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Climate Change Science and Solutions

Businesses, ecosystems, industries, societies, and political systems are all vulnerable to climate change. This LC focuses on the science of climate change and on investigating innovative, interdisciplinary ways to address it.

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    Lia Nicholson

    Speaking for the Islands

    At the end of 2021, Lia Nicholson ’14 MEM traveled to Glasgow, Scotland, on a mission with existential stakes. As the lead negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States at the U.N.’s annual climate change conference, COP26, Nicholson represented the bloc of 39 small island nations, which together comprise 20% of all U.N. member states. While the numbers alone can seem abstract, the difference between a global temperature rise of 1.5° Celsius over the preindustrial baseline and a rise of 2° is “existential” for the vulnerable AOSIS nations that were among the first to have to reckon with the impacts of climate change nearly 30 years ago, she says.

    Rita Effah

    Financing Community-led Climate Action in Africa

    As a YSE student, Rita Effah ’12 MFS participated in COP 17 in Durban, South Africa. She says her experience at the annual U.N. climate change conference was the catalyst that sparked her interest in working to mitigate climate change impacts in Africa.

    Now a senior climate finance officer at the African Development Bank, Effah is managing the Africa Climate Change Fund, which implements small grant projects in 28 African countries.

    Paper in a Page

    A Critical Breakthrough in Mapping Global Methane Emissions from Rivers and Streams

    Peter A. Raymond,  Shaoda Liu,  Giuseppe Amatulli,  Gerard Rocher-Ros,  Emily H. Stanley,  Luke C. Loken,  Nora J. Casson and Ryan A. Sponseller


    Methane emissions have contributed to about 30% of current global warming. A comprehensive understanding of methane sources is critical for climate modeling and mitigation. Freshwater ecosystems account for roughly half of global methane emissions in the atmosphere, but the specific amount is highly uncertain because estimates from rivers and streams vary widely.

    To generate a more accurate estimate the scientists created a Global River Methane Database comprised of all empirical observations of methane rivers, 24,000 records of methane concentrations, and more than 8,000 measurements of methane emissions. The research team then combined those observations with high-resolution hydrological datasets that capture the movement of water in rivers and applied machine learning tools to predict global methane concentrations and emissions to provide the most comprehensive estimate to date of monthly methane emissions from rivers and streams worldwide. According to their findings, about 27 teragrams of methane is emitted globally from rivers and streams, which is about a quarter of the methane produced by fossil fuels. The research will help scientists working on the Global Carbon Project, which estimates global budgets for three main greenhouse gases—methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide—and investigates the complex system of the carbon cycle.

    Figure 3

    Fig. 3 | Seasonal patterns of CH4 emissions. Left: total monthly CH4 emissions for each latitudinal band (10° bins), with the colour representing total river area. Right: total yearly emissions for each latitudinal band. In the left panel, the y axis is square-root transformed, and the colour scale is log transformed.

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    Learning Communities

    YSE's Learning Communities were created to offer robust interdisciplinary experiences and networks. Students may engage with as many learning communities as they choose, regardless of their degree program or specialization.