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For Obama's climate plan, devil is in the details

July 15, 2013 10:24 pm | by Josh Lederman, Associated Press | News | Comments

Three weeks after giving an ambitious speech to outline his climate change proposal, President Obama begins the arduous task of executing it. His plan is a complicated mix of rulemaking and federal permitting that's tough to encapsulate in a neat sales pitch—and may be even tougher to put into action.

Distorted GPS signals reveal hurricane wind speeds

July 15, 2013 3:55 pm | by Stephen J. Katzberg and George G. Ganoe, NASA Langley, and Jason Dunion, University of Miami | News | Comments

By pinpointing locations on Earth from space, GPS systems have long shown drivers the shortest route home and guided airline pilots across oceans. Now, by figuring out how messed up GPS satellite signals get when bouncing around in a storm, researchers have found a way to do something completely different with GPS: measure and map the wind speeds of hurricanes.

Study: Continuous satellite ice sheet monitoring to better predict sea-level rise

July 15, 2013 9:45 am | News | Comments

The length of the satellite record for the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets is currently too short to tell if the recently reported speed-up of ice loss will be sustained in the future or if it results from natural processes, according to a new study. Sheets are losing are about 300 billion tons of ice each year, but no consensus has emerged about the cause of this recent increase in mass loss.

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Study provides details on portable generator emissions

July 12, 2013 10:11 am | News | Comments

Despite warnings to the contrary, many people continue to operate portable generators indoors or close to open windows, resulting in more than 500 deaths since 2005. And each year, more than 20,000 people visit the emergency room and more than 4,000 are hospitalized due to exposure to toxic levels of carbon monoxide. A new computer modeling study scrutinizes the deadly relationship between carbon monoxide emissions and occupant exposure.

Changes in atmosphere affects how much water trees need

July 11, 2013 8:19 am | News | Comments

Studies have long predicted that plants would begin to use water more efficiently, that is, lose less water during photosynthesis, as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose. However, an international research team doing work at the Harvard Forest Long-Term Ecological Research site has found that forests across the globe are losing less water than expected and becoming even more efficient at using it for growth.

Study: Air pollution cut northern China lifespans

July 9, 2013 8:53 am | by LOUISE WATT - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

A new study links heavy air pollution from coal burning to shorter lives in northern China. Researchers estimate that the half-billion people alive there in the 1990s will live an average of 5½ years less than their southern counterparts because they breathed dirtier air.

Nanomaterial to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions

July 9, 2013 8:12 am | News | Comments

Univ. of Adelaide researchers have developed a new nanomaterial that could help reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power stations. The new nanomaterial efficiently separates the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from nitrogen, the other significant component of the waste gas released by coal-fired power stations. This would allow the carbon dioxide to be separated before being stored, rather than released to the atmosphere.

Cluster spacecraft detects elusive space wind

July 2, 2013 10:16 am | News | Comments

A new study has provided the first conclusive proof of the existence of a space wind first proposed theoretically over 20 years ago. By analyzing data from the European Space Agency’s Cluster spacecraft, researchers have the plasmaspheric wind, so-called because it contributes to the loss of material from the plasmasphere, a donut-shaped region extending above the Earth’s atmosphere.

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Diamond catalyst shows promise in breaching age-old barrier

July 1, 2013 7:52 am | News | Comments

There are a lot of small molecules people would like to convert to something useful. The current process for reducing nitrogen to ammonia is done under extreme conditions, and there is an enormous barrier to overcome to get a final product. Breaching that barrier more efficiently and reducing the huge amounts of energy used to convert nitrogen to ammonia has been a grail for the agricultural chemical industry, until now.

Big footprints: 21% of homes account for half of greenhouse gas emissions

June 26, 2013 12:16 pm | News | Comments

The energy people use to power their homes and to satisfy their mobility needs accounts for more than 70% of emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas involved in global climate change. Recent research suggests that energy conservation in a small number of households could go a long way to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Water isotopes leave fingerprints for climate scientists

June 26, 2013 7:55 am | by Miles O'Brien and Marsha Walton, National Science Foundation | News | Comments

University of Colorado meteorologist David Noone and his team are working to understand how water moves around the planet. The measurements are made using an optical measurement technology which has only recently become available, and which allows continuous in situ observations to be made on a practical basis.

Oldest record of human-caused lead pollution detected

June 11, 2013 4:23 pm | News | Comments

Humans began contributing to environmental lead pollution as early as 8,000 years ago, according to a Univ. of Pittsburgh research report. The Pitt research team detected the oldest-discovered remains of human-derived lead pollution in the world in the northernmost region of Michigan, suggesting metal pollution from mining and other human activities appeared far earlier in North America than in Europe, Asia and South America.

How do you feed 9 billion people?

June 10, 2013 9:23 am | News | Comments

An international team of scientists has developed crop models to better forecast food production to feed a growing population—projected to reach 9 billion by mid-century—in the face of climate change. The team recently unveiled an all-encompassing modeling system that integrates multiple crop simulations with improved climate change models.

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Research shows promise for reducing greenhouse gases

June 4, 2013 8:23 am | News | Comments

Univ. of Calgary scientists are investigating how 'Alberta-grown' biomass—such as straw and wood left over from agricultural and forestry operations—could be used to clean up chemical contaminants in water from oilsands operations. This research project received $57,500 from the Climate Change and Emissions Management (CCEMC) Corp. though the Biological Greenhouse Gas Management Program.

Three veteran storm chasers killed by Oklahoma tornado

June 3, 2013 2:36 pm | by Kelly P. Kissel and Thomas Peipert, Associated Press | News | Comments

Tim Samaras, his son Paul, and colleague Carl Young died Friday night when an EF3 tornado with winds up to 165 mph turned on them near El Reno, Okla. Respected tornado researchers who used scientific equipment to help gather storm data, and shared their dramatic videos with television viewers and weather researchers, the three men died chasing a storm that killed 13 in Oklahoma City and its suburbs.

Chasing Tornadoes for Science

June 3, 2013 2:15 pm | Videos | Comments

In this video, Tim Samaras from the National Geographic Channel Storm Chasers talks about his passion for chasing and studying storm systems. He explains how he used National Instruments’ (NI) LabVIEW and CompactDAQ in a new instrument that is deployed on the ground in front of a tornado. After the storm he uses another NI application, DIAdem, to view the data that was collected.

Researchers document acceleration of ocean denitrification during deglaciation

June 3, 2013 9:35 am | News | Comments

As ice sheets melted during the deglaciation of the last ice age and global oceans warmed, oceanic oxygen levels decreased and "denitrification" accelerated by 30 to 120%, a new international study shows, creating oxygen-poor marine regions and throwing the oceanic nitrogen cycle off balance. By the end of the deglaciation, however, the oceans had adjusted to their new warmer state and the nitrogen cycle had stabilized.

Researchers explain magnetic field misbehavior in solar flares

May 23, 2013 8:39 am | News | Comments

When a solar flare filled with charged particles erupts from the sun, its magnetic fields sometimes break a widely accepted rule of physics. The flux-freezing theorem dictates that the magnetic lines of force should flow away in lock-step with the particles, whole and unbroken. Instead, the lines sometimes break apart and quickly reconnect in a way that has mystified astrophysicists.

Power of Moore tornado dwarfs Hiroshima bomb

May 22, 2013 11:16 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

On Tuesday, the National Weather Service gave the recent Moore, Okla., tornado the top-of-the-scale rating of EF5 for wind speed and breadth, and severity of damage. Wind speeds were estimated at between 200 and 210 mph. Everything had to come together just perfectly to create this killer tornado: wind speed, moisture in the air, temperature, and timing.

Amazon River exhales virtually all carbon taken up by rain forest

May 21, 2013 2:58 pm | by Hannah Hickey, University of Washington | News | Comments

Until recently people believed much of the rain forest’s carbon floated down the Amazon River and ended up deep in the ocean. Research showed a decade ago that rivers exhale huge amounts of carbon dioxide, though it left open the question of how that was possible. A new study resolves the conundrum, proving that woody plant matter is almost completely digested by bacteria living in the Amazon River.

Weather on the outer planets only goes so deep

May 16, 2013 12:31 pm | News | Comments

The planets Uranus and Neptune are home to extreme winds blowing at speeds of over 1,000 km/hour, hurricane-like storms as large around as Earth, immense weather systems that last for years, and fast-flowing jet streams. Researchers using a new method for analyzing the gravitational field of these planets have determined an upper limit for the thickness of the atmospheric layer, which limits the depth of stormy weather.

Sulfate aerosols cool climate less than assumed

May 15, 2013 10:47 am | News | Comments

Sulfur dioxide has been pegged as a significant cooling element in atmospheric climate models because of its ability to form sulfate aerosol particles that reflect sunlight. Recent findings from a team suggest that it is likely most models overestimate the cooling effect of these particles. The reason is a largely disregarded reaction pathway catalyzed by mineral dust within clouds.

Innovation in spectroscopy could improve greenhouse gas detection

May 15, 2013 8:37 am | News | Comments

Detecting greenhouse gases in the atmosphere could soon become far easier with the help of an innovative technique developed by a team at NIST, where scientists have overcome an issue preventing the effective use of lasers to rapidly scan samples. The team says the technique also could work for other jobs that require gas detection, including the search for hidden explosives and monitoring chemical processes in industry and the environment.

Experts: Carbon dioxide record illustrates “scary” trend

May 13, 2013 7:52 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

The old saying that "what goes up must come down" doesn't apply to carbon dioxide pollution in the air, which just hit an unnerving milestone. The chief greenhouse gas was measured Thursday at 400 parts per million in Hawaii, a monitoring site that sets the world's benchmark. This was last matched about 2 million years ago, or more, and is more than modern humans have ever encountered.

Study traces origin of cirrus clouds

May 9, 2013 2:48 pm | News | Comments

Researchers studying the origin of cirrus clouds have found that these thin, wispy trails of ice crystals are formed primarily on dust particles and some unusual combinations of metal particles—both of which may be influenced by human activities. The findings are important, scientists say, because cirrus clouds cover as much as one-third of the Earth and play an important role in global climate.

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