[April 24-30'23] Bringing the heat
Oceans are heating up, EU approved carbon tax on imports, geoengineering yes / no and US hospitals funds the fossil fuel industry.
Welcome to this week’s edition of The Weekly Climate 🎉
Lots of news about various aspects of heat this week. From oceans to the global unlikeliness of the heat extremes we’ve seen.
‼️News you can’t miss
Here’s one important scary/bad (🙀), good (😻), interesting (😼) and fossil (💩) news item.
😻 EU approved the world’s first carbon tax on imports (not 100% sure this is a good thing but for now it looks more good than bad I think)
👩⚕️ Status: Climate & Science
Let’s look at how we’re doing this week!
[#icebergs] — New research published in Nature shows that surges of icebergs in the Arctic have triggered abrupt shifts in ocean currents, rainfall patterns, and atmospheric concentrations of methane, with some of the climate impacts happening in unexpected places, such as rapid warming in Antarctica instead of nearby Greenland. The study suggests that there may be an atmospheric climate connection that operates on a much faster timescale than the well-known pole-to-pole connection via ocean currents, and this dynamic may have implications for climate change today, accelerating ice sheet melting and sea level rise.
[#elnino] — According to Carbon Brief, 2023 is on track to be one of the top four warmest years on record, with a modest chance of being the warmest. The warming is driven by the end of a triple-dip La Niña (meaning that it occured on 3 consecutive years) and a rapid transition into warmer El Niño conditions. The first three months of the year were tied as the fourth warmest on record, with March being the second warmest. Carbon Brief estimates that 2023 is very likely to end up between the warmest year on record and the sixth warmest, with a best estimate of fourth warmest. Antarctic sea ice set new all-time low records in the first two months of 2023, with an all-time low summer minimum for the Southern Hemisphere in February.
[#oceanheat] — The world's oceans have reached their warmest levels in modern history, with daily ocean temperatures trending warmer than normal for the past month and a half. While the difference in temperature between this year and the same period in 2022 comes down to just a few tenths of a degree, looked at over the long term, the increase represents a significant jump. Rising ocean temperatures lead to changing circulation patterns, coral bleaching, sea-level rise, changes in fish migration and marine food webs, and ocean deoxygenation, which has wide-ranging repercussions for marine life and human well-being.
[#heat] — Carbon Brief's analysis shows that about half of the world's population is living in regions that saw their hottest daily temperatures since 1950 during the past 10 years. The number of people experiencing all-time high heat events has increased dramatically over the past three decades, and approximately 380 million people saw their hottest single hourly temperature ever recorded in 2022 alone. Extreme heat events can have serious health impacts and exacerbate drought and wildfire risk, among other issues.
📰 The 7 Grand Challenges
Clean electricity is the one do-or-die challenge we must solve.
[#australiarenewables] — Australia's record levels of renewable energy, including rooftop solar output, helped lower wholesale power prices and carbon emissions in the first quarter of 2023, according to a report by the Australian Energy Market Operator. Wholesale spot prices in the national electricity market averaged $83/MWh, down more than 10% from the previous quarter and two-thirds lower than the record average of $264/MWh in Q2 2022. Rooftop solar output alone averaged almost 3 GW for the quarter, up 23% YoY, contributing to a drop in "operational demand" in the NEM to the lowest since 2005. Gas, typically the most costly fuel for electricity generation, provided its smallest Q1 share of supplies since 2005, while coal and gas-fired generation dropped 710 MW YoY.
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