Climate Change ☀️
Pandemic Lockdowns Cut Pollution, Slowing Snowmelt in South Asia
One of the pandemic’s silver linings. In a complex chain of unforeseen consequences, one result of the global coronavirus crisis is more water flow to South Asia, researchers say. Here’s how it unfolded:
  • The lockdowns last year reduced emissions of soot and other pollutants in South Asia as people drove less and the generation of electricity was reduced.
  • That meant less soot was deposited on the snow in the high peaks of the Karakoram and other mountain ranges. Pollutants on snow absorb sunlight, emit heat and cause faster melting.
  • So without soot, the slower snowmelt into the Indus River basin of Pakistan and India — where more than 300 million people get their water — will make water supplies last longer throughout the coming year.
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The giant accounting problem that could hamper the world’s push to cut emissions
“There is a gap of 5.5 gigatons of CO2, which is a huge gap,” said Giacomo Grassi, a forest expert at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, and lead author of the study published Monday in Nature Climate Change. “This gap is quite new.”

The discrepancy emerges at a critical moment, as world leaders try to pinpoint how — and how quickly — nations must cut greenhouse gas pollution to prevent catastrophic levels of warming in coming years.

As part of the international Paris climate accord and prior agreements, nations are supposed to report detailed information about their emissions to the United Nations, including those related to their forests and other land use. But between 2005 and 2015, Grassi and fellow scientists found, some countries have claimed to take so much additional carbon out of the air that they have created uncertainty about how to evaluate whether they were meeting their individual climate goals.

“It’s like if the navigation system provides information in miles, and the car dashboard in kilometers,” said Grassi, one of 22 separate authors from countries around the world, including Italy, Japan and the United States.

The new research suggests that the current system could cause a diplomatic standoff as early as next year. That is when, under the Paris agreement, nations are required to gather for a global “stocktake” to determine whether the world is actually on track to cut its emissions enough to stay in line with the agreement’s goals.

If countries are using one accounting method but independent models are using another, the results will make it difficult to determine where the world actually stands in its emissions-cutting goals.

It is not that 5.5 billion tons of emissions per year — or rather their opposite, greenhouse gases absorbed by the Earth — are being missed entirely. Rather, the issue is how they are being categorized, who gets the credit and whether that is altering the goal posts for how aggressively individual nations need to cut their fossil fuel emissions.

Both oceans and the land on Earth are powerful natural tools in muting the effect of human greenhouse gas emissions. They absorb an estimated 9.2 billion tons and 12.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, respectively. Without them, climate change would be much, much worse.

No country appears to have yet found a way to claim the beneficial role of the open oceans on their climate balance sheet. But the land is a different story.

Certain countries have long benefited, at least on paper, from the enormous carbon “sink” provided by forests. Claiming the credit from forests is a practice that can be particularly beneficial in countries with vast wooded areas such as Brazil, Canada, Russia, the United States, and others. The result is that after these countries add up the emissions from the power they generate — the cars on their roads and other sources — they are allowed to then subtract a substantial amount based on the carbon-sucking role of their land.

The United States, for instance, reports 6.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions for 2019, the most recent year of reporting, from the burning of fossil fuels, human agricultural activity, and other sources. But then it subtracts 789 million tons of emissions to take into account the role of the country’s land surfaces. Ultimately, the “net” emissions reported to the international community are roughly 5.8 billion tons. That is a savings of 12 percent, thanks to land alone.

... “I don’t think the greenhouse gas inventories in average are wrong. The key point is the measurements are different,” Grassi said.

Still, for large emitting countries like the United States, it is certainly convenient — and good optics — to be able to report smaller “net” emissions.
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Microbes trap massive amounts of carbon
Violent continental collisions and volcanic eruptions are not things normally associated with comfortable conditions for life. However, a new study, involving University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Associate Professor of Microbiology Karen Lloyd, unveils a large microbial ecosystem living deep within the earth that is fueled by chemicals produced during these tectonic cataclysms.

When oceanic and continental plates collide, one plate is pushed down, or subducted, into the mantle and the other plate is pushed up and studded with volcanoes. This is the main process by which chemical elements are moved between Earth's surface and interior and eventually recycled back to the surface.
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Climate change, periodic modification of Earth’s climate brought about as a result of changes in the atmosphere as well as interactions between the atmosphere and various other geologic, chemical, biological, and geographic factors within the Earth system.

Source: Climate change - Evidence for climate change | Britannica
Climate Change is the defining issue of our time and we are at a defining moment. From shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale. Without drastic action today, adapting to these impacts in the future will be more difficult and costly.

Source: Climate Change | United Nations