Climate signals detected in global weather

In October this year, weather researchers in Utah measured the lowest temperature ever recorded in the month of October in the US (excluding Alaska): -37.1°C. The previous low-temperature record for October was -35°C, and people wondered what had happened to climate change.

Until now, climate researchers have responded that climate is not the same thing as weather. Climate is what we expect in the long term, whereas weather is what we get in the short term — and since local weather conditions are highly variable, it can be very cold in one location for a short time despite long-term global warming. In short, the variability of local weather masks long-term trends in global climate.

A paradigm shift

Now, however, a group led by ETH professor Reto Knutti has conducted a new analysis of temperature measurements and models. The scientists concluded that the weather-is-not-climate paradigm is no longer applicable in that form. According to the researchers, the climate signal — that is, the long-term warming trend — can actually be discerned in daily weather data, such as surface air temperature and humidity, provided that global spatial patterns are taken into account.

In plain English, this means that — despite global warming — there may well be a record low temperature in October in the US. If it is simultaneously warmer than average in other regions, however, this deviation is almost completely eliminated. “Uncovering the climate change signal in daily weather conditions calls for a global perspective, not a regional one,” says Sebastian Sippel, a postdoc working in Knutti’s research group and lead author of a study recently published in Nature Climate Change.

Statistical learning techniques extract climate change signature

In order to detect the climate signal in daily weather records, Sippel and his colleagues used statistical learning techniques to combine simulations with climate models and data from measuring stations. Statistical learning techniques can extract a “fingerprint” of climate change from the combination of temperatures of various regions and the ratio of expected warming and variability. By systematically evaluating the model simulations, they can identify the climate fingerprint in the global measurement data on any single day since spring 2012.

A comparison of the variability of local and global daily mean temperatures shows why the global perspective is important. Whereas locally measured daily mean temperatures can fluctuate widely (even after the seasonal cycle is removed), global daily mean values show a very narrow range.

If the distribution of global daily mean values from 1951 to 1980 are then compared with those from 2009 to 2018, the two distributions (bell curves) barely overlap. The climate signal is thus prominent in the global values but obscured in the local values, since the distribution of daily mean values overlaps quite considerably in the two periods.

Application to the hydrological cycle

The findings could have broad implications for climate science. “Weather at the global level carries important information about climate,” says Knutti. “This information could, for example, be used for further studies that quantify changes in the probability of extreme weather events, such as regional cold spells. These studies are based on model calculations, and our approach could then provide a global context of the climate change fingerprint in observations made during regional cold spells of this kind. This gives rise to new opportunities for the communication of regional weather events against the backdrop of global warming.”

The study stems from a collaboration between ETH researchers and the Swiss Data Science Center (SDSC), which ETH Zurich operates jointly with its sister university EPFL. “The current study underlines how useful data science methods are in clarifying environmental questions, and the SDSC is of great use in this,” says Knutti.

Data science methods not only allow researchers to demonstrate the strength of the human “fingerprint,” they also show where in the world climate change is particularly clear and recognisable at an early stage. This is very important in the hydrological cycle, where there are very large natural fluctuations from day to day and year to year. “In future, we should therefore be able to pick out human-induced patterns and trends in other more complex measurement parameters, such as precipitation, that are hard to detect using traditional statistics,” says the ETH professor.

North pole soon to be ice free in summer

The Arctic Ocean in summer will very likely be ice free before 2050, at least temporally. The efficacy of climate-protection measures will determine how often and for how long. These are the results of a new research study involving 21 research institutes from around the world, coordinated by Dirk Notz from the University of Hamburg, Germany.

The research team has analyzed recent results from 40 different climate models. Using these models, the researchers considered the future evolution of Arctic sea-ice cover in a scenario with high future CO2 emissions and little climate protection. As expected, Arctic sea ice disappeared quickly in summer in these simulations. However, the new study finds that Arctic summer sea ice also disappears occasionally if CO2 emissions are rapidly reduced.

“If we reduce global emissions rapidly and substantially, and thus keep global warming below 2 °C relative to preindustrial levels, Arctic sea ice will nevertheless likely disappear occasionally in summer even before 2050. This really surprised us” said Dirk Notz, who leads the sea-ice research group at University of Hamburg, Germany.

Currently, the North Pole is covered by sea ice year round. Each summer, the area of the sea ice cover decreases, in winter it grows again. In response to ongoing global warming, the overall area of the Arctic Ocean that is covered by sea ice has rapidly been reduced over the past few decades. This substantially affects the Arctic ecosystem and climate: The sea-ice cover is a hunting ground and habitat for polar bears and seals, and keeps the Arctic cool by reflecting sunlight.

How often the Arctic will lose its sea-ice cover in the future critically depends on future CO2 emissions, the study shows. If emissions are reduced rapidly, ice-free years only occur occasionally. With higher emissions, the Arctic Ocean will become ice free in most years. Hence, humans still have an impact on how often the Arctic loses its year-round sea-ice cover.

Technical details: The simulations used in this study are based on so-called SSP Scenarios (shared socio-economic pathways), which will also be used for the next IPCC report. Scenarios SSP1-1.9 and SSP1-2.6 are used to simulate a rapid reduction of future CO2 emissions, while scenario SSP5-8.5 is used to simulate largely unchanged future CO2 emissions. The study is based on simulations from the most recent generation of climate models, collected within the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6).


Researchers comb through hundreds of studies to find clues to beating COVID-19

LA JOLLA, CA—Seventeen years ago, another viral outbreak was in the news. People wore masks, many were nervous to fly. This outbreak, known as SARS, was caused by a type of coronavirus we now call SARS-CoV-1. The difference was that SARS-CoV-1 was controlled and the virus is all but extinct. The newspaper headlines became a distant memory.

But research on coronaviruses continued in labs around the world, and those studies have helped inform the fast-paced COVID-19 research today.

“We need solutions right now,” says Sara Landeras-Bueno, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher at La Jolla Institute (LJI). “But it’s so challenging to stay up-to-date on all the publications.”

Indeed, researchers today are publishing 50 to 100 studies a day on COVID-19, and not all the studies have been subject to rigorous peer review. To help researchers understand the mountain of new coronavirus data, Ying-Ting Wang, Ph.D., Sara Landeras-Bueno Ph.D., Jose Angel Regla-Nava, Ph.D., and colleagues recently led a review comparing findings from more than 200 COVID-19 studies with immunological and virological findings in previous SARS research. Their summary, published this week in the online edition of Trends in Microbiology, emphasizes the need for better animal models and structural studies for COVID-19 treatment and vaccine development.

Regla-Nava, who has experience studying SARS and MERS, explains that the viruses that cause SARS and COVID-19 are 79 percent identical. This means we could potentially learn a lot from SARS about how long immunity might last against the novel coronavirus, called SARS-CoV-2. Several recent studies have shown that a person exposed to SARS can still have SARS-fighting antibodies for many years after infection. But the actual number of antibodies really declines after two years.

This could mean that vaccines and natural immunity against SARS-CoV-2 may only provide protection for a few years.

The researchers also looked at structural studies showing where antibodies can attack these viruses. Both viruses have “spike” proteins that protrude from the virus and are exposed to the human immune system.

Can SARS antibodies also attack these spike proteins on the novel coronavirus? “Although most of the proteins in these viruses are similar, they are not exactly the same,” says Landeras-Bueno. “So it was not easy to find antibodies that could neutralize both.”

Regla-Nava believes we’ll have to tweak current mouse models in the effort to develop vaccines that can elicit truly neutralizing antibodies. “It’s really important to have good animal models for these studies,” he says.

In the meantime, the LJI team is hard at work as part of the LJI Coronavirus Task Force. Wang says it remains critical to try to stay up-to-date with breakthroughs worldwide and summarize those findings in a useful way.

“This is what we can do for now to help the scientific community,” says Wang.

This review was supported by the Ley, Shresta and Saphire labs at LJI. The work was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant # INV-006133.

Full citation:
Ying-Ting Wang, Sara Landeras-Bueno, Li-En Hsieh, Yutaka Terada, Kenneth Kim, Klaus Ley, Sujan Shresta, Erica Ollmann Saphire and Jose Angel Regla-Nava. Spiking Pandemic Potential: Structural and Immunological aspects of SARS-CoV-2. Trends in Microbiology, 2020.

About La Jolla Institute for Immunology
The La Jolla Institute for Immunology is dedicated to understanding the intricacies and power of the immune system so that we may apply that knowledge to promote human health and prevent a wide range of diseases. Since its founding in 1988 as an independent, nonprofit research organization, the Institute has made numerous advances leading toward its goal: life without disease.

COVID-19 crisis causes 17 percent drop in global carbon emissions

The COVID-19 global lockdown has had an “extreme” effect on daily carbon emissions, but it is unlikely to last — according to a new analysis by an international team of scientists.

The study published in the journal Nature Climate Change shows that daily emissions decreased by 17% — or 17 million tonnes of carbon dioxide — globally during the peak of the confinement measures in early April compared to mean daily levels in 2019, dropping to levels last observed in 2006.

Emissions from surface transport, such as car journeys, account for almost half (43%) of the decrease in global emissions during peak confinement on April 7. Emissions from industry and from power together account for a further 43% of the decrease in daily global emissions.

Aviation is the economic sector most impacted by the lockdown, but it only accounts for 3% of global emissions, or 10% of the decrease in emissions during the pandemic.

The increase in the use of residential buildings from people working at home only marginally offset the drop in emissions from other sectors.

In individual countries, emissions decreased by 26% on average at the peak of their confinement.

The analysis also shows that social responses alone, without increases in wellbeing and/or supporting infrastructure, will not drive the deep and sustained reductions needed to reach net zero emissions.

Prof Corinne Le Quéré of the University of East Anglia, in the UK, led the analysis. She said: “Population confinement has led to drastic changes in energy use and CO2 emissions. These extreme decreases are likely to be temporary though, as they do not reflect structural changes in the economic, transport, or energy systems.

“The extent to which world leaders consider climate change when planning their economic responses post COVID-19 will influence the global CO2 emissions paths for decades to come.

“Opportunities exist to make real, durable, changes and be more resilient to future crises, by implementing economic stimulus packages that also help meet climate targets, especially for mobility, which accounts for half the decrease in emissions during confinement.

“For example in cities and suburbs, supporting walking and cycling, and the uptake of electric bikes, is far cheaper and better for wellbeing and air quality than building roads, and it preserves social distancing.”

The team analysed government policies on confinement for 69 countries responsible for 97% of global CO2 emissions. At the peak of the confinement, regions responsible for 89% of global CO2 emissions were under some level of restriction. Data on activities indicative of how much each economic sector was affected by the pandemic was then used to estimate the change in fossil CO2 emissions for each day and country from January to April 2020.

The estimated total change in emissions from the pandemic amounts to 1048 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (MtCO2) until the end of April. Of this, the changes are largest in China where the confinement started, with a decrease of 242 MtCO2, then in the US (207 MtCO2), Europe (123 MtCO2), and India (98 MtCO2). The total change in the UK for January-April 2020 is an estimated 18 MtCO2.

The impact of confinement on 2020 annual emissions is projected to be around 4% to 7% compared to 2019, depending on the duration of the lockdown and the extent of the recovery. If pre-pandemic conditions of mobility and economic activity return by mid-June, the decline would be around 4%. If some restrictions remain worldwide until the end of the year, it would be around 7%.

This annual drop is comparable to the amount of annual emission reductions needed year-on-year across decades to achieve the climate objectives of UN Paris Agreement.

Prof Rob Jackson of Stanford University and Chair of the Global Carbon Project who co-authored the analysis, added: “The drop in emissions is substantial but illustrates the challenge of reaching our Paris climate commitments. We need systemic change through green energy and electric cars, not temporary reductions from enforced behavior.”

The authors warn that the rush for economic stimulus packages must not make future emissions higher by delaying New Green Deals or weakening emissions standards.

‘Temporary reduction in daily global CO2 emissions during the COVID-19 forced confinement’, Corinne Le Quéré, Robert B. Jackson, Matthew W. Jones, Adam J. P. Smith, Sam Abernethy, Robbie M. Andrew, Anthony J. De-Gol, David R. Willis, Yuli Shan, Josep G. Canadell, Pierre Friedlingstein, Felix Creutzig, Glen P. Peters, is published in Nature Climate Change on May 19.

The research received support from the Royal Society, the European Commission projects 4C, VERIFY and CHE, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the Australian National Environmental Science Program.

Apple and its wifi chip company Broadcom ordered to pay $1.1bn to university over iPhone patents


Caltech claims Apple and Broadcom infringed four of its patents by using wifi chips in hundreds of millions of iPhones.

Apple and the wifi chip company it uses for iPhones have been ordered to pay $1.1bn (£840.5m) to a university for infringing patents.

A jury handed down the verdict in favour of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) which claims the Broadcom

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Coronavirus outbreak in China: From emergency flights to isolation; here’s what India, USA, Japan, and others are doing to evacuate citizens


A corona virus respiratory infection that appears to have broken out in December last year in Wuhan, China is rapidly making its way around China and spreading to countries around the world. As of 29 January, the corona virus infection has claimed the lives of 132 people in China and infected around 6,000 people, the vast majority (4,409) in Mainland China. Tourists travelling out of Wuhan, China have also carried the virus to other countries unbeknownst to them, leading to 65 cases of the infection and no fatalities in other countries.

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Social media roasts Trump after he reveals Space Force logo


President Trump on Friday unveiled logo of new branch of US military

Logo looks remarkably similar to emblem of Star fleet Command from Star Trek

Twitter users roasted the president for plagiarizing the logo

Star Trek actor George Take joked: ‘Ahem. We are expecting royalties from this’

  1. President Trump on Friday unveiled the new logo for the Space Force, America’s newest branch of the military, and it looks a lot like the emblem for the Star fleet command from the show Star Trek.

    The president was mocked on social media by those who pointed out the striking resemblance between the two insignia.

  2. Read More…. dailymail

As Mysterious Coronavirus Spreads, An Infectious Disease Expert Explains What You Should Know

A new coronavirus, related to the SARS and MERS diseases that have caused epidemics, has been discovered in China and started to spread.

Just weeks since the viral illness was first reported in Wuhan, China, health experts globally are working on containing and treating it. As of Jan. 24, it has killed several dozen people and sickened more than 900. Cases have now been reported in individuals who traveled to Wuhan and returned to other countries, including Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Singapore and the United States.

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