The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.

Greenhouse gas ‘bookkeeping’ turned on its head

For the first time scientists have looked at the net balance of the three major greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide – for every region of Earth’s landmasses. They found surprisingly, that human-induced emissions of methane and nitrous oxide from ecosystems overwhelmingly surpass the ability of the land to soak up carbon dioxide emissions […]

The team discovered that the human impact on biogenic methane and nitrous oxide emissions far outweighed the human impact on the terrestrial uptake of carbon dioxide, meaning that humans have caused the terrestrial biosphere to further contribute to warming. In other words, the terrestrial biosphere, through human action, is now contributing to climate change rather than mitigating climate change. This runs counter to conventional thinking based on previous studies, which had focused only on carbon dioxide and had emphasized the climate change mitigating effect of human impacts terrestrial carbon uptake.

Human influence on climate dates back to 1930s, new research finds

Humans have triggered the last 16 record-breaking hot years experienced on Earth (up to 2014), with our impact on the global climate going as far back as 1937, a new study finds. The study suggests that without human-induced climate change, recent hot summers and years would not have occurred. The researchers also found that this effect has been masked until recently in many areas of the world by the wide use of industrial aerosols, which have a cooling effect on temperatures.

Flooding alleviated by targeted tree planting and river restoration, scientists discover

A study by an international team of scientists, led by the Universities of Birmingham and Southampton, has shown that strategic planting of trees on floodplains could reduce the height of flooding in towns downstream by up to 20 per cent, according to research published in the journal Earth Surface Processes and Landforms.

Sea level rise threatens larger number of people than earlier estimated

More people live close to sea coast than earlier estimated, assess researchers in a new study. These people are the most vulnerable to the rise of the sea level as well as to the increased number of floods and intensified storms. By using recent increased resolution datasets, Aalto University researchers estimate that 1.9 billion inhabitants, or 28% of the world’s total population, live closer than 100 km from the coast in areas less than 100 meters above the present sea level. By 2050 the amount of people in that zone is predicted to increase to 2.4 billion, while population living lower than 5 meters will reach 500 million people. Many of these people need to adapt their livelihoods to changing climate, say Assistant Professor Matti Kummu from Aalto University.

Science can now link climate change with some extreme weather events

Extreme weather events like floods, heat waves and droughts can devastate communities and populations worldwide. Recent scientific advances have enabled researchers to confidently say that the increased intensity and frequency of some, but not all, of these extreme weather events is influenced by human-induced climate change, according to an international National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine report released today (March 11). “In the past, many scientists have been cautious of attributing specific extreme weather events to climate change. People frequently ask questions such as, ‘Did climate change cause Hurricane Sandy?’ Science can’t answer that because there are so many relevant factors for hurricanes. What this report is saying is that we can attribute an increased magnitude or frequency of some extreme weather events to climate change,” said David Titley, professor of practice in Penn State’s Department of Meteorology and founding director of Penn State’s Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk, who chaired the committee that wrote the report.

Even plant-supporting soil fungi affected by global warming, UCI study finds

On a cool, fog-shrouded mountain of Costa Rica, University of California, Irvine biologist Caitlin Looby is finding that warming temperatures are becoming an increasing problem for one of the most ecologically diverse places on Earth. Seeking to determine how shifts in the tropical mountain cloud forest ecosystem would affect resident fungal species in Monteverde, Looby and fellow ecology & evolutionary biology graduate student Mia Maltz and their adviser, Kathleen Treseder, found that as the moist mountain soil dries out due to a warming climate, the fungi infrastructure that supports the abundant plant life also will change.

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Photo Credit: University of Bremen