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Reading Recommendations

January 2018

Paris Agreement sets the global tone

By Melody M. Bomgardner

The worldwide fight against climate change took a hit in mid-2017 when the Trump administration pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement. But the rest of the world—along with 14 states and more than two dozen cities within the U.S.—is moving ahead with policies that put a bull’s-eye on carbon emissions.


NASA Study: First Direct Proof of Ozone Hole Recovery Due to Chemicals Ban

Samson Reiny

For the first time, scientists have shown through direct satellite observations of the ozone hole that levels of ozone-destroying chlorine are declining, resulting in less ozone depletion.


Ocean thermometer from the past

Rachel H. R. Stanley

Twenty thousand years ago, Earth was nearing the end of a glacial period. Gigantic ice sheets covered much of North America, Europe and Patagonia, air and water temperatures beyond the tropics were 4–23 degrees colder than today, depending on location, and atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide were approximately 35% lower4. For reasons that are still unclear, the planet then transitioned to the warm, interglacial conditions that have lasted for about the past 11,000 years. This remarkable record will enable scientists to better formulate and update hypotheses on the transition between the last ice age and present-day warm conditions.


Build a global Earth observatory

Markku Kulmala

Climate change. Water and food security. Urban air pollution. These environmental grand challenges are all linked, yet each is studied separately. Satellites and stations on the ground track greenhouse gases, ecosystem responses, particulate matter or ozone independently of each other. Coupled observations are occasionally performed, but in intensive bouts. Vast areas of the globe — including Africa, eastern Eurasia and South America — are barely sampled.


NASA-led Study Solves a Methane Puzzle

Alan Buis

A new NASA-led study has solved a puzzle involving the recent rise in atmospheric methane, a potent greenhouse gas, with a new calculation of emissions from global fires.


The case for technology investments in the environment

Lucas N. Joppa

Create an artificial-intelligence platform for the planet, urges Lucas N. Joppa. Earlier this year, I became Microsoft’s first chief environment scientist. I’ve been tasked with deploying the company’s deep investments in artificial intelligence (AI) research and technology to help people around the world monitor, model and ultimately manage Earth’s natural systems.


Accounting for the human factor

Jonathan M. Gilligan

One of the greatest sources of uncertainty about future climate change is the path greenhouse gas emissions will take. Now research using a coupled model of human behaviour and climate finds that individual behaviour can significantly alter emissions trajectories and global temperature.

Nature Climate Change

China creates world’s largest carbon trading program

By Jeff Johnson

Cap-and-trade approach will start with power-generating companies. The Chinese government announced on Dec. 19 the start of what could become the world’s largest carbon emissions trading program. The program will begin with the nation’s electric utility sector and branch out to other emitters of carbon dioxide, according to the government’s National Development & Reform Commission (NDRC).


2017 will rank among Earth’s top 5 warmest years


This year will almost certainly rank as one of the planet’s top five warmest years on record, according to new data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA. In fact, the top NASA climate scientist reported Monday that 2017 is likely to be the second-warmest year on record, behind 2016, which in turn displaced 2015 from the top spot.


Atmospheric autoxidation is increasingly important in urban and suburban North America

Eric Praske et. al

Here, we quantify the rate of this oxidation pathway for peroxy radicals produced in the oxidation of n-hexane under conditions relevant to the atmosphere. The results suggest that autoxidation pathways are competitive against bimolecular reactions for a broad range of substrates, including many that result from urban emissions. The formation of organic hydroperoxides from atmospheric autoxidation has unknown implications for air quality.


Atlantic hurricanes’ rapid growth spurts are intensifying

Alexandra Witze

Over the past three decades, wind speeds in the strongest storms have increased more rapidly in some areas.


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