Stabilising methane not enough
New research released by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton highlights the impact methane from New Zealand’s livestock has on global warming.
Authored by Dr Andy Reisinger, from the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, the report indicates that methane emissions from livestock would need to be reduced by at least 10-22 per cent below 2016 levels by 2050 to ensure no additional warming beyond current levels.
Upton said the research was being released to inform the current debate about how different greenhouse gases should be treated under the proposed Zero Carbon Bill. “It shows that holding New Zealand’s methane emissions steady at current levels would not be enough to avoid additional global warming.”
Victoria University of Wellington Professor of Climate Change Dave Frame said a key point of the research was that "you could keep around 80-90% of NZ’s current methane emissions and not cause further warming by 2050. That’s pretty consistent with ‘Option 2’ as set out in the recent MfE consultation document."
However, Prof Frame cautioned that while methane dominated New Zealand's historical warming legacy, "CO2 will dominate our future warming legacy unless we enact strong policies on fossil fuel emissions".
"There’s a ticking time bomb coming down the line and there is cause for concern. It’s not like a terrorist attack or a plane crash, these things are slowly creeping into our future."
University of Canterbury's Professor Matthew Turnbull on the threat of climate change.
Forecasting EQ aftershocks
Machine learning AI can be taught to forecast patterns of aftershocks following large earthquakes, according to US researchers.
The study, published this week in Nature, involved training a neural network to understand where earthquakes induce stress, using data from more than 131,000 pairs of earthquakes and aftershocks.
The authors said their network could then identify the pattern of aftershock locations in a separate dataset of more than 30,000 earthquake-aftershock pairs and was more accurate than the current prediction method - Coulomb failure stress change - because theirs identifies several different kinds of stress instead of just one.
Professor Mark Stirling, Chair of Earthquake Science at the University of Otago, said the application of machine learning was a "big step beyond what has been done in the past".
"With evolving methods like this, we stand to gain a better understanding of how this method can contribute to the ensemble of existing earthquake forecasting methods. We will, for instance, learn whether the method can be applied to every earthquake sequence (high value) versus being very sequence-specific (limited value)."
A group of GNS scientists - Dr Matt Gerstenberger, Dr David Rhoades and Dr Bill Fry - said the study "highlighted the considerable uncertainty and difficulty in developing Coulomb-based forecast models".
"The spatial patterns identified by the machine learning are consistent with those used in statistical models for earthquake forecasting in New Zealand (and elsewhere around the world). It will be interesting to see if machine learning will be able to identify spatial patterns that will help to improve traditional forecasting in the future."
The SMC gathered expert reaction to the study.
Video workshops go South
In October, the Science Media Centre will take its popular science video making workshops to Christchurch and Dunedin.
These video workshops (produced in collaboration with Baz Caitcheon) focus on giving scientists the tools and skills to communicate their research in short videos aimed at an online audience.
Producing short videos using the high-definition camera built into your smartphone or tablet has never been easier. We’ll show you to how to develop a video concept and give you tips on the best ways to shoot, edit and distribute your video content. In the weeks following, Baz will mentor you to help you produce your first science video.
The workshops are free to attend, but limited to 15 places. This is a competitive application process – the best applicants will be selected based on the video concepts outlined in the application form.
November SAVVY in Wellington
Our flagship media training course returns to Wellington for our fourth and final two-day Science Media SAVVY for the year.
• Wellington, Royal Society Te Apārangi
Our experienced facilitators provide a supportive environment for researchers to consider their work from different perspectives and find new ways to describe the value of their research to the public.
Ideally suited for researchers with previous media experience seeking further development of their skills, as well as beginners anticipating media interest in their work.
Policy news & developments
R&D Incentive: The Minister for Research, Science and Innovation has provided an update on the proposed R&D tax incentive.
Mining application overturned: The High Court has overturned an application to mine ironsands from the seabed off the coast of South Taranaki, which had been approved by the Environmental Protection Authority.
Mycoplasma spread: The cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis has been detected in Northland for the first time.
NASA internships: New Zealand
tertiary students will be offered a chance to participate in
NASA's International Internships Programme.