Fire Earth

Mass die-offs from human impact and planetary response to the assault could occur by early 2016

Archive for the ‘carbon dioxide’ Category

Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Update

Posted by feww on April 29, 2013

Weekly average CO2 at Mauna Loa Observatory 

  • Week of April 21, 2013:     398.68 ppm
  • Weekly value from 1 year ago:     396.66 ppm
  • Weekly value from 10 years ago:     378.46 ppm

One Year of  CO2 daily and weekly means at Mauna Loa

co2- weekly mlo
The graph, updated weekly, shows as individual points daily mean CO2 up to and including the week (Sunday through Saturday) previous to today. The daily means are based on hours during which CO2 was likely representative of “background” conditions, defined as times when the measurement is representative of air at mid-altitudes over the Pacific Ocean. That air has had several days time or more to mix, smoothing out most of the CO2 variability encountered elsewhere, making the measurements representative of CO2 over hundreds of km or more. The selection process is designed to filter out any influence of nearby emissions, or removals, of CO2 such as caused by the vegetation on the island of Hawaii, and likewise emissions from the volcanic crater of Mauna Loa.  Source: ESRL/NOAA

Recent Mauna Loa CO2

  • March 2013:     397.34 ppm
  • March 2012:     394.45 ppm

Recent Global CO2

  • February 2013:     395.98 ppm
  • February 2012:     393.05 ppm

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GHG Concentration at Record Level: WMO

Posted by feww on November 24, 2010

Brief History of Mankind

Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at record levels: the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

The average mixing ratios of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) reached record level in 2009,WMO reported.

  • CO2 concentrations ~ 386.8 ppm
  • CH4 ~ 1,803 ppb
  • N2O ~ 322.5 ppb

These values are greater than the corresponding atmospheric concentrations in pre-industrial times (~1750) by 38%, 158% and 19%, respectively.

In the twenty year period between 1990 and 2009, the combined radiative forcing—the balance between atmosphere’s incoming and outgoing radiation—for all persistent greenhouse gases increased by 27.5%, with CO2 accounting for about 80% of the increase, according to the NOAA Annual Greenhouse Gas Index.

Source: WMO GHG Bulletin

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

Carbon dioxide is the single most important anthropogenic greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, contributing 63.54 %2 to the overall global radiative forcing. It is responsible for 85% of the increase in radiative forcing over the past decade and 83% over the last five years. For about 10 000 years before the industrial revolution, the atmospheric abundance of CO2 was nearly constant at ~ 280 ppm (ppm = number of molecules of the gas per million molecules of dry air). This level represented a balance among the atmosphere, the oceans and the biosphere. Since 1750, atmospheric CO2 has increased by 38%, primarily because of emissions from combustion of fossil fuels (8.7 Gt carbon in 2008,, deforestation and landuse change. High-precision measurements of atmospheric CO2 beginning in 1958 show that the average increase in CO2 in the atmosphere (airborne fraction) corresponds to ~ 55% of the CO2 emitted by fossil fuel combustion. WMO

Source: WMO GHG Bulletin

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Posted in carbon dioxide, carbon emissions, carbon footprint, Carbon Footprint of Your Dollar, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

6 of One Fuel, Half Dozen of the Other

Posted by feww on March 11, 2010

Needed a sophisticated new analysis to tell you?

More maize ethanol may boost greenhouse gas emissions

New economic analysis confirms that maize-based biofuel is unlikely to reduce global production of carbon dioxide

Ethanol plant in West Burlington, Iowa.

Public release
American Institute of Biological Sciences

In the March issue of BioScience, researchers present a sophisticated new analysis of the effects of boosting use of maize-derived ethanol on greenhouse gas emissions. The study, conducted by Thomas W. Hertel of Purdue University and five co-authors, focuses on how mandated increases in production of the biofuel in the United States will trigger land-use changes domestically and elsewhere. In response to the increased demand for maize, farmers convert additional land to crops, and this conversion can boost carbon dioxide emissions.

The analysis combines ecological data with a global economic commodity and trade model to project the effects of US maize ethanol production on carbon dioxide emissions resulting from land-use changes in 18 regions across the globe. The researchers’ main conclusion is stark: these indirect, market-mediated effects on greenhouse gas emissions “are enough to cancel out the benefits the corn ethanol has on global warming.”

The indirect effects of increasing production of maize ethanol were first addressed in 2008 by Timothy Searchinger and his coauthors, who presented a simpler calculation in Science. Searchinger concluded that burning maize ethanol led to greenhouse gas emissions twice as large as if gasoline had been burned instead. The question assumed global importance because the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act mandates a steep increase in US production of biofuels over the next dozen years, and certifications about life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions are needed for some of this increase. In addition, the California Air Resources Board’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard requires including estimates of the effects of indirect land-use change on greenhouse gas emissions. The board’s approach is based on the work reported in BioScience.

Hertel and colleagues’ analysis incorporates some effects that could lessen the impact of land-use conversion, but their bottom line, though only one-quarter as large as the earlier estimate of Searchinger and his coauthors, still indicates that the maize ethanol now being produced in the United States will not significantly reduce total greenhouse gas emissions, compared with burning gasoline. The authors acknowledge that some game-changing technical or economic development could render their estimates moot, but sensitivity analyses undertaken in their study suggest that the findings are quite robust.

Posted in biofuels, California Air Resources Board, carbon dioxide, greenhouse gas emissions, US production of biofuels | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Super heat-trapping HFC-23 emissions up 50 pct

Posted by feww on January 28, 2010

Three Facts about HFC-23 Your Doctor Should Know

1. In the atmosphere, HFC-23 is 14,800 times more effective in trapping heat than its CO2 equivalent.

2. HFC-23 persists in the atmosphere for about 300 years.

3. Emissions in 2006-2008 jumped 50 percent above the 1990-2000 average.

HFC-23, or trifluoromethane, is a byproduct of chlorodifluoromethane, or HCFC-22, a refrigerant used in heat-exchange appliances, air conditioners and refrigerators, and a base compound for manufacturing heat and chemical-resistant materials such as  coatings and covering for cables, as well as aerosol propellants, solvents, fire fighting and foam blowing agents.

It is also heavily used in the semiconductor industry in plasma etching of silicon oxide and silicon nitride. Probably the most well known product associated with the release of HFC-23 to the atmosphere is Teflon, by DuPont.

Chlorodifluoromethane or difluoromonochloromethane is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) AKA, HCFC-22, or R-22

Chlorodifluoromethane is prepared from chloroform: HCCl3 + 2 HF → HCF2Cl + 2 HCl

CHF3 also known as: HFC-23, R-23, Fluoroform, Carbon trifluoride, Methyl trifluoride, Fluoryl, Freon 23, Arcton 1,  FE-13, UN 1984. CHF3 is produced as a by-product of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) aka Teflon (DuPont). It is also generated biologically in trace amounts.

“Without the international effort to reduce emissions of HFC-23, its emissions and atmospheric abundance would have been even larger in recent years,” said Stephen Montzka, a NOAA research chemist. “As it was, emissions in 2006-2008 were about 50 percent above the 1990-2000 average.”

The finding comes in the face  of worldwide efforts to prevent the gas release into the atmosphere. The Montreal Protocol stipulates the end of HCFC-22 production by 2020 in developed countries and 2030 in developing counties for those applications that allow  CFC-22 released to the atmosphere.

Unfortunately, The Montreal Protocol imposes no restriction on the production of  HCFC-22 from fluoropolymerization, which also co-produces the HFC-23. “The future atmospheric abundance of HFC-23 and its contribution to future climate change depends on amounts of HCFC-22 produced and the success of programs to reduce emissions of the co-generated HFC-23.”

“HFC-23 is one of the most potent greenhouse gases emitted as a result of human activities. Over a 100-year time span, one pound of HFC-23 released into the atmosphere traps heat 14,800 times more effectively than one pound of carbon dioxide. To date, the total accumulated emission of HFC-23 is small relative to other greenhouse gases, making this gas a minor (less than one percent) contributor to climate change at present.” NOAA Press Release said.

Scientists measured air collected from above the snow surface and down to 380 feet below the snow surface during field studies in Antarctica in 2001, 2005 and 2009. Using these results, they were able to determine how amounts of HFC-23 and other gases affecting climate and stratospheric ozone have changed in the recent past. The first published measurements of HFC-23 appeared in 1998 but this was the first time scientists examined how HFC-23 emissions have changed since 1996, particularly in developing nations and since the UNFCCC’s projects to reduce emissions began in 2003.

“Recent increases in global FHC-23 emission” by S.A. Montzka, L. Kuijpers, M.O.Battle, M. Aydin, K. Verhulst, E.S. Saltzman, D.W.Fahey will be published by January 29 in Geophysical Research Letters.

Posted in carbon dioxide, chlorodifluoromethane, GHG, GHG emissions, trifluoromethane | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Alaska on Fire

Posted by feww on August 4, 2009

First the Beetles Attacked!

Climate change is permanently changing the face of Alaska, Earth

In Alaska, 35 percent forest, climate change is causing irreversible changes including droughts, forest fires, and infestations of tree-killing insects like spruce beetles and spruce budworm moths. In the last 15 years, the spruce beetles, which thrive in warmer climates, have destroyed a total of about 3 million acres (1.21 million hectares) of spruce forest in south-central Alaska.

More Than 1 Million Acres Burning in Interior Alaska

Large wildfires that began in July continued to burn in interior Alaska in the first week of August 2009. These images from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite on August 2 show some of the state’s largest blazes and the thick pall of smoke they were creating. The top image is a natural-color (photo-like) view of the area, while the lower image combines visible, shortwave-, and near-infrared light to make burned areas (brick red) stand out better from unburned vegetation (bright green). In this kind of false-color image, the bright pink areas along the perimeters of the fires are often a sign of open flame.

According to the August 3 report from the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center, 483 fires were burning across the state, affecting about 2.4 million acres. The Railbelt Complex was the largest at an estimated 462,298 acres. The Tanana River appears to be creating a natural firebreak at the northern edge of the fire, which is spreading to the south. To the east, the smaller Wood River Fire (107,634 acres) has bright pink spots along both its northern and southern perimeters. Both these fires, as well as the Big Creek Fire (145,652 acres) and Little Black One Fire (292,907 acres) along the Yukon River, were triggered by lightning. NASA images courtesy the MODIS Rapid Response Team. Caption by Rebecca Lindsey.

References: Alaska Interagency Coordination Center Situation Report, Monday–08/03/2009

Alaska Warming Rapidly

Alaska has experienced an average warming of 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 °F) and about 4.5 °C (8°F) in the inner regions in winter months since the 1960s, the largest regional warming of anywhere in the U.S., according to records.

The warmer temperature means Alaska’s peat bogs, which are nearly 14,000 years old, are drying up. Ed Berg, an ecologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has discovered that shrubs and other plants have been rooting in areas of peat big normally too soggy for woody plants to grow during the last three decades.

As the areas of beetle-infested forest grow, more land is clear-cut and land speculation frenzy grows.

Wetlands are a natural defense mechanism retarding forest fires. The warmer weather and drier forest therefore could lead to more forest fires.

Drying or burning peat bogs, which comprise 50-60 percent carbon, would release additional carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, to the atmosphere.

Yoho National Park in British Columbia
An unusual pattern is left by forest fire as seen in this photograph of a mountain in Yoho National Park in British Columbia west of the Alberta border in this August 8, 2005 file picture. REUTERS/Andy Clark. Image may be subject to copyright.

Human activity is ultimately responsible for the intensity and frequency of most present-day forest fires like Alaska’s; to call them ‘wildfires,’ therefore, is disingenuous and unintelligent.

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Posted in Big Creek Fire, carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases, Little Black One Fire, wildfires, Wood River Fire, Yukon River | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Reduce Harmful Emissions by Wealthy Individuals

Posted by feww on July 7, 2009

Why Wealthy Individuals Allowed to Produce More Climate-Changing Emissions?

More than half the planet’s greenhouse gasses emissions come from less than a billion of the population

In Carbon Footprint of Your Dollar our colleagues at CASF and EDRO calculated how much carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas, your money made.

Our colleagues at MSRB and CASF showed the amount of CO2 made by the world richest individuals in The Billionaires’ contribution to CO2 pollution.

The Moderators emphasize that it’s the total wealth of the individual which is responsible for the amount of CO2e emissions, not necessarily the individual’s  lifestyle. For example, while Richard Branson’s personal lifestyle is responsible for up to a 1,000 times more harmful emissions than Bill Gate’s  and Warren Buffet’s put together, the total harmful emissions generated as a result of the combined assets of the world’s richest duo is about 40 times more than the airline owner’s.

In a new report submitted to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers wrote that it makes sense to track the these rich individuals when setting national targets to reduce CO2 emissions.

Here’s the Report’s Abstract:

Sharing global CO2 emission reductions among one billion high emitters

We present a framework for allocating a global carbon reduction target among nations, in which the concept of ‘‘common but differentiated responsibilities’’ refers to the emissions of individuals instead of nations.We use the income distribution of a country to estimate how its fossil fuel CO2 emissions are distributed among its citizens, from which we build up a global CO2 distribution. We then propose a simple rule to derive a universal cap on global individual emissions and find corresponding limits on national aggregate emissions from this cap. All of the world’s high CO2-emitting individuals are treated the same, regardless of where they live. Any future global emission goal (target and time frame) can be converted into national reduction targets, which are determined by ‘‘Business as Usual’’ projections of national carbon emissions and in-country income distributions. For example, reducing projected global emissions in 2030 by 13 GtCO2 would require the engagement of 1.13 billion high emitters, roughly equally distributed in 4 regions: the U.S., the OECD minus the U.S., China, and the non-OECD minus China. We also modify our methodology to place a floor on emissions of the world’s lowest CO2 emitters and demonstrate that climate mitigation and alleviation of extreme poverty are largely decoupled.

“You’re distributing the task of doing something about emissions reduction based on the proportion of the population in the country that’s actually doing the most damage,” said one of the study’s authors, Shoibal Chakravarty of the Princeton Environment Institute.

“As countries develop—India, China, Brazil and others—over time, they’ll have more and more of these individuals and they’ll have a higher share of carbon reductions to do in the future,” he said.

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Posted in carbon dioxide, CO2e emissions, global ghg emissions, greenhouse gasses, world's wealthiest | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

British Columbia Forests Plagued by Beetle

Posted by feww on December 24, 2008

Insect Damage in British Columbia Forests

Insect Damage in British Columbia Forests
Acquired June 26, 2006
NASA Earth Observatory
Color bar for Insect Damage in British Columbia Forests

A population explosion of mountain pine beetles have plagued British Columbia’s forests since the 1990s. The beetle, Dendroctonus ponderosae, has destroyed large tracts of forest throughout the province. Forests have economic value, and they provide habitat and food for wildlife. In addition, they play an important role in Earth’s carbon cycle, which affects climate. Healthy, growing forests take up carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. Dead forests produce carbon dioxide when trees decay. Some of the worst damage appears near 52 degrees north and 124 degrees west.

NASA map by Robert Simmon, based on data from Paul Montesano, Jon Ranson, and the MODIS land team.
Caption by Michon Scott and Rebecca Lindsey.
Instrument: Terra – MODIS
Dates Acquired: June 26, 2006 – July 11, 2006

Posted in beetle infestation, British Columbia Forests, carbon dioxide, pine forests | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »


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