Research Briefing

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  • A meta-analysis reveals greater variation in heat tolerance within marine than terrestrial taxa. This variation corresponds to the spatial patterns in the maximum temperature populations of marine species experience. Although populations at the equatorward range edges of species’ distributions are particularly vulnerable to warming, standing genetic variation within species might promote an adaptive response elsewhere.

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  • Analysis of tweets relating to the Conference of the Parties (COP) climate summits reveals greater polarization during COP26 than during previous summits. This increase in polarization is associated with growing right-wing engagement and emerged following the global climate strikes in 2019. Surprisingly, one topic unites pro-climate and climate-sceptic groups — ‘political hypocrisy’ — accusations of which have increased since 2019.

    Research Briefing
  • Investigating the unprecedented 2021 heatwave in the North American Pacific Northwest revealed that a complex interaction between atmospheric dynamics, soil moisture and temperature nonlinearly amplified the event beyond a five-sigma anomaly. These findings may contribute to a better understanding of the physical drivers of future heat extremes.

    Research Briefing
  • Temperature projections from global climate models integrated with simple dynamical models suggest that there will be a systematic increase in the extinction risk of insect populations in the twenty-first century. The risks due to warming are amplified when temperature variability is taken into account.

    Research Briefing
  • The global redistribution of agricultural snowmelt dependence and risks was characterized by integrating sub-annual irrigation water demand with snowmelt runoff dynamics and an international trade model. This analysis highlights the global implications of the risks related to changes in snowmelt under climate change, indicating the wider importance of climate adaptation strategies.

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  • Demand for aviation will increase by 2–3-fold by 2050. Nonetheless, 90% decarbonization compared with 2019 can be achieved by continued efficiency gains in aircraft and operations, and by the use of ultra-green fuels derived from biomass or clean electricity. Achieving this decarbonization goal will require an increase in airfares of up to approximately 15%.

    Research Briefing
  • Even if greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are reduced to pre-industrial levels, the climate system might not return to its previous state. Quantification of the spatial patterns of climate hysteresis and reversibility reveals globally widespread irreversible changes in surface temperature and precipitation in response to anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

    Research Briefing
  • Natural climate solutions (NCS) could counterbalance 6% of industrial CO2 emissions in China throughout 2020–2030, by trapping carbon within ecosystems and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Implementing 62% of these NCS would cost ≤US$50 per megagram of CO2 equivalent. NCS can contribute substantially to climate mitigation if appropriate planning strategies are employed.

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  • Falling raindrops have an essential but as yet unquantified role in planetary climate change. An approach to quantifying precipitation efficiency establishes that the way raindrops reach the surface plays an important part in persistent uncertainties over future tropical atmospheric circulation and extreme precipitation.

    Research Briefing
  • Climate change affects sea surface density via changes in the sea surface temperature and salinity. These projected sea surface density changes are likely to affect the dispersal patterns of widely distributed mangrove species and are expected to be largest in the Indo West Pacific, the primary hotspot of mangrove diversity.

    Research Briefing
  • A projected change in the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is found to induce a change in high-latitude winds, thereby affecting future Southern Ocean warming. A greater projected increase in ENSO amplitude in response to transient greenhouse forcing weakens high-latitude westerly poleward intensification and slows future Southern Ocean warming.

    Research Briefing
  • A study involving over 12,000 observations shows that high-quality cropland soils not only lead to a higher yield, but also to a smaller yield reduction and variability in response to warmer climates. Appropriate efforts to improve soil quality may reduce the decline in crop production induced by climate change in China by 20%.

    Research Briefing
  • Following a complete cessation of anthropogenic emissions, global warming will continue before cooling. We modelled this zero-emissions scenario in the context of realistic emissions pathways and revealed an existing commitment to temporarily exceeding 1.5 °C and 2.0 °C global warming thresholds half a decade before these targets would have otherwise been reached.

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  • Using a cryosphere–hydrology–crop model, future changes in the amount and sources of water withdrawals for irrigation are investigated for South Asia under different climate change and socioeconomic scenarios. The model reveals that meltwater and groundwater will become increasingly important to complement rainfall runoff to provide food for millions.

    Research Briefing
  • Climate change can affect marine ecosystems in various ways, including modulation of seasonality, with consequences for the entire marine food web. Projections from a state-of-the-art Earth system model suggest that marine phytoplankton bloom timing could be shortened in high-latitude, high-productivity oceans.

    Research Briefing