation of a seaside community. Current activities may include building municipal floodwalls and, as individuals, moving valuables to higher ground and letting insurance resolve problems as they arise. Instead, the authors suggest, a look at a much bigger picture could clarify whether the coastal community should exist at all.
Wilson said there was a time when researchers avoided studying adaptation for fear it would redirect attention and efforts away from mitigation -- addressing the causes of climate change rather than its effects.
"Eventually, there was a recognition that we have to do both. We don't really have a choice," she said. "We have to adapt while also mitigating so we can try to avoid the really catastrophic outcomes that will come down the road for children today. The worst-case things aren't happening tomorrow, but they're happening on a time frame that will impact people we care about."
In biological terms, survival requires adaptation. Is there a chance those impacts could threaten the human species?
Though plenty of civilizations have failed, Wilson doesn't expect humans to go extinct as a result of even the worst-case climate scenario: global warming of 8 or 9 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the 21st century.
"Somebody's going to survive," she said. "It's more a question of social equity and social justice.
"Fast-forward a couple hundred years and someone will be here. But if we don't think from a more transformative standpoint of how society should be structured and where we should live and how we should live, there will be a lot of losers -- those with the least resources and low socioeconomic status and people in developing countries. ... We're living in a different world and we need to think differently about how we do things so we're all equally able to survive."
#HeavySnow; #Montreal; #ExtraBlastOfWinter; #DumpedSnow; #ClearingOfSnow
Montreal, Feb 11 (Canadian-Media): It was stated by the city of Montreal that the clearing of the 55 centimetres of dumped snow on the area during two successive storms, would be cleared by early next week due to Monday's extra blast of wintry weather which caught the citizens and drivers unaware, the media reports said.
Heavy snow in Montreal. Image credit: Twitter
“It’s a huge challenge for our crew,” said city spokesperson Philippe Sabourin on Tuesday. “But the good news is it’s warmer temperatures, and we have everyone on duty.”
As of Tuesday morning, City of Montreal was clear of about 35 percent of snow but snow removal in other areas, including Verdun at 17 percent and Rivière-des-Prairies-Pointe-aux-Trembles at 31 percent was comparatively slower.
Although about half of the city's snow is expected to be cleared by Wednesday, but Sabouring says that there is more snow in the forecast which makes it difficult for workers to keep up.
“We had to push back and delay because yesterday we got 15 centimetres of snow, and now they are calling for 10 other centimetres on Thursday,” said Sabourin.
Drivers are being asked by the city to respect parking restrictions in order to avoid being towed and not delay operations.
#Ottawa; #CanadaActionFund; #YouthClimateLab; #ClimateChange; #FutureXChange;
Ottawa, Feb 11 (Canadian-Media): Youth being among those leading the challenge of climate change towards a cleaner future, a funding of $200,000 through the federal government’s Climate Action Fund to the Youth Climate Lab was announced today by the the Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Jonathan Wilkinson, media reports said.
Youth Climate Lab. Image credit: Twitter
Climate Action Fund intake funded a total of 19 projects from the 2019–20 .
“When it comes to climate change, young people know that the stakes are high and...FutureXChange are a great example...As we aim for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, our Government continues to work toward increased ambitions to ensure a cleaner, more prosperous future for our kids and our grandkids,“ said Wilkinson.
“FutureXChange cultivates space and resources for Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth from all corners of Canada to learn, share their skills and knowledge, and activate their communities to safeguard our collective future,” said Dominique Souris, Executive Director, Youth Climate Lab.
The creation of the FutureXChange program, developed by Youth Climate Lab in partnership with the Gwich’in Tribal Council and Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, would be supported by this fund to provide fifteen young Canadians with the required tools to create their own climate projects around Traditional Knowledge and climate policy.
Up to $3 million annually is provided by the Climate Action Fund to support projects delivered by students, youth, Indigenous peoples and organizations, not-for-profit organizations, businesses, and research and educational institutions to raise awareness of climate change and encourage others to take meaningful climate action.
Half of the fifteen young participants have been selected from Gwich’in communities and the other half from southern Canada.
With their role as Community Activators, these young adults have now spread across the country to build local climate projects in their communities and raise awareness about climate change through digital outreach, community workshops, and conferences.
Over 150,000 Canadians are expected to be reached by this project.