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Daily Briefing

27.02.2019
Today's climate and energy headlines
Carbon Brief Staff

Carbon Brief Staff

27.02.2019 | 9:57am
DAILY BRIEFING UK experiences hottest winter day ever as 21.2C is recorded in London
UK experiences hottest winter day ever as 21.2C is recorded in London

News.

UK experiences hottest winter day ever as 21.2C is recorded in London

The UK experienced its warmest winter day on record yesterday, according to data from the Met Office, reports the Guardian and many other outlets. Temperatures at Kew Gardens, London, reached 21.2C, breaking the record for the warmest day in winter, which the Met Office defines as spanning from the beginning of December to the end of February. This beats the previous record of 20.6C “set only yesterday” at Trawsgoed, near Aberystwyth, the Independentreports. The previous record of 19.7C had stood since 1998. Grahame Madge, spokesperson for the Met Office, tells the Independent: “To see temperatures of over 20C on a winter’s day is exceptional.” BBC News writes: “Parts of Britain have been hotter than destinations such as Ibiza.” MailOnline adds that “wildfires broke out across the country yesterday” as the “hottest winter day ever created arid conditions and left fields parched”. Reuters also carries a story on the wildfires.

The Guardian Read Article
Saudi Aramco chief says oil and gas faces ‘crisis of perception’

Amin Nasser, chief executive of Saudi Aramco, says that the oil and gas sector is facing a “crisis of perception” that threatens the industry’s relevance, the Financial Times reports. Speaking at the International Petroleum Week conference in London, Nasser described a “worrying and growing belief among policymakers… and many others that we are an industry with little or no future”. The oil chief also used his speech to dismiss “hype” projections of a rapid shift to electric vehicles as an “exaggerated” theory, Climate Home News reports. He also revealed that Saudi Aramco has vowed to transform itself into a “top three” oil trader, according to a separate Financial Times piece.

In related news, a feature in Bloomberg investigates whether oil giant Shell can “reinvent itself” by embracing clean energy. Their efforts to diversify into solar “had been losing money hand over fist”, the piece explains. “Solar power wasn’t the issue…The problem was the oil giant’s inability to successfully manage such a different business.” The piece concludes: “…for Shell, long-term growth may have to come in the form of an electron, no matter if it’s a long shot.”

Financial Times Read Article
Extreme weather can feel ‘normal’ after just a few years, study finds

People learn to accept extreme weather as normal in “as little as two years”, the New York Times reports. The finding comes from a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which analysed more than two billion messages on Twitter to see how people reacted to weather events. They found that if Twitter users were experiencing extreme weather that they were unaccustomed to they discussed it a lot. But “if the location in question had already experienced those sorts of temperatures in recent years, even if the weather was extreme compared to the baseline, people tended not to tweet about it”. “That might lead people to underestimate the extent of global warming, given that it has already caused extreme temperature changes”, the New York Times writes.

The New York Times Read Article
China county suspends fracking after quakes worry residents

A region in western China has stopped drilling for shale gas “after a protest by residents who suspected fracking work caused a series of earthquakes that led to two deaths”, the Associated Press reports. The county did not directly link Monday’s 4.9 magnitude tremor to fracking, but acknowledged residents’ “suspicions”. “Street protests over pollution and other environmental hazards are increasingly common in China, often organised over social media”, AP explains.

In other news, a group of scientists have written a letter to the Times warning about fracking’s contribution to climate change. They ask: “Is it not time that our leaders and scientific community withdrew their support for fracking and engaged in the challenge of transforming our society to meet this existential challenge?”

Associated Press via the Seattle Times Read Article
Scientists turn CO2 ‘back into coal’ in breakthrough carbon capture experiment

Scientists from the University of Melbourne have managed to convert CO2 from a gas into solid particles of carbon, the Independent reports. The researchers developed a new technique using a “liquid metal electrolysis” method, which they say offers an alternative way of “safely and permanently” removing CO2 from the atmosphere. Current carbon capture techniques involve turning the gas into a liquid, the Independent explains, but the new technique – published in the journal Nature Communications – results in solid flakes of carbon, similar to coal, which may be easier to store safely. MailOnline also has the story.

The Independent Read Article

Comment.

The Guardian view on the hottest winter day: sunny side down

“Unseasonably balmy February days can be pleasant, but scientists are increasingly linking extremes of heat, storms and other meteorological events to global warming”, says an editorial in the Guardian, responding to the news that the UK experienced its hottest winter day on record yesterday. The piece continues: “The evidence of our senses, as well as what meteorologists and other scientists tell us, is becoming overwhelming.” The paper notes that “the science of weather attribution has made dramatic advances…meteorologists can now analyse extreme events including floods, droughts and heatwaves to determine the contribution of manmade climate change”. “It is no longer permissible to pretend that ice-creams in February are a quirk of nature”, the Guardian editorial concludes.

In the Independent, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas suggests that February’s heatwave “is what climate breakdown looks like”. “It’s not a sudden change or a single dramatic event like in a Hollywood disaster movie”, she writes. “It’s the steady creep of weird weather onto the news agenda, and the gradual shift in our perceptions of what’s normal.” Elsewhere in the Guardian, the assistant editor of the New Statesman, Jonn Elledge, asks: “Am I the only one who’s terrified about the warm weather?” A feature in Wired explains that “climate scientists don’t have enough data about these events to say for certain whether these conditions are related to climate change”. Yet “what we can say is that these extreme weather events are being made more common by climate change.” A feature in the Independent explores that impact that the weather is having: “The effects of the unseasonably warm weather are felt particularly keenly at this time of year by hibernating animals, who may emerge earlier and find there is not enough food to sustain them.” MailOnline quotes a number of scientists including Dr Friederike Otto, a researcher at the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford , who says: ‘This is one of the clearest signs of climate change that we have seen, that winter temperatures are increasing and the likelihood of very warm days in winter has increased quite a lot.”

Editorial, The Guardian Read Article
A world without clouds? Hardly clear, climate scientists say

Staff writer Paul Voosen critiques a study published on Monday in Nature Geoscience – as well as “the amplifying media coverage of it” – which suggest that clouds could “disappear suddenly in a warming world…in a frightening feedback loop”. “Many climate scientists who research clouds are pushing back against the study, arguing that its analysis of one small patch of atmosphere does not apply to the entire globe”, Voosen writes. The model that the study uses is a “simple model [that] essentially has a knob with two settings,” cloud scientist Joel Norris tells Voosen. “But it is very likely that the Earth has more knobs than that.” The piece links to Carbon Brief’s own analysis on the study.

Paul Voosen, Science Read Article

Science.

Celebrating the anniversary of three key events in climate change science

A comment piece in Nature Climate Change details three key events in climate change science that will reach their 40th anniversaries this year. The first is the release of the “Charney report” – an analysis by the Ad Hoc Study Group on CO2 and Climate which was published by the US National Academy of Sciences. “In retrospect, the Charney report seems like the scientific equivalent of the handwriting on the wall. Forty years ago, its authors issued a clear warning of the potentially significant socioeconomic consequences of human-caused warming. Their warning was accurate and remains more relevant than ever.” The second key event is the publication of a paper by Klaus Hasselmann entitled: “On the signal-to-noise problem in atmospheric response studies.“ “This is now widely regarded as the first serious effort to provide a sound statistical framework for identifying a human-caused warming signal,” the authors say. The third key event is the date when satellites began monitoring the microwave emissions from oxygen molecules. This allows researchers to estimate global changes in atmospheric temperature.

Nature Climate Change Read Article

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