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Top Global Sustainability Papers: May to August 2019

Looking for the most talked-about sustainability science papers from the last three months? Look no further, Future Earth has ranked the top global sustainability research papers by Altmetric score. The score does not evaluate the calibre of the research but is a quick measure of science that gleaned the most media attention this summer, through news, blog posts, twitter, facebook, and other mentions.

Last quarter’s runner-up – an exploration of the societal and political commonalities between malnutrition and climate change (The Lancet) – continues to populate headlines, in the number one spot.

Rounding out the top five, media-snatching snippets included; an article in Science proposing that restoring global forest canopy cover is the most effective climate mitigation solution to date, a paper showing that committed emissions from energy infrastructure account for more than the remaining carbon budget allocated for a 1.5°C global mean rise in temperature (Nature), a study showing that spending time in urban natural environments enhances health and wellbeing (Scientific Reports), and the observation that glacial melt in the Himalayas is driving climate warming (Science Advances).

In our selection of the top sustainability articles, we were guided by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which recognize that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, combating inequality within and among countries, preserving the planet, creating sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, and fostering social inclusion are linked to each other and are interdependent.

Read on for the top 30 list (May 1, 2019 – August 30, 2019) and see our 2018 review here.

The top 30 global sustainability articles for the second quarter of 2019, by Altmetric score:

  1. Health effects of dietary risks in 195 countries, 1990–2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017 (April 2019) The Lancet. Altmetric Score: 5,727 [SDG 3]
  2. The global tree restoration potential (July 2019) Science. Altmetric Score: 4855 [SDG 15]
  3. Committed emissions from existing energy infrastructure jeopardize 1.5°C climate target (July 2019) Nature. Altmetric Score: 4350 [SDG 13]
  4. Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing (June 2019) Scientific Reports. Altmetric Score: 3028 [SDG 11]
  5. Acceleration of ice loss across the Himalayas over the past 40 years (June 2019) Science Advances. Altmetric Score: 2685 [SDG 15]
  6. Ice sheet contributions to future sea-level rise from structured expert judgement (May 2019) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Altmetric Score: 2541
  7. Nudging out support for a carbon tax (May 2019) Nature Climate Change. Altmetric Score: 2176
  8. White and wonderful? Microplastics prevail in snow from the Alps to the Arctic (August 2019) Science Advances. Altmetric Score: 2165
  9. Adaptive responses of animals to climate are most likely insufficient (July 2019) Nature Communications. Altmetric Score: 1908
  10. Association Between Long-term Exposure to Ambient Air Pollution and Change in Quantitatively Assessed Emphysema and Lung Function (August 2019) Journal of the American Medical Association. Altmetric Score: 1888
  11. Ideas and perspectives: is shale gas a major driver of recent increase in global atmospheric methane? (August 2019) Biogeosciences. Altmetric Score: 1867
  12. Discrepancy in scientific authority and media visibility of climate change scientists and contrarians (August 2019) Nature Communications. Altmetric Score: 1810
  13. Big tobacco, the new politics, and the threat to public health (May 2019) British Medical Journal. Altmetric Score: 1777
  14. The great Atlantic Sargassum belt (July 2019) Science. Altmetric Score: 1735
  15. Understanding climate change from a global analysis of city analogues (July 2019) PLoS ONE. Altmetric Score: 1706
  16. Human Consumption of Microplastics (June 2019) Environment Science & Technology. Altmetric Score: 1662
  17. AMLO’s Mexico leads to drastic cuts to health system (June 2019) The Lancet. Altmetric Score: 1577
  18. A 40-y record reveals gradual Antarctic sea ice increases followed by decreases at rates far exceeding the seen in the Arctic (July 2019) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Altmetric Score: 1533
  19. Projected losses of global mammal and bird ecological strategies (May 2019) Nature Communications. Altmetric Score: 1485
  20. Consistent multidecadal variability in global temperatures reconstructions and simulations over the Common Era (July 2019) Nature Geoscience. Altmetric Score: 1389
  21. Increase in CFC-11 emissions from eastern China based on atmospheric observations (May 2019) Nature. Altmetric Score: 1383
  22. Mapping the world’s free-flowing rivers (May 2019) Nature. Altmetric Score: 1361
  23. Significant plastic accumulation on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Australia (May 2019) Scientific Reports. Altmetric Score: 1328
  24. Scientists’ warning to humanity: microorganisms and climate change (June 2019) Nature Reviews in Microbiology. Altmetric Score: 1323
  25. Do transportation network companies decrease or increase congestion? (May 2019) Science Advances. Altmetric Score: 1292
  26. Global database shows geography and life form predict modern plant extinction and rediscovery (June 2019) Nature Ecology. Altmetric Score: 1217
  27. Climate Change Drives Widespread and Rapid Thermokarst Development in Very Cold Permafrost and the Canadian High Arctic (June 2019) Geophysical Research Letters. Altmetric Score: 1213
  28. Association of Air Pollution Exposure With Psychotic Experiences During Adolescence (June 2019) JAMA Psychiatry. Altmetric Score: 1204
  29. Assessing the health effects of a “no deal” Brexit (August 2019) British Medical Journal. Altmetric Score: 1144
  30. Global spatial risk assessment of sharks under the footprint of fisheries (July 2019) Nature. Altmetric Score: 1115