The key to the slowdown in global warming in recent years could lie in the depths of the Atlantic and Southern Oceans where excess heat is being stored – not the Pacific Ocean as has previously been suggested, according to new research.
But the finding suggests that a naturally occurring ocean cycle burying the heat will flip in around 15 years' time, causing global temperature rises to accelerate again.
The slowdown of average surface temperature rises in the last 15 years after decades of rapid warming has been seized on by climate change sceptics and has puzzled scientists, who have hypothesised that everything from volcanic eruptions and sulphur from Chinese power stations to heat being trapped deep in the oceans could be the cause. Several studies have focused on the Pacific as potentially playing a major role.
The new study, published in the journal Science on Thursday, concludes that the Pacific alone cannot explain the warming "hiatus" and that much of the heat being trapped by greenhouse gases at record levels in the atmosphere is being sunk hundreds of metres down in the Atlantic and Southern Oceans.
Ka-Kit Tung, author of the paper and University of Washington professor, said: "The finding is a surprise, since the current theories had pointed to the Pacific Ocean as the culprit for hiding heat. But the data are quite convincing and they show otherwise."
"We are not downplaying the role of the Pacific. They are both going on [the oceans having an effect on temperatures]; one is short term [the Pacific], one is long term [the Atlantic]," he told the Guardian.
A shift in the salinity of the north Atlantic triggered the effect around the turn of the century, the study says, as surface water there became saltier and more dense, sinking and taking surface heat down to depths of more than 300 metres.
Using temperature data from floats across the world, Tung found the Atlantic and Southern Oceans "each account for just under half the global energy storage change since 1999 at below 300m." The study's result, he says, does not support the "Pacific-centric" view of earlier work on whether heat is being stored.
"We were surprised to see the evidence presented so clearly. When you go with the energy, you cannot argue with that," said Tung.
Enbridge Inc. (ENB) said it found a way to ship more Alberta oil to the U.S. that doesn't require a Keystone XL-like review: switching crude from one pipeline to another before it crosses the border.
The State Department, responsible for approving cross-border energy projects like the Alberta Clipper and the proposed Keystone XL line to the U.S. Gulf Coast, said in a statement that Enbridge can go forward with its plan under authority granted by previously issued permits.
The plan drew criticism today from environmental groups, including the National Wildlife Federation, opposed to new imports from Canada's oil sands because mining and processing the fuel releases more climate-warming carbon than other types of crude.
Two Michigan men testified Wednesday that a 2010 oil spill into the Kalamazoo River destroyed their business and they want Enbridge Inc. to pay for it.
Charles Blakeman, Jr. of Bellevue and Robert Patterson of Mason said they were prevented from guiding disabled veterans on deer hunts in Fort Custer Recreation Area because of the spill and that they lost thousands of dollars.
But Enbridge is arguing that the company, Extreme Adventures, did not have any business before the spill and didn’t lose money because of it.
The Sustainability Group, a group aimed at fostering socially responsible investment, along with Walden Asset Management, which offers portfolio management services to socially responsive investors, have been working with Microsoft to encourage it to end its relationship with the corporatist group American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC.)
The Sustainability Group was successful. From a statement released today:
Last year, The Sustainability Group of Loring, Wolcott and Coolidge and Walden Asset Management engaged Microsoft over its affiliation with the controversial model legislation group American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. Microsoft is a leader on carbon issues – in 2012, it committed to becoming carbon neutral, and is one of the largest corporate purchasers of renewable energy. Thus, we believe that its affiliation with ALEC, which is actively fighting policies that promote renewable energy, was incongruous. In addition, there were numerous other ALEC actions that conflicted directly with Microsoft’s values.
We are pleased to report Microsoft is no longer a member of ALEC and is not financially supporting the organization in any way.
Oregon's Department of State Lands on Monday dealt a serious blow to Ambre Energy's proposed coal terminal, denying a key permit needed for a project to export 8.8 million tons of coal annually to Asia.
The state agency said despite a two-year review, Australia-based Ambre Energy hadn't done enough to analyze alternatives that would avoid harming tribal fisheries at the Port of Morrow in Boardman, where the company had proposed to build a dock to load coal onto barges.
The project, the state agency said in a press release, "is not consistent with the protection, conservation and best use of the state's water resources."
"This application has been scrutinized for months," said Mary Abrams, state lands director. "We believe our decision is the right one, considering our regulatory parameters laid out in Oregon law, and the wealth of information we have received from the applicant and the public."
New York state authorities are investigating an oil spill from a pipe found floating in the Hudson River south of Albany.
State police say there were called by Columbia County 911 dispatchers to assist local firefighters with a reported oil spill near a boat launch in Germanton, 35 miles south of Albany.
Troopers say a boater spotted a 50-foot-long flexible transfer pipe floating in the river with oil spilled nearby. A state police helicopter was used to help the state Department of Environmental Conservation determine the extent of the spill.
Some of the world's costliest energy projects are in Alberta's oilsands and some could be cancelled without higher oil prices, according to a new report by a London-based financial think-tank that focuses on climate risk.
The study by the Carbon Tracker Initiative highlighted 20 of the biggest projects around the world that need a minimum oil price of US$95 a barrel to be economically viable.
Most on the list require prices well north of US$110 a barrel and a few in the oilsands even need prices higher than US$150, said the report.
Crude for September delivery was at around US$97 a barrel in New York on Friday.
The Joslyn oil sands mine has been shelved indefinitely, a result of rising industry costs that made the $11-billion project financially untenable.
French energy powerhouse Total SA, along with its partners in the Joslyn north oil sands project, unanimously decided to put the project on hold because of rising cost pressures across the entire energy industry, said André Goffart, the head of Total's Canadian division.
"Joslyn is facing the same challenge most of the industry world-wide [is], in the sense that costs are continuing to inflate when the oil price and specifically the netbacks for the oil sands are remaining stable at best – squeezing the margins," he told reporters in a conference call.
The Nebraska Supreme Court will soon hear arguments in a dispute over the planned route for the Keystone XL pipeline but a court ruling on the controversial project is likely to be delayed until the new year, lawyers and activists say.
The court has scheduled oral arguments for Sept. 5 in Lincoln over the proposed path of the 1,200-mile (1,900-km) pipeline from Canada to Texas.
Although it will be a talking point in several Congressional races, Keystone's fate is likely to remain in limbo during the Nov. 5 U.S. mid-term elections.
Energy companies are fracking for oil and gas at far shallower depths than widely believed, sometimes through underground sources of drinking water, according to research released Tuesday by Stanford University scientists.
Though researchers cautioned their study of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, employed at two Wyoming geological formations showed no direct evidence of water-supply contamination, their work is certain to roil the public health debate over the risks of the controversial oil and gas production process.