Tag Archives: Global Warming

Cover Preview: Science Magazine – June 17, 2022

The triumph and tragedy of the Higgs boson

Ten years ago, physicists found what they predicted. Little new has followed

Ancient DNA reveals Black Death source

Graves in Kyrgyzstan hold early victims of plague that swept medieval Europe

Studies tying weather extremes to global warming gain rigor

Record-shattering events spur climate attribution advances

Science: Global Warming Pledges, Energy Storage, Leeches And Biodiversity

What COP26 promises will do for climate

At COP26 countries made a host of promises and commitments to tackle global warming. Now, a new analysis suggests these pledges could limit warming to below 2˚C — if countries stick to them.

03:48 Efficiency boost for energy storage solution

Storing excess energy is a key obstacle preventing wider adoption of renewable power. One potential solution has been to store this energy as heat before converting it back into electricity, but to date this process has been inefficient. Last week, a team reported the development of a new type of ‘photothermovoltaic’ that increases the efficiency of converting stored heat back into electricity, potentially making the process economically viable.

Science: ‘Thermal batteries’ could efficiently store wind and solar power in a renewable grid

07:56 Leeches’ lunches help ecologists count wildlife

Blood ingested by leeches may be a way to track wildlife, suggests new research. Using DNA from the blood, researchers were able to detect 86 different species in China’s Ailaoshan Nature Reserve. Their results also suggest that biodiversity was highest in the high-altitude interior of the reserve, suggesting that human activity had pushed wildlife away from other areas.

ScienceNews: Leeches expose wildlife’s whereabouts and may aid conservation efforts

11:05 How communication evolved in underground cave fish

Research has revealed that Mexican tetra fish are very chatty, and capable of making six distinct sounds. They also showed that fish populations living in underground caves in north-eastern Mexico have distinct accents.

New Scientist: Blind Mexican cave fish are developing cave-specific accents

14:36 Declassified data hints at interstellar meteorite strike

In 2014 a meteorite hit the Earth’s atmosphere that may have come from far outside the solar system, making it the first interstellar object to be detected. However, as some of the data needed to confirm this was classified by the US Government, the study wasn never published. Now the United States Space Command have confirmed the researchers’ findings, although the work has yet to be peer reviewed.

LiveScience: An interstellar object exploded over Earth in 2014, declassified government data reveal


Cover Previews: Nature Magazine – April 14, 2022

Science: Extreme Old Age Gene Quest, Gravitational ‘Glint’ Waves, Early Springs

The quest for a longer life continues – raising the question of whether we can escape death. The team discusses a rare gene variant that may explain why centenarians live so long – and how we might be able to use it to create age-defying drugs.

The team explores a theory that suggests gravitational waves may be the thing that finally helps us detect dark matter – we just need to look for the ‘gravitational glint’.

Spring is rolling around earlier and earlier. The team examines a new study which shows that since the 1980s, the warming climate has brought the season forward by a month – which could have major ecological implications. They also discuss a study which looks at the impact of marine heatwaves on things like coral and fish populations.

New Books: ‘Literature For A Changing Planet’ By Martin Puchner (2022)

Ecology: Importance Of Peatlands In CO2 Capture

As more of the world’s forests are destroyed, it makes you wonder: what’s going to absorb CO2 in their place?! In an ironic twist of fate, one of Earth’s “deadest” habitats might be our best hope for an ongoing supply of breathable air.

Called peatlands, these wetland environments are named for their tendency to accumulate decayed plant matter. Unlike most other ecosystems, like forests, where branches and leaves typically decompose in a matter of months… in peatlands, that plant material can stay intact for millenia. You see, peatlands mostly exist in high altitude places where temps are low and there’s not much water flow. This results in their having extremely low oxygen and high acidity levels.

These harsh conditions aren’t very hospitable to microbes and fungi, which are instrumental to the whole decomposition process. So without them around, the plant material sort of… just sits. Over time, that it globs together to form peat, a thick, spongy material that can soak up 20x its weight in water. Peat also soaks up loads of carbon. Through a process known as the Calvin cycle, living plants absorb CO2 from the air and convert it into organic molecules that they can then use as energy to grow.

Through decomposition, the carbon that’s “fixed” in a plant’s structure gets released but since peat doesn’t decompose, that carbon can stay put! It’s estimated that peatlands contain 550 gigatonnes of organic carbon, which is twice as much organic carbon as all the world’s forests combined. That’s absolutely wild, considering that forests cover about 30% of the world’s land area… and peatlands only account for 3%! Like most of the world’s habitats, peatlands aren’t immune to the threats of human development and exploitation.

Peat is also are a very in-demand resource. Its incredible water holding capacity makes it a favorite amongst horticulturists; If you’ve ever picked up a bag of soil amendment, chances are it’s full of the stuff. Since peat is also a fossil fuel with a long burn, it’s used in some parts of the world. Peatlands are also often drained to accommodate other land use activities, like agriculture.

Analysis: Is Space-Based Solar Power The Future?

Space launch costs are dropping rapidly. Solar panels are cheaper than ever. Could space-based solar power soon be price-competitive with nuclear? Promoted as a zero-carbon solution, classified military space planes have also been conducting experiments into wireless power transmission. The FT’s Peggy Hollinger looks at whether space-based solar power can move beyond science fiction.

Analysis: Air Conditioning Is Warming The World

The warmer it gets, the more people use air conditioning—but the more people use air conditioning, the warmer it gets. Is there any way out of this trap?

Video timeline: 00:00: What’s the cooling conundrum? 01:05: The pros and cons of AC 03:28: How to reinvent air conditioning 05:02: Can buildings be redesigned to keep cool? 07:30: Scalable, affordable cooling solutions 10:24: Policy interventions for cooling

Views: What 3°C Of Global Warming Will Look Like

If global temperatures rise three degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the results would be catastrophic. It’s an entirely plausible scenario, and this film shows you what it would look like.

Video timeline: 00:00 – What will a 3°C world look like? 00:57 – Climate change is already having devastating effects 02:58 – How climate modelling works 04:06 – Nowhere is safe from global warming 05:20 – The impact of prolonged droughts 08:24 – Rising sea levels, storm surges and flooding 10:27 – Extreme heat and wet-bulb temperatures 12:51 – Increased migration and conflict 14:26 – Adaptation and mitigation are crucial