News & Views

Filters

  • News & Views |

    Increasing fire frequency and severity may shift boreal forests from carbon sinks to carbon sources and amplify climate warming. Analysis indicates that fuel characteristics are important drivers of wildfire carbon emissions across a broad range of North America’s boreal forest.

    • Rachel A. Loehman
  • News & Views |

    Agricultural systems are vulnerable to climate change, and global reservoirs of plant genetic diversity are proving to be a valuable means of crop adaptation. A study now shows that production of sweet potato is at risk from extreme heat events, but a few tolerant cultivars can still thrive and potentially provide climate resilience.

    • Samuel Pironon
    •  & Marybel Soto Gomez
  • News & Views |

    Dust and black carbon deposition in high-mountain Asia darkens snow and ice, increases sunlight absorption and causes melt — a reinforcing feedback. Now research shows the increasing importance of dust over black carbon at higher altitude, and the sensitivity of aerosol transport and delivery to Arctic sea-ice melt.

    • Biagio Di Mauro
  • News & Views |

    While large-scale climate-associated changes are becoming increasingly visible, our understanding of changes in the microbial world remains limited. Now a study takes advantage of a tropical microecosystem to disentangle the direct and indirect impacts of increased temperatures on the microbiomes of animals.

    • Obed Hernández-Gómez
  • News & Views |

    Winter conditions have typically been downplayed or oversimplified in past estimations of terrestrial Arctic vegetation shifts in relation to climate change. A study now demonstrates the importance of fine-scale variation in winter temperature in explaining the composition and diversity of Arctic plant communities.

    • Anne D. Bjorkman
    •  & Elise C. Gallois
  • News & Views |

    Raising the cost of carbon is critical for effective climate policy, but is politically challenging because the public are averse to costs. Conventional wisdom suggests this could be addressed by giving the public time to adjust by gradually increasing costs. However, new research shows that the public actually prefers a constant cost curve.

    • Christopher Warshaw
  • News & Views |

    Theory and observation suggest that populations of long-lived organisms fare worse than short-lived counterparts when submitted to increased mortality. Now, research shows that longevity affords the prospect of reducing mortality by breeding less under stress.

    • Gonçalo Ferraz
  • News & Views |

    Gravity-based estimates of mass change have been extended by the recently launched GRACE Follow-On Satellites. The satellite record, combined with regional climate models, reveals that the Greenland Ice Sheet had lower mass loss in 2017–2018, only to return to a record-breaking mass loss in the summer of 2019.

    • Yara Mohajerani
  • News & Views |

    The response of coastal groundwater to sea-level rise is largely unknown. Groundwater modelling along the California coast — accounting for complex topography and its interaction with rivers, streams and tributaries — shows that the area at risk from rising groundwater tables extends beyond that inundated by sea-level rise alone.

    • Christine May
  • News & Views |

    More intense precipitation is an expected consequence of anthropogenic climate change. Now research quantifies the effect of more concentrated rainfall on American agriculture.

    • Ethan E. Butler
  • News & Views |

    International trade plays an important role in ensuring the resilience of the global food system. Now research suggests a further reduction in trade barriers could alleviate the impacts of climate change on hunger risk.

    • Victor Nechifor
    •  & Emanuele Ferrari
  • News & Views |

    Climate change will lead to geographic shifts in global habitats, forcing plant populations to migrate or perish. Model-based analysis for wind-dispersed plants under future climate conditions show the importance of considering both ‘where to go’, in terms of the desired temperature, and ‘how to get there’, in terms of wind speed and direction.

    • Gil Bohrer
    •  & Jelle Treep
  • News & Views |

    Over the last two decades, many countries have passed laws addressing climate change and related areas. Research now shows that these laws make a difference to emission outcomes, but the pathways of impact require further research.

    • Navroz K. Dubash
  • News & Views |

    Warming can change the vegetation growing season, but the response of autumn phenology to warming remains uncertain. Now research shows warming can lead to autumn greening by delaying leaf senescence, but carbon uptake is constrained by radiation.

    • Sujong Jeong
  • News & Views |

    The Madden–Julian oscillation causes teleconnections that impact mid-latitudes. Now research predicts dramatic eastward shifts of these impacts in the Pacific–North America region as the climate warms, leading to higher winter rainfall variability along the US West Coast and California in particular.

    • Hien X. Bui
  • News & Views |

    Pacific Islands are already responding to the adverse effects of climate change, but it is unclear to what extent these responses effectively and sustainably improve local resilience. New research seeks to understand how local beneficiaries evaluate adaptation projects and what this teaches us for future adaptation.

    • Carola Klöck
  • News & Views |

    Over the last half of the twentieth century, surface temperature over the South Pole was steady if not slightly cooling, suggesting the high Antarctic interior might be immune to warming. Research now shows a dramatic switch; in the past 30 years, the South Pole has been warming at over three times the global rate.

    • Sharon E. Stammerjohn
    •  & Ted A. Scambos
  • News & Views |

    Migrants arriving in cities must overcome many challenges, including gaining acceptance from established residents. New research from Kenya and Vietnam shows urbanites accept climate hazards as being as legitimate as economic, political or social motivations for rural-to-urban migration.

    • Robert McLeman
  • News & Views |

    Ocean acidification is changing the productivity and composition of phytoplankton communities at the base of the aquatic food web. Now a study shows that acidification impairs the swimming ability of flagellated microalgae, suggesting that their capacity to survive is threatened in a high CO2 world.

    • Jolanda M. H. Verspagen
  • News & Views |

    International efforts to expand access to safely managed sanitation provide an opportunity to introduce new models for sanitation infrastructure with lower environmental impacts than existing systems. Now, measurements in Haiti show that composting of human waste reduces GHG emissions compared to existing methods.

    • Matthew Reid
  • News & Views |

    The influence of the changing climate on individual snowstorms has been uncertain, in part due to the use of coarse model simulations. Now, research employing more detailed simulations finds fewer and smaller snowstorms as a result of warming, with a reduction in the amount and extent of extreme snowfall.

    • Martin A. Baxter
  • News & Views |

    Climate migration involves complex interactions of environmental, social, political and economic factors. New research suggests that although wealthy global citizens try to prevent climate migration, they are willing to shoulder a greater share of the climate mitigation burden when extreme climate events hit poor countries.

    • Reuben Kline
  • News & Views |

    Antarctic krill play a key role in Southern Ocean food webs but are vulnerable to climate change, with habitat shifts predicted in response. Now, a study of climate change impacts on a krill-specialist predator — the crabeater seal — suggests that this abundant marine mammal may be forced southwards with its prey.

    • Jessica Melbourne-Thomas
  • News & Views |

    Snow in the mountains provides a natural reservoir, storing water in the cold season for use later in the year. Now research demonstrates that reduced mountain snowpack due to rising temperatures makes drought harder to predict and jeopardizes irrigated agriculture throughout the world.

    • Julie A. Vano
  • News & Views |

    Policy makers debate whether responding to climate change can be complementary to economic growth. New research tracking competing economic ideas across the environmental debate shows that climate change is increasingly seen as an opportunity; however, many still argue that growth and climate action are in conflict.

    • Paul Tobin
  • News & Views |

    Since 1980, European nations have made a tremendous effort to mitigate ozone pollution by reducing emissions, only to achieve limited success. Research now shows that vegetation stressed by heat and drought conditions has partly thwarted these actions.

    • Mehliyar Sadiq
  • News & Views |

    Future Arctic methane emissions depend partly on interactions between soil carbon released during permafrost thaw and microbial physiology. Now, a model shows potential increased methane produced from thawing permafrost carbon could be offset by increased consumption by upland methanotrophs.

    • Carmody K. McCalley
  • News & Views |

    The partisan divide between Republicans and Democrats on climate change is large and shows no signs of narrowing. However, a new analysis shows that Republicans’ climate change attitudes were relatively unstable between 2014–2018, triggering cautious optimism that a tipping point in attitudes might be around the corner.

    • Matthew J. Hornsey
  • News & Views |

    Under climate change, sea-level rise is expected to bring about large changes in the world’s coastlines. Now, research predicting future shoreline change from satellite data indicates loss of nearly 50% of sandy beaches by the end of the century.

    • Sue Brooks
  • News & Views |

    Temperature affects the metabolic rates of species, their feeding interactions and their ability to persist in a given environment. Now research suggests that different effects of temperature on consumers and resources could cause food webs in cold climates to become less vulnerable to species loss, whereas tropical communities may be more vulnerable as temperatures climb.

    • Alyssa R. Cirtwill
  • News & Views |

    Atmospheric aerosols have probably masked a significant portion of the greenhouse-gas-induced warming so far. Research now shows that this also may have masked some of the world’s increasing economic inequality.

    • Marianne T. Lund
  • News & Views |

    Ground-level ozone is an air pollutant that is harmful to human health, as well as to plants, trees and crops. New analyses based on Earth system modelling show that reducing ozone from the energy, industrial and transportation sectors could mitigate climate change by enhancing the ability of vegetation to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis.

    • Benjamin S. Felzer
  • News & Views |

    The impacts of climate change on the ecohydrology of forested mountain regions are uncertain. New high-resolution modelling suggests that during a hot, dry summer in the Alps, stressed vegetation capitalizes on downslope water subsidies, amplifying runoff deficits and further depleting water resources.

    • Reed M. Maxwell
  • News & Views |

    For years, halogens have been known as destroyers of ‘good’ ozone, which acts as an upper-atmosphere shield from harmful ultraviolet radiation. Research now shows that natural halogen compounds emitted from the ocean help to control ‘bad’ ozone pollution at ground level and may continue to do so at a similar rate in future climate.

    • Andrea Stenke
  • News & Views |

    An anthropogenic fingerprint has been detected in long-term climate trends, but distinguishing human-induced change from natural variability in day-to-day weather remains a challenge. Research now finds that a human influence is discernible in global patterns of daily temperature and moisture.

    • Seung-Ki Min
  • News & Views |

    Climate change has led to changes in migration patterns for many bird species. A novel application of the US system of weather radars reveals for the first time that climate change advances the timing of bird migration comprehensively at continental scales.

    • Robert H. Diehl
  • News & Views |

    Effective decadal climate prediction is urgently needed, but achieving this is still very challenging. Now research suggests that greenhouse warming may compound these difficulties with less predictable global decadal climate variability.

    • Naiming Yuan
    •  & Zhenghui Lu
  • News & Views |

    Food security is uncertain under future climate change, but is there a threat of food system collapse? Now research assesses the probability of weather hazards occurring at the same time in the world’s major breadbaskets and reveals that the weather-related component of this risk could be increasing.

    • Zia Mehrabi
  • News & Views |

    Extreme weather events may provide opportunities to raise public awareness about the effects of climate change. Research now shows that although single events have limited impact on discussion of climate change in affected communities, some communities may be more receptive, particularly if the event can be clearly attributed to climate change.

    • Elizabeth A. Albright
  • News & Views |

    Migration is an important means to cope with the impacts of climate-related shocks. Research shows that networks of prior migrants aid this crucial adaptation mechanism.

    • Cristina Cattaneo
  • News & Views |

    Nitrous oxide is a potent greenhouse gas for which global emission estimates, driven largely by fertilizer input, are highly uncertain. An inversion approach based on atmospheric measurements yields global increases more than twice as high as the IPCC default.

    • David Makowski
  • News & Views |

    Rising sea level is a principal threat to coastal systems worldwide — but far from being a simple matter of landscapes doomed to drown, the story involves complex feedbacks with the same processes that threaten them. Now a modelling study shows that the size and shape of tidal estuaries may determine their fate — proffering a perspective for mitigation against future sea-level rise.

    • Steven L. Goodbred Jr
  • News & Views |

    Observations reveal recent Arctic warming, but future societal impacts are poorly understood. Now research identifies potential abrupt thaw-driven soil moisture shifts, with consequences for northern development including more intense wildfires and rainfall.

    • Barret L. Kurylyk
  • News & Views |

    The effects of global warming are felt earlier in Arctic regions than elsewhere in the world. Now research shows that Arctic marine food webs can adapt to climate change — but the study authors warn that this impression of resilience may be false in the long term.

    • Johanna Yletyinen
  • News & Views |

    Warming in the Arctic is causing soils to decompose more rapidly, even during winter. Now, estimates of winter carbon dioxide loss indicate that it can offset carbon gains during the growing season, meaning that the region is a source of carbon.

    • John L. Campbell
  • News & Views |

    The consequences of global warming will be dire, but the full extent of these effects on society is unknown and includes uncertainties. Research now suggests that how scientists communicate about the uncertainty over such climate change impacts can influence the public’s trust and acceptance of this information.

    • Emily H. Ho
    •  & David V. Budescu
  • News & Views |

    Predicting coral bleaching is critical to better manage and preserve coral reefs from global warming. An impressive coordination of surveys across oceans now offers new metrics to help to predict coral bleaching events on a global scale.

    • Mathieu Pernice
    •  & David J. Hughes
  • News & Views |

    Climate change is expected to severely impact farming in sub-Saharan Africa. Now research shows that crop wild relatives might be able to secure Africa’s existing cropping practices by providing the genetic diversity needed to adapt crops to climates that they have never seen before.

    • Michael B. Kantar
    •  & Bryan Runck
  • News & Views |

    Within a single species, different populations can show strikingly varied responses to climate – often attributed to genetic differences of geographically separated populations. Now an elegant analysis, weaving together modelling with large-scale empirical data, demonstrates that ecoregion explains spatial variation in climate responses of the American pika.

    • Meagan F. Oldfather