The Natural Gas Industry Has a Leak Problem

The Natural Gas Industry Has a Leak Problem

SOURCE: New York Times and Science DATE: June 21, 2018 SNIP: The American oil and gas industry is leaking more methane than the government thinks — much more, a new study says. Since methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, that is bad news for climate change. The new study, published Thursday in the journal Science, puts the rate of methane emissions from domestic oil and gas operations at 2.3 percent of total production per year, which is 60 percent higher than the current estimate from the Environmental Protection Agency. That might seem like a small fraction of the total, but it represents an estimated 13 million metric tons lost each year, or enough natural gas to fuel 10 million homes. Environmental groups have argued that voluntary measures are not always sufficient, and they have urged federal regulators to step in and mandate more sweeping reductions. Former President Barack Obama proposed regulations to limit leaks, but over the past year, the Trump administration has moved to rescind most Obama-era methane policies. Some of these rollbacks are now tied up in...
Global warming set to exceed 1.5°C, slow growth – U.N. draft

Global warming set to exceed 1.5°C, slow growth – U.N. draft

SOURCE: Reuters DATE: June 14, 2018 SNIP: Global warming is on course to exceed the most stringent goal set in the Paris agreement by around 2040, threatening economic growth, according to a draft report that is the U.N.’s starkest warning yet of the risks of climate change. Governments can still cap temperatures below the strict 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7° Fahrenheit) ceiling agreed in 2015 only with “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in the world economy, according to the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The final government draft, obtained by Reuters and dated June 4, is due for publication in October in South Korea after revisions and approval by governments. It will be the main scientific guide for combating climate change. “If emissions continue at their present rate, human-induced warming will exceed 1.5°C by around 2040,” according to the report, which broadly reaffirms findings in an earlier draft in January but is more robust, after 25,000 comments from experts and a wider pool of scientific literature. Temperatures are already up about 1°C (1.8°F) and are rising at a rate of about 0.2°C a decade, according to the draft, requested by world leaders as part of the Paris...
Antarctica’s Ice Loss Is Speeding Up, with Sharp Acceleration in Past 5 Years

Antarctica’s Ice Loss Is Speeding Up, with Sharp Acceleration in Past 5 Years

SOURCE: Inside Climate News and Nature DATE: June 13, 2018 SNIP: The most complete assessment to date of Antarctica’s ice sheets confirms that the meltdown accelerated sharply in the past five years, and there is no sign of a slowdown. That means sea level is expected to rise at a rate that will catch some coastal communities unprepared despite persistent warnings, according to the international team of scientists publishing a series of related studies this week in the journal Nature. The scientists found that the rate of ice loss over the past five years had tripled compared to the previous two decades, suggesting an additional 6 inches of sea level rise from Antarctica alone by 2100, on top of the 2 feet already projected from all sources, including Greenland. Between 1992, when detailed satellite measurements started, and 2012, Antarctica lost about 76 billion tons of ice per year. But since 2012, that rate has tripled to about 219 billion tons of ice loss per year, the scientists found. Another study, published June 13 in the journal Science Advances, raises even more concerns about the vulnerability of Antarctic ice to global warming. Data from radar and laser readings of the ice enabled scientists with the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Waterloo to map a vast network of channels in the base of many ice sheets formed by intrusions of warm water. Some are several kilometers wide, said University of Texas at Austin researcher Jamin Greenbaum. They found the channels everywhere they looked, including beneath the ice shelf of the Totten Glacier, in East Antarctica, as well...
Africa’s most famous trees are dying, and scientists suspect a changing climate

Africa’s most famous trees are dying, and scientists suspect a changing climate

SOURCE: Washington Post DATE: June 11, 2018 SNIP: The baobab tree, sometimes called the “Tree of Life,” has an unforgettable appearance. Found in savanna regions of Africa, Madagascar and Australia, the trees form a very thick and wide trunk and mainly branch high above the ground. They can grow to be thousands of years old, and develop hollows inside so large that one massive baobab in South Africa had a bar inside it. But that tree, the more than 1,000-year-old Sunland baobab, apparently the biggest of these trees in Africa, “toppled over” last year. Another famous baobab, the Chapman tree in Botswana, collapsed in 2016. Something similar, a new scientific study suggests, is happening to the oldest and largest baobabs across the world in “an event of an unprecedented magnitude.” The research, by Adrian Patrut of Babes-Bolyai University in Romania and an international group of colleagues, finds that in the past 12 years, “9 of the 13 oldest and 5 of the 6 largest individuals have died, or at least their oldest parts/stems have collapsed and died.” “Each of these trees was unique and special,” he wrote. “They have seen more history than we can imagine.” Patrut says the largest trees are the most vulnerable — and he believes that a changing climate is involved, although the study itself says that “further research is necessary to support or refute this supposition.” In Zimbabwe, baobab deaths are reportedly being accompanied by what appears to be some type of fungus that turns the trees black before they die. Patrut’s study, which surveys baobabs much more widely, contends that for the oldest...
Heavy Rainfall Has Increased by Up to 70 Percent in Parts of the U.S. Since the 1950s, and It Will Only Get Worse, Experts Say

Heavy Rainfall Has Increased by Up to 70 Percent in Parts of the U.S. Since the 1950s, and It Will Only Get Worse, Experts Say

SOURCE: Weather.com DATE: June 9, 2018 SNIP: Heavy rainfall from storms has increased by up to 70 percent in some areas of the United States since the 1950s and will only get worse in the coming years, thanks to global warming, scientists say. The 2014 National Climate Assessment reported that downpours from storms are dumping more water across the nation than ever before, with the Midwest, Pacific Northwest and the Upper Plains receiving the greatest increase in heavy rainfall. The Environmental Protection Agency notes that heavy rainfall events have increased by 70 percent in the Pacific Northwest over the past six decades or so, more than any other region in the United States. Andreas Prein of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) says peak rain rates, which arrive when the core of a storm is overhead, have increased across the country by 30 percent over the past 60 years. And while some areas will continue to get wetter from heavy downpours, other regions will get drier. “The combination of more intense rainfall and the spreading of heavy rainfall over larger areas means that we will face a higher flood risk than previously predicted,” Prein said in a press release. “If a whole catchment area gets hammered by high rain rates, that creates a much more serious situation than a thunderstorm dropping intense rain over parts of the...