Archive by date | May 2007

Hurricane season 2007: The opening act

Posted by Olive Heffernan on behalf of Alex Witze June 1 is almost here, and for residents of the eastern US, Caribbean and Central America that means just one thing: stock up on the plywood and batten down the hatches, for the Atlantic hurricane season is upon us. This week’s Nature features a minor rush of hurricane-related items. First off, in a technical manuscript, Ryan Sriver and Matthew Huber of Purdue University spell out how tropical cyclones could play a significant role in mixing the ocean’s topmost layers. They find that about 15 percent of the peak ocean heat transport  … Read more

Nature’s Journal Club

As devotees of Nature‘s print edition know, one of its treasures is the Research HIghlights spread at the beginning of every issue, put together with great care and flair by my colleague Jenny Hogan. Most of the spread consists of little comptes rendus of papers elsewhere about which we find ourselves enthused about, but there’s also a little micro-column at the end called Journal Club. In this column Jenny invites a scientist of note to recommend a paper from the recent literature and explain why she or he is enthused about it.

A while back it struck us that these journal club pieces would be enhanced if they were easily discussable — discussion being the point of a journal club, really. So we deicided to load them up on a blog, one entry per post, and let them find their interactive audience. Voila.

Nanoscale solutions to climate change

Posted by Olive Heffernan Solutions to climate change could come in extremely small sizes, according to a report released last week by the UK Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). “Environmentally Beneficial Nanotechnologies: Barriers and Opportunities” explores the application of nanoscience in five key areas that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions, namely: insulation, photovoltaics, electricity storage, engine efficiency and the hydrogen economy. Nanotechnology is a hugely exciting, if relatively young, branch of science with seemingly limitless possibilities. What scientists are discovering is that everyday materials, at very small sizes of one or several nanometers (a nanometer is equivalent  … Read more

The land of unintended consequences

Posted by Olive Heffernan on behalf of Kevin Vranes Far off the American radar screen, and perhaps not a bright blip on the European one either, is the perverse incentive problem for carbon emissions offsets. As voluntary offset purchases by both individuals and corporations ramp up, a strong backlash against “offsetting your guilt” is building astride. But offsetting guilt as a personal choice or for corporate strategy on an individual basis is one thing. Using an international financial trading mechanism embedded in an international treaty is quite another. And when the mechanisms of one international environmental treaty leads to the  … Read more

Sinking sink

Posted by Olive Heffernan on behalf of Michael Hopkin It looks as if the Southern Ocean – the great white hope for sucking up mankind’s carbon emissions – is slowly losing its efficiency as a carbon sink due to largely unforseen climate feedbacks. It’s early days, but this first real-world measurement of a slowdown in the ocean’s ability to dissolve carbon could have worrying implications for those currently thinking about how to stabilize atmospheric greenhouse levels. Read more on the Southern Ocean’s reduced CO2 uptake here Michael Hopkin News reporter, Nature  … Read more

Global climate change and hurricanes

Posted by Olive Heffernan on behalf of Kevin Trenberth The 2007 hurricane season is about to get officially underway. Never mind that nature has already provided the first named storm in the North Atlantic: Andrea. Several forecasts suggest that the 2007 season in the North Atlantic will be well above average. Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are above normal and atmospheric conditions look likely to be favorable for tropical storm activity. In 2005, the record breaking year in the North Atlantic, record high SSTs in the critical region from 10 to 20 degrees N in the North Atlantic provided ample fuel  … Read more

The Importance of the Development Pathway in the Climate Debate

Posted by Olive Heffernan on behalf of Roger Pielke Jr. Today I am testifying before the House Committee on Science and Technology of the U.S. Congress. In my testimony I argue that we should pay attention to development paths in addition to the mitigation of greenhouse gases. You can see my testimony in full here.  Read more

Does it make sense to compare cities’ per capita emissions?

Does it make sense to compare cities’ per capita emissions?

Posted by Olive Heffernan on behalf of Paty Romero Lankao It does make sense to compare the per capita CO2 emissions of Mexico City and Los Angeles (see figure below) to illuminate the debate on shared but differentiated responsibilities on greenhouse gases emissions and show that just as urban centers register different levels and paths of economic development, cities do not contribute at the same level to global warming. For instance, the real GDP per capita of Los Angeles (US$40,031) is almost 3 times that of Mexico City (US$13,470). The paradox here is that many of those urban centers with  … Read more