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Skeptical Science New Research for Week #30, 2019

Posted on 30 July 2019 by Doug Bostrom

56 articles this week. 

Dual Use Technology

There's a move in the United States to muzzle and curtail research into climate change, particularly climate change caused by humans. The interests driving this regression are primarily concerned with maintaining the present vectors of money but manage to attract a large and supportive rabble of ideologically fixated folks who have a hard time with what they view as coercive pressure to behave responsibly, avoid creating messes that other people have to clean up etc.

The trouble is that voluntary or simulated ignorance bears opportunity costs. It's impossible to anticipate the the full benefit of scientific research; asking one question may answer others even as other avenues of inquiry open in the process of exploring the first query. Research truncated for commercial or ideological reasons denies us an unimaginable range of benefits. 

As a case in point, just as  methods such as "2+2=4" might be employed to calculate dimensions of wood for a project even as the same tools can add up money, so does climate research produce insight quite other than assessing how much doom our fossil fuel habits are depositing in our worry accounts. This week's collection includes a new evaluation (let's not say "projection") of how a plausibly scaled nuclear exchange between the United States and the Russian Federation would affect the world's climate, employing the latest climate modeling techniques— resources unavailable when the term "nuclear winter" first entered our vernacular. The results are quite chilling. Now— thanks to research primarily intended to model another problem— we can better understand a different avoidable scenario, hopefully helping us to make wiser choices.

The issue with wearing blinkers is that when you're blind, you can't predict what might stub your toe or how much it may hurt. This is such a simple and obvious concept that it's astounding we need to be reminded but for what it's worth: Don't choose to be blind.

No substitute for boots on the ground (or dipping instruments in water) 

Long time reader Philippe C. pointed us to an article in the most recent AAAS Science conveying startling findings about melt rates of tidewater glaciers via direct observations, measurements that should help models perform better as discrepancies between observation and prediction are resolved. The format and acuity of the data gathered in this project seems well suited as fodder for mathematical derivations. 

Suggestions welcome

This week's harvest of research includes other items (the first three in "Physical sciences") that came to us by suggestion (thank you, GEUS and BaerbelW). By "new research" we don't imply that what's published in this weekly synopsis must still be reeking of wet ink. And we certainly are not omniscient! Omissions are inevitable not least because we must employ the help of machines for providing much of our input. If you think we've missed something important, please let us know in comments below or via emailing contact(at)

Physical sciences: 

Update of annual calving front lines for 47 marine terminating outlet glaciers in Greenland (1999–2018)

Sea-level rise in Denmark: Bridging local reconstructions and global projections

Modeling the Influence of the Weddell Polynya on the Filchner–Ronne Ice Shelf Cavity

Direct observations of submarine melt and subsurface geometry at a tidewater glacier

Permafrost-carbon mobilization in Beringia caused by deglacial meltwater runoff, sea-level rise and warming

Energetically Consistent Scale Adaptive Stochastic and Deterministic Energy Backscatter Schemes for an Atmospheric Model

The glass half-empty: climate change drives lower freshwater input in the coastal system of the Chilean Northern Patagonia

1.5°, 2°, and 3° global warming: visualizing European regions affected by multiple changes

Interannual lake fluctuations in the Argentine Puna: relationships with its associated peatlands and climate change

Reassessment of the common concept to derive the surface cloud radiative forcing in the Arctic: Consideration of surface albedo – cloud interactions

Holocene sea-level variability from Chesapeake Bay Tidal Marshes, USA

Are the Observed Changes in Heat Extremes Associated with a Half?degree Warming Increment Analogues for Future Projections?

Hemispheric asymmetry of tropical expansion under CO2 forcing

Stability of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation: A Review and Synthesis

Nuclear Winter Responses to Nuclear War Between the United States and Russia in the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model Version 4 and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies ModelE

The Spectral Dimension of Arctic Outgoing Longwave Radiation and Greenhouse Efficiency Trends from 2003?2016

Investigating the Fast Response of Precipitation Intensity and Boundary Layer Temperature to Atmospheric Heating Using a Cloud?Resolving Model

Changing salinity gradients in the Baltic Sea as a consequence of altered freshwater budgets

Global and Regional Projected Changes in 100-Year Sub-Daily, Daily and Multi-Day Precipitation Extremes Estimated from Three Large Ensembles of Climate Simulation

Sixty Years of Widespread Warming in the Southern Mid- and High-Latitudes (1957-2016)

Mechanisms for global warming impacts on Madden-Julian Oscillation precipitation amplitude

Decomposition of Future Moisture Flux Changes over the Tibetan Plateau Projected by Global and Regional Climate Models

Response of the Indian Ocean to the Tibetan Plateau thermal forcing in late spring

Getz Ice Shelf melt enhanced by freshwater discharge from beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet

On the possibility of a long subglacial river under the north Greenland ice sheet

Impacts of climate change on characteristics of daily?scale rainfall events based on nine selected GCMs under four CMIP5 RCP scenarios in Qu River basin, East China

A simple equation to study changes in rainfall statistics 

Biology and anthropogenic climate change:

What do we know about soil carbon destabilization?

Future ocean climate homogenizes communities across habitats through diversity loss and rise of generalist species

Regulation of carbon dioxide and methane in small agricultural reservoirs: Optimizing potential for greenhouse gas uptake

Reviews and syntheses: Greenhouse gas exchange data from drained organic forest soils – a review of current approaches and recommendations for future research

Metabolic tradeoffs and heterogeneity in microbial responses to temperature determine the fate of litter carbon in a warmer world

Ecosystem carbon storage affected by intertidal locations and climatic factors in three estuarine mangrove forests of South China

Snowmelt and early to mid?growing season water availability augment tree growth during rapid warming in southern Asian boreal forests

The brighter side of climate change: How local oceanography amplified a lobster boom in the Gulf of Maine

Increasing microbial carbon use efficiency with warming predicts soil heterotrophic respiration globally

Negative feedback processes following drainage slow down permafrost degradation

Differing climate and landscape effects on regional dryland vegetation responses during wet periods allude to future patterns 

Humans cope with and mitigate their global warming:

Learning from the Climate Change Debate to Avoid Polarisation on Negative Emissions

Customising global climate science for national adaptation: A case study of climate projections in UNFCCC’s National Communications

Emissions and emergence: a new index comparing relative contributions to climate change with relative climatic consequences

Adopting LEDs changes attitudes towards climate change: experimental evidence from China

Social benefit cost analysis of ecosystem-based climate change adaptations: a community-level case study in Tanna Island, Vanuatu

Piercing the corporate veil: Towards a better assessment of the position of transnational oil and gas companies in the global carbon budget

Supporting climate change adaptation using historical climate analysis

Exploring local perspectives on the performance of a community-based adaptation project on Aniwa, Vanuatu

Experiential Learning Processes Informing Climate Change Decision Support

Isolating the climate change impacts on air-pollution-related-pathologies over central and southern Europe – a modelling approach on cases and costs

Future changes and uncertainty in decision-relevant measures of East African climate

Barriers and drivers to adaptation to climate change—a field study of ten French local authorities

Bioclimatic conditions of the Portuguese wine denominations of origin under changing climates

A mobilities perspective on migration in the context of environmental change

Planning for an uncertain future: the challenges of a locally based collaborative approach to coastal development decisions

Assessing future climate change impacts in the EU and the USA: insights and lessons from two continental-scale projects

Costs to achieve target net emissions reductions in the US electric sector using direct air capture

Normalisation of Paris agreement NDCs to enhance transparency and ambition

Discussing global warming leads to greater acceptance of climate science


The previous edition of Skeptical Science research news may be found here. 

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