Of tree rings and rain: droughts predicted to worsen in southwestern United States

andyextance:

By the end of the 21st century, the average drought conditions in the Southwest US will exceed even the worst conditions during the megadroughts in the Medieval period

Originally posted on Goodnight Earth:

Figure courtesy of pixabay.com Figure courtesy of pixabay.com

Droughts have intensified in already dry regions around the world, including in the Southwest United States and in Australia throughout the first decade of this century.  The severity of these droughts has been attributed to global warming and climate change, which climate models predict should make traditional weather patterns more extreme, so dry regions will get drier.

However, there’s an inherent difficulty in determining the causes behind contemporary droughts because of their naturally long timescales.  During the medieval 12th and 13th centuries, North America experienced ‘megadroughts’ spanning 1000 years!  With such long timescales, it’s hard to know whether the intense dry spells we see now in California and nearby states are due to natural climatic variability or spurred on by anthropogenic carbon emissions.  Is man-made global warming to blame?

A recent paper in Science Advances provides a comprehensive answer to this question.  The group from…

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Climate researcher Bart Strengers wins wager with climate sceptic Hans Labohm

andyextance:

There has been some discussion of the accuracy of climate forecasts this week – this is an interesting reflection of the outcome when people of opposing viewpoints are prepared to bet on their position.

Originally posted on My view on climate change:

Guestpost by Bart Strengers. Originally appeared as a news item on the PBL website.

Late 2009, in the run-up to the international climate conference in Copenhagen, PBL climate researcher Bart Strengers had an online discussion with climate sceptic Hans Labohm on the website of the Dutch news station NOS (in Dutch). This discussion, which was later also published as a PBL report, ended in a wager. Strengers wagered that the mean global temperature over the 2010–2014 period would be higher than the mean over 2000 to 2009. Hans Labohm believed there would be no warming and perhaps even a cooling; for example due to reduced solar activity.

At the request of Labohm, it was decided to use the UAH satellite temperature data set on the lower troposphere (TLT) (roughly the lowest 5 km of the atmosphere). These data sets are compiled by the University of Alabama in Huntsville…

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2014: A year in weather

andyextance:

According to the Met Office, 2014 was UK’s warmest since 1910, beating 2006 by 0.2°C. Central England Temperature also set to be the warmest in a series that dates back to 1659. It was also the fifth wettest year for the UK since 1910.

Originally posted on Met Office News Blog:

2014 has been another year of eventful weather across the UK. Here we take a look at some of the year’s more notable aspects.

Temperature

The obvious headline from 2014 is that it will be the warmest year in our UK record dating back to 1910, knocking 2006 from its top spot.

Using figures up to 28 December then assuming average conditions for the last three days of the year, the expected mean temperature for the UK is 9.9 °C. This beats the previous record of 9.7 °C set in 2006 and means all the UK’s top eight warmest years have happened since 2002.

Despite the overall warmth, there were no record-breaking months – it’s just a case that 11 out of 12 months (August being the exception) were warmer than average. Although individual months were unremarkable, it was the persistence of the warmth that was unusual and together they add…

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A pause or not a pause, that is the question.

andyextance:

With 2014 looking set to be the warmest year ever (possibly by some way) I’ve been wondering what position the people claiming “global warming has stopped” might retreat to. This neat tale hints at one possibility, and explains why it wouldn’t be a convincing argument.

Originally posted on Open Mind:

UPDATE: A new post at RealClimate is very relevant, and well worth the read.


One day, a new data set is released. The rumor runs rampant that it’s annual average global temperature since 1980.

artdat

Climate scientist “A” states that there is clearly a warming trend (shown by the red line), at an average rate of about 0.0139 deg.C/yr. She even computes the uncertainty in that trend estimate (using fancy statistics), and uses that to compute what’s called a “95% confidence interval” for the trend — the range in which we expect the true warming rate is 95% likely to be; it can be thought of as the “plausible range” for the warming rate. Since 95% confidence is the de facto standard in statistics (not universal, but by far the most common), nobody can fault her for that choice. The confidence interval is from 0.0098 to 0.0159 deg.C/yr. She also…

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United States and China reach landmark carbon emissions deal

andyextance:

The recent US-China climate deal seems to bode well for next December’s key talks: In case you missed it this is a good summary.

Originally posted on co2balance:

B Barack Obama and Xi Jinping have agreed a deal on cutting emissions into the 2020s

The big news this morning is that the US and China have unveiled a “secretly negotiated deal” to reduce their greenhouse gas output, with China agreeing to cap emissions for the first time and the US committing to deep reductions by 2025. China, the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, has agreed to cap its emissions by 2030 or earlier if possible, and has also promised to increase its use of energy from zero-carbon sources to 20 per cent by 2030. The US has pledged to cut its emissions 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025.

Barack Obama said the deal was an “historic agreement”. China’s premier, Xi Jinping, said the US and China had agreed to make sure a global climate deal is reached in Paris next year.

  • Under the deal…

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Will anyone follow this route to low emission, low cost farming?

Ammonia fertiliser plays a crucial role in producing the food we need. Image credit: Allen (roadsidepictures) used via Flickr Creative Commons licence.

Ammonia fertiliser plays a crucial role in producing the food we need. Image credit: Allen (roadsidepictures) used via Flickr Creative Commons licence.

Can we make sure we make the most of the promising ideas people come up with to restrain and adapt to the changes we’re making to the climate? I’ve been considering this question thanks to a recent invention seeking to help cut increasing greenhouse gas emissions that arise from feeding the world’s growing population. Stuart Licht’s team at George Washington University in Washington, DC, has worked out how to make a key component of fertiliser – ammonia – that could eliminate emissions and minimise cost. In fact it’s an extension of a method that Stuart told me can also produce zero carbon cement, iron, bleach, magnesium, and capture CO2 directly from the atmosphere. So when will we see this amazing approach in use? I can’t tell you that – because Stuart has no plans to commercialise it.

I became aware of the new ammonia production system when Chemistry World asked me to cover it for them. Ammonia is a simple molecule, comprising only two elements, hydrogen and nitrogen. Humans have been using it in fertiliser since at least the early 19th century, when it was mined, both in mineral form and as bird guano, for delivery to farmers. That was necessary because although nitrogen is hugely abundant – it makes up four-fifths of Earth’s atmosphere – it’s equally as unreactive. Chemists often replace the air above the reactions in their flasks with pure nitrogen when they’re worried that oxygen will affect their results. That stability meant synthetic ammonia was at first elusive.

But in the early 20th century Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch found a way to overcome nitrogen’s reluctance to react. They could take nitrogen from the air, and bring it together with hydrogen gas in the presence of an osmium catalyst at very high pressures and temperatures. During the First World War ammonia’s other main application – as a basis for explosives – saw that ramped up to industrial scale. The Haber-Bosch process has provided fertilisers that have been crucial in feeding Earth’s growing population since then. But it comes with a downside: it requires huge amounts of energy – 2% of the entire world’s consumption – whose generation usually releases the greenhouse gas CO2. Read the rest of this entry »

There’s nothing quite like renewables: Natural gas production will not reduce future greenhouse gas emissions as hoped

andyextance:

Because burning natural gas produces less CO2 emissions in generating a certain amount of power than coal, it’s seen as a ‘bridging fuel’, a step to getting emissions down. However, a new study accounting for how tricky it is to close existing power plants suggests increasing use of natural gas is not reducing net emissions. Taken together with recent results showing that poor practice in fracking is contaminating groundwater, the case is growing in favour of pushing harder for renewables and – dare I say it – nuclear power to fight climate change. Read more about the latest findings on gas power in Jonathan Trinastic’s interesting post:

Originally posted on Goodnight Earth:

Appropriate and useful climate policy-making requires accurate and reliable data about the future.  Nowhere is this more important than when setting carbon emission standards and projecting percentages of each energy source to match energy needs (coal, natural gas, nuclear, renewables, etc.).  But projecting how emissions will change in the decades to come, say to meet the 2030 standards, is a tricky business.  In particular, natural gas has been touted as a ‘bridge’ to a low-carbon future with predictions that it would take over a share of energy production from coal and thereby reduce net emissions (natural gas has about a fourth of the greenhouse potential of coal, if you take away methane leaks in transportation pipes).

But is this really true?  Does the data back this up?  These are the key questions policymakers must know the answer to when deciding whether to promote natural gas expansion with subsidies, etc.  And it falls…

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