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Tag Archive: carbon

  1. Are the Paris soil carbon sequestration goals unrealistic? Need nitrogen too

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    Posted: 21 Apr 2017 06:17 AM PDT  full article here

    The goal to offset rises in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations by increasing soil carbon storage by 4 per mille (0.4%) per year is unrealistic, say scientists in a new article.

    To store additional carbon in the soil, you need other nutrients, such as nitrogen. “You cannot build a house with only a pile of bricks but no mortar. Similarly, you cannot produce soil organic matter with only carbon,” explains Kees Jan van Groenigen, co-author of the paper and senior lecturer at the University of Exeter. “You need enormous amounts of nitrogen, and it is unclear where that nitrogen would come from. For example, to store the quantity of carbon mentioned in the 4p1000 goals, you would need extra nitrogen equivalent to 75% of current nitrogen fertilizer production, and for it to be in the right places. Practically speaking, that is just impossible.

    Does that mean that we should abandon the 4p1000 goals? “Absolutely not,” says Jan Willem van Groenigen: “Let’s not throw away the baby with the bathwater. The 4p1000 goals are a great inspiration to do everything we can as farmers, soil scientists, agronomists and policy makers to help fight global warming and at the same time improve our soils.” Instead, the authors appeal to the scientific community to think about the role of nutrients in reaching the 4p1000 goals. “For instance, this could mean that additional soil carbon should be stored in areas where nutrients are also available,” van Groenigen explains. “In other soils the best approach might be to focus on minimizing emissions of other greenhouse gases such as nitrous oxide and methane.”

    Jan Willem van Groenigen, Chris van Kessel, Bruce A. Hungate, Oene Oenema, David S. Powlson, Kees Jan van Groenigen. Sequestering Soil Organic Carbon: A Nitrogen Dilemma. Environmental Science & Technology, 2017; DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.7b01427

  2. Cover crops may be used to mitigate and adapt to climate change

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    April 17, 2017 Penn State see full ScienceDaily article here

    Cover crops long have been touted for their ability to reduce erosion, fix atmospheric nitrogen, reduce nitrogen leaching and improve soil health, but they also may play an important role in mitigating the effects of climate change on agriculture.

    ..cover-crop effects on greenhouse-gas fluxes typically mitigate warming by 100-150 grams of carbon per square meter per year, which is comparable to, and perhaps higher than, mitigation from transitioning to no-till….significantly, the surface albedo change — the proportion of energy from sunlight reflecting off of farm fields due to cover cropping — … may mitigate 12 to 46 grams of carbon per square meter per year over a 100-year time horizon,” Kaye wrote.

    …”Farmers and policymakers can expect cover cropping simultaneously to benefit soil quality, water quality and climate-change adaptation and mitigation,” he wrote.

    “Overall, we found very few tradeoffs between cover cropping and climate-change mitigation and adaptation, suggesting that ecosystem services that are traditionally expected from cover cropping can be promoted synergistically with services related to climate change.”

    Jason P. Kaye, Miguel Quemada. Using cover crops to mitigate and adapt to climate change. A review. Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 2017; 37 (1) DOI: 10.1007/s13593-016-0410-x

  3. Future carbon dioxide, climate warming potentially unprecedented in 420 million years

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    Posted: 04 Apr 2017 09:44 AM PDT  full ScienceDaily article here

    Over the next 100 to 200 years, carbon dioxide concentrations in the Earth’s atmosphere will head towards values not seen since the Triassic period, 200 million years ago. Furthermore, by the 23rd century, the climate could reach a warmth not seen in 420 million years, say researchers….

    …It is well recognised that the climate today is changing at rates well above the geological norm. If humanity fails to tackle rising CO2 and burns all the readily available fossil fuel, by AD 2250 CO2 will be at around 2000 ppm — levels not seen since 200 million years ago.

    Professor Foster adds: “However, because the Sun was dimmer back then, the net climate forcing 200 million years ago was lower than we would experience in such a high CO2 future. So not only will the resultant climate change be faster than anything Earth has seen for millions of years, the climate that will exist is likely to have no natural counterpart, as far as we can tell, in at least the last 420 million years.“…

    Gavin Foster et al. Future climate forcing potentially without precedent in the last 420 million years. Nature Communications, April 2017 DOI: 10.1038/NCOMMS14845

  4. Global CO2 emissions are flat for 3rd year, but need decline

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    • CO2 emissions globally have been level 3 years in a row
    • CO2 emissions decoupling from economy as new energy sources emerge
    • CO2 emissions need to decline; only 50 years left to get to zero

    Scott Waldman, E&E News reporter Monday, March 20, 2017  Full story here

    For the third year in a row, the carbon dioxide emissions that drive climate change worldwide have been level. The emissions pause is particularly noteworthy because it comes despite a growing global economy, the International Energy Agency announced. That’s a sign that carbon emissions are “decoupling” from the economy as other sources of energy come online.

    Researchers measured 32.1 metric gigatons of CO2 emissions in 2016, the same as in the previous two years. That’s even as the global economy grew 3.1 percent. The stagnation, according to IEA, is due to the growth of renewable energy, more switching from coal to natural gas, improved energy efficiency programs, and additional nuclear facilities coming online.

    … Emissions declined in both the United States and China, and stayed level in Europe. That’s because of increased natural gas usage and a reduction in coal usage in the United States and China. Dangerous smog levels in major cities have also forced the Chinese government to crack down on air pollution. In the United States, emissions dropped 3 percent, to the lowest level since 1992, as the economy grew 1.6 percent. In China, emissions declined 1 percent, while the economy grew 6.7 percent. The country also expanded the reliance of its electrical grid on hydro and wind sources as well as nuclear.

    Three years without emissions growth is notable, but it needs to be turned into a decline, said Glen Peters, a senior researcher at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research-Oslo in Norway. He said the ultimate goal is to get to zero, and there’s only about 50 years left to hit that target.

    “It’s a meaningful first start, some baby steps; we’re starting to turn around and look at walking in the right direction,” he said. “If emissions are going to go down, they’ve got to go flat first, so this is the first step, so the important thing is to make sure they don’t start rising again. The next thing is to concentrate on making sure they go downwards.”…

  5. Climate-Smart Land Trusts: Accelerating Nature-Based Solutions to Secure our Future

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    The California Council of Land Trusts hosted the 2017 California Land Conservation Conference from March 7-9, 2017 at UC Davis.

    Ellie Cohen, Point Blue President and CEO was a keynote speaker.  A pdf of Ellie’s presentation can be found here: Accelerating Nature-Based Solutions- Climate-Smart Land Trusts CCLT Keynote March 7 2017

    You can see a pdf of the full program here.

  6. Massive permafrost thaw documented in Canada, portends huge carbon release

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    Study shows 52,000 square miles in rapid decline, with sediment and carbon threatening the surrounding environment and potentially accelerating global warming.

    Huge slabs of Arctic permafrost in northwest Canada are slumping and disintegrating, sending large amounts of carbon-rich mud and silt into streams and rivers. A new study that analyzed nearly a half-million square miles in northwest Canada found that this permafrost decay is affecting 52,000 square miles of that vast stretch of earth—an expanse the size of Alabama.

    According to researchers with the Northwest Territories Geological Survey, the permafrost collapse is intensifying and causing landslides into rivers and lakes that can choke off life downstream, all the way to where the rivers discharge into the Arctic Ocean.

    Similar large-scale landscape changes are evident across the Arctic including in Alaska, Siberia and Scandinavia, the researchers wrote in a paper published in the journal Geology in early February. The study didn’t address the issue of greenhouse gas releases from thawing permafrost. But its findings could help quantify the immense global scale of the thawing, which will contribute to more accurate estimates of carbon emissions….

    …At lower latitudes, permafrost is the glue that holds the world’s highest mountains together by keeping rocks and soil frozen in place. Scientists are documenting how those bonds are dissolving, said Stefan Reisenhofer, a climate scientist with the Austrian Bureau of Meteorology and Geodynamics. “We’ve seen a significant reduction in the number of ice days (those with 24 hours of sub-freezing temperatures), especially in the summer months,” said Reisenhofer….

  7. Scientists uncover huge 1.8 million square kilometers reservoir of melting carbon under Western United States

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    Posted: 13 Feb 2017 06:07 AM PST  full story here

    New research describes how scientists have used the world’s largest array of seismic sensors to map a deep-Earth area of melting carbon covering 1.8 million square kilometers. Situated under the Western US, 350km beneath Earth’s surface, the discovered melting region challenges accepted understanding of how much carbon Earth contains — much more than previously understood. 

    ….He continued, “Under the western US is a huge underground partially-molten reservoir of liquid carbonate. It is a result of one of the tectonic plates of the Pacific Ocean forced underneath the western USA, undergoing partial melting thanks to gasses like CO2 and H2O contained in the minerals dissolved in it.”

    ….As a result of this study, scientists now understand the amount of CO2 in Earth’s upper mantle may be up to 100 trillion metric tons. In comparison, the US Environmental Protection Agency estimates the global carbon emission in 2011 was nearly 10 billion metric tons — a tiny amount in comparison. The deep carbon reservoir discovered by Dr. Hier-Majumder will eventually make its way to the surface through volcanic eruptions, and contribute to climate change albeit very slowly.

    “We might not think of the deep structure of Earth as linked to climate change above us, but this discovery not only has implications for subterranean mapping but also for our future atmosphere,” concluded Dr Hier-Majumder, “For example, releasing only 1% of this CO2 into the atmosphere will be the equivalent of burning 2.3 trillion barrels of oil. The existence of such deep reservoirs show how important is the role of deep Earth in the global carbon cycle

    Saswata Hier-Majumder, Benoit Tauzin. Pervasive upper mantle melting beneath the western US. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 2017; 463: 25 DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2016.12.041

  8. Good Luck Killing the EPA

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    Dismembering the agency requires changing 45 years worth of laws, warns one Republican who ran it.

    The new U.S. president and Congress are taking a hard look at environmental rules—none harder than a freshman U.S. representative whose new bill would “terminate the Environmental Protection Agency.” …. “Everybody hates regulation,” said Republican Christine Todd Whitman, a former EPA administrator and New Jersey governor, “because it makes you either spend money or change behavior for a problem you may not see.” This year, as we all know, is a little different.

    …the concept that the preeminent guardian of clean air, soil, and water in the U.S. would go the way of the 20th century is now, if nothing else, no longer confined to the realm of fantasy.  Rule-of-thumb holds that once countries pollute their way into economic progress, they’ll pause for a second and check to see if they can still breathe the air and swim in the water. If not, they fix it. China is currently the leading example, with India coming up behind. There are fewer examples of nations unwinding national environmental efforts.

    Internationally, the U.S. does pretty well when it comes to protecting its environment and doing its part to combat global climate change. It ranks 26th among 180 nations in the 2016 Environmental Performance Index, a collaboration of the World Economic Forum and Yale and Columbia University researchers. That’s just worse than Canada and a bit better than the Czech Republic.

    The EPA sits at the forefront of that accomplishment (such as it is). The environmental laws passed under President Richard Nixon, who helped create the agency, have cleaned up the excesses of mid-century American industrialization. ….

    In July 1970, the Republican president cobbled together the new agency from about a dozen offices distributed throughout the federal government. An additional dozen functions were reorganized into the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the biggest entity within the Department of Commerce. By creating the EPA, “I am making an exception to one of my own principles,” Nixon wrote. “That, as a matter of effective and orderly administration, additional new independent agencies normally should not be created.” But in this case, he said, there was just no better option.

  9. Maine’s coastal waters unhealthy from carbon, acidity. Are seaweed gardens the answer?

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    Bill Trotter, BDN Staff Feb 7 2017  See full article here

    BOOTHBAY, Maine — Seaweed cultivation has been promoted in recent years in Maine as a way to produce local nutritious food and to boost the coastal economy.

    Now, seaweed harvesters say their industry provides yet another benefit: environmental protection, in the form of improving water quality.

    A new study from Bigelow Laboratory for Marine Sciences in Boothbay indicates growing and harvesting seaweed may be an antidote for increasing carbon and acidity levels in the ocean, which is harming a variety of marine life.

    Since January 2016, the lab has been studying the effect of kelp growth on surrounding carbon levels at the Ocean Approved seaweed farm off Great Chebeague Island in Casco Bay…. According to Price, in the six months that scientists measured carbon dioxide levels in and around the 3-acre kelp farm, they found the kelp was absorbing carbon at the same rate carbon levels are expected to increase in the Gulf of Maine over the next 100 years from global use of fossil fuels….

  10. Recalculating the Climate Math-The numbers on global warming are even scarier than we thought.

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    The future of humanity depends on math. And the numbers in a new study released Thursday are the most ominous yet.

    Those numbers spell out, in simple arithmetic, how much of the fossil fuel in the world’s existing coal mines and oil wells we can burn if we want to prevent global warming from cooking the planet. In other words, if our goal is to keep the Earth’s temperature from rising more than two degrees Celsius—the upper limit identified by the nations of the world—how much more new digging and drilling can we do?

    Here’s the answer: zero.

    That’s right: If we’re serious about preventing catastrophic warming, the new study shows, we can’t dig any new coal mines, drill any new fields, build any more pipelines. Not a single one. We’re done expanding the fossil fuel frontier. Our only hope is a swift, managed decline in the production of all carbon-based energy from the fields we’ve already put in production….