State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Climate News Roundup: Week of 4/01

EPA to impose first greenhouse gas limits on power plants, Washington Post, Mar 27

The US EPA issued its first regulations addressing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The regulation is a New Source Performance Standard, meaning that it applies only to new power plants that are not yet permitted or under construction. The standard imposes a limit of 1000 pounds of carbon emissions per megawatt hour. Current coal plant emissions average 1768 lbs/MWh; natural gas plants have much lower emissions, about 850 lbs/MWh. If approved, the NSPS will effectively end new construction of coal plants in the US, to the benefit of natural gas.

A Clearer Picture of Forest Carbon, NY Times, Mar 27

New data from Woods Hole Research Institute uses laser satellite technology (LIDAR) to provide information on the composition of tropical forests at higher resolution than previous studies. Using Lidar data, researchers estimate the aboveground biomass and carbon density of tropical ecosystems. Their methods enabled them to produce a map of the distribution of carbon stocks in the tropics at a resolution of 500 square meters. Understanding terrestrial carbon storage is critical to improving estimates of greenhouse gas emission and establishing methods and frameworks for preserving the tropical carbon sink.

Continuing extreme warmth downright eerie, NY Times, Mar 29

As the record breaking warmth continues across the northern hemisphere, scientists continue longstanding investigations of various phenomena to try to separate natural variability from patterns that can be attributed to human causes. While circumstantial evidence is voluminous (i.e. 324 consecutive months exceeding long term average global temperatures, increasing numbers of record high temperatures vs. record lows)  direct attribution is not easy.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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