Thursday, December 31, 2015

Impacts of Climate Change on Lakes World-Wide

Rapid and highly variable warming of lake surface waters around the globe (O'Reilly, C. M., S. Sharma, D. K. Gray, S. E. Hampton, J. S. Read, R. J. Rowley, P. Schneider, J. D. Lenters, P. B. McIntyre, B. M. Kraemer, et al. (2015), Rapid and highly variable warming of lake surface waters around the globe, Geophys. Res. Lett.,Dec. 16, 2015)

Also discussed here: Satellite data shows that climate change is warming Earth's lakes (Chris Wood, Gizmag, Dec.17, 2015)

 Today we review an article that examines the impact of climate change on lakes around the world, making use of satellite-derived temperatures as well as ground measurements. They reveal that lake temperatures are rising, especially in ice-covered lakes in polar regions by more than what is seen in the increase of air temperatures. This underscores the major impacts for lake ecology (example algae blooms) as a result of climate change, in general, as well as the future potential of fresh water fisheries. The authors suggest that the vulnerability of lakes be included and made an important part of any climate change action plan.


Key Quotes:

“A new study has brought together more than 25 years of satellite data, combined with ground measurements, to assess the state of Earth's lakes…results show that the average temperature in the lakes has been rising by 0.61 degrees Fahrenheit every 10 years. While that might not seem too significant, it's a higher rate of warming than witnessed in either the atmosphere or the ocean, and the long-term effects could be pronounced”

"The most rapidly warming lakes are widely geographically distributed, and their warming is associated with interactions among different climatic factors—from seasonally ice-covered lakes in areas where temperature and solar radiation are increasing while cloud cover is diminishing (0.72°C decade−1) to ice-free lakes experiencing increases in air temperature and solar radiation (0.53°C decade−1).”

 “the continued increase in lake temperature will bring with it an increase in algal blooms by a much as 20 percent over the next century, lowering the water's oxygen levels while increasing toxicity for fish and animal life. Additionally, the temperature rise could cause an overall rise in methane emissions by as much as four percent in the coming decade.”

“Already, changes in thermal structure and mixing have decreased productivity of some lakes, which threaten human communities that depend on fisheries as a nutritional and economic resource”

“The pervasive and rapid warming observed here signals the urgent need to incorporate climate impacts into vulnerability assessments and adaptation efforts for lakes,"

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Finding New Urban Geothermal Energy Heating Sources from Satellites

Linking Surface Urban Heat Islands with Groundwater Temperatures (Abstract, Susanne A. Benz, Peter Bayer, Frank M. Goettsche, Folke S. Olesen, and Philipp Blum, Environ. Sci. Technol., Nov. 23, 2015)

Also discussed here: Satellites find sustainable energy in cities (Science Daily, Dec. 18, 2015)

Today we review research that bridges the well studied, (above ground) urban heat island with the urban ground water using satellite-derived temperatures and urban characteristics, such as population density and the number of cellars found in many older cities. This approach tested in Germany, found a spatial correlation of up to 80 % between the above and below ground heat islands and offers the potential of maximizing the potential for using warmer ground water in cities as an energy source for different cities over a large area. This in turn would help to ease the use of carbon fuels otherwise needed to warm urban buildings in winter.

 satellites geothermal cities  

Key Quotes:

Temperature anomalies may contribute to regional air pollution and an increased mortality during hot spells in summer. Increased groundwater temperatures influence underground ecosystems and may favor growth of pathogens in groundwater.”

“Energy from close-to-surface groundwater aquifers may be used for heating in winter and cooling in summer with the help of geothermal or groundwater heat pumps. If this geothermal potential would be used, part of the growing energy consumption of cities might be covered. This would reduce emission of greenhouse gases and, thus, counteract global warming"

“Surface and underground heat islands are connected mainly by thermal conduction. So far, research has studied the individual heat islands separately from each other, such that little is known about interactions and relationships between above-ground and underground temperatures” “The researchers of KIT [Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.] and ETH compared above-ground and underground heat islands in the four cities of Berlin, Munich, Cologne, and Karlsruhe. They found a spatial correlation of up to 80%”

“satellite-measured surface temperature alone is not sufficient to reliably estimate groundwater temperature. For this reason, the scientists also considered population density and cellar temperature.”

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Where does the Particulate Matter in Cities Come From?

Contributions to cities' ambient particulate matter (PM): A systematic review of local source contributions at global level (9 page pdf, Federico Karagulian, Claudio A. Belis, Carlos Francisco C. Dora, Annette M. Prüss-Ustün b, Sophie Bonjour b, Heather Adair-Rohani b, Markus Amann, Atmopsheric Environment, Nov. 2015)

Also discussed here: Urban air pollution: What are the main sources across the world? (Science Daily, Dec. 1, 2015)

Today we summarize the results of a paper that reviewed sources of PM2.5 and PM10 in 51 countries. By far the greatest source globally is traffic-related urban air pollution which amounted to 25% of ambient PM. The highest traffic emissions come from North America, Western Europe, Turkey and the Republic of Korea. The highest industrial pollution was found in Japan, Middle East and Southern Asia, Turkey, Brazil, Central Europe, and South Eastern Asia.

pollution sources  

Key Quotes:

 “from studies conducted in cities of 51 countries were used to calculate regional averages of sources of ambient particulate matter. Based on the available information, globally 25% of urban ambient air pollution from PM2.5 is contributed by traffic, 15% by industrial activities, 20% by domestic fuel burning, 22% from unspecified sources of human origin, and 18% from natural dust and salt.”

“as a result of gaseous traffic, heating and agriculture emissions appear to be most considerable in North America, Western Europe, Turkey and the Republic of Korea.”

"Traffic was the main contributor to urban ambient PM2.5 in several regions, including India (37%), South Eastern Asia (36%), Southwestern Europe (35%), Southern Asia (34%), Brazil (33%), and the Rest of the Americas (30%)”

“Industrial activities had the highest contributions from human activities in, Japan (34%), Middle East and Southern Asia (27%), Turkey (30%), Brazil (19%), Central Europe (17%), and South Eastern Asia (18%)”

“The Northern/Southern China, India, Southern Asia and Africa regions, showed the highest urban PM2.5 concentrations in average. On the other hand, the Middle Eastern, Northern China, Indian and African regions showed the highest absolute urban PM10 concentrations.”

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Getting Inertia and Effectiveness into Meeting the Climate Change Challenge

UNFCCC before and after Paris – what's necessary for an effective climate regime? (22 page pdf, Lukas Hermwille, Wolfgang Obergassel, Hermann E. Ott, Christiane Beuermann, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, Nov. 26, 2015)

Today we review a paper that examines the history, goals and structure of the UN Framework for Global Climate Change (UNFGCCC) and its failure to date of limiting GHG emissions. Part of the reason for this failure was its narrow focus on GHG emissions and for the Kyoto Protocol, unlike most environmental agreements, limiting participation to a short list of major emitting, developed countries with no role for developing countries. What is called for is a climate team approach to which those countries with ambitious goals are allowed to lead and with carbon trading attracting others to join the team. Also of note is the need for non emission goals such as progress on poverty and social conditions to count as credits for developing countries. UNFGCC diagram  

Key Quotes:

“The UNFCCC as an outcome of the Rio process was the first prominent international treaty in which the precautionary principle was formally adopted and the climate change debate contributed greatly to establishing and diffusing the precautionary principle into a wide range of jurisdictions “

“Combating climate change needs transformative change of all major socio-economic systems globally …For these transformations, the UNFCCC process and its associated policy processes have a catalyst function to translate the physical challenge of global climate change into socio-economic systems around the globe.”

“The move away from Kyoto-style binding and collectively agreed QELROs towards a bottom-up approach in which countries make non-binding pledges may well reflect the inability to effectively draw on structures of domination, that is, defining, allocating, and exercising control over resources, at the international level. The consensus-based decision-making rules of UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol further aggravate this problem”

“Opening up the UNFCCC discourse to a broader perspective would probably be especially relevant for developing countries, which have, as the Convention recognizes, economic and social development and poverty eradication as first and overriding priorities.. To enhance the potential of the UNFCCC to provide shared meaning and legitimitation for political action, emission targets should therefore be complemented by other types of contributions.”

“For the UNFCCC, some have proposed that only countries with absolute caps on economy-wide, sectoral or jurisdictional emissions should be allowed to participate in international emissions trading mechanisms ..A variant for a club outside the UNFCCC could be an agreement among its members to not trade emission units with non-members. The larger the club, the more this would constitute an incentive for non-members to join”

Thursday, December 17, 2015

How will the Paris Agreement Limit Future Rises in Global Temperature?

Can Paris pledges avert severe climate change? ( 2 page pdf, Allen A. Fawcett, Gokul C. Iyer, Leon E. Clarke, James A. Edmonds, Nathan E. Hultman, Haewon C. McJeon, Joeri Rogelj, Reed Schuler, Jameel Alsalam, Ghassem R. Asrar, Jared Creason, Minji Jeong, James McFarland, Anupriya Mundra, Wenjing Shi, Science Express Policy Forum, Nov. 26, 2015)

Today we review an analysis of various scenarios for CO2 emission reduction, based on the voluntary pledges made by 190 countries attending the Paris conference COP 21. On the assumption that these pledges are implemented, beginning in 2020 and ending in 2030, the longer term implications to limit further warming depend on either a continuation of the level of decarbonization pledged (“Paris continued” which is around 2% per year)or an increase in the reductions (“Paris increased” which is around 5% per year). The probability of limiting warming to 2 deg C is only 8% under Paris continued while limiting it to 4 deg C is 75%. Under Paris increased, the probability of limiting warming to 2 deg C increases to 30%. Under any scenario, the need to bring carbon emissions to net zero before 2100 is required to avoid 2 deg C warming.  
 cop21 and temp rise
Key Quotes:

“The Paris–Continued ambition scenario assumes that countries continue to decarbonize their economies beyond 2030 with the same annual decarbonization rate that was required to achieve their INDCs between 2020 and 2030. If their decarbonization rate is below a specified minimum (2% per year), they instead follow a path defined by that 2% minimum rate”

“The Paris–Continued ambition scenario reduces the probability of temperature change exceeding 4°C in 2100 by 75% compared with the Reference-Low policy scenario and by 80% compared with the Reference–No policy scenario.“

 “In the Paris-Continued ambition scenario, the probability of limiting warming to 2°C increases to 8% as opposed to virtually no chance in the two Reference scenarios.” “the Paris–Increased ambition scenario assumes a higher minimum decarbonization rate (5% per year) beyond 2030. This minimum rate is consistent with the average decarbonization rate required by the European Union and the United States to achieve their INDCs from 2020 to 2030“

“If ambition is scaled up after 2030—as in the Paris–Increased ambition scenario—the probability of limiting warming to 2°C increases to about 30%. If we assume even greater post-2030 emissions reductions, the probability of limiting warming to less than 2°C could be 50% or more.”

“to limit warming to any level, CO2 emissions at the global level must ultimately be brought to zero”

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

How Does Urbanization Affect Urban Air Quality in China?

English: Population density in the People's Re...
English: Population density in the People's Republic of China (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Estimating the Impact of Urbanization on Air Quality in China Using Spatial Regression Models (23 page pdf, Chuanglin Fang, Haimeng Liu, Guangdong Li , Dongqi Sun and Zhuang Miao, Sustainability, Nov. 20, 2015)

Today we review research into the main characteristics of close to 300 Chinese cities that affect the degree of urban air pollution. Results indicate a close relationship between population density and private cars per unit of developed urban land and that this and the proportion of secondary industry has the greatest effect on the pollution of most cities, especially in the North (in Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Henan, and Shandong). The authors recommend that China strictly control the scale of their mega cities and actively develop small and medium sized cities to offset these trends.

Key Quotes:

“Contributing to 1.2 million premature deaths in 2010 and 1.6 million premature deaths in 2014, ambient particulate matter pollution has become the fourth greatest risk factor in all deaths in China, behind only dietary risks, high blood pressure, and smoking…between 2000 and 2010, the economic cost of air quality degradation in China amounted to approximately 6.5% of Chinese GDP annually”

“The permanent urban population in China increased from 17.9% to a staggering 54.77% between 1978 to 2014; ten million people a year migrated from rural areas to China’s large cities during this period,”

“there were, on average, 73 days characterized by “unhealthy” or worse air quality (i.e., AQI > 150) in 70 major cities in 2014, and the dominant pollutants present were PM2.5, PM10, and O3.”

 “we collected air quality index (AQI) records and urbanization indexes for 289 Chinese cities, posing the following research questions…:
  1. What is the spatial pattern of China’s air pollution at the city level?
  2. How can we evaluate the comprehensive influence of urbanization and identify the impact of significant variables on air quality, quantitatively?
  3. To what extent does the spatial contribution made by various urbanization factors account for variations in AQI values? “
“The proportion of urban population thus played a more important role in the North China Plain.” “The spatial pattern of PPC coefficients was similar to those of UR[Demographic urbanization – population %] and the traffic factor was found to have the most important effect on air quality in the Bohai Bay Rim area. Further, both UR and PPC[Private cars per unit of urban development land] had a negative effect on AQI in some southwestern Chinese cities, and this might be related to their limited social and economic development, which is related to the retention of a natural environment that has not been affected by urbanization trends. “
“the population size of cities in the north of China had a greater impact on their AQI values than in the cities of the south. What is interesting is that the spatial distribution of PD[Population density (people/sq km)] coefficients displayed a pattern of longitudinal zonality. The impact of population density on air quality in eastern coastal China was thus found to be lower than that in western cities, although the population density of the eastern cities was in fact higher. "
  “Seriously polluted cities were found to be gathered closely together in Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Henan, and Shandong, which presented as hot spots on the visualizations.”

“Among the variables, the population, urbanization rate, automobile density, and the proportion of secondary industry were all found to have had a significant influence over air quality. “

"China must strictly control the scale of megacities and actively develop small and medium-sized cities.”

“Automobile density and the proportion of secondary industry has significant impacts in relation to AQI values: thus, on the one hand, China must promote intelligent traffic management, increase the proportion of green public transport and reasonably controlling the vehicle population in order to reduce emissions from transport; “

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Impacts of Long Term Exposure to Particulate Matter on Heart Rate Variability

English: A schematic of the global air polluti...
English: A schematic of the global air pollution. The map was made by User:KVDP using the GIMP. It was based on the global air pollution map by the ESA (see , ) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Exposure to sub-chronic and long-term particulate air pollution and heart rate variability in an elderly cohort: the Normative Aging Study (10 page pdf, Irina Mordukhovich, Brent Coull, Itai Kloog, Petros Koutrakis, Pantel Vokonas and Joel Schwartz, Environmental Health, Nov. 2015). 

Key Quotes: 

“Reduced HRV [heart rate variability]is predictive of increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality risk … Short-term particulate air pollution exposure is associated with reduced HRV in many epidemiologic studies.. Associations are particularly pronounced among the elderly .. among those with preexisting cardiovascular disease or diabetes” 

“We report positive associations between several measures of sub-chronic BC [black carbon] exposure, a marker of traffic pollution, and decreased HRV in a cohort of elderly men” 

 “It is also notable that the observed associations reflect not only short-term spikes in particulate levels, but rather occur at particulate pollutant levels that are consistently at or below EPA standard” 

“While studies consistently report associations between short-term particulate pollution exposure and reduced HF[high frequency], especially among the elderly or those with preexisting conditions …very few have examined exposure periods of greater than a few days “ 

“While most air pollution studies examine short-term exposures, longer-term exposures may be of most interest when assessing risk for chronic disease and dysfunction”