Recommended Reading

This portion of my Lifestreaming Portal shares with you the best books, articles, and videos I have been reading or listening to which relate to the four Calit2 Next Decade Application Arenas: Energy, Environment, Health, and Culture. My goal is to periodically refresh this list on the home page and to include here the complete set of recommendations which will accumulate over time.

If you would like to jump to one of the four major Application areas, use the links to the right.


These are most important articles that I have extracted from dozens I read monthly. If you click on the title you can read the abstract of the article. For many universities you can get the full article at no charge through your university library e-journals. If you are not able to do this, you can usually buy the article for a nominal amount at the journal website provided at the end of the abstract.

Global sea level linked to global temperature
Martin Vermeer and Stefan Rahmstorf, PNAS, v. 106, 21527-21532 (2009)

Larry's comment: One of the controversial issues in climate change has been the amount of sea level rise expected this century. In a new approach (published in December 2009), the authors calibrate a model relating global temperature to sea level rise on the data of the last hundred years, explaining 98% of the variance. When projected forward to 2100 using a variety of global warming scenarios, they find a much larger sea level rise than the 2007 IPCC report, with one meter or more being likely.

Read Type: Journal. created on 2010.03.04
How green is your campus?
Nature. Amanda Leigh A L Mascarelli (2009)

Larry's comment: A short overview of how campuses are beginning to drive toward lower carbon sustainable operations. The good news is that usually this also saves money. As the article says, many schools are viewing themselves as a a test bed for green living from which communities and cities can learn, just as we are at UCSD and UCI.

Read Type: Journal. created on 2010.02.08
On avoiding dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system: Formidable challenges ahead (2008)
PNAS vol. 105, 14245-14250 (2008)

Larry's comment: This paper has had the most impact on me of any research paper I have read on climate change. In a very clear manner, Ramanathan (a Professor at UCSD's Scripps Institution of Oceanography) and Feng show that the amount of greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere will most likely raise the Earth's average temperature by 2.5 degrees C. However, to date only 0.8 degrees C has been realized. They show that this is because of two effects: first, the ocean has a thermal inertia time scale of 50-100 years and second, the aerosols caused by industrialization and deforestation fires mask some 40% of the projected warming by temporarily cooling (essentially as a volcanic eruption does). They also point out that several major climatic impacts are already past their tipping points (melting of the polar summer ice, melting of the Himalayan glaciers), which indeed there are signs of today.

Read Type: Journal. created on 2010.02.08
Permafrost and the Global Carbon Budget
Science vol. 312, pp. 1612 - 1613 (2006)

Larry's comment: One of the most worrisome aspects of human-induced global warming is that it could set off natural releases of greenhouse gases, which would amplify the expected global warming. A good example is the permafrost in the northern latitudes, which is beginning to thaw as the polar icecap retreats and the arctic warms much faster than the global average. This article gives good estimates of the carbon reservoir in the permafrost that could be released as methane, a by-product of the bacterial decomposition of the thawing organic material heretofore locked up in the permafrost.

Read Type: Journal. created on 2010.02.08
Powering the Planet
by Nathan Lewis

Larry's comment: Nate Lewis is my favorite analyst of how rapidly alternate energy sources must be ramped up in order to avoid catastrophic levels of climate change. It is sobering to realize that to keep CO2 from rising from today's 390ppm to 550ppm by 2050, we would have to build the clean energy sector up to roughly 50 Exxon-Mobils over the next 40 years. Another way Nate says it is that we will need 10-15 Terawatts of clean energy by 2050, which if we wanted to do it all with nuclear would mean building 10,000 Gigawatt nuclear power plants (there are 400 today), or one every other day for 50 years. If you want to go with geothermal, you need to capture all the outgoing heat from the Earth's core over all its land area with 100% efficiency to get 10TW. Clearly this is a staggering challenge. I think we need to move in this direction as quickly as possible, but Nate has taught me to appreciate how big a challenge it is, converting me from an unbridled optimist to a sober optimist.

Read Type: Journal. created on 2010.03.25
Recent Warming Reverses Long-Term Arctic Cooling
Darrell Kaufman, et al. Science 325, 1236-1239 (2009)

Larry's comment: Amazingly, the Arctic region has been cooling down for at least the last 2000 years. This paper pulls together over 20 high-resolution Arctic proxy climate records to establish a trend line on Arctic summer temperature. They find a steady cooling, including through the Medieval warming period, until roughly the start of the Industrial Revolution, when greenhouse gas emissions began their rapid rise. The twenty century cooling trend was reversed during the 20th century, with four of the five warmest decades of their 2000-year-long reconstruction occurring between 1950 and 2000. This gives the longer term context for the recent observations of rapid melting of the Arctic summer ice.

Read Type: Journal. created on 2010.03.25
Transient Simulation of Last Deglaciation with a New Mechanism for Bolling-Allerod Warming
Science vol.325, pp.310-314 (2009)

Larry's comment: This is the most computationally intensive supercomputer climate simulation ever run. It attempts one of the most difficult challenges in Earth climate modeling-the reproduction of an abrupt climate change, an almost discontinuous in time change of the Earth climate system. Amazingly, after using millions of processor-hours of the Department of Energy's Phoenix and Jaguar supercomputers (the world's fastest) the code reproduces some key features of one of the most recent abrupt global warming events-- the Bolling-Allerod (BA) warming of 14,500 years ago. The plan is to continue the computation through the Younger-Dryas abrupt climate change, up to the present day and then 200 years into the future. This bleeding edge supercomputer project will give us a good idea how well we can trust climate code predictions for the next century.

Read Type: Journal. created on 2010.02.08