Climate News Roundup 5/22/2015

  • Ivy Main has a new blog post entitled “If the power grid goes down, blame the war on solar.”
  • Jason Mathers has some surprising numbers about fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions by the trucking industry.
  • New research shows that much of the heat that has been taken up by the Pacific Ocean over the last decade has been transported to the Indian Ocean, where it could impact India’s monsoon rains.
  • A new study shows that the shapes of mountains are not as we typically imagine them. Their actual shape will influence the ability of animals and birds to change their range in response to climate change.
  • At a time when we badly need to reduce the emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, governments around the world are still spending trillions of dollars in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. Also reported on here.
  • Climate models provide the only means we have of estimating what the future may look like in the face of continued CO2 emissions. But are 95% of them in error, as claimed by Maurice Newman, top business adviser to Australian Prime Minister tony Abbott? John Cook answers that question in The Conversation.
  • A new study published in Nature Climate Change finds that climate change is impacting hurricanes in two contradictory ways: it is making them stronger while decreasing their number.
  • Another impact of increasing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels is to make the oceans more acidic. This increased acidity makes it more difficult for marine organisms to form shells, which has the impact of making them smaller.
  • Global warming will make trees shorter and scrubbier. Since large trees store more carbon, this may exacerbate warming.
  • The next generation of wind turbines, which are much larger, will be able to reach winds at higher elevation, thereby making wind energy feasible in more states.
  • A new report by German and Austrian scientists suggests that it is still possible to keep global warming below 1.5C, but it will take rapid changes in the global energy system and will likely require the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere.
  • After reviewing the presentations at four technical conferences across the country the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has concluded that contrary to claims from some states, there is nothing in EPA’s Clean Power Plan that will make the lights go out.
  • Several glaciers in the southern Antarctic Peninsula suddenly began shedding ice in 2009, according to a recent report in Science. Another article about it is here.
  • Fusion remains the holy grail of energy production because it would provide an endless supply of energy. A new reactor configuration increases the likelihood of achieving the dream, maybe even within five years.
  • If an El Nino event materializes this year as expected, it could increase rainfall in California, but it could also increase drought in west Africa, which would be very bad.

These news items have been compiled by Les Grady, member and former chair of the CAAV steering committee. He is a licensed professional engineer (retired) who taught environmental engineering at Purdue and Clemson Universities and engaged in private practice with CH2M Hill, the world’s largest environmental engineering consulting firm. Since his retirement in 2003 he has devoted much of his time to the study of climate science and the question of global warming and makes himself available to speak to groups about this subject. More here.

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