Brian Matthew Morris, United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Montana. Photo: Derek Brouwer / Independent Record

By Fred Barbash, Allyson Chiu, and Juliet Eilperin
9 November 2018

(The Washington Post) – A federal judge temporarily blocked construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, ruling late Thursday that the Trump administration had failed to justify its decision granting a permit for the 1,200-mile long project designed to connect Canada’s oil sands fields with Texas’s Gulf Coast refineries.

The judge, Brian Morris of the U.S. District Court in Montana, said the State Department ignored crucial issues of climate change to further the president’s goal of letting the pipeline be built. In doing so, the administration ran afoul of the Administrative Procedure Act, which requires “reasoned” explanations for government decisions, particularly when they represent reversals of well-studied actions.

It was a major defeat for President Trump, who attacked the Obama administration for stopping the project in the face of protests and an environmental impact study. Trump signed an executive order two days into his presidency setting in motion a course reversal on the Keystone XL pipeline, as well as another major pipeline, Dakota Access.

The ruling highlights a broader legal vulnerability in the Trump administration’s push to roll back Obama-era environmental protections. Since Trump took office, federal courts have found repeatedly that his agencies have short-circuited the regulatory process in areas ranging from water protections to chemical plant safety operations. Robust environmental and administrative procedure laws, many dating back to the 1970s, have given the administration’s opponents plenty of legal ammunition.

Thursday’s decision does not permanently block a federal permit for Keystone XL, a project of the Calgary-based firm TransCanada. It requires the administration to conduct a more complete review of potential adverse impacts related to climate change, cultural resources and endangered species. The court basically ordered a do-over.

In a 54-page opinion, Morris hit the administration with a familiar charge that it disregarded facts, facts established by experts during the Obama administration about “climate-related impacts” from Keystone XL. The Trump administration claimed, with no supporting information, that those impacts “would prove inconsequential,” Morris wrote. The State Department “simply discarded prior factual findings related to climate change to support its course reversal.”

It also used “outdated information” about the impact of potential oil spills on endangered species, he said, rather than “'the best scientific and commercial data available.'”

“Today’s ruling makes it clear once and for all that it’s time for TransCanada to give up on their Keystone XL pipe dream,” said Sierra Club Senior Attorney Doug Hayes in a statement. The lawsuit prompting Thursday’s order was brought by a collection of opponents, including the indigenous Environmental Network and the Northern Plains Resource Council, a conservation coalition based in Montana.

“The Trump administration tried to force this dirty pipeline project on the American people, but they can’t ignore the threats it would pose to our clean water, our climate, and our communities,” Hayes said. […]

Among the judge’s findings:

  • The State Department, in issuing the permit, failed to “analyze the cumulative greenhouse gas emissions” of the Keystone project and the expanded Alberta Clipper pipeline. It “ignored its duty to take a ‘hard look’ at these two connected actions."
  • The department “acted on incomplete information regarding” the potential damage to cultural resources in Indian territory along the route. “The Department appears to have jumped the gun.”
  • The department failed to make a fact-based explanation for its course reversal, “let alone a reasoned explanation. …'An agency cannot simply disregard contrary or inconvenient factual determinations that it made in the past, any more than it can ignore inconvenient facts' " in the present, he wrote, quoting judicial precedents.
  • The department’s analysis that “climate-related impacts” from Keystone “would prove inconsequential” needed a “reasoned explanation.” It did not provide one.  [more]

Federal judge blocks Keystone XL pipeline, saying Trump administration review ignored ‘inconvenient’ climate change facts

By Sarah Butler and Mark Sweney
9 November 2018

(The Guardian) – Iceland’s Christmas campaign has been banned from TV because it has been deemed to breach political advertising rules.

As part of its festive campaign the discount supermarket struck a deal with Greenpeace to rebadge an animated short film featuring an orangutan and the destruction of its rainforest habitat at the hands of palm oil growers.

Earlier this year, Iceland became the first major UK supermarket to pledge to remove palm oil from all its own-brand foods. Habitat loss in countries such as Malaysia – a major global producer of palm oil – has contributed to the orangutan now being classified as critically endangered.

Clearcast, the body responsible for vetting ads before they are broadcast to the public, said it was in breach of rules banning political advertising laid down by the 2003 Communications Act.

“This was a film that Greenpeace made with a voice over by Emma Thompson,” said Iceland’s founder, Malcolm Walker. “We got permission to use it and take off the Greenpeace logo and use it as the Iceland Christmas ad. It would have blown the John Lewis ad out of the window. It was so emotional.” [more]

Iceland's Christmas TV advert banned for being too political

Screenshot from the animated short advertisment for Iceland Foods, named 'Say hello to Rang-tan'.  The Christmas ad shows forest destruction in Indonesia displacing orangutans and was pulled on 9 November 2018 for being too political. Graphic: Iceland Foods

By Bill Bostock
9 November 2018

(Business Insider) – A British supermarket chain said on Friday their Christmas advert has been banned for being too political because it shows palm oil manufacturers terrorizing orangutans.

Iceland's animated advert, called "Rang-tan," stars a small girl talking to a baby orangutan in her bedroom. She tells the orangutan: "They destroy all of your trees for your food and shampoo."

The orangutan says a human "took away my mother and I'm scared he'll take me too." [more]

Iceland pulls ad showing palm oil harvesters terrorizing orangutans for being too political

By Matthew Rozsa
8 November 2018

(Salon) – In the new South Park episode "Time To Get Cereal," creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone do something particularly brave — they admit that the premise of one of their most famous previous episodes was plumb wrong.

"Time To Get Cereal" is essentially a sequel to the 2006 South Park episode "ManBearPig," which depicted former Vice President Al Gore as an attention-seeking loser who tried to convince the world of the existence of a fictional monster that was "half man, half bear, and half pig" in order to feel better about losing the presidency to George W. Bush in 2000. The undeniable subtext, of course, was that man-made climate change — you know, the dire existential threat that the real Gore was warning everyone about — was a hoax, and that Gore himself was a joke.

Trust me, I'm not reading into this. South Park had previously mocked the idea of man-made climate change in the 2005 episode "Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow" and had taken smaller pot shots at the idea on subsequent occasions. And considering that Parker and Stone seem to take pride in being iconoclasts who will rip on the left and right with equal glee, one could have made the case that individuals who applaud them for ridiculing Republicans, Christian conservatives, and corrupt politicians shouldn't get upset when they took a swipe at a liberal target.

Except, of course, for the fact that man-made global warming isn't some left-wing talking point. It is a scientific fact, one that needs to be acknowledged and addressed through intelligent policies to avoid worldwide catastrophe. Denying its reality, particularly when you are a popular comedy show with millions of viewers who interpret your satire as representing a deeper truth, was extremely irresponsible. […]

Al Gore, wearing his Nobel Prize medal, with the cast of South Park, in Season 22, Episode 6, “Time to Get Cereal”. Graphic: Comedy Central

The best scene in the episode, though, doesn't include Gore at all. It occurs in a restaurant where an insufferably smug patron — one who we quickly realize is intended as a stand-in for man-made global warming deniers everywhere — lectures his wife about how ManBearPig couldn't possibly be real. On cue, of course, ManBearPig enters the restaurant and starts killing all of the diners. Instead of admitting that the death and destruction he sees all around him proves that he was wrong, the man maintains his arrogant demeanor but now insists that this simply means it's too late to admit that ManBearPig actually exists. And besides, there's nothing to be done about it anyway, so why point out that he was wrong? And what about the Chinese? And of course … CHOMP! [more]

“South Park” apologizes to Al Gore and admits it was wrong about global warming

Screenshot from drone video showing captive beluga whales and orcas in pens in Srednyaya Bay, near the city of Nakhodka, Primorsky Krai, Russia, posted on 6 November 2018. Photo: Masha Netrebenko

By Nathan Hodge and Mary Ilyushina
6 November 2018

MOSCOW (CNN) – Russian prosecutors in the far eastern city of Vladivostok are investigating the capture of beluga whales and orcas after reports emerged of marine mammals penned inside what some have dubbed a "whale jail," Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti reported Tuesday.

According to local media and the investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta, more than 100 whales are being held in pens in Srednyaya Bay, near the city of Nakhodka.

RIA-Novosti, citing the Vladivostok environmental prosecutor's office, said 11 orcas (or killer whales) and several dozen belugas were being kept in cages.

Commercial capture of killer whales is strictly regulated and allowed solely for educational and scientific purposes, RIA-Novosti added.

Packed in cages

The reports have caused a stir in the Russian Far East., a Vladivostok-based internet portal, published still photographs showing the holding pens.

RIA-Novosti reported that a local animal-rights activist launched a complaint with the police after unknown individuals stopped her from taking a picture of Srednyaya Bay.

A reporter for Primorye TV, a local state-owned network, posted footage from a drone showing the marine mammals crowded in the cages. That video, hashtagged "whale jail" and "whales4sale," has been shared over 1,800 times.

The dorsal fin of a killer whale is visible in a pen in Srednyaya Bay, near the city of Nakhodka, Primorsky Krai, Russia, posted on 30 October 2018. Photo:

Earlier this week, a correspondent from the local Primamedia news agency managed to capture video that appears to show killer whales being moved from one tank to another, possibly preparing them for transportation.

Multimillion dollar export

These images and videos appear to show what environmentalists and locals say is part of a multimillion-dollar trade in capturing and exporting the marine animals to ocean theme parks in China.

In an investigative report, Novaya Gazeta noted four Russian firms that it alleged were selling belugas and killer whales to China. [more]

Prosecutors investigate 'whale jail' in Russian Far East

The yearly number of billion-dollar global weather disasters, adjusted for inflation, as compiled by insurance broker Aon Benfield in their Annual Global Climate and Catastrophe Reports. The figures for 2018 are only through October, yet we have already seen the third highest number of billion-dollar global weather disasters on record for a year--thanks, in part, to an unusually persistent and extreme summertime jet stream pattern that brought extended periods of extreme weather to portions of the globe. The increasing trend in weather disaster losses in recent decades is largely due to increases in wealth and population and to people moving to more vulnerable areas, but climate change is likely to play an increasing role in coming decades in disaster losses. Graphic: Aon Benfield

Dr. Jeff Masters
2 November 2018

(Weather Underground) – During the summer of 2018, the future of climate change became the present. Highly amplified jet stream patterns that remained stuck in place for unusually long periods of time brought the planet a series of remarkable weather catastrophes—unprecedented heat waves in East Asia and Northern Europe, choking smoke from a record fire season in California and Washington, and Japan’s deadliest floods since 1982, to name a few.

The severe summer weather helped bring the 2018 tally of billion-dollar weather-related disasters to 35 – a startlingly high number that is already the third highest such total for any year since 1990, according to statistics supplied by Steve Bowen of insurance broker Aon Benfield. Research published on Wednesday (open access), led by climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann of Penn State, predicted that our future climate is likely to bring a significant increase in “stuck” summertime jet stream patterns capable of bringing a rise in extreme destructive weather events like we experienced in 2018. Their paper is titled, Projected changes in persistent extreme summer weather events: The role of quasi-resonant amplification. […]

Several newer studies have found further evidence of an increase in QRA events, including Mann, et al. (2017), Influence of Anthropogenic Climate Change on Planetary Wave Resonance and Extreme Weather Events, and Lehmann, et al. (2015), Increased record-breaking precipitation events under global warming.

The Mann, et al. study released this week found that summertime QRA events in the average of over 20 climate models studied increased from the current historical level of ~7.5 events/year to ~11 events/year by the end of the century, i.e., a roughly 50 percent increase in the annual number of events. However, some models predicted a tripling of such stuck jet stream patterns. [more]

Climate Change Likely to Increase Frequency of Extreme Summer Weather From “Stuck” Jet Stream Patterns

A farmer who lost his crops because of the drought, checks his maize field in the town of Usulután, El Salvador on 24 July 2018. Photo: Oscar Rivera / AFP / Getty Images

By Oliver Milman, Emily Holden, and David Agren
30 October 2018

(The Guardian) – Thousands of Central American migrants trudging through Mexico towards the US have regularly been described as either fleeing gang violence or extreme poverty.

But another crucial driving factor behind the migrant caravan has been harder to grasp: climate change.

Most members of the migrant caravans come from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador – three countries devastated by violence, organised crime, and systemic corruption, the roots of which can be traced back to the region’s cold war conflicts.

Experts say that alongside those factors, climate change in the region is exacerbating – and sometimes causing – a miasma of other problems including crop failures and poverty.

And they warn that in the coming decades, it is likely to push millions more people north towards the US.

“The focus on violence is eclipsing the big picture – which is that people are saying they are moving because of some version of food insecurity,” said Robert Albro, a researcher at the Center for Latin American and Latino Studies at American University.

“The main reason people are moving is because they don’t have anything to eat. This has a strong link to climate change – we are seeing tremendous climate instability that is radically changing food security in the region.” […]

Pausing for a rest as the first of the three recent migrant caravans passed through the Mexican town of Huixtla last week, Jesús Canan described how he used to sow maize and beans on a hectare of land near the ancient Copán ruins in western Honduras.

An indigenous Ch’orti’ Maya, Canan abandoned his lands this year after repeated crop failures – which he attributed to drought and changing weather patterns.

“It didn’t rain this year. Last year it didn’t rain,” he said softly. “My maize field didn’t produce a thing. With my expenses, everything we invested, we didn’t have any earnings. There was no harvest.” [more]

The unseen driver behind the migrant caravan: climate change

Map of remaining wilderness areas in 2018. 77 percent of land and 87 percent of the ocean has been modified by the direct effects of human activities. Graphic: Watson, et al., 2018 / Nature

1 November 2018 (UQ News) – The world’s last wilderness areas are rapidly disappearing, with explicit international conservation targets critically needed, according to University of Queensland-led research.

The international team recently mapped intact ocean ecosystems, complementing a 2016 project charting remaining terrestrial wilderness.

Professor James Watson, from UQ’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, said the two studies provided the first full global picture of how little wilderness remains, and he was alarmed at the results.

“A century ago, only 15 per cent of the Earth’s surface was used by humans to grow crops and raise livestock,” he said.

“Today, more than 77 per cent of land – excluding Antarctica – and 87 per cent of the ocean has been modified by the direct effects of human activities.

“It might be hard to believe, but between 1993 and 2009, an area of terrestrial wilderness larger than India — a staggering 3.3 million square kilometres — was lost to human settlement, farming, mining, and other pressures.

“And in the ocean, the only regions that are free of industrial fishing, pollution, and shipping are almost completely confined to the polar regions.”

UQ Postdoctoral Research Fellow James R. Allan said the world’s remaining wilderness could only be protected if its importance was recognised in international policy.

“Some wilderness areas are protected under national legislation, but in most nations, these areas are not formally defined, mapped or protected,” he said.

“There is nothing to hold nations, industry, society or communities to account for long-term conservation.

Twenty countries contain 94 percent of the world's remaining wilderness in 2018. Graphic: Watson, et al., 2018 / Nature

“We need the immediate establishment of bold wilderness targets — specifically those aimed at conserving biodiversity, avoiding dangerous climate change and achieving sustainable development.”

The researchers insist that global policy needs to be translated into local action.

“One obvious intervention these nations can prioritise is establishing protected areas in ways that would slow the impacts of industrial activity on the larger landscape or seascape,” Professor Watson said.

“But we must also stop industrial development to protect indigenous livelihoods, create mechanisms that enable the private sector to protect wilderness, and push the expansion of regional fisheries management organisations.

“We have lost so much already, so we must grasp this opportunity to secure the last remaining wilderness before it disappears forever.”

The article has been published in Nature (DOI: 10.1038/d41586-018-07183-6).


World’s last wilderness may vanish

Imazon SAD data showing monthly Amazon deforestation, 2009-2018. Data: Imazon. Graphic: Mongabay

By James E. M. Watson, Oscar Venter, Jasmine Lee, Kendall R. Jones, John G. Robinson, Hugh P. Possingham, and James R. Allan
31 October 2018

(Nature) – A century ago, only 15% of Earth’s surface was used to grow crops and raise livestock1. Today, more than 77% of land (excluding Antarctica) and 87% of the ocean has been modified by the direct effects of human activities2,3. This is illustrated in our global map of intact ecosystems (see ‘What’s left?’).

Between 1993 and 2009, an area of terrestrial wilderness larger than India — a staggering 3.3 million square kilometres — was lost to human settlement, farming, mining and other pressures4. In the ocean, areas that are free of industrial fishing, pollution and shipping are almost completely confined to the polar regions5.

Numerous studies are revealing that Earth’s remaining wilderness areas are increasingly important buffers against the effects of climate change and other human impacts. But, so far, the contribution of intact ecosystems has not been an explicit target in any international policy framework, such as the United Nations’ Strategic Plan for Biodiversity or the Paris climate agreement.

This must change if we are to prevent Earth’s intact ecosystems from disappearing completely.

In 2016, we led an international team of scientists to map the world’s remaining terrestrial wilderness3,4. This year, we produced a similar map for intact ocean ecosystems2 (see ‘Wild Earth’). The results of these efforts show that time is running out to safeguard the health of the planet — and human well-being.

Some conservationists contend that particular areas in fragmented and otherwise-degraded ecosystems are more important than undisturbed ecosystems6,7. Fragmented areas might provide key services, such as tourism revenue and benefits to human health, or be rich in threatened biodiversity. Yet numerous studies are starting to reveal that Earth’s most intact ecosystems have all sorts of functions that are becoming increasingly crucial2,8,9.

Wilderness areas are now the only places that contain mixes of species at near-natural levels of abundance. They are also the only areas supporting the ecological processes that sustain biodiversity over evolutionary timescales10. As such, they are important reservoirs of genetic information, and act as reference areas for efforts to re-wild degraded land and seascapes.

Various analyses reveal that wilderness areas provide increasingly important refuges for species that are declining in landscapes dominated by people11. In the seas, they are the last regions that still contain viable populations of top predators, such as tuna, marlins, and sharks9.

Safeguarding intact ecosystems is also key to mitigating the effects of climate change, which are making the refuge function of wilderness areas especially important. A 2009 study, for instance, showed that Caribbean coral reefs that have low levels of pollution or fishing pressure recovered from coral bleaching up to four times faster than did reefs with high levels of both12. And a 2012 global meta-analysis revealed that the impacts of climate change on ecological communities are more severe in fragmented landscapes13. [more]

Protect the last of the wild

Change in global ocean heat content (∆OHC). a, ∆OHC derived from hydrographic and atmospheric observations (normalized to zero in 2007, ±1σ uncertainty). b, Linear least-squares trends for 1991–2016, 1993–2016 and 2007–2016 (±1σ uncertainty). Hydrography-based ∆OHC estimates combine warming rates at ocean depths of 0 to 2,000m (from Cheng and co-authors (CHEN), Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL), Meteorological Research Institute (MRI), and National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) estimates) with the revised deep ocean warming (at depths of more than 2,000 m). The atmospheric-based estimate (this study), which uses observed atmospheric potential oxygen trends (∆APO Climate ) and model-based ∆APO Climate-to-∆OHC ratios, does not resolve interannual variations. Graphic: Resplandy, et al., 2018 / Nature

By Morgan Kelly and Robert Monroe
1 November 2018

(Princeton University) – For each year during the past quarter century, the world’s oceans have absorbed an amount of heat energy that is 150 times the energy humans produce as electricity annually, according to a study led by researchers at Princeton and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California-San Diego. The strong ocean warming the researchers found suggests that Earth is more sensitive to fossil-fuel emissions than previously thought.

The researchers reported [pdf] in the journal Nature on 1 November 2018 that the world’s oceans took up more than 13 zettajoules — which is a joule, the standard unit of energy, followed by 21 zeroes — of heat energy each year between 1991 and 2016. The study was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Princeton Environmental Institute.

First author Laure Resplandy, an assistant professor of geosciences and the Princeton Environmental Institute, said that her and her co-authors’ estimate is more than 60 percent higher per year than the figure in the 2014 Fifth Assessment Report on climate change from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

“Imagine if the ocean was only 30 feet deep,” said Resplandy, who was a postdoctoral researcher at Scripps. “Our data show that it would have warmed by 6.5 degrees Celsius [11.7 degrees Fahrenheit] every decade since 1991. In comparison, the estimate of the last IPCC assessment report would correspond to a warming of only 4 degrees Celsius [7.2 degrees Fahrenheit] every decade.”

Scientists know that the ocean takes up roughly 90 percent of all the excess energy produced as the Earth warms, so knowing the actual amount of energy makes it possible to estimate the surface warming we can expect, said co-author Ralph Keeling, a Scripps Oceanography geophysicist and Resplandy’s former postdoctoral adviser.

“The result significantly increases the confidence we can place in estimates of ocean warming and therefore helps reduce uncertainty in the climate sensitivity, particularly closing off the possibility of very low climate sensitivity,” Keeling said.

Climate sensitivity is used to evaluate allowable emissions for mitigation strategies. Most climate scientists have agreed in the past decade that if global average temperatures exceed pre-industrial levels by 2℃ (3.6℉), it is all but certain that society will face widespread and dangerous consequences of climate change.

The researchers’ findings suggest that if society is to prevent temperatures from rising above that mark, emissions of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas produced by human activities, must be reduced by 25 percent compared to what was previously estimated, Resplandy said.

The researchers’ results are the first to come from a measuring technique independent from the dominant method behind existing research, she said.

Databased estimates of global ∆APO Climate. a, ∆APO Climate estimated from observed APO (∆APO OBS) from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography network (1991–2016), and corrected by taking into account fossil-fuel burning, ocean anthropogenic carbon uptake and anthropogenic aerosol deposition. b, The increase in global ∆APO Climate (±1σ interval) exceeds the range of 26-year trends expected from the natural variations in four Earth system models (CESM, GFDL, IPSL and UVic, shown in grey). Graphic: Resplandy, et al., 2018 / Nature

Previous estimates relied on millions of spot measurements of ocean temperature, which were interpolated to calculate total heat content. Gaps in coverage, however, make this approach uncertain. A network of robotic sensors known as Argo now makes comprehensive measurements of ocean temperature and salinity across the globe, but the network only has complete data going back to 2007 and only measures the upper half of the ocean. Several reassessments of heat content have been made in recent years using the ocean-temperature data – including the recent Argo data — which has led to upward revisions of the IPCC estimate.

Resplandy and her co-authors used Scripps’ high-precision measurements of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the air to determine how much heat the oceans have stored during the time span they studied. They measured ocean heat by looking at the combined amount of O2 and CO2 in air, a quantity they call “atmospheric potential oxygen” or APO. The method depends on the fact that oxygen and carbon dioxide are both less soluble in warmer water.

As the ocean warms, these gases tend to be released into the air, which increases APO levels. APO also is influenced by burning fossil fuels and by an ocean process involving the uptake of excess fossil-fuel CO2. By comparing the changes in APO they observed with the changes expected due to fossil-fuel use and carbon dioxide uptake, the researchers were able to calculate how much APO emanated from the ocean becoming warmer. That amount coincides the heat-energy content of the ocean.

Resplandy and Keeling worked with co-authors Yassir Eddebbar and Mariela Brooks from Scripps, Rong Wang from Fudan University in China, Laurent Bopp from École Normale Supérieure in France, Matthew Long from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, John Dunne from the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, and Wolfgang Koeve and Andreas Oschlies from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Germany.

The study, “Quantification of ocean heat uptake from changes in atmospheric O2 and CO2 composition,” was published in the journal Nature on 1 November 2018. The work was funded by the Climate Program Office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (grant NA13OAR4310219) and the Princeton Environmental Institute.

Earth’s oceans have absorbed 60 percent more heat per year than previously thought

Observed link between potential oxygen and ocean heat. OPO concentrations in situ (OPO, yellow) and at saturation based on O2 and CO2 solubility (OPO sat, grey) as a function of ocean temperature in the GLODAPv2 database. Graphic: Resplandy, et al., 2018 / Nature

ABSTRACT: The ocean is the main source of thermal inertia in the climate system1. During recent decades, ocean heat uptake has been quantified by using hydrographic temperature measurements and data from the Argo float program, which expanded its coverage after 20072,3. However, these estimates all use the same imperfect ocean dataset and share additional uncertainties resulting from sparse coverage, especially before 20074,5. Here we provide an independent estimate by using measurements of atmospheric oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2)—levels of which increase as the ocean warms and releases gases—as a whole-ocean thermometer. We show that the ocean gained 1.33 ± 0.20  × 1022 joules of heat per year between 1991 and 2016, equivalent to a planetary energy imbalance of 0.83 ± 0.11 watts per square metre of Earth’s surface. We also find that the ocean-warming effect that led to the outgassing of O2 and CO2 can be isolated from the direct effects of anthropogenic emissions and CO2 sinks. Our result—which relies on high-precision O2 measurements dating back to 19916—suggests that ocean warming is at the high end of previous estimates, with implications for policy-relevant measurements of the Earth response to climate change, such as climate sensitivity to greenhouse gases7 and the thermal component of sea-level rise8.

Quantification of ocean heat uptake from changes in atmospheric O2 and CO2 composition

How winter and summer temperatures will shift in the U.S. by 2050. Graphic: Vox

By Umair Irfan, Eliza Barclay, and Kavya Sukumar
30 October 2018

(Vox) – Our world is getting warmer. This we know.

Just look at Los Angeles, which experienced all-time record heat in July 2018, topping out at 118 degrees Fahrenheit. Dozens of other heat records across the United States were smashed this summer alone.

But how much will temperatures in US cities change by 2050? By then, scientists say average global warming since preindustrial levels could be about twice what it is in 2018 — and much more obvious and disruptive. It’s a world you’ll (probably) be living in. And it’s the one we’re definitely handing off to the next generation.

To answer this question, we looked at the average summer high and winter low temperatures in 1,000 cities in the continental US, comparing recorded and modeled temperatures from 1986 to 2015 to projections for 2036 to 2065. This offers us the best possible estimate on how much winters and summers will shift from 2000 to 2050. (More on our methodology here.)

Here’s how much the winters and summers in the city closest to you are predicted to change about 30 years from now.

By 2050, the weather in many U.S. cities will be similar to southern cities today. Graphic: Vox

Our analysis shows that in almost every case, the places we live are going to be strikingly warmer in a few decades.

Every season in every city and town in America will shift, subtly or drastically, as average temperatures creep up, along with highs and lows. Some of those changes — like summers in the Southwest warming by 4°F on average — will mean stretches of days where it’s so hot, it’ll be dangerous to go outside. Heat waves around the country could last up to a month.

Winters will lose days in the 20s and 30s. Rain and snowstorms will be more intense and frequent in some places and less predictable and lighter in others. [more]

Weather 2050


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