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Climate
A storm cell dumps rain in rural western Illinios. Tom Gill / Flickr

Extreme Storms to Multiply, Intensify Across U.S., New Simulations Suggest

By Tim Radford

For the U.S., harder rain is on the way: America's summer thunderstorms are about to get stormier. Later this century, the notorious mesoscale convective storms of middle America will not just darken skies—they will also dump as much as 80 percent more water on the farms, highways and cities of the 48 contiguous states.

Mesoscale thunderstorms cover an area of around 100 kilometers (approximately 62 miles): these have been on the increase, both in frequency and intensity, in the last 35 years and new research suggests that, as the world warms, their frequency could triple.

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Climate

New Climate Study: Most Severe Warming Projections Are Now the Most Likely

By Tim Radford

Global warming, under the notorious "business-as-usual scenario" in which humans go on burning fossil fuels to power economic growth, could by 2100 be at least 15 percent warmer than the worst UN projections so far. And the spread of uncertainty in such gloomy forecasts has been narrowed as well.

Climate scientists had worked on the assumption that there was a 62 percent chance that the world would have warmed on average by more than 4°C if no action was taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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Climate
Electric vehicles are part of Shell's proposed green plan. Nick Birse / Wikimedia Commons

Shell’s Green Plan Underwhelms Critics

By Mitchell Beer

A leading producer of fossil fuels, which last month announced its intention to reduce its contribution to the global warming stoked by society's prodigal consumption of its products, may now be feeling more backlash than praise. Shell's green plan leaves some critics saying the group's figures don't add up very impressively.

Royal Dutch Shell pledged last month to cut its net greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent by 2035 and 50 percent by 2050, while investing $1-2 billion per year in renewables, and electric vehicles between 2018 and 2020.

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Climate
Autumnal mixed forest in Germany. Christian Hueller

Mixed Forests Are Healthier, But Can They Survive Climate Change?

By Tim Radford

German researchers have confirmed once again that a good forest is a mixed forest, a natural one, with a diversity of species. The more diverse the forest, the better it becomes at doing what forests do.

Forests with a greater number of species grow at a faster rate, store more carbon, and are more resistant to pests and diseases, according to a six-nation study of European woodlands.

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Climate
The Arctic is the world's fastest-warming region. Paul Gierszewski (Gierszep) / Wikimedia Commons

Global Warming Hiatus Isn’t Over: It Never Began

By Tim Radford

Just weeks after one group of scientists officially declared an end to the global warming pause, the so-called hiatus, another group has returned to the argument.

They argue that there never was a pause in global warming. There was instead a global misperception that warming slowed between 1998 and 2012, but only because of gaps in the data, in particular from the Arctic, the fastest-warming region of the planet.

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Renewable Energy

Scientists Are Closer to Making Solar-Powered Jets a Reality

By Tim Radford

Swiss scientists are closer to making solar-powered jets a reality. They now know how to make jet fuel out of air, sunlight and water.

With a high temperature solar reactor fashioned from a helpful ceramic, they split carbon dioxide and water to make carbon monoxide and hydrogen, known as syngas or synthetic natural gas, with oxygen as the only exhaust.

They then handed the compressed syngas to chemists in Amsterdam who used a standard industrial process to turn the syngas into kerosene, the fuel that flies jumbo jets around the world.

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Climate
iStock

Geoengineering Could Create More Problems Than It Could Solve

By Tim Radford

Geoengineering—the untested technofix that would permit the continued use of fossil fuels—could create more problems than it could solve.

By masking sunlight with injections of sulphate aerosols in the stratosphere, nations could perhaps suppress some of the devastating hurricanes and typhoons that in a rapidly warming world threaten northern hemisphere cities. But they could also scorch the Sahel region of Africa, to threaten millions of lives and livelihoods, according to new research.

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More Harvey-Sized Hurricanes Likely to Hit Texas

By Tim Radford

The probability that some city in the U.S. state of Texas will be hit again by Harvey-sized hurricanes, rainstorms that will dump half a meter of water in a short space of time, has increased sixfold in this century and will have increased 18-fold by 2100, thanks to climate change driven by global warming.

In the late summer of 2017, Hurricane Harvey dropped 65 cms of water on the city of Houston in Texas. It was the start of the largest natural disaster in the U.S. since Hurricane Katrina pounded New Orleans in 2005. Harvey claimed an estimated 70 lives, and created more than $150 billion in damage.

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Climate
NASA

World Is Set to Warm 3.4°C By 2100

By Alex Kirby

By approaching 2100, a world set for 3.4˚C will, on present trends, probably be the reality confronting our descendants—slightly less warm than looked likely a year ago, analysts think. That's the good news, you could say.

But the bad news is twofold. First, this improvement in planetary prospects will still leave the global temperature increase more than twice as high as the internationally agreed target of 1.5˚C. And secondly, it depends largely on the efforts of just two countries—China and India.

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