Posts Tagged ‘NASA’

12

Curb soot and smog to keep Earth cool, says UN

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Sharply reducing emissions of soot and smog could play a critical role in preventing Earth from overheating, according to a UN report released on Tuesday.

Curbing these pollutants could also boost global food output and save millions of lives lost to heart and lung disease, said the report from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

Even as climate talks remain deadlocked on how to share out the task of cutting CO2, parallel action on “black carbon” particles and ground-level ozone would buy precious time in the quest to limit global temperature rise to 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), it said.

Record output in 2010 of carbon from energy use and unprecedented CO2 levels in the atmosphere suggest that efforts to maintain the 2.0 C cap, widely seen as a threshold for dangerous warming, may already be doomed, say scientists.

On current trajectories, temperatures are set to go up 1.3 C (2.3 F) — on top of the 0.9 C (1.6 F) jump since human-induced warming kicked in — by 2050, bringing the total compared to preindustrial levels to 2.2 C (4.0 F).

But quickly tackling black carbon and smog-related ozone could slash 0.5 C (0.9 F) off the temperature increase projected for 2030, putting the two-degree target back on track, the new findings suggest.

“There are clear and concrete measures that can be undertaken to help protect the global climate in the short and medium term,” said Drew Shindell, a researcher at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of the 50 scientists behind the new assessment.

“The win-win here for limiting climate change and improving air quality is self-evident and the ways to achieve it have become far clearer.”

The report was unveiled in Bonn as delegates from more than 190 nations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) struggle to make headway in the deeply stymied negotiations.

Black carbon, found in soot, is a byproduct of incomplete burning of fossil fuels, wood and biomass, such as animal waste. The most common sources are car and truck emissions, primitive cook stoves, forest fires and industry.

Soot suspended in the air accelerates global warming by absorbing sunlight. When it covers snow and ice, white surfaces that normally reflect the Sun’s radiative force back into space soak up heat instead, speeding up the melting of mountain glaciers, ice sheets, and the Arctic ice cap.

The tiny particles have also been linked to premature death from heart disease and lung cancer.

Ground-level, or tropospheric, ozone — a major ingredient of urban smog — is both a powerful greenhouse gas and a noxious air pollutant. It is formed from other gases including methane, itself a potent driver of global warming.

A threefold increase in concentrations in the northern hemisphere over the last century has made it the third most important greenhouse gas.

Unlike carbon dioxide, which lingers in the atmosphere for centuries once emitted, black carbon and ozone disappear quickly when emissions taper off.

“The science of short-lived climate forcers has evolved to a level of maturity that now requires … a robust policy response by nations,” said Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP.

Measures recommended for reducing black carbon include mandatory use of diesel filters on vehicles, phasing out wood-burning stoves in rich countries, use of clean-burning biomass stoves for cooking and heating in developing nations, and a ban on the open burning of agricultural waste.

For ozone, the report calls for policies that curb organic waste, require water treatment facilities to recover gas, reduce methane emissions from coal and oil industries, and promote anaerobic digestion of manure from cattle and pigs, both major sources of methane.

The report estimates that nearly 2.5 million deaths from outdoor pollution, mainly in Africa and Asia, could be avoided every year by 2030 if black carbon levels dropped significantly.

Far less ground-level ozone could also avoid important losses in global maize, rice, soybean and wheat production, it said.

Source: Curb soot and smog to keep Earth cool, says UN – PHYSORG

Date: 14 June 2011

First half of 2010 sets heat records

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Just as climate skeptics cited this winter’s snowstorm as evidence that global warming was overhyped, some environmental activists might be tempted to point to this summer’s heat waves to bolster their case.

But instead, they’re pointing to a more scientific measurement: The NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies now reports that the first six months of 2010 are the warmest on record, both in terms of atmospheric data and in combined atmospheric/ocean readings.

In some cases the atmospheric readings for some of the first six months of the year are between 1.8 and 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above what they were in previous years.

And on top of that, last week Arctic sea ice extent hit the lowest level ever for June.

A senior fellow, Rafe Pomerance, at Clean Air Cool Planet said:

“The 2010 temperature data is evidence that the planet is continuing to warm,”

“The absolute numbers indicate that the earth’s climate is moving into uncharted territory, as reflected by the massive retreat of Arctic sea ice.”

Source: First half of 2010 sets heat records – views.washingtonpost

Date: 12 July 2010

World Is at Warmest on Record, NASA’s Hansen Says (Update1)

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

The global temperature this year reached its warmest on record based on a 12-month-rolling average, James Hansen, the top climate change scientist at the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, said today.

The mean surface temperature in the year through April was about 0.65 of a degree Celsius (1.17 degree Fahrenheit) warmer than the 1951 to 1980 mean, according to a graph in a 37-page draft paper on the website of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. That makes it a fraction warmer than the previous peak in 2005. Absolute temperatures weren’t published in the paper.

“Record high global temperature during the period with instrumental data was reached in 2010,” Hansen and three co- authors wrote in the paper.

“As for the calendar year, it is likely that the 2010 global surface temperature in the GISS analysis also will be a record.”

The figures strengthen the case that temperatures show a warming in the climate. Critics of efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels had pointed to another data, compiled by the U.K. Met Office, which puts 1998 as the warmest year, as evidence that the Earth is cooling.

Source: World Is at Warmest on Record, NASA’s Hansen Says (Update1) – Bloomberg Businessweek

Date: 02 June, 2010

Ocean Stored Significant Warming Over Last 16 Years, Study Finds

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

The upper layer of the world’s ocean has warmed since 1993, indicating a strong climate change signal, according to a new study. The energy stored is enough to power nearly 500 100-watt light bulbs per each of the roughly 6.7 billion people on the planet.

“We are seeing the global ocean store more heat than it gives off,” said John Lyman, an oceanographer at NOAA’s Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, who led an international team of scientists that analyzed nine different estimates of heat content in the upper ocean from 1993 to 2008.

“The ocean is the biggest reservoir for heat in the climate system,” said Josh Willis, an oceanographer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and one of the scientists who contributed to the study.

“So as the planet warms, we’re finding that 80 to 90 percent of the increased heat ends up in the ocean.”

A warming ocean is a direct cause of global sea level rise, since seawater expands and takes up more space as it heats up. Scientists say that this expansion accounts for about one-third to one-half of global sea level rise.

Combining multiple estimates of heat in the upper ocean — from the surface to about 2,000 feet down — the team found a strong multi-year warming trend throughout the world’s ocean. According to measurements by an array of autonomous free-floating ocean floats called Argo as well as by earlier devices called expendable bathythermographs or XBTs that were dropped from ships to obtain temperature data, ocean heat content has increased over the last 16 years.

Source: Ocean Stored Significant Warming Over Last 16 Years, Study Finds – Science Daily

Date: 22 May 2010

1 ton of methane emitted today warms more in one year than one ton of CO2 would warm until 2075

Monday, March 29th, 2010

A ton of methane emitted today will exert more warming in one year than a ton of CO2 emitted today would exert until 2075.

In the article “Methane controls before risky geoengineering, please“, UC Berkeley’s Dr, Kirk Smith writes:

“A tonne of methane eventually turns to 2.75 extra tonnes of CO2 in the atmosphere. Even without taking this into consideration, a tonne of methane emitted today will exert more annual warming than a tonne of CO2 emitted today until 2075. Not until the year 7300 will the cumulative warming exerted by the two become equal. It is truly carbon on steroids.”

It is therefore clear that methane reduction is a vital strategy in rapid climate change mitigation.

Source: Methane controls before risky geoengineering, please – Dr Kirk Smith New Scientist Magazine – article previewGoodPlanet.info – full article

Date: 25 June 2009

Source: Global warming in the twenty-first century: An alternative scenario NASA site – abbreviated versionProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) – full article

Date: 2001

Methane nearly 100 times more warming over 5 years than CO2; can be removed more quickly

Monday, March 29th, 2010

In the article “Global warming in the twenty-first century: An alternative scenario“, world-leading climatologist James Hansen looks at the effects of non-CO2 on climate change. Citing this and other findings, Dr Kirk Smith penned an article highlighting how methane causes almost 100 times more warming in a 5 year span than CO2 and can be removed more quickly than CO2 as it has a half-life of 8.5 years, compared with many decades for CO2.

According to Dr Kirk Smith, also a world authority on non-CO2 GHG:

“Methane is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2. A tonne of methane is responsible for nearly 100 times more warming over the first five years of its lifetime in the atmosphere than a tonne of CO2. Methane is removed from the atmosphere much more rapidly than CO2.”

Source: Methane controls before risky geoengineering, please – Dr Kirk Smith New Scientist Magazine – article previewGoodPlanet.info – full article

Date: 25 June 2009

Source: Global warming in the twenty-first century: An alternative scenario NASA site – abbreviated versionProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) – full article

Date: 2001

Methane reduction should take precedence as climate change mitigation strategy, rather than risky geoengineering projects

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Given that only half of global warming is due to CO2, while another half is caused mainly by methane, world-leading scientists such as Professor of Global Environmental Health Kirk Smith and NASA’s  Prof. James Hansen call for methane reduction strategies, for instance through reducing livestock, to be implemented rather than risky and untried geoengineering carbon sequestration strategies.

Dr Smith writes:

“One tonne of methane is responsible for nearly 100 times more warming over the first five years of its lifetime in the atmosphere than a tonne of CO2. Methane is removed from the atmosphere much more rapidly than CO2, with a half-life of 8.5 years compared with many decades for CO2.”

According to NASA article entitled “Global warming in the twenty-first century: An alternative scenario“, co-authored by Professor Hansen:

“Rapid warming in recent decades has been driven mainly by non-CO2 greenhouse gases (GHGs), such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), Methane (CH4), and Nitrous Oxide (N2O), not by the products of fossil fuel burning. If sources of Methane and Ozone (O3) precursors were reduced in the future, the change in climate forcing by non-CO2 GHGs in the next 50 years could be near zero.”

Source: Global warming in the twenty-first century: An alternative scenario NASA site – abbreviated versionProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) – full article

Date: 2001

Source: Methane controls before risky geoengineering, please – Dr Kirk Smith New Scientist Magazine – article previewGoodPlanet.info – full article

Date: 25 June 2009

Methane to have the greatest effect on global warming in the next 20 years, with CO2 accounting for less than half

Monday, March 29th, 2010

While less than half of the warming in the next 20 years will be caused by CO2, other gases such as methane, and black carbon particles (soot) will have the greatest effect.

According to Professor Kirk Smith, writing in the New Scientist Magazine:

“Less than half of the total warming expected over the next 20 years will be caused by CO2. Methane, along with other gases such as carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and black carbon particles, will cause most of the changes.”

Source: Methane controls before risky geoengineering, please – Dr Kirk Smith New Scientist Magazine – article previewGoodPlanet.info – full article

Date: 25 June 2009

Source: Global warming in the twenty-first century: An alternative scenario NASA site – abbreviated versionProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) – full article

Date: 2001

Methane concentrations have increased 150% since 1750, far exceeding natural range of the previous 650,000 years

Monday, March 29th, 2010

NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies have found that that methane concentrations have increased 150% since 1750, far exceeding the natural range of the past 650,000 years. In line with these findings, Australian Climate scientist Paul Fraser has stated that a fifth of all greenhouse gas-induced global warming has been due to methane since pre-industrial times. This however may be seen as a conservative figure in light of new findings.

The figure below (from  NASA research feature “Methane: A Scientific Journey from Obscurity to Climate Super-Stardom”) shows the increases in methane over the past 1,000 years, as determined by historical methane concentrations in Antarctic ice cores and other sources. The significant rise in methane concentrations can be easily seen starting in the 18th century (coinciding with the industrial revolution(s)) and continuing up to the present day.

http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/features/200409_methane/core2.gif

Source: Methane: A Scientific Journey from Obscurity to Climate Super-Stardom – NASA — Figure/Graph – NASA

Date: September 2004

Source: Potent methane is an overlooked greenhouse gas – Reuters

Date: 30 April 2007

Black carbon is playing a major part in the retreat of the world’s largest non-polar ice masses

Friday, March 5th, 2010

Black carbon deposits on Himalayan glaciers shows that black carbon is playing a major part in the retreat of the world’s largest non-polar ice masses.

Temperatures on the Tibetan Plateau — sometimes called Earth’s “third pole” — have warmed by 0.3°C (0.5°F) per decade over the past 30 years, about twice the rate of observed global temperature increases. New field research and ongoing quantitative modeling suggests that soot’s warming influence on Tibetan glaciers could rival that of greenhouse gases.

Source: Black Carbon Deposits on Himalayan Ice Threaten Earth’s “Third Pole” – NASA

Date: 14 December 2009

12
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Reversing Meat-Eating Culture to Combat Climate Change

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Livestock Production and Shorter-Lived Climate Forcers

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Plant-Based Diets - A solution to our public health crisis

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Leaders Preserving Our Future - Insights Paper - WPF - November 2010

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Maintaining a Climate of Life - Summary Report

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Livestock's Climate Impact

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Livestock & Sustainable Food

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Reducing Shorter-Lived Climate Forcers Through Dietary Change

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The global cost of biodiversity loss: 14 trillion Euros? - EU Commission (2008)

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Forests, Fisheries, Agriculture: A Vision for Sustainability (2009)

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