Thursday, March 08, 2018

Current deforestation pace will intensify global warming, study alerts

This may all be true but it assumes future net deforestation. But in the developed world, the trend ids to reforestaion. In Scotland at the moment, for instance, efforts are being made to reforest farm land -- to Greenie howls

Scientists affirms the prolongation of an annual deforestation of 7,000 square km can nullify the efforts for reducing GHG emissions. The study brings a new assessment on the importance of tropical forests in world climate regulation, and calculates a 0,8 °C rise on Earth's temperature in a scenario in which they are extinct.

The global warming process may be even more intense than originally forecast unless deforestation can be halted, especially in the tropical regions. This warning has been published in Nature Communications by an international group of scientists.

"If we go on destroying forests at the current pace -- some 7,000 km² per year in the case of Amazonia -- in three to four decades, we'll have a massive accumulated loss. This will intensify global warming regardless of all efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," said Paulo Artaxo, a professor at the University of São Paulo's Physics Institute (IF-USP).

Reaching the conclusion

The group reached the conclusion after having succeeded in the mathematical reproduction of the planet's current atmospheric conditions, through computer modeling that used a numerical model of the atmosphere developed by the Met Office, the UK's national meteorological service.

Such model included meteorological factors like levels of aerosols, anthropogenic and biogenic volatile organic compounds (VOCs), ozone, carbon dioxide, methane, and other items that influence global temperature -- the surface albedo among them. Albedo is a measure of the reflectivity of a surface. The albedo effect, when applied to Earth, is a measure of how much of the Sun's energy is reflected back into space. The fraction absorbed changes according to the type of surface.

The work coordinated by University of Leeds (UK) researcher Catherine Scott was also based on years of analyses and survey over the functioning of tropical and temperate forests, the gases emitted by vegetation, and their impact on climate regulation. Collection of data regarding tropical forests was coordinated by Artaxo, as part of two Thematic Projects supported by the São Paulo Research Foundation -- FAPESP: "GoAmazon: interactions of the urban plume of Manaus with biogenic forest emissions in Amazonia," and "AEROCLIMA: direct and indirect effects of aerosols on climate in Amazonia and Pantanal." Data on temperate forests was obtained in Sweden, Finland, and Russia. Collection was coordinated by Erik Swietlicki, a professor at Lund University in Sweden.

Understanding how tropical forests control temperature

"After adjusting the model to reproduce the current conditions of Earth's atmosphere and the rise in surface temperatures that has occurred since 1850, we ran a simulation in which the same scenario was maintained but all forests were eliminated," Artaxo said. "The result was a significant rise of 0.8 °C in mean temperature. In other words, today the planet would be almost 1 °C warmer on average if there were no more forests."

The study also showed that the difference observed in the simulations was due mainly to emissions of biogenic VOCs from tropical forests.

"When biogenic VOCs are oxidized, they give rise to aerosol particles that cool the climate by reflecting part of the Sun's radiation back into space," Artaxo said. "Deforestation means no biogenic VOCs, no cooling, and hence future warming. This effect was not taken into account in previous modeling exercises."

Temperate forests produce different VOCs with less capacity to give rise to these cooling particles, he added.

The article notes that forests cover almost a third of the planet's land area, far less than before human intervention began. Huge swathes of forest in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas have been cleared.

"It's important to note that the article doesn't address the direct and immediate impact of forest burning, such as emissions of black carbon [considered a major driver of global warming owing to its high capacity for absorbing solar radiation]. This impact exists, but it lasts only a few weeks. The article focuses on the long-term impact on temperature variation," Artaxo said.

Deforestation, he stressed, affects the amount of aerosols and ozone in the atmosphere definitively, changing the atmosphere's entire radiative balance.

"The urgent need to keep the world's forests standing is even clearer in light of this study. It's urgent not only to stop their destruction but also to develop large-scale reforestation policies, especially for tropical regions. Otherwise, the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels won't make much difference," Artaxo said.


Global warming threatens Antarctica’s King penguins

Pronouncements about penguins are very unreliable. A large but previously unknown population of Adele penguins was recently discovered on an island off the Antarctic peninsula, for instance.  There were only 1.5 million of them

Will our favorite flightless bird waddle off to the sunset?

Some 70% percent of all the king penguins on Earth — around 1.1 million breeding pairs — will be forced to relocate or die trying by the end of the century if global warming continues at its present rate, according to a new study published online Monday

"The species may disappear," study co-author Celine Le Bohec, a scientist at the University of Strasbourg, told Agence France Presse.

The king penguin is one of several threatened species of penguins in Antarctica. Previous studies have found that other species — such as the emperor, Adelie and chinstrap — are also in danger of extinction or severe population loss due to climate change.

More: There are 12 million penguins in Antarctica. This researcher says that's not nearly enough.

The reason the king penguins are in trouble is that as the oceans warm, their favorite food — fish — will move south to cooler waters, away from where the penguins live.

King penguins, the second-largest penguin species, primarily live on small islands around the main Antarctic continent.

When the fish move away from those islands, parent penguins are then forced to swim farther to find food, while their kids wait, fasting longer and longer on the shore.

This study predicts that, for most colonies, the length of the parents’ trips to get food will soon be so long that their children will starve, leading to massive King penguin crashes in population size.

Most problematic is that the penguins can't move with the fish. "The main issue is that there are only a handful of islands in the Southern Ocean and not all of them are suitable to sustain large breeding colonies," said study co-author Robin Cristofari, also of the University of Strasbourg.

Due to the burning of fossil fuels such as gas, oil and coal, the Earth's atmosphere and its oceans are warming to levels that scientists say cannot be explained by natural variability.

More: Penguins losing habitat in Antarctica, could be decimated by 2099

Now, for the first time in the history of penguins, these human activities are leading to rapid and possibly irreversible changes in the Earth system.

In fact, the part of Antarctica where the king penguins live is "one of the most rapidly changing ecosystems of our planet," according to the study.


Climate change alarmists' arguments don't hold water

By Lorne Gunter

On Saturday, and then again on Sunday, as I shovelled off the latest 20 cm of global warming that fell on our driveway and sidewalks, I kept thinking about the 800 delegates coming from around the world to Mayor Don Iveson’s climate change summit: I sure hoped they weren’t fooled by the city’s handwringing over global warming into thinking they could come to Northern Alberta in shorts, in March.

On Saturday, we recorded the most snowfall on any March 3 in the past 25 years.

As delegates to the city’s sky-is-falling conference began bundling up Monday morning, so their extremities didn’t suffer frostbite on the short walk from their hotels to the Shaw Conference Centre, our temperature was just four degrees off our record low for the past quarter century.

Indeed, we were closer to the coldest temperature recorded here on any March 5 since 1996 (four degrees difference) than we were to our normal low, which is -9 (11 degrees off).

Fine, I know, weather is not climate.

But it’s too convenient when weather extremes fit the alarmists’ climate-change theory, we’re told it proves the environmental science is settled. But when the weather doesn’t reinforce their panicky message, it’s dismissed as meaningless.

Two years ago at this same time, our daytime highs were nearly 20 degrees different from where they are this year. They were 10 or more degrees above normal rather than 10 degrees below normal.

This kind of fluctuation is nothing new for this part of the world at this time of year. We’re in the transition from winter to spring (we hope), so sometimes we’re under the influence of March’s lion and sometimes the lamb.

But that’s precisely how average temperatures are arrived at.

Let me give you a local example of what I mean about how climate-change alarmists use weather selectively – “cherry picking” weather extremes to make their climate danger arguments.

On the eve of the city’s climate wail-in this week, Edmonton’s senior environmental project manager, Chandra Tomaras, told Postmedia that the city is 1.7C degrees warmer than it was a century ago. That’s within the range of normal climate fluctuation recorded around the world, but Tomaras insisted it made her worried about the future of the North Saskatchewan River and our city’s drinking water.

“I can’t speak to future flows,” Tomaras admitted, “but historically, according to paleo-climatic analysis, there have been episodes of zero flow in past centuries.”

So? Those zero flows couldn’t possibly have been caused by manmade carbon emissions. Neanderthals didn’t drive SUVs. There were no coal-fired teepees on the Plains.

Past zero-flow episodes must have had natural causes. So by what grand powers of divination can alarmists tell that future zero-flows will be caused by human activities, as opposed to all the natural ones in the paleo-climatic past?

After I’d done my best to remove the most recent snowfall from the cement around our home, the thin film that was left melted away.

But how could that be? The air temperature was -10C.

It was, of course, because the sun’s strength is returning.

And just as the sun’s influence on weather ebbs and flows with the seasons, it’s influence on climate raises and lowers with solar activity.

For decades now, the sun’s activity has been on the increase. Solar scientists predict it will now lessen for a couple (or three) decades. And as it lessens, global temperatures should fall, too.

We can shut every coal plant on earth, ban SUVs and force everyone to ride transit, convert whole neighbourhoods to geothermal heating, subsidize wind and solar farms, and spend hundreds of billions of tax dollars going “carbon free.” We can build the alarmists’ dream world and it will have negligible impact on climate


Global warming could cause key culinary crops to release seeds prematurely

If so, a small move poleward should fix the problem

Climate change is threatening crop yields worldwide, yet little is known about how global warming will confuse normal plant physiology. Researchers in the UK now show that higher temperatures accelerate seed dispersal in crop species belonging to the cabbage and mustard plant family, limiting reproductive success, and this effect is mediated by a gene called INDEHISCENT. The findings appear February 12 in the journal Molecular Plant.

"In many crops, such as oilseed rape, premature seed dispersal is one of the major causes of crop loss. In the context of climate change, this could become increasingly severe," says co-senior author Vinod Kumar, a plant developmental biologist at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, England. "This study exposes the potential vulnerabilities of crop production in the warming world and paves the way for addressing this problem."

Plants have an extraordinary ability to adjust their life cycle to suit a range of environmental conditions. For example, despite day-to-day changes in weather and temperature, the release of seeds stays in tune with prevailing seasonal conditions.

"Seed dispersal is also a key trait that must be controlled when domesticating plants for food production," says co-senior author Lars Østergaard, a plant geneticist at the John Innes Centre. "With the prospect of climate change affecting crop performance, we wanted to understand how environmental signals such as temperature affect seed dispersal."

One clue came from the observation that Arabidopsis plants, which belong to the Brassicaceae (mustard or cabbage) family, mature and open their seed pods faster when grown at elevated temperatures. Inspired by this observation, Xin-Ran Li, a postdoctoral researcher with Kumar and Østergaard and first author of the study, set out to investigate.

They found that a rise in temperature, from 22ºC to 27ºC, accelerated pod shattering and seed dispersal in Arabidopsis plants and important Brassicaceae crops such as oilseed rape, a key ingredient in vegetable oil. Moreover, elevated temperatures accelerated seed dispersal by enhancing the expression of the INDEHISCENT gene, which is known to regulate the development of seed pod tissue and promote fruit opening.

"We speculate that such mechanisms have evolved to facilitate proper seasonal timing of dispersal to ensure that seeds are released under conditions that are both timely and climatically optimal for germination," Li says. "There could perhaps be a selective advantage in early maturation and dispersal in the wild."

Beyond the evolutionary implications, the findings could have broad relevance for maintaining yields of important crops. Oilseed rape is one of the largest sources of vegetable oil in the world and is also used for biofuel and animal feed. More generally, the Brassicaceae family includes many economically valuable agricultural crops, including cabbage, mustard, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, kale, turnip, radish, and rutabaga.

"We were excited by the discovery that what we found in the model plant Arabidopsis also holds true for both crop plants, such as oilseed rape, as well as non-domesticated species from the Brassicaceae family," Kumar says. "This highlights the significance of our findings both in the wild as well as in the field."

Based on their study, the research team suggests new strategies for preparing crops for global warming. For example, plant breeding efforts could focus on developing temperature-resilient varieties capable of coping with climate change. In addition, gene-editing tools, such as the CRISPR/Cas system, could be used to reduce the expression of the INDEHISCENT gene, thereby delaying seed release and reducing crop loss.

For their own part, Kumar and Østergaard plan to further investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying temperature-induced changes in seed dispersal. "We are hopeful that by understanding this in detail, we will be better equipped to devise strategies to breed for crop resilience to climate change," Østergaard says.


Some recent notes from Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef

Nothing like the disaster area that the Greenies predicted

The Great Barrier Reef’s resilience has been mightily challenged and it narrowly escaped being placed on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in Danger last year. The one-two punch of Cyclone Ita in April 2014 and Cyclone Nathan just one year later left Lizard Island reeling. A coral bleaching event in the summer of 2016, resulting from a number of marine heatwaves on top of an already elevated sea temperature, dealt it a further blow.

Yet the reef displays a remarkable ability to regenerate and flourish. “There are a lot of people here studying recovery from disaster, and things are coming back after the cyclones and the bleaching,” Dr Anne Hoggett tells me during an afternoon tour of the research station.

She and her husband, Dr Lyle Vail, were appointed directors of the facility in 1990 and Anne has been working on the Lizard Island field guide, a constantly evolving resource detailing more than 7000 different ­species. “I think you could multiply that number of species by at least five, and people are discovering new ones here all the time,” she says.

Back at Clam Gardens, the cuttlefish has found a mate. Diaphanous skirts rippling, the pair frills up the side of a sherbet-coloured bommie, a ­stand-alone coral outcrop that’s been split like a watermelon by one of the recent cyclones. It looks like a tragedy, until Penny points out the crack has merely increased the surface area of the bommie and that the polyps, like busy little construction workers, are already starting to build on the ­foundations of their ancestors.

Drifting over the columns and canyons of reef we spy several ­thickets of staghorn coral, their tips a spark of pale, luminescent blue. “It’s nice to see,” Penny says, ­surfacing with a smile. “It’s encouraging.”




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"The reason the king penguins are in trouble is that as the oceans warm, their favorite food — fish — will move south to cooler waters, away from where the penguins live."

Right! And as everyone knows, there are no fish in warm waters.

(Sorry. I'm all out of face palms.)

BTW - here's a graphic on penguin distribution.
I didn't know it was so wide, nor that there were so many - most of which should have died out long ago, if the idiot who wrote that article was correct.

Best Regards,