21 April 2017

A three-track strategy for climate mitigation

by Graeme Taylor

The challenge

In his analysis of the Paris Agreement on mitigating climate change, The Guardian’s George Monbiot said: “By comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle. By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster.” On one hand the outcome was better than predicted as Article 2 states that parties to the agreement will hold global average temperature increases “to well below 2°C” and “pursue efforts” to limit this to 1.5°C.

The "carbon law" for the 2-degree target, from “A roadmap for rapid decarbonization”, Rockström, Gaffney, Rogelj, Meinshausen, Nakicenovic and Schellnhuber, Science 355: 1269-1271, 24 March 2017

01 April 2017

Climate change pushing floods, cyclones to new extremes, with worse to come


 With Australia experiencing the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie and record-breaking rains and severe flooding in south-east Queensland and along the north coast of New South Wales, here’s a look at how global warming has, and will, push floods and cyclones to new extremes.

Flooding extremes

Warm air can be more humid than cold air, that is, it can hold more water vapour in absolute terms. And atmospheric water vapour content increases seven per cent for each 1-degree-Celsius increase in global average temperature, establishing the conditions for more intense rainfall events. 


18 March 2017

Meet Sherri Goodman, who in two words made the military care about climate change


“The Age of Consequences” climate film
and speaking tour

The Buzzfeed story lead says it all: “Meet the woman whose two-word catchphrase made the military care about climate” . That woman is Sherri Goodman, and she will be in Australia in early April. And the film about climate change and the military will be on ABC TV's 4 Corners next Monday night.

The national security dimension of climate change receives little attention in Australia, but is the subject of intense focus overseas, particularly in the United States. Climate change interacts with other pre-existing problems to become an accelerant to instability in unexpected ways. Scarce resources, growing water scarcity, declining crop yields, rising food prices, extreme weather events and health impacts become catalysts for instability and conflict, especially in Asia. This has profound implications for Australia, economically and socially, quite apart from the climate change impact on Australia itself.

17 February 2017

Antarctic tipping points for a multi-metre sea level rise

by David Spratt

First published 23 January 2017; updated 17 February 2017


Read in French
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OVERVIEW

  • The Amundsen Sea sector of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has most likely been destabilized and ice retreat is unstoppable for the current conditions.
  • No further acceleration in climate change is necessary to trigger the collapse of the rest of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, with loss of a significant fraction on a decadal to century time scale.
  • Antarctica has the potential to contribute more than a metre of sea-level rise by 2100.
  • A large fraction of West Antarctic basin ice could be gone within two centuries, causing a 3–5 metre sea level rise.
  • Mechanisms similar to those causing deglaciation in West Antarctica are now also found in East Antarctica.
  • Partial deglaciation of the East Antarctic ice sheet is likely for the current level of atmospheric carbon dioxide, contributing to 10 metres of more of sea level rise in the longer run, and 5 metres in the first 200 years.

13 February 2017

Record-busting heat in eastern Australia as climate warming goes extreme


Projected temperatures across Australia for Sunday 5 February 2017
12 FEBRUARY UPDATE:
  • The average maximum temperature across the state of New South Wales broke the record with 42.4C on Friday 10 February, which was then smashed the following day with 44.02C on Saturday 11 February. 
  • On Saturday 11 February, many NSW towns set new benchmarks: Walgett (47.9 C), Taree (45.7C), Port Macquarie (46.5C) and Kempsey (46.4C).
  • All time records were also set in Queensland, including Toowoomba (40.8C), Gatton (45.7), Oakey (42.8C) and Kingaroy (41.6C).
  • In Victoria, Mildura became the first location in the state to record consecutive days above 46C, on 9-10 February.
6 FEBRUARY UPDATE: The Queensland town of Moree has recorded 41 days in a row of temperatures above 35C, absolutely smashing the previous record from 1981-82 of  17 days. 

First posted 5 February 2017

2016 was by far the hottest year in the observation record, with the global average surface temperature 1.24 degrees Celsius (°C) warmer that the late nineteenth century, according to NASA data. This broke the record set just the previous year of 1.12°C, which in turn broke the previous mark set in 2014 of 1.01°C.

11 February 2017

Climate warming unabated, despite media spin

Global average temperature 1880-2016 (NASA)
Climate Nexus

As a result of human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels, the planet is warming. Those who deny this fact have pointed to a supposed “pause” in warming to justify opposition to climate action.

In 2015, a study led by NOAA’s Tom Karl was published in Science that flatly refuted the idea of a “pause.” It is one of many. But its high profile made it a target for attack.