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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.

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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.

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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.

Discovered: Unexpected cooling effect on climate

May 7, 2013 8:11 am | News | Comments

University of Manchester scientists, writing in Nature Geoscience, have shown that natural emissions and manmade pollutants can both have an unexpected cooling effect on the world’s climate by making clouds brighter. Clouds are made of water droplets, condensed on to tiny particles suspended in the air. When the air is humid enough, the particles swell into cloud droplets.

Cleaner energy, warmer climate?

May 7, 2013 7:17 am | by Vicki Ekstrom, Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change | News | Comments

The growing global demand for energy, combined with a need to reduce emissions and lessen the effects of climate change, has increased focus on cleaner energy sources. But what unintended consequences could these cleaner sources have on the changing climate? Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology now have some answers to that question, using biofuels as a test case.

Study finds “dark oxidants” form away from sunlight, in oceans and underground

May 6, 2013 9:26 am | News | Comments

All forms of life that breathe oxygen—even ones that can't be seen with the naked eye, such as bacteria—must fight oxidants to live. These same oxidants also exist in the environment. But neutralizing environmental oxidants such as superoxide was a worry only for organisms that dwell in sunlight—in habitats that cover a mere 5% of the planet. Now researchers have discovered the first light-independent source of superoxide.

Meteorite study may reveal Mars’ secrets of life

May 2, 2013 8:57 am | News | Comments

In an effort to determine if conditions were ever right on Mars to sustain life, a team of scientists has examined a meteorite that formed on the red planet more than a billion years ago. And although this team’s work is not specifically solving the mystery, it is laying the groundwork for future researchers to answer this age-old question.

Keeping beverages cool in summer: It’s not just the heat, it’s the humidity

April 26, 2013 10:19 am | by Hannah Hickey, University of Washington | News | Comments

Recent work by University of Washington climate scientists have provided new insights into how to keep a drink cold on a hot day. Their work shows that, in sultry weather, condensation on the outside of a canned beverage doesn’t just make it slippery: those drops can provide more heat than the surrounding air, meaning the drink would warm more quickly.

NASA mission will study what disrupts radio waves

April 26, 2013 8:46 am | by Karen C. Fox, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center | News | Comments

A NASA-funded sounding rocket mission will launch from an atoll in the Pacific in the next few weeks to help scientists better understand and predict the electrical storms in Earth's upper atmosphere These storms can interfere with satellite communication and global positioning signals.

Air pollution linked to hardening of arteries

April 25, 2013 11:03 am | News | Comments

Long-term exposure to air pollution may be linked to heart attacks and strokes by speeding up atherosclerosis, or "hardening of the arteries," according to a University of Michigan public health researcher and colleagues from across the U.S.

Analysis of 2,000 years of climate records reveals end of global cooling trend

April 24, 2013 8:58 am | News | Comments

The most comprehensive evaluation of temperature change on Earth’s continents over the past 1,000 to 2,000 years indicates that a long-term cooling trend—caused by factors including fluctuations in the amount and distribution of heat from the sun, and increases in volcanic activity—ended late in the 19th century.

Nitrogen has key role in estimating CO2 emissions from land use change

April 23, 2013 9:42 am | News | Comments

A new global-scale modeling study that takes into account nitrogen—a key nutrient for plants—estimates that carbon emissions from human activities on land were 40% higher in the 1990s than in studies that did not account for nitrogen. Most existing models used to estimate global emissions changes based on land use do not have the ability to model nitrogen limitations on plant regrowth.

Where does charcoal, or black carbon, in soils go?

April 22, 2013 7:43 am | News | Comments

The ability to determine the fate of charcoal is critical to knowledge of the global carbon budget, which in turn can help understand and mitigate climate change. However, until now, researchers only had scientific guesses about what happens to charcoal once it's incorporated into soil. They believed it stayed there. Surprisingly, the findings of a new study shows that most of these researchers were wrong.

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