AGU Advances

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Volume 2 Issue 1 | April 2021


This digest introduces our second issue of AGU Advances. As usual, you can find descriptions and links to the papers and commentaries published, and selected highlights from our editors on papers they recommend. The cover art in this issue deserves special mention – it depicts a Sankey diagram of energy flows in a future U.S. energy system with zero net CO2 emissions (see Williams et al. in this issue). The artist, Alisa Singer, uses artistic representations of scientific data to enhance awareness and understanding of climate change.

The Advances editorial board is proud to inaugurate in this issue an ongoing series of editorials and commentaries on issues of race, diversity and equity in the Earth sciences. This series is intended to highlight and promote discussion about these topics and the actions needed to advance our community so it can become more diverse and inclusive, thereby advancing our science. The issue includes an editorial by the Advances editors (Zeitler et al) that elaborates on our goals with this series and is a call for more contributions. We also have our first two commentaries: Emily Cooperdock and coauthors emphasize that real change requires those in positions of power to act, and makes suggestions for concrete actions to address bias in the lab, field and classroom; and Vernon Morris provides a powerful and important testimonial that both calls for change and shows how it can happen. Please look for other upcoming pieces on these topics in AGU Advances. If you want to pitch a contribution to this series, please contact [email protected].


Modeling Interactions Between Cities and Climate Across Scales

With more than half of humanity living in cities, the ability to model urban-climate interactions at relevant spatial scales is increasingly important. Sharma, Wuebbles & Kotamarthi


Going Down: How Do Cities Carry That Weight?

Calculations show that the added weight of growing cities can lead to tens of millimeters of subsidence, an effect that needs to be considered for coastal cities under threat by sea-level rise.Parsons

Deep Decarbonization? Yes We Can!

Modeling the U.S. energy system demonstrates several pathways to net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050. The pathway with the lowest cost, 0.2–1.2% of GDP, relies on >80% contribution of renewables.Williams et al.; Viewpoint by Bataille

Watering Down the Mantle

The cooling of planet Earth over time increased the water carrying capacity of the mantle and could have shrunk the oceans.Dong et al.

Dawn Storms at Jupiter

Juno spacecraft observations provide the first global description of dawn storms in Jupiter’s aurorae, from their initiation to their end.Bonfond et al.

New Data on Smoke Particulates from Cellular Radio Signals

Through analyzing radio links signal levels, retrieved surface smoke particulate concentrations can complement limited datasets from air quality stations in improving impacts analyses for wildfires.Guyot et al.

Drainage Canals in Southeast Asian Peatlands Increase Carbon Emissions

In Southeast Asian peatlands, which have experienced decades of land use change, the exact extent and spatial distribution of drainage canals are unknown. By creating the first regional map of drainage canals using satellite imagery and a neural network, the authors find that drainage is widespread—occurring in at least 65% of peatlands and across all land use types. Dadap et al.

How River Engineering Alters Carbon Cycling

Artificial levees in the Lower Mississippi River bypass floodplain processing and increase delivery of carbon to the ocean.Shen et al.; Viewpoint by Repasch


Climate Modeling

Kiem et al. propose a truly innovative approach to generate climate scenarios by merging the information and strengths of climate models and stochastic generation. The generated scenarios preserve the natural variability of climate through the stochastic analysis and account for anthropogenic climate change as predicted by climate models. —Alberto Montanari

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

In Food systems are responsible for a third of global anthropogenic GHG emissions Crippa et al. quantify GHG emissions from various sectors of the food system, from the farm gate to the consumer. They also show that CO2 emissions have been constant or dropping globally (as of 2015) from the food system, but N2O and CH4 have been increasing. —Eric A. Davidson

Renewable Energy

The December 2020 special issue of Oceanography on Understanding the Effects of Offshore Wind Energy Development on Fisheries, edited by E. Twigg, S. Roberts and E. Hofmann, provides syntheses of research, monitoring, and fishing industry engagement studies from European wind farms and the Block Island Wind Farm off Rhode Island USA. These studies will support strategies for avoidance and mitigation of potential negative impacts on marine resources and maritime economies—such as disturbance or loss of traditional fishing grounds—from offshore wind construction and operation. —Eileen Hofmann

Natural Hazards

A special issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A was published on March 1st. The issue focuses on Intensification of short-duration rainfall extremes and implications for flash flood risks. The papers are largely based on the INTENSE project, the first major international research effort to focus on subdaily rainfall extremes, enabling substantial advances in quantifying historical changes; in combination with a range of modelling efforts, an improved physical understanding of change and hence, a basis for understanding future changes in subdaily rainfall extremes. —Donald J. Wuebbles

Featured AGU Special Collections

  • Join open writing teams to collaborate on commentaries for a special collection describing approaches that embody synthesis, cross-disciplinary integration, and open science across geosciences.

  • Call for Papers: "The Earth in living color: spectroscopic and thermal imaging of the Earth: NASA’s Decadal Survey Surface Biology and Geology Designated Observable"

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