Archive by date | July 2009

How to heat a forest… or at least, a part of one

How to heat a forest… or at least, a part of one

Sure, accidentally heating the planet has been pretty easy. But try intentionally heating a plot of forest, and you get a whole other story. In this week’s Nature, we take a brief look at a series of new experiments to test how warmer temperatures will change the composition of forests in different regions of the United States. Will forests begin to sprout above the tree line in the Colorado Rocky Mountains? Will oaks sweep northwards, deeper into the boreal forests of the northern United States and Canada? Unfortunately, reliably and evenly heating a stand of grown trees to a set  … Read more

Warming speeds carbon release from peat

Warming speeds carbon release from peat

Northern peatlands, typical for subarctic Scandinavia and Russia, contain one third of the world’s soil organic carbon. How much extra carbon these soils will release to the atmosphere, through accelerated respiration in a warmer climate, has been pretty much guesswork. Data from an eight-year in situ experiment carried out in Sweden now suggest that even modest warming will release enough extra carbon to effectively equalize the European Union’s emissions reductions achieved under the Kyoto Protocol.  Read more

Cloud shields breached by warming

Cloud shields breached by warming

Blankets of low clouds shield and cool the Earth’s surface – but in a warming climate, will this safety blanket thicken, or will it deteriorate? That question has bugged climatologists for decades. A paper published in Science today (subscription) now offers convincing evidence that warming leads to fewer clouds, and thus exposure to more warming.  Read more

A new adaptation tool: climate insurance

A new adaptation tool: climate insurance

As even the staunchest advocates will tell you, climate insurance is by no means a magic bullet. But clearly the tools of modern finance could certainly help make poor nations prepare for and respond to all manner of natural disasters big and small. We explore some of these ideas in this week’s issue of Nature, taking a quick look at how the insurance debate is playing out in the ongoing United Nations climate talks. The upshot is that some kind of insurance mechanism is likely to make it into whatever climate deal is struck in Copenhagen and beyond. One commonly  … Read more

IMO stalls decision on shipping emissions

IMO stalls decision on shipping emissions

There’s an update over at Nature News on efforts to get a regulatory handle on carbon dioxide emissions from the shipping industry. I noted last month, when the International Maritime Organization was taking criticism for not moving faster on the issue, that an IMO official had said a July meeting might come up with ideas.  Read more