10,000 year record shows Pacific depths warming fast

  • 31 Oct 2013, 18:45
  • Freya Roberts

Sourced under creative commons

A temperature record built from the shells of tiny sea creatures suggests the middle depths of the Pacific ocean have warmed 15 times faster in the last 60 years than at any time over the last 10,000 years.

Fast-paced warming

By analysing the chemical composition of fossilised sea creatures called foraminifera, the authors of a new study in the journal Science have reconstructed a record of Pacific ocean temperatures stretching back over the past 10,000 years.

Scientists can glean information about what the climate was like at the time the sea creatures were alive. The warmer the water, the more magnesium the shells contain relative to the amount of calcium.

The reconstructed temperature record suggests that for most of the past 10,000 years, water 450 to 1000 metres deep in the Pacific ocean was cooling.

As the graph below shows, there were some ups and downs - the reconstruction suggests that this bit of the ocean was comparatively warmer during the  Medieval Warm Period, about a thousand years ago. It also suggests that the ocean cooled faster during a period referred to as the  Little Ice Age, which followed a few hundred years later.

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The 18th energy market investigation since 2001: Will this one be different?

  • 31 Oct 2013, 17:00
  • Ros Donald

Are the Big Six energy companies really singing from the same hymn sheet, or is this perception unfair? Ofgem is going to review competition and prices in the energy market, according to an  announcement  by energy secretary Ed Davey today. What will the review look into, and what can it achieve? 

Most of the UK's so-called big six energy companies have announced  price rises of up to 10 per cent in the lead-up to winter.  Summoned before Parliament's Energy and Climate Change (ECC) Committee on Monday, they were accused of acting in "concert" despite having very different business models - and deliberately making it nearly impossible to work out what they're really up to.  

Ofgem has only just completed a two-year review of the market. While it has found no evidence of any wrongdoing, it says the market is too opaque and confusing for people to make decisions about their energy supply. It published a series of rule changes in June 2013 to tackle "widespread consumer confusion over energy tariffs, poor supplier behaviour and lack of transparency which is stifling competition". 

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UK energy statistics show wind power and biomass push renewable electricity to record high - for a bit

  • 31 Oct 2013, 13:30
  • Robin Webster

The proportion of the UK's electricity generated by renewables increased by 60 per cent between the second quarter of 2012 and the second quarter of 2013. But some of the rise will be short-lived after the closure of a major biomass power station.

The figures are contained in the Department for Energy and Climate Change's latest 'snapshot' quarterly energy statistics.

The figures track energy production and consumption between mid 2012 and mid 2013, and show a significant rise in renewable electricity production:

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Daily briefing | Renewables escape green cuts, Davey plans energy market review & Statoil's take on Arctic oil

  • 31 Oct 2013, 09:15
  • Carbon Brief staff

Sourced under creative commons

DECC confirms solar support not part of Cameron's 'green levies review' 
The Department of Energy and Climate Change has confirmed that subsidy support schemes for renewables - including the feed-in tariff (FiT), renewables obligation (RO) and contracts for difference (CfD)- will not be affected by the Prime Minister's 'green levies review'. 
Solar Power Portal 

Climate & energy news:

Two-thirds of Tory MPs do not think renewables benefit UK economy 
Dods, a political publishing house, interviewed more than 100 MPs. It found that 35 per cent of Tories in Westminster believe green energy programmes are good for the economy and 56 per cent agree they will improve energy security.
Daily Telegraph 

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Low carbon zones: an energy efficiency proposal that might work

  • 30 Oct 2013, 17:00
  • Robin Webster

The UK is struggling to improve its energy efficiency performance, especially in the residential sector. A proposal to focus energy efficiency improvements on target geographical areas aims to harness the age-old desire to keep up with the neighbours to make Britain's homes warmer. Could it work? 

UK homes are so poorly insulated that the country has the highest rate of  fuel poverty and among the highest rate of winter deaths from cold in  Europe

But government programmes to encourage more efficient use of energy have come in for a good deal of  criticism recently for being expensive and ineffective - particularly a measure known as the Energy Company Obligation (ECO). Following David Cameron's announcement last week that he plans to "roll back" some green policies, ECO could be about to be  cut.  

Fuel poverty charities wrote to the government last week asking it to step up efforts to improve energy efficiency But what might a successful energy efficiency programme look like? Some commentators and academics suggest the answer could be to focus energy efficiency improvements on specific geographical areas. 

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Daily briefing | Energy boss grilling and no little ice age

  • 30 Oct 2013, 10:00
  • Carbon Brief Staff

Get the daily briefing in your inbox at 9AM - click here to subscribe.

Climate & Energy News  

Climate change risk to one-third of global GDP: Report 
Around one-third of the world's economy by 2025 will be based in countries at "high" or "extreme" risk from the economic impact of climate change, according to risk consultancy Maplecroft.

Energy firms 'overcharge by £3.7bn a year' 
At yesterday's session in front of the Energy and Climate Change Committee, Stephen Fitzpatrick, the chief executive of small supplier Ovo Energy accused bigger energy companies of raising households bills for no reason and systematically overcharging customers by £3.7bn a year. 

All in it together? Energy chiefs feel heat from MPs 
Energy bosses faced a grilling from a committee of MPs yesterday. While smaller players, Ovo Energy and the Co-Operative, came out of it rather well, the Big Six were accused of acting in concert and failing to deliver promised transparency. The companies in turn were keen to blame so-called green charges, promising that a cut in the Energy Company Obligation would be seen on bills "within weeks", as the Guardian notes. Meanwhile,  the Sun was unimpressed by their performance, calling the Big 6 bosses "cowards". 

4 out of 5 voters back Ed Miliband's energy price freeze but many doubt he will deliver it | Mail Online 

Four in five voters back Ed Miliband's pledge to freeze energy bills - but half doubt Labour will be able to deliver it, according to Mail polling.

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Climate scientists don’t think we’re heading for another "Little Ice Age"

  • 29 Oct 2013, 17:00
  • Roz Pidcock

From time to time, we're told by parts of the media that earth is headed for another 'little ice age'. Today was the turn of The Daily Express, in an  article urging us to "get ready" for erratic and extreme weather in the UK.

The paper claims experts warn Britain "faces a new mini-Ice Age with decades of severe Siberian winters and washout summers". But the scientist the paper cites tells us he feels "very misrepresented".

Inside out

The piece is loosely based on comments made by Professor Mike Lockwood from the University of Reading to BBC weatherman Paul Hudson for last night's  Inside Out programme.

The BBC programme looks back over recent cold winters in the UK and opens with the claim, "Scientists are warning that we could be heading towards a mini-ice age".

Hudson wrote up his take on the interview  here, beginning:

"It's known by climatologists as the 'Little Ice Age', a period in the 1600s when harsh winters across the UK and Europe were often severe. The severe cold went hand in hand with an exceptionally inactive sun, and was called the Maunder solar minimum.

Now a leading scientist from Reading University has told me that the current rate of decline in solar activity is such that there's a real risk of seeing a return of such conditions."

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Daily briefing | The UK's wet summers, energy chiefs grilled over profits & the global flood risk

  • 29 Oct 2013, 09:15
  • Carbon Brief staff

Melting Arctic sea ice means it's only going to get wetter for northern Europe 
"The unprecedented run of wet summer weather in recent years could be due in part to the melting sea ice in the Arctic, which appears to be affecting the movement of high-altitude winds over Britain, a study has found." 
The Independent 

Climate & energy news:

80% of public want energy price freeze 
So says the i front page.

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Wet UK summers: melting Arctic sea ice may be partly to blame

  • 29 Oct 2013, 07:50
  • Freya Roberts and Roz Pidcock

Between 2007 and 2012, northern Europe experienced a run of wetter than average summers. In England, the summer of 2012 was the wettest for 100 years. Now a new study says rapidly diminishing Arctic sea ice may be partly responsible.

In the last few years, scientists looking into the consequences of melting Arctic sea ice have suggested a link to  colder winters in the UK.

The new study, just published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, is the first to find evidence that changes at the North Pole may be affecting our summer weather too.

Soggy summers

For six consecutive summers, northern Europe experienced unusually wet weather. The amount of rain that fell each year was higher than average, but having such a long run of wet summers is what really surprised scientists.

Dr. James Screen, author of the new study and research fellow at the University of Exeter, tells us:

"Taken together the six summers 2007 to 2012 were around 15 to 25 per cent wetter than average over much of Northern Europe."

In England and Wales, the summer of 2012 was the wettest since 1912. The summer of 2007 was the second wettest. Screen adds:

"During the wettest summer, 2012, northern Europe experienced 80% more rainfall than normal."

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Carbon Briefing: energy companies appear before the Energy and Climate Change Committee

  • 28 Oct 2013, 16:30
  • Robin Webster

Source: Baracoda

Energy companies should expect a "serious duffing up" when they appear in front of the energy and climate change (ECC) committee tomorrow, according to the BBC.

The committee has called on energy suppliers to give evidence tomorrow afternoon following a series of price rise announcements. The committee says it wants to explore the "reasons and justification" behind the price rises, the difference pricing policies between energy suppliers, and how transparency around energy company profits can be improved.

The power companies have argued that price rises are caused by increases in 'green' levies, the rising wholesale price of energy and the increased price of transporting energy. In a report issued earlier this year, the ECC Committee concluded that the complexity of the energy market makes it difficult to work out if this is the whole story.

The committee said greater transparency is "urgently" needed to reassure consumers higher prices are not fuelling excess profits. With political and public interest in the cost of energy so high, the session promises to be high-profile and heated. Perhaps this is why only one company, E.ON, is sending its chief executive to tomorrow's session.

So what will the ECC committee be hoping to interrogate?

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