Study: our Paris carbon budget may be 40% smaller than thought

Study: our Paris carbon budget may be 40% smaller than thought

SOURCE: The Guardian

DATE: July 24, 2017

SNIP: In the Paris climate treaty, nearly every world country agreed to try and limit global warming to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial temperatures, and preferably closer to 1.5°C. But a new study published in Nature Climate Change notes that the agreement didn’t define when “pre-industrial” begins.

According to the last IPCC report, to have a 50% chance of staying below the 2°C target, when accounting for non-carbon greenhouse gases, we have a remaining budget of about 300bn tons of carbon dioxide. But that was for 2°C warming above late-1800 temperatures. If we add another 0.1°C of pre-industrial warming, the study authors estimated that the budget shrinks by 60bn tons (20%), and if there was an additional 0.2°C pre-industrial warming, the 2°C carbon budget shrinks by 40%.

Allowable ‘carbon budget’ most likely overestimated

Allowable ‘carbon budget’ most likely overestimated

SOURCE: Phys.org

DATE: July 24, 2017

SNIP: “The IPCC research community uses a definition of preindustrial that is likely underestimating the warming that has already taken place,” said Michael Mann, distinguished professor of atmospheric science and director, Earth System Science Center, Penn State. “That means we have less carbon to burn than we previously thought, if we are to avert the most dangerous changes in climate.”

[The researchers] found that assuming the traditional late 19th-century baseline and using the highest future emissions scenario, by the middle of this century, the temperature rise will likely be about 4 degrees C (5 degrees F). With a moderate emissions scenario, the researchers found that keeping below 2 degrees C was still unlikely. Only the most aggressive scenario for reducing carbon emissions is likely to keep the temperature rise to 2 degrees C or less.

Climate scientists may have been underestimating global warming, finds study

Climate scientists may have been underestimating global warming, finds study

SOURCE: The Independent

DATE: July 24, 2017

SNIP: Preventing global warming from becoming “dangerous” may have just got significantly harder after new research suggested climate scientists have been using the wrong baseline temperature.

The amount of global warming is often measured relative to the late 19th century even though this is about 100 years after the start of the industrial revolution, when humans started burning large amounts of fossil fuels.

Now an international team of scientists has suggested that the Earth’s true “pre-industrial” temperature could be up to 0.2 degrees Celsius cooler.

One of the researchers, Professor Michael Mann, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had been using a definition of pre-industrial “that is likely underestimating the warming that has already taken place”.

“That means we have less carbon to burn than we previously thought, if we are to avert the most dangerous changes in climate,” he said.

2017 is on track to be among the hottest year recorded, scientists are not as surprised as ThinkProgress article suggests

2017 is on track to be among the hottest year recorded, scientists are not as surprised as ThinkProgress article suggests

SOURCE: Climate Feedback

DATE: July 21, 2017

SNIP: ThinkProgress published a brief but influential article commenting on record warm global temperature over the first half of 2017. The scientists who have reviewed the article confirm it accurately reports that 2017 is on track to being one of the warmest years on record. Reviewers note this wasn’t as unexpected as the article states, but the fact that 2017 global surface temperature are that high is a clear reminder that global warming has not stopped or slowed down.

Victor Venema, Scientist, University of Bonn, Germany:
The large variety of comical claims that scientists are surprised 2017 will be warm is somewhat annoying: the Earth is warming, every year will normally be among the warmest recorded, but the facts are otherwise right.

Hot dogs: rising heat makes it too hot for Africa’s wild dogs to hunt

Hot dogs: rising heat makes it too hot for Africa’s wild dogs to hunt

SOURCE: The Guardian

DATE: July 20, 2017

SNIP: Rising temperatures are making it too hot for African wild dogs to hunt and the number of their pups that survive is plummeting, according to a new study. The research is among the first to show a direct impact of increased heat on wildlife that appears well adapted to high temperatures.

“When people think about climate change affecting wildlife, they mostly think about polar bears,” said Prof Rosie Woodroffe, at the Zoological Society of London and who led the new research published in the Journal of Animal Ecology. “But wild dogs are adapted to the heat – surely they’d be fine? So it is shocking and surprising that even right on the equator these effects are being seen. It illustrates the global impact of climate change.”

African wild dogs need large hunting ranges to survive, about 800 km squared for the average pack of nine, equivalent to the area of New York City. But the projected rises in maximum daily temperatures due to global warming are ominous, said Woodroffe: “It’s really scary. It is possible that some of these big areas will become too hot for wild dogs to exist.”

States of Emergency in California and British Columbia from Raging Wildfires

States of Emergency in California and British Columbia from Raging Wildfires

SOURCE: Wunderground

DATE: July 20, 2017

SNIP: One of the largest evacuations in British Columbia history is underway, thanks to 155 wildfires—including fifteen major wildfires that threaten populated areas—that have forced more than 45,000 people from their homes. According to CBC News, the number of evacuations is approaching the province’s record set in 2003, when 50,000 people were forced out of their homes by a wildfire near Kelowna. The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre reported on July 19 that the nation was operating at the highest level of wildfire response, Level 5, and that international assistance would likely be needed, since “national resource levels are insufficient to meet occurring and anticipated wildland fire activity.” A state of emergency was declared for the province on July 7, and has been extended through the end of July.

Shifting storms to bring extreme waves, damage to once placid areas

Shifting storms to bring extreme waves, damage to once placid areas

SOURCE: UNSW Sydney

DATE: July 20, 2017

SNIP: The world’s most extensive study of a major storm front striking the coast has revealed a previously unrecognised danger from climate change: as storm patterns fluctuate, waterfront areas once thought safe are likely to be hammered and damaged as never before.

“If you have waterfront property or infrastructure that has previously been sheltered from the impacts of extreme waves, this is worrying news” said Mitchell Harley, lead author and a senior research associate at UNSW’s Water Research Laboratory (WRL). “What this study confirms, is that simply by changing direction, storms can be many times more devastating. And that’s what we’re facing in many locations as the climate continues to change.”

Ian Turner, director of WRL and a co-author, said sea level rise was no longer the only factor at play when preparing for the impact of climate change on waterfront areas. “Shifts in storm patterns and wave direction will also have major consequences because they distort and amplify the natural variability of coastal patterns.”

Methane Seeps Out as Arctic Permafrost Starts to Resemble Swiss Cheese

Methane Seeps Out as Arctic Permafrost Starts to Resemble Swiss Cheese

SOURCE: Inside Climate News

DATE: July 19, 2017

SNIP: Global warming may be unleashing new sources of heat-trapping methane from layers of oil and gas that have been buried deep beneath Arctic permafrost for millennia. As the Earth’s frozen crust thaws, some of that gas appears to be finding new paths to the surface through permafrost that’s starting to resemble Swiss cheese in some areas, scientists said.

In a study released today, the scientists used aerial sampling of the atmosphere to locate methane sources from permafrost along a 10,000 square-kilometer swath of the Mackenzie River Delta in northwestern Canada, an area known to have oil and gas deposits.

“This is another methane source that has not been included so much in the models,” said the study’s lead author, Katrin Kohnert, a climate scientist at the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam, Germany.

At Midway Point, 2017 Is 2nd-Hottest Year on Record

At Midway Point, 2017 Is 2nd-Hottest Year on Record

SOURCE: Climate Central

DATE: July 18, 2017

SNIP: At the halfway point of the year, 2017 remains the second-hottest year to date — a surprise given the demise of the El Niño that helped boost temperatures to record levels last year.

“Personally, I wasn’t expecting it to be as warm as it has been,” Ahira Sanchez-Lugo, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climate scientist, said in an email. “After the decline of the strong El Niño I was expecting the values to drop a bit and rank among the top five warmest years. This year has been extremely remarkable.”

Today’s Extreme Heat May Become Norm Within a Decade

Today’s Extreme Heat May Become Norm Within a Decade

SOURCE: Climate Central

DATE: July 14, 2017

SNIP: When 2015 blew the record for hottest year out of the water, it made headlines around the world. But a heat record that was so remarkable only two years ago will be just another year by 2040 at the latest, and possibly as early as 2020, regardless of whether the greenhouse gas emissions warming the planet are curtailed.

“At the moment, it doesn’t seem like such a big deal when we have record-hot summers or years,” study leader Sophie Lewis, a climate researcher at Australian National University, said in an email. “But this study really shows the nasty side of our current records becoming more frequent in the near future.”

The team used the climate models developed for the most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to see when a global temperature like that of 2015, or higher, becomes normal. When such temperatures happened at least half the time in a 20-year period, they defined that normal as having been reached in the first year of the period.

The researchers found that the global climate firmly met that threshold by 2040, regardless of whether greenhouse gas emissions continued on their current path or were significantly curtailed. On average, the new normal emerged between 2020 and 2030 — much earlier than any of the scientists expected.

“I was shocked when I made the first calculations for this study, and went back and checked everything twice and then three times,” Lewis said. “When I first shared a full draft with my co-authors, I remember getting an edit back that included a swear word in the comments about these times.”