Substream - sub_gw_atmosphere

  1. back to all global warming and energy subjects

  2. 01-01-2003 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - 6000+ pnd vehicles tax deductable! - In 2003, Congress enacted a provision allowing people who bought SUVs weighing at least 6,000 pounds to deduct the entire purchase price from their taxable income, if they claimed to use the things for 'business purposes.' Manufacturers scrambled to add even more weight to vehicles, to make them eligible for the deduction. This further decreased the gas mileage and increased the pollution emitted by these environmental disasters on wheels. (dying for consumption - common dreams)

  3. 01-09-2003 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - water - impact - oceans - acidification - Greenhouse gases may be acidifying the oceans - as well as changing the climate, researchers have found. They warned that if carbon dioxide emissions continued unabated seas may turn more acidic than they have been for 300 million years. This could prove a serious threat to marine life. Many marine organisms, such as corals, are highly sensitive to acidity changes. Acidity and alkalinity is measured using the pH scale. The lower the pH, the higher the acidity. When carbon dioxide dissolves in water, the pH drops. Researchers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California compared actual changes in ocean pH from geological and historical records with those predicted by a theoretical model. Ocean surface pH was 8.3 after the last ice age, and 8.2 before carbon dioxide emissions took off in the industrial era. Today, it is 8.1. (ananova)

  4. 17-06-2004 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - shell chief worried - The head of one of the world's biggest oil companies has admitted that the threat of climate change makes him 'really very worried for the planet'. In an interview in today's Guardian Life section, Ron Oxburgh, chairman of Shell, says we urgently need to capture emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, which scientists think contribute to global warming, and store them underground - a technique called carbon sequestration. (common dreams)

  5. 15-07-2004 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - impact - oceans - oceans absorbed missing co2 - Nearly half the excess carbon dioxide spilled into the air by humans over the past two centuries has been taken up by the ocean, a study says. If the process continues, it could damage the ability of many ocean creatures to make their shells, says an accompanying report. Carbon dioxide, produced by burning fossil fuels and other industrial processes, is one of the most important 'greenhouse' gasses that many scientists fear may be causing global warming by trapping heat in the Earth's atmosphere. The atmosphere currently includes about 380 parts per million of carbon dioxide, up from 280 parts per million in 1800, according to scientists. But that accounts for only about half the CO2 released into the air in that period, causing researchers to speculate about what had happened to the rest. A team led by Christopher L. Sabine of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports in Friday's issue of the journal Science that the missing gas is dissolved in the ocean. (wired)

  6. 15-07-2004 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - impact - oceans - one third of ocean co2 storage capacity used - Humans have used up about one-third of the potential of the world's oceans to absorb the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide generated by human activities such as burning coal for electricity and gasoline for transportation. The first comprehensive study of the ocean storage of carbon dioxide derived from human activities - anthropogenic CO2 - determined that the oceans have taken up some 118 billion metric tons of this carbon dioxide between 1800 and 1994. The international team of scientists who completed the survey said this total is approximately one-third of the oceans' long-term potential. The research team, which included scientists from the United States, South Korea, Australia, Canada, Japan, Spain, and Germany, based the study on a 10 year survey of global ocean carbon distributions in the 1990s. (earthhope)

  7. 11-10-2004 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - acceleration in ppm - In recent years, the amount of atmospheric CO2 has increased by an average of 1.5 parts per million (ppm) each year, as more greenhouse gases are emitted. But measurements at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii have shown that in 2002 and 2003 the increase was more than two ppm. The observatory, operated by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa), has measured CO2 levels continuously for almost half a century. (bbc)

  8. 13-10-2004 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - Sir David King & 500ppm point - The UK government's leading scientist says levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere already represent a danger. Professor Sir David King told a London audience the world had to adapt to prepare for significant changes ahead, and also to reduce greenhouse gases. He said climate change was 'the most serious issue facing us this century and beyond', needing global solutions. On present trends, Sir David said, the world was just 60 years from triggering an irreversible climate disaster. Sir David, the government's chief scientific adviser, was delivering the annual Greenpeace business lecture, entitled Global Warming: The Science Of Climate Change - The Imperatives For Action. / 'We're already 0.6C above it, and to avoid raising temperatures too far we should prevent atmospheric CO2 going beyond 500ppm.' Asked how long it would take to reach 500ppm, Sir David told BBC News Online: 'We're now close to an annual rise of 2ppm, so on present trends it will take us about 60 years - assuming we're not on an exponential growth curve.'

  9. 03-11-2004 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - cost of climate gas cuts: 0.3% of gdp - The world can ward off a dangerous rise in temperature much more cheaply than many people think, a UK scientist says. Professor John Schellnhuber, of the University of East Anglia, believes the cost of averting runaway climate change could be as low as 0.3% of global GDP. He is telling a high-level conference in the German capital, Berlin, that the world can avoid a major catastrophe. But he says there is no simple solution for reducing greenhouse gases, and the world will need a mix of strategies. (bbc)

  10. 03-12-2004 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - report - ipcc - The consequence of increasing CO2 and other pollutant levels, the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] says, will be higher average global temperatures, meaning unpredictable weather, rising sea levels, and perhaps runaway heating as the whole climate system slips out of gear. The IPCC predicts that if we go on as we are, by 2100 global sea levels will probably have risen by 9 to 88cm and average temperatures will be between 1.5 and 5.5C higher than now. That may not sound very much - but the last Ice Age was only 4-5C colder than today. / All of the 10 warmest years have occurred since 1990, including each year since 1997. / Climate change is our biggest environmental challenge, says the UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair. His chief scientific adviser, Sir David King, calls it a far greater global threat than international terrorism. (bbc)

  11. 01-04-2005 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - uk 'behind schedule' - co2 emissions grew by 2.2% in 2003 and 1.5% in 2004 - Carbon dioxide emissions are rising rapidly in the UK, forcing the government to consider a range of new measures to keep its pledge to combat climate change. Figures from the Department of Trade and Industry yesterday show that rather than falling as planned, carbon dioxide emissions have risen rapidly - by 2.2% in 2003 and 1.5% in 2004. With the last Labour manifesto pledging to cut emissions on 1990 levels by 20% by 2010, the government has realised that drastic action is required to tackle the problem. Article continues Downing Street said yesterday a review of climate policy being undertaken by the Department of the Environment would be 'ramped up' to tackle the problem. 'Obviously there will have to be new measures,' a spokesman said. Among the actions being considered are: - A review of wind power and other renewables to see if they can deliver more carbon dioxide savings; - Large scale investment in the next generation of tidal, wave and solar systems; - Consideration of whether a new generation of nuclear power stations is needed; - Tax breaks and subsidies for energy efficient household appliances; - New building regulations to make houses and businesses more energy efficient; - Carbon taxes,<-> including rises in fuel duties; - A reduction in prices of alternative fuels and subsidies for bio-diesel made from oil seed rape. / Although some of the measures have already been trailed as under consideration, others are controversial, particularly the reconsideration of the nuclear question. Apart from its 2001 manifesto pledge of a 20% reduction, which the government has admitted it might not meet, the UK is committed to a legally binding 12.5% cut in greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto protocol, which came into force last month. Until the latest figures were released yesterday the government was confident that it would be well within the Kyoto target, but unless the trend is reversed it will miss that too. Carbon dioxide levels have risen because government measures to introduce 10% of electricity from renewables are behind schedule, power stations are burning more coal and gas, traffic and congestion have increased and the government backed off from increasing petrol and diesel prices, which was originally a key part of its policy. (earth hope)

  12. 12-04-2005 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - cfc substitutes - Ozone Protective Gases Found to Boost Global Temperatures - Ozone friendly substitutes for gases that deplete the Earth's protective ozone layer are not so friendly to the global climate, a United Nations report acknowleged Monday. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) have been widely used as refrigerants, aerosol propellants, and foam blowing agents for years, but they deplete the ozone layer, causing holes to appear annually over both polar regions. Under the Montreal Protocol, governments are phasing out CFCs, halons, and other ozone depleting chemicals and replacing them with alternatives that leave the ozone layer intact. But like CFCs themselves, some of these alternatives, such as hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs), are powerful greenhouse gases. ìAlthough climate change and ozone destruction are essentially different issues, our use of certain chemicals links them together,î World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said. (earth hope)

  13. 30-05-2005 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - Petroleum Joyride Almost Over? - Could the petroleum joyride -- cheap, abundant oil that has sent the global economy whizzing along with the pedal to the metal and the AC blasting for decades -- be coming to an end? Some observers of the oil industry think so. They predict that this year, maybe next -- almost certainly by the end of the decade -- the world's oil production, having grown exuberantly for more than a century, will peak and begin to decline. And then it really will be all downhill. The price of oil will increase drastically. Major oil-consuming countries will experience crippling inflation, unemployment and economic instability. Princeton University geologist Kenneth S. Deffeyes predicts 'a permanent state of oil shortage.' (wired)

  14. 23-06-2005 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - EU stoot meer broeikasgas uit - KOPENHAGEN/BRUSSEL (ANP) - De 25 landen van de Europese Unie hebben in 2003 1,5 procent meer broeikasgas uitgestoten dan het voorgaande jaar. Elektriciteitscentrales die meer steenkool hebben gestookt, zijn de voornaamste oorzaak. Bovendien hebben Europeanen in de koude winter van 2003 meer huisbrandolie gebruikt. Het Milieuagentschap van de Europese Commissie heeft dat dinsdag bekendgemaakt. De toename staat haaks op de belofte van de EU om de uitstoot van broeikasgas te beperken. Streefdoel in het zogeheten Kyoto-protocol is dat de emissie in 2012 8 procent lager is dan in 1990. Anno 2003 is de uitstoot 1,7 procent lager dan in 1990. Milieuorganisatie Friends of the Earth, waarbij Milieudefensie is aangesloten, reageert geschokt op de cijfers. ,,Het roept de vraag op of EU-landen de klimaatverandering serieus bestrijden'', zegt Jan Kowalzig van de organisatie. ,,Het is nu onwaarschijnlijk dat Europa het afgesproken doel haalt''. (spits)

  15. 08-07-2005 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - Stroomprijs gaat per kwartier veranderen - DEN HAAG (ANP) - Energiebedrijven moeten hun stroomprijs per kwartier berekenen, zodat mensen de echte prijs van energie betalen. Dat staat in het energierapport van minister Brinkhorst. Hij hoopt dat Nederlanders zo zuiniger omgaan met stroom. Verder blijkt uit het rapport dat Nederland de internationale afspraken om de CO2-uitstoot tegen te gaan, niet gaat halen. Het kabinet wil het tempo van energiebesparing opvoeren van 1 naar 1,5 procent. Het aandeel van duurzame energie moet naar 10 procent in 2020. Maar dat is volgens de internationale afspraken niet genoeg. (spits)

  16. 08-07-2005 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - NAM wil stroom uit gas en af van CO2 - ASSEN (ANP) - De Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (NAM) onderzoekt of zij stroom kan winnen uit gas en het broeikasgas CO2 kan terugstoppen in het gasveld. Dat heeft een zegsman van het bedrijf in Assen donderdag gezegd. Nederland telt zeventig kleine gasvelden die binnen twintig jaar uitgeput zullen zijn. De NAM onderzoekt of op tien van die velden kleine energiecentrales kunnen worden gebouwd. Die zouden het gewonnen aardgas direct moeten verbranden, omzetten in elektriciteit en de CO2 die vrijkomt terugpompen in de grond. Volgens de NAM zit de teruggepompte CO2 volledig veilig onder de drie kilometer diep gelegen zoutkoepels. ,,Het is technisch mogelijk. En het gas heeft er ook miljoenen jaren gezeten, dus de CO2 blijft ook wel zitten'', aldus de woordvoerder. (spits)

  17. 08-07-2005 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - Olieprijs naar nieuw record - NEW YORK (ANP) - De prijs voor een vat ruwe olie heeft woensdagavond een nieuw record bereikt. Tijdens de termijnhandel in New York moest voor een vat ruwe olie in augustus even 61,35 dollar worden betaald. Aan het eind van de handel stond er 61,28 dollar op de borden. Het vorige record dateert van 27 juni, toen het plafond op 60,95 dollar lag. (spits)

  18. 12-07-2005 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - Schiphol 4m passagiers in juni - Meer passagiers Schiphol - SCHIPHOL (ANP) - Schiphol heeft in juni bijna vier miljoen reizigers verwerkt. Dit betekent een toename van 4,3 procent vergeleken met dezelfde maand vorig jaar. Over de eerste zes maanden van 2005 is het aantal passagiers met 3,3 procent gestegen tot 20,7 miljoen. Dat liet Schiphol maandag weten. In juni werden 35.248 vluchten uitgevoerd, een toename van 1,1 procent. Vooral het aantal vrachtvluchten zat in de lift. Over de eerste zes maanden steeg het aantal vluchten 0,7 procent tot 196.419. (spits)

  19. 03-09-2005 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - Asian peat fires add to warming - The destruction of tropical peatlands is contributing significantly to global warming, according to a study. Peatlands in South-East Asia are being burnt in fires started with the intention to clear forest, but in dry periods they can rage out of control. This can free vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, Dr Susan Page of Leicester University, UK, said. The peatlands, which contain up to 21% of global land-based stores of carbon, could be destroyed by 2040, she added. It has been calculated that in 1997, 2.67 billion tonnes of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide were released through burning of these peatlands. This is equivalent to 40% of one year's global fossil fuel combustion, Dr Page says. That year was unusually high, however; the intermediate estimate is one billion tonnes, about 15% of fossil fuel combustion for a year. (bbc)

  20. 06-09-2005 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - Britten moeten pomp aanpassen door dure benzine - LONDEN (ANP) - Pomphouders in Groot-BrittanniÎ moeten door de stijgende benzineprijzen hun tankstation aanpassen. De prijsschermen van diverse bezinepompen zijn niet berekend op een literprijs van meer dan 1 pond sterling. De schermen krijgen er nu een extra getal bij, omdat de prijs voor een liter ongelood opstoomt richting 1 pond. ,,We hadden niet verwacht dat de benzineprijzen zo snel en zo sterk zouden stijgen'', aldus een woordvoerster van olieconcern BP dit weekeinde. ,,Daarom moeten we investeren in wat aanpassingen, voornamelijk bij de tankstations.'' Shell zei nog geen klachten te hebben gekregen van pomphouders, maar zal voor aanpassingen zorgen als dat nog is. De problemen bij benzinepompen met een digitaal prijsscherm kunnen worden verholpen met nieuwe software. Bij de oudere pompen wordt het moeilijker, omdat die geen prijzen hoger dan 99,99 pence kunnen aangeven. (spits)

  21. 30-09-2005 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - Brussel wil uitstoot vliegtuigen beperken - STRAATSBURG (ANP) - Vliegtuigmaatschappijen mogen voortaan een beperkte hoeveellheid broeikasgas uitstoten. Voor iedere extra uitstoot moeten ze rechten bijkopen, zo heeft de Europese Commissie dinsdag voorgesteld aan het Europees Parlement en de EU-landen. Vliegtuigen zijn tot dusver vrijwel vrijgesteld van acties tegen broeikassen, die de aarde helpen opwarmen. ,,De groei in de luchtvaart zorgt echter voor flink meer broeikasgas'', zegt Europees Commissaris Dimas (Milieu). Twee personen die heen en terug vliegen van Amsterdam en Thailand zorgen voor evenveel CO2 als een gemiddelde nieuwe auto een heel jaar uitstoot. Veel andere takken van de industrie zijn al begrensd in hun uitstoot van broeikasgassen. (spits)

  22. 25-11-2005 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - CO2 'highest for 650,000 years' - Current levels of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere are higher now than at any time in the last 650,000 years. That is the conclusion of new European studies looking at ice taken from 3km below the surface of Antarctica. The scientists say their research shows present day warming to be exceptional. Other research, also published in the journal Science, suggests that sea levels may be rising twice as fast now as in previous centuries. (bbc)

  23. 12-12-2005 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - Cut Emissions and Pump More Oil - The energy industry has found a new way to dispose of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide: pump it back into the underground oil reservoirs from whence much of it came. Five million tons of CO2 has been successfully pumped underground into the Weyburn oil field in a pilot project in Saskatchewan, Canada. The CO2 is piped from the Great Plains Synfuels Plant, a giant 'gasification' plant near Beulah, North Dakota. Not only does the project dispose of the nasty CO2, the pressure from the gas helps to extract more oil. The field's oil-recovery rate has been doubled, and its life extended for another 20 years, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. In Western Canada alone, pumping CO2 into oil fields could yield billions of barrels of additional oil while reducing CO2 emissions to the tune of pulling more than 200 million cars off the road for a year, said U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman in a statement. Weyburn is part of a $1 billion international CO2-injection venture that has the petroleum industry very interested -- especially as oil prices continue to climb. Similar projects are set to go forward in Texas and several other states, said Pete McGrail of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a Department of Energy lab in Washington state. However, not all oil fields can be used for CO2 injection and storage, so there is a need for other gas-storage sites. CO2 storage has been tried only in sedimentary rock, but the Northwestern and Southeastern United States are made mainly of basalt rock. (wired)

  24. 19-12-2005 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - trade & emissions - Trade can 'export' CO2 emissions - New research from the US shows that trade can significantly affect emissions of greenhouse gases. Researchers found that US imports of goods from China cause a greater production of carbon dioxide than if the goods were made in the US. Factories in developing countries tend to use more energy than in the west. The researchers say emissions control measures such as the Kyoto Protocol could 'export' carbon-intensive industries to the developing world. This has long been a contention raised by critics of the Protocol. In a briefing just before the UN climate negotiations in Montreal, President Bush's chief environmental advisor James Connaughton told reporters that setting targets for emissions may '...cause a shift offshore of some energy-intensive industries. 'This probably equates to a net increase in greenhouse gas emissions, as it's a shift to countries which are probably less efficient than the US,' he said. This issue of 'carbon leakage' is matched in controversy potential by another related argument; that western countries own up to emissions produced within their shores, when in fact they should be responsible for all emissions connected with the goods and products which they consume. They are 'saving' their own emissions, the argument goes, at the expense of developing countries. [...] Between the years 1997-2003, she found, the US 'saved' 1,711 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions by importing goods from China rather than making them within US borders. That equates to a reduction of just over 3% in US emissions across the seven-year period, with the exact proportion rising year on year as the trade deficit increased. But this reduction in US emissions was more than matched by an increase in Chinese emissions. In 1997, exports to the US accounted for seven percent of Chinese CO2 output; by 2003, the figure had risen to 14%. (bbc)

  25. 27-01-2006 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - Schone auto goedkoper in Nijmegen - NIJMEGEN De gemeente Nijmegen wil het gebruik van schone en zuinige auto's stimuleren. Het college van burgemeester en wethouders komt met een voorstel om parkeervergunningen goedkoper te maken bij auto's die minder vervuilend zijn. Sterk vervuilende auto's betalen wel het volle pond. De gemeente onderzoekt nog of het mogelijk is de tarieven voor vuile auto's verder te verhogen. Parkeervergunningen voor een tweede auto worden in de toekomst niet meer afgegeven. Een ander onderdeel van de Nijmeegse milieuplannen is de bouw van nieuwe parkeergarages aan de rand van de stad en de komst van een trambus. (nos)

  26. 14-03-2006 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - Sharp rise in CO2 levels recorded - US climate scientists have recorded a significant rise in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, pushing it to a new record level. BBC News has learned the latest data shows CO2 levels now stand at 381 parts per million (ppm) - 100ppm above the pre-industrial average. The research indicates that 2005 saw one of the largest increases on record - a rise of 2.6ppm. The figures are seen as a benchmark for climate scientists around the globe. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) has been analysing samples of air taken from all over the world, including America's Rocky Mountains. The chief carbon dioxide analyst for Noaa says the latest data confirms a worrying trend that recent years have, on average, recorded double the rate of increase from just 30 years ago. (bbc)

  27. 15-05-2006 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - Concerns over EU carbon trading - The European Commission has questioned the effectiveness of the EU's emissions trading scheme, the cornerstone of its climate change policy. Under the scheme, governments set quotas for the carbon dioxide emissions produced by 9,400 large factories and power stations in 21 member states. Carbon permits are issued to give firms a financial incentive to invest in clean technology and cut emissions. But the commission's report showed that states have issued too many permits. The permits effectively make the right to pollute a tradeable commodity - giving companies the ability to buy and sell permission to emit extra carbon dioxide. Emissions of carbon dioxide - a greenhouse gas - are widely thought to be a key factor in global warming, increasing atmospheric temperatures around the world. The Commission's reports showed a 2.5% surplus for 2005, with the 21 states granting 44.2 million metric tons more carbon dioxide permits than needed. [...] When it emerged that the number of permits exceeded demand, prices slumped. The price of carbon credits traded in Europe has already fallen by around 60% over the past two weeks because some of the data from the report was released early. (bbc)

  28. 27-06-2006 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - Top US court to take on CO2 case - The US Supreme Court is to consider whether to force the government to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from energy producers and cars. A dozen states and environmental groups asked the court to take up the case after a lower court ruled against them. They argue the onus should be on the government's Environmental Protection Agency to limit CO2 emissions. They say CO2 is the primary greenhouse gas causing a warming of the Earth and so should be categorised a pollutant. The US government says that CO2 is not a pollutant under federal laws and that even if it was, it would have discretion over whether or not to regulate it. A federal appeals court recently sided with the government. If the Supreme Court disagrees when it makes its ruling later this year, it could have a profound impact on American life. (bbc)

  29. 14-09-2006 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - methane - permafrost methane - Methane bubbles climate trouble - Thawing Siberian bogs are releasing more of the greenhouse gas methane than previously believed, according to new scientific research. Scientists from Russia and the US measured methane bubbling from a number of thawing lakes. Writing in the journal Nature, they suggest the methane release is hastened by warmer temperatures, positively feeding back into global warming. Methane's contribution to present-day global warming is second only to CO2. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that atmospheric concentrations are about two and a half times those seen in pre-industrial times. 'Thaw lakes in north Siberia are known to emit methane, but the magnitude of these emissions remains uncertain,' the scientists write. 'We show that methane flux from thaw lakes in our study region may be five times greater than previously estimated.' The lakes are produced in summers when land which is usually permanently frozen - permafrost - melts. The study depended on the systematic deployment of bubble traps on two lakes in the Cherskii region of Siberia, supplemented by ground-based and aerial observations of a further 95 lakes. Katey Walker from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks and her colleagues calculate that across the region, thaw lakes lakes emit 3.8 teragrams (Tg, million million grams) per year. The contribution of these lakes is small compared to the IPCC estimate of total global methane production, 600 Tg per year. More than half of this total comes from human activities, notably farming. The importance of the Siberian release may lie in the relationship between warming and methane production. If a high release rate of a greenhouse gas is being triggered by rising temperatures, that will in turn stimulate still higher temperatures - a positive feedback mechanism. (bbc)

  30. 05-12-2006 eco nws - global warming - impact - crops - india - system - atmosphere - co2 - pollution - Pollution 'reducing rice harvest' - Pollution-laden clouds may be partly to blame for India's dwindling rice harvests, according to research. A US team found brown clouds, which cloak much of South Asia, have a negative impact on rice output by reducing sunlight and rainfall. They discovered elevated levels of greenhouse gases also reduced yields. The study, reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, came a day after researchers said new crops adapted to a warmer climate are needed. Since the 1980s, India has faced ever-declining growth rates in harvests of its staple food, raising concerns that shortages could occur. To investigate the cause, researchers looked at the impact of the 'brown clouds' or 'Asian haze' which cover the region. South Asia has one of the most widespread atmospheric brown clouds on the planet. These layers of air pollution, which contain soot and other fine particles, are primarily created from burning fossil fuels and other organic matter. The clouds interfere with the local climate by blocking the Sun's radiation from reaching the ground, leading to cooler and dimmer conditions. Recent research has revealed the polluted haze can also reduce rainfall. Using climate models and historical data on Indian rice harvests, the team built up a picture of the brown clouds' effect on rice growth over the years. 'We found if there had been no atmospheric brown clouds between 1985 and 1998, the annual rice harvest yield would have been 11% higher than it was,' said Maximilian Auffhammer of the University of California at Berkeley. The team concluded the clouds had a negative effect on rice yields. He said while the cooler night-time temperatures caused by the clouds were beneficial for the rice, the negative impact of the decreasing rainfall outweighed these benefits. Yields would also have been higher under lower concentrations of greenhouse gases, the researchers found. Many researchers, Dr Auffhammer told the BBC News website, had been worried that reducing brown clouds could boost temperatures and so further diminish rice yields. This was because previous research found the clouds' cooling properties can mask the heating effect of greenhouse gases. But, he said, the team's findings revealed that reducing clouds alone or with reductions in greenhouse gases would benefit rice output. (bbc)

  31. 06-12-2006 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - impact - oceans - biodiversity - animal life - co2 uptake & life - SeaWIFS data - Global warming is reducing ocean life, increasing atmospheric C02 - Alarming new satellite data show that the warming of the worldís oceans is reducing ocean life while contributing to increased global warming. The oceanís food chain is based upon the growth of billions upon billions of microscopic plants. New satellite data show that ocean warming is reducing these plants ññ thus imperiling ocean fisheries and marine life, according to an article in the Nov. 7 issue of the scientific journal Nature. ìWe show on a global scale that the growth of these plants, called phytoplankton, is strongly tied to changes in the warming of the ocean,î said David Siegel, co-author and professor of marine science in the Department of Geography at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Siegel is also director of the Institute for Computational Earth System Science (ICESS). ìPhytoplankton grow faster in a cool ocean and slower in a warm one,î said Siegel. ìThe scary part is that the oceans are warming now ññ probably caused by our emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.î These microscopic plants are predicted to grow even slower in the warmer oceans of the future. This in turn will reduce the food available to fish and other organisms, including marine birds and mammals, which are supported by the oceanís food chain. Phytoplankton are responsible for about the same amount of photosynthesis each year as all the plants on land combined. Another disturbing result of reduced phytoplankton is that our atmosphere depends on the consumption of atmospheric carbon dioxide by these plants. Reduced phytoplankton means less carbon dioxide is taken up by the ocean, which could speed global warming, contributing to a vicious cycle of increased warming. ìRising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere play a big part in global warming,î said lead author Michael Behrenfeld of Oregon State University. ìThis study shows that as the climate warms, phytoplankton growth rates go down and along with them the amount of carbon dioxide these ocean plants consume. That allows carbon dioxide to accumulate more rapidly in the atmosphere, which would produce more warming.î The findings are from a NASA-funded analysis of data from the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) instrument on the OrbView-2 spacecraft, launched in 1997. The uninterrupted nine-year record shows in great detail the ups and downs of marine biological activity or productivity from month to month and year to year. Captured at the start of this data record was a major, rapid rebound in ocean biological activity after a major El NiÒo event. El NiÒo and La NiÒa are major warming or cooling events, respectively, that occur approximately every three to seven years in the eastern Pacific Ocean and are known to change weather patterns around the world. Scientists made their discovery by comparing the SeaWiFS record of the rise and fall of global ocean plant life to different measures of recent global climate change. The climate records included several factors that directly affect ocean conditions, such as changes in sea surface temperature and surface winds. The results support computer model predictions of what could happen to the world's oceans as the result of prolonged future climate warming. 'When we compared changes in phytoplankton activity with simultaneous changes in climate conditions, the agreement between the two records was simply astonishing,' Behrenfeld said. (science blog)

  32. 14-12-2006 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - Asia's greenhouse gas 'to treble' - Asia's greenhouse gas emissions will treble over the next 25 years, according to a report commissioned by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The report provides detailed analysis of the link between transport and climate change in Asia. It says that its estimate of future levels of greenhouse gas could even be an optimistic assessment. Air pollution and congestion will seriously hamper the ability to move people and goods effectively, it warns. The report, Energy Efficiency and Climate Change: Considerations for On-Road Transport in Asia, says that Asia currently has low levels of personal motorized transport, which in many cases are motorcycles. But it says that these levels are likely to increase significantly as incomes in these countries grows and the urban population becomes bigger. The report points out that China is already the world's fourth largest economy, and the number of cars and utility vehicles could increase by 15 times more than present levels to more than 190 million vehicles over the next 30 years. In India, traffic growth is likely to increase by similar levels over the same time period, the report says. Carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles could rise 3.4 times for China and 5.8 times for India. 'Progress toward reducing the growth of greenhouse gases from the transport sector will require partnerships and involvement of a wide range of stakeholders,' Bindu Lohani, director-general of the ADB's sustainable development department, wrote in the foreword to the report. He said that addressing these problems would mean 'changing existing travel behaviour patterns and modifying urban development patterns to minimize the type, length, and frequency of trips that people need to take'. (bbc)

  33. 20-12-2006 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - air travel - EU tackles aircraft CO2 emissions - Airlines operating in the EU should pay for any increase in their carbon emissions above current levels, the European Commission has proposed. Commissioners called on the industry to make a 'fair contribution' to the fight against climate change. But environmentalists said the measures were too weak to make much difference. The commissioners' idea is to bring internal EU flights inside the bloc's emissions trading scheme from 2011, with other flights following in 2012. The aviation industry generally welcomed the plan. Permits 'Aviation emissions need to be brought under control, because they are rising very fast,' said Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas. 'Since 1990, they have gone up about 90% and, by 2020, they are going to be doubled, if business continues as usual.' / Numbers: Aircraft produce about 3% of EU CO2 emissions - more than refineries or steel plants / They also emit nitrogen oxides which lead to the formation of another greenhouse gas, ozone / Condensation trails, which can develop into cirrus clouds, may also have a warming effect / International experts say aviation will account for 5% of total warming in 2050 / The emissions trading scheme only covers CO2 // The commission says 46% of this expected growth in aviation emissions - or 183 tonnes of CO2 per year - would be saved if its plan was implemented in full. However, a large part of the saving would be achieved by other participants in the emissions trading scheme (ETS), which would sell emission allowances to the airlines. The plan would work by issuing airlines with emissions allowances, mostly free of charge, based on their average carbon use between 2004 and 2006. An airline that cut its emissions would be able to sell its surplus permits, while one that increased emissions would have to buy extra permits from industry or from other airlines. (bbc)

  34. 26-12-2006 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - atmosphereric density - CO2 Emissions Will Shrink Earth's Outer Atmosphere by 2017 - Carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels will produce a 3 percent reduction in the density of Earth's outermost atmosphere by 2017, according to a team of scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and Pennsylvania State University (PSU). The research appears in the latest issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters, and will be presented today at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco, Calif. 'We're seeing climate change manifest itself in the upper as well as lower atmosphere,' said NCAR scientist Stan Solomon, a co-author of the study. 'This shows the far-ranging impacts of greenhouse gas emissions.' Lower density inthe thermosphere, which is the highest layer of the atmosphere, would reduce the drag on satellites in low Earth orbit, allowing them to stay airborne longer. Forecasts of upper-level air density could help NASA and other agencies plan the fuel needs and timing of satellite launches more precisely, potentially saving millions of dollars. Recent observations by scientists tracking satellite orbits have shown that the thermosphere, which begins about 60 miles above Earth and extends up to 400 miles, is beginning to become less dense, said Robert Kerr, program director in the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Division of Atmospheric Sciences. This confirms a prediction made in 1989 by Roble and Bob Dickinson at NCAR that the thermosphere will cool and contract because of increasing carbon dioxide levels. The new study is the first to analyze whether the observed change will become more pronounced over the next decade. At heights of more than 60 miles, one of the main elements of the atmosphere is atomic oxygen, a single atom of oxygen. As carbon dioxide increases near Earth's surface, it gradually diffuses upward and absorbs heat through collisions with atomic oxygen. It then radiates the heat away to space through infrared radiation, and the result is a net cooling of the upper atmosphere. As the molecules cool and settle, the thermosphere loses density. Also affecting the thermosphere is the 11-year cycle of solar activity. During the active phase of the cycle, ultraviolet light and energetic particles from the sun increase, producing a warming and expansion of the upper atmosphere. When solar activity wanes, the thermosphere settles and cools. In order to analyze recent solar cycles and peer into the future, the NCAR-PSU team used a computer model of the upper atmosphere that incorporates the solar cycle as well as the gradual increase of carbon dioxide due to human activities. The team also used a prediction for the next solar cycle, issued by NCAR scientist Mausumi Dikpati and colleagues, that calls for a stronger-than-usual solar cycle over the next decade. The model showed a decrease in thermospheric density from 1970 to 2000 of 1.7 percent per decade, or about 5 percent overall, which agrees with observations. The team found that the decrease was about three to four times more rapid during solar minimum than solar maximum. (science blog)

  35. 12-01-2007 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - eu plans for fuel efficiency - co2 120g/km - EU plans attack on car emissions - The cost of 'gas-guzzling' cars could soar in five years' time under plans from the European Commission. The commission wants to impose mandatory efficiency standards on all new vehicles sold in Europe as part of a master plan to combat climate change. Some of the UK's best-known carmakers could be hardest-hit. Currently the EU has a voluntary agreement with motor manufacturers - but they have infuriated the commission by missing their target by almost 50%. Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas now wants mandatory standards that will allow the average car to emit just 120 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilometre. That would mean a 1.6 litre petrol Ford Focus would need to cut emissions by a third to qualify as an average vehicle under the new regime. Car manufacturers will be able to average out their overall CO2 targets over their entire range of vehicles. But it is clear that heavyweight luxury cars like Rolls-Royces, Bentleys and Range Rovers will have to invest far more in costly low-pollution technology to reduce their emissions than smaller lighter cars. Britain's Society of Motor Manufacturers said the plans threatened jobs in the car industry, particularly for specialist manufacturers. They forecast that the plan would add as much as 2,500 euros (£1,650) to some cars, and they warned that European makers would lose out to imported models. Mr Dimas said the new rules would apply equally to imports, adding that the EU would offer tax breaks to carmakers to help the transition to lower-emission vehicles. (bbc)

  36. 22-01-2007 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - alternative energy - Panel backs 'heat mining' as key U.S. energy source - A comprehensive new MIT-led study of the potential for geothermal energy within the United States has found that mining the huge amounts of heat that reside as stored thermal energy in the Earth's hard rock crust could supply a substantial portion of the electricity the United States will need in the future, probably at competitive prices and with minimal environmental impact. An 18-member panel led by MIT prepared the 400-plus page study, titled 'The Future of Geothermal Energy.' Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, it is the first study in some 30 years to take a new look at geothermal, an energy resource that has been largely ignored. The goal of the study was to assess the feasibility, potential environmental impacts and economic viability of using enhanced geothermal system (EGS) technology to greatly increase the fraction of the U.S. geothermal resource that could be recovered commercially. Although geothermal energy is produced commercially today and the United States is the world's biggest producer, existing U.S. plants have focused on the high-grade geothermal systems primarily located in isolated regions of the west. This new study takes a more ambitious look at this resource and evaluates its potential for much larger-scale deployment. 'We've determined that heat mining can be economical in the short term, based on a global analysis of existing geothermal systems, an assessment of the total U.S. resource and continuing improvements in deep-drilling and reservoir stimulation technology,' said panel head Jefferson W. Tester, the H. P. Meissner Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT. 'EGS technology has already been proven to work in the few areas where underground heat has been successfully extracted. And further technological improvements can be expected,' he said. The expert panel offers a number of recommendations to develop geothermal as a major electricity supplier for the nation. These include more detailed and site-specific assessments of the U.S. geothermal resource and a multiyear federal commitment to demonstrate the concept in the field at commercial scale. The new assessment of geothermal energy by energy experts, geologists, drilling specialists and others is important for several key reasons, Tester said. First, fossil fuels--coal, oil and natural gas--are increasingly expensive and consumed in ever-increasing amounts. Second, oil and gas imports from foreign sources raise concerns over long-term energy security. Third, burning fossil fuels dumps carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere. Finally, heat mining has the potential to supply a significant amount of the country's electricity currently being generated by conventional fossil fuel, hydroelectric and nuclear plants. The study shows that drilling several wells to reach hot rock and connecting them to a fractured rock region that has been stimulated to let water flow through it creates a heat-exchanger that can produce large amounts of hot water or steam to run electric generators at the surface. Unlike conventional fossil-fuel power plants that burn coal, natural gas or oil, no fuel would be required. And unlike wind and solar systems, a geothermal plant works night and day, offering a non-interruptible source of electric power. Prof. Tester and panel member David Blackwell, professor of geophysics at Southern Methodist University in Texas, also point out that geothermal resources are available nationwide, although the highest-grade sites are in western states, where hot rocks are closer to the surface, requiring less drilling and thus lowering costs. (bbc)

  37. 02-02-2007 eco nws - global warming - system - impact - oceans - biodiversity - animal life - fish - atmosphere - other stressors - report - ipcc - Climate Change Only One Symptom of a Stressed Planet Earth - In releasing its latest comprehensive report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) focuses an important spotlight on the current state of the Earthís climate. Climate change is just one of the many symptoms exhibited by a planet under pressure from human activities. 'Global environmental change, which includes climate change, threatens to irreversibly alter our planet,' says Kevin Noone, Executive Director of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP). Global studies by IGBP show that human-driven environmental changes are affecting many parts of the Earthís system, in addition to its climate. For example: - Half of Earthís land surface is now domesticated for direct human use. / - 75 percent of the worldís fisheries are fully or over-exploited. / - The composition of today¥s atmosphere is well outside the range of natural variability the Earth has maintained over the last 650,000 years. / - The Earth is now in the midst of its sixth great extinction event. / (science blog)

  38. 07-02-2007 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - hydrate - underground storage - Cold storage solution for global warming? - Researchers from the University of Leicester and the British Geological Society (BGS) have proposed storing CO2 in huge underground reservoirs as a way of reducing emissions- and have even identified sites in Western Europe that would be suitable. Their research, published in the journal, Planet Earth, reveals that CO2 can be contained in cool geological aquifers or reservoirs, where it can remain harmlessly for many thousands of years. PhD research student, Ameena Camps, is working with Professor Mike Lovell at the University's Department of Geology and with Chris Rochelle at BGS, investigating the storage of CO2. Storing the gas in a solid form as a gas hydrate, or as a pool of liquid CO2 below a cap of hydrate cemented sediments, is believed to offer an alternative method of geological sequestration to the current practices of storage in warm, deep sediments in the North Sea. Recently quoted in Planet Earth Ameena Camps explained: 'Hydrates (also known as clathrates) are ice-like crystalline minerals that look like normal ice and form when gas and water freeze together at low temperature and high pressure. They are made of a cage of frozen water molecules with the gas molecules trapped inside.' Although gas hydrates were first discovered two centuries ago, the possible use of carbon dioxide hydrate as a means to help resolve problems of global climate change, and of naturally occurring methane hydrate as a future source of energy, have only recently been suggested. Laboratory experiments carried out as part of Ameena Camps' PhD project have indicated that carbon dioxide hydrate should form stable structures in sediments under oceans. (science blog)

  39. 07-02-2007 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - agreement - eu fuel efficiency target - Car firms facing pollution curbs - The European Commission has proposed forcing carmakers to increase the fuel efficiency of new cars by 18%, by 2012. It says it is planning legislation to ensure the average car emits no more than 130g of CO2 per kilometre, compared with 162g/km in 2005. The car industry described the EU target as 'arbitrary' and said it would lead to a loss of jobs and relocation of production overseas. But environmentalists said the proposal did not go far enough. [...] Mr Dimas had wanted an upper limit of 120g/km but was forced to compromise, after strong opposition from the German car industry and from Mr Verheugen. The commissioners said their proposal envisaged the target of 130g/km being reached thanks to new car technology, but further measures, including increased use of biofuel, would mean that cars overall emitted no more than 120g of CO2 per kilometre by 2012. Jos Dings of the environmental pressure group Transport and Environment (T&E) said the 130g/km limit was a 'disappointing response' to the calls last week by a UN panel of experts for serious action on climate change. He said the retreat from Mr Dimas' preferred 120g/km fuel-efficiency target, was a 'reward' to the car industry for making insufficient progress towards its voluntary target of 140g/km by 2008. He called for the EU to fix an 80g/km limit for 2020. AVERAGE CAR C02 EMISSIONS: 1995: 185g/km / 2005: 162g/km / 2008: 140g/km (voluntary industry target) / 2012: 130g/km (European Commission proposal) / 2020: 80g/km (target proposed by T&E) / Transport is the only sector in Europe that has shown dramatic increases in CO2 emissions over the last 15 years. The car industry has made huge improvements in engine efficiency, but the power, size and weight of cars have also increased rapidly. As a result, CO2 emissions have only fallen by 23g/km from the 1995 level of 185g/km. (bbc)

  40. 09-02-2007 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - action - innovation prize - Branson launches $25m climate bid - Millions of pounds are on offer for the person who comes up with the best way of removing significant amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson launched the competition today in London alongside former US vice-president Al Gore. A panel of judges will oversee the prize, including James Lovelock and Nasa scientist James Hansen. Sir Richard said humankind must realise the scale of the crisis it faced. 'The Earth cannot wait 60 years,' he said at the news conference. 'I want a future for my children and my children's children. The clock is ticking. He said if the planet was to survive, it was vital to find a way of getting rid of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. He said he believed offering the $25m (£12.5m) Earth Challenge prize was the best way of finding a solution. Overseeing the innovations are James Hansen, head of the Nasa Institute for Space Studies, the inventor of Gaia theory James Lovelock, UK environmentalist Sir Crispin Tickell and Australian conservationist Tim Flannery. (bbc)

  41. 19-02-2007 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - clouds - models - aerosols - Insides of clouds may be key to climate change - As climate change scientists develop ever more sophisticated climate models to project an expected path of temperature change, it is becoming increasingly important to include the effects of aerosols on clouds, according to Joyce E. Penner, a leading atmospheric scientist at the University of Michigan. That's because aerosols, fine particles such as smoke and dust that form droplets in clouds and change cloud thickness, affect how much sun is able to pass through the cloud to Earth, as well as the amount of moisture that's returned to Earth. Both moisture and sunlight play significant roles in climate change. 'Think of it as having two clouds--one made of cotton and the other of Styrofoam,' Penner said. 'More sunlight and moisture will pass through a cloud of cotton as opposed to the denser cloud of Styrofoam. This difference is becoming more critical in terms of modeling future changes in the climate as we continue to produce more and more aerosols that form thicker and thicker clouds.' Penner will present a talk on this topic, 'Aerosol-Cloud Interactions and Climate Projections' during panel at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco on Feb. 17. By comparing the observed temperature change record since 1850 with two different climate models, one that has low climate sensitivity and small amounts of aerosols and one that has high climate sensitivity and high amounts of aerosols, Penner's group showed that both models follow almost identical predictive paths in the past, but diverge significantly when predicting the temperature in the future Penner's presentation also looks at the predictive capability of three climate models, a US NCAR-Oslo model, a French model and a Japanese model, and shows that differences are large, especially when the models predict both aerosols and their cloud effects in the assumed level of aerosols at the time, significantly changes the results. The differences are large partly because these models do not have high enough resolution to reproduce observations. 'We know that aerosol effects on clouds need to be included in climate models,' Penner said, 'but we need more research to reach optimum predictive properties for climate models.' (science blog)

  42. 09-03-2007 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - agreement - co2 cuts - summit - brussels - EU agrees on carbon dioxide cuts - European Union leaders at a climate change summit in Brussels have agreed to slash carbon dioxide emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by the year 2020. But a consensus on a binding target for the use of renewable fuels, like wind and solar power, has yet to be reached. German Chancellor and EU President Angela Merkel said she was hopeful an agreement could still be struck. The European Commission wants countries to pledge, among other things, to boost the use of renewable fuels by 20%. After talks ended on Thursday night, Mrs Merkel said progress had been made. 'What has been agreed is a massive step forward from whatever point of view you take.' She said she hoped the disagreement over fixed targets for renewable energy sources could be resolved during the second day of the summit. 'We talked about specific obligations - increasing energy efficiency, bio fuels, renewable energy. There is a need for further discussion on these three areas,' she said. The proposal to bolster the share of power from renewables - including wind, solar and hydroelectric sources - to 20% by 2020 has met with considerable opposition. French President Jacques Chirac has demanded that nuclear power be considered part of the plan. Mrs Merkel said that nuclear energy is not renewable energy but has conceded that it may be considered as part of the overall carbon reduction plan. Poorer Eastern European countries, which are more dependent on heavy industry and carbon-heavy coal, said they would struggle to make the investment in wind farms and solar power necessary to meet the targets. (bbc)

  43. 16-03-2007 eco nws - system - atmosphere - co2 - alternative energy - global warming - Amerika - USA nws - Brazilie nws - US-Brazil deal to boost bio-fuels - The United States and Brazil have signed an agreement to develop alternative fuel sources. US President George W Bush said that by reducing oil dependence the two countries would be helping security, their economies and the environment. His host, President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, said the deal was a new moment for the car industry, fuel production and humanity in general. Mr Bush has now continued to Uruguay, the second stop on a five-nation tour. About 5,000 people people demonstrated against him on his arrival there, and there had been similar protests earlier during his stay in Brazil. (bbc)

  44. 22-03-2007 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - carbon aerosols - Asian black carbon blocks ocean sunlight, heats atmosphere - More than three-quarters of the particulate pollution known as black carbon and transported at high altitudes over the West Coast during spring comes from Asia, according to a research team led by scientist V. Ramanathan of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) in La Jolla, Calif. The material not only affects climate in Asia, it also carries consequences for the Pacific Ocean region that drives much of the climate around the world. Climate scientists Ramanathan and Odelle Hadley are lead authors of a research paper appearing in the March 14 issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the California Energy Commission (CEC). 'This study demonstrates that aerosols from all sources in East Asia significantly affect not only regional climate, but also affect climate across the 8,000 kilometers of the north Pacific Ocean,' said Jay Fein, NSF program director for climate dynamics. Transport of Asian black carbon, which is generated by automobile exhaust, agricultural burning and other sources, is heaviest in spring when cold Arctic fronts dip to lower latitudes and loft warmer air to higher altitudes. Worldwide transport of the aerosols keeps them at high altitudes for up to two weeks. Composed mostly of soot, the particles dim the ocean surface by blocking sunlight, which then heats the atmosphere. 'The soot heating of the atmosphere exceeds the surface dimming, and as a result, the long-range transported soot amplifies the global warming due to increase in CO2,' said Ramanathan. 'We have to find out if this amplification is just restricted to spring or if it's happening throughout the year.' The measure of high black carbon concentration from Asian sources 'is a startling finding by itself, but its potential importance is magnified by the fact that black carbon is believed to have a disproportional impact on regional climate,' said Guido Franco, technical lead for climate change research at the CEC. (science blog)

  45. 21-04-2007 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - conflict - US generals urge climate action - Former US military leaders have called on the Bush administration to make major cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. In a report, they say global warming poses a serious threat to national security, as the US could be drawn into wars over water and other conflicts. They appear to criticise President George W Bush's refusal to join an international treaty to cut emissions. Among the 11 authors are ex-Army chief of staff Gordon Sullivan and Mr Bush's ex-Mid-East peace envoy Anthony Zinni. The report says the US 'must become a more constructive partner' with other nations to fight global warming and deal with its consequences. It warns that over the next 30 to 40 years, there will be conflicts over water resources, as well as increased instability resulting from rising sea levels and global warming-related refugees. (bbc)

  46. 27-04-2007 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - Strasbourg carbon cost condemned - The European Parliament's monthly move from Brussels to Strasbourg generates more than 20,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, Green Party MEPs say. The Green Party commissioned the study, which says the carbon cost is equal to 4,000 households in London. The monthly trek is often referred to as the 'travelling circus'. The report is published on the same day the parliament is expected to set up a temporary committee to propose new measures tackling climate change. STRASBOURG PARLIAMENT: Used by MEPs once a month / Not in use 307 days per year / One chamber, 21 large and 13 small conference rooms with simultaneous translation facility / 2,650 offices / Total cost 203m euros per year / CO2 burden estimated at 20,268 tonnes per year 'and probably much more' / Nearly 800 MEPs travel by air, road and rail to Strasbourg - along with hundreds of EU officials, journalists, lobbyists and 15 lorry-loads of official documents. The study, by York University's Professor John Whitelegg, says if the parliament stopped meeting in Strasbourg, it could get rid of more than 2,000 offices, a debating chamber and 50 conference rooms. STRASBOURG SHUTTLE: 15 lorries carry documents from Brussels to Strasbourg in 4,000 metal trunks / 1,220 parliamentary staff travel from Brussels, and 525 from Luxembourg / 785 MEPs travel from their constituencies / More than 100 journalists travel from Brussels, as do staff of the European Commission, diplomats and lobbyists / That would save nearly 4,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year in electricity and gas alone. (bbc)

  47. 14-12-2010 eco nws - global warming - green tech - trains - High Speed Trains: The AVE Pollutes 29% Less Than Traditional Trains - ScienceDaily (Dec. 14, 2010) — High-speed trains consume 29% less energy than conventional trains per passenger transported, and reduce CO2 emissions by the same proportion. These are the conclusions of a study by the Spanish Railways Foundation published in the journal Transportation Research Record. "A high speed train operating in normal conditions consumes less energy and produces less CO2 emissions per passenger transported (on average 29% less) than a conventional train travelling between the same two points at a lower speed," Alberto García, author of the study and a researcher at the Spanish Railways Foundation, said. The engineer explains that the AVE consumes less due to the intrinsic features of the high speed system, "such as its more standardised speed profile and the lower number of stops and curves during the journey." The consumption of auxiliary services (air conditioning, lighting and ventilation) is also reduced in direct proportion to speed. With regard to emissions, high speed trains use an electric traction system, meaning they do not emit greenhouse gases and contribute less to fossil fuel consumption than other means of transport. In this respect they are the same as other electric trains. Alberto García stresses that the prime advantage of a high speed line is not in substituting conventional trains, but rather in attracting a large number of travellers who would otherwise travel by aeroplane and private car. - Fewer gases emitted into the atmosphere - The AVE prevents the 3 kg of CO2 per passenger being emitted into the atmosphere in comparison with other trains, but when looking at the bigger picture of how much pollution is saved if a traveller does not travel by car or aeroplane, this figure rises to 31 kg of CO2. In order to carry out the study, which has been published in the journal Transportation Research Record, the engineer used 2008 data and a simulator developed by the Spanish Railways Foundation, validated by the records from more than 15 years of high speed train operations. The mathematical simulator has made it possible to cross-reference almost 200 variables related to the conventional train and the AVE (track characteristics, number of stops, electrical systems, correction coefficients, etc.) on 10 medium and long distance journeys. The study includes the two high speed lines inaugurated this week -- Madrid-Valencia and Madrid-Albacete.

  48. 18-01-2011 eco nws - global warming - system - loss of reflection - Loss of Reflectivity in the Arctic Doubles Estimate of Climate Models - ScienceDaily (Jan. 18, 2011) — A new analysis of the Northern Hemisphere's "albedo feedback" over a 30-year period concludes that the region's loss of reflectivity due to snow and sea ice decline is more than double what state-of-the-art climate models estimate. The findings are important, researchers say, because they suggest that Arctic warming amplified by the loss of reflectivity could be even more significant than previously thought. The study was published online this week in Nature Geoscience. It was funded primarily by the National Science Foundation, with data also culled from projects funded by NASA, the Department of Energy and others. "The cryosphere isn't cooling the Earth as much as it did 30 years ago, and climate model simulations do not reproduce this recent effect," said Karen Shell, an Oregon State University atmospheric scientist and one of the authors of the study. "Though we don't necessarily attribute this to global warming, it is interesting to note that none of the climate models used for the 2007 International Panel on Climate Change report showed a decrease of this magnitude." The cryosphere is the collective portion of the Earth's surface where water is in solid form and includes sea ice, snow, lake and river ice, glaciers, ice sheets and frozen ground. Most of these frozen areas are highly reflective, and "bounce" sunlight back into the atmosphere, keeping the Earth cooler than it would be without the cryosphere. But as temperatures warm, ice and snow melts and reflectivity decreases, noted Shell, an assistant professor in OSU's College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences. "Instead of being reflected back into the atmosphere, the energy of the sun is absorbed by the Earth, which amplifies the warming," Shell said. "Scientists have known for some time that there is this amplification effect, but almost all of the climate models we examined underestimated the impact -- and they contained a pretty broad range of scenarios." As part of the study, Shell, lead author Mark Flanner of the University of Michigan, and their colleagues compared Northern Hemisphere cryosphere changes between 1979 and 2008 in 18 different climate models to changes in actual snow, ice and reflectivity measurements of the same period. They determined that mean radiative forcing -- or the amount of energy reflected into the atmosphere -- ranged from 4.6 to 2.2 watts per meter squared. During the 30-year study period, cryosphere cooling declined by 0.45 watts per meter squared. The authors attribute that decline equally to loss of snow and sea ice. "Some of the decline may be natural climate variability," Shell said. "Thirty years isn't a long enough time period to attribute this entirely to 'forcing,' or anthropogenic influence. But the loss of cooling is significant. The rate of energy being absorbed by the Earth through cryosphere decline -- instead of being reflected back to the atmosphere -- is almost 30 percent of the rate of extra energy absorption due to carbon dioxide increase between pre-industrial values and today." The "albedo" or reflectivity process is simple, scientists say, but difficult to measure on a broad scale. The reflectivity of ice and snow is obviously much greater than that of darker, unfrozen ground, or open sea water. But researchers also have discovered that variations in the snow and ice result in different albedo impacts. For example, pools of melted water on top of sea ice can have significantly less reflectivity, which in essence may speed up the warming and possibly melting of that sea ice. "While the current group of models underestimates these Northern Hemisphere cryosphere changes, new models will be released this year that will have better representations of snow and ice," Shell said. "This study will help climate modelers improve the new generation of models to better predict the rate of cryosphere and albedo decline in the future."

  49. 03-02-2011 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - natural - amazon - carbon sink - drought - Two Severe Amazon Droughts in Five Years Alarms Scientists - ScienceDaily (Feb. 3, 2011) — New research shows that the 2010 Amazon drought may have been even more devastating to the region's rainforests than the unusual 2005 drought, which was previously billed as a one-in-100 year event. Analyses of rainfall across 5.3 million square kilometres of Amazonia during the 2010 dry season, recently published in Science, shows that the drought was more widespread and severe than in 2005. The UK-Brazilian team also calculate that the carbon impact of the 2010 drought may eventually exceed the 5 billion tonnes of CO2 released following the 2005 event, as severe droughts kill rainforest trees. For context, the United States emitted 5.4 billion tonnes of CO2 from fossil fuel use in 2009. The authors suggest that if extreme droughts like these become more frequent, the days of the Amazon rainforest acting as a natural buffer to man-made carbon emissions may be numbered. Lead author Dr Simon Lewis, from the University of Leeds, said: "Having two events of this magnitude in such close succession is extremely unusual, but is unfortunately consistent with those climate models that project a grim future for Amazonia." The Amazon rainforest covers an area approximately 25 times the size of the UK. University of Leeds scientists have previously shown that in a normal year intact forests absorb approximately 1.5 billion tonnes of CO2 (1). This counter-balances the emissions from deforestation, logging and fire across the Amazon and has helped slow down climate change in recent decades. In 2005, the region was struck by a rare drought which killed trees within the rainforest. On the ground monitoring showed that these forests stopped absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere, and as the dead trees rotted they released CO2 to the atmosphere. The unusual drought, affecting south-western Amazonia, was described by scientists at the time as a 'one-in-100-year event' (2), but just five years later the region was struck by a similar extreme drought that caused the Rio Negro tributary of the Amazon river to fall to its lowest level on record. The new research, co-led by Dr Lewis and Brazilian scientist Dr Paulo Brando, used the known relationship between drought intensity in 2005 and tree deaths to estimate the impact of the 2010 drought. They predict that Amazon forests will not absorb their usual 1.5 billion tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere in both 2010 and 2011, and that a further 5 billion tonnes of CO2 will be released to the atmosphere over the coming years once the trees that are killed by the new drought rot. Dr Brando, from Brazil's Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM), said "We will not know exactly how many trees were killed until we can complete forest measurements on the ground. "It could be that many of the drought susceptible trees were killed off in 2005, which would reduce the number killed last year. On the other hand, the first drought may have weakened a large number of trees so increasing the number dying in the 2010 dry season. "Our results should be seen as an initial estimate. The emissions estimates do not include those from forest fires, which spread over extensive areas of the Amazon during hot and dry years. These fires release large amounts of carbon to the atmosphere." Some global climate models suggest that Amazon droughts like these will become more frequent in future as a result of greenhouse gas emissions. Dr Lewis added: "Two unusual and extreme droughts occurring within a decade may largely offset the carbon absorbed by intact Amazon forests during that time. If events like this happen more often, the Amazon rainforest would reach a point where it shifts from being a valuable carbon sink slowing climate change, to a major source of greenhouse gasses that could speed it up. "Considerable uncertainty remains surrounding the impacts of climate change on the Amazon. This new research adds to a body of evidence suggesting that severe droughts will become more frequent leading to important consequences for Amazonian forests. If greenhouse gas emissions contribute to Amazon droughts that in turn cause forests to release carbon, this feedback loop would be extremely concerning. Put more starkly, current emissions pathways risk playing Russian roulette with the world's largest rainforest."

  50. 04-03-2011 eco nws - global warming - impact - co2 - biodiversity - plant life - plants - water release - Rising Carbon Dioxide Is Causing Plants to Have Fewer Pores, Releasing Less Water to the Atmosphere - ScienceDaily (Mar. 4, 2011) — As carbon dioxide levels have risen during the last 150 years, the density of pores that allow plants to breathe has dwindled by 34 percent, restricting the amount of water vapor the plants release to the atmosphere, report scientists from Indiana University Bloomington and Utrecht University in the Netherlands in an upcoming issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In a separate paper, also to be published by PNAS, many of the same scientists describe a model they devised that predicts doubling today's carbon dioxide levels will dramatically reduce the amount of water released by plants. The scientists gathered their data from a diversity of plant species in Florida, including living individuals as well as samples extracted from herbarium collections and peat formations 100 to 150 years old. "The increase in carbon dioxide by about 100 parts per million has had a profound effect on the number of stomata and, to a lesser extent, the size of the stomata," said Research Scientist in Biology and Professor Emeritus in Geology David Dilcher, the two papers' sole American coauthor. "Our analysis of that structural change shows there's been a huge reduction in the release of water to the atmosphere." Most plants use a pore-like structure called stomata (singular: stoma) on the undersides of leaves to absorb carbon dioxide from the air. The carbon dioxide is used to build sugars, which can be used by the plant as energy or for incorporation into the plants' fibrous cell walls. Stomata also allow plants to "transpire" water, or release water to the atmosphere. Transpiration helps drive the absorption of water at the roots, and also cools the plants in the same way sweating cools mammals. If there are fewer stomata, or the stomata are closed more of the day, gas exchange will be limited -- transpiration included. "The carbon cycle is important, but so is the water cycle," Dilcher said. "If transpiration decreases, there may be more moisture in the ground at first, but if there's less rainfall that may mean there's less moisture in ground eventually. This is part of the hyrdrogeologic cycle. Land plants are a crucially important part of it." Dilcher also said less transpiration may mean the shade of an old oak tree may not be as cool of a respite as it used to be. "When plants transpire they cool," he said. "So the air around the plants that are transpirating less could be a bit warmer than they have been. But the hydrogeologic cycle is complex. It's hard to predict how changing one thing will affect other aspects. We would have to see how these things play out." While it is well known that long-lived plants can adjust their number of stomata each season depending on growing conditions, little is known about the long-term structural changes in stomata number or size over periods of decades or centuries. "Our first paper shows connection between temperature, transpiration, and stomata density," Dilcher said. "The second paper really is about applying what we know to the future." That model suggests that a doubling of today's carbon dioxide levels -- from 390 parts per million to 800 ppm -- will halve the amount of water lost to the air, concluding in the second paper that "plant adaptation to rising CO2 is currently altering the hydrological cycle and climate and will continue to do so throughout this century." Dilcher and his Dutch colleagues say that a drier atmosphere could mean less rainfall and therefore less movement of water through Florida's watersheds. The Florida Everglades depend heavily on the slow, steady flow of groundwater from upstate. The siphoning of that water to development has raised questions about the future of the Everglades as a national resource.

  51. 20-07-2011 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - co2 storage - forests - World's Forests' Role in Carbon Storage Immense, Research Reveals - ScienceDaily (July 20, 2011) — Until recently, scientists were uncertain about how much and where in the world terrestrial carbon is being stored. In the July 14 issue of Science Express, scientists report that, between 1990 and 2007, the world's forests stored about 2.4 gigatons of carbon per year. Their results suggest that forests account for almost all of the world's land-based carbon uptake. Boreal forests are estimated to be responsible for 22 percent of the carbon stored in the forests. A warming climate has the potential to increase fires and insect damage in the boreal forest and reduce its capacity to sequester carbon. "Our results imply that clearly, forests play a critical role in Earth's terrestrial carbon balance, and exert considerable control over the evolution of atmospheric carbon dioxide," said A. David McGuire, co-author and professor of ecology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Institute of Arctic Biology and co-leader of the USGS Alaska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. The report includes comprehensive estimates of carbon for the world's forests based on recent inventory data. The scientists included information on changes in carbon pools from dead wood, harvested wood products, living plants and plant litter, and soils to estimate changes in carbon across countries, regions and continents that represent boreal, temperate and tropical forests. The authors note that understanding the present and future role of forests in the sequestration and emission of carbon is essential for informed discussions on limiting greenhouse gases.

  52. 29-07-2011 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - heat release into space - Earth's Atmosphere May Be More Efficient at Releasing Energy to Space Than Climate Models Indicate, Satellite Data Suggest - ScienceDaily (July 29, 2011) — Data from NASA's Terra satellite suggests that when the climate warms, Earth's atmosphere is apparently more efficient at releasing energy to space than models used to forecast climate change may indicate, according to a new study. The result is climate forecasts that are warming substantially faster than the atmosphere, says Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist in the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. The previously unexplained differences between model-based forecasts of rapid global warming and meteorological data showing a slower rate of warming have been the source of often contentious debate and controversy for more than two decades. In research published this week in the journal Remote Sensing, Spencer and UA Huntsville's Dr. Danny Braswell compared what a half dozen climate models say the atmosphere should do to satellite data showing what the atmosphere actually did during the 18 months before and after warming events between 2000 and 2011. "The satellite observations suggest there is much more energy lost to space during and after warming than the climate models show," Spencer said. "There is a huge discrepancy between the data and the forecasts that is especially big over the oceans." Not only does the atmosphere release more energy than previously thought, it starts releasing it earlier in a warming cycle. The models forecast that the climate should continue to absorb solar energy until a warming event peaks. Instead, the satellite data shows the climate system starting to shed energy more than three months before the typical warming event reaches its peak. "At the peak, satellites show energy being lost while climate models show energy still being gained," Spencer said. This is the first time scientists have looked at radiative balances during the months before and after these transient temperature peaks. Applied to long-term climate change, the research might indicate that the climate is less sensitive to warming due to increased carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere than climate modelers have theorized. A major underpinning of global warming theory is that the slight warming caused by enhanced greenhouse gases should change cloud cover in ways that cause additional warming, which would be a positive feedback cycle. Instead, the natural ebb and flow of clouds, solar radiation, heat rising from the oceans and a myriad of other factors added to the different time lags in which they impact the atmosphere might make it impossible to isolate or accurately identify which piece of Earth's changing climate is feedback from human-made greenhouse gases. "There are simply too many variables to reliably gauge the right number for that," Spencer said. "The main finding from this research is that there is no solution to the problem of measuring atmospheric feedback, due mostly to our inability to distinguish between radiative forcing and radiative feedback in our observations." For this experiment, the UA Huntsville team used surface temperature data gathered by the Hadley Climate Research Unit in Great Britain. The radiant energy data was collected by the Clouds and Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) instruments aboard NASA's Terra satellite. The six climate models were chosen from those used by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The UA Huntsville team used the three models programmed using the greatest sensitivity to radiative forcing and the three that programmed in the least sensitivity.

  53. 08-08-2011 eco nws - global warming - models - 2100 - future of the atmosphere - Human Influence On the 21st Century Climate: One Possible Future for the Atmosphere - ScienceDaily (Aug. 8, 2011) — New computer modeling work shows that by 2100, if society wants to limit carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to less than 40 percent higher than it is today, the lowest cost option is to use every available means of reducing emissions. This includes more nuclear and renewable energy, choosing electricity over fossil fuels, reducing emissions through technologies that capture and store carbon dioxide, and even using forests to store carbon. Researchers from the Joint Global Change Research Institute introduced the work, called the RCP 4.5 scenario, in a special July 29 online issue of the journal Climatic Change. The scenario is one of four that scientists will use worldwide to independently study how the climate might respond to different increases of greenhouse gases and how much of the sun's energy they trap in the atmosphere. It can also be used to study possible ways to slow climate change and adapt to it. The team used the PNNL Global Change Assessment Model, or GCAM, to generate the scenario. GCAM uses market forces to reach a specified target by allowing global economics to put a price on carbon. And unlike similar models, it includes carbon stored in forests, causing forest acreage to increase -- even as energy systems change to include fuels generated from bioenergy crops and crop waste. "The RCP 4.5 scenario assumes that action will be taken to limit emissions. Without any action, the emissions, and the heat trapped in the atmosphere, would be much higher, leading to more severe climate change," said lead author Allison Thomson, a scientist at JGCRI, a collaboration between the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., and the University of Maryland. "This scenario and the other three produced in this project will provide a common thread for climate change research across many different science communities," Thomson said. - The Forested Future - Five years ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change asked the climate science community to provide scenarios of greenhouse gas emissions and land use change to guide computer models that simulate potential changes to Earth's climate. Researchers decided on four possible targets that span a wide range of possible levels of human-made greenhouse gas emissions over the next century. These future scenarios are currently being used by climate modeling groups worldwide in a coordinated effort to compare models and advance the science of climate projections. The researchers assigned each of the scenarios a specific target amount of the sun's energy that gets trapped in the atmosphere, a property called radiative forcing. Because of differences between the scenarios, each one will produce slightly different degrees of warming. The RCP 4.5 scenario shoots for 4.5 Watts per square meters radiative forcing in 2100 and lets economics reveal how to achieve that goal the cheapest way possible. The scenario's 4.5 W/m2 means roughly 525 parts per million carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (currently, it hovers around 390 parts per million). It also means approximately 650 parts per million carbon dioxide-equivalents, which includes greenhouse gases besides carbon dioxide. Unlike the other three scenarios, RCP 4.5 includes carbon in forests in the carbon market. This affects how people use land, as cutting down forests emits carbon dioxide but expanding forests stores it. An earlier modeling study showed that without placing such a value, forests could get cut down for use as biofuels and the land on which they stood used for crops. - The Greenhouse Race - Starting with the world as it looked in 2005 and setting the endpoint at 2100, the team let the model simulate the greenhouse gas emissions and land use change over the next century. They also ran the model without any explicit greenhouse gas control policy or carbon price to compare how such a future might turn out. Without any emission controls, carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere doubled by 2100. By design, RCP 4.5 limits them to about 35 percent higher than 2005 levels. The conditions to limit emissions did not specify how to go about doing that, only that carbon from all sources had economic value. Under limiting conditions, carbon dioxide prices rose steadily until they reached $85 per ton of carbon dioxide by 2100, in 2005 dollars. In the scenario, the price of carbon stimulated a rise in nuclear power and renewable energy use. Also, it became cheaper to implement technologies that capture and store emissions from fossil- and bio-fuel based electricity than to emit carbon dioxide. Buildings and industry became more energy efficient and used cleaner electricity for their energy needs. Additionally, carbon dioxide emissions from human-made sources peaked around 2040 at 42 gigatons per year (currently, emissions are at 30 gigatons per year), decreased with about the same speed as they rose, then levelled out after 2080 at around 15 gigatons per year. - Resolving Power - Also, the team converted the results of the scenario to match the resolution of the climate models that are using the results. That way, scientists can more easily integrate RCP 4.5 with climate models. Economies, for example, occur on national scales, but chemical reactions of gas in the air occur in much smaller spaces. This change in scale to accommodate climate models reveals important regional details. For example, although globally methane emissions change little over the century, their geographic origins shift around. As the century wears on, South America and Africa put out more methane and the industrialized nations less. In addition, the percentage of people's income that they're spending on food goes down even though food prices rise. The researchers attribute this result to a shift from agricultural practices with high carbon footprints to lower ones, as shown in previous work. While introducing this scenario to climate researchers, the PNNL researchers provide comparisons to other scenarios with similar emissions limits, as well as to scenarios of the other three radiative forcing targets covered by this community activity. The special issue of Climatic Change features papers documenting those other three scenarios as well as several papers reviewing specific parts of the entire scenario exercise. "It's very important that the climate community has this resource so that they all work from the same data. This common thread will help researchers and policymakers address the problems that climate change will bring us," said Thomson.

  54. 09-08-2011 eco nws - global warming - system - co2 - carbon sink - forests - Forests Absorb One Third of Fossil Fuel Emissions, Study Finds - ScienceDaily (Aug. 9, 2011) — The world's established forests remove 2.4 billion tonnes of carbon per year from the atmosphere -- equivalent to one third of current annual fossil fuel emissions -- according to new research published in the journal Science. This is the first time volumes of the greenhouse gas absorbed from the atmosphere by tropical, temperate and boreal forests have been so clearly identified. "This is really a timely breakthrough with which we can now clearly demonstrate how forests and changes in landscape such as wildfire or forest regrowth impact the removal or release of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2)," says CSIRO co-author of the paper, Dr Pep Canadell. "What this research tells us is that forests play a much larger role as carbon sinks as a result of tree growth and forest expansion." Dr Canadell, who is also the Executive Director of the Global Carbon Project, said the international research team combined data from forest inventories, models and satellites to construct a profile of forests as major regulators of atmospheric CO2. In addition to the large carbon sink, he said scientists now know that deforestation is responsible for emitting 2.9 billion tonnes of carbon per year -- an exchange that had not been known in the past because of a lack of data. For comparison, total emissions from fossil fuels are currently above eight billion tonnes of carbon per year. Dr Canadell said emissions from deforestation are much larger than previously thought, suggesting that the potential benefits of avoiding deforestation through the United Nations-backed Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) scheme, are much larger than previously appreciated. The REDD scheme aims to formulate a financial value for the carbon stored in forests. Dr Canadell said a surprising finding was the large capacity of tropical forest re-growth to remove atmospheric CO2. Regrowth takes place following the end of logging and slash-and-burn land clearing projects. and, to a lesser extent, when new forest plantations are planted. "We estimate that tropical forest regrowth is removing an average of 1.6 billion tonnes of carbon per year. Unfortunately, some countries have not looked on forest regrowth as a component of REDD, and so are missing a very important opportunity to gain even further climate benefits from the conservation of forests. "Combining the uptake by established and forest re-growth plus emissions from deforestation, the world's forests have a net effect on atmospheric CO2 equivalent to the removal of 1.1 billion tonnes of carbon every year. "Carbon exchanges from tropical forests have the highest uncertainties in this analysis and this research has required a concerted effort to refine them to our best knowledge," Dr Canadell said.

  55. 11-08-2011 eco nws - global warming - system - atmosphere - co2 - carbon sink - forests - Carbon Sink: Up-And-Coming Forests Replacing Aging Forests of Upper Great Lakes - ScienceDaily (Aug. 11, 2011) — The aging forests of the Upper Great Lakes could be considered the baby boomers of the region's ecosystem. The decline of trees in this area is a cause for concern among policymakers and ecologists who wonder whether the end of the forests' most productive years means they will no longer offer the benefits they are known for: cleansed air, fertile soil, filtered water and, most important to climate change analysts, carbon storage that offsets greenhouse gas emissions. A team of ecologists led by Ohio State University researchers says, however, that coming up right underneath the old forests is a new generation of native trees that are younger, more diverse and highly competitive. They represent a vast unknown compared to what ecologists have long theorized about how forests work as carbon sinks, but these researchers expect the next generation to carry on the important work of carbon storage. "There's a conventional theory that aging forests, for a variety of reasons, store less carbon over time. We contend that that may be true in certain systems that are less species-rich. But in our forests in the Midwest, the tree species we will end up with are much different from what we started with," said Peter Curtis, professor and chair of evolution, ecology and organismal biology at Ohio State and a lead investigator on this research. "We argue that in this case, as forests age, they get rejuvenated with younger individuals of different species -- a more complex and diverse community will be replacing the old guard. They may even outdo the boomer generation and be more productive." Curtis and colleagues base their predictions on preliminary findings from a project in which they have accelerated the generational shift in part of a forest in northern Michigan. By cutting strips of bark from thousands of aspen trees to hasten their death, the scientists are able to observe the characteristics of the trees that will replace this 100-year-old cohort. So far, the scientists are finding that the canopy created by the newcomers' leaves use light more efficiently to manufacture carbohydrates and release oxygen through photosynthesis than did the aspen canopy that preceded it. The researchers also are able to use sophisticated instruments to quantify nitrogen cycling in the transitioning forest, and observe that nitrogen losses throughout the system are small even with the death of thousands of trees. As long as nitrogen remains available -- within tree wood and leaves as well as in the soil -- for the trees to renew themselves annually, the forest will continue to function as an effective carbon sink. Curtis presented portions of the research on August 10 at the Ecological Society of America annual meeting in Austin, Texas. The research team conducts its work at the University of Michigan Biological Station (UMBS). The composition of this forested research facility is representative of the forests stretching about 40,000 square miles -- the equivalent of the land mass of Ohio -- across the entire upper Midwest. Aspens compose the vast majority of old trees in the region, cropping up quickly after a period of deforestation between 1880 and 1920 that was followed by abandonment of the land and a rash of wildfires. Curtis describes aspens as trees that "live fast and die young." Their seeds spread easily and that allowed the species to revegetate the deforested areas rapidly, but they do not grow well in shade underneath their own canopies. Because of that weakness, the aspens are being replaced by tree species that were once native to the region but take longer to get established. Aspens live only about 100 years on average, compared to the oak, sugar maple, beech, hemlock and pine species that are replacing them, which can live for as long as 600 years. The researchers previously calculated that the Midwestern forests could offset the greenhouse gas emissions of almost two-thirds of nearby populations by storing an average of 1,300 pounds of carbon per acre -- a total of 350,000 tons -- per year. To test the forests' future carbon storage capacity, the researchers launched the Forest Accelerated Succession Experiment (FASET) in 2008, girdling almost 7,000 aspen trees across about 100 acres. Girdling involves cutting a strip of bark from the circumference of a tree trunk. To date, about 75 percent of the aspen trees are dead, and about 15 percent have fallen. Their demise is making way for a more diverse forest, Curtis said. Though some ecological theories suggest that a simple system -- say, all pine or all aspen -- can be more productive in the short term, a more complex system is needed to withstand the inevitable disturbance that will accompany climate change, he said. "The more diverse system can solve problems that are thrown at it by the environment," Curtis said. "Adaptation is a key word here. As animal and plant species are moving around or changing seasonally, a diverse and resilient ecosystem is going to be much better able to provide ecological niches and the goods and services that we can hope to get from it." So far, the accelerated succession is showing that with the loss of the aspens, the light-use efficiency of the forest canopy increased. "Even with fewer leaves, the leaf area was better distributed. It's happening quite rapidly. As soon as you take away these aspen, you get a lot more nitrogen and more light, and other species react to that very quickly," Curtis said. "There was more nitrogen available because aspens weren't there to take it up, and dead leaves and dead roots were releasing nitrogen." Considering the magnitude of the disturbance of killing thousands of trees, the researchers were surprised to see that the system lost almost no nitrogen. Plants use nitrogen, which becomes available through the decomposition of organic matter, to produce the next year's leaves and wood. Plants also need nitrogen to take up carbon. Clear-cutting trees would allow nitrogen to drain out of the bottom of the system because no roots would exist to intercept that loss, Curtis explained. Though the rapid loss of aspens did lead to about a 10 percent loss of nitrogen, almost that same amount was recaptured in atmospheric nitrogen that comes down to the land surface in rain. The wood mass and soil organic matter are vital to a forest's carbon-storage capacity; in the UMBS forest, stem wood, leaves and debris contain about 42 percent of the carbon there. Though forests also release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the instrumentation used by these researchers to analyze the ongoing carbon exchange between the forest and atmosphere has been able to confirm the forest's status as an important national carbon sink, Curtis said. The concept of using forests to store carbon has steadily gained attention among policymakers, especially since the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997 as a global program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Curtis's group has received $1 million in additional funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to continue evaluating forests' role in storing carbon.

  56. 23-08-2011 eco nws - global warming - impact - permafrost - atmosphere - co2 - Permafrost Could Release Vast Amounts of Carbon and Accelerate Climate Change by End of Century - ScienceDaily (Aug. 23, 2011) — Billions of tons of carbon trapped in high-latitude permafrost may be released into the atmosphere by the end of this century as Earth's climate changes, further accelerating global warming, a new computer modeling study indicates. The study also found that soil in high-latitude regions could shift from being a sink to a source of carbon dioxide by the end of the 21st century as the soil warms in response to climate change. The research was led by Charles Koven of the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). He conducted the research with a team of scientists from France, Canada, and the United Kingdom while he was a postdoctoral researcher at France's Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement. The modeling was conducted at a supercomputing facility run by France's Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission. Their study was published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Their findings counter results from a comparison of models that was included in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 2007 fourth assessment report. The comparison found that climate change will spark a growth in high-latitude vegetation, which will pull in more carbon from the atmosphere than thawing permafrost will release. But unlike earlier models, the new model includes detailed processes of how carbon accumulates in high-latitude soil over millennia, and how it's released as permafrost thaws. Because it includes these processes, the model begins with much more carbon in the soil than previous models. It also better represents the carbon's vulnerability to decomposition as the soil warms. As a result, the new model found that the increase in carbon uptake by more vegetation will be overshadowed by a much larger amount of carbon released into the atmosphere. "Including permafrost processes turns out to be very important," says Koven, who joined Berkeley Lab's Earth Sciences Division as a staff scientist earlier this year. "Previous models tended to dramatically underestimate the amount of soil carbon at high latitudes because they lacked the processes of how carbon builds up in soil. Our model starts off with more carbon in the soil, so there is much more to lose with global warming." Koven and colleagues set out to estimate how much carbon dioxide and methane (which contains carbon) could be released by boreal and Arctic land ecosystems as a result of climate change. These regions are crucial to the global carbon cycle because they are rich in soil organic carbon, which has built up in frozen soils and peat layers over thousands of years. Much of this carbon is presently trapped and not cycling. But scientists believe that some of it could be released in response to warming and become a positive feedback to global climate change. At stake is an estimated 2,167 petagrams of carbon in all layers of high-latitude soil, which is more than two trillion U.S. tons. The scientists modified a land surface ecosystem model called ORCHIDEE to account for how carbon behaves at different layers, such as at the surface versus 30 centimeters below ground. They also accounted for the rate of soil carbon decomposition as a function of temperature at the freeze-thaw boundary, which sinks deeper and deeper as soil warms. Other improvements include soil physics that more realistically capture the effects of organic matter on carbon. Most other models do not have all of these phenomena. To determine how these processes affect the balance of carbon dioxide and methane in high-latitude soils, the scientists ran four simulations from 1860 to 2100, each with a different assortment of processes. They added in a middle-of-the-road climate change scenario that caused high-latitude surface soil to rise 8 degrees Celsius by 2100, which is much greater than the global average. The simulations revealed a climate-induced loss of between 25 and 85 petagrams of carbon, depending on the processes included. The best estimate is from a simulation that includes all of the permafrost soil processes. It found that 62 petagrams of soil carbon will be released into the atmosphere by 2100, or about 68 billion U.S. tons. This release of carbon is equivalent to an additional 7.5 years of global anthropogenic emissions at today's rate. The simulation also found only a slight increase in methane release, which is contrary to previous predictions. "People have this idea that permafrost thaw will release methane," says Koven. "But whether carbon comes out as carbon dioxide or methane is dependent on hydrology and other fine-scale processes that models have a poor ability to resolve. It's possible that warming at high latitudes leads to drying in many regions, and thus less methane emissions, and in fact this is what we found." Koven adds that there are large uncertainties in the model that need to be addressed, such as the role of nitrogen feedbacks, which affect plant growth. And he says that more research is needed to better understand the processes that cause carbon to be released in permanently frozen, seasonally frozen, and thawed soil layers. Researchers in Berkeley Lab's Earth Sciences Division are focusing on improving global climate model representations of these processes under two Department of Energy-funded projects.

  57. 14-09-2011 eco nws - global warming - impact - forests - atmosphere - temperature - Water Evaporated from Trees Cools Global Climate, Researchers Find - ScienceDaily (Sep. 14, 2011) — Scientists have long debated about the impact on global climate of water evaporated from vegetation. New research from Carnegie's Global Ecology department concludes that evaporated water helps cool Earth as a whole, not just the local area of evaporation, demonstrating that evaporation of water from trees and lakes could have a cooling effect on the entire atmosphere. These findings, published Sept. 14 in Environmental Research Letters, have major implications for land-use decision making. Evaporative cooling is the process by which a local area is cooled by the energy used in the evaporation process, energy that would have otherwise heated the area's surface. It is well known that the paving over of urban areas and the clearing of forests can contribute to local warming by decreasing local evaporative cooling, but it was not understood whether this decreased evaporation would also contribute to global warming Earth has been getting warmer over at least the past several decades, primarily as a result of the emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of coal, oil, and gas, as well as the clearing of forests. But because water vapor plays so many roles in the climate system, the global climate effects of changes in evaporation were not well understood. The researchers even thought it was possible that evaporation could have a warming effect on global climate, because water vapor acts as a greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. Also, the energy taken up in evaporating water is released back into the environment when the water vapor condenses and returns to earth, mostly as rain. Globally, this cycle of evaporation and condensation moves energy around, but cannot create or destroy energy. So, evaporation cannot directly affect the global balance of energy on our planet. The team led by George Ban-Weiss, formerly of Carnegie and currently at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, included Carnegie's Long Cao, Julia Pongratz and Ken Caldeira, as well as Govindasamy Bala of the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. Using a climate model, they found that increased evaporation actually had an overall cooling effect on the global climate. Increased evaporation tends to cause clouds to form low in the atmosphere, which act to reflect the sun's warming rays back out into space. This has a cooling influence. "This shows us that the evaporation of water from trees and lakes in urban parks, like New York's Central Park, not only help keep our cities cool, but also helps keep the whole planet cool," Caldeira said. "Our research also shows that we need to improve our understanding of how our daily activities can drive changes in both local and global climate. That steam coming out of your tea-kettle may be helping to cool the Earth, but that cooling influence will be overwhelmed if that water was boiled by burning gas or coal."

  58. 18-09-2011 eco nws - global warming - impact - oceans - atmosphere - temperature - Deep Oceans Can Mask Global Warming for Decade-Long Periods - ScienceDaily (Sep. 18, 2011) — The planet's deep oceans at times may absorb enough heat to flatten the rate of global warming for periods of as long as a decade even in the midst of longer-term warming, according to a new analysis led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The study, based on computer simulations of global climate, points to ocean layers deeper than 1,000 feet (300 meters) as the main location of the "missing heat" during periods such as the past decade when global air temperatures showed little trend. The findings also suggest that several more intervals like this can be expected over the next century, even as the trend toward overall warming continues. "We will see global warming go through hiatus periods in the future," says NCAR's Gerald Meehl, lead author of the study. "However, these periods would likely last only about a decade or so, and warming would then resume. This study illustrates one reason why global temperatures do not simply rise in a straight line." The research, by scientists at NCAR and the Bureau of Meteorology in Australia, is published online in Nature Climate Change. Funding for the study came from the National Science Foundation, NCAR's sponsor, and the Department of Energy. - Where the missing heat goes - The 2000s were Earth's warmest decade in more than a century of weather records. However, the single-year mark for warmest global temperature, which had been set in 1998, remained unmatched until 2010. Yet emissions of greenhouse gases continued to climb during the 2000s, and satellite measurements showed that the discrepancy between incoming sunshine and outgoing radiation from Earth actually increased. This implied that heat was building up somewhere on Earth, according to a 2010 study published in Science by NCAR researchers Kevin Trenberth and John Fasullo. The two scientists, who are coauthors on the new study, suggested that the oceans might be storing some of the heat that would otherwise go toward other processes, such as warming the atmosphere or land, or melting more ice and snow. Observations from a global network of buoys showed some warming in the upper ocean, but not enough to account for the global build-up of heat. Although scientists suspected the deep oceans were playing a role, few measurements were available to confirm that hypothesis. To track where the heat was going, Meehl and colleagues used a powerful software tool known as the Community Climate System Model, which was developed by scientists at NCAR and the Department of Energy with colleagues at other organizations. Using the model's ability to portray complex interactions between the atmosphere, land, oceans, and sea ice, they performed five simulations of global temperatures. The simulations, which were based on projections of future greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, indicated that temperatures would rise by several degrees during this century. But each simulation also showed periods in which temperatures would stabilize for about a decade before climbing again. For example, one simulation showed the global average rising by about 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit (1.4 degrees Celsius) between 2000 and 2100, but with two decade-long hiatus periods during the century. During these hiatus periods, simulations showed that extra energy entered the oceans, with deeper layers absorbing a disproportionate amount of heat due to changes in oceanic circulation. The vast area of ocean below about 1,000 feet (300 meters) warmed by 18% to 19% more during hiatus periods than at other times. In contrast, the shallower global ocean above 1,000 feet warmed by 60% less than during non-hiatus periods in the simulation. "This study suggests the missing energy has indeed been buried in the ocean," Trenberth says. "The heat has not disappeared, and so it cannot be ignored. It must have consequences." - A pattern like La Niña - The simulations also indicated that the oceanic warming during hiatus periods has a regional signature. During a hiatus, average sea-surface temperatures decrease across the tropical Pacific, while they tend to increase at higher latitudes, especially around 30°S and 30°N in the Pacific and between 35°N and 40°N in the Atlantic, where surface waters converge to push heat into deeper oceanic layers. These patterns are similar to those observed during a La Niña event, according to Meehl. He adds that El Niño and La Niña events can be overlaid on top of a hiatus-related pattern. Global temperatures tend to drop slightly during La Niña, as cooler waters reach the surface of the tropical Pacific, and they rise slightly during El Niño, when those waters are warmer. "The main hiatus in observed warming has corresponded with La Niña conditions, which is consistent with the simulations," Trenberth says. The simulations were part of NCAR's contribution to the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5). They were run on supercomputers at NCAR's National Science Foundation-supported Climate Simulation Laboratory, and on supercomputers at Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility and the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, both supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy.

  59. 21-09-2011 eco nws - global warming - impact - atmosphere - co2 - emissions - kyoto - Steep Increase in Global CO2 Emissions Despite Reductions by Industrialized Countries With Binding Kyoto Targets - fav - ScienceDaily (Sep. 21, 2011) — Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) -- the main cause of global warming -- increased by 45 % between 1990 and 2010, and reached an all-time high of 33 billion tonnes in 2010. Increased energy efficiency, nuclear energy and the growing contribution of renewable energy are not compensating for the globally increasing demand for power and transport, which is strongest in developing countries. This increase took place despite emission reductions in industrialised countries during the same period. Even though different countries show widely variable emission trends, industrialised countries are likely to meet the collective Kyoto target of a 5.2 % reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2012 as a group, partly thanks to large emission reductions from economies in transition in the early nineties and more recent reductions due to the 2008-2009 recession. These figures were published in the report "Long-term trend in global CO2 emissions," prepared by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre and PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. The report, which is based on recent results from the Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR) and latest statistics for energy use and other activities, shows large national differences between industrialised countries. Over the period 1990-2010, in the EU-27 and Russia CO2 emissions decreased by 7% and 28% respectively, while the USA's emissions increased by 5% and the Japanese emissions remained more or less constant. The industrialised countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol (so called 'ratifying Annex 1 countries') and the USA, in 1990 caused about two-thirds of global CO2 emissions. Their share of global emissions has now fallen to less than half the global total. Continued growth in the developing countries and emerging economies and economic recovery by the industrialised countries are the main reasons for a record breaking 5.8% increase in global CO2 emissions between 2009 and 2010. Most major economies contributed to this increase, led by China, USA, India and EU-27 with increases of 10%, 4%, 9% and 3% respectively. The increase is significant even when compared to 2008, when global CO2 emissions were at their highest before the global financial crisis. It can be noted that in EU-27, CO2 emissions remain lower in absolute terms than they were before the crisis (4.0 billion tonnes in 2010 as compared to 4.2 billion tonnes in 2007). At present, the USA emits 16.9 tonnes CO2 per capita per year, over twice as much as the EU-27 with 8.1 tonnes. By comparison, Chinese per capita CO2 emissions of 6.8 tonnes are still below the EU-27 average, but now equal those of Italy. It should be noted that the average figures for China and EU-27 hide significant regional differences. Long term global growth in CO2 emissions continues to be driven by power generation and road transport, both in industrial and developing countries. Globally, they account for about 40% and 15% respectively of the current total and both have consistent long-term annual growth rates of between 2.5% and 5%. Throughout the Kyoto Protocol period, industrialised countries have made efforts to change their energy sources mix. Between 1990 and 2010 they reduced their dependence on coal (from 25% to 20% of total energy production) and oil (from 38% to 36.5%), and shifted towards natural gas (which increased from 23% to 27 %), nuclear energy (from 8% to 9%) and renewable energy (from 6.5% to 8%). In addition they made progress in energy savings, for example by insulation of buildings, more energy-efficient end-use devices and higher fuel efficiencies. The report shows that the current efforts to change the mix of energy sources cannot yet compensate for the ever increasing global demand for power and transport. This needs to be considered in future years in all efforts to mitigate the growth of global greenhouse gas emissions, as desired by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Bali Action Plan and the Cancún agreements.

  60. 22-09-2011 eco nws - global warming - atmosphere - co2 - since 1990 - kyoto - Global warming's CO2 culprit jumps 45% since 1990 - Global emissions of carbon dioxide, the main cause of global warming, jumped 45% between 1990 and 2010, and reached an all-time high of 33 billion tons last year, the European Commission reports. The emission cuts in some industrialized countries that are relying more on energy efficiency and renewable power are not enough to offset the escalating demand for energy, especially in developing countries, according to the new report by the EC's Joint Research Centre and PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. The report, based on the latest data, shows large national differences. The 27 member nations of the European Union (EU-27) cut CO2 emissions 7% during the 1990-2010 peri0d and Russia slashed them 28%. In contrast, U.S. emissions increased 5% and Japanese emissions remained fairly constant. Continued growth in developing countries and economic recovery in the industrialized world account largely for the record 5.8% hike in global CO2 emissions between 2009 and 2010, according to the report. Major economies contributed to this upswing, led by China, the U.S., India and the EU-27 with increases of 10%, 4%, 9% and 3% respectively. The report says the U.S. emits 16.9 tons of CO2 per capita per year, more than twice that of the EU-27's 8.1 tons and China's 6.8 tons.

  61. 05-10-2011 eco nws - global warming - atmosphere - co2 - photosynthesis - 25% faster than thought - Global Photosynthesis: New Insight Will Help Predict Future Climate Change - ScienceDaily (Oct. 5, 2011) — A new insight into global photosynthesis, the chemical process governing how ocean and land plants absorb and release carbon dioxide, has been revealed in research that will assist scientists to more accurately assess future climate change. In a paper published September 28 in Nature, a team of US, Dutch and Australian scientists have estimated that the global rate of photosynthesis, the chemical process governing the way ocean and land plants absorb and release CO2, occurs 25% faster than previously thought. From analysing more than 30 years of data collected by Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego including air samples collected and analysed by CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology from the Cape Grim Air Pollution Monitoring Station, scientists have deduced the mean rate of photosynthesis over several decades and identified the El Nino-Southern Oscillation phenomenon as a regulator of the type of oxygen atoms found in CO2 from the far north to the south pole. "Our analysis suggests that current estimates of global primary production are too low and the refinements we propose represent a new benchmark for models to simulate carbon cycling through plants," says co-author, Dr Colin Allison, an atmospheric chemist at CSIRO's Aspendale laboratories. The study, led by Dr Lisa Welp from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, California, traced the path of oxygen atoms in CO2 molecules, which tells researchers how long the CO2 has been in the atmosphere and how fast it had passed through plants. From this, they estimated that the global rate of photosynthesis is about 25 percent faster than previously thought. "It's difficult to measure the rate of photosynthesis for forests, let alone the entire globe. For a single leaf it's straightforward, you just put it in an instrument chamber and measure the CO2 decreasing in the chamber air," said Dr Welp. "But you cannot do that for an entire forest. What we have done is to use a naturally occurring marker, an oxygen isotope, in atmospheric CO2 that allows us to track how often it ended up inside a plant leaf, and from oxygen isotopic CO2 data collected around the world we can estimate the mean global rate of photosynthesis over the last few decades." In other studies, analysis of water and oxygen components found in ocean sediments and ice cores have provided scientists with a 'big picture' insight into carbon cycling over millions of years, but the search for the finer details of exchanges or uptake through ocean algae and terrestrial plant leaves has been out of reach. Dr Allison said understanding the exchange of gases, including CO2 and water vapour, in the biosphere -- oceans, land and atmosphere -- is especially significant to climate science, and to policymakers, because of its relevance to global management of carbon emissions. The authors said that their new estimate of the rate of global photosynthesis will help guide other estimates of plant activity, such as the capacity of forests and crops to grow and fix carbon, and help re-define how scientists measure and model the cycling of CO2 between the atmosphere and plants on land and in the ocean. Dr Allison said understanding the exchange of gases, including CO2 and water vapour, in the biosphere -- oceans, land and atmosphere -- is especially significant to climate science, and to policymakers, because of its relevance to global management of carbon emissions. "Quantifying this global production, centred on the exchange of growth-promoting CO2 and water vapour, has been historically difficult because there are no direct measurements at scales greater than leaf levels. "Inferences drawn from atmospheric measurements provide an estimate of ecosystem exchanges and satellite-based observations can be used to estimate overall primary production, but as a result of this new research we have re-defined the rate of biospheric carbon exchange between atmosphere, land and ocean. "These results can be used to validate the biospheric components included in carbon cycle models and, although still tentative, may be useful in predicting future climate change," Dr Allison said. CSIRO's Dr Roger Francey was a co-author on the project, led by Scripps' Drs Welp and Ralph Keeling. Other co-authors of the study are Harro Meijer from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands; Alane Bollenbacher, Stephen Piper and Martin Wahlen from Scripps; and Kei Yoshimura from the University of Tokyo, Japan. Dr Allison said a critical element of the research was access to long data sets at multiple locations, such as Cape Grim, Mauna Loa and South Pole, extending back to 1977 when Cape Grim was established in Tasmania's north-west, together with more recent samples from facilities such as Christmas Island, Samoa, California and Alaska. The Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution Station provides vital information about changes to the atmospheric composition of the Southern Hemisphere.

  62. 13-10-2011 eco nws - global warming - impact - forests - atmosphere - co2 - ozone - Future Forests May Soak Up More Carbon Dioxide Than Previously Believed - ScienceDaily (Oct. 13, 2011) — North American forests appear to have a greater capacity to soak up heat-trapping carbon dioxide gas than researchers had previously anticipated. As a result, they could help slow the pace of human-caused climate warming more than most scientists had thought, a U-M ecologist and his colleagues have concluded. The results of a 12-year study at an experimental forest in northeastern Wisconsin challenge several long-held assumptions about how future forests will respond to the rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide blamed for human-caused climate change, said University of Michigan microbial ecologist Donald Zak, lead author of a paper published online this week in Ecology Letters. "Some of the initial assumptions about ecosystem response are not correct and will have to be revised," said Zak, a professor at the U-M School of Natural Resources and Environment and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. To simulate atmospheric conditions expected in the latter half of this century, Zak and his colleagues continuously pumped extra carbon dioxide into the canopies of trembling aspen, paper birch and sugar maple trees at a 38-acre experimental forest in Rhinelander, Wis., from 1997 to 2008. Some of the trees were also bathed in elevated levels of ground-level ozone, the primary constituent in smog, to simulate the increasingly polluted air of the future. Both parts of the federally funded experiment -- the carbon dioxide and the ozone treatments -- produced unexpected results. In addition to trapping heat, carbon dioxide is known to have a fertilizing effect on trees and other plants, making them grow faster than they normally would. Climate researchers and ecosystem modelers assume that in coming decades, carbon dioxide's fertilizing effect will temporarily boost the growth rate of northern temperate forests. Previous studies have concluded that this growth spurt would be short-lived, grinding to a halt when the trees can no longer extract the essential nutrient nitrogen from the soil. But in the Rhinelander study, the trees bathed in elevated carbon dioxide continued to grow at an accelerated rate throughout the 12-year experiment. In the final three years of the study, the CO2-soaked trees grew 26 percent more than those exposed to normal levels of carbon dioxide. It appears that the extra carbon dioxide allowed trees to grow more small roots and "forage" more successfully for nitrogen in the soil, Zak said. At the same time, the rate at which microorganisms released nitrogen back to the soil, as fallen leaves and branches decayed, increased. "The greater growth has been sustained by an acceleration, rather than a slowing down, of soil nitrogen cycling," Zak said. "Under elevated carbon dioxide, the trees did a better job of getting nitrogen out of the soil, and there was more of it for plants to use." Zak stressed that growth-enhancing effects of CO2 in forests will eventually "hit the wall" and come to a halt. The trees' roots will eventually "fully exploit" the soil's nitrogen resources. No one knows how long it will take to reach that limit, he said. The ozone portion of the 12-year experiment also held surprises. Ground-level ozone is known to damage plant tissues and interfere with photosynthesis. Conventional wisdom has held that in the future, increasing levels of ozone would constrain the degree to which rising levels of carbon dioxide would promote tree growth, canceling out some of a forest's ability to buffer projected climate warming. In the first few years of the Rhinelander experiment, that's exactly what was observed. Trees exposed to elevated levels of ozone did not grow as fast as other trees. But by the end of study, ozone had no effect at all on forest productivity. "What happened is that ozone-tolerant species and genotypes in our experiment more or less took up the slack left behind by those who were negatively affected, and that's called compensatory growth," Zak said. The same thing happened with growth under elevated carbon dioxide, under which some genotypes and species fared better than others. "The interesting take home point with this is that aspects of biological diversity -- like genetic diversity and plant species compositions -- are important components of an ecosystem's response to climate change," he said. "Biodiversity matters, in this regard."

  63. 17-10-2011 eco nws - global warming - impact - regions - atmosphere - co2 - Links in the Chain: Global Carbon Emissions and Consumption Difficult to Attribute - ScienceDaily (Oct. 17, 2011) — It is difficult to measure accurately each nation's contribution of carbon dioxide to Earth's atmosphere. Carbon is extracted out of the ground as coal, gas, and oil, and these fuels are often exported to other countries where they are burned to generate the energy that is used to make products. In turn, these products may be traded to still other countries where they are consumed. A team led by Carnegie's Steven Davis, and including Ken Caldeira, tracked and quantified this supply chain of global carbon dioxide emissions. Their work will be published online by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences during the week of October 17. Traditionally, the carbon dioxide emitted by burning fossil fuels is attributed to the country where the fuels were burned. But until now, there has not yet been a full accounting of emissions taking into consideration the entire supply chain, from where fuels originate all the way to where products made using the fuels are ultimately consumed. "Policies seeking to regulate emissions will affect not only the parties burning fuels but also those who extract fuels and consume products. No emissions exist in isolation, and everyone along the supply chain benefits from carbon-based fuels," Davis said. He and Caldeira, along with Glen Peters from the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo, Norway, based their analysis on fossil energy resources of coal, oil, natural gas, and secondary fuels traded among 58 industrial sectors and 112 countries in 2004. They found that fossil resources are highly concentrated and that the majority of fuel that is exported winds up in developed countries. Most of the countries that import a lot of fossil fuels also tend to import a lot of products. China is a notable exception to this trend. Davis and Caldeira say that their results show that enacting carbon pricing mechanisms at the point of extraction could be efficient and avoid the relocation of industries that could result from regulation at the point of combustion. Manufacturing of goods may shift from one country to another, but fossil fuel resources are geographically fixed. They found that regulating the fossil fuels extracted in China, the US, the Middle East, Russia, Canada, Australia, India, and Norway would cover 67% of global carbon dioxide emissions. The incentive to participate would be the threat of missing out on revenues from carbon-linked tariffs imposed further down the supply chain. Incorporating gross domestic product into these analyses highlights which countries' economies are most reliant on domestic resources of fossil energy and which economies are most dependent on traded fuels. "The country of extraction gets to sell their products and earn foreign exchange. The country of production gets to buy less-expensive fuels and therefore sell less-expensive products. The country of consumption gets to buy products at lower cost." Caldeira said. "However, we all have an interest in preventing the climate risk that the use of these fuels entails."

  64. 17-10-2011 eco nws - global warming - atmosphere - co2 - soil - from soil - water - rivers - U.S. Rivers and Streams Saturated With Carbon: Releasing Enough Carbon to Fuel 3.4 Million Car Trips to the Moon - ScienceDaily (Oct. 17, 2011) — Rivers and streams in the United States are releasing enough carbon into the atmosphere to fuel 3.4 million car trips to the moon, according to Yale researchers in Nature Geoscience. Their findings could change the way scientists model the movement of carbon between land, water and the atmosphere. "These rivers breathe a lot of carbon," said David Butman, a doctoral student and co-author of a study with Pete Raymond, professor of ecosystem ecology, both at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. "They are a source of CO2, just like we breathe CO2 and like smokestacks emit CO2, and this has never been systematically estimated from a region as large as the United States." The researchers assert that a significant amount of carbon contained in land, which first is absorbed by plants and forests through the air, is leaking into streams and rivers and then released into the atmosphere before reaching coastal waterways. "What we are able to show is that there is a source of atmospheric CO2 from streams and rivers, and that it is significant enough for terrestrial modelers to take note of it," said Butman. They analyzed samples taken by the United States Geological Survey from over 4,000 rivers and streams throughout the United States, and incorporated highly detailed geospatial data to model the flux of carbon dioxide from water. This release of carbon, said Butman, is the same as a car burning 40 billion gallons of gasoline. The paper, titled "Significant Efflux of Carbon Dioxide from Streams and Rivers in the United States," also indicates that as the climate heats up there will be more rain and snow, and that an increase in precipitation will result in even more terrestrial carbon flowing into rivers and streams and being released into the atmosphere. "This would mean that any estimate between carbon uptake in the biosphere and carbon being released through respiration in the biosphere will be even less likely to balance and must include the carbon in streams and rivers," he said. The researchers note in the paper that currently it is impossible to determine exactly how to include this flux in regional carbon budgets, because the influence of human activity on the release of CO2 into streams and rivers is still unknown.

  65. 27-10-2011 eco nws - global warming - atmosphere - co2 - world emission - world emissions - 44 billion tons co2 - 44 gigatons co2 - by 2020 - Global Warming Target to Stay Below 2 Degrees Requires More Action This Decade, Scientists Say - ScienceDaily (Oct. 27, 2011) — Climate scientists say the world's target to stay below a global warming of 2 degrees, made at the United Nations conference in Copenhagen in 2009 and Cancun 2010 will require decisive action this decade. A comprehensive review of 193 emission scenarios from scientific literature to date has been published in Nature Climate Change by University of Melbourne and international scientists. This study found the target of 44 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions (GtCO2eq) by 2020 is a feasible milestone and an economically optimal approach for countries to meet the internationally agreed 2 degree target. Dr Malte Meinshausen from the University of Melbourne's School of Earth Sciences and a senior author on the study said the world is currently at 48 GtCO2eq and as this research suggests, to reverse the growing emission trend this decade is vital. The study analysed feasible emissions scenarios, which included a mix of mitigation actions ranging from energy efficiency to carbon free technologies such as solar photovoltaic, wind and biomass. "Our study revealed there are many emissions scenarios that are economically and technologically feasible pathways to a 2 degree target, but that for countries to get closer to this target they need to honour the higher end of their pledges," he said. Using a risk-based climate model developed by Dr Meinshausen, an international team of scientists led by Joeri Rogelj from ETH Zurich, Switzerland, analyzed how global greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 can be managed with a long-term 2 degree target. By analysing the emissions scenarios in the climate model, researchers were able to generate a probabilistic projection of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere and global temperature for the next hundred years. And to determine in particular, which scenarios provided the best possible chance of reaching the global target of 2 degrees and moving to a zero carbon economy in the latter half of the century. "As long as we keep emitting carbon dioxide, the climate will continue to warm. There is no way around a zero carbon economy sooner or later if we want to stay below 2 degrees," Dr Meinshausen said. A previous United Nations Emissions Gap report in 2010 which summarised all comparable emissions pledges by industrialized and developing countries, found 2020 emissions would still rise well beyond 50 GtCO2eq. By specifying the level of 44 GtCO2eq, today's study suggests that countries' current pledges made at Copenhagen and Cancun are insufficient to meet the economically optimal milestone by 2020 to reach the 2 degree target. In terms of Australia, the Federal Government recently announced its emission trading system to reduce its emissions by 5% to 25% below 2000 levels. Targeting the 500 top polluters is the cornerstone to the policy to achieve its 5% target. "Our study confirms that only by moving to the more ambitious end of the pledges, 25% in the case of Australia, the world would be getting closer to being on track to the 44 GtCO2eq, 2 degree milestone," he said. "If the international community is serious about avoiding dangerous climate change, countries seem ill-advised by continuing to increase emissions, which they have done so in the last ten years, which ultimately will lead to disastrous consequences later on," he said. "We can anticipate Australia will be one of the countries hardest hit by climate change due to recent years of droughts and floods. This is consistent with projections that we are going to expect more of these kinds of extreme conditions in the coming decades," he added. "By our calculations, the world needs to do more this decade, as otherwise the 2 degree target to avert serious effects of climate change, is slipping out of reach," he said.

  66. 04-12-2011 eco nws - global warming - atmosphere - co2 - emissions - 10 gigaton - Global Carbon Emissions Reach Record 10 Billion Tons, Threatening 2 Degree Target - ScienceDaily (Dec. 4, 2011) — Global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels have increased by 49 per cent in the last two decades, according to the latest figures by an international team, including researchers at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of East Anglia. Published Dec. 4 in the journal Nature Climate Change, the new analysis by the Global Carbon Project shows fossil fuel emissions increased by 5.9 per cent in 2010 and by 49 per cent since 1990 -- the reference year for the Kyoto protocol. On average, fossil fuel emissions have risen by 3.1 per cent each year between 2000 and 2010 -- three times the rate of increase during the 1990s. They are projected to continue to increase by 3.1 per cent in 2011. Total emissions -- which combine fossil fuel combustion, cement production, deforestation and other land use emissions -- reached 10 billion tonnes of carbon* in 2010 for the first time. Half of the emissions remained in the atmosphere, where CO2 concentration reached 389.6 parts per million. The remaining emissions were taken up by the ocean and land reservoirs, in approximately equal proportions. Rebounding from the global financial crisis of 2008-09 when emissions temporarily decreased, last year's high growth was caused by both emerging and developed economies. Rich countries continued to outsource part of their emissions to emerging economies through international trade. Contributions to global emissions growth in 2010 were largest from China, the United States, India, the Russian Federation and the European Union. Emissions from the trade of goods and services produced in emerging economies but consumed in the West increased from 2.5 per cent of the share of rich countries in 1990 to 16 per cent in 2010. In the UK, fossil fuel CO2 emissions grew 3.8 per cent in 2010 but were 14 per cent below their 1990 levels. However, emissions from the trade of goods and services grew from 5 per cent of the emissions produced locally in 1990 to 46 per cent in 2010 -- overcompensating the reductions in local emissions. Emissions in the UK were 20 per cent above their 1990 levels when emissions from trade are taken into account. "Global CO2 emissions since 2000 are tracking the high end of the projections used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which far exceed two degrees warming by 2100," said co-author Prof Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and professor at the University of East Anglia. "Yet governments have pledged to keep warming below two degrees to avoid the most dangerous aspects of climate change such as widespread water stress and sea level rise, and increases in extreme climatic events. - "Taking action to reverse current trends is urgent." - Lead author Dr Glen Peters, of the Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research in Norway, said: "Many saw the global financial crisis as an opportunity to move the global economy away from persistent and high emissions growth, but the return to emissions growth in 2010 suggests the opportunity was not exploited." Co-author Dr Pep Canadell, executive director of the Global Carbon Project, added: "The global financial crisis has helped developed countries meet their production emission commitments as promised in the Kyoto Protocol and Copenhagen Accord, but its impact has been short-lived and pre-existing challenges remain." * Values reported here are in billion tonnes of carbon. To convert emissions to billion tonnes of CO2, multiply the value by 3.67.

  67. 06-12-2011 eco nws - global warming - atmosphere - co2 - statistics - 2011 - Global Carbon Project Annual Emissions Summary - ScienceDaily (Dec. 6, 2011) — Global carbon dioxide emissions increased by a record 5.9 per cent in 2010 following the dampening effect of the 2008-2009 Global Financial Crisis (GFC), according to scientists working with the Global Carbon Project. The Global Carbon Project (GCP) published its annual analysis in the journal Nature Climate Change, reporting that the impact of the GFC on emissions has been short-lived owing to strong emissions growth in emerging economies and a return to emissions growth in developed economies. Contributions to global emissions growth in 2010 were largest from China, USA, India, the Russian Federation, and the European Union, with a continuously growing global share from emerging economies. Coal burning was at the heart of the growth in fossil fuel and cement emissions accounting for 52% of the total growth. Coal burning was at the heart of the growth in fossil fuel and cement emissions accounting for 52% of the total growth. "The GFC was an opportunity to move the global economy away from a high emissions trajectory. This opportunity has not been realised but developed countries have moved some way closer to their emission reduction commitments as promised in the Kyoto Protocol and the Copenhagen Accord," said the GCP's Executive Director, CSIRO's Dr Pep Canadell. The atmospheric concentration of CO2 in 2010 rose to 389.6 parts per million, the highest recorded in at least the last 800,000 years. Dr Canadell and a member of the GCP's Scientific Steering Committee, CSIRO's Dr Mike Raupach are co-authors of the paper. The GCP produces an annual report card with the latest figures on all major carbon exchanges that result from human activities. Dr Raupach said the 2010 figures represent the highest annual growth recorded, and the highest annual growth rate since 2003. The international science team preparing the analysis tracked emissions growth in tandem with significant economic events since 1960. These included the 1970's oil crisis, the US Savings and Loans Crisis, the collapse of the Federated States of the Soviet Union, the Asian Financial Crisis, and finally the Global Financial Crisis. "The analysis suggests that in times of crisis, countries maintain economic output by supporting less-energy intensive activities," Dr Raupach said. "These burst-like dynamics are related to easing of energy prices, government investment to stimulate economic recovery, and the effect of a decade of high economic growth in the developing world which propagated into a rapid global post-GFC return to high emissions."

  68. 20-12-2011 eco nws - global warming - atmosphere - co2 - Climate Sensitivity Greater Than Previously Believed - ScienceDaily (Dec. 20, 2011) — Many of the particles in the atmosphere are produced by the natural world, and it is possible that plants have in recent decades reduced the effects of the greenhouse gases to which human activity has given rise. One consequence of this is that the climate may be more sensitive to emissions caused by human activity than we have previously believed. Scientists at the University of Gothenburg (Sweden) have collected new data that may lead to better climate models. "Emissions by plants to the atmosphere are influenced by climate change -- higher temperatures can increase the rate of the biological processes that control the emissions. If natural emissions increase as the temperature rises, this in turn increases the amount of particles that are formed," says Kent Salo of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Gothenburg. The interactions between particles and the climate constitute a very complex web of processes. The particles in the atmosphere consist to a large part of organic substances, which may arise from incomplete combustion in engines or boilers. Such substances may also arise from plant growth. Emissions from plants occur as gases, and are greater than emissions from other sources, in a global perspective. Once released into the atmosphere, the gases from plants are converted by many chemical processes, such that they can eventually condense and form particles. The particles that are formed in chemical reactions in the atmosphere are known as "secondary organic aerosols" (abbreviated to "SOA"), and consist of a complex mixture of organic substances. The particles age and change with time, and this process influences the effects that the particles have on human health and on the climate. "Particles in the atmosphere basically have a cooling effect on the Earth, and they affect cloud formation. The greater the number of particles in the air, the greater will be the number of cloud droplets. This affects the lifetime of the clouds and the amounts of precipitation, and consequently, the climate. Today, we do not have a fundamental understanding of how SOA particles are formed and the properties they have, despite them being an important component of, for example, climate models." Kent Salo has studied organic substances that are known to be components of particles in the atmosphere and how their physical properties can be used in models to understand the complicated systems that the SOAs constitute, and the effect they have on the climate. In order to study these processes, Kent Salo has developed a special instrument that measures the degree to which the particles evaporate when they are heated. He has carried out experiments at several major research facilities in Europe using this instrument.