• Soot: Current climate models underestimate warming by black carbon aerosol

    Soot belches out of diesel engines, rises from wood-  and dung-burning cookstoves and shoots out of oil refinery stacks. According to recent research, air pollution, including soot, is linked to heart disease, some cancers and, in the United States, as many as 150,000 cases of diabetes every year. Beyond its impact on health, soot, known as black carbon by atmospheric scientists, is a powerful global warming agent. It absorbs sunlight and traps heat in the atmosphere in magnitude second only to the notorious carbon dioxide. Researchers call the absence of consensus on soot’s light absorption magnitude “one of the grand challenges in atmospheric climate science.”

  • The bitter lesson of the Californian fires

    California is burning, again. Dozens of peoples have been killed and thousands of buildings destroyed in several fires, the most destructive in the state’s history. The California fires are just the most recent in a series of major wildfires, including fires in Greece in July this year that killed 99 people, Portugal and Chile in 2017, and Australia. Why do wildfires seem to be escalating? Despite president Donald Trump’s tweet that the California fires were caused by “gross mismanagement” of forests, the answer is more complex, nuanced, and alarming.

  • Natural solutions can reduce global warming

    Restoring the United States’ lands and coastal wetlands could have a much bigger role in reducing global warming than previously thought, according to the most comprehensive national assessment to date of how greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced and stored in forests, farmland, grasslands and wetlands.

  • Methods for protecting England’s coastal communities “not fit for purpose”

    In October 2018, a stark report suggested that current methods being used to protect England’s coastal communities are “not fit for purpose.” The Committee on Climate Change’s Managing the coast in a changing climate report showed that between 2005 and 2014, over 15,000 new buildings were built in coastal areas at significant risk of coastal flooding and/or erosion. Experts say that evidence suggests there should be far stricter controls on coastal developments.

  • More people are getting bigger, requiring more food

    Food demand is growing as people get bigger. Feeding a population of 9 billion in 2050 will require much more food than previously calculated. The number of people on Earth could level off at around nine billion in a few years, compared to just over 7.6 billion now. But an average person in the future will require more food than today. Changes in eating habits, attitudes towards food waste, increases in height and body mass, and demographic transitions are some of the reasons.

  • Severe Caribbean droughts would magnify food insecurity

    Climate change is impacting the Caribbean, with millions facing increasing food insecurity and decreasing freshwater availability as droughts become more likely across the region, according to new research. Since 1950, the Caribbean region has seen a drying trend and scattered multiyear droughts. But the recent Pan-Caribbean drought in 2013-16 was unusually severe and placed 2 million people in danger of food insecurity.

  • Bolstering resilience to withstand floods

    Historically, flooding is the most destructive natural disaster in this country. Facing this ever-growing threat, many wonder, “What can be done to protect life and property, reduce insurance claims, as well as help communities become more resilient?” DHS S&T has initiated multiple projects across the nation through its Flood Apex Program to offer an answer to this question.

  • Technologies to remove CO2 from air and sequester it key to climate change mitigation

    To achieve goals for climate and economic growth, “negative emissions technologies” (NETs) that remove and sequester carbon dioxide from the air will need to play a significant role in mitigating climate change, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences.

  • A dry future? New interactive map highlights water scarcity around the globe

    The average person in Europe uses 3,000−5,000 liters of water per day, of which the lion’s share is spent on food production. The world’s limited water resources are becoming an even more pressing issue as populations grow and climate change causes droughts in both south and north. Studies have already provided a number of ways to reduce our consumption of water, but this valuable information is often left unused.

  • Fracking-related water storage tied to earthquake risk

    In addition to producing oil and gas, the energy industry produces a lot of water, about 10 barrels of water per barrel of oil on average. New research has found that where the produced water is stored underground influences the risk of induced earthquakes.

  • World heritage sites under threat from climate change

    UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Mediterranean such as Venice, the Piazza del Duomo, Pisa, and the Medieval City of Rhodes are under threat of coastal erosion and flooding due to rising sea levels. The authors have identified areas with urgent need for adaptation planning and suggest the iconic nature of such sites can be used to promote awareness of the need to take action to mitigate climate change.

  • Climate change could cause global beer shortages

    Severe climate events could cause shortages in the global beer supply, according to new research. The study warns that increasingly widespread and severe drought and heat may cause substantial decreases in barley yields worldwide, affecting the supply used to make beer, and ultimately resulting in “dramatic” falls in beer consumption and rises in beer prices.

  • Geoengineering, other technologies won’t solve climate woes

    The countries of the world still need to cut their carbon dioxide emissions to reach the Paris Agreement’s climate targets. Relying on tree planting and alternative technological solutions such as geoengineering will not make enough of a difference.

  • Global hotspots for potential water conflicts

    Scientists at the Joint Research Center (JRC) of the European Commission have identified the hotspots where competition over the use of shared water resources could lead to disagreements between countries. The scientists determined that the Nile, Ganges-Brahmaputra, Indus, Tigris-Euphrates and Colorado rivers are “water hotspots”, where “hydro-political interactions” are most likely to occur. These areas are already under water stress, and future demographic and climatic conditions are expected to exert further pressure on scarce water resources.

  • The 1800s Global Famine could happen again

    Researchers have completed the most thorough analysis yet of The Great Drought — the most devastating known drought of the past 800 years — and how it led to the Global Famine, an unprecedented disaster that took 50 million lives. She warns that the Earth’s current warming climate could make a similar drought even worse.