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63 news posts in Climate change

Climate action

16 Nov 2023

Inequality hotspot map shows where women in agriculture are hit the hardest by the climate crisis

by Deborah Pirchner, Frontiers science writer Image: Women working in agricultural sectors in low- and middle-income countries are disproportionally at risk from climate change induced hazards, such as droughts, floods, or shortened crop-growing seasons. Now, researchers have developed a map showing localities where climate change risk for women in agri-food systems is especially high. Ranking 87 countries, they found that women in central, east, and southern Africa, as well as west and south Asia are at particular risk. Threats posed by the climate crisis disproportionally affect certain communities and social groups that are more exposed. People living in low- and middle-income (LMIC) countries are at heightened risk. Within these countries, women typically face higher climate risk than men. To show where women working in agri-food systems – systems that encompass production, but also post-harvest handling and distribution – are most threated by climate change, an international team of researchers has developed a hotspot map that identifies and ranks localities by threat level. “We show that significant climate hazards, high exposure faced by women in agri-food systems, and high vulnerability faced by women due to systemic gender inequalities converge particularly in central, east, and southern Africa, as well as in […]

Earth science

14 Nov 2023

New study highlights need to address risk of continued global warming after net zero

by Liad Hollender, Frontiers science writer Image: The UN Climate Panel’s latest best estimate is that global warming will end once we reach net zero CO2 emissions – but a study in Frontiers in Science warns significant warming could still occur. Researchers including those from Imperial College London and University of Exeter assess factors controlling global temperatures post ‘net zero’ and offer a pioneering framework for better estimating climate change risks. These risks must inform climate mitigation and adaptation policies to protect future generations.  From scorching heatwaves to torrential downpours and devastating storms, the disastrous effects of global warming are sweeping across the world. Being the predicted outcome of burning fossil fuels, our best and only plan to limit warming is to reduce CO2 emissions from human activities to ‘net zero’ – where the amount of CO2 we emit into the atmosphere is equal to the amount we remove from it. To keep within the 1.5°C limit of the 2015 Paris Agreement, this needs to happen as soon as possible.   Though the scientific community’s current best estimate from models is that global warming will stop at net zero, an article published in Frontiers in Science raises a red flag.  […]


Climate action

08 Aug 2023

Antarctic extreme events: ‘All-time records are being shattered not from decades ago, but from the last few years and months’

By Prof Martin Siegert, University of Exeter (Cornwall) Image: 42 governments around the world have agreed to protect Antarctica’s environment. While the main focus has been on operational activities in Antarctica, global warming caused by fossil-fuel burning by these (and other) countries has left Antarctica on the brink of irreversible change. A new study published in Frontiers in Environmental Science has revealed that, in addition to the influence of gradual global heating, Antarctica is increasingly affected by extreme environmental events; a recognized and predicted outcome of our heating world. Writing as part of Frontiers’ guest editorials series, the study’s lead author – Prof Martin Siegert, deputy vice chancellor of the University of Exeter (Cornwall) – discusses how without there being a rapid shift to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, the Antarctic environment will experience ever more drastic changes. Extreme weather events appear to be increasing in size and occurrence, with disastrous outcomes for lives and livelihoods, whether it be from intense heatwaves, severe droughts, deluge rainfall, flooding, and deep storms. All-time records are being shattered not from those of decades ago, but from the last few years and months, exemplifying the human-induced forces we are subjecting our planet […]


Climate action

13 Jul 2023

‘Red sea plume’ alga may cut greenhouse gas emissions from cow poo nearly in half

By Deborah Pirchner, Frontiers science writer Image: Methane production in the livestock sector greatly contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Animals with four-chambered stomachs produce methane while digesting, however, their manure also emits the gas when decomposing. Recently, natural methane inhibitors have been discussed as a solution. Researchers in Sweden have now examined how supplementing cow feces – rather than cow feed – with such an inhibitor influences methane emission from manure. They found that if a tropical alga was added to dairy cows’ feces, significantly less methane was emitted. Approximately a third of all anthropogenic methane is emitted by ruminant livestock. These animals get nutrients through fermenting food in four-chambered stomachs found in cows, sheep, and goats. They produce methane in two ways: through belching and from the decomposition of their manure under certain conditions. Now, researchers in Sweden have examined if adding the tropical alga Asparagopsis taxiformis (AT), also known as red sea plume, to cow feces impacts greenhouse gas emissions from the manure of dairy cows. They have published their results in Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems. “We showed that adding AT to the feces of dairy cows significantly reduced methane production from the feces by 44% […]

Climate action

08 Dec 2022

Flocking to fire: wildfires don’t deter Americans from moving to at-risk regions

by Angharad Brewer Gillham, Frontiers science writer Image/ Scientists investigated whether environmental hazards put people off moving to regions at risk and found that heatwaves and hurricanes deter newcomers, but wildfires don’t. The climate crisis has caused humans to move both within their countries of origin and across borders. Although climate migration is often treated as a phenomenon of the ‘global south’, a team of scientists led by Mahalia Clark at the University of Vermont (UVM) turned the spotlight on the US. The US has experienced numerous destructive weather events recently, which have killed and injured many people and done billions of dollars of damage. But the team found that despite the death toll, more people are moving to areas in the United States that are at serious risk of wildfires. “Our original motivation was the increasing number of headlines each year about record breaking heat waves, hurricanes, and wildfires,” said Clark, a researcher at UVM’s Gund Institute for Environment. “I had been studying natural amenities — features of the climate and environment that are attractive to movers — but I began to wonder if the threat of these hazards might have a deterring effect on migration.” Read original article […]

Climate action

17 Nov 2022

Vast phytoplankton blooms may be lurking beneath Antarctic ice

by Angharad Brewer Gillham, Frontiers science writer Image: Researchers using NASA’s Earth observing system find that Antarctic sea ice allows enough light in to let hidden phytoplankton bloom in the Southern Ocean. Until now, we thought the packed sea ice of the Southern Ocean blocked all light from reaching the sea beneath, preventing phytoplankton — tiny algae which are the base of aquatic food webs — from growing there. The less light available, the less the phytoplankton can photosynthesize and therefore the less phytoplankton there will be, heavily restricting life beneath the ice. But research inspired by increasing under-ice blooms of phytoplankton in the Arctic has shown that Antarctic waters also have unexpected denizens, indicating that there is underestimated ecological variability under the ice. Blooms are often spotted as soon as the sea ice begins its seasonal retreat, supported by plenty of light and freshwater with high iron content. Yet a team led by Dr Christopher Horvat of Brown University and the University of Auckland suspected that there would already be potential phytoplankton blooms in waiting. Writing in Frontiers in Marine Science, they described using sampling from independent BGC-Argo floats and climate model output to estimate light availability beneath […]

Climate action

24 Oct 2022

CO2 ventilation breakthrough could turn city rooftops into bumper vegetable gardens

by Angharad Brewer Gillham, Frontiers science writer Image: Scientists find that expelled air from ventilation systems can make corn and spinach grow taller and larger, recycling CO2-rich indoor air to fertilize edible plants. As the world’s cities grow, the hunt is on for ways to make them greener, more sustainable, and more livable. Rooftop farms and gardens that take advantage of underutilized roof space are a popular option, providing new food resources while simultaneously cooling the surrounding area, increasing building insulation, and improving air quality. But the conditions on rooftops — greater solar radiation, more wind exposure, lesser soil moisture — often mean that plants are smaller and less healthy. A team led by Dr Sarabeth Buckley, now at the University of Cambridge, theorized that repurposing the CO2 from building exhaust as a kind of fertilizer might help counter some of these challenges. To explore this, they grew corn and spinach on the roof of a campus building at Boston University. “We wanted to test whether there is an untapped resource inside buildings that could be used to make plants grow larger in rooftop farms,” said Buckley, whose team named their experimental garden BIG GRO and published their work […]

Climate action

05 Aug 2022

Worrying finding in California’s multi-billion-dollar climate initiative reveals problem with using forests to offset CO2 emissions

By Suzanna Burgelman, Frontiers science writer Image: Zack Frank/ Researchers have found that California’s forest carbon buffer pool, designed to ensure the durability of the state’s multi-billion-dollar carbon offset program, is severely undercapitalized. The results show that, within the offset program’s first 10 years, estimated carbon losses from wildfires have depleted at least 95% of the contributions set aside to protect against all fire risks over 100 years. This means that the buffer pool is unable to guarantee that credited forest carbon remains out of the atmosphere for at least 100 years. The results, published in Frontiers in Forests and Global Change, illustrate that the program, one of the world’s largest, is likely not meeting its set requirements. Carbon offset programs have become popular action plans to combat the climate crisis. California’s carbon offset program was established to utilize the ability of trees to absorb and store carbon and applies to around 75% of statewide emissions allowances. The program allows forest owners to earn ‘carbon credits’ for preserving trees. Polluters buy credits so that they can emit more CO2 than they’d otherwise be allowed to under state law. Each credit represents one ton of CO2. This exchange is supposed to […]

Climate action

15 Jul 2022

Is declaring a climate emergency enough to stop the climate crisis? What we can learn from the Covid-19 pandemic

By Jordi Mazon, David Pino, and Mireia Vinyoles Image: Piyaset/ Dr. Jordi Mazon is professor of meteorology at the Department of physics in the Technical University of Catalonia (BarcelonaTech) and teaches higher-level physics in the international baccalaureate in Aula higher school in Barcelona. In addition, he is currently Deputy Mayor of energy transition, mobility, and city cleaning management in Viladecans, a municipality of the metropolitan area of Barcelona. His research is focused on several topics of the atmospheric physics, the numerical simulation of coastal fronts, and severe meteorological events. Now, he explains what lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic we can apply to our fight against the climate crisis. If someone looks up the definition of emergency in any dictionary (for example in the Cambridge Dictionary), the following description can be read: “something dangerous or serious, that happens suddenly or unexpectedly and needs fast action in order to avoid harmful results for people or properties”. Keeping in mind the recent declaration of the state of emergency due to the climate crisis  by many scientists, administrations, and institutions worldwide, it is clear that fast actions must be taken to avoid harmful results for human societies and the Earth’s ecosystems. Accepting the declaration […]

Featured news

18 May 2022

Method used to track ants underground could revolutionize how we measure snow depth from space

By Simona Pesce, Frontiers writer Photo of snow taken by crew of the International Space Station. Image: NASA With the help of some ants, NASA scientists have developed an innovative concept to measure exactly how deep the snow layer is covering sea ice and mountains using a lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) instrument in space. The findings, published in Frontiers in Remote Sensing, reveal this new method will have several applications and provide more accurate measurements on the evolution of snowpack as a result of the climate crisis and better monitoring of water resources globally. Ants may be the unlikely heroes when it comes to better understanding the health of our planet in the midst of a climate crisis. In a paper published to Frontiers in Remote Sensing, a team of scientists, including those from NASA, have found a way to estimate the depth of snow from orbit using ants deep underground. One member of the team is Yongxiang Hu from NASA’s Langley Research Center who drew inspiration from physics and biology to create a unique snow depth model. A previously developed model found that the average time an ant walks around inside the colony before coming back is roughly […]