Scientists call for more eyes in the sky amidst alarming climate change

August 9, 2018 by Christopher Packham, Phys.org report
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

In the midst of a record-breaking global heat wave, a recent international study presented a terrifying worst-case scenario: that "hothouse Earth" conditions are likely to prevail even if the world meets the carbon reduction levels of the Paris Agreement. Lead author Will Steffen from the Australian National University and Stockholm Resilience Centre said, "Human emissions of greenhouse gas are not the sole determinant of temperature on Earth. Our study suggests that human-induced global warming of 2°C may trigger other Earth system processes, often called 'feedbacks,' that can drive further warming – even if we stop emitting greenhouse gases."

Feedback processes include the release of methane from Arctic ices melted by high ocean temperatures, reduction of North American snow cover and Amazon rainforest dieback. These processes compound the inherent difficulty of studying the on a global scale, and substantial disagreements exist between models that attempt to predict the future of .

Now, in an epic-scale Perspective column in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from Goddard Space Flight Center, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Oklahoma describe the difficulties of teasing apart carbon cycle feedbacks, and how satellite observations are already making a significant contribution to resolving these uncertainties.

Regarding carbon cycle-climate feedbacks, the authors write, "If these feedbacks change with changing climate, which is likely, then the effect of the human enterprise on climate will change." In other words, climate feedback mechanisms alter the climate, which in turn affects the incidence and severity of feedbacks. "The current uncertainty of flux estimates of (the perturbation due to fossil fuel emission) is evidenced, in part, by disagreements between top-down derived flux estimates and bottom-up inventory methods," they write.

The paper is a catalog of the intimidating uncertainties climate scientists are confronting as they try to bring a holistic picture of climate trends into focus, including carbon and methane cycling. For instance, the authors observe that ocean models largely agree about global carbon inventories—25 percent of anthropogenic carbon is believed to be sequestered in the oceans—but the fact that there is no consensus about the specific regions responsible calls into question this seeming agreement.

The authors are emphatic about the utility of satellite observations for resolving such uncertainties. Satellites can observe column CO2 emissions, even in areas of the world with poor reporting resources, which is key to understanding carbon cycling mechanisms in the tropics. A lack of current reporting from such regions greatly inhibits climate modeling, and existing models have greatly divergent conclusions as a result.

Satellites can also measure net fluxes in emissions by their correlation with solar-induced fluorescence (SIF) in the atmosphere. By sampling the oxygen-A band, satellites can determine the optical path length through the atmosphere. SIF is directly related to photosynthesis, so these observations provide measurements of net flux as well as gross fluxes.

Finally, the authors cite the long track records of satellites monitoring carbon monoxide produced by the burning of fossil fuels and biomass. Using a combination of these observation and measurement techniques, researchers could reduce uncertainties about climate feedbacks, tease apart the relationships between mechanisms and anthropogenic carbon emissions, and raise the resolution and accuracy of their climate models. This is especially important as climate impacts of atmospheric and methane are becoming alarmingly evident in weather patterns.

Explore further: Planet now at risk of heading toward 'hothouse Earth' state

More information: Observing carbon cycle–climate feedbacks from space. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1716613115

Abstract
The impact of human emissions of carbon dioxide and methane on climate is an accepted central concern for current society. It is increasingly evident that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane are not simply a function of emissions but that there are myriad feedbacks forced by changes in climate that affect atmospheric concentrations. If these feedbacks change with changing climate, which is likely, then the effect of the human enterprise on climate will change. Quantifying, understanding, and articulating the feedbacks within the carbon–climate system at the process level are crucial if we are to employ Earth system models to inform effective mitigation regimes that would lead to a stable climate. Recent advances using space-based, more highly resolved measurements of carbon exchange and its component processes—photosynthesis, respiration, and biomass burning—suggest that remote sensing can add key spatial and process resolution to the existing in situ systems needed to provide enhanced understanding and advancements in Earth system models. Information about emissions and feedbacks from a long-term carbon–climate observing system is essential to better stewardship of the planet.

Related Stories

Planet now at risk of heading toward 'hothouse Earth' state

August 6, 2018

Keeping global warming to within 1.5-2 degrees C may be more difficult than previously assessed, according to researchers. An international team of scientists has published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy ...

Dangerous climate change is likely, concludes new research

June 26, 2018

A new study has revealed sensitive regions of the world are still at risk from the dangerous and potentially irreversible effects of climate change; even if we meet the target of not increasing global temperature above 1.5°C ...

Video: The carbon cycle

February 26, 2018

As part of the way Earth works as a system, carbon is continuously passed between the ocean, the land and the atmosphere. This involves a range of different processes, some of which can be observed by satellites.

Recommended for you

Evidence of earliest life on Earth disputed

October 17, 2018

When Australian scientists presented evidence in 2016 of life on Earth 3.7 billon years ago—pushing the record back 220 million years—it was a big deal, influencing even the search for life on Mars.

Arctic greening thaws permafrost, boosts runoff

October 17, 2018

A new collaborative study has investigated Arctic shrub-snow interactions to obtain a better understanding of the far north's tundra and vast permafrost system. Incorporating extensive in situ observations, Los Alamos National ...

Arctic ice sets speed limit for major ocean current

October 17, 2018

The Beaufort Gyre is an enormous, 600-mile-wide pool of swirling cold, fresh water in the Arctic Ocean, just north of Alaska and Canada. In the winter, this current is covered by a thick cap of ice. Each summer, as the ice ...

29 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

elevyn_11_
1.8 / 5 (5) Aug 09, 2018
we all need to treat the sun politely, please
theredpill
1.5 / 5 (17) Aug 09, 2018
It's a good thing we can almost immediately (2 years tops) determine whether a feedback has been initiated. However, citing a record breaking year as evidence this has happened has backfired every year they did it (starting with 1998)....conclusion: Climate fear porn for those who get off on it.
julianpenrod
1 / 5 (17) Aug 09, 2018
All the work in the world won't help if the reason for the strange weather is ignored, chemtrails. No one even wants to talk about them! They decided that only "fossil fuels" be discussed and won't listen to anything else.
Chemtrails began in the early '50's and were invisible then, but brought about the number of tornadoes being no longer a nearly constant 180, the only December hurricane of record and the development of the previously unknown cloud cirrus intortus.
The sky seems to have become saturated with weather modification chemical in 1997, because that's when chemtrails became visible. 1997 and afterward saw the worst "el Nino" event; the beginning of the warmest years on record; the accelerated melting of glaciers; the Northwest Passage being open for the first time in history; the worst hurricane season on record; the arrival of the first new cloud species since cirrus intortus, undulatus asperatus.
guptm
3.6 / 5 (7) Aug 09, 2018
Agriculture (started 10000 BC) is the main cause of warming and imbalance of earth's ecosystem in addition to fossil fuel use (coal use started 5000 BC). Being intelligent animals is the main reason!
marcush
5 / 5 (13) Aug 10, 2018
As usual, a bunch of really winning comments for anything related to climate change. From being polite to the Sun to Chemtrails. My guess is these trolls are paid just to make noise.

Meanwhile the science is ignored by too many. Amazing that we as a species are smart enough to know what's going on and yet seem incapable of doing enough to deal with it. We certainly can't say we weren't warned.
howhot3
4.6 / 5 (9) Aug 10, 2018
Man... They must be really sweet trolls cause they like to sugar coat everything. The 2C goal must happen, otherwise there is not much hope a civilization with any sense of normalcy. At these new warmer temps, climate will be changed and our understanding of weather events will be less. Mankind has never experienced such a massive change in it's history. So It really is vital to put more instruments in space so we can increase the fidelity of our knowledge on global warming and it's effects.

Lets hope it's not to late.
antigoracle
1 / 5 (9) Aug 10, 2018
As usual, a bunch of really winning comments for anything related to climate change. From being polite to the Sun to Chemtrails. My guess is these trolls are paid just to make noise.

Meanwhile the science is ignored by too many. Amazing that we as a species are smart enough to know what's going on and yet seem incapable of doing enough to deal with it. We certainly can't say we weren't warned.

Another of the AGW Cult's Chicken Little Jackass, brays.
Please, share with us Heretics --- When and How you stopped burning fossil fuels, so that we can join you in saving the world.
Or, you can blindly follow your Cult and run outside to stare at the sky, waiting and wishing for it to fall.
Keep braying Jackass.
antigoracle
1 / 5 (9) Aug 10, 2018
Man... They must be really sweet trolls cause they like to sugar coat everything. The 2C goal must happen, otherwise there is not much hope a civilization with any sense of normalcy. HAWW...HEE....HAWW....HEE... So It really is vital to put more instruments in space so we can increase the fidelity of our knowledge on global warming and it's effects.

Lets hope it's not to late.

howhot3...AKA..howShat Da Turd, brays again.
Please, share with us --- When and How you stopped burning fossil fuels, so that us Heretics can join you in saving the world.
So, put up or shut up, or you can just keep braying like a Jackass.
Mark Thomas
5 / 5 (8) Aug 10, 2018
Scientists call for more eyes in the sky amidst alarming climate change


You have a serious problem, so you look into it. Completely logical approach, which is why the bought and paid for Republicans currently controlling the U.S. govt won't do it.
antigoracle
1 / 5 (7) Aug 10, 2018
Scientists call for more eyes in the sky amidst alarming climate change


You have a serious problem, so you look into it. Completely logical approach, which is why the bought and paid for Republicans currently controlling the U.S. govt won't do it.

Uh huh...logical.
Typical Chicken Little Jackass, braying at and blaming everyone, but themselves, as they continue to burn fossil fuels like there is no tomorrow.
Keep braying jackass, you'll save the world.
Mark Thomas
5 / 5 (7) Aug 10, 2018
antigoracle: blah, blah, blah.

I sincerely hope every U.S. voter holds the U.S. Republican party accountable for DECADES of lying about global warming and political favors in return for donations from the oil industry.
antigoracle
1 / 5 (7) Aug 10, 2018
antigoracle: blah, blah, blah.

I sincerely hope every U.S. voter holds the U.S. Republican party accountable for DECADES of lying about global warming and political favors in return for donations from the oil industry.

The Chicken Little Jackass, brays again.
Where is the oil industry getting money for political donations, if not from you Chicken Little Jackasses who pay them so you can burn their oil?
Now, do as your Cult commands and run along like an obedient jackass and watch the sky, hoping that it will fall. Oh, and don't forget to keep braying.
howhot3
5 / 5 (2) Aug 10, 2018
Good old @antigoracle, good friend and good person that he/she/it is just holds a little different view point from us science types. The AGW cult will eventually indoctrinate him/her/it once the brainwash is complete! (AGW = Anthropogenic Global Warming btw). Absorb your lessons little goracle one... ABIDE ,,, OBEY and ABIDe more.
philstacy9
1 / 5 (5) Aug 10, 2018
Venezuela is like an experiment that shows government control (socialism) can destroy civilization faster than any hypothetical global warming scenario created to promote socialism.
Mark Thomas
4.8 / 5 (6) Aug 12, 2018
antigoracle, you sound like one of those moron carnival barkers hoping to goad people into buying baseballs to hit a target and dunk you into a tank.

Everyday steps to save the world from global warming (I am 4 for 4):
1. Replace all lights with LED lights.
2. Buy high efficiency home appliances.
3. Consider buying an electric vehicle. Tesla, if you can afford it!
4. Never, ever, ever vote for a Republican, no matter how "conservative" you may think you are. They will sell us out to the oil companies every chance they get and compound global warming by refusing to do a damn thing about it. That is not conservative, that is pure corruption.
Captain Stumpy
4 / 5 (4) Aug 13, 2018
@MarkT
(I am 4 for 4)
4 stars - but I would change the last two
3 isn't always possible, especially rural living with special circumstances (farms, etc), though it is looking hopeful and I can't wait to see an electric 4WD with long range for remote living

4 is completely biased - both sides have fanatics that make no sense
the ignorance leading to the anti-climate change idiocy can be combatted with education and a stronger foundation in STEM courses
(with a serious focus starting on basics, like the scientific method and what constitutes evidence, IMHO)

the last one should be:
4 - use alternative power sources and put them onto your home (Solar, Wind, hydraulic, etc)

the only thing I don't have is an electric vehicle, but I surely would replace my 4WD when they make one with the range I need

Zzzzzzzz
5 / 5 (3) Aug 13, 2018
Stumpy, I am buying one next month. AWD with over 300 miles range. I will also keep my current 4WD pickup. You don't have to replace that to put most of your personal miles onto an EV.

The EV can also be the most fun you've ever had with a car, if you get the right one.....

Captain Stumpy
1 / 5 (1) Aug 13, 2018
@Zzzz

The EV can also be the most fun you've ever had with a car, if you get the right one.....
true that
I've driven a few (and a few hybrids) and really enjoyed them, and it's too bad that they just won't do for my location, though we have considered getting one for the wife and leaving it down the road so she can get out

for us:
one of the biggest problems will be the cold, the fact that we do most of our travel (etc) in cold climates or cold areas and mountains, no garage and the cost of replacement batteries
I am buying one next month
hit me up on Sciforums.com (truck captain stumpy) and let me know what you get

I would love to know a little more about your experiences and get some honest feedback
antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 13, 2018
I am buying one next month. AWD with over 300 miles range.

Still waiting on mine. Ordered in January. Shipping to europe hasn't even started yet *sigh*. Word is first quarter of next year.

and the cost of replacement batteries

Batteries on the better models (anything above a Leaf) are temperature controlled. So they won't suffer as much range drop in cold weather (particularly if you can have them plugged in before you go you can set the temperature to be in the optimal range before you start off). Longevity also doesn't seem to be an issue (again on anything where there's good battery temperature management). 800k km until 80% capacity seem to be the current number. Most cars don't even see 250k km in their lifetime (and the ICE car that goes 800k and only uses 20% more fuel than when new I still have to see)

Battery prices are also dropping fast (almost 20% per year). Until you replace (if ever) they will be dirt cheap.

Captain Stumpy
1 / 5 (1) Aug 13, 2018
@Antialias
thanks for the info

not all people are equally blessed with readily available cash though, and that is something to consider
Batteries on the better models (anything above a Leaf) are temperature controlled.
the hillbilly models come with a tinderbox or striker and flint and usually some dried moss
LMFAO

I really, really need something that can tow plus 4WD and a minimum 250-300 miles average per charge like the typical ICE engine
antigoracle
1 / 5 (5) Aug 13, 2018
antigoracle, HAWW...HEE....

Everyday steps to save the world from global warming (I am 4 for 4):
1. Replace all lights with LED lights.
2. Buy high efficiency home appliances.
3. Consider buying an electric vehicle. Tesla, if you can afford it!
4. Never, ever, ever vote for a Republican, ...HAWW...HEE.. That is not conservative, that is pure corruption.

The Chicken Little Jackass brays.
My God!!! Such sacrifice!!! How do you survive??
Imagine the burden of considering buying an EV.

Absolutely no mention of a quantifiable reduction in electricity, gas or gasoline use.
Totally clueless as to his carbon footprint, far less, how much he must reduce it in order to meet his contribution, to get to what the AGW Cult dictates. He and his fellow jackasses bray about getting EVs, when most of the power to charge them comes from fossil fuels. That's how they believe they will save the world. What a rectum.
Mark Thomas
5 / 5 (3) Aug 13, 2018
antigoracle, what have you ever done but attempt to mislead? You are a clueless scumbag troll that would sell your own kind down the river. I am not going to quantify anything for you because you are too stupid to know the difference.
Mark Thomas
5 / 5 (1) Aug 13, 2018
Captain, regarding No. 3, you actually get full credit. That's why I wrote "Consider buying an electric vehicle." You did and the concluded the tech is not there yet. Of course you appreciate that things will look very different in say 10 years.

"4 is completely biased - both sides have fanatics that make no sense"

Respectfully, I disagree. The Republican Party has sold their souls for decades to the fossil fuel industries, and this whole "both sides are crazy" idea is wrong. This is about the corrupting power of money, pure and simple. The legitimate scientific debate over global warming has been over for a long time.
Mark Thomas
5 / 5 (1) Aug 13, 2018
Stumpy, I am buying one next month. AWD with over 300 miles range.


My long-range battery, AWD Tesla Model 3's estimated delivery window is Sept-Nov. 2018. I am not in the least bit worried about poor performance or longevity. Various websites have concluded this model is significantly faster than even the 4.5 sec. 0-60 mph time listed by Tesla. I could sell this car for a substantial profit on delivery, but I won't. Maybe that is the real proof in the pudding.

Captain Stumpy
1 / 5 (1) Aug 13, 2018
@MarkT
Respectfully, I disagree. The Republican Party has sold their ... this whole "both sides are crazy" idea is wrong
we can respectfully disagree on *part* of that

I should have clarified: certain Repub's do have an issue with climate change (like trump)
Free-market worldviews are an important predictor of the rejection of scientific findings that have potential regulatory implications
http://journals.p....0075637

there are some who are intelligent enough to accept the science, just fearful of the regulation
https://www.repub...rming-2/

but the Dem's have issues of their own

I dislike both parties and consider political ideation no different than religious ideation
so I see the positives and negatives of both sides

IMHO - you can't argue that the insanity of one is OK while pointing that the insanity of the other is wrong
Mark Thomas
5 / 5 (2) Aug 13, 2018
certain Repub's do have an issue with climate change


Which ones don't? Maybe I am missing something here, and I don't particularly care for partisan politics either, but in the case of global warming, are there any Republicans in office that are actually working to do something about it? Regardless of their professed attitudes towards global warming, which your link points out do vary, who exactly has actually stood up to the oil industry and demanded a carbon tax, dropping subsidies for oil and coal, more tax breaks for electric vehicles, higher gasoline mileage standards for ICE cars, more research on renewables, etc.

Are there any significant Republican Party accomplishments to combat global warming? I can't think of a single one. Is this because all Republicans are stupid? Not at all, it is because it would be political suicide. This is not your father's Republican Party. I probably would have voted for Ike myself, but never Trump.
antigoracle
1 / 5 (5) Aug 13, 2018
HAWW....HEE...HAWW....HEE...

Are there any significant Republican Party accomplishments to combat global warming? I can't think of a single one. Is this because all Republicans are stupid? Not at all, .....HAWW...HEE...

The Chicken Little Jackass brays again.
Are there any significant accomplishments by YOU to combat global warming? Can you think of a single one?. Is this because you are stupid? ABSOLUTELY.
Keep braying jackass that will save the world.
PTTG
5 / 5 (5) Aug 13, 2018
Phys org really needs moderators to kick out these obvious trolls.
howhot3
5 / 5 (1) Aug 17, 2018
Phys org really needs moderators to kick out these obvious trolls.

Naaahhh. Good old @antiAlGoracle is just vitamin B12 deficient. He just needs to inhale more chemtrails.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.