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Western scientists propose new ways to tackle climate change

LOS ANGELESUnited States (Xinhua) -- Scientists have proposed a new way to tackle climate change by spraying sun-dimming chemicals into the Earth’s atmosphere, according to a study published Friday.

Scientists at Harvard and Yale universities have proposed using a technique known as Stratospheric Aerosol Injection (SAI), which they believe could cut the rate of global warming by half, according to a paper published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

The technique would involve spraying large amounts of sulfate particles into the Earth’s lower stratosphere at altitudes as high as 12 miles (19.3 km).

However, no existing aircraft design—even with extensive modifications—can reasonably fulfill this mission, said the paper.

The scientists propose developing a new purpose-built high-altitude tanker with substantial payload capabilities to deliver the sulfates.

The estimated cost of deploying material is about 2.25 billion U.S. dollars a year over 15 years, according to the paper.

Scientists calculate the number of flights at 4,000 for the first year, linearly increasing by 4,000 a year.

The report also acknowledges that the technique is purely hypothetical.

"We make no judgment about the desirability of SAI.

"We simply show that a hypothetical deployment program commencing 15 years hence, while both highly uncertain and ambitious, would indeed be technically possible from an engineering perspective.

"It would also be remarkably inexpensive," the paper said.


Arctic sea ice grows faster in winter, but not enough to reverse melting trend

WASHINGTON United States (Xinhua) -- Findings of a study by the United States space agency NASA might be a silver lining: wintertime increases of Arctic sea ice may have partially slowed down the sea ice cover decline.

The study released on Thursday has shown that the Arctic sea ice is thickening at a faster rate during winter although it is vanishing quicker than it has ever been observed since 1958.

However, this is not an antidote.

The ice cover is not recovering. Only its demise delayed, according to the study.

The Arctic sea ice cover has lost on average around two-thirds of its thickness since 1958 and now 70 percent of the sea ice cap is made of seasonal ice, or ice that forms and melts within a single year, according to NASA.

"This increase in the amount of sea ice growing in winter doesn’ t overcome the large increase in melting we’ve observed in recent decades," said Alek Petty, a sea ice scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and lead author of the study.

"Our findings highlight some resilience of the Arctic sea ice cover," Petty said.

"If we didn’t have this negative feedback, the ice would be declining even faster than it currently is."

The strong ice thickening in winter is not all good news, the researchers said.

As ice forms at the ocean surface, it releases a lot of salty, dense water, increasing the mixing of water in the upper ocean. It will mitigate the strong freshening of the Arctic Ocean’s surface waters and alter the seasonal balance and the salinity distribution of the upper ocean.

"Local micro-organisms and ecosystems have to adapt to these rapidly evolving conditions," said Petty.

The researchers predicted that by the middle of this century, the further increases in atmospheric and oceanic temperatures will outweigh the mechanism that allows ice to regrow faster.

When the sea ice is less than 49 centimeters thick at the beginning of winter, the switch will happen, according to Petty.


Greenhouse gas hits new record high, will bring more extreme weather: WMO

GENEVA (Xinhua) -- Heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached another new record high, which, with no sign of a reversal trend, is likely to drive long-term climate change, sea level rise and more extreme weather, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warned on Thursday.

According to its latest report released on Thursday, the WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, the global averaged concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) reached 405.5 parts per million (ppm) in 2017, up from 403.3 ppm in 2016 and 400.1 ppm in 2015.

Concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide also rose, while there was a resurgence of a potent greenhouse gas and ozone depleting substance called CFC-11, which is regulated under an international agreement to protect the ozone layer.

Since 1990, there has been a 41 percent increase in total radiative forcing, which has the warming effect on the climate, by long-lived greenhouse gases, and CO2 accounts for about 82 percent of the increase in radiative forcing, the report says.

"The last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was 3 to 5 million years ago, when the temperature was two to three degrees Celsius warmer and sea level was 10 to 20 meters higher than now," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

"The science is clear. Without rapid cuts in CO2 and other greenhouse gases, climate change will have increasingly destructive and irreversible impacts on life on Earth.

The window of opportunity for action is almost closed," he warned.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), net emissions of CO2 must reach zero around 2050 in order to keep temperature increases to below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

That means the amount of CO2 entering the atmosphere must equal the amount that is removed by sinks, natural and technological.

The 1.5-degree target shows that "deep and rapid reductions of emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will be needed in all sectors of society and the economy," said IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee.

Due to the emergency needed, the WMO has initiated the development of observational based tools that can guide the emissions reduction actions and confirm their results, for instance in the oil and gas sector.

A new Integrated Global Greenhouse Gas Information System (IG3IS) will provide the framework for the development and standardization of the observational based tools, the WMO said.

Such a system, implemented by countries on a voluntary basis, will feed into the national emission reporting mechanism to the UN Framework on Climate Change and the annual Conference of the Parties.

South African research ship departs for Antarctica to study climate change

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- A South African research ship, the SA Agulhas II, departed Cape Town for the Antarctica on Thursday, undertaking a historic anti-climate change expedition.

The mission entails a program of marine and glaciological research in the Antarctica through the use of highly sophisticated state of the art technology, and with the SA Agulhas II as a base.

The expedition team will collect long-term data such as sea surface temperature, oxygen and carbon measurements, which is instrumental to further enhance understanding of present day global climate change, for fundamental research in a number of areas, said Minister of Environmental Affairs Nomvula Mokonyane who bid farewell to the team.

"For example, South African and international weather forecasts rely heavily on the availability of data inputs from this region and having this continuous data set will enable better prediction of severe weather phenomena in the context of global climate change," Mokonyane said.

During this voyage, the SA Agulhas II will also play a starring role in the historic, international multi-disciplinary Weddell Sea Expedition, the most important non-governmental scientific expedition for two decades.

The expedition, which will take place in January and February 2019, comprises world-leading glaciologists, marine biologists, oceanographers and marine archaeologists who will venture into remote regions of the Weddell Sea and uncover vital new scientific data to improve understanding of the area, using that knowledge to contribute towards the protection of the region.

Research will be focused on the Larsen C Ice Shelf to provide valuable new insights into the local ecosystem, documenting the rich and little-studied marine environment, surveying the seafloor and under the ice and documenting the little-studied biological systems that lie beneath the ice shelf.

"In addition, the expedition will undertake research to help us better understand the oceanography and sea ice conditions of the Weddell Sea and the implications for climate change and global ocean currents," Mokonyane said.

South African scientists and research entities, working alongside their international peers, will play a key role in the Weddell Sea Expedition, she said.

"We hope the Weddell Sea Expedition will inspire more of our young scientists about Antarctica, its importance to our young democracy and South Africa’s presence there," the minister said.

South Africa is one of the original 12 signatories of the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 which regulates international relations with respect to Antarctica, the Earth’s only continent without a native human population.

The first South African National Antarctic Expedition was undertaken in 1959.

The expedition established a permanent presence for South Africa in Antarctica that still exists to date.


Global warming is a long-term rise in the average temperature of the Earth’s climate system

Mainstream controversy features public debate over whether global warming is occurring

Study reconciles dispute about how fast global warming will happen -- Guardian newspaper

Report has warned climate change could bring widespread hardship to the United States


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