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Showing posts with label Planet and Environment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Planet and Environment. Show all posts

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Scientists declare "climate emergency" and set indicators for an effective global plan of action

A global coalition of scientists, including 11,000 signatories, believes that "indeterminate human suffering" is inevitable without drastic, deep and lasting changes in human activities that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Other factors related to climate change are also targeted.

" Despite 40 years of major global negotiations, we continued to act as if nothing had happened and we did not manage to cope with this crisis, " said William J. Ripple, co-director of coalition - alongside Christopher Wolf - and distinguished professor of ecology at the OSU College of Forestry. " Climate change has arrived and is accelerating faster than expected by many scientists  ."

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In an article published yesterday in the journal BioScience , the authors, as well as more than 11,000 scientific scientists from 153 countries, declare a climate emergency. They include graphs of adverse trends and vital signs to measure progress. They finally propose a set of effective mitigation measures.

Scientists point to six areas in which humanity should take immediate action to slow the effects of global warming:

Energy . Implement massive conservation practices; replace fossil fuels with low-carbon renewable energies; leave the remaining stocks of fossil fuels in the soil; eliminate fossil fuel business subsidies; and impose carbon royalties high enough to limit the use of fossil fuels.

Short-lived pollutants . Rapidly reduce emissions of methane, soot, hydrofluorocarbons and other short-lived climate pollutants; This could reduce the short-term warming trend by more than 50% in the coming decades.

Nature . Restore and protect ecosystems such as forests, grasslands, peat bogs, wetlands and mangroves, and enable more of these ecosystems to reach their ecological potential for the sequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide. one of the main greenhouse gases.

Food . Consume more plants and less animal products. The regime change would significantly reduce emissions of methane and other greenhouse gases and release agricultural land for the production of human food rather than feed. Reducing food waste is also crucial. Indeed, scientists say that at least a third of all food produced ends up in garbage.

Economy . Convert the current economy into a carbon-free economy to address human dependence on the biosphere and away from gross domestic product growth and the pursuit of wealth. Curb the exploitation of ecosystems to maintain the long-term sustainability of the biosphere.

Population . Stabilize a global human population growing by more than 200,000 people per day, using approaches that ensure social and economic justice.

" Mitigating and adapting to climate change while respecting human diversity implies major transformations in the ways in which our global society operates and interacts with natural ecosystems, " the document says.

" We are encouraged by the recent worry. Government agencies make declarations of climatic urgency. Schoolchildren are hitting. The court cases for ecocide continue in the courts. Citizen movements are demanding change, and many countries, states and provinces, cities and businesses are responding. As a global coalition of scientists, we are ready to help policymakers in a just transition towards a sustainable and equitable future, "reads.

The vital sign graphs in the document illustrate several key indicators and drivers of climate change over the last 40 years, since scientists from 50 countries gathered at the first World Climate Conference in Geneva in 1979.

Evolution of human activities in the world from 1979 to today. These indicators are linked at least in part to climate change. In graph (f), the annual loss of forest cover can be due to any reason (forest fire, harvest in tree plantations, conversion of forests to agricultural land, etc.). For graph (h), hydroelectricity and nuclear energy (missing) are shown in a separate graph. The rates shown in the tables are percentages of variation over the entire range of time series. Annual data are indicated in gray dots. The black lines are local regressions smoothed of trends. Credits: William J. Ripple, Christopher Wolf, Thomas M. Newsome, Phoebe Barnard, William R. Moomaw

In recent decades, many other global assemblies have agreed that urgent action is essential, but greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase rapidly. Other worrying signs of human activities include the steady increase in meat production per capita, the loss of global forest cover and the number of air passengers.

There are also encouraging signs, including a drop in the birth rate worldwide and a decrease in forest loss in the Brazilian Amazon, as well as an increase in wind and solar energy, but even these measures are tinged with worry. For example, the decline in the birth rate has slowed over the last 20 years and the rate of extinction of the Amazonian forest seems to be starting to increase again.

" Global surface temperature, ocean heat content, extreme weather and cost, sea level, ocean acidity, and US burned area are on the rise,  " Ripple said. " Overall, the ice is rapidly disappearing, as evidenced by the decrease in the minimal summer Arctic ice pack, the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica and the thickness of the glaciers. All these rapid changes underline the urgent need for action, "concludes Ripple


Saturday, 2 November 2019

The 2 million years ancient ice reveals crucial information about the Earth's carbon cycle

A team of scientists worked more than two years to achieve these results: the oldest complete ice core provided a reliable snapshot of the atmosphere of our planet as it was nearly 2 million years ago. years. And the data presented is not what we would have expected.

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We know that about a million years ago, the cycle of the Earth's ice ages suddenly changed: since that change, deeper and longer gels only occur every 100,000 years or so, once every 40,000 years.

Nothing on our planet could explain this "brutal" change, better known as the middle Pleistocene transition known  as  MPT  (English Mid-Pleistocene transition), and with few other explanations, some hypothesized long-term decline in CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere, cooling the planet to a new threshold.

But the old air bubbles trapped in the Antarctic ice floe revealed somewhat different information. Indeed, dating back to about 1.5 million years ago, these tiny amounts of our ancient atmosphere reveal " incredibly low " CO2 levels , according to palaeoclimatologist Yige Zhang, of Texas A & M University, who did not participate in the study and stated that he found the results "quite interesting".

These are the first direct observations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere before the intervals between the Ice ages on Earth begin to lengthen. These observations also suggest that something else that a long-term decline in CO2 has been involved in the change in the complete cycle of the ice age of our planet.

Blue ice near the Allan Hills area in Antarctica. Environmental conditions in this area attract old ice to the surface. Scientists analyzed the air trapped in a core of ice drilled in this region, to obtain the first direct measurements of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, dating back two million years ago. Credits: Sean Mackay

The oldest ice sample that we could test for CO2 levels prior to this new core, dates back only 800,000 years ago: other estimates based on sediment chemistry Earth are only useful as indirect indicators of greenhouse gas levels, they are not useless, but additional verifications are needed.

But the new ice analysis, which exploited more precise measurements than before, revealed that: " although the CO2 levels during the glaciations have remained much higher than the troughs recorded in the ice depths during the 800 ' In the last few years, maximum CO2 concentrations during the interglacial periods have not decreased,  "said Eric Wolff, Earth Science Scientist at the University of Cambridge, who wrote a report on the research.

"  One of the important results of this study is that the carbon dioxide level is temperature-related at the beginning of this period, " said Atmosphere Specialist Ed Brook of Oregon State University. " This is an important baseline for understanding climate science and calibrating predictive models of future change ," he added.

In other words, the relationship between CO2 levels and temperature in Antarctica has not changed much during this period. And, according to scientists, the low levels of CO2 during ice ages are probably only a consequence of the shorter glacial periods that occurred before TWA.

The authors also found that the lowest levels of CO2 did not occur during the first 40'000 years after MPT. " Our results seem to contradict the assumptions that attribute the transition to a world from 100,000 years before a change, to a long-term decline in atmospheric CO2, both interglacial and glacial," the researchers write.

In his report of the research, Wolff congratulated the researchers for their precise estimates, but also argues that "  s complete and undisturbed chronological eries" is needed to bring CO2 levels in context.

Fortunately, the old ice core, discovered in the Allan Hills, Antarctica, may soon have company. Indeed, researchers predict that the ice cover dates back to 2.7 million years or more. " We do not know the age limit in this area,  " Brook said.

And, given the extent of ice movement in this region, new cores that researchers will be analyzing soon will most likely come in discontinuous sections. "  There could be much older elements in some places. That's why we're going back. To grow beyond two million years would be truly incredible, "added Brook. As a result, their future information can help us learn more about some of the mysteries of the planet.

VIDEO: Ice reveals crucial information about the ancient Earth's atmosphere


Thursday, 31 October 2019

Cover Arctic sea ice with silica microspheres to stop melting ice

One of the direct consequences of global warming is the rapid and massive melting of Arctic ice. However, these icy expanses play an essential role on Earth: they reflect a part of the solar light received in space, thus allowing to regulate the planetary heat. However, with the increasing increase in atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions, temperatures are rising, leading to an ever-increasing melting of ice, which can less and less return sunlight, and a vicious circle thus sets in. To address this, the Ice911 International Association is proposing to cover key areas of the Arctic with silica microspheres, which would act as solar reflectors.

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The Arctic is melting at unprecedented speed: Greenland ice is disappearing six times faster than four decades ago. In August, the ice cap lost 60 billion tonnes in just five days of summer thaw. Over the last four decades, 75% of Arctic ice volume has been lost. The current extent of pack ice is the second lowest since scientists began to monitor developments in 1979.

In addition to raising the sea level, this melting contributes significantly to climate change, as Arctic ice reflects sunlight in space. Therefore, less ice means less heat removed from the planet, resulting in an ever greater melting.

Cover the Arctic with silica microspheres to reflect sunlight

Ice911, a non-profit association, offers a potential solution to this threatening feedback loop: the group proposed to cover key parts of the Arctic with millions of hollow glass microspheres to form a protective layer that would reflect sunlight and isolate the ice. " We are a creative species and we need to slow down climate change, " says Leslie Field, founder of Ice911.

The small spheres developed by Ice911 are more like grains of sand than pearls. They are made from silica, a compound of silicon and oxygen, because this material is abundant in the world and harmless for humans and animals. In a sense, the material looks a lot like snow. Reflective beads adhere to ice and water on contact and their chemical composition allows them to avoid attracting oil-based pollutants.

Silica microspheres developed by Ice911. Credits: Susan Kramer / Ice 911

The Ice911 simulations suggest that using technology to restore ice reflectivity could help lower temperatures by 1.5 ° C over much of the northern Arctic. But so far, the technology is still in the field test phase. Field reports that Ice911 started with a very small experience on the terrace of his own home, then conducted small tests in a lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and in a Minnesota pond.

Stop the disappearance of pack ice in just three years

In the past two years, Field and his colleagues have brought microspheres into the Arctic, where they have been spread on a frozen lake near Utqia Utvik (Barrow), Alaska. The results, some of which were reported in a May 2018 study , suggest that silica beads did increase reflectivity and ice thickness.

Field does not want to cover the 1.6 million square kilometers of Arctic sea ice with logs. Instead, his team uses climate models to identify strategic areas of the Arctic where microspheres could have maximum impact. One of these areas is the Fram Strait between Greenland and Svalbard. This region is warming almost four times faster than the global average.

Ice911 tested its silica microspheres on localized ice extent in Alaska. Credits: Susan Kramer / Ice 911

Field thinks that in three years, Ice911's technology could be used to stop the disappearance of the pack ice. But she estimates that the dispersion of microspheres would cost about 5 billion US dollars. " When you look at this cost, it's huge. But the cost of doing nothing is far higher . " For the moment, Ice911 still needs to perform more tests and obtain the necessary approvals from governments and environmental groups before considering a large-scale deployment.
Melting arctic ice: an alarming climate
Every September, the Arctic sea ice reaches its minimum extent. Since the 1980s, this minimum has decreased by about 13% per decade and the decline is accelerating. In 1979, the Arctic sea ice covered about 7 million square kilometers. Last month, its extent had dropped to 4.3 million square kilometers.

According to NASA data, this year is tied with 2007 for the second lowest ice extent ever recorded. The worst year was 2012, when ice fell to less than 2.6 million square kilometers. Researchers at the European Space Agency warned that the current rate of carbon emissions meant we could see an ice-free Arctic in only a few decades.

This video shows the evolution of the Arctic pack ice from 1979 to 2016:

Field describes the polar ice as the Earth's heat shield. The oldest and thickest sea ice in the Arctic plays the most important role in the reflection of sunlight, but it is also the one that thaws the fastest. About 95% of this shiny sea ice, which is several years old, has disappeared in 2018. Many methods have been developed to stem the steady flow of heat.

A method only intended to restore Arctic sea ice 

Geoengineering strategies range from developing facilities that suck carbon dioxide from the air into the deliberate injection of reflective chemicals into the atmosphere to return more sunlight into space. Field and her team described Ice911's technology as reversible and localized geoengineering in their 2018 article, but pointed out that spheres are different from what is now called geoengineering.

Instead, Ice911's microspheres "are working to rebuild something that until recently was already there, not driving the climate on a new path ". In addition, because pearls are made from a material that is ubiquitous in the environment, Field explains that she sees a defensible distinction between her organization's approach and efforts to, for example, inject chemicals into the environment. 'atmosphere.

An article in Nature in 2018 reported that the geoengineering of Arctic and Antarctic glaciers could save us crucial time to combat climate change. But Field quickly noticed that Ice911's work should not be considered a sufficient solution in itself. " I do not want this to be an excuse for the coal mines, I do not want people to say," We have nothing to change, the engineers will fix it, "  she says.


Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Munich Oktoberfest emits higher methane flow than Boston

Oktoberfest, the famous German "beer festival", is known for both its scale and its overconsumption of drinks (including plenty of beer) and food. More than 6 million visitors come to Munich each year for more than two weeks of festivities. During this period, they consume on average 250'000 pork sausages, half a million chickens and 7 million liters of beer (against only 1.1 million liters of water and lemonade). But what about the emissions that result from such a big event? Researchers provide an initial answer in what is the first study dealing with methane emissions produced as part of a major festival.

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To determine the amount of methane produced by the largest carnival in the world, researchers from the Technical University of Munich spent several days sampling the air around the festival, in 2018. The organizers banned them from using their instruments inside the perimeter for safety reasons, they had to perform a series of measurements around the area.

When they collected the data and took into account the speed and direction of the wind, they estimated that the festival generated 1500 kilograms of methane, one of the main greenhouse gases.

Oktoberfest standard perimeter (yellow), including the locations of the 16 large tents (red) and the center point (green). Credits: Google, DigitalGlobe / Technical University of Munich

On average, 6.7 micrograms of methane were emitted per square meter, every second, which represents a flux 10 times higher than that of the city of Boston (United States). The researchers report these figures and this comparison in their published document (in pre-print) in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics , where it is currently being revised.

According to the researchers, this amount of methane can not be explained simply by visitors' natural emissions (respiration, flatulence), but it is much more likely to come from gas cooking and heating appliances, mainly located in large cities. tents.

The results can help develop policies and measures to reduce CH 4 emissions at festivals and other major events in cities.

In addition, events of limited duration have not yet been included in the most recent emission inventories, such as TNO-MACC, EDGAR or IER, but surveys show that these figures are not negligible. Therefore, these events should be included in future emissions inventories.


Friday, 25 October 2019

Earthquakes can be predicted five days in advance

Earthquake Prediction

An international team of geologists and geophysicists found that in the face of an impending earthquake, the parameters of the internal gravitational waves, which oscillate in the stratified layers of the atmosphere, change five days before a seismic event.

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This data can help experts develop short-term earthquake prediction methods, just as today with storms.

At present it is possible to predict seismic disasters ranging from tens of years to months - however, it is still impossible to determine the exact time of the event. More accurate and reliable short-term predictions are needed so that people can be evacuated from the seismic impact zone.

In search of this instrument, geologists have recorded several anomalies and manifestations of geophysical processes in seismically active regions. The list of earthquake precursors is constantly updated, and the more earthquake data, the more accurate a prediction.

Internal Gravity Waves

In search of new earthquake precursors, Vitalii Adushkin and his colleagues processed satellite data extracted from earthquakes that occurred in three seismically active regions: Uzbekistan on May 26, 2013; in Kyrgyzstan on January 8, 2007; and in Kazakhstan on January 28, 2013.

It happens that, five days before the seismic disaster, in the three cases the parameters of the internal gravity waves changed - internal wave is the fluctuation of air masses which, unlike sound waves, also has a transverse component, as occurs with longitudinal waves.

The data showed that the temperature of the intermediate atmosphere (the Earth's atmosphere layer that includes the stratosphere and the mesosphere) varies over time in a characteristic manner and that the wavelengths of the internal gravity waves were 14.2 km in length. stratosphere and 18.9 km in the mesosphere.

"This means that processes occur in the Earth's lithosphere, whose development generates convective instability in the lower atmosphere. They are the cause of internal gravity waves in seismically active regions. Internal gravity waves, when they reach the mesosphere, can be destroyed. When this happens, the energy of these waves turns into thermal motion, which affects temperature, "explains Sergey Popel of the Space Research Institute in Russia.

Most importantly for the development of an indicator, the researchers found that the wavelength begins to grow 4-5 days before the event, peaking two days before the earthquake, and then sharply decreasing the day before the earthquake. .

This data can now be used to identify internal gravity waves in seismically active regions and eventually to make short-term predictions of the timing of the onset of future seismic events.


Article: Variations of the Parameters of Internal Gravity Waves in the Atmosphere of Central Asia before Earthquakes

Author: Vitalii V. Adushkin, VI Nifadiev, BB Chen, SI Popel, GA kogai, A. Yu. Dubinskii, PG Weidler

Magazine: Doklady Earth Sciences

Vol .: 487, Issue 1, pp 841-845

DOI: 10.1134 / S1028334X19070201

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