Volume 2 Issue 5, May 2012
In This Issue
As the evidence for a tight link between greenhouse-gas emissions and climate change accrues, scientists — and editors — should moderate their use of international air travel.
Emergence of the carbon-market intelligence sector
The newly observed economic phenomenon carbon-market intelligence was worth over £35 billion in 2010–2011 and is forecast to experience annual double-digit growth over the next five years.
Schools of thought
Teaching the science of climate change has become a political issue in many schools across the United States. Nature Climate Change look at an education battle against denialists.
Offsetting under pressure
Kevin Anderson, Deputy Director of the UK Tyndall Centre and an expert on greenhouse-gas emissions trajectories explains to Nature Climate Change why he believes that carbon offsetting can be worse than useless.
Climate battle for the skies
Tackling greenhouse-gas emissions from aircraft was never going to be easy, but Europe is laying the groundwork. Sonja van Renssen investigates whether the plans have wings.
Sweetening the dragon's breath
China, the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, is developing seven experimental carbon-trading schemes. Anna Petherick looks for clues as to how that's going.
News & Views
Shedding light on urban policy
Urban economic models should raise the quality of debate about planning at the metropolitan level. Now research shows how this can be done.
Arctic warming favours extremes
The twenty-first century was marked by a number of extreme weather events over northern continents. Amplified warming in the Arctic region and associated changes in atmospheric dynamics may provide a clue for understanding the origin of these recent extremes.
Looking back to the future
Firmly establishing Earth's surface temperatures during a sustained episode of global warming in the Pliocene will help 'ground truth' projections of future climate based on computer simulations using global climate models.
Glacial meltwater contributions to rivers are declining in many parts of the world, but the effect of these changes on river communities remains poorly understood. Now a quantitative analysis points to the potential scale of this biodiversity problem.
Realizing the electric-vehicle revolution
Substantial work has shown the potential energy and climate benefits of full battery electric vehicles (BEVs) — an important policy option to mitigate climate change — but there are still uncertainties about their market diffusion. Research shows the importance of assessing BEV diffusion from an integrated perspective, focusing on the interaction between technology and behaviour.
Trade-offs and synergies in urban climate policies
Urban climate policies interact with socio–economic policy goals. These interactions can lead to trade-offs or synergies, but have been rarely analysed. Now research provides a quantification of these trade-offs and synergies, and suggests that stand-alone adaptation and mitigation policies are unlikely to be politically acceptable, emphasizing the need to mainstream climate policy within urban planning.
Climate response to zeroed emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols
A modelling study shows how global temperatures would change if all greenhouse-gas and aerosol emissions were eliminated. The researchers estimate the committed future climate warming associated with past anthropogenic emissions, and provide a critical baseline against which to measure the effect of future emissions.
Vulnerability of coastal aquifers to groundwater use and climate change
There are concerns that sea-level rise resulting from climate change could lead to saltwater intrusion into coastal aquifers. However, a study shows that groundwater extraction is the main driver of saltwater intrusion in the United States, highlighting the importance of sustainable water management.
High sensitivity of the continental-weathering carbon dioxide sink to future climate change
This modelling study shows that chemical weathering of continental surfaces—which removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere—is highly sensitive to a carbon dioxide doubling for the Mackenzie River Basin, the most important Arctic watershed. The findings highlight the potential role of chemical weathering processes in mitigating global warming.
Impacts of incentives to reduce emissions from deforestation on global species extinctions
Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) has been widely discussed as a way of mitigating climate change while concurrently benefitting biodiversity. This study combines a global land-use model and spatial data on species distributions to quantify the potential impacts of REDD in avoiding global species extinctions.
Temperature-related changes in polar cyanobacterial mat diversity and toxin production
This study documents the effects of warming on cyanobacterial mats from the Arctic and Antarctica. It describes toxin production in such mats and provides experimental evidence that increased temperatures could shift mat cyanobacterial species diversity from cold-loving species towards predominance of cold-tolerant and toxin-producing species.
Biodiversity under threat in glacier-fed river systems
In many regions climate change is reducing the glacial meltwater contribution to river flow, but the effect of these changes on specialized glacier-fed river communities is poorly quantified. Now research demonstrates quantitatively not only the vulnerability of local biodiversity hotspots but also that the number of species lost is likely to be much higher than the few specialist species found only in glacier-fed rivers.
Assessing confidence in Pliocene sea surface temperatures to evaluate predictive models
Sea-surface-temperature proxy data for a period of natural climate warming during the Pliocene are used in this study to show how palaeoclimatic data can help ‘ground truth’ numerical models, increasing the confidence in these same models for projecting future climate.
Climate change and jobs
Development expert Barbara Harriss-White leads a team of specialists from agriculture to economics, environmental science and policy to investigate neglected aspects of the climate change response in India.