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Daily Briefing

07.02.2019
Today's climate and energy headlines
DAILY BRIEFING Climate change: World heading for warmest decade, says Met Office
Climate change: World heading for warmest decade, says Met Office

News.

Climate change: World heading for warmest decade, says Met Office

Temperatures for each of the next five years are likely to be 1C or more above pre-industrial levels, the Met Office is forecasting, reports BBC News. There is “also a chance we’ll see a year in which the average global temperature rise could be greater than 1.5C” in the same period, adds BBC News. The decade from 2014-2023 will be the warmest in more than 150 years of record keeping, if the data matches the forecast, adds BBC News. It goes on to ask whether the forecast temperature rises will bust the Paris climate deal. The Times also reports on what it calls “chilling verdict” of the Met Office. It quotes Prof Adam Scaife, head of long-range prediction at the Met Office, saying: “The global average temperature between now and 2023 is predicted to remain high, potentially making the decade from 2014 the warmest in more than 150 years of records.” The IndependentAssociated PressMailOnlineDaily Mirror and the Guardian also have the story. Carbon Brief’s coverage notes that a temporary breach of 1.5C temperature rise “would not mean that the world has ‘missed’ the Paris Agreement’s aspirational target of limiting human-caused global warming to 1.5C, according to scientists”.

BBC News Read Article
2018 was the fourth-hottest year on record, NASA and NOAA report

There is widespread coverage of new annual analysis from NASA and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the global climate in 2018, released yesterday. It reveals that 2018 was the fourth-hottest year on record, reports Vox, with the other four in the top five all occurring in the past five years. It also said that the 20 warmest years in history all occurred within the last 22 years, reports the Daily Telegraph. The New York Times coverage has a graphic showing how much cooler or warmer every year was compared with the average temperature of the late 19th century. The report showed the outlook now is for “more sizzling heat approaching levels that most governments view as dangerous for the Earth”, says ReutersCBS NewsMailOnline, the Financial TimesWall Street JournalPoliticoHillAxiosFrance24 and the Guardian also have covered the findings.

The Washington Post coverage of the analysis, meanwhile, focusses on its findings that the number of billion-dollar weather disasters in the US has more than doubled in recent years. “[D]evastating hurricanes and ferocious wildfires that experts suspect are fuelled in part by climate change have ravaged swaths of the country,” it says. “We had about twice the number of billion dollar disasters than we have in an average year over the last 40 years or so,” Deke Arndt, chief of the monitoring branch at NOAA’s National Center for Environmental Information, has told reporters. A second Vox article also reports on the damage estimates for 2018.

How Antarctica’s melting ice could change weather around the world

Vox has an article on how Antarctica’s melting ice could change weather around the world, looking at two new papers published Wednesday in the journal Nature. “They found that the evidence for some of the more dire forecasts for sea level rise, upward of 3 feet by the end of the century, is not as robust as once thought,” Vox says. “However, they report that melting ice in Antarctica has global consequences that extend far beyond sea level rise and into the overall climate system. These ripple effects stand to exacerbate extreme weather events that can hit people far from the shore.” Carbon Brief also covers the two studies. The Washington Post also covers the studies, saying the new research suggests the planet is “already paralleling the most recent major warm period in its past”. “Now the only question is how fast Antarctica could collapse,” it adds. The Independent and the Times also cover the two papers.

Fracking firm Cuadrilla says earthquake rules hinder its work

Shale gas firm Cuadrilla has said commercial fracking cannot go ahead in the UK unless rules on minor earthquakes are relaxed, the Guardian reports. The company has been repeatedly forced to pause work for causing tremors that breached a 0.5-magnitude limit, says the Guardian, after becoming the first to frack in the UK for years when it started operations last October. The comments come just days after Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the billionaire owner of Ineos, called for a “substantial” review of fracking rules, notes the Daily Telegraph. The TimesFinancial TimesIndependent and BBC News all cover the story. Meanwhile, Reuters reports that tests of the first shale well at Cuadrilla’s site in northwest England show “substantial gas flows”.

The Guardian Read Article
Republicans push back at first climate hearings

Two simultaneous hearings held by the US House Natural Resources and Energy and Commerce committees yesterday were the first in nine and six years respectively to focus on fixing climate change, reports the Hill. InsideClimate News also has the story. The Guardian rounds up responses of climate change experts to US president Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech yesterday. (Carbon Brief has added the speech to its summary of how climate and energy have featured in the annual speeches since 1989). Meanwhile, Trump yesterday told regional reporters at the White House that forest fires are “totally preventable”, a separate Hill article reports. “I told my people, I said we cannot continue to spend billions of dollars, billions and billions of dollars. Forest fires are totally preventable. They shouldn’t happen.”

The Hill Read Article

Comment.

Climate change is the deadliest legacy we will leave the young

“I was about a third of the way into my new novel, The Wall, when I discovered that I was completely obsessed by intergenerational inequality,” writes novelist and journalist John Lancaster in the Guardian. “In particular, by the question of intergenerational inequality linked to climate change. Who knew? Certainly not me.” A second Guardian article by Srećko Horvat argues that “the children skipping school aren’t ruining the planet – you are”.

John Lanchester, The Guardian Read Article
Polar thinking

“Two studies are published in Nature today,” writes British climate scientist Dr Tamsin Edwards in a personal reflection of the studies on her blog. One that she led, about Antarctica, and another she contributed to, about Antarctica and Greenland. “What’s the news? We want to know, impatiently – are things worse than we thought, or better? Is everything alright, or everything on fire?…Good news or bad news?” Her and her colleagues’ study is “good news, of a sort” since it finds that rapid collapse of the Antarctic ice sheet is “much less likely than previously suggested”. “But, as one would expect from the words ‘collapse’ and ‘less likely’ being in the same sentence, it is not a simple story,” she adds.

Dr Tamsin Edwards, All Models Are Wrong Read Article

Science.

Climate‐Induced Changes in the Risk of Hydrological Failure of Major Dams in California
The risk of dam failure is likely to increase for most major dams in California as the climate warms, a new study says. The researchers estimate historical and projected flood return periods as a proxy for potential changes in the risk of hydrological failure of dams in a warming climate. The results show that failure probability is likely to increase for most dams in California by 2100. The “New Don Pedro, Shasta, Lewiston, and Trinity Dams are associated with highest potential changes in flood hazard”, the study notes.
Geophysical Research Letters Read Article
Does climate change influence people’s migration decisions in Maldives?

Residents of the island nation of Maldives “rarely identify” future climate change as a factor when considering migration decisions, a new study suggests. Researchers conducted 113 face-to-face interviews with residents in eight islands across three atolls in the Maldives. The findings suggest that, where migration was considered, “it was chiefly internal movement seeking a better standard of living via improved services, better living conditions, and more job opportunities”, the paper says. If migration related to potential climate change impacts might happen, then it was assumed by interviewees “to be in the future for decisions then”, the study notes.

Climatic Change Read Article
Very strong atmospheric methane growth in the four years 2014‐2017: Implications for the Paris Agreement
The rapid rise in methane concentrations over the past four years – and the increasing trend since 2007 – could be “sufficient to challenge the Paris Agreement”, a new study says. Atmospheric methane grew by 7-13 parts per billion (ppb) in each of the last four years. Such increases were “not expected in future greenhouse gas scenarios compliant with the targets of the Paris Agreement”, the researchers say. If increases of more than 5ppb per year continue in the coming decades, “it may become very difficult to meet the Paris goals”, the warn. The study concludes: “There is now urgent need to reduce methane emissions, especially from the fossil fuel industry.”
Global Biogeochemical Cycles Read Article

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