Volume 9 Issue 5, May 2019

Volume 9 Issue 5

Combatting plastics emissions

The life cycle greenhouse gas emissions from plastic products are expected to increase, and could represent a substantial portion of the global carbon budget by 2050 if current trends are followed. An analysis of mitigation strategies finds that, to keep emissions below the 2015 level, an aggressive strategy of decarbonizing energy infrastructure, improving recycling, adopting bio-based plastics and reduction in demand, is required.

See Zheng and Suh

Image: Zhitong Zheng. Cover Design: Tulsi Voralia.


  • Editorial |

    The unexpected swell of action, sparked by a Swedish teenager, has put climate change back on the political radar. With time on their side, youth will experience longer term climate change impacts more than those in decision making positions, meaning they want a say in their future.



  • Comment |

    The way in which climate change research funds are managed is shifting dramatically toward investments in large collaborative research networks. This poses significant challenges for researchers, and requires changes from the institutions and funders that support them.

    • G. Cundill
    • , B. Currie-Alder
    •  & M. Leone
  • Comment |

    Many countries are formulating a long-term climate strategy to be submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change by 2020. Model-based, multi-disciplinary assessments can be a key ingredient for informing policy makers and engaging stakeholders in this process.

    • Matthias Weitzel
    • , Toon Vandyck
    • , Kimon Keramidas
    • , Markus Amann
    • , Pantelis Capros
    • , Michel den Elzen
    • , Stefan Frank
    • , Stéphane Tchung-Ming
    • , Ana Díaz Vázquez
    •  & Bert Saveyn

Books & Arts


  • Feature |

    Long-term climate dynamics and impacts from sea level rise to heat stress make the case for much stronger mitigation efforts today

    • Sonja van Renssen

Research Highlights

News & Views

  • News & Views |

    Climate change exposes more people to heat waves and other extreme weather events. New research shows that experiencing a heat wave can affect concerns about energy security, but not enough to change behaviour.

    • Peter D. Howe
  • News & Views |

    North American winters have varied from mild to extremely cold in recent years. Now, research provides a framework for understanding these changing temperature extremes.

    • Stephen Baxter
  • News & Views |

    A fifty-year observational record of Central Amazon forest reveals the multifaceted nature of tree death and concerning signs of vulnerability to increasing heat.

    • Emanuel Gloor

Review Articles

  • Review Article |

    The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission, launched in 2002, allows monitoring of changes in hydrology and the cryosphere with terrestrial and ocean applications. This Review Article focuses on its contribution to the detection and quantification of climate change signals.

    • Byron D. Tapley
    • , Michael M. Watkins
    • , Frank Flechtner
    • , Christoph Reigber
    • , Srinivas Bettadpur
    • , Matthew Rodell
    • , Ingo Sasgen
    • , James S. Famiglietti
    • , Felix W. Landerer
    • , Don P. Chambers
    • , John T. Reager
    • , Alex S. Gardner
    • , Himanshu Save
    • , Erik R. Ivins
    • , Sean C. Swenson
    • , Carmen Boening
    • , Christoph Dahle
    • , David N. Wiese
    • , Henryk Dobslaw
    • , Mark E. Tamisiea
    •  & Isabella Velicogna


  • Letter |

    The frequency of extreme weather events is increasing due to climate change. Here, the authors exploit regional variation in the UK summer heatwave of 2018 and find that exposure to extreme temperatures influenced concern about energy security.

    • Shaun Larcom
    • , Po-Wen She
    •  & Terry van Gevelt
  • Letter |

    The life-cycle GHG emissions from plastics are expected to increase. Here, it is shown that an aggressive strategy of decarbonizing energy infrastructure, improving recycling, adopting bio-based plastics and reducing demand is required to keep emissions below 2015 levels.

    • Jiajia Zheng
    •  & Sangwon Suh
  • Letter |

    Melting glaciers are increasing Himalayan glacial lakes and potentially the risk of outburst floods. An advanced automated algorithm identifies glacial lake outburst floods from Landsat images since the late 1980s to improve understanding of these events and trends in their frequency.

    • Georg Veh
    • , Oliver Korup
    • , Sebastian von Specht
    • , Sigrid Roessner
    •  & Ariane Walz
  • Letter |

    Fifty years of monthly observation of rainforest canopy trees in the Central Amazon reveals that drought, heat, storms and extreme rain can all increase tree mortality. Pioneers, softwoods and evergreen functional groups were particularly vulnerable.

    • Izabela Aleixo
    • , Darren Norris
    • , Lia Hemerik
    • , Antenor Barbosa
    • , Eduardo Prata
    • , Flávia Costa
    •  & Lourens Poorter


  • Article |

    The benefits of using natural gas as a bridge fuel are often called into question. A coal-to-gas shift in China, Germany, India and the United States is broadly consistent with climate stabilization goals in the Paris Agreement, except when metrics emphasizing very short-term outcomes are used.

    • Katsumasa Tanaka
    • , Otávio Cavalett
    • , William J. Collins
    •  & Francesco Cherubini
  • Article |

    The Pacific Walker circulation is predicted to weaken, however, observations suggest a current strengthening. Satellite humidity observations show a weaker response than reanalyses; coupled with model simulations, this suggests that internal variability dominates recent strengthening.

    • Eui-Seok Chung
    • , Axel Timmermann
    • , Brian J. Soden
    • , Kyung-Ja Ha
    • , Lei Shi
    •  & Viju O. John
  • Article |

    Spaceborne thermal observation is used to monitor discrete phenophases of forest understory plants in near-real time and the thermal relationship is used to project phenological changes under future climates.

    • David N. Laskin
    • , Gregory J. McDermid
    • , Scott E. Nielsen
    • , Shawn J. Marshall
    • , David R. Roberts
    •  & Alessandro Montaghi