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Reading Recommendations

March 2020

Towards a more effective climate policy on international trade
In the literature on the attribution of responsibilities for greenhouse gas emissions, two accounting methods have been widely discussed: production-based accounting (PBA) and consumption-based accounting (CBA). It has been argued that an accounting framework for attributing responsibilities should credit actions contributing to reduce global emissions and should penalize actions increasing them.  
Recalibrating global data center energy-use estimates
Data centers represent the information backbone of an increasingly digitalized world. Demand for their services has been rising rapidly, and data-intensive technologies such as artificial intelligence, smart and connected energy systems, distributed manufacturing systems, and autonomous vehicles promise to increase demand further. Given that data centers are energy-intensive enterprises, estimated to account for around 1% of worldwide electricity use, these trends have clear implications for global energy demand and must be analyzed rigorously.  
The role of Northeast Pacific meltwater events in deglacial climate change
Columbia River megafloods occurred repeatedly during the last deglaciation, but the impacts of this fresh water on Pacific hydrography are largely unknown. To reconstruct changes in ocean circulation during this period, we used a numerical model to simulate the flow trajectory of Columbia River megafloods and compiled records of sea surface temperature, paleo-salinity, and deep-water radiocarbon from marine sediment cores in the Northeast Pacific. The North Pacific sea surface cooled and freshened during the early deglacial (19.0-16.5 ka) and Younger Dryas (12.9-11.7 ka) intervals, coincident with the appearance of subsurface water masses depleted in radiocarbon relative to the sea surface.  
When will the Amazon hit a tipping point?
Scientists say climate change, deforestation and fires could cause the world’s largest rainforest to dry out. The big question is how soon that might happen.  
Fossil-Fuel Subsidies Must End
Despite claims to the contrary, eliminating them would have a significant effect in addressing the climate crisis. When it comes to tackling the climate crisis, ending $400 billion of annual subsidies to the fossil-fuel industry worldwide seems like a no-brainer. For the past decade, world leaders have been resolving and reaffirming the need to phase them out.  
Scientific American
When It Comes to Nuclear Power, Could Smaller Be Better?
A handful of companies and governments are working to develop small-scale nuclear reactors that proponents say are safer, cheaper, and more compatible with renewables than traditional nuclear power. But critics contend the new technology doesn’t address concerns about safety and radioactive waste.  
Scientific American
Preindustrial 14CH4 indicates greater anthropogenic fossil CH4 emissions
Atmospheric methane (CH4) is a potent greenhouse gas, and its mole fraction has more than doubled since the preindustrial era. Fossil fuel extraction and use are among the largest anthropogenic sources of CH4 emissions, but the precise magnitude of these contributions is a subject of debate. Carbon-14 in CH4 (14CH4) can be used to distinguish between fossil (14C-free) CH4 emissions and contemporaneous biogenic sources; however, poorly constrained direct 14CH4 emissions from nuclear reactors have complicated this approach since the middle of the 20th century.  
30 years of the iron hypothesis of ice ages
In 1990, an oceanographer who had never worked on climate science proposed that ice-age cooling has been amplified by increased concentrations of iron in the sea — and instigated an explosion of research.  
Unexpected atmospheric chemistry may explain an air pollution mystery
New understanding of the complex chemistry of haze could provide guidance for air-quality regulators. New research on the chemistry of haze around Beijing provides some much needed insight. This work, which points to a critical role for the pollutant black carbon, could support new regulation to further improve air quality in China and other industrializing countries  
“Breaking” news for the ocean’s carbon budget
Oceans play a critical role in Earth’s carbon cycle. Quantifying essential processes in carbon cycling and extending these to future predictions remain great scientific challenges. Nearly 30% of anthropogenic carbon is absorbed from the atmosphere into the ocean, where sempiternal, ubiquitous populations of microscopic particles transport carbon into the isolated deep sea.  
Life without ice
For millions of years, Arctic sea ice has expanded and retracted in a rhythmic dance with the summer sun. Humans evolved in this icy world, and civilization relied on it for climatic, ecological, and political stability. But the world creeps ever closer to a future without ice. Last year, new reports documented how record Arctic warmth is rapidly eroding sea ice, and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change detailed the manifold impacts from declining sea ice in a Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate. As the northern sea ice declines, the world must unite to preserve what remains of the Arctic.
Reducing Street Sprawl Could Help Combat Climate Change
Building more disconnected thoroughfares might lock cities into a dependence on greenhouse-gas emitting cars. Cities around the globe are expanding. Woodlands, farms and deserts are being paved over with roads, a transformation that is virtually irreversible—and one that can have profound consequences for global warming, depending on how sprawling the streetscapes are.  
Scientifc American
Adopt a carbon tax to protect tropical forests
A levy on fossil fuels can support and restore ecosystems that help to stem climate change. Deforestation must be stopped in tropical countries to tackle the existential threats of climate change and biodiversity loss. The vast majority of Earth’s species are in the tropics; forests there have taken in much of the carbon added to the atmosphere by human activities.  
Another reason to reduce human-made ozone: To cool a warming planet
Researchers highlight the importance of a new analysis based on Earth system modelling, showing that cleaning up ozone precursors within specific economic sectors can increase the mitigation potential of the land carbon sink by enhancing the ability of vegetation to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis.  
Science Daily
An unexpected catalyst dominates formation and radiative forcing of regional haze
Regional haze adversely affects human health and possibly counteracts global warming by greenhouse gases, but its formation and radiative forcing remain unclear. Here we present field measurements to show reduced frequency but not severity for heavy haze and little-improved moderate haze, when SO2 is significantly reduced in China. Our laboratory experiments identify black carbon (BC)-catalyzed sulfate formation involving NO2 and NH3. Radiative transfer calculations accounting for this BC chemistry indicate small net climatic cooling/warming but large surface cooling, atmospheric heating, and air stagnation. Our work reveals that this BC catalytic chemistry dominates the formation, trend, and radiative forcing of regional haze.  
Governments are slow to put in place the policies we need for adaptation to climate change
Policies aimed at adaptation will help the world build resilient highways and other infrastructure. Even if the world makes a serious effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions, some degree of climate change can’t be avoided. And it is already putting people at risk. Changing weather patterns and extreme events threaten critical infrastructure needed to keep society functioning.  
How we’ll reengineer crops for a changing climate Genetic changes to food crops can’t solve all the problems associated with climate change, but they can help. Efforts to improve the genetics of food crops are as old as agriculture. Crossbreeding plants to select for traits is nothing new, but synthetic biology techniques, including CRISPR-Cas9 and other gene-editing systems, have sped up the process and made new approaches possible. As climate change threatens the world’s food-growing systems, plant scientists, industry, and governments hope to use these powerful methods to make plants hardier and land more productive. Here are some of their targets.   CEN
Underground oil fires liberate carbon-free fuel
This month, on the frozen plains of Saskatchewan in Canada, workers began to inject steam and air into the Superb field, a layer of sand 700 meters down that holds 200 million barrels of thick, viscous oil. Their goal was not to pump out the oil, but to set it on fire—spurring underground chemical reactions that churn out hydrogen gas, along with carbon dioxide (CO2). Eventually the company conducting the $3 million field test plans to plug its wells with membranes that would allow only the clean-burning hydrogen to reach the surface. The CO2, and all of its power to warm the climate, would remain sequestered deep in the earth.  
Evaluating the Performance of Past Climate Model Projections
Abstract Retrospectively comparing future model projections to observations provides a robust and independent test of model skill. Here we analyze the performance of climate models published between 1970 and 2007 in projecting future global mean surface temperature (GMST) changes. Models are compared to observations based on both the change in GMST over time and the change in GMST over the change in external forcing. The latter approach accounts for mismatches in model forcings, a potential source of error in model projections independent of the accuracy of model physics.  
Geophysical Research Letters

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