Archive by category | Journal Club

Atlantic Ocean circulation: the inside story

The system of surface and deep currents which make up the Atlantic Ocean circulation, a powerful heat conveyor belt and a poster child for abrupt climate change, is a more complex affair than straightforward textbook diagrams suggest.  Read more

Could we count on air capture?

Could we count on air capture?

Among the many proposed techno-fixes for climate change, ‘air capture’ seems like one of simplest solutions – what could be more straightforward than sucking greenhouse gases out of air and storing them somewhere else?  Read more

The truth about thermoelectrics

The truth about thermoelectrics

Among the many technologies contending for a role in the future energy mix, thermoelectricity is one area where researchers have hoped that a big breakthrough in technology could reap equally large benefits in improving energy efficiency. Up until this point thermoelectric technologies, which use materials to draw electricity from heat, haven’t been widely applied to electricity generation owing to their high cost and inefficiency. But changing the materials and their properties could — in theory at least — make a wide range of products more energy-efficient at a lower cost. Last year the field made some important gains and seemed  … Read more

Rapid retreat of Greenland’s outlet glaciers may be temporary

The loss of ice from Greenland ranks as one of the most troubling, and poorly understood, aspects of climate change. Melting of the colossal ice sheet, which is already undoubtedly underway, has the capacity to raise global sea levels by an astounding 7 meters.  Read more

Adaptation needed to avoid world food crisis

Adaptation needed to avoid world food crisis

The recent food crisis, which saw crop prices sky rocket in 2007/08, demonstrated the fragile nature of the world’s food system. Coping with the short-term challenges of food price volatility is daunting, but the longer-term challenge of avoiding a perpetual food crisis due to global warming could be far more serious.  Read more

Glaciation ahead – on a geological time scale

Glaciation ahead - on a geological time scale

More elderly readers of these pages may remember having heard in their school days back (circa 1970s) that scientists then thought an ice age would be coming soon. I certainly do – even though the alleged ‘global cooling consensus’ in the scientific literature of the time has recently been disproved as a myth. Now an interesting new paper in Nature [subscription] suggests that a rapid natural transition towards a stable glacial climate, with permanent ice sheets covering large parts of North America and Eurasia, could indeed be ahead. Thomas Crowley and William Hyde ran a coupled energy-balance/ice-sheet model to test  … Read more

Climate change hits loveable lemmings

Climate change hits loveable lemmings

Cross posted from the Great Beyond Let us get one thing clear right at the start: lemmings do not commit mass suicide by leaping off cliffs into the sea. However, their populations do undergo massive size fluctuations, leading to mass migrations where the cute critters may go swimming to find new food sources. At least, they used to undergo massive population explosions. In a paper published this week in Nature a group of researchers analyse the absence of such events since 1994. The culprit, you guessed it, is climate change. Nils Stenseth and colleagues show that changes in winter weather  … Read more

Could tipping happen any time soon?

I wrote here yesterday that ‘I don’t think that anyone knows for sure how close we are to reaching tipping points in the climate system’. As it so happens, a pair of articles published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week illustrates this point nicely.  Read more