For decades, scientists have used sophisticated instruments and computer models to predict the nature of droughts. The majority of these models have steadily predicted an increasingly frequent and severe global drought cycle. But a recent study from a team of researchers in the United State and Australia suggests that one of these widely used tools—the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI)—may be incorrect.
According to a new study by scientists funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), clouds over the central Greenland Ice Sheet last July were "just right" for driving surface temperatures there above the melting point. The 2012 melt illustrates the often-overlooked role that clouds play in climate change. Current models don’t do enough, says researchers, to account for their effects.
A laboratory experiment at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., simulating the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan suggests complex organic chemistry that could eventually lead to the building blocks of life extends lower in the atmosphere than previously thought. The results now point out another region on the moon that could brew up prebiotic materials.
Researchers from several universities, AT&T Labs, and the American Museum of Natural History have built new models that show a widespread redistribution of Arctic vegetation. They say their findings predict a massive “greening” in the Arctic, as much as 50% in over the next few decades. This transition will help accelerate climate warming, they add.
For the first time, scientists measured the chemical diffusivity and viscosity of atmospheric organic particles, thanks to a new approach from scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, University of Washington, and Imre Consulting. The team doped atmospherically important organic nanoparticles, known as secondary organic aerosols, with tracer molecules and measured their diffusion rate as they slowly worked their way out of the particles. Knowing the diffusion rate, the scientists calculated the particle's viscosity.
Scheduled for launch in late 2013, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission will carry a sensitive magnetic-field instrument built and tested by a team at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Very little magnetic field traces remain on Mars, which is forcing NASA to eliminate all magnetic traces from its spacecraft. The magnetometer may help determine the history of the loss of atmospheric gases to space through time, providing answers about Mars’ climate evolution.
Certain bacteria can breathe iron like we breathe oxygen. Understanding how they do so will help researchers use the microbes for cleaning up soil contaminants, for trapping carbon dioxide, or for making batteries out of bacteria. Now, a team of researchers report that proteins on the surface of bacteria produce an electric current by simply touching a mineral surface, allowing them to breathe the iron in the rock.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.