carbon dioxide

Fri, 2013-07-26 09:00Laurel Whitney
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New Nature Study Calls Melting Underwater Arctic Permafrost An "Economic Time Bomb"

Three academics walk into a bar.

After what must have been the worst happy hour ever, they emerge having discovered that melting oceanic permafrost could come with a hefty $60 trillion dollar price tag, slightly less than the entire world economy.

We calculate that the costs of a melting Arctic will be huge, because the region is pivotal to the functioning of Earth systems such as oceans and the climate. The release of methane from thawing permafrost beneath the East Siberian Sea, off northern Russia, alone comes with an average global price tag of $60 trillion in the absence of mitigating action — a figure comparable to the size of the world economy in 2012 (about $70 trillion). The total cost of Arctic change will be much higher.

Penned in a recent issue of Nature, Gail Whitman (Sustainability professor at Erasmus University Netherlands), Chris Hope (Policy modeler, University of Cambridge) and Peter Wadhams (Ocean physics, University of Cambridge) set out to calculate the economic consequences of an ice-free Arctic, which some have estimated could happen as early as 2020.

Their main concern followed the melting of underwater permafrost - called methane clathrates - in which natural methane gas beneath the ocean is trapped in frozen beds of ice. Normally, the cold temperatures of ocean water and high pressure of ocean sitting atop the clathrates keep them in place. But with the Arctic ice cap quickly melting, the warming may penetrate farther toward the ocean floor and release this 50 Gt reservoir of methane.

Like stinky bubbles emanating from their Arctic bathtub, methane, a much more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2 with about 20x the warming capability, could either be released gradually over time, or in one fell swoop, accelerating atmospheric warming.

Fri, 2012-06-01 21:00Laurel Whitney
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400 PPM Carbon Dioxide Concentrations Breach The Arctic

There's a saying that trouble comes in threes. Earlier this week, the International Energy Administration announced that emissions reached a record high last year, increasing by 1 Gt worldwide. At the Bonn climate talks, experts have warned that the window to curb a global temperature rise of more than 2 degrees is swiftly drawing to a close.

To cap it off, NOAA released the news that carbon dioxide levels have reached a new milestone this spring, tipping the scales over 400 ppm, a concentration the world hasn't seen in the last 800,000 years.

Scientists are seeing these high concentrations at their northernmost stations in the Arctic. Remote sites measure the gas in Alaska, Canada, Iceland, Finland, Norway, and also an island in the North Pacific, Mauna Loa, which has been recording ambient CO2 concentrations since 1959 (and produced the now-famous Keeling curve).

The global average is still around 395 ppm, but the Arctic is seen as an important indicator for global conditions to come, since it is an ecosystem that is much more sensitive to changing conditions.

The northern sites in our monitoring network tell us what is coming soon to the globe as a whole,” said Pieter Tans, an atmospheric scientist with NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) in Boulder, Colo. “We will likely see global average CO2 concentrations reach 400 ppm about 2016.”

Sun, 2012-01-29 10:53Carol Linnitt
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The Cornell Team Redux: Shale Gas a Disaster for Climate

Unconventional gas offers no advantage over other fossil fuels when considering its impact on the climate, according to a new report from a group of researchers at Cornell University. The Cornell Team, who made waves in the shale debate with groundbreaking research on methane leakage in gas production are challenging the gas industry’s claim that gas offers a clean, environmentally-friendly alternative to conventional fossil fuels. The team, comprised of Robert Howarth, Anthony Ingraffea and Renee Santoro, recently released a companion study to their contentious April 2011 report, continuing to reveal that shale gas is inadequate as a bridge fuel and may be worse for climate change in the long run than coal.

The team’s new study analyzes the combined effect of methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere over a 20-year timeframe. Investigating the impact of emissions from both electricity generation, which accounts for about 30 percent of US gas usage, and heat generation, which accounts for the majority of the country’s gas usage, the report emphasizes the enormous projected role of unconventional gas – and its associated emissions – in America’s energy future. 

Sat, 2009-09-26 07:05Peter Sinclair
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Climate Denial Crock of the Week/All Wet on Sea level remixed

Sea level rise. It’s been the subject of myth, legend and pop culture for millenia. It is going to be one of the major destructive effects of global climate change. So naturally, its something that makes deniers do and say crazy things.

Here’s the updated, remixed video on a misunderstood topic.

Mon, 2009-09-07 08:38Peter Sinclair
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Climate Denial Crock of the Week/1998 Revisited

One of the enduring myths of climate denialism is that global warming stopped sometime in the last decade. I see it in the blaring headlines of pseudoscience websites, in comments on my videos, even some of our most “distinguished” journalists have been taken in.

Sun, 2009-05-24 17:41Jeremy Jacquot
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A Question of Framing

What a difference a year can make. While the consensus on the Hill may not have grown stronger in the interim—I’m looking at you, House Republicans—the American public seems to be increasingly wising up to the idea that global warming is, in fact, a real threat and not some nefarious liberal plot to deprive it of its God-given right to pollute.

That is the principal finding of a new survey, entitled “Global Warming’s Six Americas,” that was released this past week by the Center for American Progress. The survey, which the authors describe as an “audience segmentation analysis,” splits the American public into six distinct groups based on their level of engagement with global warming: alarmed, concerned, cautious, disengaged, doubtful, and dismissive.

The authors polled 2,129 American adults in the fall of 2008 on a variety of issues related to global warming, including risk perceptions, policy preferences, and values.

Thu, 2009-05-14 00:27Jeremy Jacquot
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The OMB-EPA Kerfuffle That Wasn't

Is the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) deliberately trying to sabotage the EPA’s efforts to regulate carbon dioxide emissions? Is Peter Orszag, the agency’s brainy and genial director, secretly in cahoots with Republican opponents of President Obama’s climate policies?

Not quite – though that may have been your first impression upon reading the raft of articles published yesterday that breathlessly reported that an OMB memo had strongly criticized the EPA’s proposal to regulate greenhouse gases.

Tue, 2009-04-28 14:04Jeremy Jacquot
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What Scientists Have to Say About Global Cooling

Scientists have been quietly gnashing their teeth in frustration over deniers’ latest attempts to pervert their research on global warming. Until now.

In an article published in the latest issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters (sub. required), David R. Easterling of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center and Michael F. Wehner of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory set out to refute the “global cooling” lies peddled by Fox News, The Washington Post, and the Republican Party once and for all.

Fri, 2009-04-24 00:27Jeremy Jacquot
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When Deniers Deny Their Own

Who can you trust, if not your own advisers? That is the inconvenient question raised by NYT reporter Andrew C. Revkin in a newly published article that reveals the extent to which the coal and oil industries ignored the advice of their own scientists on the question of climate change.

The Global Climate Coalition (how’s that for an Orwellian name?), an industry-funded group that spent years vehemently contesting any evidence linking anthropogenic activity to climate change, found itself in the uncomfortable position of rejecting its own experts’ recommendations when they reached the inevitable conclusion that the contribution of manmade greenhouse gas emissions to climate change “could not be refuted.”

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