Earth warming more quickly than thought, new climate models show

Earth warming more quickly than thought, new climate models show

SOURCE: Phys.org DATE: September 17, 2019 SNIP: Greenhouse gases thrust into the atmosphere mainly by burning fossil fuels are warming Earth’s surface more quickly than previously understood, according to new climate models set to replace those used in current UN projections, scientists said Tuesday. By 2100, average temperatures could rise 7.0 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels if carbon emissions continue unabated, separate models from two leading research centres in France showed. That is up to two degrees higher than the equivalent scenario in the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change’s (IPCC) 2014 benchmark 5th Assessment Report. A new generation of 30-odd climate models known collectively as CMIP6—including the two unveiled Tuesday—will underpin the IPCC’s next major report in 2021. These include increased supercomputing power and sharper representations of weather systems, natural and man-made particles, and how clouds evolve in a warming world. “We have better models now,” said Olivier Boucher, head of the Institute Pierre Simon Laplace Climate Modelling Centre in Paris. “They have better resolution, and they represent current climate trends more accurately.” A core finding of the new models is that increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere will warm Earth’s surface more—and more easily—than earlier calculations had suggested. If confirmed, this higher “equilibrium climate sensitivity”, or ECS, means humanity’s carbon budget—our total emissions allowance—is likely to shrink. The French models are the first to be released. But other models developed independently have come to the same unsettling conclusion, Boucher confirmed. “The most respected ones—from the United States, and Britain’s Met Office—also show a higher ECS” than the previous generation of models, he...
Europe Is Warming Faster Than Even Climate Models Projected

Europe Is Warming Faster Than Even Climate Models Projected

SOURCE: Yale Environment 360 DATE: August 28, 2019 SNIP: Climate change is raising temperatures in Europe even faster than climate models projected, according to new research published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The number of summer days with extreme heat in Europe has tripled since the 1950s, while the number of days with extreme cold more than halved. Extremely hot days in Europe have become hotter by an average of 4.14 degrees Fahrenheit, the study found, while extremely cold days have warmed by 5.4 degrees F. The research examined data from weather stations across Europe from 1950 to 2018, with more than 90 percent of stations showing that the climate was warming. “Even at this regional scale over Europe, we can see that these trends are much larger than what we would expect from natural variability,” Ruth Lorenz, a climate scientist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and lead author of the new study, said in a statement. “That’s really a signal from climate change.” The research comes after an extremely hot summer in Europe. Southern France hit 114.8 degrees F — a new record — in late June. Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium also recorded all-time national temperature highs. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently announced that July was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth. “In the Netherlands, Belgium, France, the model trends are about two times lower than the observed trends,” said Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, a climate analyst at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute in De Bilt, Netherlands, who was not connected to the new study. “We’re reaching new...
China is going to get hot

China is going to get hot

SOURCE: Cosmos DATE: August 7, 2019 SNIP: Two months ago, climate scientists studying US cities found that global warming could produce killer heat waves causing thousands of excess deaths during unusually hot summers like the one now affecting the eastern US and much of Europe. Now, researchers have found that China faces an even worse problem – not just a few thousand extra deaths in unusually hot summers, but tens of thousands of additional deaths each year. And the problem, they say, will kick in at much lower rates of global warming than those predicted to endanger US cities. Part of the problem, write Yanjun Wang of Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology and colleagues, in the journal Nature Communications, is that temperatures in China have been increasing faster than the global average. But it isn’t the rise in average temperature that is the true problem, Wang’s team writes, so much as the fact that this rise is accompanied by an increase in the number of dangerously hot days. In Chinese cities, they say, global warming of 1.5° degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels (the Paris Agreement’s most ambitious not-to-exceed goal) could produce a 32.6% increase in the number of dangerously hot days. An increase of 2.0 degrees (the Paris Agreement’s less-ambitious back-up goal) could produce a 45.8% increase. Combining that with heat-fatality data from 27 large Chinese cities, the researchers calculated heat-death rates per year under each warming scenario, then extrapolated them to the rest of China’s 831 million city dwellers. Their conclusion was that the difference between 1.5° degrees and 2.0° degrees matters – a lot. Even...
July Was the Hottest Month in Human History

July Was the Hottest Month in Human History

SOURCE: Rolling Stone DATE: August 1, 2019 SNIP: July 2019 is now the hottest month in recorded history, the U.N. confirmed on Thursday. At a press conference in New York, U.N. Secretary General António Guterres announced that the month of July had reached 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, a figure that “at least equaled if not surpassed the hottest month in recorded history,” according to data released by the World Meteorological Organization. Temperature information from July is still streaming in, but preliminary data show last month’s warmth is roughly on par, or perhaps slightly warmer than the previous record of July 2016. In cities and towns around the world, record high temperatures outpaced record low temperatures on nearly a 3-to-1 basis during July, underscoring the fact that this crisis is being felt almost everywhere, by almost everyone. But there’s an added madness to this crisis. In its annual Statistical Review of World Energy released a few weeks ago, the global oil giant BP confirmed that in 2018 the world burned the most fossil fuels of any year in history. In short: Our addiction to fossil fuels is getting worse and worse even as the planet gets hotter and hotter. The world’s current climate policies point to an unlivable future. Scientists are increasingly convinced that if warming rises above 1.5 degrees, cascading ecological and meteorological tipping points could threaten the stability of human civilization. The current level of action, if sustained, would result in global warming of about 3.3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, and surpass 1.5 degrees as soon as 2030. The new record is...
Alaska Chokes on Wildfires as Heat Waves Dry Out the Arctic

Alaska Chokes on Wildfires as Heat Waves Dry Out the Arctic

SOURCE: Inside Climate News DATE: July 11, 2019 SNIP: Under the choking black smoke from the bog and forest fires in Siberia and Alaska, it can feel like the Earth itself is burning. The normally moist, black organic peat soil and lush forests have been drying, and when they catch fire, they burn relentlessly. Global warming has been thawing tundra and drying vast stretches of the far-northern boreal forests, and it also has spurred more thunderstorms with lightning, which triggered many of the fires burning in Alaska this year, said Brian Brettschneider, a climate scientist with the International Arctic Research Center who closely tracks Alaskan and Arctic extreme weather. So far this year, wildfires have scorched more than 1.2 million acres in Alaska, making it one of the state’s three biggest fire years on record to this date, with high fire danger expected to persist in the weeks ahead. The large Arctic fires in June could be a sign of a climate tipping point, said Thomas Smith, a climate researcher at the London School of Economics and Political Science. “It really is unprecedented, a word we should not use lightly,” he wrote. “It may be that in most previous years, temperatures have never been warm enough to drive off moisture from the winter frost and snowpack. The ground is likely covered in mosses that act as a sponge, staying moist all summer long before freezing again in winter. But now that sponge is drying out.” Amid all of this, scientists in Alaska are worried about the future of scientific research at the region’s universities—the state legislature is struggling to...