Climate

What is the future of coal power production?
December 10, 2015 08:14 AM - Fred Pearce, Environment360

Is Paris the beginning of the end for coal? Coal burning is declining fast in both of the world's two largest carbon dioxide emitters, China and the the United States, with resulting declines in the emissions of both countries. The fuel looks incompatible with a world that warms by no more than two degrees Celsius, bringing calls for its rapid phaseout as the world is "decarbonized." 

But, with or without a deal here in Paris later this week, will the calls be heeded? Has the demise of King Coal been greatly exaggerated?  

In the U.S., "coal has gone from boom to bust," says Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. The black stuff's share of electricity generation has sunk from 53 percent to 35 percent in just five years.
 

December 10, 2015 07:29 AM - University of Colorado via EurekAlert!

Clouds can increase warming in the changing Arctic region more than scientists expected, by delivering an unexpected double-whammy to the climate system, according to a new study by researchers at NOAA, the University of Colorado Boulder and colleagues.

Cloudy with a chance of warming
December 10, 2015 07:29 AM - University of Colorado via EurekAlert!

Clouds can increase warming in the changing Arctic region more than scientists expected, by delivering an unexpected double-whammy to the climate system, according to a new study by researchers at NOAA, the University of Colorado Boulder and colleagues.

Greenland glaciers found to be melting on the fast track
December 8, 2015 05:21 AM - Columbia University via EurekAlert

"Two things are happening," said study co-author William D'Andrea, a paleoclimatologist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. "One is you have a very gradual decrease in the amount of sunlight hitting high latitudes in the summer. If that were the only thing happening, we would expect these glaciers to very slowly be creeping forward, forward, forward. But then we come along and start burning fossil fuels and adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, and glaciers that would still be growing start to melt back because summer temperatures are warmer."

Glaciers are dynamic and heavy. As a glacier moves, it grinds the bedrock beneath, creating silt that the glacier's meltwater washes into the lake below. The larger the glacier, the more bedrock it grinds away. Scientists can take sediment cores from the bottom of glacier-fed lakes to see how much silt and organic material settled over time, along with other indicators of a changing climate. They can then use radiocarbon dating to determine when more or less silt was deposited.

Equity and Emission Trading in China, a new analysis by MIT
December 7, 2015 01:29 PM - MIT Sloan School of Management

As representatives from more than 190 countries convene in France for the second week to address ways to slow global warming, an MIT-led team has published a paper outlining a set of options for incorporating equity considerations in a national Emissions Trading System (ETS) for China that could reduce carbon emissions while minimizing economic impact on poorer or less-developed regions.

The paper, “Equity and Emission Trading in China,” published in the journal Climatic Change, outlines a sophisticated menu aimed at Chinese policymakers showing how the burden of reducing carbon emissions could be shared or divided across the country’s provinces under a market-based carbon pricing system.

“Emission trading systems have been shown to be highly effective when they are allowed to work, but one of the toughest challenges involves how to distribute the cost,” said lead author Valerie Karplus, Assistant Professor of Global Economics and Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management. “We compare alternative schemes for allocating emissions rights that can effectively de-couple who pays for reductions from where the reductions actually occur.”

 

COP21 enters critical phase today
December 7, 2015 08:00 AM - World Wildlife Foundation

Government ministers arrive in Paris today as climate talks enter their second week. The ministers add high-level influence to the climate negotiations and can help unlock critical elements of a new climate deal.

“It’s going to be quite a sprint for ministers to secure a strong deal by Friday,” said Tasneem Essop, head of WWF’s delegation to the COP21 climate talks. “The French presidency now has the responsibility to take us to the finish line.”

From Toilet to Tap
December 7, 2015 07:23 AM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit

The rainfall and snowpack so far this autumn have been encouraging, but the stubborn reality is that California is still mired in drought. While farmers from Bakersfield to Fresno to Redding are screaming about water quotas, California residents say they are doing what they can, from pulling out grass lawns to capturing what little rainwater exists.

Global food system faces threats from climate change
December 4, 2015 07:14 AM - UCAR

Climate change is likely to have far-reaching impacts on food security throughout the world, especially for the poor and those living in tropical regions, according to a new international report that includes three co-authors from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

Fires rage in Amazon Rainforest
December 3, 2015 07:18 AM - Jos Barlow & Erika Berenguer, The Ecologist

It's not just Indonesia's forests and peatlands that are burning - the Amazon is suffering almost as badly, with over 18,000 fires last month in Brazil alone, write Jos Barlow & Erika Berenguer. The future is looking hot and fiery.

European climate maybe heading for a cool down
December 2, 2015 07:55 AM - Science/AAAS

What is the climate waiting for Russia and Europe in 15-20 years? Will be there weather abnormalities in the coming decades? Will some areas experience more severe winter, while the others will have hot summer? It all depends on how much the climate will be affected by the dynamics of the possible onset of minimum solar magnetic activity. The Sun's behaviour in future cycles is the main theme of a publication on the forecast and explanation of the minima of solar activity. The paper was prepared with contributions from Elena Popova from the Skobeltsyn Institute of Nuclear Physics (Lomonosov Moscow State University) and was published in Scientific Reports.

Scientists have studied the evolution of the solar magnetic field and the number of sunspots on the Sun's surface. The amplitude and the spatial configuration of the magnetic field of our star are changing over the years. Every 11 years the number of sunspots decreases sharply. Every 90 years this reduction (when it coincides with the 11-year cycle) reduces the number of spots by about a half. A 300-400 year lows reduce their numbers almost to zero. Best known minimum is the Maunder minimum, which lasted roughly from 1645 to 1715. During this period, there were about 50 sunspots instead of the usual 40,000-50,000.

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