Another El Nino problem: More carbon dioxide in air

Another El Nino problem: More carbon dioxide in air

SOURCE: AP News DATE: October 13, 2017 SNIP: A new NASA satellite has found another thing to blame on El Nino: A recent record high increase of carbon dioxide in the air. The super-sized El Nino a couple of years ago led to an increase of 3 billion tons of carbon in the air, most from tropical land areas. The El Nino made it more difficult for plants to suck up man-made carbon emissions and sparked fires that released more carbon into the atmosphere. The effect was so large that it was the main factor in the biggest one-year jump in heat-trapping gas levels in modern record, NASA scientists...
Poison ivy on steroids: Another side of climate change

Poison ivy on steroids: Another side of climate change

SOURCE: Ottawa Citizen DATE: October 6, 2017 SNIP: An American forest scientist has identified a new and scary face of global warming for Ottawa residents: Not drought or pestilence, but bigger and badder poison ivy. Lee Frelich is a big name in the field of forecasting what climate change will do to forest species. He teaches at the University of Minnesota, and has been in the forest research business since the late 1970s. He knows Ontario’s forests too. And he says there’s firm evidence that poison ivy will thrive in our expected future climate. Climate change “will favour poison ivy quite dramatically,” he said in an interview. “Poison ivy is one of the few species that has a direct response to rising carbon dioxide...
Tropical forests used to protect us from climate change. Now, scientists say, they’re making it worse

Tropical forests used to protect us from climate change. Now, scientists say, they’re making it worse

SOURCE: Washington Post and The Guardian DATE: September 28, 2017 SNIP: A surprising scientific study released Thursday presents troubling news about the enormous forests of the planet’s tropical midsection — suggesting that they are releasing hundreds of millions of tons of carbon to the atmosphere, rather than storing it in the trunks of trees and other vegetation. “The losses due to deforestation and degradation are actually emitting more CO2 to the atmosphere, compared with how much the existing forest is able to absorb,” said Alessandro Baccini, the lead author of the study and a researcher at the Woods Hole Research Center. Specifically, the study found that tropical forests are losing 425 million tons of carbon annually, on average, which is the net result after you sum up 861 million tons of losses and 436 million tons of gains as forests grow each year. “Forests are losing more carbon than we thought,” Baccini said. “And one reason they’re losing so much carbon is because there is actually a lot of disturbance in the forest. You don’t have to wait for deforestation. You don’t have to only look for places that completely lost the trees.” This is a far greater loss than previously thought and carries extra force because the data emerges from the most detailed examination of the topic ever undertaken. The authors say their findings – published in the journal Science on Thursday – should galvanise policymakers to take remedial...
The great nutrient collapse

The great nutrient collapse

SOURCE: Politico DATE: September 13, 2017 SNIP: These experiments and others like them have shown scientists that plants change in important ways when they’re grown at elevated CO2 levels. Within the category of plants known as “C3″―which includes approximately 95 percent of plant species on earth, including ones we eat like wheat, rice, barley and potatoes―elevated CO2 has been shown to drive down important minerals like calcium, potassium, zinc and iron. The data we have, which look at how plants would respond to the kind of CO2 concentrations we may see in our lifetimes, show these important minerals drop by 8 percent, on average. The same conditions have been shown to drive down the protein content of C3 crops, in some cases significantly, with wheat and rice dropping 6 percent and 8 percent, respectively. Earlier this summer, a group of researchers published the first studies attempting to estimate what these shifts could mean for the global population. Plants are a crucial source of protein for people in the developing world, and by 2050, they estimate, 150 million people could be put at risk of protein deficiency, particularly in countries like India and Bangladesh. Researchers found a loss of zinc, which is particularly essential for maternal and infant health, could put 138 million people at risk. They also estimated that more than 1 billion mothers and 354 million children live in countries where dietary iron is projected to drop significantly, which could exacerbate the already widespread public health problem of...
Second Biggest Jump in Annual CO2 Levels Reported as Trump Leaves Paris Climate Agreement

Second Biggest Jump in Annual CO2 Levels Reported as Trump Leaves Paris Climate Agreement

SOURCE: Inside Climate News DATE: June 1, 2017 SNIP: As President Donald Trump prepared to pull the United States out of the global Paris climate agreement this week, scientists at NOAA reported that 2016 had recorded the second-biggest jump in atmospheric carbon dioxide on record. Last year’s increase in the atmospheric CO2 concentration was nearly double the average pace since detailed measurements started in 1979. Concentrations of other greenhouse gases, including methane and nitrous oxide, also increased last year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s latest update to its greenhouse gas index. The heating effect of all combined greenhouses gases in the atmosphere increased by 2.5 percent in 2016, according to the...