More species equals more ecosystem resilience

Source: Wikimedia Commons by Richard LingSource: Wikimedia Commons by Richard LingClimate change, human development and land use change is impacting directly on biodiversity. This blog post by CJA Bradshaw highlights the importance of more species for ecosystem resilience.

While still ostensibly ‘on leave’ (side note: Does any scientist really ever take a proper holiday? Perhaps a subject for a future blog post), I cannot resist the temptation to blog about our lab’s latest paper that just came online today. In particular, I am particularly proud of Dr Camille Mellin, lead author of the study and all-round kick-arse quantitative ecologist, who has outdone herself on this one.

Water supply will struggle to meet demands of thirstier world in a warming world

Irrigation CanalIrrigation CanalBy Jacob Schewe, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

There are already many countries where the scarcity of water affects people’s lives. While water for drinking may be first to come to mind, as agriculture is the largest use of water worldwide water scarcity first and foremost is a threat to food supply. And as many industrial processes rely on water availability, it also hampers economic development.

In the simplest sense, water scarcity is supply falling short of demand. Demand for freshwater will increase in most regions of the world due to population growth. Between eight and ten billion people are expected to live on Earth in 2050, as opposed to six billion today. But as for supply, water resources will be affected by projected climate changes due to unabated greenhouse gas emissions, for instance through changes in the amount, pattern and timing of rainfall and evaporation.

2013 was Australia's hottest year, warm for much of the world say Bureau of Meteorology scientists

Australia sets new mean temperature record for 2013: Source: Australian Bureau of MeteorologyAustralia sets new mean temperature record for 2013: Source: Australian Bureau of MeteorologyBy Blair Trewin, Australian Bureau of Meteorology; David Jones, Australian Bureau of Meteorology; Karl Braganza, Australian Bureau of Meteorology; Neil Plummer, Australian Bureau of Meteorology, and Rob Smalley, Australian Bureau of Meteorology

The Bureau of Meteorology has confirmed 2013 as Australia’s hottest year since records began in 1910.

Average temperatures over the continent have been 1.2C above the 1961-1990 average, breaking the previous record set in 2005 by 0.17C. It was also the hottest year on record for South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The other states - Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania – recorded above-average temperatures that rank in their top four hottest years.

More efficient biofuel process converting algae to oil

By Tim Radford. US scientists have succeeded in producing crude oil from algae in under an hour - a technical triumph, but one that's still a long way from commercial exploitation.

Europe: Alps warming at twice the Global rate

By Tim Radford. Evidence from high in the Italian Alps confirms that they are warming at twice the global rate, with the region's glaciers in retreat everywhere.

Volcanic activity adds further to instability of West Antarctic Ice Sheet

Volcanic activity detected near the Executive Committee range in Marie Byrd Land in West Antarctica adds another factor to the instability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS). A small eruption under the ice could result in melt water adding substantial lubrication to the bottom of a portion of the ice sheet, speeding up the ice stream discharge into the Ross Sea.

Global Carbon emissions still growing when they must fall: report

Steam from Coal fired power: Public domain imageSteam from Coal fired power: Public domain imageBy James Whitmore, The Conversation

Climate scientists say Success of climate talks vital for 2°C target

Warsaw, 15 November 2013. Press release by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

El Niño Southern Oscillation activity and intensity increasing with Global Warming

2009-2010 central Pacific El Niño2009-2010 central Pacific El NiñoA study by Australian and US researchers has found robust signs that global warming is having an increasing impact on the El Niño/La Nina (ENSO) cycle which drives a significant amount of changes to global weather. The El Nino cycle has been unusually active and intense in the 30 year period from 1979 to 2009, more than any time in the last 600 years, researchers found.

"Our research suggests in a warming world we are likely to see more extreme El Niño and La Nina events, which over the past decade in Australia have been related to extreme flooding, persistent droughts and dangerous fire seasons,” said lead author Dr Shayne McGregor from the University of NSW ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science.

“Importantly, this study not only tells us how ENSO activity has behaved in the past in relation to global average temperature, it also opens the window for climate models to be able to estimate more accurately how this activity will change in the future." said Dr McGregor.

Climate Departure: Oceans already outside historical variability as cities and ecosystems follow

Climate departure will affect the tropics disproportionately moreClimate departure will affect the tropics disproportionately moreResearchers from the University of Hawaii have estimated the year when we depart the climate variability we have historically known for cities around the globe. But the study also identifies that the planet's oceans have already passed their climate departure point, and that the greatest impact of global warming will be felt in biodiversity and ecosystems in the tropics.

In a study published in Nature - The projected timing of climate departure from recent variability (abstract) - researchers lead by Camilo Mora from the Geography Department at the University of Hawaii sought to identify the point at which the climate at 54,000 locations on Earth will exceed the bounds of historical variability. They used a baseline period of 1860 to 2005 to determine natural temperature variability. Using results averaged from 39 different climate models, they then determined for each location measured the year point in which the coldest years are likely to be consistently hotter than any of the past 150 years.

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