Climate change updates 3 September 2012
- Global worming
- Green Economy
4- Regulations & Standards: Light-Duty
5- Research Links Extreme Summer Heat Events to Global Warming
6-Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation
8-Climate news Updates
9- Earth & Climate News
10- Climate News
11- DWR Climate News Digest
12- Real Climate
The informal additional sessions of the AWG-LCA, AWG-KP and ADP will be held at the United Nations Conference Centre (UNCC) of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), in Bangkok, Thailand from Thursday, 30 August to Wednesday, 5 September.
Overview schedule (125 kB) (updated 17 August 2012)
- Schedule of Meetings
- Daily Schedule
- ADP 1 – informal
- AWG-KP 17 – informal
- AWG-LCA 15 – informal
Global worming :
by Marlo Lewis on August 31, 2012
Climate alarmists have long warned that warming of the Arctic could melt frozen marine and permafrost sediments, releasing methane trapped in peat bogs and ice crystals (clathrate hydrates, see photo above). Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that packs 21 times the global warming punch as CO2 over a 100-year time span and more than 100 times the CO2-warming effect over a 20-year period.
So the fear is that methane emissions from the thawing Arctic will accelerate global warming, which in turn will melt more clathrates and methane-bearing sediments, which will produce still more warming, in a vicious circle of climate destabilization. In a previous post, I offered a skeptical perspective on this doomsday scenario.
This week the journal Nature published a study raising similar concerns about the potential for significant releases of methane from the Antarctic ice sheets. The study’s 14 authors, led by Jemma Wadham of the University of Bristol in the UK, estimate that about 21,000 petagrams (gigatons) of organic carbon (OC) are buried in sedimentary basins under the East and West Antarctic ice sheets – more than 10 times the estimated magnitude of OC stocks in northern permafrost regions. Microbial production of methane from OC (a process known as methanogenesis) is common across many cold subsurface environments, and may have been at work for millions of years beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheets. [click to continue…]
by Hans Bader on August 31, 2012
If you restrict the supply of something, the price will go up. It’s one of the laws of supply and demand. Thus, cap-and-trade energy rationing schemes drive the price of energy up, by capping the supply. President Obama has conceded that in his unguarded moments. In a January 17, 2008 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Obama said that “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket” under his cap-and-trade plan to fight global warming. He also said that under his plan, “if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them.”
But journalists are not economists, and often have difficulty understanding the most basic principles of economics. (Some cannot even do basic math). What is clear to any economist or any college graduate who has taken Econ 101 seems disputed or unclear to many journalists, who are more familiar with trendy fads in college English Departments, and left-wing critical race theory, than they are with basic economic truths.
So it is that PolitiFact Virginia erroneously rated as “mostly false” the claim that cap-and-trade would naturally lead to “higher” energy bills for Virginia households. It admitted that “analyses of two measures that have been before in Congress in recent years concluded that cap-and-trade carries a cost for most consumers,” but then claimed that such costs could somehow be offset, even while capping energy use, and result in “an average lower cost for consumers.” While their effects on the environment may be disputed, it is clear that they raise energy costs for consumers by reducing the supply of energy. (As a CBS analyst once noted, a Treasury Department analysis pegged the cost of the Obama Administration’s cap-and-trade plan at $1761 per year per American household).
Whatever their theoretical merits, cap-and-trade schemes tend to become vehicles for vast amounts of corporate welfare and special-interest pork by the politicians who craft them, like the Congressional cap-and-trade energy bill backed by the Obama Administration. That Obama-backed bill contained so many special-interest giveaways that it would have fleeced American consumers without helping the environment, as I explained earlier (it contained environmentally-harmful ethanol subsidies and could have driven industry overseas to countries with less environmental protections).
by Marlo Lewis on August 29, 2012
At a luncheon hosted by Politico at the GOP convention in Tampa today, T. Boone Pickens said truck fleets will switch from diesel to natural gas without Congress approving the NAT GAS Act, legislation offering generous tax credits for the purchase of natural gas trucks (up to $64,000 per vehicle) and installation of natural gas fueling infrastructure. Pickens reportedly spent about $100 million over the past five years promoting his energy agenda, commonly known as the Pickens Plan.
Congress declined to pass either the NAT GAS Act or an earlier iteration of the Pickens Plan that would have required 20% of the nation’s electricity to come from wind, thus supposedly freeing up natural gas to be used to fuel both trucks and passenger cars.
Critics argued that if switching to natural gas vehicles makes commercial sense, private enterprise will bring about the transformation without Washington trying to pick energy market winners and losers. Pickens is now talking the talk. Politico‘s Darren Goode reports:
“You don’t have to have a tax credit; it’s going to happen,” he [Pickens] said. The choices to run 18-wheelers, he said, are between natural gas and diesel — and natural gas is “$2 a gallon cheaper.”
And Pickens strongly suggested that he doesn’t have any plans to try to push his plan anymore in the nation’s Capital.
“I will not go back to Washington again unless it’s for a social event,” he said.
The billionaire and former oil baron also lamented that while his plan initially promoted wind energy, that hasn’t worked out so well.
“I’ve lost my ass” to wind-energy investments, he conceded.
by Brian McGraw on August 23, 2012
While I’ll be the first to admit I would prefer Mitt Romney’s energy policies to those of President Obama, especially his appreciation for increased energy production on public lands and the OCS, I found his newly released energy policy white paper slightly humorous in parts.
On the top of page 19:
- Focus government investment on research across the full spectrum of energy-related technologies, not on picking winners in the market;
- Support increased market penetration and competition among energy sources by maintaining the RFS and eliminating regulatory barriers to a diversification of the electrical grid, fuel system, or vehicle fleet;
On the bottom of page 19:
Instead of distorting the playing field, the government should be ensuring that it remains level. The same policies that will open access to land for oil, gas, and coal development can also open access for the construction of wind, solar, and hydropower facilities. Strengthening and streamlining regulations and permitting processes will benefit the development of both traditional and alternative energy sources, and encourage the use of a diverse range of fuels including natural gas in transportation. Instead of defining success as providing enough subsidies for an uncompetitive technology to survive in the market, success should be defined as eliminating any barriers that might prevent the best technologies from succeeding on their own.
I’m not sure what the Renewable Fuel Standard is other than a subsidy for an uncompetitive technology allowing it to survive in the market.
I guess you can’t win them all.
by Marlo Lewis on August 23, 2012
The hilarious South Park episode “Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow” opens with Eric Cartman and Stan Marsh playing in a motor boat that Cartman falsely claims belongs to his uncle. Cartman persuades Stan to drive the boat. Not knowing how, Stan crashes the boat into the world’s largest beaver dam, flooding the town of Beaverton.
Rather than get help, Cartman and Stan decide to tell no one and pretend they were playing at Eric’s house all afternoon. The flood leads to wild speculation not only in South Park but also in the national media and the scientific community. Stan’s father Randy is a geologist. He and his colleagues determine that global warming caused the Beaverton flood. Worse, they calculate that global warming will strike worldwide “two days before the day after tomorrow.” Randy exclaims: “Oh my God — that’s today!” There is panic in the streets.
Echoing the sermon at the end of the 2004 Sci-Fi disaster film, The Day After Tomorrow, Randy laments: “Stan, I’m afraid us adults just let you children down. We didn’t take care of our earth, and now you’ve inherited our problems. We didn’t listen!” To watch Randy’s mea culpa on YouTube, click here.
We’ve been hearing a lot from Randy’s real-world counterparts of late, which is why in recent posts, I presented evidence that climate change was not the principal factor behind the 2003 European heat wave, the 2010 Russian heat wave, the 2011 Texas drought, or the ongong Midwest drought.
What about floods? Google “global warming” and “floods,” and you’ll get 7.2 million results. Given all that ‘evidence,’ you may surprised that a new scientific study finds no correlation between rising global mean carbon dioxide concentrations (GMCO2) and flooding in the U.S.
by Marlo Lewis on August 22, 2012
Earlier this month, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee issued a staff report on the Obama Administration’s fuel economy/greenhouse gas (GHG) regulatory program. The report, A Dismissal of Safety, Choice, and Cost, is the product of a “multi-year Committee investigation” that includes three hearings, a transcribed interview of EPA Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy, and a review of more than 15,000 documents obtained by the Committee from the EPA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and 15 automobile manufacturers.
Some key findings:
- The Administration performed an end-run around the law and ran a White House-based political negotiation, led by “czars” who marginalized NHTSA, the federal agency charged in statute with setting fuel economy standards.
- Contrary to the statutory scheme Congress created, the EPA became the lead agency in fuel economy regulation and NHTSA was sidelined. Contrary to Congress’s preemption of State laws or regulations “related to” fuel economy, CARB became a “major player” and an “aggressive participant in the process,” allowing unelected state regulators in Sacramento to set national policy outside the federal rulemaking process.
- The Administration violated the spirit – and possibly the letter – of the Administrative Procedure Act, Presidential Records Act, and Federal Advisory Committee Act by negotiating agreements on both the Model Year (MY) 2012-2016 and MY 2017-2025 standards behind closed doors with only a select group of stakeholders.
- The new fuel-economy/GHG standards will add thousands of dollars to the cost of new vehicles. Consumers are likely to incur net financial losses unless annual gasoline prices reach $5-$6 per gallon.
- Compliance with the new standards will require mass reductions that will, in turn, compromise vehicle safety. EPA and CARB officials mocked and belittled safety concerns raised by NHTSA.
In a law journal article and regulatory comment letter, I also make the case that the administration’s fuel-economy agenda trashes the separation of powers and administrative procedures. But the Committee’s report provides the first, detailed behind-the-scenes chronology of Team Obama’s fuel economy machinations, confirming what other critics suspected but could not document.
Some secrets of the sausage factory, though, may never come to light: “Despite multiple requests, the Executive Office of the President refused to provide any information on its involvement in developing the fuel economy and GHG emissions standards.”
by Brian McGraw on August 22, 2012
Yesterday The Hill‘s Energy Blog reported on a brief filed by the EPA in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia:
The documents filed Monday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reveal the reasoning behind EPA’s move to shoot down the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) challenge of the renewable fuel standard (RFS). EPA determined that enough advanced biofuels — generally understood to be made from non-food products — existed to meet that portion of the RFS for 2012.
“EPA reasonably considered the production capacity likely to be developed throughout the year, while API would have EPA rely narrowly and solely on proven past cellulosic biofuel production,” EPA said in its brief. “EPA reasoned that lowering the advanced biofuel volume in these circumstances would be inconsistent with EISA’s [the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007] energy security and greenhouse gas reduction goals, and decided to leave the statutory advanced biofuel volume unchanged.”
The (main) question here is what the 2012 cellulosic biofuel requirements should be set at. The EPA is arguing that they took a reasonable look at capacity production and put out what they thought could be developed, while the American Petroleum Institute is only looking at historic cellulosic biofuel production. So who is being reasonable? [click to continue…]
by Brian McGraw on August 21, 2012
Graph courtesy of Roger Pielke Jr.
The EPA announced yesterday that it would open a 30 day commenting period as it weighs requests from multiple state governors to use provisions in the Clean Air Act to temporarily suspend the corn ethanol mandate under the Renewable Fuel Standard:
The EPA asked on Monday for public comment on the need for an ethanol waiver. The 30-day comment period will begin once the notice is published in the Federal Register.
“This notice is in keeping with EPA’s commitment to an open and transparent process to evaluate requests the agency receives under the Clean Air Act, and does not indicate any predisposition to a specific decision,” agency spokeswoman Alisha Johnson said in a statement.
By law the agency has until November 13 to make a decision on the waivers, meaning EPA could act on the requests after national elections on November 6.
Aimed at reducing U.S. reliance on foreign oil, the Renewable Fuels Standard, or RFS, would require 13.2 billion gallons of ethanol to be made from corn this year. [click to continue…]
by Marlo Lewis on August 21, 2012
Today, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the EPA’s Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), also known as the Transport Rule. The Rule’s purpose is to implement the Clean Air Act’s ‘good neighbor policy,’ which prohibits upwind states from contributing significantly to downwind states’ non-attainment with National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).
The Court vacated the CSAPR because . . . (drum roll, please) . . . the EPA regulated beyond its statutory authority. Dog bites man.
From the decision, filed for the Court by Judge Brett Kavanaugh:
Absent a claim of constitutional authority (and there is none here), executive agencies may exercise only the authority conferred by statute, and agencies may not transgress statutory limits on that authority.
Here, EPA’s Transport Rule exceeds the agency’s statutory authority in two independent respects. First, the statutory text grants EPA authority to require upwind States to reduce only their own significant contributions to a downwind State’s nonattainment. But under the Transport Rule, upwind States may be required to reduce emissions by more than their own significant contributions to a downwind State’s nonattainment. EPA has used the good neighbor provision to impose massive emissions reduction requirements on upwind States without regard to the limits imposed by the statutory text. Whatever its merits as a policy matter, EPA’s Transport Rule violates the statute. Second, the Clean Air Act affords States the initial opportunity to implement reductions required by EPA under the good neighbor provision. But here, when EPA quantified States’ good neighbor obligations, it did not allow the States the initial opportunity to implement the required reductions with respect to sources within their borders. Instead, EPA quantified States’ good neighbor obligations and simultaneously set forth EPA-designed Federal Implementation Plans, or FIPs, to implement those obligations at the State level. By doing so, EPA departed from its consistent prior approach to implementing the good neighbor provision and violated the Act.
For each of those two independent reasons, EPA’s Transport Rule violates federal law. Therefore, the Rule must be vacated.
by Marlo Lewis on August 20, 2012
In a recent study published in Procedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), NASA scientist James Hansen and two colleagues find that whereas “extremely hot” summer weather ”practically did not exist” during 1951-1980, such weather affected between 4% and 13% of the Northern Hemisphere land area during 2006-2011. The researchers infer that human-caused global warming is “loading” the “climate dice” towards extreme heat anomalies. They conclude with a “high degree of confidence” that the 2003 European heat wave, the 2010 Russian heat wave, and the 2011 Texas-Oklahoma drought were a “consequence of global warming” and have (as Hansen put it in a recent op-ed) ”virtually no explanation other than climate change.”
In a recent post, I reviewed studies finding that the aforementioned anomalies were chiefly due to natural variability. In another post, I summarized an analysis by Patrick Michaels and Chip Knappenberger, who conclude that “the 2012 drought conditions, and every other [U.S.] drought that has come before, is the result of natural processes, not human greenhouse gas emissions.”
But what about the very hot weather afflicting much of the U.S. this summer? Greenhouse gas concentrations keep rising, heat spells are bound to become more frequent and severe as the world warms, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that July 2012 was the hottest July ever in the U.S. instrumental record. Isn’t this summer what greenhouse warming “looks like“? What else could it be?
University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) climatologist John Christy addressed these questions last week in a two-part column. In Part 1, Christy argues that U.S. daily mean temperature (TMean) data, on which NOAA based its report, ”do not represent the deep atmosphere where the enhanced greenhouse effect should be detected, so making claims about causes is unwise.” A better measure of the greenhouse effect is daily maximum temperature (TMax), and TMax records set in the 1930s remain unbroken. In Part 2, Christy argues that Hansen’s 10% estimate of the portion of land affected by extreme heat during 2006-2011 shrinks down to 2.9% when anomalies are measured against a longer, more representative climate baseline. [click to continue…]
Indian, Colombian and Kenyan Initiatives among Winners of World Environment Day Challenge
02/ 08/ 2012
Nairobi, August 2 2012 – The United Nations Environment Programme today announced the winners of the World Environment Day (WED) Challenge 2012, naming five exciting and innovative projects that helped raise environmental awareness across the globe.
For this year’s WED – the single biggest day for positive action on the environment worldwide – people across the world were challenged to pledge an environmental activity for the chance to win a Kia Motors fuel-efficient car.
UNEP’s goodwill ambassadors – supermodel and activist Gisele Bündchen, Hollywood actor Don Cheadle and Chinese actor and activist Li Bingbing – all recorded video messages encouraging people to register their projects.
“Today we celebrate five inspiring projects, submitted for the World Environment Day 2012 challenge, that illuminate the pathway to a transition to a Green Economy,” said UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.
“The most environmentally friendly travel is by train, bus, carpooling, cycle or on foot, but in some countries making an eco-friendly project happen may need a private vehicle. If so, it should be fuel-efficient,” he added. “This is why we are awarding such vehicles to these projects, most of which are run in developing nations with underdeveloped public transport networks.”
The response to the challenge was strong, and after much deliberation UNEP is pleased to announce the following winners from a raft of inspiring activities:
Fundacion Ecoprogreso – Cartagena, Colombia
Category: Best Delivers Effective and Substantive Impact
This group to protect a mangrove lagoon surrounding the city of Cartagena, and has organize events such as a rally for students from the Colegio Manzanillo del Mar, in one of the communities that live adjacent to the lagoon. The WED activities were aimed at raising awareness of the importance of the mangrove ecosystem for the local green economy, especially for ecotourism and sustainable fishing.
Maji Mazuri Centre International – Nairobi, Kenya
Category: Best Delivers Effective and Substantive Impact
Maji Mazuri (Good Water in Swahili) runs an initiative called Green Heroes, in which motivated and dedicated youth focus on organizing and improving waste management in Nairobi’s informal Mathare settlement. They invest their efforts into sensitizing and educating the community through regular garbage clean-up events and other activities. On WED, the group organized a communal clean-up day, a discussion on the Green Economy and a football match that galvanized over 2,000 people.
Sunshine Coast Environment Council – Sunshine Coast, Australia
Category: Biggest Activity Mobilization
The Sunshine Coast World Environment Day Festival is an annual festival held to celebrate WED, with the objective of raising awareness of environmental issues and the unique flora and fauna of the Sunshine Coast region and promoting the adoption of sustainable lifestyles and technologies. The festival is organized by the Sunshine Coast Environment Council (SCEC), Sunshine Coast Council and the University of the Sunshine Coast. First organized, in 1980 the festival is one of the Sunshine Coast’s longest-running events and has grown into one of the region’s largest annual events – attracting well over 7,000 visitors each year.
Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha – Dhaka, Bangladesh
Category: Best Supports WED Theme ? Green Economy: Does It Include You?
Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha, a non-profit organization, celebrated WED through a solar-powered boat rally, a drawing competition on floating schools, and essay-writing competition on floating libraries, an exhibition on a two-tier boat and evening shows of training boats under the theme, ‘The Green Economy in a Changing Climate – Hope Floats’. The boat rally – a display of homemade boats, solar power and the WED theme – was organized on the theme of Floating Future. Over 15,000 people participated in the various exhibitions and activities.
Hand in Hand India – Chennai (Madras), India
Category: Most Creative, Unique and Fun
Hand in Hand India is a development organisation that works to alleviate poverty through enterprise creation and a unique integrated community-development approach. Key environmental interventions include solid waste management, natural resource management and environmental advocacy. For WED, Hand in Hand brought together around 570 volunteers to create a colourful Rangoli carpet based on environmental themes. Rangoli is a hand-drawn Indian art which adorns the courtyards of many houses. This traditional art form is considered auspicious and is an eye-catching regular event during festivals. The 10,000 sq.ft Rangoli depicted ten environmental themes and aimed to encourage and create environment awareness.
About World Environment Day
WED aims to be the biggest and most widely celebrated global day for positive environmental action. WED activities take place year round but climax on June 5. WED celebrations began in 1972 and have grown to become the one of the main vehicles through which the UN stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and encourages political attention and action.
Through WED, the UN Environment Programme is able to personalize environmental issues and enable everyone to realize not only their responsibility, but also their power to become agents for change in support of sustainable and equitable development.
In 2010, the dynamic WED challenge asked people to name baby gorillas in Rwanda to raise awareness, and in 2011 celebrities were asked to go head-to-head in a battle to have their supporters carry out the most activities, with the winner then planting a forest. Gisele Bündchen beat Don Cheadle, helping drive 4,229 WED activities in 144 countries – ranging from a bicycle rally in Nepal to a public litter clean-up in the Republic of Congo, and an environmental street procession by young people in Albania. Other celebrities such as Vampire Diaries star Ian Somerhalder and Bollywood regulars Priyanka Chopra and Rahul Bose have promoted the event over the last few years.
Visit the WED site here: http://www.unep.org/wed/
For more information, please contact:
Lucita Jasmin, Head of Special Events
Telephone: +254 20 7623401
Regulations & Standards: Light-Duty
NOTE: You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader, available as a free download, to view some of the files on this page. See EPA’s PDF page to learn more about PDF, and for a link to the free Acrobat Reader.
EPA and NHTSA have been working together on developing a National Program of harmonized regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve fuel economy of light-duty vehicles. The agencies issued a Final Rulemaking establishing standards for 2012-2016 model year vehicles on April 1, 2010. The agencies also issued a Final Rulemaking with standards for model years 2017-2025 on August 28, 2012.
- EPA/NHTSA Final Rulemaking to Establish 2017 and Later Model Years Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards
On August 28, 2012, EPA and NHTSA issued a joint Final Rulemaking to extend the National Program of harmonized greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards to model year 2017 through 2025 passenger vehicles.
Over the lifetime of the MY 2017-2025 standards, this program is projected to save approximately 4 billion barrels of oil and 2 billion metric tons of GHG emissions, with net benefits up to $451 billion.
- Fact Sheet: EPA and NHTSA Set Standards to Reduce Greenhouse Gases and Improve Fuel Economy for Model Years 2017-2025 Cars and Light Trucks (PDF) (10 pp, 752K, EPA-420-F-12-051, August 2012)
- Final Rule (PDF) (1230 pp, 9.04MB, signed August 28, 2012)
- Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) (PDF) (555 pp, 8.83MB, EPA-420-R-12-016, August 2012)
- Joint Technical Support Document (TSD) (PDF) (602 pp, 8.91MB, EPA-420-R-12-901, August 2012)
- EPA Response to Comments (PDF) (1247 pp, 6.62MB, EPA-420-R-12-017, August 2012)
- See Proposed Emission Standards for the proposed rule, fact sheet and regulatory support documents, including the public hearing transcripts and the notices of intent.
- See the Vehicle Technologies and Measuring GHGs pages for additional documents supporting the agencies’ technical assessment for this final rulemaking.
- On June 26, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals-D.C. Circuit upheld EPA’s Endangerment Finding and greenhouse gas regulations issued under the Clean Air Act for passenger vehicles and permitting for stationary sources.
- Final Rulemaking: Model Year 2012-2016 Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards and Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards (published May 7, 2010)
The final combined EPA and NHTSA standards that make up the first phase of this National Program apply to passenger cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles, covering model years 2012 through 2016.
- Fact Sheet: EPA and NHTSA Finalize First-Ever National Program to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Improve Fuel Economy For Cars and Trucks (PDF) (9 pp, 189K, EPA-420-F-10-014, April 2010)
- Final Rule (PDF) (406 pp, 5.61MB, published May 7, 2010)
- Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) (PDF) (474 pp, 5.8MB, EPA-420-R-10-009, April 2010)
- Joint Technical Support Document (TSD) (PDF) (215 pp, 2.9M, EPA-420-R-10-901, April 2010)
- EPA Response to Comments (PDF) (841 pp, 3.3MB, EPA-420-R-10-012a, April 2010) NOTE: Chapter 3 of this document was updated on April 15, 2010.
- See the Vehicle Technologies and Measuring GHGs pages for additional documents supporting the agencies’ technical assessment for this final rulemaking.
- See Proposed Emission Standards for the proposed rule, fact sheet and regulatory support documents, including the public hearing transcripts and the notice of intent issued May 2009.
- See the Presidential Announcement and commitment letters received in 2009 from California and automakers, expressing support for this effort.
Research Links Extreme Summer Heat Events to Global Warming
A new statistical analysis by NASA scientists has found that Earth’s land areas have become much more likely to experience an extreme summer heat wave than they were in the middle of the 20th century. The research was published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
|Earth’s Northern Hemisphere over the past 30 years has seen more “hot” (orange), “very hot” (red) and “extremely hot” (brown) summers, compared to a base period defined in this study from 1951 to 1980. This visualization shows how the area experiencing “extremely hot” summers grows from nearly nonexistent during the base period to cover 12 percent of land in the Northern Hemisphere by 2011. Watch for the 2010 heat waves in the Middle East, Western Asia and Eastern Europe, and the 2011 heat waves in Texas, Oklahoma and Mexico. Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio
› Download hi-res visualization
The statistics show that the recent bouts of extremely warm summers, including the intense heat wave afflicting the U.S. Midwest this year, very likely are the consequence of global warming, according to lead author James Hansen of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.
“This summer people are seeing extreme heat and agricultural impacts,” Hansen says. “We’re asserting that this is causally connected to global warming, and in this paper we present the scientific evidence for that.”
Hansen and colleagues analyzed mean summer temperatures since 1951 and showed that the odds have increased in recent decades for what they define as “hot,” “very hot” and “extremely hot” summers.
The researchers detailed how “extremely hot” summers are becoming far more routine. “Extremely hot” is defined as a mean summer temperature experienced by less than one percent of Earth’s land area between 1951 and 1980, the base period for this study. But since 2006, about 10 percent of land area across the Northern Hemisphere has experienced these temperatures each
|James Hansen and colleagues use the bell curve to show the growing frequency of extreme summer temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere, compared to the 1951 to 1980 base period. The mean temperature for the base period is centered at the top of the green curve, while hotter than normal temperatures (red) are plotted to theright and colder than normal (blue) to the left. By 1981, the curve begins to shift noticeably to the right, showing how hotter summers are the new normal. The curve also widens, due to more frequent hot events. Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio
› Download hi-res visualization
In 1988, Hansen first asserted that global warming would reach a point in the coming decades when the connection to extreme events would become more apparent. While some warming should coincide with a noticeable boost in extreme events, the natural variability in climate and weather can be so large as to disguise the trend.
To distinguish the trend from natural variability, Hansen and colleagues turned to statistics. In this study, the GISS team including Makiko Sato and Reto Ruedy did not focus on the causes of temperature change. Instead the researchers analyzed surface temperature data to establish the growing frequency of extreme heat events in the past 30 years, a period in which the temperature data show an overall warming trend.
NASA climatologists have long collected data on global temperature anomalies, which describe how much warming or cooling regions of the world have experienced when compared with the 1951 to 1980 base period. In this study, the researchers employ a bell curve to illustrate how those anomalies are changing.
A bell curve is a tool frequently used by statisticians and society. School teachers who grade “on the curve” use a bell curve to designate the mean score as a C, the top of the bell. The curve falls off equally to both sides, showing that fewer students receive B and D grades and even fewer receive A and F grades.
Hansen and colleagues found that a bell curve was a good fit to summertime temperature anomalies for the base period of relatively stable climate from 1951 to 1980. Mean temperature is centered at the top of the bell curve. Decreasing in frequency to the left of center are “cold,” “very cold” and “extremely cold” events. Decreasing in frequency to the right of center are “hot,” “very hot” and “extremely hot” events.
Plotting bell curves for the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, the team noticed the entire curve shifted to the right, meaning that more hot events are the new normal. The curve also flattened and widened, indicating a wider range of variability. Specifically, an average of 75 percent of land area across Earth experienced summers in the “hot” category during the past decade, compared to only 33 percent during the 1951 to 1980 base period. Widening of the curve also led to the designation of the new category of outlier events labeled “extremely hot,” which were almost nonexistent in the base period.
Hansen says this summer is shaping up to fall into the new extreme category. “Such anomalies were infrequent in the climate prior to the warming of the past 30 years, so statistics let us say with a high degree of confidence that we would not have had such an extreme anomaly this summer in the absence of global warming,” he says.
Other regions around the world also have felt the heat of global warming, according to the study. Global maps of temperature anomalies show that heat waves in Texas, Oklahoma and Mexico in 2011, and in the Middle East, Western Asia and Eastern Europe in 2010 fall into the new “extremely hot” category.
NASA’s Earth Science News Team
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (SRREN)
- SRREN Website
- Summary for Policymakers/Technical Summary: Arabic – Chinese – English – French – Russian – Spanish
- Full Report – printed volume now available from
Cambridge University Press
- Youba Sokona on Climate Change TV, SBSTA 34, Bonn
- Overview of IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy
- Ottmar Edenhofer, IPCC WG III Co-Chair
- Youba Sokona, IPCC WG III Co-Chair
- Rajendra Pachauri, IPCC Chair: importance of the SRREN
- Helena Chum: Bioenergy
- Catherine Mitchell: Policy, Financing and Implementation