Topic: Climate change

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πŸ”— 2000-Watt Society

πŸ”— Climate change πŸ”— Environment πŸ”— Switzerland πŸ”— Urban studies and planning πŸ”— Energy

The 2000-watt society is an environmental vision, first introduced in 1998 by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in ZΓΌrich (ETH Zurich), which pictures the average First World citizen reducing their overall average primary energy usage rate to no more than 2,000 watts (i.e. 2 kWh per hour or 48 kWh per day) by the year 2050, without lowering their standard of living.

The concept addresses not only personal or household energy use, but the total for the whole society, including embodied energy, divided by the population.

Two thousand watts is approximately the current world average rate of total primary energy use. This compared, in 2008, to averages of around 6,000 watts in western Europe, 12,000 watts in the United States, 1,500 watts in China, 1,000 watts in India, 500 watts in South Africa and only 300 watts in Bangladesh. Switzerland itself, then using an average of around 5,000 watts, was last a 2000-watt society in the 1960s.

It is further envisaged that the use of carbon-based fuels would be ultimately cut to no more than 500 watts per person within 50 to 100 years.

The vision was developed in response to concerns about climate change, energy security, and the future availability of energy supplies. It is supported by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy, the Association of Swiss Architects and Engineers, and other bodies.

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πŸ”— Peak car

πŸ”— Climate change πŸ”— Environment πŸ”— Transport πŸ”— Urban studies and planning

Peak car (also peak car use or peak travel) is a hypothesis that motor vehicle distance traveled per capita, predominantly by private car, has peaked and will now fall in a sustained manner. The theory was developed as an alternative to the prevailing market saturation model, which suggested that car use would saturate and then remain reasonably constant, or to GDP-based theories which predict that traffic will increase again as the economy improves, linking recent traffic reductions to the Great Recession of 2008.

The theory was proposed following reductions, which have now been observed in Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Iceland, Japan (early 1990s), New Zealand, Sweden, the United Kingdom (many cities from about 1994) and the United States. A study by Volpe Transportation in 2013 noted that average miles driven by individuals in the United States has been declining from 900 miles (1,400Β km) per month in 2004 to 820 miles (1,320Β km) in July 2012, and that the decline had continued since the recent upturn in the US economy.

A number of academics have written in support of the theory, including Phil Goodwin, formerly Director of the transport research groups at Oxford University and UCL, and David Metz, a former Chief Scientist of the UK Department of Transport. The theory is disputed by the UK Department for Transport, which predicts that road traffic in the United Kingdom will grow by 50% by 2036, and Professor Stephen Glaister, Director of the RAC Foundation, who say traffic will start increasing again as the economy improves. Unlike peak oil, a theory based on a reduction in the ability to extract oil due to resource depletion, peak car is attributed to more complex and less understood causes.

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πŸ”— Extreme weather events of 535–536

πŸ”— Climate change πŸ”— China πŸ”— Meteorology πŸ”— Classical Greece and Rome πŸ”— Greece πŸ”— Rome πŸ”— Ireland πŸ”— Greece/Byzantine world πŸ”— Peru

The extreme weather events of 535–536 were the most severe and protracted short-term episodes of cooling in the Northern Hemisphere in the last 2,000 years. The event is thought to have been caused by an extensive atmospheric dust veil, possibly resulting from a large volcanic eruption in the tropics or in Iceland. Its effects were widespread, causing unseasonable weather, crop failures, and famines worldwide.

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πŸ”— Azolla Event

πŸ”— Climate change πŸ”— Environment πŸ”— Plants πŸ”— Arctic πŸ”— Palaeontology πŸ”— Geology

The Azolla event is a scenario hypothesized to have occurred in the middle Eocene epoch, around 49Β million years ago, when blooms of the freshwater fern Azolla are thought to have happened in the Arctic Ocean. As they sank to the stagnant sea floor, they were incorporated into the sediment; the resulting draw-down of carbon dioxide has been speculated to have helped transform the planet from a "greenhouse Earth" state, hot enough for turtles and palm trees to prosper at the poles, to the current icehouse Earth known as the Late Cenozoic Ice Age.

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πŸ”— Ocean Temperature

πŸ”— Climate change πŸ”— Oceans πŸ”— Limnology and Oceanography

The ocean temperature varies by depth, geographical location and season. Both the temperature and salinity of ocean water differs. Warm surface water is generally saltier than the cooler deep or polar waters; in polar regions, the upper layers of ocean water are cold and fresh. Deep ocean water is cold, salty water found deep below the surface of Earth's oceans. This water has a very uniform temperature, around 0-3Β Β°C. The ocean temperature also depends on the amount of solar radiation falling on its surface. In the tropics, with the Sun nearly overhead, the temperature of the surface layers can rise to over 30Β Β°C (86Β Β°F) while near the poles the temperature in equilibrium with the sea ice is about βˆ’2Β Β°C (28Β Β°F). There is a continuous circulation of water in the oceans. Thermohaline circulation (THC) is a part of the large-scale ocean circulation that is driven by global density gradients created by surface heat and freshwater fluxes. Warm surface currents cool as they move away from the tropics, and the water becomes denser and sinks. The cold water moves back towards the equator as a deep sea current, driven by changes in the temperature and density of the water, before eventually welling up again towards the surface.

Ocean temperature as a term is used either for the temperature in the ocean at any depth, or specifically for the ocean temperatures that are not near the surface (in which case it is synonymous with "deep ocean temperature").

It is clear that the oceans are warming as a result of climate change and this rate of warming is increasing.:β€Š9β€Š The upper ocean (above 700 m) is warming fastest, but the warming trend extends throughout the ocean. In 2022, the global ocean was the hottest ever recorded by humans.

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πŸ”— James Lovelock Has Died

πŸ”— Biography πŸ”— Climate change πŸ”— Environment πŸ”— Biography/science and academia πŸ”— Energy

James Ephraim Lovelock (26 July 1919 – 26 July 2022) was a British independent scientist, environmentalist and futurist. He was best known for proposing the Gaia hypothesis, which postulates that the Earth functions as a self-regulating system.

With a PhD in medicine, Lovelock began his career performing cryopreservation experiments on rodents, including successfully thawing frozen specimens. His methods were influential in the theories of cryonics (the cryopreservation of humans). He invented the electron capture detector, and using it, became the first to detect the widespread presence of chlorofluorocarbons in the atmosphere. While designing scientific instruments for NASA, he developed the Gaia hypothesis.

In the 2000s, he proposed a method of climate engineering to restore carbon dioxide–consuming algae. He was an outspoken member of Environmentalists for Nuclear, asserting that fossil fuel interests have been behind opposition to nuclear energy, citing the effects of carbon dioxide as being harmful to the environment, and warning of global warming due to the greenhouse effect. He authored several environmental science books based upon the Gaia hypothesis from the late 1970s.

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πŸ”— European Super Grid

πŸ”— Climate change πŸ”— Europe πŸ”— Energy

The European super grid is a possible future super grid that would ultimately interconnect the various European countries and the regions around Europe's borders – including North Africa, Kazakhstan, and Turkey – with a high-voltage direct current (HVDC) power grid.

It is envisaged that a European super grid would:

  • lower the cost of power in all participating countries by allowing the entire region to share the most efficient power plants;
  • pool load variability and power station unreliability, reducing the margin of inefficient spinning reserve and standby that have to be supplied;
  • allow for wider use of renewable energy, particularly wind energy, from the concept that "it is always windy somewhere" – in particular it tends to be windy in the summer in North Africa, and windy in the winter in Europe;
  • allow wide sharing of the total European hydro power resource, which is about 6 weeks of full load European output;
  • decrease Europe's dependence on imported fuels.

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πŸ”— 1808/1809 Mystery Eruption

πŸ”— Climate change πŸ”— Environment πŸ”— Volcanoes

The 1808 mystery eruption was a large volcanic eruption conjectured to have taken place in late 1808, possibly in the southwest Pacific. A VEI-6 eruption, comparable to the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, is suspected of having contributed to a period of global cooling that lasted for years, analogous to how the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora (VEI-7) led to the Year Without a Summer in 1816.

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πŸ”— Milankovitch Cycles

πŸ”— Climate change πŸ”— Environment πŸ”— Geology

Milankovitch cycles describe the collective effects of changes in the Earth's movements on its climate over thousands of years. The term is named for Serbian geophysicist and astronomer Milutin Milanković. In the 1920s, he hypothesized that variations in eccentricity, axial tilt, and precession resulted in cyclical variation in the solar radiation reaching the Earth, and that this orbital forcing strongly influenced climatic patterns on Earth.

Similar astronomical hypotheses had been advanced in the 19th century by Joseph Adhemar, James Croll and others, but verification was difficult because there was no reliably dated evidence, and because it was unclear which periods were important.

Now, materials on Earth that have been unchanged for millennia (obtained via ice, rock, and deep ocean cores) are being studied to indicate the history of Earth's climate. Though they are consistent with the Milankovitch hypothesis, there are still several observations that the hypothesis does not explain.

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πŸ”— Urban heat island

πŸ”— Climate change πŸ”— Environment πŸ”— Meteorology πŸ”— Urban studies and planning

An urban heat island (UHI) is an urban area or metropolitan area that is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas due to human activities. The temperature difference is usually larger at night than during the day, and is most apparent when winds are weak. UHI is most noticeable during the summer and winter. The main cause of the urban heat island effect is from the modification of land surfaces. Waste heat generated by energy usage is a secondary contributor. As a population center grows, it tends to expand its area and increase its average temperature. The term heat island is also used; the term can be used to refer to any area that is relatively hotter than the surrounding, but generally refers to human-disturbed areas.

Monthly rainfall is greater downwind of cities, partially due to the UHI. Increases in heat within urban centers increases the length of growing seasons, and decreases the occurrence of weak tornadoes. The UHI decreases air quality by increasing the production of pollutants such as ozone, and decreases water quality as warmer waters flow into area streams and put stress on their ecosystems.

Not all cities have a distinct urban heat island, and the heat island characteristics depend strongly on the background climate of the area in which the city is located. Mitigation of the urban heat island effect can be accomplished through the use of green roofs and the use of lighter-colored surfaces in urban areas, which reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat.

Concerns have been raised about possible contribution from urban heat islands to global warming. While some lines of research did not detect a significant impact, other studies have concluded that heat islands can have measurable effects on climate phenomena at the global scale.

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