‘Climate-smart soils’ may help balance the carbon budget | by Blaine Friedlander – Cornell Chronicle

“Here’s the scientific dirt: Soil can help reduce global warming.

While farm soil grows the world’s food and fiber, scientists are examining ways to use it to sequester carbon and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.“We can substantially reduce atmospheric carbon by using soil. We have the technology now to begin employing good soil practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Johannes Lehmann, Cornell professor of soil and crop sciences, co-author of the Perspectives piece, “Climate-smart Soils,” published in Nature, April 6.Decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, sequestering carbon and using prudent agricultural management practices that tighten the soil-nitrogen cycle can yield enhanced soil fertility, bolster crop productivity, improve soil biodiversity, and reduce erosion, runoff and water pollution. These practices also buffer crop and pasture systems against the impacts of climate change.

Currently, Earth’s atmosphere holds about 830 petagrams (1 trillion kilograms) of carbon and humans add about 10 petagrams of carbon to the atmosphere every year, because of industrial and agricultural waste, and fossil-fuel burning vehicles, according to Lehmann. Soils, however, hold about 4,800 petagrams of carbon to a depth of 2 meters, which is six times the amount of carbon dioxide currently in the atmosphere. The good news is that soils have the potential to hold even more, said the scientists.”

Source: ‘Climate-smart soils’ may help balance the carbon budget | Cornell Chronicle


Harvey- the Storm That Humans Helped Cause – by David Leonhardt – NYT

Even before the devastation from Harvey, southeastern Texas was enduring a year unlike any before.The daily surface temperature of the Gulf of Mexico last winter never dropped below 73 degrees. You can probably guess how many previous times that had happened: Zero.

This sort of heat has a specific effect on storms: Warmer weather causes heavier rainfall. Why? When the seas warm, more moisture evaporates into the air, and when the air warms — which has also been happening in Texas — it can carry more moisture.The severity of Harvey, in other words, is almost certainly related to climate change.Yes, I know the sober warning that’s issued whenever an extreme weather disaster occurs: No individual storm can be definitively blamed on climate change. It’s true, too. Some version of Harvey probably would have happened without climate change, and we’ll never know the hypothetical truth.

But it’s time to shed some of the fussy over-precision about the relationship between climate change and weather. James Hansen, the eminent climate researcher, has used the term “scientific reticence” to describe this problem. Out of an abundance of academic caution — a caution that is in many ways admirable — scientists (and journalists) have obscured climate change’s true effects.”

Comments are great. such as,

Robin Rutherford

Hunterville New Zealand 9 hours ago

Every gallon of gasoline emits 20lb of CO2 which stays in the atmosphere and absorbs heat. So, in one year, one car uses 250 gallons gasoline and produces 2 tons of CO2. We need to begin to think of car trips not in terms of dollars but in terms of lb’s of CO2 emitted. There is no leadership in this area, we must do it ourselves and start limiting our vehicle use to save the world for our children and grandchildren.

The Relationship Between Hurricanes and Climate Change – by John Schwartz – NYT

“Temperatures have been rising, and theory and computer modeling suggest an increase in storm intensity in a warmer world, “and the models generally show an increase in the number of very intense” storms.And while the science of attributing weather events to climate change is advancing, “studies of individual events will typically contain caveats,” the report stated.”

How Hurricane Harvey Became So Destructive – The New York Times

“The mind-boggling amount of rainfall during Harvey is a function of the storm sitting by the Gulf of Mexico and continuing to draw moisture directly from it. Because of the orientation of the storm, Dr. Shepherd said, “you’ve just got this stream of moisture firehosing into the Houston region,” as the moisture is constantly replenished by the gulf. “This could go down as the worst flood disaster in U.S. history.”Scientists are increasingly able to link some extreme weather events to climate change, but when it comes to hurricanes, many say there remain a number of unknowns. What is clear, though, is that rising global temperatures warm the oceans, which causes more water to evaporate into the atmosphere.”

David Lindsay Hamden, CT Comment to the NYT

I look forward to hearing from Heidi Cullen and her crew of other scientists at climatecentral.org.
They work to show actual linkages between major storm events and climate change, and share their findings with the press. There is a major linkage in this story. The higher than normal water temperature of the gulf contributed directly to the size of the downpour.
From the climatecentral.org website:
What We Do

Climate Central surveys and conducts scientific research on climate change and informs the public of key findings. Our scientists publish and our journalists report on climate science, energy, sea level rise, wildfires, drought, and related topics. Climate Central is not an advocacy organization. We do not lobby, and we do not support any specific legislation, policy or bill. Climate Central is a qualified 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization.


Scientific and Journalistic Integrity — We report the scientific facts of climate change however they fall.
Importance of Informing the Public — Democracy calls for an informed public. We seek to reach the widest possible audience with the scientific facts to support a healthy public debate.
Effective Communication — An innovative mix of cutting-edge science and communication defines our approach, to reach and move important audiences.
Collaboration — We work in the lead in our specific field, and we contribute our talents and efforts as a partner with the community addressing climate change. . . . .

Alaska’s Permafrost Is Thawing – by Henry Fountain – NYT

“YUKON DELTA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, Alaska — The Arctic is warming about twice as fast as other parts of the planet, and even here in sub-Arctic Alaska the rate of warming is high. Sea ice and wildlife habitat are disappearing; higher sea levels threaten coastal native villages.But to the scientists from Woods Hole Research Center who have come here to study the effects of climate change, the most urgent is the fate of permafrost, the always-frozen ground that underlies much of the state.”

The Climate Lab That Sits Empty – By Hillary  Rosner – NYT

“The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration first sought funding for this program without success in 2012 and is trying yet again this year. But there seems to be little hope that lawmakers will finally provide the roughly $5 million for the machine and attendant research program. Worse, the whole national greenhouse-gas monitoring program may be at risk, if Congress approves President Trump’s proposed cuts to climate science.

Losing that program would be catastrophic to the world’s ability to track and address climate change. The monitoring system, called the Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network and run by NOAA, is the most extensive network of its kind. It also provides the scale against which every other international institution calibrates its greenhouse gas measurements.”

Clean Power Plan Repeal Would Cost America $600 Billion- Cause 120k Premature Deaths

“The Trump administration has prioritized repealing the Clean Power Plan (CPP), a set of rules by the U.S. EPA aimed at limiting pollution from power plants. New analysis shows that repealing the rule would cost the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars, add more than a billion tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and cause more than 100,000 premature deaths due to inhaled particulate pollution.”

Source: Clean Power Plan Repeal Would Cost America $600 Billion, Cause 120,000 Premature Deaths

This is a dark story. It is ameliorated by Michael Bloomberg’s argument. If Bloomberg’s optimism is correct, much of the data for this forecast in this piece is too negative.

Sydney’s Swelter Has a Climate Change Link- Scientists Say – The New York Times

“Southeastern Australia has suffered through a series of brutal heat waves over the past two months, with temperatures reaching a scorching 113 degrees Fahrenheit in some parts of the state of New South Wales.

“It was nothing short of awful,” said Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, of the Climate Change Research Center at the University of New South Wales, in Sydney. “In Australia, we’re used to a little bit of heat. But this was at another level.”

So Dr. Perkins-Kirkpatrick, who studies climate extremes, did what comes naturally: She looked to see whether there was a link between the heat and human-driven climate change.”

Rogue Scientists Race to Save Climate Data from Trump | WIRED

This came in the other day from Kathleen Schomaker, the director of Gray Is Green.

“The incoming Trump administration’s EPA transition team intends to remove some climate data from the agency’s website. These researchers are swooping in to help.”
wired.com|By Zoë Schlanger


“At 10 AM the Saturday before inauguration day, on the sixth floor of the Van Pelt Library at the University of Pennsylvania, roughly 60 hackers, scientists, archivists, and librarians were hunched over laptops, drawing flow charts on whiteboards, and shouting opinions on computer scripts across the room. They had hundreds of government web pages and data sets to get through before the end of the day—all strategically chosen from the pages of the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—any of which, they felt, might be deleted, altered, or removed from the public domain by the incoming Trump administration.”

Source: Rogue Scientists Race to Save Climate Data from Trump | WIRED

Earth – the Final Frontier – by Adam Frank – The New York Times

“Rochester — On April 1, 1960, the newly established National Aeronautics and Space Administration heaved a 270-pound box of electronics into Earth orbit. In those days, getting anything into space was a major achievement. But the real significance of that early satellite, Tiros-1, was not its survival, but its mission: Its sensors were not pointed outward toward deep space, but downward, at the Earth.Tiros-1 was the first world’s first weather satellite. After its launch, Americans would never again be caught without warning as storms approached.

This small piece of history says a lot about the call by Bob Walker, an adviser to President-elect Donald J. Trump who worked with his campaign on space policy, to defund NASA’s earth science efforts, moving those functions to other agencies and letting it focus on deep-space research. “Earth-centric science is better placed at other agencies where it is their prime mission,” he told The Guardian.

NASA critics have long wanted to shut the agency out of research related to climate change. The problem is, not only is earth science a long-running part of NASA’s “prime mission,” but it is uniquely positioned to do it. Without NASA, climate research worldwide would be hobbled.”

Source: Earth, the Final Frontier – The New York Times