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  • richardmitnick 8:40 am on September 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Climate Change   

    From astrobio.net: “Microscopic Diamonds Suggest Cosmic Impact Responsible for Major Period of Climate Change” 

    Astrobiology Magazine

    Astrobiology Magazine

    Sep 16, 2014
    From University of Chicago
    Emily Murphy / University of Chicago Press / emurphy@press.uchicago.edu

    A new study published in The Journal of Geology provides support for the theory that a cosmic impact event over North America some 13,000 years ago caused a major period of climate change known as the Younger Dryas stadial, or “Big Freeze.”

    freeze
    Credit: iStockphoto/Trevor Hunt

    Around 12,800 years ago, a sudden, catastrophic event plunged much of the Earth into a period of cold climatic conditions and drought. This drastic climate change—the Younger Dryas—coincided with the extinction of Pleistocene megafauna, such as the saber-tooth cats and the mastodon, and resulted in major declines in prehistoric human populations, including the termination of the Clovis culture.

    With limited evidence, several rival theories have been proposed about the event that sparked this period, such as a collapse of the North American ice sheets, a major volcanic eruption, or a solar flare.

    However, in a study published in The Journal of Geology, an international group of scientists analyzing existing and new evidence have determined a cosmic impact event, such as a comet or meteorite, to be the only plausible hypothesis to explain all the unusual occurrences at the onset of the Younger Dryas period.

    Researchers from 21 universities in 6 countries believe the key to the mystery of the Big Freeze lies in nanodiamonds scattered across Europe, North America, and portions of South America, in a 50-million-square-kilometer area known as the Younger Dryas Boundary (YDB) field.

    Microscopic nanodiamonds, melt-glass, carbon spherules, and other high-temperature materials are found in abundance throughout the YDB field, in a thin layer located only meters from the Earth’s surface. Because these materials formed at temperatures in excess of 2200 degrees Celsius, the fact they are present together so near to the surface suggests they were likely created by a major extraterrestrial impact event.

    In addition to providing support for the cosmic impact event hypothesis, the study also offers evidence to reject alternate hypotheses for the formation of the YDB nanodiamonds, such as by wildfires, volcanism, or meteoric flux.

    The team’s findings serve to settle the debate about the presence of nanodiamonds in the YDB field and challenge existing paradigms across multiple disciplines, including impact dynamics, archaeology, paleontology, limnology, and palynology.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 7:31 am on August 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Climate Change, ,   

    From M.I.T.- “Study: Cutting emissions pays for itself” 


    MIT News

    August 24, 2014
    Audrey Resutek | Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change

    Lower rates of asthma and other health problems are frequently cited as benefits of policies aimed at cutting carbon emissions from sources like power plants and vehicles, because these policies also lead to reductions in other harmful types of air pollution.

    But just how large are the health benefits of cleaner air in comparison to the costs of reducing carbon emissions? MIT researchers looked at three policies achieving the same reductions in the United States, and found that the savings on health care spending and other costs related to illness can be big — in some cases, more than 10 times the cost of policy implementation.

    scales
    Illustration: Christine Daniloff/MIT

    “Carbon-reduction policies significantly improve air quality,” says Noelle Selin, an assistant professor of engineering systems and atmospheric chemistry at MIT, and co-author of a study published today in Nature Climate Change. “In fact, policies aimed at cutting carbon emissions improve air quality by a similar amount as policies specifically targeting air pollution.”

    Selin and colleagues compared the health benefits to the economic costs of three climate policies: a clean-energy standard, a transportation policy, and a cap-and-trade program. The three were designed to resemble proposed U.S. climate policies, with the clean-energy standard requiring emissions reductions from power plants similar to those proposed in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.

    Health savings constant across policies

    The researchers found that savings from avoided health problems could recoup 26 percent of the cost to implement a transportation policy, but up to to 10.5 times the cost of implementing a cap-and-trade program. The difference depended largely on the costs of the policies, as the savings — in the form of avoided medical care and saved sick days — remained roughly constant: Policies aimed at specific sources of air pollution, such as power plants and vehicles, did not lead to substantially larger benefits than cheaper policies, such as a cap-and-trade approach.

    Savings from health benefits dwarf the estimated $14 billion cost of a cap-and-trade program. At the other end of the spectrum, a transportation policy with rigid fuel-economy requirements is the most expensive policy, costing more than $1 trillion in 2006 dollars, with health benefits recouping only a quarter of those costs. The price tag of a clean energy standard fell between the costs of the two other policies, with associated health benefits just edging out costs, at $247 billion versus $208 billion.

    “If cost-benefit analyses of climate policies don’t include the significant health benefits from healthier air, they dramatically underestimate the benefits of these policies,” says lead author Tammy Thompson, now at Colorado State University, who conducted the research as a postdoc in Selin’s group.

    Most detailed assessment to date

    The study is the most detailed assessment to date of the interwoven effects of climate policy on the economy, air pollution, and the cost of health problems related to air pollution. The MIT group paid especially close attention to how changes in emissions caused by policy translate into improvements in local and regional air quality, using comprehensive models of both the economy and the atmosphere.

    In addition to carbon dioxide, burning fossil fuels releases a host of other chemicals into the atmosphere. Some of these substances interact to form ground-level ozone, as well as fine particulate matter. The researchers modeled where and when these chemical reactions occurred, and where the resulting pollutants ended up — in cities where many people would come into contact with them, or in less populated areas.

    The researchers projected the health effects of ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter, two of the biggest health offenders related to fossil-fuel emissions. Both pollutants can cause asthma attacks and heart and lung disease, and can lead to premature death.

    In 2011, 231 counties in the U.S. exceeded the EPA’s regulatory standards for ozone, the main component of smog. Standards for fine particulate matter — airborne particles small enough to be inhaled deep into the lungs and even absorbed into the bloodstream — were exceeded in 118 counties.

    While cutting carbon dioxide from current levels in the U.S. will result in savings from better air quality, pollution-related benefits decline as carbon policies become more stringent. Selin cautions that after a certain point, most of the health benefits have already been reaped, and additional emissions reductions won’t translate into greater improvements.

    “While air-pollution benefits can help motivate carbon policies today, these carbon policies are just the first step,” Selin says. “To manage climate change, we’ll have to make carbon cuts that go beyond the initial reductions that lead to the largest air-pollution benefits.”

    The study shows that climate policies can also have significant local benefits not related to their impact on climate, says Gregory Nemet, a professor of public affairs and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison who was not involved in the study.

    “A particularly notable aspect of this study is that even though several recent studies have shown large co-benefits, this study finds large co-benefits in the U.S., where air quality is assumed to be high relative to other countries,” Nemet says. “Now that states are on the hook to come up with plans to meet federal emissions targets by 2016, you can bet they will take a close look at these results.”

    This research was supported by funding from the EPA’s Science to Achieve Results program.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 10:00 pm on August 19, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Climate Change, ,   

    From Livermore Lab: “New project is the ACME of addressing climate change” 


    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    08/19/2014
    Anne M Stark, LLNL, (925) 422-9799, stark8@llnl.gov

    High performance computing (HPC) will be used to develop and apply the most complete climate and Earth system model to address the most challenging and demanding climate change issues.

    Eight national laboratories, including Lawrence Livermore, are combining forces with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, four academic institutions and one private-sector company in the new effort. Other participating national laboratories include Argonne, Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Pacific Northwest and Sandia.

    The project, called Accelerated Climate Modeling for Energy, or ACME, is designed to accelerate the development and application of fully coupled, state-of-the-science Earth system models for scientific and energy applications. The plan is to exploit advanced software and new high performance computing machines as they become available.

    book

    The initial focus will be on three climate change science drivers and corresponding questions to be answered during the project’s initial phase:

    Water Cycle: How do the hydrological cycle and water resources interact with the climate system on local to global scales? How will more realistic portrayals of features important to the water cycle (resolution, clouds, aerosols, snowpack, river routing, land use) affect river flow and associated freshwater supplies at the watershed scale?
    Biogeochemistry: How do biogeochemical cycles interact with global climate change? How do carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles regulate climate system feedbacks, and how sensitive are these feedbacks to model structural uncertainty?
    Cryosphere Systems: How do rapid changes in cryospheric systems, or areas of the earth where water exists as ice or snow, interact with the climate system? Could a dynamical instability in the Antarctic Ice Sheet be triggered within the next 40 years?

    Over a planned 10-year span, the project aim is to conduct simulations and modeling on the most sophisticated HPC machines as they become available, i.e., 100-plus petaflop machines and eventually exascale supercomputers. The team initially will use U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science Leadership Computing Facilities at Oak Ridge and Argonne national laboratories.

    “The grand challenge simulations are not yet possible with current model and computing capabilities,” said David Bader, LLNL atmospheric scientist and chair of the ACME council. “But we developed a set of achievable experiments that make major advances toward answering the grand challenge questions using a modeling system, which we can construct to run on leading computing architectures over the next three years.”
    To address the water cycle, the project plan (link below) hypothesized that: 1) changes in river flow over the last 40 years have been dominated primarily by land management, water management and climate change associated with aerosol forcing; 2) during the next 40 years, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in a business as usual scenario may drive changes to river flow.

    “A goal of ACME is to simulate the changes in the hydrological cycle, with a specific focus on precipitation and surface water in orographically complex regions such as the western United States and the headwaters of the Amazon,” the report states.

    To address biogeochemistry, ACME researchers will examine how more complete treatments of nutrient cycles affect carbon-climate system feedbacks, with a focus on tropical systems, and investigate the influence of alternative model structures for below-ground reaction networks on global-scale biogeochemistry-climate feedbacks.

    For cryosphere, the team will examine the near-term risks of initiating the dynamic instability and onset of the collapse of the Antarctic Ice Sheet due to rapid melting by warming waters adjacent to the ice sheet grounding lines.

    The experiment would be the first fully-coupled global simulation to include dynamic ice shelf-ocean interactions for addressing the potential instability associated with grounding line dynamics in marine ice sheets around Antarctica.

    Other LLNL researchers involved in the program leadership are atmospheric scientist Peter Caldwell (co-leader of the atmospheric model and coupled model task teams) and computer scientists Dean Williams (council member and workflow task team leader) and Renata McCoy (project engineer).

    Initial funding for the effort has been provided by DOE’s Office of Science.

    More information can be found in the Accelerated Climate Modeling For Energy: Project Strategy and Initial Implementation Plan.

    See the full article here.

    Operated by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security
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  • richardmitnick 2:23 pm on August 14, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Climate Change   

    From Astrobiology: "Snow has thinned on Arctic sea ice" 

    Astrobiology Magazine

    Astrobiology Magazine

    Aug 14, 2014

    From research stations drifting on ice floes to high-tech aircraft radar, scientists have been tracking the depth of snow that accumulates on Arctic sea ice for almost a century. Now that people are more concerned than ever about what is happening at the poles, research led by the University of Washington and NASA confirms that snow has thinned significantly in the Arctic, particularly on sea ice in western waters near Alaska.

    A new study, accepted for publication in the Journal of Geophysical Research:Oceans, a publication of the American Geophysical Union, combines data collected by ice buoys and NASA aircraft with historic data from ice floes staffed by Soviet scientists from the late 1950s through the early 1990s to track changes over decades.

    one
    UW graduate student Melinda Webster uses a probe to measure snow depth and verify NASA airborne data. She is walking on sea ice near Barrow, Alaska, in March 2012. Credit: Chris Linder / Univ. of Washington

    Historically, Soviets on drifting sea ice used meter sticks and handwritten logs to record snow depth. Today, researchers on the ground use an automated probe similar to a ski pole to verify the accuracy of airborne measurements.

    probe
    The probe, shaped like a ski pole, includes a basket that stays on top of the snow while the tip of the probe plunges down to the sea ice below. Credit: Chris Linder / Univ. of Washington

    “When you stab it into the ground, the basket move up, and it records the distance between the magnet and the end of the probe,” said first author Melinda Webster, “You can take a lot of measurements very quickly. It’s a pretty big difference from the Soviet field stations.”

    Webster verified the accuracy of airborne data taken during a March 15, 2012 NASA flight over the sea ice near Barrow, Alaska. The following day Webster followed the same track in minus 30-degree temperatures while stabbing through the snow every two to three steps.

    The authors compared data from NASA airborne surveys, collected between 2009 and 2013, with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers buoys frozen into the sea ice, and earlier data from Soviet drifting ice stations in 1937 and from 1954 through 1991. Results showed that snowpack has thinned from 14 inches to 9 inches (35 cm to 22 cm) in the western Arctic, and from 13 inches to 6 inches (33 cm to 14.5 cm) in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, west and north of Alaska.

    That’s a decline in the western Arctic of about a third, and snowpack in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas less than half as thick in spring in recent years compared to the average Soviet-era records for that time of year.

    “Knowing exactly the error between the airborne and the ground measurements, we’re able to say with confidence, Yes, the snow is decreasing in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas,” said co-author Ignatius Rigor, an oceanographer at the UW’s Applied Physics Laboratory.

    The authors speculate the reason for the thinner snow, especially in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, may be that the surface freeze-up is happening later in the fall so the year’s heaviest snowfalls, in September and October, mostly fall into the open ocean.

    What thinner snow will mean for the ice is not certain. Deeper snow actually shields ice from cold air, so a thinner blanket may allow the ice to grow thicker during the winter. On the other hand, thinner snow cover may allow the ice to melt earlier in the springtime.

    Thinner snow has other effects, Webster said, for animals that use the snow to make dens, and for low-light microscopic plants that grow underneath the sea ice and form the base of the Arctic food web.

    The new results support a 15-year-old UW-led study in which Russian and American scientists first analyzed the historic Arctic Ocean snow measurements. That paper detected a slight decline in spring snow depth that the authors believed, even then, was due to a shorter ice-covered season.

    “This confirms and extends the results of that earlier work, showing that we continue to see thinning snow on the Arctic sea ice,” said Rigor, who was also a co-author on the earlier paper.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 6:28 pm on August 12, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Climate Change   

    From Astrobiology: “A global temperature conundrum: cooling or warming climate? 

    Astrobiology Magazine

    Astrobiology Magazine

    Aug 12, 2014

    When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently requested a figure for its annual report, to show global temperature trends over the last 10,000 years, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Zhengyu Liu knew that was going to be a problem.

    “We have been building models and there are now robust contradictions,” says Liu, a professor in the UW-Madison Center for Climatic Research. “Data from observation says global cooling. The physical model says it has to be warming.”

    cooling
    A fisherman walks toward open water in the Antarctic ice sheet. Conflicting research on the heating and cooling of Earth has led to a global temperature conundrum, which climate scientists plan to address further this fall. Photo: iStock Photo

    Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences today, Liu and colleagues from Rutgers University, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, the University of Hawaii, the University of Reading, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the University of Albany describe a consistent global warming trend over the course of the Holocene, our current geological epoch, counter to a study published last year that described a period of global cooling before human influence.

    The scientists call this problem the Holocene temperature conundrum. It has important implications for understanding climate change and evaluating climate models, as well as for the benchmarks used to create climate models for the future. It does not, the authors emphasize, change the evidence of human impact on global climate beginning in the 20th century.

    zy
    Zhengyu Liu

    “The question is, ‘Who is right?’” says Liu. “Or, maybe none of us is completely right. It could be partly a data problem, since some of the data in last year’s study contradicts itself. It could partly be a model problem because of some missing physical mechanisms.”

    Over the last 10,000 years, Liu says, we know atmospheric carbon dioxide rose by 20 parts per million before the 20th century, and the massive ice sheet of the Last Glacial Maximum has been retreating. These physical changes suggest that, globally, the annual mean global temperature should have continued to warm, even as regions of the world experienced cooling, such as during the Little Ice Age in Europe between the 16th and 19th centuries.

    The three models Liu and colleagues generated took two years to complete. They ran simulations of climate influences that spanned from the intensity of sunlight on Earth to global greenhouse gases, ice sheet cover and meltwater changes. Each shows global warming over the last 10,000 years.

    Yet, the bio- and geo-thermometers used last year in a study in the journal Science suggest a period of global cooling beginning about 7,000 years ago and continuing until humans began to leave a mark, the so-called “hockey stick” on the current climate model graph, which reflects a profound global warming trend.

    In that study, the authors looked at data collected by other scientists from ice core samples, phytoplankton sediments and more at 73 sites around the world. The data they gathered sometimes conflicted, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere.

    Because interpretation of these proxies is complicated, Liu and colleagues believe they may not adequately address the bigger picture. For instance, biological samples taken from a core deposited in the summer may be different from samples at the exact same site had they been taken from a winter sediment. It’s a limitation the authors of last year’s study recognize.

    “In the Northern Atlantic, there is cooling and warming data the (climate change) community hasn’t been able to figure out,” says Liu.

    With their current knowledge, Liu and colleagues don’t believe any physical forces over the last 10,000 years could have been strong enough to overwhelm the warming indicated by the increase in global greenhouse gases and the melting ice sheet, nor do the physical models in the study show that it’s possible.

    “The fundamental laws of physics say that as the temperature goes up, it has to get warmer,” Liu says.

    Caveats in the latest study include a lack of influence from volcanic activity in the models, which could lead to cooling — though the authors point out there is no evidence to suggest significant volcanic activity during the Holocene — and no dust or vegetation contributions, which could also cause cooling.

    Liu says climate scientists plan to meet this fall to discuss the conundrum.

    “Both communities have to look back critically and see what is missing,” he says. “I think it is a puzzle.”

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 2:28 pm on July 29, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Climate Change,   

    From WCG: “Calling all climate change scientists” 

    29 Jul 2014

    Summary
    In response to President Obama’s call to action on the Climate Data Initiative, we invite scientists studying climate change issues to submit proposals for accessing massive supercomputing power to advance their research.

    Extreme weather events caused by climate change, such as floods and droughts, can have a drastic impact on food production. For example, production costs for maize and other grains could double by 2030. How can individuals, communities, organizations and governments prepare to handle future climate impacts on food security and other key issues? To address this challenge, President Obama today announced the second phase of the Climate Data Initiative calling on private and philanthropic organizations to develop data-driven tools to plan for and mitigate the effects of climate change. In response, World Community Grid invites scientists studying issues affected by climate change, such as the resilience of staple food crops, and watershed management to submit research proposals. In addition, IBM is participating in a roundtable discussion convened by the White House today to discuss joint efforts to further advance the Initiative’s goals.

    To date, over 300,000 World Community Grid volunteers have already provided sustainability scientists with the equivalent of almost 100,000 years of computing power to support researchers in numerous fields, including energy, water and agricultural science:

    The University of Virginia’s Computing for Sustainable Water project is shedding new light on the effects of human activity on the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Organizations and policymakers will be able to use this data-driven insight to guide their efforts to support the restoration and health of the area.

    water

    The University of Washington’s Nutritious Rice for the World project studied rice proteins that could help farmers breed new strains with higher yields and greater disease and pest resistance. New crops like these will be vital in areas that face changing climate conditions.

    rice

    In what we believe to be the most extensive quantum chemical investigation to date, Harvard University’s Clean Energy Project has discovered 35,000 materials with the potential to double carbon-based solar cell efficiency after screening more than two million organic materials on World Community Grid. These discoveries could result in solar cells that are cheaper, easier to produce and more efficient than ever before.
    cep

    We invite sustainability researchers who could benefit from massive supercomputing power to advance their work to submit a project proposal. In addition, anyone can contribute to understanding climate change and mitigating its impacts by joining World Community Grid and supporting our current research projects. Take a minute right now to start supporting cutting-edge climate science.

    See the full article here.

    World Community Grid (WCG) brings people together from across the globe to create the largest non-profit computing grid benefiting humanity. It does this by pooling surplus computer processing power. We believe that innovation combined with visionary scientific research and large-scale volunteerism can help make the planet smarter. Our success depends on like-minded individuals – like you.”

    WCG projects run on BOINC software from UC Berkeley.

    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing.

    CAN ONE PERSON MAKE A DIFFERENCE? YOU BETCHA!!

    “Download and install secure, free software that captures your computer’s spare power when it is on, but idle. You will then be a World Community Grid volunteer. It’s that simple!” You can download the software at either WCG or BOINC.

    Please visit the project pages-

    Say No to Schistosoma

    GO Fight Against Malaria

    Drug Search for Leishmaniasis

    Computing for Clean Water

    The Clean Energy Project

    Discovering Dengue Drugs – Together

    Help Cure Muscular Dystrophy

    Help Fight Childhood Cancer

    Help Conquer Cancer

    Human Proteome Folding

    FightAIDS@Home

    World Community Grid is a social initiative of IBM Corporation
    IBM Corporation
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    IBM – Smarter Planet
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  • richardmitnick 12:56 pm on November 16, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Climate Change,   

    From Pacific Northwest Laboratory: “Time to prepare for climate change” 

    From the PNNL Facebook page

    “Time to prepare for climate change”
    Monday, November 15, 2010

    “Though the massive glaciers of the greater Himalayan region are retreating slowly, development agencies can take steps now to help the region’s communities prepare for the many ways glacier melt is expected to impact their lives, according to a new report. Programs that integrate health, education, the environment and social organizations are needed to adequately address these impacts, the report states.

    “The extremely high altitudes and sheer mass of High Asian glaciers mean they couldn’t possibly melt in the next few decades,” said Elizabeth Malone, a Battelle sociologist and the report’s technical lead. “But climate change is still happening and we do need to prepare for it. That’s especially true in this part of the world, where poverty and other concerns make its residents very vulnerable to any change.”

    The report, Changing Glaciers and Hydrology in Asia: Addressing Vulnerability to Glacier Melt Impacts, was prepared in collaboration with Battelle and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Battelle operates the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash. Malone works from the Joint Global Change Research Institute in College Park, Md., a collaboration between PNNL and the University of Maryland.”

    This is both very interesting and very important.

    Find the full article here.

     
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