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December 2020

2020 Is a Record Year for Disaster Shelters, Red Cross Says The combination of hurricanes, wildfires, and the pandemic meant the organization provided four times as much assistance as in an average year. The American Red Cross has provided record levels of disaster shelter this year as unprecedented hurricane and wildfire seasons forced massive evacuations and the COVID-19 pandemic made evacuees financially needy and reluctant to stay with relatives and friends.
Scientific American
A PM2.5 concentration prediction model based on multi-task deep learning for intensive air quality monitoring stations With the deployment and real-time monitoring of a large number of micro air quality monitoring stations, new application scenarios have been provided for the research of air quality prediction methods based on artificial intelligence.
Journal of Cleaner Production
The economic costs of planting, preserving, and managing the world’s forests to mitigate climate change Forests are critical for stabilizing our climate, but costs of mitigation over space, time, and stakeholder group remain uncertain. Using the Global Timber Model, we project mitigation potential and costs for four abatement activities across 16 regions for carbon price scenarios of $5–$100/tCO2. We project 0.6–6.0 GtCO2 yr−1 in global mitigation by 2055 at costs of 2–393 billion USD yr−1, with avoided tropical deforestation comprising 30–54% of total mitigation. Higher prices incentivize larger mitigation proportions via rotation and forest management activities in temperate and boreal biomes.  
NATURE
Five priorities for a sustainable ocean economy Unleash the ocean’s potential to boost economies sustainably while addressing climate change, food security and biodiversity. Ocean ecosystems are under threat. They also hold solutions. Climate change is increasing sea levels and making the ocean warmer, more acidic and depleted in oxygen. The ocean has absorbed around 90% of the excess heat trapped by greenhouse-gas emissions and one-third of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activities since the 1980s.  
NATURE
An improved deep learning model for predicting daily PM2.5 concentration Over the past few decades, air pollution has caused serious damage to public health. Therefore, making accurate predictions of PM2.5 is a crucial task.  
NATURE
Hydrogen-powered heavy duty vehicles could contribute significantly to achieving climate goals Researcher have examined the hypothetical transition to a hydrogen-powered transport sector through several scenarios. Their conclusion: A shift towards hydrogen-powered mobility could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and greatly improve air quality – in particular, heavy duty vehicles represent a low-hanging fruit for decarbonization of German road transport.  
Science Daily
Separating direct and indirect effects of rising temperatures on biogenic volatile emissions in the Arctic Plants release to the atmosphere reactive gases, so-called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The release of VOCs from vegetation is temperature-dependent and controlled by vegetation composition because different plant species release a distinct blend of VOCs. We used modelling approaches on ecosystem VOC release data collected across the Arctic, which is experiencing both rapid warming and vegetation changes. We show that warming strongly stimulates release of plant-derived VOCs and that vegetation changes also increase VOC release, albeit less than temperature directly, and with large geographic differences in the Pan-Arctic area.  
PNAS
Ice sheets mobilize trace elements Meltwater from the frozen giants is enriched in iron and other metals. Earth’s two remaining ice sheets, also called continental glaciers, are more active geochemists than we previously knew, according to a new study. Researchers led by Jon Hawkings, a biogeochemist at Florida State University and the German Research Center for Geosciences, measured the abundance of 17 trace elements in samples of meltwater from the Greenland Ice Sheet and a lake beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet.  
CEN
Iceberg melting substantially modifies oceanic heat flux towards a major Greenlandic tidewater glacier The dynamics of Greenland’s glacial fjords control the transport of oceanic heat to Greenland’s tidewater glaciers, with potentially important implications for ice-sheet stability and global sea level. For example, the rapid retreat of many of Greenland’s tidewater glaciers during the early 2000s has been attributed to increased oceanic forcing due to both ocean warming and invigorated fjord circulation resulting from enhanced ice-sheet runoff. The resultant increase in glacier submarine melt rates may have led to greater undercutting of glacier calving fronts and an increase in glacier calving rates.  
NATURE
There’s No Better Time to Clear the Air It’s discomforting to realize that air pollution can be coming from inside your home. Here’s how to identify and rid yourself of the risks.  
The New York Times
Exploring the trade-offs between electric heating policy and carbon mitigation in China China has enacted a series of policies since 2015 to substitute electricity for in-home combustion for rural residential heating. The Electric Heating Policy (EHP) has contributed to significant improvements in air quality, benefiting hundreds of millions of people.  
NATURE
Deep Frozen Arctic Microbes Are Waking Up In August 2019, Iceland held a funeral for the Okjökull Glacier, the first Icelandic glacier lost to climate change. The community commemorated the event with a plaque in recognition of this irreversible change and the grave impacts it represents. Globally, glacier melt rates have nearly doubled in the last five years, with an average loss of 832 mmw.e. (millimeters water equivalent) in 2015, increasing to 1,243 mmw.e. in 2020 (WGMS). This high rate of loss decreases glacial stores of freshwater and changes the structure of the surrounding ecosystem.  
Scientific American
Potential for sustainable irrigation expansion in a 3 °C warmer climate Climate change is expected to reshape the distribution of irrigated lands. Using climatic projections from three global climate models, we investigate global patterns of irrigation water demand and availability in 1.5 °C and 3 °C warmer climates. We find that in up to 35% of currently rain-fed croplands, irrigation could be expanded as an adaptation strategy to climate change without negative environmental externalities on freshwater resources. Irrigation expansion could reduce vulnerability to water stress and improve crop productivity to feed up to 300 million additional people using small-scale water storage and up to 1.4 billion additional people using large-scale water storage.
PNAS
The quest for improved air quality may push China to continue its CO2 reduction beyond the Paris Commitment Pathways for China to achieve its dual targets of air quality and CO2 mitigation in 2035 were investigated through a newly developed evaluation framework coupling integrated assessment and air quality models.  
PNAS
Severe Wildfires Raise the Chance for Future Monstrous Blazes The complete torching of trees allows dense, low vegetation to sprout, creating a new hotbed for more extreme fire. To lessen the risk of catastrophic wildfires, California’s forests need more routine burns. This message has been echoed for years. Relentlessly putting out even small wildfires in the Golden State and other parts of the western U.S. has long deprived the regions of beneficial flames, resulting in the buildup of dense vegetation and dry leaf litter. The accumulation of this fuel, experts say, is creating a dramatic rise in megafires.  
Scientific American
Alternative materials could shrink concrete’s giant carbon footprint Making cement releases 8% of the world’s anthropogenic CO₂. New formulations could slash that number. On the list of materials people use most, concrete may be a runner-up, but it isn’t small potatoes. Second only to water in terms of how much is used across the globe, the ubiquitous construction material is produced in staggering quantities. According to industry analysts, some 30 billion metric tons of concrete is used globally each year to build bridges, roads, highways, high-rise buildings, sewage systems, and more.  
CEN
Seas are rising faster than ever Ask climate scientists how fast the world’s oceans are creeping upward, and many will say 3.2 millimeters per year—a figure enshrined in the last Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, from 2014. But the number, based on satellite measurements taken since the early 1990s, is a long-term average. In fact, the global rate varied so much over that period that it was hard to say whether it was holding steady or accelerating.  
SCIENCE
The Future of the Carbon Cycle in a Changing Climate Over the past 50 years, a growing wealth of long-term atmosphere, ocean, and ecosystem observations has provided essential insights into how climate change affects the ways that carbon moves through Earth’s environment, yet many fundamental questions remain unanswered. Perhaps the most challenging and societally relevant question is whether the rate at which the land and ocean can sequester carbon will continue to keep pace with rising carbon dioxide emissions.  
EOS
Climate connections The climate crisis highlights just how connected the world is. But understanding the changes cascading throughout the natural world calls for even greater connectivity: between countries, scientists and scientific disciplines.  
NATURE
NASA model reveals how much COVID-related pollution levels deviated from the norm Using computer models to generate a COVID-free 2020 for comparison, NASA researchers found that since February, pandemic restrictions have reduced global nitrogen dioxide concentrations by nearly 20 percent.  
Science Daily
Impacts of irrigated agriculture on food–energy–water–CO2 nexus across metacoupled systems Irrigated agriculture has important implications for achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. However, there is a lack of systematic and quantitative analyses of its impacts on food–energy–water–CO2 nexus. Here we studied impacts of irrigated agriculture on food–energy–water–CO2 nexus across food sending systems (the North China Plain (NCP)), food receiving systems (the rest of China) and spillover systems (Hubei Province, affected by interactions between sending and receiving systems), using life cycle assessment, model scenarios, and the framework of metacoupling (socioeconomic-environmental interactions within and across borders).  
NATURE
As the Oceans Warm, Hurricanes Stay Stronger Longer Storms may not weaken as quickly once they make landfall, allowing them to do more damage. Hurricane season is drawing to a close, but not before setting a record. Tropical Storm Theta became the 29th named Atlantic storm this week, making 2020 the busiest season on record.  
Scientific American
Adapting to the challenges of warming Heat extremes on Earth have reached a disturbing new level in recent years. The July 2020 temperatures soared across Siberia and reached a record-breaking 38°C inside the Arctic Circle, continuing a line of record heat events globally. “Event attribution” calculations, which are an endeavor to apportion blame for extreme events through quantitative modeling, suggest that some events would have been nearly impossible without human-induced global warming. This includes the recent Siberian summer and the 2018 heat wave in Japan, which killed more than a thousand people. Rising heat is creating new challenges for humanity that will require new adaptation and protection measures.  
SCIENCE


MARIO MOLINA CENTER FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES ON ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT
CDMX