climate change tagged posts

Global ice loss rate is accelerating, study finds

A stream of meltwater carves through Greenland's ice sheet, part of what researchers say is an accelerating rate of ice loss globally. Photo by Ian Joughin/Leeds University

A new survey of ice loss around the globe suggests the rate at which the planet’s ice sheets and glaciers are melting is rapidly accelerating. According the new analysis, detailed Monday in the journal Cryosphere, Earth lost roughly 28 trillion tons of ice between 1994 and 2017. In 1994, Earth experienced an annual loss of 0.3 trillion tons of ice. By 2017, annual losses increased to 1.3 trillion tons.

To illuminate the full scope of the problem, researchers compiled decades of satellite data on ice losses happening in different parts of the world.

The survey combined data on 215,000 mountain glaciers, as well as polar ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland. Scientists also accounted for sea ice losses, as well as melting along the ice shelves extending off the coast of Antarctica.

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Climate change: Biden’s first act sets tone for ambitious approach

Make no mistake, returning to the Paris climate agreement is not mere symbolism – it is an act cloaked in powerful, political significance. While re-joining the pact involves the simple signing of a letter and a 30-day wait, there could be no more profound signal of intention from this incoming administration. Coming back to Paris means the US will have once again have to follow the rules.

Those rules mean that sometime this year the US will have to improve on their previous commitment to cut carbon made in the French capital in 2015. 

This new target, possibly for 2030, and President Biden’s commitment to reaching net zero emissions by 2050, will be the guide rails for the US economy and society for decades to come.

Coming back to Paris really means it is no longer “America Fir...

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Covid drives record emissions drop in 2020

Close up on Baltic Sea

The global response to the Covid-19 pandemic has driven the biggest annual fall in CO2 emissions since World War Two, say researchers. Their study indicates that emissions have declined by around 7% this year. France and the UK saw the greatest falls, mainly due to severe shutdowns in response to a second wave of infections. 

China, by contrast, has seen such a large rebound from coronavirus that overall emissions may grow this year. 

The decline in carbon in 2020 has dwarfed all the previous big falls. 

According to the Global Carbon Project team, this year saw carbon emissions decline by 2.4 billion tonnes.

In contrast, the fall recorded in 2009 during the global economic recession was just half a billion tonnes, while the ending of World War Two saw emissions fall b...

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Coral Reefs are Changing Their Smells in a Warmer World

The aromas of a beach strewn with seaweed or a garden full of blooming flowers are more than just momentary sensory experiences. They also act as entryways into the world of ecosystem health and interspecies communication. Plants, for example, emit gases known as “biogenic volatile organic compounds” to adapt to heat stress, attract pollinators, defend against pathogens, deter predators, and more. 

Scientists have been cataloguing these gases on land for decades, but relatively little work has been done for marine ecosystems. To address this knowledge gap, a group of researchers led by marine biologist Caitlin Lawson at the University of Technology Sydney set to out to measure the full spectrum of gases that two common coral reef-building species emit...

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Climate change: Have countries kept their promises?

Agreed by 196 parties in the French capital in December 2015, the Paris climate deal aims to keep the rise in global temperatures this century “well below 2C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C.” We look at five key countries and how well they have kept their promises.

Every one of the signatories to the Paris climate agreement has had to lodge a climate action plan with the UN to spell out what steps they are taking to curb carbon. 

Overall, according to a new assessment from global consultancy Systemiq, low-carbon solutions have been more successful in this period than many people realise. 

The growth in coal for energy outside of China has declined significantly. 

“We have to translate what we can do into what we will d...

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How the president-elect plans to tackle climate change

Joe Biden’s plan to tackle climate change has been described as the most ambitious of any mainstream US presidential candidate yet. Our environment correspondent Matt McGrath considers what he wants to do, and how he might get it done. Much will be made about Joe Biden’s pledge to re-join the Paris climate agreement, the international pact designed to avoid dangerous warming of the Earth. President Trump pulled out of the deal after the Obama administration had signed up in 2016, and during the drawn-out election count, Mr Biden confirmed that reversing the decision would be one of his first acts as president.

But key to his credibility on the international stage will be his domestic policies on cutting carbon emissions.

More radical Democrats such as congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio...

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Great Barrier Reef has lost half of its corals since 1995

Bleached coral on Australia's Great Barrier Reef near Port Douglas in February 2017.

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has lost more than half of its corals since 1995 due to warmer seas driven by climate change, a study has found. Scientists found all types of corals had suffered a decline across the world’s largest reef system. The steepest falls came after mass bleaching events in 2016 and 2017. More mass bleaching occurred this year. 

“There is no time to lose – we must sharply decrease greenhouse gas emissions ASAP,” the researchers said.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, was conducted by marine scientists at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Queensland.

Scientists assessed the health and size of coral colonies across the reef from 1995 to 2017.

They found populations had dropped by more than 50% in...

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The Kiwi simplifying climate science for the world

John Lang is a London-based New Zealander who makes climate graphics – including one for the IPCC.

It might have a smaller fan-base than a Parris Goebel dance routine or a Taika Waititi movie, but a New Zealander is taking a product to the masses that he hopes will go down just as easily.

John Lang has just finished an unenviable task: taking a jargon-packed, number-heavy report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and turning it into a graphic the average person might read.

The result is Worlds Apart, which leads people through three alternative futures, depending on how fast governments tackle emissions and how the planet responds. The visuals feature filling bathtubs, open doors, and an archer with a bow and arrow demonstrating humanity overshooting 1.5 degrees C of heating – or not.

While there is no single forecast that can say how a hotter world will l...

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Earth warning signs indicate need for restoration

If there ever was a warning sign from Earth, it happened this week. Siberia, a region known for its unrelenting cold and frigidly unforgiving landscape, hit a disturbing milestone: 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Unfortunately, this is on par for 2020. The year saw the hottest January on record, the second-hottest February on record, the second-hottest March on record, the second-hottest April on record and the hottest May on record. The year also saw the highest levels of carbon dioxide ever recorded in the atmosphere.

Together, the records are warning signs, highlighting the structural changes necessary to break our carbon-emitting habits. Fortunately, many of these changes can be incorporated in green recovery plans.

In the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries have an opport...

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How will coronavirus shape our response to climate change?

London traffic before the Covid19 lockdown

The global response to the COVID-19 crisis could inform the fight against climate change, Imperial College London experts say. Imperial’s climate scientists, policy and economic experts say there are lessons to be learned from the pandemic that could put us in a better position to tackle climate change in the future.

Findings from Imperial suggest that social distancing measures to slow and suppress the spread of COVID-19 across Europe – including school closures and national lockdowns – have averted thousands of deaths.

Imperial academics reflect on what the pandemic is teaching us about responding to a global threat, and how we could apply that learning to the fight against climate change.

Known unknowns

In a blog for the Grantham Institute, Dr Ajay Gambhir argues that learning from t...

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