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Tag Archive: co2

  1. Warming of 2C ‘substantially’ more harmful than 1.5C – draft UN report

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    • Latest version of major UN science report concludes the upper temperature goal of the Paris Agreement does not represent a climate safe zone

    By Karl Mathiesen, Megan Darby and Soila Apparicio June 27 2018 see full Climate Home News article here

    A leaked draft of a major UN climate change report shows growing certainty that 2C, once shorthand for a ‘safe’ amount of planetary warming, would be a dangerous step for humanity.

    The authors make clear the difference between warming of 1.5C and 2C would be “substantial” and damaging to communities, economies and ecosystems across the world.

    In 2015, the Paris Agreement established twin goals to hold temperature rise from pre-industrial times “well below 2C” and strive for 1.5C.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has since been working to assess the difference between those targets, with a view to publishing a sweeping analysis of all available research in October this year.

    The report summary, which Climate Home News published on Wednesday, is a draft and subject to change. The IPCC said it would not comment on leaked reports. An earlier draft from January was also published by CHN….

    …The major outstanding question about the 1.5C target is: is it feasible? In the new draft, the scientists write “there is no simple answer”. On current levels of pollution, the world is warming roughly 0.2C each decade. If that continues, the 1.5C threshold will be crossed in the 2040s, the report says.

    However comparison of the drafts reveals a significant increase in the “carbon budget” – the total mass of greenhouse gases that can be emitted before the world will be committed to warming past 1.5C.

    The January draft found a maximum of 580 gigatonnes of CO2 would give a 50% chance of limiting warming to 1.5C. In the new draft, that number has been increased by a third to 750 Gt CO2….

     

     

  2. CO2 Levels Break Another Record, Exceeding 411 Parts Per Million in May for Highest Monthly Average on Record (Mauna Loa)

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    June 7, 2018  Read full Yale Environment 360 article here

    Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere exceeded 411 parts per million (ppm) in May, the highest monthly average ever recorded at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, home to the world’s longest continuous CO2 record. In addition, scientists found that the rate of CO2 increase is accelerating, from an average 1.6 ppm per year in the 1980s and 1.5 ppm per year in the 1990s to 2.2 ppm per year during the last decade….

    MaunaLoa_two_years_May2018_web 411ppm

  3. Invisible scum on sea cuts CO2 exchange with air ‘by up to 50%’

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    • The warmer the ocean surface gets, the more surfactants we can expect, and an even greater reduction in gas exchange
    • Findings have major implications for predicting our future climate.

    Researchers from Heriot-Watt, Newcastle and Exeter universities say the findings, published in the journal Nature Geoscience on Monday, have major implications for predicting our future climate.

    The world’s oceans absorb around a quarter of all man-made carbon dioxide emissions, making them the largest long-term sink of carbon on Earth. Greater sea turbulence increases gas exchange between the atmosphere and oceans and until now it was difficult to calculate the effect of “biological surfactants.”

    ….They found surfactants can reduce carbon dioxide exchange by up to 50%. Dr Ryan Pereira, a Lyell research fellow at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, said: “As surface temperatures rise, so too do surfactants, which is why this is such a critical finding. The warmer the ocean surface gets, the more surfactants we can expect, and an even greater reduction in gas exchange.”…

    ….Scientists say the surfactants are not necessarily visible like an oil slick or foam and are difficult to identify from satellites monitoring our ocean’s surface. They say they need to be able to identify organic matter on the surface microlayer of the ocean so they can reliably estimate gas exchange rates such as carbon dioxide and methane….

     

    Ryan Pereira, Ian Ashton, Bita Sabbaghzadeh, Jamie D. Shutler & Robert C. Upstill-Goddard. Reduced air–sea CO2 exchange in the Atlantic Ocean due to biological surfactants. Nature Geoscience (May 28, 2018)

     

  4. White House quietly cancels NASA research verifying greenhouse gas cuts

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    • “If you cannot measure emissions reductions, you cannot be confident that countries are adhering to the agreement,” she says. Canceling the CMS “is a grave mistake

    By Paul Voosen May. 9, 2018  Read full Science Magazine article here

    You can’t manage what you don’t measure. The adage is especially relevant for climate-warming greenhouse gases, which are crucial to manage—and challenging to measure. In recent years, though, satellite and aircraft instruments have begun monitoring carbon dioxide and methane remotely, and NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System (CMS), a $10-million-a-year research line, has helped stitch together observations of sources and sinks into high-resolution models of the planet’s flows of carbon. Now, [the White House] has quietly killed the CMS, Science has learned.

    The move jeopardizes plans to verify the national emission cuts agreed to in the Paris climate accords, says Kelly Sims Gallagher, director of Tufts University’s Center for International Environment and Resource Policy in Medford, Massachusetts. “If you cannot measure emissions reductions, you cannot be confident that countries are adhering to the agreement,” she says. Canceling the CMS “is a grave mistake,” she adds….

  5. Greenhouse gas concentrations hit highest level in human history: 410 ppm of CO2

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    • For the first time on record, the average amount of carbon dioxide — the main long-lived gas responsible for global warming — in the air passed 410 parts per million (ppm) for an entire month

    The Earth’s atmosphere is more saturated with greenhouse gases now than at any other time in human history. For the first time on record, the average amount of carbon dioxide — the main long-lived gas responsible for global warming — in the air passed 410 parts per million (ppm) for an entire month.

    Data collected at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii had already shown carbon dioxide readings that temporarily exceeded that threshold for a time in 2017 but not for a whole month. The new data collected for the month of April and released on May 2, underscore how quickly carbon dioxide levels continue to rise despite global attempts to reduce emissions.

    …The new record demonstrates that despite gains made in renewable energy and energy efficiency, heat-trapping greenhouse gases continue to build in the atmosphere, altering the odds and intensity of many extreme weather events, causing sea levels to rise, and a myriad of other effects.

    “We know exactly where that CO2 is coming from, and we’re pretty clear on what it does,” said Kate Marvel, a climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, in an email.
  6. Can Responsible Grazing Make Beef Climate-Neutral?

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    • New research found that the greenhouse gases sequestered in one grass-fed system balanced out those emitted by the cows, but some meatless advocates are skeptical.
     

    There’s no denying Americans eat a lot of meat. In fact, the average U.S. citizen eats about 55 pounds of beef a year, including an estimated three hamburgers a week, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) expects that amount to increase by about 3 percent by 2025. This heavy reliance on animal protein carries a big environmental footprint—livestock production contributes about 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, with beef constituting 41 percent of that figure, thanks to the methane cattle produce in the digestion process and the fact that overgrazing can release carbon stored in soils.

    ….A new five-year study that will be published in the May 2018 issue of the journal Agricultural Systems suggests that they can. Conducted by a team of researchers from Michigan State University (MSU) and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), the study suggests that if cattle are managed in a certain way during the finishing phase, grassfed beef can be carbon-negative in the short term and carbon-neutral in the long term….

    ….“it is possible that long-term [adaptive multi-paddock grazing] AMP grazing finishing in the Upper Midwest could contribute considerably more to climate change mitigation and adaptation than previously thought.”

    Rather than using the common method of continuous grazing, in which cattle remain on the same pasture for an entire grazing season, the researchers used the more labor-intensive method of AMP, which entails moving the cattle at intervals ranging from days to months, depending on the type of forage, weather, time of year, and other considerations. A herd of adult cattle on MSU grazing land served as their test population.

    Though the study’s finding that strategic grazing can make a dent in the overall environmental impact of cattle runs counter to the widespread opinion among other researchers and climate activists, it is welcome news for advocates of regenerative agriculture.

    …. Tara Garnett, a food systems analyst and the founder of the Food Climate Research Network (FCRN) at the University of Oxford in England, calls the MSU work “a really useful study,” but also observes that it is “unclear how far this approach will lead to the same results elsewhere.” The study authors, too, are careful to stress that their results apply to Upper Midwestern conditions, and using a similar method in other ecosystem types will require further tailored study. They also acknowledge that while degraded land properly managed can take up large amounts of carbon, the soil will eventually reach equilibrium (meaning it will reach its carbon limit), and estimates of how long that takes vary widely.

    In addition, soil types and the many other aspects of climate and ecosystems in different regions require detailed understanding and granular management of grazing—something many beef producers may be unwilling to undertake. And grazing requires twice as much land as feedlots….

    …. One very promising practice, she said, is for ranchers to enlist farmers in the beef finishing phase. One farmer was initially very skeptical, but after he had grown a series of cover crops to rest his wheat fields and used cattle to “harvest” them, leaving the residue on the fields, he discovered that the soil was improving rapidly, Carman said. Reduced fertilizer and pesticide inputs, together with the income from the pasturage fees, makes the next wheat crop less expensive to grow.

    …. said Rowntree, “I hope our paper can give our industry, combined with policymakers, a lens that can potentially help. We’re not trying to pit one group against another.”

    Carman also acknowledges the complexity at hand, but feels the benefits to the soil she has seen are important to take into account. “Livestock are partly to blame for a lot of ecological problems we’ve got,” she said. “But we couldn’t repair these problems without livestock.”

    Paige L. Stanley, Jason E.Rowntree, David K.Beede, Marcia S.DeLonge, Michael W.Hamm. Impacts of soil carbon sequestration on life cycle greenhouse gas emissions in Midwestern USA beef finishing systems.  Agricultural Systems Volume 162, May 2018, Pages 249-258 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agsy.2018.02.003

    See previous post on this here. 

    And related NPR story:

    A Grass-Roots Movement For Healthy Soil Spreads Among Farmers

    April 9 2018 America’s farmers are digging soil like never before. A movement for “regenerative agriculture” is dedicated to building healthier soil and could even lead to a new eco-label on food.

  7. US power sector carbon emissions intensity drops to lowest on record

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    • U.S. power plant emissions averaged 967 lb. CO2 per megawatt-hour (MWh) in 2017, which was down 3.1 percent from the prior year and down 26.8 percent from the annual value of 1,321 lb CO2 per MWh in 2005.

    April 4, 2018 College of Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University Read full ScienceDaily article here

    Researchers have announced the release of the 2018 Carnegie Mellon Power Sector Carbon Index. The Index tracks the environmental performance of US power producers and compares current emissions to more than two decades of historical data collected nationwide. This release marks the one-year anniversary of the Index, developed as a new metric to track power sector carbon emissions performance trends.

    ….The latest data revealed the following findings: U.S. power plant emissions averaged 967 lb. CO2 per megawatt-hour (MWh) in 2017, which was down 3.1 percent from the prior year and down 26.8 percent from the annual value of 1,321 lb CO2 per MWh in 2005. The result for 2016 was initially reported as 1,001 lb/MWh, but was later revised downward to 998 lb/MWh.

  8. New source of global nitrogen discovered which could advance natural CO2 sequestration strategies– 25% comes from Earth’s bedrock

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    • Not all nitrogen comes from the atmosphere as previously thought. This study showed that~25% of all nitrogen on Earth comes from bedrock and helps explain how natural ecosystems like boreal forests are capable of taking up high levels of carbon dioxide.
    • Ecosystems need nitrogen and other nutrients to absorb carbon dioxide pollution, and there is a limited amount of it available from plants and soils.
    • When thinking about carbon sequestration, the geology of the planet can help guide our decisions about what we’re conserving.
    • This nitrogen may allow forests and grasslands to sequester more fossil fuel CO2 emissions than previously thought.
    • These results are going to require rewriting the textbooks.

    April 5 2018 UC Davis  read full ScienceDaily article here

    For centuries, the prevailing science has indicated that all of the nitrogen on Earth available to plants comes from the atmosphere. But a study from the University of California, Davis, indicates that more than a quarter comes from Earth’s bedrock….

    “Our study shows that nitrogen weathering is a globally significant source of nutrition to soils and ecosystems worldwide,” said co-lead author Ben Houlton, a professor in the UC Davis Department of Land, Air and Water Resources and director of the UC Davis Muir Institute. “This runs counter the centuries-long paradigm that has laid the foundation for the environmental sciences. We think that this nitrogen may allow forests and grasslands to sequester more fossil fuel CO2 emissions than previously thought.”

    …”Geology might have a huge control over which systems can take up carbon dioxide and which ones don’t,” Houlton said. “When thinking about carbon sequestration, the geology of the planet can help guide our decisions about what we’re conserving.”

    The work also elucidates the “case of the missing nitrogen.” For decades, scientists have recognized that more nitrogen accumulates in soils and plants than can be explained by the atmosphere alone, but they could not pinpoint what was missing….

    ….”These results are going to require rewriting the textbooks,” said Kendra McLauchlan, program director in the National Science Foundation’s Division of Environmental Biology, which co-funded the research. “While there were hints that plants could use rock-derived nitrogen, this discovery shatters the paradigm that the ultimate source of available nitrogen is the atmosphere. Nitrogen is both the most important limiting nutrient on Earth and a dangerous pollutant, so it is important to understand the natural controls on its supply and demand. Humanity currently depends on atmospheric nitrogen to produce enough fertilizer to maintain world food supply. A discovery of this magnitude will open up a new era of research on this essential nutrient.”

    B. Z. Houlton, S. L. Morford, R. A. Dahlgren. Convergent evidence for widespread rock nitrogen sources in Earth’s surface environment. Science, 2018; 360 (6384): 58 DOI: 10.1126/science.aan4399

  9. Farming with crops and rocks to address global climate, food and soil security

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    February 2018

    ABSTRACT: The magnitude of future climate change could be moderated by immediately reducing the amount of CO2 entering the atmosphere as a result of energy generation and by adopting strategies that actively remove CO2 from it. Biogeochemical improvement of soils by adding crushed, fast-reacting silicate rocks to croplands is one such CO2-removal strategy. This approach has the potential to improve crop production, increase protection from pests and diseases, and restore soil fertility and structure.

    Managed croplands worldwide are already equipped for frequent rock dust additions to soils, making rapid adoption at scale feasible, and the potential benefits could generate financial incentives for widespread adoption in the agricultural sector. However, there are still obstacles to be surmounted. Audited field-scale assessments of the efficacy of CO2 capture are urgently required together with detailed environmental monitoring. A cost-effective way to meet the rock requirements for CO2 removal must be found, possibly involving the recycling of silicate waste materials. Finally, issues of public perception, trust and acceptance must also be addressed.

    Beerling, DJ, et al, Jim Hansen. Farming with crops and rocks to address global climate, food and soil security. Nature Plants

  10. Suburban sprawl worse than urban growth for CO2 emissions

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    March 5, 2018 University of Utah Read full ScienceDaily article here

    Atmospheric scientists report that suburban sprawl increases CO2 emissions more than similar population growth in a developed urban core…

    …The research team concluded that population growth does not directly correlate with growth in CO2 emissions. Other factors, specifically the types of neighborhoods where population is growing, are much bigger factors.

    “In the more urban area, there’s population growth there, but it’s in the mature part of the city, not associated with growth in CO2,” Mitchell says. But it’s this population growth in rural areas that is seeing an increase in CO2 emissions. If you add more people into downtown Salt Lake City, they’re going into an existing place.”…

    Logan E. Mitchell, et al. Long-term urban carbon dioxide observations reveal spatial and temporal dynamics related to urban characteristics and growth. PNAS, 2018 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1702393115