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Skeptical Science New Research for Week #20 2022

Posted on 19 May 2022 by Doug Bostrom, Marc Kodack

Drought: the past is no longer prologue

Drought management in the United States (and elsewhere) is highly informed by events of the past, employing records extending 60 years or longer  in order to plan for and cope with newly emerging meteorological water deficits. Water resource managers and agricultural concerns use recorded droughts as models for negotiating periods of low precipitation in the present. Planning systems, metthods and habits are deeply seated on this foundation of knowledge and experience. 

Problems will arise when weather and climate drift away from expected patterns of behavior and enter new territory while we cling to old data that has lost power to describe our new reality. Hoylman et al. delve into this in their work just publshed in Nature CommunicationsDrought assessment has been outpaced by climate change: empirical arguments for a paradigm shift. The authors concisely describe the meat of the matter:

Despite the acceleration of climate change, erroneous assumptions of climate stationarity are still inculcated in the management of water resources in the United States (US). The US system for drought detection, which triggers billions of dollars in emergency resources, adheres to this assumption with preference towards 60-year (or longer) record lengths for drought characterization. Using observed data from 1,934 Global Historical Climate Network (GHCN) sites across the US, we show that conclusions based on long climate records can substantially bias assessment of drought severity. Bias emerges by assuming that conditions from the early and mid 20th century are as likely to occur in today’s climate.

It's worth noting that other assessments are similarly affected, for a variety of reasons. Sometimes our records don't extend into reliable "pre-industrial" climate.  The problem can potentially become even worse, as in the use of a relatively short rollling period for comparisons of annual Arctic sea ice metrics with averages over time.  A rapidly changing climate complicates a plethora of assessments of "how are we today," given the loss of stationarity in many Earth systems. 

Hopefully this article will help draw attention the general matter of non-stationarity. "Paradigm shift" as a search term on Google Scholar yields 1.9M+ results; we may possibly conclude that many sincerely felt urgent matters are given short shrift. 

Other notables:

Fencing farm dams to exclude livestock halves methane emissions and improves water quality. Farmers and ranchers are not notorious for having loads of spare time on their hands, but here's a method not representing an open-ended supply of additional work and offering a good payoff. 

A systematic review of the psychological distance of climate change: Towards the development of an evidence-based construct. There are tantalizing indications that "psychological distance" from climate change (and particularly impacts of climate change) can be predictive of how we think about the problem and how motivated we may feel to deal with it. This article reviews strenghts and weaknesses of the concept and concludes with prescriptions for how to progress. 

Multiscale mechanical consequences of ocean acidification for cold-water corals. When we think of coral, many of us picture lively scenes in bright,sparkling waters beneath tropical skies. There's a whole other world of coral beyond our view, and unlike increasing warmth, it's acidification of the ocean posing a threat to these assemblages. 

Becoming nose-blind—Climate change impacts on chemical communication. Exquisitely sensitive biological sensors facilitate and govern myriad animal behaviors. How is our rapidly changing atmosphere affecting these systems? We don't know in detail but with a little planning we can substantially fill that gap. 

All of the above open access and free to read.

This week's edition of NR includes a particularly rich set of government/NGO reports on matters connected with climate change. Click here to jump directly to the section. 

97 articles in 49 journals by 602 contributing authors

Physical science of climate change, effects

The Climate Control on River Chemistry
Li et al. Earth's Future
Open Access pdf 10.1029/2021ef002603

New Insights on the Radiative Impacts of Ozone-Depleting Substances
Chiodo & Polvani Geophysical Research Letters

Subpolar Atlantic Ocean mixed layer heat content variability is increasingly driven by an active ocean
Josey & Sinha Communications Earth & Environment
Open Access pdf 10.1038/s43247-022-00433-6

Observations of climate change, effects

Spatiotemporal analysis of precipitation and temperature concentration using PCI and TCI: a case study of Khuzestan Province, Iran
Ahmadi et al. Theoretical and Applied Climatology

Changes in hydrological regime in High Arctic non-glaciated catchment in 1979-2020 using a multimodel approach
Osuch et al. Advances in Climate Change Research
Open Access 10.1016/j.accre.2022.05.001

Daytime warming triggers tree growth decline in the Northern Hemisphere
Tao et al. Global Change Biology

Citizen science across two centuries reveals phenological change among plant species and functional groups in the Northeastern US
Fuccillo Battle et al. Journal of Ecology

Changes in the frequency and temperature of air masses over East-Central Europe
Bartoszek & Kaszewski International Journal of Climatology

A Determination of Season Shifting Across Turkey in the Period 1965-2020
Aksu International Journal of Climatology

Influence of anthropogenic activities on elevation-dependent weakening of annual temperature cycle amplitude over the Tibetan Plateau
Zhu et al. Geophysical Research Letters

Climate change vulnerability in Bangladesh based on trend analysis of some extreme temperature indices
Ahmed et al. Theoretical and Applied Climatology

The redistribution of anthropogenic excess heat is a key driver of warming in the North Atlantic
Messias & Mercier Communications Earth & Environment
Open Access pdf 10.1038/s43247-022-00443-4

Analysis of the reasons for the outbreak of Yellow Sea green tide in 2021 based on long-term multi-source data
Li et al. Marine Environmental Research

The role of human-induced climate change in heavy rainfall events such as the one associated with Typhoon Hagibis
Li & Otto Climatic Change
Open Access pdf 10.1007/s10584-022-03344-9

On the prevalence of forest fires in Spain
Boccard Natural Hazards
Open Access pdf 10.1007/s11069-022-05384-x

Instrumentation & observational methods of climate change, contributors, effects

Are Trends in Convective Parameters over the United States and Europe Consistent between Reanalyses and Observations?
Journal of Climate

Watching the Cryosphere Thaw: Seismic Monitoring of Permafrost Degradation Using Distributed Acoustic Sensing During a Controlled Heating Experiment
Cheng et al. Geophysical Research Letters

Sea level along the world’s coastlines can be measured by a network of virtual altimetry stations
Cazenave et al. Communications Earth & Environment
Open Access pdf 10.1038/s43247-022-00448-z

Reviews and syntheses: A framework to observe, understand, and project ecosystem response to environmental change in the East Antarctic Southern Ocean
Gutt et al.
Open Access pdf 10.5194/bg-2022-110

Modeling, simulation & projection of climate change, effects

Convection-permitting simulations of historical and possible future climate over the contiguous United States
Gensini et al. Climate Dynamics
Open Access pdf 10.1007/s00382-022-06306-0

Future projections of heatwave characteristics and dynamics over India using a high-resolution regional earth system model
Dubey & Kumar Climate Dynamics

Future water temperature of rivers in Switzerland under climate change investigated with physics-based models
Michel et al.
Open Access pdf 10.5194/hess-2021-194

Projected ENSO teleconnection changes in CMIP6
McGregor et al. Geophysical Research Letters

Impact of internal climate variability on wintertime surface air temperature trends over Eurasia in the CESM1 large ensemble
Gong et al. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Projections of Precipitation Extremes based on Bias-corrected CMIP6 Models Ensemble over Southern Africa
Lim Kam Sian et al. International Journal of Climatology

Advancement of climate & climate effects modeling, simulation & projection

Response of atmospheric rivers over East Asia to increase of resolution in the HadGEM3-GC3.1 general circulation model
Liang & Yong Yong Atmospheric Research

Improved Climate Simulation by using a Double-Plume Convection Scheme in a Global Model
Li et al. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Cryosphere & climate change

Numerical simulation of thaw settlement and permafrost changes at three sites along the Qinghai-Tibet Engineering Corridor in a warming climate
Sun et al. Geophysical Research Letters

Watching the Cryosphere Thaw: Seismic Monitoring of Permafrost Degradation Using Distributed Acoustic Sensing During a Controlled Heating Experiment
Cheng et al. Geophysical Research Letters

Sea level & climate change

Single extreme storm sequence can offset decades of shoreline retreat projected to result from sea-level rise
Harley et al. Communications Earth & Environment
Open Access pdf 10.1038/s43247-022-00437-2


Genetic evidence for post-glacial expansion from a southern refugium in the eastern moa (Emeus crassus)
Verry et al. Biology Letters

Inconsistent comparison of temperature reconstructions over the Common Era
Neukom et al. Dendrochronologia

Climate change–induced population pressure drives high rates of lethal violence in the Prehispanic central Andes
McCool et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Open Access pdf 10.1073/pnas.2117556119

Biology & climate change, related geochemistry

Becoming nose-blind—Climate change impacts on chemical communication
Roggatz et al. Global Change Biology
Open Access pdf 10.1111/gcb.16209

The uncertain role of rising atmospheric CO2 on global plant transpiration
Vicente-Serrano et al. Earth
Open Access 10.1016/j.earscirev.2022.104055

Citizen science across two centuries reveals phenological change among plant species and functional groups in the Northeastern US
Fuccillo Battle et al. Journal of Ecology

Whither winter: The altered role of winter for freshwaters as the climate changes
Cotner et al. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences

Physiological and morphological effects of a marine heatwave on the seagrass Cymodocea nodosa
Deguette et al. Scientific Reports
Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41598-022-12102-x

Daytime warming triggers tree growth decline in the Northern Hemisphere
Tao et al. Global Change Biology

How to prioritize species recovery after a megafire
Ward et al. Conservation Biology

Upslope release – downslope receipt? Multi-year plant uptake of permafrost-released nitrogen along an arctic hillslope
Pedersen et al. Journal of Ecology

Multiscale mechanical consequences of ocean acidification for cold-water corals
Wolfram et al. Scientific Reports
Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41598-022-11266-w

Soft coral reproductive phenology along a depth gradient: Can “going deeper” provide a viable refuge?
Liberman et al. Ecology

Impacts of Climate Change on Forest Growth in Saline-alkali Land of Yellow River Delta, North China
Wang et al. Dendrochronologia

Modeling climate change impacts on the distribution of an endangered brown bear population in its critical habitat in Iran
Ashrafzadeh et al. Science of The Total Environment

GHG sources & sinks, flux, related geochemistry

Future climate risks from stress, insects and fire across US forests
Anderegg et al. Ecology Letters

Gaps in network infrastructure limit our understanding of biogenic methane emissions for the United States
Malone et al. Biogeosciences
Open Access pdf 10.5194/bg-19-2507-2022

Effects of fire on CO2, CH4 and N2O exchange in a well-drained Arctic heath ecosystem
Hermesdorf et al. Global Change Biology

Ocean ventilation controls the contrasting anthropogenic CO2 uptake rates between the western and eastern South Atlantic Ocean basins
Gao et al. Global Biogeochemical Cycles

The impact of freeze-thaw history on soil carbon response to experimental freeze-thaw cycles
Rooney et al. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences

An emission inventory update for Tehran: The difference between air pollution and greenhouse gas source contributions
Shahbazi et al. Atmospheric Research

Global methane and nitrous oxide emissions from inland waters and estuaries
Zheng et al. Global Change Biology

Climatic variation drives loss and restructuring of carbon and nitrogen in boreal forest wildfire
Eckdahl et al. Biogeosciences
Open Access pdf 10.5194/bg-19-2487-2022

Fencing farm dams to exclude livestock halves methane emissions and improves water quality
Malerba et al. Global Change Biology
Open Access 10.1111/gcb.16237

Impact of short-term land-use change on soil organic carbon dynamics in transitional agro-ecosystems: a case study in the Brazilian Cerrado
Dias et al. Carbon Management
Open Access pdf 10.1080/17583004.2022.2074313

Understanding greenhouse gas (GHG) column concentrations in Munich using WRF
Zhao et al.
Open Access pdf 10.5194/acp-2022-281

A modelling approach for addressing sensitivity and uncertainty of estuarine greenhouse gas (CO2 and CH4) dynamics
Huang et al. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Open Access pdf 10.1029/2021jg006722

CO2 capture, sequestration science & engineering

Probing dissolved CO2(aq) in aqueous solutions for CO2 electroreduction and storage
Li et al. Science Advances

Drought-induced decoupling between carbon uptake and tree growth impacts forest carbon turnover time
Kannenberg et al. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology

Review of carbon capture absorbents for CO2 utilization
Chai et al. Greenhouse Gases: Science and Technology
Open Access pdf 10.1002/ghg.2151


Simultaneity of green energy and hydrogen production: Analysing the dispatch of a grid-connected electrolyser
Schlund & Theile Energy Policy
Open Access pdf 10.1016/j.enpol.2022.113008

Methodology for estimating the potential of ground-mounted solar photovoltaic as part of the national electricity grid: The case of Israel
Shriki et al. Energy for Sustainable Development

Feasibility analysis for floating offshore wind energy
Maienza et al. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment
Open Access pdf 10.1007/s11367-022-02055-8

Impact on the power mix and economy of Japan under a 2050 carbon-neutral scenario: Analysis using the E3ME macro-econometric model
Lee et al. Climate Policy

Quantification of aerosol and cloud effects on solar energy over China using WRF-Chem
Zhang et al. Atmospheric Research

Simulating rooftop solar arrays with varying design parameters to study effect of mutual shading
Pandey et al. Energy for Sustainable Development

Land-use implications of energy transition pathways towards decarbonisation – Comparing the footprints of Vietnam, New Zealand and Finland
Tran & Egermann Energy Policy
Open Access 10.1016/j.enpol.2022.112951

Estimating the economic impacts of improved wind speed forecasts in the United States electricity sector
Jeon et al. Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy

Black carbon

A Strong Anthropogenic Black Carbon Forcing Constrained by Pollution Trends over China
Liu et al. Geophysical Research Letters

Mapping the dependence of BC radiative forcing on emission region and season
Räisänen et al.
Open Access pdf 10.5194/acp-2022-288

Aerosols Climate change communications & cognition

Perspectives of UK adolescents on the youth climate strikes
Lee et al. Nature Climate Change
Open Access 10.1038/s41558-022-01361-1

A systematic review of the psychological distance of climate change: Towards the development of an evidence-based construct
Keller et al. Journal of Environmental Psychology
Open Access 10.1016/j.jenvp.2022.101822

Impact of aerosol concentration on elevation-dependent warming pattern in the mountains of Nepal
Dhital et al. Atmospheric Science Letters
Open Access pdf 10.1002/asl.1101

Agronomy, animal husbundry, food production & climate change

Assessing effectiveness of agricultural adaptation strategies in context of crop loss: a case study of the Indian subcontinent
Swami & Parthasarathy Regional Environmental Change

Fencing farm dams to exclude livestock halves methane emissions and improves water quality
Malerba et al. Global Change Biology
Open Access 10.1111/gcb.16237

Modelling the effects of climate change on the profitability of Australian farms
Hughes et al. Climatic Change
Open Access pdf 10.1007/s10584-022-03356-5

Impact of short-term land-use change on soil organic carbon dynamics in transitional agro-ecosystems: a case study in the Brazilian Cerrado
Dias et al. Carbon Management
Open Access pdf 10.1080/17583004.2022.2074313

Uncertainties in assessing climate change impacts and adaptation options with wheat crop models
Luo et al. Theoretical and Applied Climatology

Higher carbon sequestration on Swedish dairy farms compared with other farm types as revealed by national soil inventories
Henryson et al. Carbon Management
Open Access 10.1080/17583004.2022.2074315

Intensive and extensive rice farm adaptations in salinity-prone areas of the Mekong Delta
Mills et al. Climate and Development

Scaling climate resilient seed systems through SMEs in Eastern and Southern Africa: challenges and opportunities
Shilomboleni et al. Climate and Development
Open Access pdf 10.1080/17565529.2022.2073956

Full adoption of the most effective strategies to mitigate methane emissions by ruminants can help meet the 1.5 °C target by 2030 but not 2050
Arndt et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Hydrology & climate change

Projected changes in population exposure to drought in China under CMIP6 forcing scenarios
Zhao et al. Atmospheric Environment

Changes in hydrological regime in High Arctic non-glaciated catchment in 1979?2020 using a multimodel approach
Osuch et al. Advances in Climate Change Research
Open Access 10.1016/j.accre.2022.05.001

Spatial aggregation of global dry and wet patterns based on the standard precipitation index
Guan et al. Earth's Future
Open Access pdf 10.1029/2022ef002720

Drought assessment has been outpaced by climate change: empirical arguments for a paradigm shift
Hoylman et al. Nature Communications
Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41467-022-30316-5

Increased extreme drought events in south–central China since the last century?Evidence from oxygen isotope signatures preserved in tree ring cellulose
Zhao et al. Dendrochronologia

Climate change economics

Impact on the power mix and economy of Japan under a 2050 carbon-neutral scenario: Analysis using the E3ME macro-econometric model
Lee et al. Climate Policy

How to design efficient renewable energy auctions? Empirical insights from Europe
Anatolitis et al. Energy Policy
Open Access 10.1016/j.enpol.2022.112982

Climate change mitigation public policy research

A defense of usable climate mitigation science: how science can contribute to social movements
Drake & Henderson Climatic Change

How to design efficient renewable energy auctions? Empirical insights from Europe
Anatolitis et al. Energy Policy
Open Access 10.1016/j.enpol.2022.112982

Developing scenarios in the context of the Paris Agreement and application in the integrated assessment model IMAGE: A framework for bridging the policy-modelling divide
Roelfsema et al. Environmental Science & Policy
Open Access 10.1016/j.envsci.2022.05.001

Social (In)justice, climate change and climate policy in Western Australia
Godden et al. Environmental Sociology
Open Access pdf 10.1080/23251042.2022.2069216

CO2 emissions in BRICS countries: what role can environmental regulation and financial development play?
Baloch & Danish Climatic Change

An analysis of the factors driving utility-scale solar PV investments in China: How effective was the feed-in tariff policy?
Zhang et al. Energy Policy

Adoption of low-carbon fuels reduces race/ethnicity disparities in air pollution exposure in California
Li et al. Science of The Total Environment
Open Access 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.155230

Climate change adaptation & adaptation public policy research

Advancements of Sustainable Development Goals in Co-production for Climate Change Adaptation Research
Dannevig et al. Climate Risk Management
Open Access 10.1016/j.crm.2022.100438

Does development assistance reduce climate vulnerability in developing countries? an empirical investigation
Jain & Bardhan Climate and Development

The politics of women’s lives: gendered re-presentations in Bangladesh’s climate change adaptation regime
Evertsen Climate and Development

Towards adoption of mobile data collection for effective adaptation and climate risk management in Africa
Adekola et al. Geoscience Data Journal
Open Access pdf 10.1002/gdj3.156

Climate and sustainability co-governance in Kenya: A multi-criteria analysis of stakeholders' perceptions and consensus
Koasidis et al. Energy for Sustainable Development
Open Access 10.1016/j.esd.2022.05.003

Climate change impacts on human health Climate change impacts on human culture

Contextualizing climate change impacts on human mobility in African drylands
Hoffmann Earth's Future


Cooling island effect of urban lakes in hot waves under foehn and climate change
Le Phuc et al. Theoretical and Applied Climatology

Informed opinion, nudges & major initiatives

Imperatives for integrated science and policy in managing greenhouse gas risks to the Southern Polar Region
Constable Global Change Biology
Open Access pdf 10.1111/gcb.16219

Drought assessment has been outpaced by climate change: empirical arguments for a paradigm shift
Hoylman et al. Nature Communications
Open Access pdf 10.1038/s41467-022-30316-5

Existing fossil fuel extraction would warm the world beyond 1.5 °C
Trout et al. Environmental Research Letters
Open Access 10.1088/1748-9326/ac6228

Articles/Reports from Agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations Addressing Aspects of Climate Change

Drought In Numbers 2022, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

The authors call for making a full global commitment to drought preparedness and resilience in all global regions a top priority. The report is an authoritative compendium of drought-related information and data. The facts and figures of this publication all point in the same direction: an upward trajectory in the duration of droughts and the severity of effects, not only affecting human societies but also the ecological systems upon which the survival of all life depends, including that of our own species.

Transferred Emissions: How Risks in Oil and Gas M&A Could Hamper the Energy Transition, Malek et al., Environmental Defense Fund

Given the potential ramifications of oil and gas dealmaking, the transferred emissions problem has become an increasingly mainstream topic across the environmental community, especially as demand for decarbonization incentivizes companies to sell high-emitting assets. However, existing analysis has not captured the real scope of this problem, with sparse information on where upstream assets are moving and how asset transfers may impact climate outcomes. The authors address these two questions. Analyzing global upstream oil and gas merger and acquisition data from 2017 through 2021 and digging deep into specific high-risk transactions, the authors unpack the climate implications of oil and gas asset sales. They authors found (1) a significant amount of upstream oil and gas dealmaking has taken place in recent years; (2) assets are flowing from public-to-private markets at a significant rate; (3) assets are increasingly moving away from companies with environmental commitments; and (4) stewardship risk in upstream oil and gas appears to be rising.

Grid of the Future: PJM’s Regional Planning Perspective, PJM Planning Division

Over the past decade, increasing focus by federal and state governments on climate change, energy independence and other policy areas continues to make clear the critical role of the transmission system. PJM is working to outline a vision and present a road map for the grid of the future by examining industry trends and drivers to assess the potential impacts on PJM’s transmission planning process. The grid of the future is not some far-distant idea but is here now. PJM, like other power grid operators across the U.S., has before it a robust, reliable transmission grid, but one upon which enhanced operational flexibility must continue to grow to ensure reliable power delivery 24/7 year-round. The report outlines PJM’s system planning road map to achieve its future grid vision by examining trends and drivers that are impacting the Regional Transmission Expansion Plan process. [Note: PJM is a regional transmission organization that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of 13 states and the District of Columbia.]

Distributed Wind Energy Futures Study, McCabe et al. National Renewable Energy Laboratory

The authors provide an in-depth exploration of the role that distributed wind can play in the future of the nation’s energy supply. In particular, the study highlights the quantities of profitable distributed wind potential today and in 2035. The study also highlights locations where distributed wind, as a local and community-based electricity resource, can be economically deployed by identifying states and counties where distributed wind is best positioned to deliver low-cost electricity to consumers and communities.

Reliably Reaching California’s Clean Electricity Targets. Stress Testing Accelerated 2030 Clean Portfolios, Stenclick et al., Gridlab and Telos Energy

California has set nation-leading clean energy policies, but it must ensure that it maintains a reliable grid as it accelerates the transition to a cleaner grid. Building on an earlier report, this study focuses on the reliability impacts of reaching an accelerated 2030 clean electricity target that is on the path to 100% clean. The authors developed three portfolios reflecting different renewable build outs and electrification levels that meet an 85% clean electricity target by 2030. These portfolios were tested in an operational model that steps through every hour of the year to see if the future clean system can serve load across a range of conditions. The study incorporated many years of weather data and exercised the system through various stress conditions, such as retiring some in-state gas, low hydro availability, west-wide coal retirements, and mimicking the August 2020 heatwave conditions. The authors found that it is possible to reliably meet an 85% clean electricity target across these conditions.

Achieving an Equitable and Reliable 85 Percent Clean Electricity System by 2030 in California, O’Boyle et al., Energy Technology and Policy

This policy report is a companion resource to the Reliably Reaching California’s Clean Electricity Targets. Stress Testing Accelerated 2030 Clean Portfolios report, providing California policymakers with a set of no-regrets actions to effectively implement reliability insights from the technical analysis. The authors recommend that policymakers can mitigate the risk of deploying resources too slowly, reduce the air pollution impacts of legacy natural gas power plants on disadvantaged communities, and foster resource diversity that improves reliability and reduces the amount of new power generation resources required to serve Californians. The authors propose policy measures around four key subjects to help realize these opportunities including accelerating and diversifying clean energy deployment; reducing dependence on natural gas capacity; leveraging demand-side resources; and improving regional coordination.

Hyperbole in the Hearings: Pension Funds Exaggerate the Cost of Divestment, Fossil Free California

The “fiscal impact” analysis for the Appropriations Committee in the California Senate or Assembly can make or break a bill. For divestment bills, The California Public Employees' Retirement System and California State Teachers' Retirement System have repeatedly given imprecise, incorrect, and inflated figures on the costs of oil and gas divestment, including in the numbers reported to the Appropriations Committee for Senate Bill 1173, the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill. The bill would require the two Systems to divest from fossil fuel companies by 2030.

Victorian Big Battery Fire: July 30, 2021, Blum et al., Fisher Engineering and Energy Safety Response Group

The Victorian Big Battery (VBB) is a 300-Megawatt (MW)/450-Megawatt hour (MWh) grid-scale battery storage project in Geelong, Australia. VBB is one of the largest battery installations in the world and can power over one million Victorian homes for 30 minutes during critical peak load situations. It is designed to support the renewable energy industry by charging during times of excess renewable generation. On Friday, July 30th, 2021, a single Megapack at VBB caught fire and spread to a neighboring Megapack during the initial installation and commissioning of the Megapacks. The authors summarize investigations and analyses into the fire. In addition, the authors provide a list of lessons learned from the fire and highlight the procedural, software and hardware changes that have been implemented based on those lessons learned.

Most Electric Vehicles are Cheaper to Own Off the Lot Than Gas Cars, Robbie Orvis, Energy Innovation Policy and Technology

Many studies show electric vehicles (EVs) are cheaper to operate than gasoline-powered vehicles with lower total cost of ownership (TCO) over the vehicle lifetime, due to fuel and maintenance savings outstripping purchase price differences. However, most consumers focus on how much they’ll have to pay to own and operate a vehicle each month, not necessarily how much a vehicle will save them over its lifetime. And, roughly half of Americans think EVs are too expensive to consider or are not willing to pay more for an EV compared to a gasoline car. The research finds that in most states, financing and owning an EV is cheaper monthly than financing and owning an equivalent gasoline car. In other words, most new EVs are cheaper to own from the day they are driven off the lot, even when the sticker price is considerably higher. Consumer savings are even greater if the EV incentives currently proposed in Congress are included, making EVs cheaper in nearly every instance, and more affordable for all Americans looking to purchase a new car.

Reef Snapshot, Summer 2021-22, Australian Institute of Marine Science and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

Summer is a critical time for the health of coral. The snapshot provides a summary of conditions on the Great Barrier Reef (the Reef) throughout summer, how these conditions impact coral and actions underway to help coral reefs. The snapshot focuses on coral. The health of other habitats or species are not assessed, although they may be added in future snapshots. This snapshot is based on the latest information available at the time of writing. It does not take the place of ongoing rigorous reporting by all agencies. It sets the scene for the more comprehensive reports released later in the year.

Climate change exacerbated rainfall causing devastating flooding in Eastern South Africa, Pinto et al., World Weather Attribution

Extreme flooding occurred as a direct consequence of a 2-day heavy rainfall event at the coast of Eastern South Africa. The authors conclude that the probability of an event such as the rainfall that resulted in this disaster has approximately doubled due to human-induced climate change. The intensity of the current event has increased by 4-8%. Heavy rainfall events are projected to increase in frequency and magnitude in the future with additional global warming levels.

Exhausted: How We Can Stop Lithium Mining from Depleting Water Resources, Draining Wetlands, and Harming Communities In South America, Blair et al. Natural Resources Defense Council

Lithium resources are concentrated in locations that have long histories of destructive social and environmental impacts caused by the mining sector. In South America, large amounts of lithium are mined from the brine underneath arid basins in the Puna de Atacama— a unique area spanning northern Chile, northwestern Argentina, and southwestern Bolivia. Lithium may play a key role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but a climate-friendly future cannot come at the expense of destroying this biodiverse region or violating Indigenous rights. The authors highlight the voices of people whose lives and livelihoods have been negatively affected by the lithium industry. They also propose a variety of ways in which lithium extraction’s detrimental effects — water depletion, drained wetlands, and community harm — can be avoided.

The 5th National Risk Assessment. Fueling the Flames, First Street Foundation

The model used in the report estimates wildfire risk property-by-property across the United States and up to 30 years into the future. This high-precision, climate-adjusted wildfire model provides insights for individual property owners of residential, commercial, critical, and social infrastructure buildings. The authors provide a high-level overview of the methods behind the model, a summary of wildfire risk across the nation, and a series of state pages which summarize and provide insight into new findings about wildfire risk. Across the country, there are 49.4M properties with minor wildfire risk (with a cumulative burn probability below 1%); 20.2M properties with moderate risk (6% maximum cumulative burn probability); 6.0M with major risk (14% maximum burn probability); 2.7M with severe risk (26% maximum cumulative burn probability); and 1.5M properties with extreme risk (with cumulative burn probabilities of 26% and up).

Reflecting Sunlight to Reduce Climate Risk. Priorities for Research and International Cooperation, Stewart Patrick, Council on Foreign Relations

Governments around the world have employed three main approaches to combat climate change including emissions reduction, carbon dioxide removal, and adaptation, aims to build resilience to mitigate the effects of a warmer planet. But the reality is that the first two strategies are occurring far too slowly, and adaptation, while vital, seeks to contend with the worst effects of climate change rather than prevent them. The author explores an additional tool to address climate change: sunlight reflection also known as geoengineering. While the science is in its infancy, the idea is simple: to reduce the heating effect of solar radiation by reflecting the sun’s rays back from the earth to block about 1 percent of incoming sunlight. Two main approaches exist. One method would entail dispersing aerosols or other particulates into the stratosphere, whereas the other would involve spraying salt crystals from the ocean to brighten low-lying marine clouds. The author argues that such action would not serve as an alternative to the three existing climate change strategies noted above but rather as a complement.

Clean Power Annual Market Report 2021, American Clean Power Association

In 2021, the U.S. added 28,540 MW of new clean power capacity, enough to power more than 6.6 million homes. Installations were flat compared to 2020 levels, though it was a record year for solar and battery storage installations. The industry installed 12,433 MW of solar and 2,695 MW of battery storage. Land-based wind installations fell by 22% compared to 2020. Nearly 10 GW of project capacity originally expected online in 2021 was delayed due to policy uncertainty, supply chain issues, and long interconnection queues. Looking into 2022 and beyond, inflation, supply chain issues, and the uncertainty of tax policy and lack of predictable regulatory action for renewable energy are all expected to have a concerning impact on our ability to deliver growth.

Electric Trucks Have Arrived: The Use Case for Heavy-Duty Regional Haul Tractors, Roeth et al., North American Council for Freight Efficiency

The authors present information and findings on the four battery electric regional haul Class 8 tractors that took part in North American Council for Freight Efficiency’s Run on Less – Electric (RoL-E) commercial battery electric production vehicle demonstration. Collectively, the duty cycles for these regional haul tractors were highly representative of the overall market segment.

The State of Sustainable Fleets. Markey Brief 2022, Gladstein, Neandross & Associates

The brief is a technology-neutral analysis of key insights and critical trends for today’s leading on-road clean vehicle technologies. At its core, the brief is informed by a robust fleet survey effort that includes nearly 250 responses from fleet operators and decisionmakers who have used clean vehicles and infrastructure. Building upon a rich data source that represents a broad range of real-world fleets in every stage of technology adoption ensures this effort reflects a comprehensive representation of today’s fleet landscape.

Charting the Course for Early Truck Electrification, Lund et al., RMI

Trucks in the United States produce 25 percent of transportation greenhouse gas emissions even though they only make up 10 percent of vehicles on the road. And the problem is growing — emissions from trucks have nearly doubled in the past 30 years and are slated to increase faster as e-commerce booms. Fortunately, development in EV technology has led to breakthroughs in electric medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. The report uses real-world observed trucking telematics data from Geotab to investigate which trucks in California and New York can electrify the fastest based on currently available electric truck models. The report also examines the amount of energy and charging infrastructure that these early electrifiable trucks need, in addition to emissions from the grid under various charging schedules. Regardless of when charging occurs, emissions per mile are less than half (and in some cases less than 10 percent) of those from diesel trucks. California and New York house approximately 14 percent of the truck population in the United States.

Walking the Talk. How Insurers Can Lean Climate Change Resiliency, Capgemini and Efma

Climate change is significantly impacting people and business. Insured natural catastrophe losses have increased by 360% within the past 30 years. It has upended traditional coverage, underwriting and investment dynamics as policyholders seek protection and peace of mind. Insurers need to position themselves to generate deeper customer trust and offer personalized solutions tailored to individual needs. Policyholders are conscious of climate change; 73% rank it among their top concerns. Insurers are in tune with customers. About 40% rank climate change as a top priority with profitability and insurability emerging as leading issues. While most insurers acknowledge climate change impact, many have yet to develop a climate resilience strategy.

Scorched Earth. The impact of drought on 10 world cities, Manktelow et al. Christian Aid

Urban areas make up just 1% of the earth’s surface yet more than 55% of the world’s population live in them and by 2050 nearly 68% of the world will call them home.1 This will be partially driven by climate change as people are forced to move because their locations become unlivable or they lose their livelihoods, especially in rural areas. The impact of climate change on cities is becoming increasingly important as more and more people live in them. Without action to cut global greenhouse gas emissions, growing city populations will put ever greater stress on water resources in the coming years meaning some of the world’s major cities could face the prospect of running out of water.

Obtaining articles without journal subscriptions

We know it's frustrating that many articles we cite here are not free to read. One-off paid access fees are generally astronomically priced, suitable for such as "On a Heuristic Point of View Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light but not as a gamble on unknowns. With a median world income of US$ 9,373, for most of us US$ 42 is significant money to wager on an article's relevance and importance. 

  • Unpaywall offers a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox that automatically indicates when an article is freely accessible and provides immediate access without further trouble. Unpaywall is also unscammy, works well, is itself offered free to use. The organizers (a legitimate nonprofit) report about a 50% success rate
  • The weekly New Research catch is checked against the Unpaywall database with accessible items being flagged. Especially for just-published articles this mechansim may fail. If you're interested in an article title and it is not listed here as "open access," be sure to check the link anyway. 

How is New Research assembled?

Most articles appearing here are found via  RSS feeds from journal publishers, filtered by search terms to produce raw output for assessment of relevance. 

Relevant articles are then queried against the Unpaywall database, to identify open access articles and expose useful metadata for articles appearing in the database. 

The objective of New Research isn't to cast a tinge on scientific results, to color readers' impressions. Hence candidate articles are assessed via two metrics only:

  • Was an article deemed of sufficient merit by a team of journal editors and peer reviewers? The fact of journal RSS output assigns a "yes" to this automatically. 
  • Is an article relevant to the topic of anthropogenic climate change? Due to filter overlap with other publication topics of inquiry, of a typical week's 550 or so input articles about 1/4 of RSS output makes the cut.

A few journals offer public access to "preprint" versions of articles for which the review process is not yet complete. For some key journals this all the mention we'll see in RSS feeds, so we include such items in New Research. These are flagged as "preprint."

The section "Informed opinion, nudges & major initiatives" includes some items that are not scientific research per se but fall instead into the category of "perspectives," observations of implications of research findings, areas needing attention, etc.

Late appearances

Because New Research leans heavily on DOI databases, articles via publishers laggard in submitting updates to the DOI system may appear later than their publication date. 


Please let us know if you're aware of an article you think may be of interest for Skeptical Science research news, or if we've missed something that may be important. Send your input to Skeptical Science via our contact form.

Journals covered

A list of journals we cover may be found here. We welcome pointers to omissions, new journals etc.

Previous edition

The previous edition of Skeptical Science New Research may be found here.

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Comments 1 to 3:

  1. The global trend of moving from rural areas to cities may experience a pause in developed countries.  Some power providers serving rural areas have installed fibre grids on existing physical networks. These have enabled rural dwellers to tap the fiber optic infrastructure, making it possible for internet workers to stay put. The presence of fiber on the pole in the yard has also increased the price of residential real estate. Savings from not having to drive to work, both in dollars and energy, are welcome developments.

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  2. Elon Musk also has this "starlink" project to bring internet to rural areas across the entire planet:

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  3. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets that put all those satellites up there burn kerosene. A recent CBC News item "Time to consider the impact of rocket exhaust on the atmospere" exposes the harm of the cheaper easier way of fossil fuel launching rockets.

    Another consideration regarding increased internet use, particularly for HD video, is a high energy demand. The reduction of energy demand, especially by the supposedly more advanced and higher status supposedly superior humans, is an essential part of the changes required to limit the harm done to the future of humanity.

    And yet other consideration regarding the addition of sattelites is the way they interfere with planet surface based space observation.

    Another concern regarding all the rocket launching is the addition of future space debris and the impact of the parts that fall back to earth.

    More newer technology is not necessarily advancement.

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