Focus On The Science

A look at the latest science – new studies, feedback loops, tipping points…
Find more science – here

Earth’s tipping points could be closer than we think. – Our current plans won’t work.

Sept 9, 2021 – George Monbiot – the Guardian

A flash flood caused by Tropical Storm Henri in Helmetta, New Jersey, on 22 August 2021.
Climate policies commit us to a calamitous 2.9C of global heating, but catastrophic
changes can occur at even 1.5C or 2C

If there’s one thing we know about climate breakdown, it’s that it will not be linear, smooth or gradual. Just as one continental plate might push beneath another in sudden fits and starts, causing periodic earthquakes and tsunamis, our atmospheric systems will absorb the stress for a while, then suddenly shift. Yet, everywhere, the programmes designed to avert it are linear, smooth and gradual.

Climate change is driving extreme weather events around the world in 2021
The World

September 6, 2021 – Michael Mann interviewed by Steve Curwood

Extreme, record-breaking weather is happening around the world. Thousand-year floods are drowning Europe and Asia, and unprecedented heat and drought have afflicted western North America, leading to historically low reservoirs and sparking wildfires that are destroying towns and degrading air quality for thousands of miles.

BREAKING: Deadly Western Heat Dome ‘Virtually Impossible’ without Climate Change

July 7, 2021 – the Energy Mix

Less than a week after a deadly “heat dome” devastated western Canada and the U.S. Pacific Northwest and burned Lytton, B.C. to the ground, an international science team is reporting that the blistering conditions would have been “virtually impossible” without climate change.

“Climate change, caused by greenhouse gas emissions, made the heat wave at least 150 times more likely to happen,” the World Weather Attribution Network said in a release.


JUNE 6, 2021 – the Energy Mix

New research is raising the alarm over a possible “domino effect” that could cause separate but interconnected climate systems to reach their tipping points at lower temperatures than previously estimated. 

“In the next years or decades, we might be committing future generations to really severe consequences,” Ricarda Winkelmann.

“The Earth will get as warm as we make it, which means we’re the ones [that must] stop it,” Anders Levermann.

Collapse of West Antarctic Ice Sheet May Be Worse Than Scientists Predicted

May 21, 2021 –  Olivia Rosane – Treehugger

The Gerlache Strait separating the Palmer Archipelago from the Antarctic Peninsular off Anvers Island. The Antarctic Peninsular is one of the fastest warming areas of the planet.

It has been a long-cited statistic that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet contains enough ice to contribute around 10.8 feet to global sea-level rise.1

Now, a new study has found that it could raise water levels even higher than that—by as much as 3.2 feet or 30%—all because of a geological process that had previously been discounted.

The study, published in Science Advances late last month, focused on how the behavior of the bedrock beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) would impact its contribution to sea-level rise. Read more here

Atmospheric CO2 now hitting 50% higher than pre-industrial levels

Prof Richard Betts MBE, head of climate impacts research at the Met Office

the Carbon Brief – GUEST POSTS , 16 March 2021  

…Records derived from ice core measurements show that the average global CO2 concentration in the atmosphere for 1750 to 1800 was around 278ppm. This is the value that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) used as the pre-industrial baseline for CO2 in its fifth assessment report (pdf), published in 2013-14. 

Atmospheric CO2 has been rising ever since – driving ongoing warming of the global climate. Now, in March 2021, levels have reached around 417ppm – a 50% increase over the 1750-1800 average.

Read the Carbon Brief post here.

See what the CO2 concentration at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii is today-  here.

Atlantic Ocean circulation at weakest in a millennium, say scientists

Fiona Harvey  – Environment correspondent – the Guardian – Fri 26 Feb 2021


Further weakening of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) could result in more storms battering the UK, more intense winters and an increase in damaging heatwaves and droughts across Europe. A weakened Gulf Stream would also raise sea levels on the Atlantic coast of the US. Read more here.

Why the Ocean is Important to Everyone

Lecture by Prof. Stefan Rahmstorf – February 9, 2021