Results 1 - 10 of 2184
Results 1 - 10 of 2184. Search took: 0.019 seconds
|Sort by: date | relevance|
[en] In this study, renewable portfolio standards (RPS) exist in 29 US states and the District of Columbia. This article summarizes the first national-level, integrated assessment of the future costs and benefits of existing RPS policies; the same metrics are evaluated under a second scenario in which widespread expansion of these policies is assumed to occur. Depending on assumptions about renewable energy technology advancement and natural gas prices, existing RPS policies increase electric system costs by as much as 31 billion dollars, on a present-value basis over 2015-2050. The expanded renewable deployment scenario yields incremental costs that range from 23 billion to 194 billion dollars, depending on the assumptions employed. The monetized value of improved air quality and reduced climate damages exceed these costs. Using central assumptions, existing RPS policies yield 97 billion dollars in air-pollution health benefits and 161 billion dollars in climate damage reductions. Under the expanded RPS case, health benefits total 558 billion dollars and climate benefits equal 599 billion dollars. These scenarios also yield benefits in the form of reduced water use. RPS programs are not likely to represent the most cost effective path towards achieving air quality and climate benefits. Nonetheless, the findings suggest that US RPS programs are, on a national basis, cost effective when considering externalities.
[en] Since the United States began a program to develop ethanol as a transportation fuel, its use has increased from 175 million gallons in 1980 to 4.9 billion gallons in 2006. Virtually all of the ethanol used for transportation has been produced from corn. During the period of fuel ethanol growth, corn farming productivity has increased dramatically, and energy use in ethanol plants has been reduced by almost by half. The majority of corn ethanol plants are powered by natural gas. However, as natural gas prices have skyrocketed over the last several years, efforts have been made to further reduce the energy used in ethanol plants or to switch from natural gas to other fuels, such as coal and wood chips. In this paper, we examine nine corn ethanol plant types--categorized according to the type of process fuels employed, use of combined heat and power, and production of wet distiller grains and solubles. We found that these ethanol plant types can have distinctly different energy and greenhouse gas emission effects on a full fuel-cycle basis. In particular, greenhouse gas emission impacts can vary significantly--from a 3% increase if coal is the process fuel to a 52% reduction if wood chips are used. Our results show that, in order to achieve energy and greenhouse gas emission benefits, researchers need to closely examine and differentiate among the types of plants used to produce corn ethanol so that corn ethanol production would move towards a more sustainable path
[en] Thermal pollution from power plants degrades riverine ecosystems with ramifications beyond the natural environment as it affects power supply. The transport of thermal effluents along river reaches may lead to plant-to-plant interferences by elevating condenser inlet temperatures at downstream locations, which lower thermal efficiencies and trigger regulatory-forced power curtailments. We evaluate thermal pollution impacts on rivers and power supply across 128 plants with once-through cooling technologies in the Mississippi River watershed. By leveraging river network topologies with higher resolutions (0.05 degrees) than previous studies, we reveal the need to address the issue in a more spatially resolved manner, capable of uncovering diverse impacts across individual plants, river reaches and sub-basins. Results show that the use of coarse river network resolutions may lead to substantial overestimations in magnitude and length of impaired river reaches. Overall, there is a modest limitation on power production due to thermal pollution, given existing infrastructure, regulatory and climate conditions. However, tradeoffs between thermal pollution and electricity generation show important implications for the role of alternative cooling technologies and environmental regulation under current and future climates. Recirculating cooling technologies may nearly eliminate thermal pollution and improve power system reliability under stressed climate-water conditions. Regulatory limits also reduce thermal pollution, but at the expense of significant reductions in electricity generation capacity. However, results show several instances when power production capacity rises at individual plants when regulatory limits reduce upstream thermal pollution. Furthermore, these dynamics across energy-water systems highlight the need for high-resolution simulations and the value of coherent planning and optimization across infrastructure with mutual dependencies on natural resources to overcome climate-water constraints on productivity and bring to fruition energy and environmental win-win opportunities.
[en] Increasing atmospheric methane (CH4) concentrations have contributed to approximately 20% of anthropogenic climate change. Despite the importance of CH4 as a greenhouse gas, its atmospheric growth rate and dynamics over the past two decades, which include a stabilization period (1999–2006), followed by renewed growth starting in 2007, remain poorly understood. We provide an updated estimate of CH4 emissions from wetlands, the largest natural global CH4 source, for 2000–2012 using an ensemble of biogeochemical models constrained with remote sensing surface inundation and inventory-based wetland area data. Between 2000–2012, boreal wetland CH4 emissions increased by 1.2 Tg yr–1 (–0.2–3.5 Tg yr–1), tropical emissions decreased by 0.9 Tg yr–1 (–3.2–1.1 Tg yr–1), yet globally, emissions remained unchanged at 184 ± 22 Tg yr–1. Changing air temperature was responsible for increasing high-latitude emissions whereas declines in low-latitude wetland area decreased tropical emissions; both dynamics are consistent with features of predicted centennial-scale climate change impacts on wetland CH4 emissions. Despite uncertainties in wetland area mapping, our study shows that global wetland CH4 emissions have not contributed significantly to the period of renewed atmospheric CH4 growth, and is consistent with findings from studies that indicate some combination of increasing fossil fuel and agriculture-related CH4 emissions, and a decrease in the atmospheric oxidative sink.
[en] Caribbean tropical forests are subject to hurricane disturbances of great variability. In addition to natural storm incongruity, climate change can alter storm formation, duration, frequency, and intensity. This model -based investigation assessed the impacts of multiple storms of different intensities and occurrence frequencies on the long-term dynamics of subtropical dry forests in Puerto Rico. Using the previously validated individual-based gap model ZELIG-TROP, we developed a new hurricane damage routine and parameterized it with site- and species-specific hurricane effects. A baseline case with the reconstructed historical hurricane regime represented the control condition. Ten treatment cases, reflecting plausible shifts in hurricane regimes, manipulated both hurricane return time (i.e. frequency) and hurricane intensity. The treatment-related change in carbon storage and fluxes were reported as changes in aboveground forest biomass (AGB), net primary productivity (NPP), and in the aboveground carbon partitioning components, or annual carbon accumulation (ACA). Increasing the frequency of hurricanes decreased aboveground biomass by between 5% and 39%, and increased NPP between 32% and 50%. Decadal-scale biomass fluctuations were damped relative to the control. In contrast, increasing hurricane intensity did not create a large shift in the long-term average forest structure, NPP, or ACA from that of historical hurricane regimes, but produced large fluctuations in biomass. Decreasing both the hurricane intensity and frequency by 50% produced the highest values of biomass and NPP. For the control scenario and with increased hurricane intensity, ACA was negative, which indicated that the aboveground forest components acted as a carbon source. However, with an increase in the frequency of storms or decreased storms, the total ACA was positive due to shifts in leaf production, annual litterfall, and coarse woody debris inputs, indicating a carbon sink into the forest over the long-term. The carbon loss from each hurricane event, in all scenarios, always recovered over sufficient time. Our results suggest that subtropical dry forests will remain resilient to hurricane disturbance. However carbon stocks will decrease if future climates increase hurricane frequency by 50% or more.
[en] Sillman et al (2014) find that observed trends of extremely hot days and cold nights are consistent with the current generation of climate models. Short periods of localized decreases in these extreme temperatures are not unusual and the Sillman et al results increase confidence in projections of future changes in extreme temperature.
[en] The importance of the discount rate in cost-benefit analysis of long term problems, such as climate change, has been widely acknowledged. However, the choice of the discount rate is hardly discussed when translating policy targets—such as 1.5 °C and 2 °C–into emission reduction strategies with the possibility of overshoot. Integrated assessment models (IAMs) have quantified the sensitivity of low carbon pathways to a series of factors, including economic and population growth, national and international climate policies, and the availability of low carbon technologies, including negative emissions. In this paper we show how and to what extent emission pathways are also influenced by the discount rate. Using both an analytical and a numerical IAM, we demonstrate how discounting affects key mitigation indicators, such as the time when net global emissions reach zero, the amount of carbon budget overshoot, and the carbon price profile. To ensure inter-generational equity and be coherent with cost-benefit analysis normative choices, we suggest that IAMs should use lower discount rates than the ones currently adopted. For a 1000 GtCO2 carbon budget, reducing the discount rate from 5% to 2% would more than double today’s carbon price (from 21 to 55 $/tCO2) and more than halve the carbon budget overshoot (from 46% to 16%), corresponding to a reduction of about 300 GtCO2 of net negative emissions over the century. (letter)
[en] Uncertainty in model projections of future climate change arises due to internal variability, multiple possible emission scenarios, and different model responses to anthropogenic forcing. To robustly quantify uncertainty in multi-model ensembles, inter-dependencies between models as well as a models ability to reproduce observations should be considered. Here, a model weighting approach, which accounts for both independence and performance, is applied to European temperature and precipitation projections from the CMIP5 archive. Two future periods representing mid- and end-of-century conditions driven by the high-emission scenario RCP8.5 are investigated. To inform the weighting, six diagnostics based on three observational estimates are used to also account for uncertainty in the observational record. Our findings show that weighting the ensemble can reduce the interquartile spread by more than 20% in some regions, increasing the reliability of projected changes. The mean temperature change is most notably impacted by the weighting in the Mediterranean, where it is found to be 0.35 °C higher than the unweighted mean in the end-of-century period. For precipitation the largest differences are found for Northern Europe, with a relative decrease in precipitation of 2.4% and 3.4% for the two future periods compared to the unweighted case. Based on a perfect model test, it is found that weighting the ensemble leads to an increase in the investigated skill score for temperature and precipitation while minimizing the probability of overfitting. (letter)
[en] Bottom-up emission inventories can provide valuable information for understanding emission status and are needed as input datasets to drive chemical transport models. However, this type of inventory has the disadvantage of taking several years to be compiled because it relies on a statistical dataset. Top-down approaches use satellite data as a constraint and overcome this disadvantage. We have developed an immediate inversion system to estimate anthropogenic NOx emissions with NO2 column density constrained by satellite observations. The proposed method allows quick emission updates and considers model and observation errors by applying linear unbiased optimum estimations. We used this inversion system to estimate the variation of anthropogenic NOx emissions from China and India from 2005 to 2016. On the one hand, NOx emissions from China increased, reaching a peak in 2011 with 29.5 Tg yr−1, and subsequently decreased to 25.2 Tg yr−1 in 2016. On the other hand, NOx emissions from India showed a continuous increase from 2005 to 2016, reaching 13.9 Tg yr−1 in 2016. These opposing trends from 2011 to 2016 were −0.83 and +0.76 Tg yr−1 over China and India, respectively, and correspond to strictly regulated and unregulated future scenarios. Assuming these trends continue after 2016, we expect NOx emissions from China and India will be similar in 2023, with India becoming the world’s largest NOx emissions source in 2024. (letter)
[en] ‘Super’ Storm Desmond broke meteorological and hydrological records during a record warm year in the British–Irish Isles (BI). The severity of the storm may be a harbinger of expected changes to regional hydroclimate as global temperatures continue to rise. Here, we adopt a process-based approach to investigate the potency of Desmond, and explore the extent to which climate change may have been a contributory factor. Through an Eulerian assessment of water vapour flux we determine that Desmond was accompanied by an atmospheric river (AR) of severity unprecedented since at least 1979, on account of both high atmospheric humidity and high wind speeds. Lagrangian air-parcel tracking and moisture attribution techniques show that long-term warming of North Atlantic sea surface temperatures has significantly increased the chance of such high humidity in ARs in the vicinity of the BI. We conclude that, given exactly the same dynamical conditions associated with Desmond, the likelihood of such an intense AR has already increased by 25% due to long-term climate change. However, our analysis represents a first-order assessment, and further research is needed into the controls influencing AR dynamics. (letter)