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Volume 12 Issue 8, August 2022

Summer impact on peatland carbon

Northern high-latitude peatlands are an important carbon sink, but how carbon uptake changes with warming is poorly understood. In this issue, Helbig et al. show that warmer early summers over the multi-annual study period are linked to increased net carbon uptake, whereas warmer late summers are linked to decreased net carbon uptake. These findings indicate that some peatland regions, such as central Siberia, are particularly resilient carbon sinks.

See Helbig et al. and News & Views by Juutinen

Image: Soil Paparazzi / Alamy Stock Photo. Cover Design: Valentina Monaco

Editorial

  • Each year weather records are being broken around the globe; this boreal summer has seen heat records fall across Europe, America and Central Asia. These discernible effects of climate change cannot be ignored, as combined with global issues they endanger society and well-being.

    Editorial

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Correspondence

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Comment

  • Climate and freedom are interconnected in various ways. The recent German verdict on climate protection realigned the fundamental rights in liberal democratic societies and marks an important step in climate litigation around the world.

    • Felix Ekardt
    • Katharine Heyl
    Comment
  • Northern expansion is often seen as a solution to climate-driven agricultural challenges in lower latitudes, yet little is known about cultivation–permafrost interactions. We outline four science-based adaptations, informed by farmer knowledge, that reduce risk and inform decisions to sustainably manage and develop permafrost-agroecosystems.

    • Melissa K. Ward Jones
    • Tobias Schwoerer
    • David Russell
    Comment
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Research Highlights

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News & Views

  • US homes are large by any international standards. Full grid decarbonization and electrification of residential energy uses — along with extensive house renovation — are all required, but smaller homes could make this much easier to deliver.

    • André Cabrera Serrenho
    News & Views
  • How global warming affects the ability of northern peatlands to store carbon is uncertain. Now, researchers show that early summer warming increases carbon uptake, whereas warmer late summer decreases it.

    • Sari Juutinen
    News & Views
  • Tiny phytoplankton are the base of ocean production and thus critical to carbon storage, carbon fluxes and living marine resources. Now, research suggests that the vertical migration of these organisms provides a previously under-recognized resiliency to climate warming.

    • John P. Dunne
    News & Views
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Research Briefings

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Articles

  • Residential sector decarbonization is an essential part of mitigation, especially in the United States where per capita energy use is high by global standards. This article shows the emission reduction potential from individual and combined strategies applied to existing and new homes and to electricity supply.

    • Peter Berrill
    • Eric J. H. Wilson
    • Edgar G. Hertwich
    Article
  • Ocean changes could affect the East Antarctic Ice Sheet and its contribution to sea level rise. Oceanographic observations off East Antarctica show substantial warming of mid-depth Circumpolar Deep Water, linked to poleward wind shifts, with implications for glacial melt and ice sheet stability.

    • Laura Herraiz-Borreguero
    • Alberto C. Naveira Garabato
    Article
  • Changes in the spatial pattern of aerosol could influence climate through effects on radiative forcing. Model experiments show that while aerosol absorption in the midlatitudes and regions of tropical descent can warm the planet, aerosol absorption in regions of tropical ascent can cool the planet.

    • Andrew I. L. Williams
    • Philip Stier
    • Duncan Watson-Parris
    Article Open Access
  • Peatlands have historically acted as a carbon sink, but it is unclear how climate warming will affect this. The response of peatland carbon uptake to warming depends on the timing of summer warming; early warming leads to increased CO2 uptake and later warming to decreased uptake.

    • M. Helbig
    • T. Živković
    • S. Zaehle
    Article
  • Phytoplankton vertical migration has a role in nutrient pumping and primary productivity in the oceans. Here the authors quantify the total amount of oceanic net primary productivity facilitated by this bio-pumping, under present and future warming conditions.

    • Kai Wirtz
    • S. Lan Smith
    • Jan Taucher
    Article Open Access
  • The author investigates reproductive tradeoffs and contemporary selection of ocean acidification for a common coastal fish. Larvae are highly sensitive to acidification, with lower mortality for larger larvae, but effects are partially offset by tradeoffs between offspring size and number.

    • Darren W. Johnson
    Article
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Analysis

  • Non-CO2 effects must be addressed for climate-neutral aviation but are currently ignored in international climate policies. The authors provide a framework with different definitions of climate neutrality, then show how technological and demand-side mitigation efforts can help to achieve these targets.

    • Nicoletta Brazzola
    • Anthony Patt
    • Jan Wohland
    Analysis
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