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Analysis and Comment (34)

A king tide in New Zealand, part of a project documenting what future sea level rise might look like. A king tide in New Zealand, part of a project documenting what future sea level rise might look like. Witness King Tides/Flickr

15 years from now, our impact on regional sea level will be clear

Human activity is driving sea levels higher. Australia’s seas are likely to rise by around 70 centimetres by 2100 if nothing is done to combat climate change. But 2100 can seem a long way off. At the moment…
The need for caution when any anomaly is revealed in new research. The need for caution when any anomaly is revealed in new research. Flickr/Adam Gerard

How myths and tabloids feed on anomalies in science

UNDERSTANDING RESEARCH: What do we actually mean by research and how does it help inform our understanding of things? What if research throws up a result that calls for a new way of thinking? How do we…
Carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels and cement-making reached 36 billion tonnes in 2013. Carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels and cement-making reached 36 billion tonnes in 2013. Shutterstock

Mapping global carbon emissions

The latest report on global carbon emissions released this week revealed that carbon dioxide emissions will likely reach 40 billion tonnes this year. Growth in emissions continues to match the worst-case…
A new study finds overwhelming odds that humans have contributed to higher global temperatures – so how much are we willing to gamble that it’s wrong? A new study finds overwhelming odds that humans have contributed to higher global temperatures – so how much are we willing to gamble that it’s wrong? Kraevski Vitaly/Shutterstock

99.999% certainty humans are driving global warming: new study

There is less than 1 chance in 100,000 that global average temperature over the past 60 years would have been as high without human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, our new research shows. Published in…
Tasman Lake, which is fed by melt water from the retreating Tasman Glacier, photographed in March this year. Tasman Lake, which is fed by melt water from the retreating Tasman Glacier, photographed in March this year. Trevor Chinn

New Zealand’s Southern Alps have lost a third of their ice

A third of the permanent snow and ice of New Zealand’s Southern Alps has now disappeared, according to our new research based on National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research aerial surveys. Since…
The polar vortex played havoc with Niagara Falls (and much of the rest of North America too). The polar vortex played havoc with Niagara Falls (and much of the rest of North America too). EPA/Rick Warne

The ‘pre-Holocene’ climate is returning – and it won’t be fun

A string of events earlier this year provided a sobering snapshot of a global climate system out of whack. Europe suffered devastating floods, Britain’s coastline was mauled, and the polar vortex cast…
High-emission brown coal power generators including Hazelwood are set to be among the short-term winners from the carbon tax repeal. High-emission brown coal power generators including Hazelwood are set to be among the short-term winners from the carbon tax repeal. AAP Image/David Crosling

Who gains most from axing the carbon tax – and at what cost?

When the carbon tax was introduced, there was a lot of discussion about winners and losers. The Labor government limited the number of businesses that had to pay the tax, while it also gave carbon tax…
Left home for a vacation, and came back to this. Left home for a vacation, and came back to this. ghwpix

The ‘plant that ate the South’ makes soil puke carbon

A plant called “the scourge of the South” has a new strike against it. Recent research shows that the impact of the invasive species in question, kudzu, is more troublesome than had been previously thought…
Sunrise over Queenstown in New Zealand in July 2012. This year’s ski season is just beginning in Australia and New Zealand. Sunrise over Queenstown in New Zealand in July 2012. This year’s ski season is just beginning in Australia and New Zealand. Trey Ratcliff/Flickr

Winter is here, but will there be snow in Australia and NZ?

Australia’s ski season is finally getting underway, with the first resort, Perisher, opening its ski lifts after some weekend snow fall. But snow lovers are still watching and waiting for good falls elsewhere…
Whatever you call it - climate change, global warming, or the greenhouse effect - it’s increasing the frequency and severity of heatwaves. Whatever you call it - climate change, global warming, or the greenhouse effect - it’s increasing the frequency and severity of heatwaves. AAP Image/Dean Lewins

We need to talk about how we talk about climate change

How we talk about climate change has a lot to do with how we feel about it, and what we’re willing to do to act on it. Recent research from the US found that the terms “global warming” and “climate change…
The receding edge of the Greenland ice sheet. The receding edge of the Greenland ice sheet. Hannes Grobe

Greenland ice sheet is melting at an accelerating rate

Warming in the Arctic has now reached the northernmost sections of the Greenland ice sheet. After a long period of stability (more than 25 years), we have found in a new study of the region that the northeast…
Can CCS cast a new light on fossil fuel-fired power stations? Can CCS cast a new light on fossil fuel-fired power stations? Alan Murray-Rust

A step forward for CCS, but much greater strides are needed

Despite the evidence that shows greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels are leading to changes in the planet’s climate, the development of large scale technologies to slow or stop these effects has…
Hurricane Jeanne about to hit the US. Hurricane Jeanne about to hit the US. kakela

From hurricanes to death threats, atmospheric science explained

Kerry Emanuel, professor of atmospheric science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology answered questions posed by the public on Reddit. The Conversation has curated the highlights. Weather With…
Bathers on Melbourne’s St Kilda beach on 28 January this year, as temperatures hit 39°C. Bathers on Melbourne’s St Kilda beach on 28 January this year, as temperatures hit 39°C. AAP

Climate Council: heatwaves are getting hotter and more frequent

Heatwaves are one of the most important climate-related risks for Australians. Sometimes called the “silent killers”, they cause the greatest number of deaths of any natural disaster type in Australia…
The truth is out there. The truth is out there. Flickr/J

The truth is out there – so how do you debunk a myth?

Debunking myths requires an understanding of the psychological research into misinformation. But getting your refutation out in front of lots of eyeballs is a whole other matter. Here, I look at two contrasting…
Things continue to hot up for polar bears in the Arctic. Things continue to hot up for polar bears in the Arctic. Gerard Van der Leun

Cold weather in the US no solace for starving polar bears

During the “polar vortex” that recently swept the US, Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo was forced to bring its polar bear indoors as it was “too cold” for a bear acclimated to Chicago’s “normal” winters (where…
Scrapping climate programs may meet short-term budget goals but will cause long-term pain. Scrapping climate programs may meet short-term budget goals but will cause long-term pain. EPA/Horacio Villalobos

Securing Australia’s future: energy and climate change

SECURING AUSTRALIA’S FUTURE: As the Commission of Audit reviews government activity and spending, The Conversation’s experts take a closer look at key policy areas tied to this funding – what’s working…
Another great British summer. Another great British summer. [Duncan]

If next summer is rained off, blame the melting Arctic

Most people saw the warm dry weather from June to September as a welcome, but freak, occurrence. Because, as anyone who invested in floaty dresses, barbecues or expensive sunglasses in previous years will…
The future of the globe used to look a lot brighter. The future of the globe used to look a lot brighter. ToastyKen

A brief history of climate science

Climate change is often seen as a recent phenomenon, but its roots are actually far older - the effects of human activity on the global climate have been discussed for more than 150 years. In the 1820s…
With low solar activity, a double-dip La Nina and more particles in the air, it should be much colder than it is. With low solar activity, a double-dip La Nina and more particles in the air, it should be much colder than it is. Les Chatfield/Flickr

Is global warming in a hiatus?

On September 27 2013 the 5th Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will be released. One part of this report will address the so-called “warming hiatus”. This is the…
As ocean cooling reverses, the planet will begin warming once more. As ocean cooling reverses, the planet will begin warming once more. Michael Seljos

Warming slowed by cooling Pacific Ocean

The cooling of eastern Pacific Ocean waters has been counteracting the warming effect of greenhouse gases. Our research, released today in Nature, shows this natural variability in ocean cycles is responsible…
A sliver of hope as forests learn to consume more CO2. A sliver of hope as forests learn to consume more CO2. Moyan Brenn

Forests less thirsty thanks to increasing carbon dioxide levels

Global warming is primarily driven by increasing emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities. Chief among these gases is carbon dioxide (CO2), which warms the planet by trapping heat that would…
You can blink, you won’t miss it. Climate change is here for good. You can blink, you won’t miss it. Climate change is here for good. rudecactus

Global warming is here to stay, whichever way you look at it

Has global warming stalled? This question is increasingly being asked because the local weather seems cool and wet, or because the global mean temperature is not increasing at its earlier rate or the long-term…
It appears that biodiversity increases during warmer periods in Earth’s history. It appears that biodiversity increases during warmer periods in Earth’s history. Dom Dada/Flickr

Competition: warming and its effect on biodiversity

In 2008, I and my colleagues published a study which appeared to confirm that current global warming could cause large losses of species and a loss of biodiversity. Four years later and a new approach…
While Australia fears either an environment or economic doomsday, other countries get on with making a cleaner future. While Australia fears either an environment or economic doomsday, other countries get on with making a cleaner future. Detail of Hieronymus Bosch's The Last Judgment, from Flickr/profzucker

Apocalypse Not: doomsday thinkers of Oz should get out more

I sometimes wonder what planet this country of ours is on. The environmental debate we are having seems to be in a parallel universe to the rest of the world. Having spent the last four years running one…
Australians generally accept that the climate is changing, but we have lost confidence in politicians, experts, and the media to guide us in what to do about it. Australians generally accept that the climate is changing, but we have lost confidence in politicians, experts, and the media to guide us in what to do about it. Flickr/spodzone

Reading the Climate of the Nation 2012

Over the past several decades, scientists have studied the climate of the world and how that is changing. These studies have built on the recognition, made over 150 years ago by John Tindall, that certain…
Tree rings from around the time of Christ suggest warmer regional temperatures than those between the 1950s to the 1980s, but this does not imply higher mean global temperatures. Tree rings from around the time of Christ suggest warmer regional temperatures than those between the 1950s to the 1980s, but this does not imply higher mean global temperatures. Flickr/Petrified Forest Ranger

On tree rings, CO2 levels and the Pliocene

A study of tree-ring data recently found that in some regions temperatures during Roman times (21AD to 50AD) were 1.05 degrees Celsius higher than the 1951-1980 mean. The paper’s lead author, Professor…
Behind the times: Europe already had carbon taxes in 1992 back when Vanilla Ice topped the Australian charts. Behind the times: Europe already had carbon taxes in 1992 back when Vanilla Ice topped the Australian charts. AAP/Musicbiz

Start a carbon tax? That’s so 1991. Clean innovation and partnerships is where it’s at

We price carbon. This is nothing new. The first time this explicitly happened, Vanilla Ice hit number one in Australia, and Bryan Adams was topping the global charts with “(Everything I do) I do it for…
Sometimes even the clearest signs of change are ignored. Sometimes even the clearest signs of change are ignored. Flickr/baldeaglebluff

Adapting to climate change: more questions than answers!

With increasing global greenhouse gas emissions, and no clear internationally-agreed path for emission reductions, we are faced with a global climate that will be at least two degrees warmer than today…
Tiny humans would consume less and emit less, but who’s ready to genetically engineer their kids? Tiny humans would consume less and emit less, but who’s ready to genetically engineer their kids? Dylan Luder

No modest proposal: bioengineering humans for global warming

You know the situation is getting desperate when three bio-ethicists propose genetically modifying humans to reduce our environmental impact. In a bizarre paper titled Human engineering and climate change…
Humanity’s control of fire has led to a vastly changed atmosphere. Humanity’s control of fire has led to a vastly changed atmosphere. Jason A Samfield

The discovery of fire: initial steps toward anthropogenic climate change

The evidence for a rapid shift in state of the terrestrial atmosphere-ocean system over the last two centuries (see figure 1) requires a deep time perspective, beyond events of the day. Tracing the original…

Research and News (11)

Climate change linked to narrowing leaves

Climate change is causing the leaves of at least one subspecies of Australian plant to narrow in size, a team from the University…

Research Briefs (49)

CO2 levels reach record high

Atmospheric CO2 concentrations reached record levels last year according to the UN World Meteorological Organisation. The…

Tibetan glaciers decapitated by warming climate

Warmer climates are shrinking Tibetan glaciers at their summits, researchers have discovered. A study has shown that the…

Gorgonian corals thriving in warming planet

Gorgonian corals, described by some scientists as the animal forests of the ocean, seem to be proliferating in the Caribbean…

Global warming range narrowed

Research from the University of Melbourne and Victoria University has generated more reliable global warming estimates at…

Clouds not as cooling as thought

Clouds caused by air pollution have been overestimated in their ability to to reflect sunlight back into space, thus helping…

Arctic begins to resemble the south

A large scale study that looks at changing seasonality in the northern hemisphere has been completed. Researchers from 17…

Pollinators and plants losing touch

The pollination networks between bees and flowers are not as robust as they were 100 years ago. Based on a comparative study…

Swamp plants their own masters

Plants in swamps and marshes have been observed actively altering their environment to increase their species’ chance of…

Study reveals warming’s sooty side

Black carbon is nearly three times more important in climate change than previously thought, research led by the University…