SMC Bulletin - Polar ice sheets under 1.5C

Published: Fri 16 Nov 2018 07:20 PM
Polar ice sheets under 1.5C
Under the Paris Agreement, nations agreed to limit global warming to less than 2C above pre-industrial levels, but even that might not be enough to stop the collapse of Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.
Even if we restrict warming to the targets set by the Paris Agreement, both ice sheets may have tipping points at or slightly above the 1.5-2C threshold, according to a review of our current understanding of ice sheet processes by an international team of scientists, including New Zealand author Dr Nick Golledge from Victoria University of Wellington.
Professor Christina Hulbe from the University of Otago told The AM Show the work had "one clear message: we are very close to triggering irreversible change in Earth's polar ice sheets".
Once crossed, these tipping points could lead to irreversible loss of ice from the sheets and may commit us to greater rates of sea level rise than we are currently experiencing for hundreds of years to come. Dr Huw Horgan from Victoria's Antarctic Research Centre told the SMC: "This study really emphasises the vulnerability of these ice sheets to warming, and clearly show how their fate is linked to choices we make about emissions."
Climate scientist Professor James Renwick told Stuff: "we might be locking in about 5m of sea level rise even if we limit global warming to 2C." He emphasised that those tipping points get closer every day that people emit greenhouse gases.
The SMC gathered expert reaction on the study.
"Science is not always straightforward, especially when researching new issues.
"But it’s essential that scientists are allowed to speak freely on what their research shows."
Dr Amanda Black, a Principal Research Officer with the Bio-Protection Research Centre upon receiving the Emerging Leader Award in the New Zealand Biosecurity Awards.
Blue light messes with sleep
Too much blue light at night could give you trouble sleeping and alter your internal body clock, according to a new report from the Royal Society Te Apārangi.
The report explains that our eyes use blue light to adjust our body clocks to the right timezone.
"With electronic devices like our phones and iPads and computer screens, we are exposing ourselves to more and more blue light which... delays our clocks to a later time zone and it effectively gives us jet lag," Assoc Prof Guy Warman from the University of Auckland told Newstalk ZB.
Warman, who was part of the expert advisory group for the report, says the sleep disruption caused by this interference can weaken our immunity and increases the risk of obesity, depression, and potentially some types of cancer.
The report advises the public to expose ourselves to blue light in the morning to help us wake up, but to limit blue light at night by reducing screen brightness, using night-time apps that lower blue light output or turning devices off.
We're not the only ones affected blue light, as insects and plants are also sensitive to blue light, with insects showing signs of disrupted feeding behaviours, pollination efforts, and reproduction.
"Even small solar-powered LEDs, the kind people have in their gardens, can alter insect behaviour," forest protection scientist Lindsay Bulman from Scion told Stuff.
"If we want to minimise the effect of nighttime lighting on the environment we need to think about how, when and where we use lighting at home and in public spaces, and look at using lights that do not have a significant blue wavelength component."
The light pollution from white LED streetlights (which have a large blue light component) can also stop us from seeing the stars, leading astronomists to lobby for outdoor lighting only to be used when needed and to make sure these lights only point downwards.
The SMC gathered expert reaction on the report.
Upcoming SAVVY Express
We're bringing our 15-minute media training Science Media SAVVY Express programme to two conferences before the end of the year.
Participants in SAVVY Express receive individual coaching to help them speak on camera about their research in an engaging way, and receive a polished 90-second video edited from their best takes during the session as an added bonus.
We work hard to create a supportive, confidence-building environment for participants, and find the conference setting provides an ideal opportunity for busy researchers to try their hand at new skills.
SAVVY Express is also great for experienced researchers seeking a quick refresher of prior media training.
We'll be at the following conferences before the end of the year. If you'll be attending, sign up for a session and encourage your fellow conference-goers to do so too.
28 Nov DunedinMicrobes & Molecules Conference
13 Dec Wellington2018 One Health Aotearoa Symposium
More information on SAVVY Express and the sign-up forms can be found here.
Contact us if you're organising a conference in 2019 and would like to discuss potentially holding a SAVVY Express session.
Policy news & developments
Singapore agreement: Kiwi visitors to Singapore now have extended visa-free entry and companies with offices in Singapore can now send employees there for longer.
Pike River re-entry: The mission will go ahead via the safest option - entry through the existing access tunnel, with initial work breaching the seal expected by around February.
Rural health school quashed: Plans for a rural school of medicine have been scrapped, with Health Minister David Clark announcing alternative measures to ease workforce pressure.
New High Commissioner: Former health minister Dame Annette King has been made the High Commissioner to Australia.
EQC inquiry: Former governor-general and high court Judge Dame Silvia Cartwright will lead the public inquiry into the Earthquake Commission, which aims to learn from the Canterbury quakes.
Biosecurity champions: Scion picked up the Biological Heritage Challenge Award, and Dr Amanda Black was honoured as an emerging leader at the 2018 Biosecurity Awards.
New takahē eggs: The first eggs of the new wild population of tahakē in Kahurangi National Park have been found.
Stop to whaling urged: NZ has called on Japan to stop its Southern Ocean whaling programme, saying it flies in the face of scientific advice.
This week on the NZ Conversation.
Why early diagnosis of autism should lead to early intervention
Hannah Waddington, Jessica Tupou, and Larah van der Meer, Victoria University of Wellington
Taxonomy, the science of naming things, is under threat
Nic Rawlence, University of Otago
How to restore trust in governments and institutions
Grant Duncan, Massey University
See more NZ-authored Conversation articles.
What we've been reading
With an abundance of news stories to possibly read, watch and listen to, it can be hard to find the gems. Here we highlight some of the stories that caught our attention this week.
Algorithms are everywhere but the public sector seems scared to use them
If the Government dared, it could do so much more with what it knows about you, Stuff national correspondent Katie Kenny writes for her latest installment in her Data For Sale project.
Draining the swamp kauri swamp
A long-awaited Supreme Court judgment says rough sawn slabs of indigenous timber and lightly carved logs are not “finished” items and their export is illegal, Farah Hancock writes for Newsroom. This week, she also tackled the issue of wilding pines.
How it is decided who is Wikipedia-worthy
Stay-at-home mum and trained lawyer Siobhan Leachman is one of about 160 volunteer Kiwis who decide who deserves a page on the online encyclopaedia. Stuff's Nikki Macdonald looks at how who we choose to memorialise in print holds a mirror to what we value as a society.
How podcasts became a seductive—and sometimes slippery—mode of storytelling
In our frenetic age, audio narratives offer a rare opportunity for slow immersion. But this intimacy can become manipulative writes Rebecca Mead for The New Yorker.
Non-binary finery: The Kiwis whose gender doesn't fit in a 'neat little box'
A new type of identity is emerging from the shadows, and demanding respect. They are non-binary people, whose gender identity exists beyond simply male and female. Felix Desmarais reports for Stuff.
An international rip-off or an innocent abroad
Tim Murphy reports on a case before the High Court which must decide if Chinese-born, Opotiki kiwifruit grower Haoyu Gao conspired to sell one of our super varieties of the fruit off to China - and thus deny Zespri and New Zealand untold millions in export sales.
The death of Radio Live
Fourteen years after launching “the new voice of talk radio”, MediaWorks will silence Radio Live and jobs look set to go as a classic hits station takes over. RNZ's Mediawatch looks at why and what might replace it.
New from Sciblogs - NZ's science blog network
Some of the highlights from this week's Sciblogs posts:
Two years on from the Kaikōura quake
This week marked the second anniversary of the magnitude 7.8 Kaikōura earthquake that ruptured a world record 25 faults in the upper South Island. GNS Science reflects on the event.
Bias towards action?
When Eric Crampton tried to petition the Government to maintain the status quo for fireworks laws, he discovered that you can only petition Parliament to change a law, not to leave a law as it is.
The Dismal Science
Messing with the Unconscious
Just how accurate is the standard unconscious bias test? Michael Corballis looks at the classic psychology test and how it has spread into the public arena.
Mind Matters
Cell phones give you cancer. Yeah, right.
A lesson from the headlines: Marcus Wilson gets his third-year science communication students to compare mainstream media coverage of a recent paper about mobile phones and cancer in rats to what scientists say.
Physics Stop
Upcoming events
Please see the SMC Events Calendar for more events and details.
Plant-based Protein: Napier, 20 November. Dr Marian McKenzie from Plant & Food Research will talk about what the future holds for plant-based protein foods.
Zealandia: Christchurch, 20 & 27 November. Professor Simon Pollard will talk about the explosive forces that shaped Zealandia and how it came to be filled with such a fascinating variety of plants and animals.
Bullying GPs: Wellington, 21 November. Samantha Murton and Emma Wicks will present the results of their study on bullying in the general practice workforce.
HIT Lab Open Day: 21 November, Christchurch. Canterbury's HIT Lab is open to the public 2-7pm. There will be demonstrations of their work in virtual reality, augmented reality, and applied gaming.
Radical Vulnerability: Wellington, 21 November. Prof Nagar from the University of Minnesota talk about her work with three communities — the Sangtin movement of small farmers and manual labourers in rural North India, the Parakh theatre group in Mumbai, and her students.
Restoring local rivers: Motueka, 22 November. Trevor James, Tasman District Council’s Senior Research Scientist, will share updated information about the health of the rivers and streams in the Tasman area.
Science advice: Wellington, 23 November. Sir Peter Gluckman will speak about science advice, public policy and the post-truth dynamic.
Science Media Centre
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