Climate science and statistics - omnibus thread

Applying the Dharma for the preservation of planet Earth and its inhabitants
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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Climate science and statistics - omnibus thread

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Australia has 'hottest, driest' year on record as 2019 named second-hottest year worldwide, says WMO

Last year was the Earth's second hottest since records began, and the world should brace itself for more extreme weather events like the devastating bushfires that have hit much of Australia, according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

The Geneva-based WMO combined several datasets, including two from the US space administration NASA and the UK Met Office.

These showed that the average global temperature in 2019 was 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, creeping towards a globally agreed limit after which major changes to life on Earth are expected.

"Unfortunately, we expect to see much extreme weather throughout 2020 and the coming decades, fuelled by record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. ...

Governments agreed at the 2015 Paris Accord to cap fossil fuel emissions enough to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels — after which global warming is expected to be so severe that it will all but wipe out the world's coral reefs and most Arctic sea ice.

However, the WMO has previously said that much greater temperature rises — of 3C to 5C — can be expected if nothing is done to stop the rise in harmful emissions, which hit a new record in 2018.

The United States — the world's top historic greenhouse gas emitter and leading oil and gas producer — began the process of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement last year. ...
:reading: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-16/ ... o/11872344

About that "globally agreed limit after which major changes to life on Earth are expected" - I reckon the limit was a political call aimed at boosting enthusiasm for action, and that the "major changes" are here already, particularly in the forms of extinctions and extreme weather events.
But that's partly a matter of perception, of course. If I lived on a coral atoll I would be in no doubt at all, because rising sea levels would be making me a climate refugee. If I lived in the middle of Europe, I might be vaguely aware that our weather had been a bit warm lately ...

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Kim
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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Climate science and statistics - omnibus thread

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Human fingerprint in global weather

An anthropogenic fingerprint has been detected in long-term climate trends, but distinguishing human-induced change from natural variability in day-to-day weather remains a challenge. Research now finds that a human influence is discernible in global patterns of daily temperature and moisture.
:reading: is problematic. The original is at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-019-0670-y but paywalled and probably pretty heavy going. I haven't yet seen a more accessible version.

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Kim
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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Climate science and statistics - omnibus thread

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Climate crisis: One-third of all plant and animal species could be extinct in 50 years, study suggests

In just 50 years’ time, a third of all plant and animal species on our planet could be wiped out due to man-made climate change, US scientists have warned.

The damning new study of humanity’s impact on ecosystems around the world examined recent extinctions due to climate change, along with rates of species movement and various projections of future climatic conditions.

The researchers said their study is probably the first to estimate broad-scale extinction patterns due to the climate crisis by using data from recent climate-related extinctions and from rates of species movements.

It is the latest research to paint a bleak picture of future biodiversity on Earth, as other scientists have warned our species is responsible for bringing about a sixth mass extinction event.

The research team, from the University of Arizona used data from 538 species at 581 sites around the globe ...
:reading: https://www.independent.co.uk/environme ... 33596.html

This is awful, beyond previous warnings, and anything we can do to avert it is (IMO) a good use of our time.

I've said before that since climate change is the underlying driver of all the small survival crises, doing everything we can to minimise it helps solve local and specific problems whereas the converse is not true.

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Kim
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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Climate science and statistics - omnibus thread

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The problem of methane - new science.
Methane emissions are probably much higher than we thought and that could be a good thing

Publishing their findings in Nature today, researchers have found that human activity is the source of nearly all the atmosphere's fossil methane — the kind that comes from underground.

On the one hand, this is not good news. Methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

But there is a way that this latest scientific finding can, with a very big "but", be interpreted positively, according to study co-author David Etheridge from the CSIRO's Oceans and Atmosphere division.

"The flip side is because we're making these emissions, we can deal with it. It's actually a good news story," he said.

"We know where it's coming from, it's mainly coming out of oil and gas production, and we can deal with it."

The other potential positive is that methane has a much shorter lifespan in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide — about 10 years for methane compared to between 20 and 200 years for the majority of CO2.

Our CO2 emissions today are locking in warming for the next 100 years or more.

But if we theoretically cut our methane emissions to zero right now, we'd potentially see reductions in warming within 10 years. ...
:reading: https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/202 ... n/11975396

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Kim
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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Climate science and statistics - omnibus thread

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‘Eye-popping’ study: Colorado River down 2 billion tons of water due to climate change

In a finding an outside water expert called “eye-popping,” the study concluded that the river loses nearly 10% of its annual flow for every increase in temperature of 1 degree Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit.

The amount of water that didn’t flow down the Colorado due to climate change since 2000 was about 1.5 million acre-feet, or about 2 billion tons, said Christopher Milly, one of the two co-authors.

Besides closely matching the typical annual delivery of CAP water to Tucson, Phoenix and Pinal County, that’s enough to serve all the drinking water Tucson Water’s customers need for more than 15 years.

From 1913 to 2017, the river’s average annual flow dropped about 20%, and about half that decline was due to warmer weather, Milly said.

The river’s water losses will likely continue, if not accelerate, by a range of 14% to 31% over the next 30 years as temperatures keep warming, said the researchers, who are with the U.S. Geological Survey. Their study was published Thursday in the journal Science.

... the researchers concluded that the best case is that precipitation increases could improve river flows by 3%. Their worst case is that decreases would cut flows by 40%.

Speaking on the implications for the river basin’s water management, Udall said new rules governing the river basin, once approved, are likely to run at least until mid-century.

So it’s “paramount” that the new rules consider the predicted, serious flow reductions, he said.

“More broadly, these results tell us that we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as soon as we possibly can. We’ve wasted nearly 30 years bickering over the science,” Udall said. “We now have the technologies, the policies and favorable economics to accomplish greenhouse gas reductions. What we lack is the will.”
:reading: https://tucson.com/news/local/eye-poppi ... op-story-1

The article doesn't look at the social and political effects of permanent extreme water scarcity but this SF book - which looks increasingly prescient - does:
The Water Knife hits closer to home for U.S. readers. Its setting is the American Southwest, at a time in the near future when Britney Spears is toothless and old, the country is plagued by climactic calamities and the Southwest's dwindling water supply is controlled by robber barons.

A toothless Britney Spears, believe it or not, is the least chilling thing about The Water Knife — although "chilling" might be the wrong word for Bacigalupi's speculative vision of Arizona. Hit by "Big Daddy Drought," a perpetual catastrophe that has become the horrifying new normal, the Grand Canyon State is the new American dust bowl — or sand bowl, if you will — where refugees crowd the ghettos of suburban Phoenix and rapacious "coyotes" smuggle people not from Mexico to the U.S., as they do now, but from Arizona to California.
:reading: https://www.npr.org/2015/05/28/40829580 ... -cuts-deep

Read the book if you want more motivation for acting on climate change. It's scary.

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Kim
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