Thursday, December 24, 2015

Carbon Emissions Link to Regional Impacts Is Clear, Study Says

Three-wheeler goes past coal power station (Credit: AP Photo/Andy Wong) Click to Enlarge.
The link between manmade carbon emissions and global warming has been hotly contested, as a lack of research meant scientists couldn’t say that emissions created a specific damage.  That link however, has now been measured in various cases, according to a new study.

The paper is the first to systematically assess regional scale impacts of climate change and their relation to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, introducing a systematic evaluation of confidence levels … through a newly developed algorithm,” said Christian Huggel, a senior researcher from the University of Zurich, who was not involved in the study.

In the report published Monday in Nature Climate Change, researchers Gerrit Hansen and Dáithí Stone found that a connection between recent regional climate trends and man-made climate change, shows that many of the damages on natural and human systems can be attributed to global warming.

Past studies rarely connected impact to greenhouse gas emissions directly, said Stone, a research scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in an interview with ThinkProgress.  “Linking what’s happening locally to what’s happening globally is something that hadn’t been done in the context of looking at these impacts.”

The year-long study applied computational calculations, or algorithms, onto 118 suspected climate change impacts observed from 1970s to 2010, like coast line erosion, wild fires, ice loss, changes in range of species, and loss of agricultural output from all regions listed in the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.  Stone said the team found “a confident link that our emissions altogether had been an important contributor to the trends in at least two thirds of the cases,”

These results confirm widely believed notions in the scientific community that man-made climate change is damaging natural systems worldwide.  According to the study, the frozen water areas of the planet and marine systems showed the highest share of impact cases, with at least medium confidence, to man-made emissions.  Most effects linked to man-made climate change held at least a medium confidence level, although higher confidence levels were recorded too.

In the United States, the study links wildfires in the Alaska area, droughts in the west coast and effects to glaciers — to name a few — to man-made climate change.

Read more at Carbon Emissions Link to Regional Impacts Is Clear, Study Says

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