Surge in Greenhouse Gases Sustained Despite COVID Lockdowns: U.N. | World News

GENEVA (Reuters) – Greenhouse gas concentrations climbed to a new record in 2019 and rose again this year despite an expected drop in emissions due to COVID-19 lockdowns, the World Meteorological Organization said on Monday, warning against complacency.

Many scientists expect the biggest annual fall in carbon emissions in generations this year as measures to contain coronavirus have grounded planes, docked ships and kept commuters at home.

However, the WMO described the projected 2020 drop as a “tiny blip” and said the resulting impact on the carbon dioxide concentrations that contribute to global warming would be no bigger than normal annual fluctuations.

“…In the short-term the impact of the COVID-19 confinements cannot be distinguished from natural variability,” the WMO’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin said.

The annual report released by the Geneva-based U.N. agency measures the atmospheric concentration of the gases – carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide – that are warming our planet and triggering extreme weather events.

Levels of carbon dioxide, a product of burning fossil fuels that is the biggest contributor to global warming, touched a new record of 410.5 parts per million (ppm) in 2019, it said.

The annual increase is larger than the previous year and beats the average over the last decade.

“Such a rate of increase has never been seen in the history of our records,” WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas said, referring to a rise of 10 ppm since 2015, calling for a “sustained flattening of the (emissions) curve”.

WMO’s head of atmospheric environment research Dr. Oksana Tarasova said the magnitude of the increase in carbon dioxide levels over the past four years was comparable to changes seen during the shift from ice age to more temperate periods but, back then, the transition happened over a much longer timeframe.

“We humans did it without anything, with just with our emissions, and we did it within four years.” .

Global data is not yet available for 2020 but the trend of rising concentrations appears to be intact, the WMO said, citing initial readings from its Tasmania and Hawaii stations.

Like other scientific bodies, the WMO said it expects annual global carbon emissions to fall this year due to COVID measures, and ventured a preliminary estimate of between 4.2-7.5%.

Such a drop would not cause atmospheric carbon dioxide to go down, but would slow the rate of increase temporarily on a scale that falls within normal variations, it said.

“Our whole economy and our consumption patterns wire us to extremely high emissions even if we all sit in lockdown,” said Tarasova.

Irrespective of what we do to curb emissions today, much of the carbon dioxide already emitted decades ago remains in the atmosphere and contributes to global warming, climate scientists say.

Over the 2018-2019 period, concentrations of the more potent heat-trapping gas methane increased by 8 parts per billion, the report said – slightly lower than the previous year-on-year change but still above-average over the last 10-year period.

Methane concentrations data is closely watched by scientists

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Surge in greenhouse gases sustained despite Covid-19 lockdowns, U.N. says

GENEVA — Greenhouse gas concentrations climbed to a new record in 2019 and rose again this year despite an expected drop in emissions due to Covid-19 lockdowns, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Monday, warning against complacency.

Many scientists expect the biggest annual fall in carbon emissions in generations this year as measures to contain coronavirus have grounded planes, docked ships and kept commuters at home.

However, the WMO described the projected 2020 drop as a “tiny blip” and said the resulting impact on the carbon dioxide concentrations that contribute to global warming would be no bigger than normal annual fluctuations.

“…In the short-term the impact of the Covid-19 confinements cannot be distinguished from natural variability,” the WMO’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin said.

The annual report released by the Geneva-based U.N. agency measures the atmospheric concentration of the gases — carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide — that are warming our planet and triggering extreme weather events.

Levels of carbon dioxide, a product of burning fossil fuels that is the biggest contributor to global warming, touched a new record of 410.5 parts per million in 2019, it said.

The annual increase is larger than the previous year and beats the average over the last decade.

“Such a rate of increase has never been seen in the history of our records,” WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas said, referring to rises since 2015, calling for a “sustained flattening of the (emissions) curve.”

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Global data is not yet available for 2020, but the trend of rising concentrations appears to be intact, the WMO said, citing initial readings from its Tasmania and Hawaii stations.

Like other scientific bodies, the WMO said it expects annual global carbon emissions to fall this year due to Covid measures, and ventured a preliminary estimate of between 4.2-7.5 percent.

Such a drop would not cause atmospheric carbon dioxide to go down, but would slow the rate of increase temporarily on a scale that falls within normal variations, it said.

Irrespective of what we do to curb emissions today, much of the carbon dioxide already emitted decades ago remains in the atmosphere and contributes to global warming, climate scientists say.

Over the 2018-2019 period, concentrations of the more potent heat-trapping gas methane increased by 8 parts per billion, the report said, slightly lower than the previous year-on-year change but still above-average over the last 10-year period.

Methane concentrations data is closely watched by scientists as the gas is prone to unexpected leaks such as those from the fossil fuel industry. That can make its atmospheric levels harder to predict than carbon dioxide.

Levels of nitrous oxide, which erodes the atmosphere’s ozone layer and expose humans to harmful ultraviolet rays, also increased in 2019 but at a lower rate than the previous year and on par with the average growth over the last decade.

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Surge in greenhouse gases sustained despite COVID lockdowns: UN

By Emma Farge



a crowded beach on a sunny day: FILE PHOTO: People enjoy Bournemouth Beach during an unusual heat wave in Bournemouth, England


© Reuters/TOBY MELVILLE
FILE PHOTO: People enjoy Bournemouth Beach during an unusual heat wave in Bournemouth, England

GENEVA (Reuters) – Greenhouse gas concentrations climbed to a new record in 2019 and rose again this year despite an expected drop in emissions due to COVID-19 lockdowns, the World Meteorological Organization said on Monday, warning against complacency.



a map of a canyon: FILE PHOTO: Dried-up rivers and creeks can be seen in the Queensland outback near the town of Mount Isa, Australia


© Reuters/David Gray
FILE PHOTO: Dried-up rivers and creeks can be seen in the Queensland outback near the town of Mount Isa, Australia

Many scientists expect the biggest annual fall in carbon emissions in generations this year as measures to contain coronavirus have grounded planes, docked ships and kept commuters at home.

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However, the WMO described the projected 2020 drop as a “tiny blip” and said the resulting impact on the carbon dioxide concentrations that contribute to global warming would be no bigger than normal annual fluctuations.

“…In the short-term the impact of the COVID-19 confinements cannot be distinguished from natural variability,” the WMO’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin said.

The annual report released by the Geneva-based U.N. agency measures the atmospheric concentration of the gases – carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide – that are warming our planet and triggering extreme weather events.

Levels of carbon dioxide, a product of burning fossil fuels that is the biggest contributor to global warming, touched a new record of 410.5 parts per million (ppm) in 2019, it said.

The annual increase is larger than the previous year and beats the average over the last decade.

“Such a rate of increase has never been seen in the history of our records,” WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas said, referring to a rise of 10 ppm since 2015, calling for a “sustained flattening of the (emissions) curve”.

WMO’s head of atmospheric environment research Dr. Oksana Tarasova said the magnitude of the increase in carbon dioxide levels over the past four years was comparable to changes seen during the shift from ice age to more temperate periods but, back then, the transition happened over a much longer timeframe.

“We humans did it without anything, with just with our emissions, and we did it within four years.” .

Global data is not yet available for 2020 but the trend of rising concentrations appears to be intact, the WMO said, citing initial readings from its Tasmania and Hawaii stations.

Like other scientific bodies, the WMO said it expects annual global carbon emissions to fall this year due to COVID measures, and ventured a preliminary estimate of between 4.2-7.5%.

Such a drop would not cause atmospheric carbon dioxide to go down, but would slow the rate of increase temporarily on a scale that falls within normal variations, it said.

“Our whole economy and our consumption patterns wire us to extremely high emissions even if we all sit in lockdown,” said Tarasova.

Irrespective of what we do to curb emissions today, much of the carbon dioxide already emitted decades ago remains in the atmosphere and contributes to global warming, climate scientists say.

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Greenhouse effect of clouds instrumental in origin of tropical storms

Greenhouse effect of clouds instrumental in origin of tropical storms
The cloud greenhouse effect accelerates tropical cyclone development. Schematic depiction of how the trapping of infrared radiation by deep convective clouds leads to locally increased warming (red shading), and how this warming promotes the thermally direct transverse circulation (thin arrows) of the tropical cyclone. (A) An incipient storm, characterized by a weak, broad primary circulation. (B) An intensifying hurricane characterized by a well-defined eye and a strong primary circulation. Credit: James H. Ruppert Jr. / Penn State

With the tropical storm season in the Atlantic Ocean underway and already well into the Greek alphabet for naming, better storm track prediction has allowed timely evacuations and preparations. However, the formation and intensification of these storms remains challenging to predict, according to an international team of researchers who are studying the origin of tropical cyclones.


“There are critical questions around the formation and intensification of hurricanes that makes forecasting them extremely difficult,” said James H. Ruppert Jr., assistant research professor of meteorology and atmospheric science, Penn State. “We don’t yet have sufficient understanding of the processes that drive storm formation.”

Tropical depressions are the weak precursors to intense hurricanes, usually identifiable as a disorganized cluster of clouds in a weak low-pressure area, according to Rupert.

“The tropical depression stage is usually the first time that forecasters are able to identify and start tracking a storm,” he said.

Environmental conditions usually provide a narrow window in which these depressions can form into intense tropical cyclones.

“Understanding the transition from this depression stage to an intensifying hurricane is what we are after,” said Ruppert.

To investigate tropical cyclone formation, the researchers looked at storms forming in the Atlantic and in the western Pacific oceans. They considered two storms, Super Typhoon Haiyan, which occurred in 2013, and Hurricane Maria, which occurred in 2017.

Greenhouse effect of clouds instrumental in origin of tropical storms
Satellite image of Hurricane Maria (2017) as the eye was about make landfall in Dominica. Credit: James H. Ruppert Jr. / Penn State

The researchers found that infrared radiative feedback from clouds creates a localized greenhouse effect that traps heat in the area of the tropical depression. Deep clouds that are heavily laden with water droplets and ice crystals trap outgoing infrared radiation and warm the atmosphere. This local warming causes lifting motion in the storm, which helps fully saturate the atmosphere and increase inward flowing winds near the ocean’s surface. As long as the storm is more than a few degrees above or below the equator, the Coriolis Effect causes these inward flowing winds to form a circulation near the surface. This circulation then intensifies with the help of surface evaporation and eventually forms a central eye, taking on the classic appearance of an intense tropical cyclone.

The researchers found that the localized warming created by the cloud greenhouse effect helped accelerate the formation of both Haiyan and Maria. When they removed the effect in the model simulation, the storms either formed more slowly or not at all. The researchers argue that the cloud greenhouse effect is therefore likely instrumental in

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California’s greenhouse gas emissions rose slightly in 2018

California’s greenhouse gas emissions rose slightly in 2018 due largely to lower hydroelectric power use, according to a report released Monday by the state Air Resources Board.



a factory with smoke coming out of it: A refinery in the Wilmington neighborhood of Los Angeles is among the facilities regulated under California's cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)


© Provided by The LA Times
A refinery in the Wilmington neighborhood of Los Angeles is among the facilities regulated under California’s cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

The state emitted the equivalent of 425 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2018, about 1 million more than in 2017, the Air Resources Board inventory found.

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Pollution overall remained well below the state’s 2020 climate target of 431 million metric tons, which the state hit four years early, in 2016. But the uneven progress underscores the challenge California faces as it pursues the more ambitious goal of slashing planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions another 40% by 2030.

The uptick in 2018 was mostly due to a decrease in the use of hydroelectric power resulting from lower precipitation in the winter of 2017-18, said Dave Clegern, an Air Resources Board spokesman.

“That emissions category rose about 1 million metric tons,” Clegern said. “That was partially compensated by increases in solar generation and other lower greenhouse gas intensity resources.”

Though the year-over-year change is going in the wrong direction, it is “more noise than anything fundamental,” said Danny Cullenward, a lecturer at Stanford Law School. “Nearly all of the state’s climate gains arise in the electricity sector, where a growing share of wind and solar resources reduces emissions over time, and the variability of large hydropower resources causes headline numbers to fluctuate from year to year.”

“California’s clean energy policies are working to clean up the electricity sector,” he added. “But in other sectors — notably transportation, industry and residential and commercial buildings — policy isn’t on track to achieve California’s climate laws.”

Last year’s inventory by the state showed that emissions reductions slowed in 2017, declining by 1.2%, versus a decline of 2.8% in 2016. To be on a pathway to its 2030 goal, California must reverse that trend and significantly pick up the pace of emissions reductions across many sectors.

In one notable improvement, the annual report showed that transportation emissions dropped by 1.5 million metric tons between 2017 and 2018, the first decrease since 2013. Cars, trucks and other vehicles remain California’s largest pollution source, accounting for about 40% of its planet-warming emissions and rising stubbornly for years as driving miles increase.

Cullenward said he is not concerned about the state meeting its 2020 target to reduce its emissions below 1990s levels and that it “will almost certainly be in compliance,” given that global emissions slowed this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What worries me is that the Air Resources Board does not have a credible plan for how to get the reductions needed to get to California’s 2030 climate target,” he said. “Reducing emissions below that level requires more than progress in the electricity sector, but the major policy the state has identified

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