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Reading Recommendations

March 2019

Maximizing Ozone Signals

New technique enables more efficient and precise estimates of trends in ozone and other atmospheric constituents within selected geographical regions and timeframes.


US Department of Energy

Climate change is the world’s biggest threat, according to a new global survey

Climate change is seen as the biggest international threat facing many nations, according to a 26-country survey released by the Pew Research Center. Thirteen of the countries surveyed listed global warming as their top security concern.

World Economic Forum

Widespread loss of lake ice around the Northern Hemisphere in a warming world

Ice provides a range of ecosystem services—including fish harvest, cultural traditions, transportation, recreation and regulation of the hydrological cycle—to more than half of the world’s 117 million lakes. One of the earliest observed impacts of climatic warming has been the loss of freshwater ice, with corresponding climatic and ecological consequences. Here, using observations from 513 lakes around the Northern Hemisphere, we identify lakes vulnerable to ice-free winters. Our analyses reveal the importance of air temperature, lake depth, elevation and shoreline complexity in governing ice cover.


How to cut U.S. emissions faster? Do what these countries are doing

The United States is reducing its greenhouse gas emissions far too slowly to help avert the worst effects of global warming. But what would happen if the country adopted seven of the most ambitious climate policies already in place around the world?

The New York Times

Natural climate solutions are not enough

Stabilizing Earth’s climate and limiting temperature increase to well below 2°C per the Paris Agreement requires a dramatic uptick in the rate of progress on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Natural climate solutions (NCS) can be a substantial contributor, while also providing valuable cobenefits for people and ecosystems. Although analyses of NCS have some differences in the GHG fluxes they consider, all include emissions sources (such as deforestation, land-use change, and agricultural practices), emissions sinks (such as reforestation and restoring degraded lands), and non–carbon dioxide (CO2) agricultural emissions (such as methane from livestock).



Climate change impacts on fisheries

Éva Plagányi

Food security, climate change, and their complex and uncertain interactions are a major challenge for societies and ecologies. Global assessments of predicted changes in crop yield under climate change, combined with international trade dynamics, suggest that disparities between nations in production and food availability will escalate. But climate change has already affected productivity.



Benefits of the Paris Agreement to ocean life, economies, and people

U. Rashid Sumaila et al.

The Paris Agreement aims to mitigate the potential impacts of climate change on ecological and social systems. Using an ensemble of climate-marine ecosystem and economic models, we explore the effects of implementing the Agreement on fish, fishers, and seafood consumers worldwide. We find that implementing the Agreement could protect millions of metric tons in annual worldwide catch of top revenue-generating fish species, as well as billions of dollars annually of fishers’ revenues, seafood workers’ income, and household seafood expenditure.



New way to turn carbon dioxide into coal could ‘rewind the emissions clock’

By Robert F. Service

If humans hope to limit climate change to just 2°C of warming, we’ve got a lot of work to do, scientists say: reducing emissions, planting trees, and scrubbing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the skies with the latest technologies. Now, a new process can convert gaseous CO2—the product of burning fossil fuels—into solid carbon at room temperature, using only a trickle of electricity. But getting it to work on a planet-wide scale will be a formidable challenge.



In utero ultrafine particulate matter exposure causes offspring pulmonary immunosuppression

Kristal A. Rychlik, Jeremiah R. Secrest, Mario J. Molina, Renyi Zhang et al.

Particulate matter exposure causes infant respiratory morbidity and mortality, but the role of ultrafine particles (UFPs) with an aerodynamic diameter of less than 0.1 μm in asthma and respiratory tract infections is unclear. Our results reveal a window of pulmonary immunosuppression in offspring following in utero UFP exposure. A dampened host immune response during early development underlies increased childhood susceptibility to respiratory infections, highlighting the necessity to develop strategies to protect the fetus during this vulnerable period.



Capturing carbon: Can it save us?

by Jeff Johnson

We have technologies to remove greenhouse gases from air, but it’s less clear we can scale them fast enough to make a difference



Climate change and the threat to companies

Firms urgently need to rethink how they approach climate risk. Chief executives who care about climate change—and these days most profess to—often highlight headquarters bedecked with solar panels and other efforts to lower their carbon footprint. Last week Volkswagen, a carmaker, told its 40,000 suppliers to cut emissions or risk losing its custom. Plenty of investors, meanwhile, say they are worried about being saddled with worthless stakes in coal-fired power plants if carbon taxes eventually bite.


The Economist

Perceptions of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage in different policy scenarios

Rob Bellamy, Javier Lezaun & James Palmer

There is growing interest in bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) as a possible technology for removing CO2 from the atmosphere. We develop a new experimental method to triangulate perceptions of BECCS in different policy scenarios through quantitative measurement and qualitative elicitation. Here we show that the type of policy instrument used to incentivise BECCS significantly affects perceptions of the technology itself.


Nature Communications

Complex networks reveal global pattern of extreme-rainfall teleconnections

Niklas Boers et al.

Climatic observables are often correlated across long spatial distances, and extreme events, such as heatwaves or floods, are typically assumed to be related to such teleconnections. Revealing atmospheric teleconnection patterns and understanding their underlying mechanisms is of great importance for weather forecasting in general and extreme-event prediction in particular, especially considering that the characteristics of extreme events have been suggested to change under ongoing anthropogenic climate change.



Consistent patterns of nitrogen fixation identified in the ocean

Nicolas Gruber

Nitrogen gas dissolved in the ocean must be fixed — converted into more-reactive compounds — before it can be used to support life, but the regions in which this nitrogen fixation occurs have been elusive. Not anymore.



Interpreting contemporary trends in atmospheric methane

Alexander J. Turner, Christian Frankenberg, and Eric A. Kort

Atmospheric methane plays a major role in controlling climate, yet contemporary methane trends (1982–2017) have defied explanation with numerous, often conflicting, hypotheses proposed in the literature. Specifically, atmospheric observations of methane from 1982 to 2017 have exhibited periods of both increasing concentrations (from 1982 to 2000 and from 2007 to 2017) and stabilization (from 2000 to 2007). Explanations for the increases and stabilization have invoked changes in tropical wetlands, livestock, fossil fuels, biomass burning, and the methane sink.



Climate and economic risks ‘threaten 2008-style systemic collapse’

Jonathan Watts

Environmental and social problems could interact in global breakdown.The gathering storm of human-caused threats to climate, nature and economy pose a danger of systemic collapse comparable to the 2008 financial crisis, according to a new report that calls for urgent and radical reform to protect political and social systems.


The Guardian

How do aerosols affect cloudiness?

Yousuke Sato, Kentaroh Suzuki

Aerosols are tiny particles suspended in the atmosphere that originate from sources such as agricultural waste, forest fires, sea spray (see the photo), desert dust, and industrial pollution. They alter the energy balance of Earth’s climate system through direct reflection and absorption of solar radiation as well as through modulating cloud properties by serving as nuclei for cloud particles. As a result of such aerosol-cloud interactions, cloud particle size tends to fall with increasing aerosol number concentration and rain formation is suppressed.



Thinking about emissions


Global emissions rose in 2018 with the USA increasing its emissions after three years of decline. Understanding the contributing factors is not enough — action at all scales is needed.


Nature Climate Change

Fate and future climatic role of polar ice sheets

Hélène Seroussi

Mass loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets is accelerating as a result of rising global temperatures. Two studies explore how this mass loss will affect sea level and other aspects of the climate in the future.


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