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Could global warming change tornado season, too?

March 18, 2013 9:12 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

With the planet heating up, many scientists seem fairly certain some weather elements like hurricanes and droughts will worsen. But tornadoes have them stumped. As the traditional tornado season nears, scientists have been pondering a simple question: Will there be more or fewer twisters as global warming increases?

Experts propose new structure to guide geoengineering research

March 15, 2013 11:16 am | News | Comments

Geoengineering, the use of human technologies to alter the Earth's climate system has emerged as a potentially promising way to mitigate the impacts of climate change. But such efforts could present unforeseen new risks. That inherent tension, argue two professors, has thwarted both scientific advances and the development of an international framework for regulating and guiding geoengineering research.

China wrestles with cost of cleaner environment

March 13, 2013 5:19 pm | by Joe McDonald, AP Business Writer | News | Comments

Facing public outrage over smog-choked cities and filthy rivers, China's leaders are promising to clean up the country's neglected environment—a pledge that sets up a clash with political pressures to keep economic growth strong.

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Ground-level ozone falling faster than model predicted

March 11, 2013 1:32 pm | News | Comments

According to a recent study from Rice University and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, there is good news and better news about ground-level ozone in American cities. While dangerous ozone levels have fallen in places that clamp down on emissions from vehicles and industry, the report suggests that a model widely used to predict the impact of remediation efforts has been too conservative. 

Earth warmer today than during most of past 11,300 years

March 8, 2013 9:55 am | News | Comments

With data from 73 ice and sediment core monitoring sites around the world, scientists have recently reconstructed Earth's temperature history back to the end of the last Ice Age. The analysis reveals that the planet today is warmer than it's been during 70 to 80% of the last 11,300 years.

Waves generated by Russian meteor recorded in U.S.

March 7, 2013 10:44 am | News | Comments

While thousands of earthquakes around the globe are recorded by seismometers in these stations—part of the permanent Global Seismographic Network (GSN) and EarthScope's temporary Transportable Array (TA)—signals from large meteor impacts are far less common. The meteor explosion near Chelyabinsk on Feb. 15, 2013, generated ground motions and air pressure waves in the atmosphere. The stations picked up the signals with seismometers and air pressure sensors, and recorded the pressures waves as they cross the United States.

Curiosity sleeps as solar blast races toward Mars

March 7, 2013 9:47 am | by Alicia Chang, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

NASA’s Martian rover hunkered down Wednesday after the sun unleashed a blast that raced toward Mars. While Curiosity was designed to withstand punishing space weather, its handlers decided to power it down as a precaution since it suffered a recent computer problem. While the hardy rover slept, the Opportunity rover and two NASA spacecraft circling overhead carried on with normal activities.

Volcanic aerosols, not pollutants, tamped down recent Earth warming

March 1, 2013 2:38 pm | News | Comments

A research team led by the University of Colorado Boulder had been looking for clues about why Earth did not warm as much as scientists expected between 2000 and 2010. They now think the culprits are hiding in plain sight—dozens of volcanoes spewing sulfur dioxide. The study results essentially exonerate Asia, including India and China, two countries that are estimated to have increased their industrial sulfur dioxide emissions by about 60% from 2000 to 2010 through coal burning.

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Scientists help shed light on key component of China's pollution problem

February 26, 2013 10:44 am | by Rob Jordan, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment | News | Comments

It's no secret that China is faced with some of the world's worst pollution. Until now, however, information on the magnitude, scope and impacts of a major contributor to that pollution—human-caused nitrogen emissions—was lacking. A new study has revealed that the problem is rooted in nitrogen.

Scientists produce densest artificial ionospheric plasma clouds yet

February 25, 2013 11:56 am | News | Comments

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory research physicists and engineers from the Plasma Physics Division, working at the High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) transmitter facility in Alaska have successfully produced a sustained high density plasma cloud in Earth's upper atmosphere. Previous attempts generated clouds with lifetimes of 10 minutes or less; this one lasted for more than one hour.

Rethinking wind power

February 25, 2013 11:32 am | News | Comments

The latest Harvard University research in mesoscale atmospheric modeling suggest that the generating capacity of large-scale wind farms has been overestimated. The research shows that the generating capacity of very large wind power installations (larger than 100 square kilometers) may peak at between 0.5 and 1 Watts per square meter. Previous estimates, which ignored the turbines' slowing effect on the wind, had put that figure at between 2 and 7 Watts per square meter.

Scientists trace particulate air pollution to its source

February 20, 2013 4:08 pm | News | Comments

Scientists at the University of California, Davis have, for the first time, developed a system that can determine which types of air particles that pollute the atmosphere are the most prevalent and most toxic. Previous research has shown that air pollution containing fine and ultrafine particles is associated with asthma, heart disease, and premature death. This new study marks the first time that researchers have conducted source-oriented sampling of these particles in the atmosphere.

New analysis links ozone levels, cardiac arrest

February 19, 2013 7:58 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Rice University have found a direct correlation between out-of-hospital cardiac arrests and levels of air pollution and ozone. Their work has prompted more CPR training in at-risk communities.

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Nearly 1,000 injured by blasts as meteor falls in Russia

February 15, 2013 8:30 am | by Jim Heintz, Associated Press | News | Comments

A meteor that scientists estimate weighed 10 tons (11 tons) streaked at supersonic speed over Russia's Ural Mountains on Friday, setting off blasts that injured nearly 1,000 people and frightened countless more. The Russian Academy of Sciences said in a statement that the meteor over the Chelyabinsk region entered the Earth's atmosphere at a speed of at least 54,000 kph (33,000 mph) and shattered about 30-50 km (18-32 miles) above ground.

Chemistry trick kills climate controversy

February 12, 2013 7:48 am | News | Comments

Volcanoes are well known for cooling the climate. But just how much and when has been a bone of contention among historians, glaciologists, and archeologists. Now a team of atmosphere chemists, from the Tokyo Institute of Technology and the University of Copenhagen, has come up with a way to say for sure which historic episodes of global cooling were caused by volcanic eruptions.

Understanding microbes blowing in the wind

February 7, 2013 8:37 am | by Dennis O'Brien | News | Comments

With help from a wind tunnel and the latest DNA technology, U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists are shedding light on the travel patterns of microbes in soils carried off by strong winds. The work has implications for soil health and could lead to management practices that minimize the damage to soils caused by wind erosion.

Volcano location could be greenhouse-icehouse key

February 7, 2013 8:00 am | News | Comments

A new Rice University-led study finds the real estate mantra “location, location, location” may also explain one of Earth’s enduring climate mysteries. The study suggests that Earth’s repeated flip-flopping between greenhouse and icehouse states over the past 500 million years may have been driven by the episodic flare up of volcanoes at key locations where enormous amounts of carbon dioxide are poised for release into the atmosphere.

U.K.'s space age Antarctic base can slide across ice

February 6, 2013 12:29 pm | by Rapahel Satter, Associated Press | News | Comments

British researchers have unveiled a futuristic Antarctic research base that can move, sliding across the frozen surface to beat the shifting ice and pounding snow that doomed its predecessors. Its builders hope that the Halley VI Research Station, the sixth facility to occupy the site on the Brunt Ice Shelf, can adapt to the unpredictable ice conditions.

Antarctic ice core contains unrivaled detail of past climate

February 5, 2013 2:37 pm | News | Comments

A team of U.S. ice-coring scientists and engineers in Antarctica, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), have recovered from the ice sheet a record of past climate and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that extends back 68,000 years.

Study: Gases work with particles to promote cloud formation

February 5, 2013 8:02 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Columbia University and the Georgia Institute of Technology have published a study showing, for the first time, that certain volatile organic gases can promote cloud formation in a way never considered before by atmospheric scientists.

Affordable sensor could detect a single molecule of carbon dioxide

February 4, 2013 9:20 am | News | Comments

Current sensors used to detect CO2 at surface sites are either very expensive or they use a lot of energy. And they’re not as accurate as they could be. Researchers in Canada are working on single nanowire transistors that could bring sensor technology up to speed with other technologies required for carbon capture and storage.

Study finds substantial microorganism populations in the troposphere

January 29, 2013 7:57 am | News | Comments

In what is believed to be the first study of its kind, researchers used genomic techniques to document the presence of significant numbers of living microorganisms—principally bacteria—in the middle and upper troposphere, that section of the atmosphere approximately four to six miles above the Earth's surface.

Study: Distant rural areas may feel cities' heat

January 28, 2013 8:33 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Heat rising up from cities such as New York, Paris and Tokyo might be remotely warming up winters far away in some rural parts of Alaska, Canada, and Siberia, a new study theorizes. In an unusual twist revealed by computer modeling, that same urban heat from buildings and cars may be slightly cooling the autumns in much of the Western United States, Eastern Europe, and the Mediterranean. The finding stems from the ability of “heat island” energy to change high-altitude currents.

The “rebound” effect of energy-efficient cars overplayed

January 24, 2013 8:18 am | News | Comments

The argument that those who have fuel-efficient cars drive them more and hence use more energy is overplayed and inaccurate, a University of California, Davis economist and his co-authors say in a comment article published in Nature.

In perceiving climate change, feeling the heat counts

January 23, 2013 11:24 am | News | Comments

Human beings around the world are observing and accurately detecting changes in their local climates, according to a new study led by Yale University researchers. The finding provides the first global evidence for the phenomenon and could have meaningful implications for attempts to combat climate change, they say.

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