Climate Letter #449

The outlook for major changes in the phytoplankton community.  In a new report, researchers see major changes coming at a rapid pace, mostly due to acidification plus warmer temperatures.  Some species may be wiped out while others prosper, no doubt forcing many disruptions all the way up and down the food chain.  “I’ve always been a total believer in , and I try not to be an alarmist, because it’s not good for anyone,” says Dutkiewicz, who is the paper’s lead author. “But I was actually quite shocked by the results.”

An update on energy policy developments in India, and the repercussions.  Things are moving in the right direction for this critical piece of the planet, and Australia’s coal industry is not happy about it.

Much of the reaction to Hansen’s new paper is not helpful.  This post summarizes the criticism coming from the science community.  Going back to the 1980s, Hansen has always been quick to point out, to anyone who would listen, any serious and time-sensitive risk that emerged from his research, even if that meant it was not first backed up by the usual peer review process.  Most scientists are unwilling to work that way, especially if the exact level of risk is impossible to quantify.  In this case, Hansen clearly sees risk that is very high by his standards, enough to be unacceptable, and that is enough to sound an alarm.  The risk  is enlarged by the shortage of time available to enact effective solutions.  If all this uproar just stimulates a quickening of scientific attention and the pace of new observations he is performing a valuable service.  But is that good enough?

More detail from the recent study of human displacements.  Following up on yesterday’s story, this post contains two charts that reveal many of the numbers in more detail.  The total from extreme weather alone come to more than 157 million over seven years, which is over 2% of the world population.

On the formation of heatwaves.  For those who might be interested, especially with respect to how these things can develop in Europe, a new study provides a detailed understanding of the processes that go into the making of nasty heatwaves.

Do solar shingles have a future role for harvesting energy?  Apparently there is marketing activity underway in California, which is worth keeping an eye on.  There are clearly some practical advantages to be promoted for products that perform acceptably well.