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Opposite behaviors? Arctic sea ice shrinks while Antarctic ice grows

October 24, 2012 8:15 am | by Maria-José Viñas, NASA | News | Comments

A new NASA study shows that from 1978 to 2010 the total extent of sea ice surrounding Antarctica in the Southern Ocean grew by roughly 6,600 square miles every year, an area larger than the state of Connecticut. However, this growth rate is not nearly as large as the decrease in the Arctic, which has scientists questioning the reasons for the growth. Atmospheric circulation may be one cause.

Jelly-like atmospheric particles resist chemical aging

October 16, 2012 4:46 pm | News | Comments

Atmospheric chemists at Harvard University have found that when it comes to secondary organic material (SOM) in the atmosphere, there are two distinct breeds: liquids and jellies. Their experiments, using particle of a-pinene SOM and adipic acid, have shown that a drop in humidity can send these common aerosols into a jelly-like phase, in which they resist chemical aging almost entirely.

Earth’s brief polarity reversal linked to other extreme events

October 16, 2012 12:45 pm | News | Comments

For the first time, three separately found extreme Earth events have been compared by researchers who now believe they may be linked. About 41,000 years ago, a complete and rapid reversal of the geomagnetic field occurred, lasting for just a few hundred years. Around the same time, a super volcano erupted and major climate changes occurred.

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Experts: Global warming means more Antarctic ice

October 10, 2012 5:59 pm | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

While the North Pole has been losing sea ice over the years, the water nearest the South Pole has been gaining it. Antarctic sea ice hit a record 7.51 million square miles in September, just days after reports of the biggest loss of Arctic sea ice on record. Climate change skeptics have seized on this example, but scientists say the skeptics are misinterpreting what's happening and why.

Sea-level study shows signs of things to come

October 2, 2012 3:34 am | News | Comments

Our greenhouse gas emissions up to now have triggered an irreversible warming of the Earth that will cause sea levels to rise for thousands of years to come, new research has show. The results come from a study which sought to model sea-level changes over millennial timescales, taking into account all of the Earth's land ice and the warming of the oceans.

Yearlong climate study launches

October 1, 2012 9:50 am | News | Comments

A Horizon Lines container ship outfitted with meteorological and atmospheric instruments installed by scientists from Argonne National Laboratory and Brookhaven National Laboratory will begin taking data for a yearlong mission aimed at improving the representation of clouds in climate models.

Global Hawk gets to the heart of what makes hurricanes tick

September 26, 2012 5:58 am | by Robert Gutro | News | Comments

NASA’s Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) investigation is a five-year mission to better understand the processes that underlie hurricane intensity change in the Atlantic Ocean basin. The Global Hawk is a key part of that effort, and its flights into the hurricane’s environment allow several highly-advanced, autonomously operated instruments to gauge everything from wind speed to cloud structures.

Computer model identifies candidate refrigerants to combat global warming

September 19, 2012 5:26 am | News | Comments

Researchers at NIST have developed a new computational method for identifying candidate refrigerant fluids with low global warming potential—the tendency to trap heat in the atmosphere for many decades—as well as other desirable performance and safety features. The NIST effort is the most extensive systematic search for a new class of refrigerants that meet the latest concerns about climate change.

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Study estimates increasing rate of extreme rainfall with global warming

September 17, 2012 10:03 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Global warming is expected to intensify extreme precipitation, but the rate at which it does so in the tropics has remained unclear. Now, a new study has given an estimate based on model simulations and observations: With every 1 C rise in temperature, the study finds, tropical regions will see 10% heavier rainfall extremes, with possible impacts for flooding in populous regions.

Study: Tradeoffs needed in battling urban heat island effects

September 11, 2012 4:15 am | News | Comments

A team of researchers from Arizona State University have found that warming resulting from megapolitan expansion is seasonally dependent, with greatest warming occurring during summer and least during winter. Painting the roofs of buildings white can combat this effect, but not without consequences for the region’s hydroclimate.

Methane source discovered in the underbrush

September 7, 2012 9:46 am | News | Comments

Some six years ago scientific textbooks had to be updated because of the surprising discovery made by a research group in Germany led by Frank Keppler that plants produce methane in an oxygen-rich environment. It had been previously thought that biogenic methane could only be formed during the decomposition of organic material under strictly anoxic conditions. Now, Keppler’s group has now made another fascinating new observation: Fungi produce methane.

Study: More carbon dioxide leads to less clouds

September 5, 2012 4:36 am | News | Comments

It is common knowledge that the warmer the air, the more water can evaporate. Researchers in Europe have now established that this is not always the case: Although an increase in the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide makes the climate warmer, it also allows less water to evaporate. This finding has informed a set of new calculations for climate modeling.

Atmospheric heating by black carbon aerosol re-evaluated

August 31, 2012 6:40 am | News | Comments

Viewed as a potential target in the global effort to reduce climate change, atmospheric black carbon particles absorb significantly less sunlight than scientists have predicted. In the first field study of it kind, researchers found that soot particles absorb significantly less sunlight than predicted by models, raising new questions about the impact of black carbon on atmospheric warming.

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Study identifies prime source of ocean methane

August 30, 2012 10:15 am | News | Comments

Up to 4% of the methane on Earth comes from the ocean’s oxygen-rich waters, but scientists have been unable to identify the source of this potent greenhouse gas. Now researchers report that they have found the culprit: a bit of "weird chemistry" practiced by the most abundant microbes on the planet.

Space shuttle exhaust reveals behavior of atmospheric winds

August 29, 2012 11:45 am | by Karen C. Fox | News | Comments

When the Space Shuttle Atlantis took off from Cape Canaveral on its final flight more than a year ago, a research team took advantage of this opportunity to track the 350-ton plume of water vapor exhaust that it released shortly after launch. Crossing through the paths of seven separate sets of instruments, the vapor spread far faster than expected and quickly moved to the Arctic. Such information will be used to inform global circulation models.

Warm Arctic sets record for summer sea ice melt

August 28, 2012 4:50 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

The National Snow and Ice Data Center reported Monday that the extent of Arctic sea ice shrank to 1.58 million square miles and is likely to melt more in the coming weeks. That breaks the old record of 1.61 million square miles set in 2007. Data center scientist Ted Scambos said the melt can be blamed mostly on global warming from man-made emissions of greenhouse gases.

Researchers reproduce plasma loops to help understand solar physics

August 21, 2012 6:18 am | News | Comments

Sunny skies reign supreme in one California Institute of Technology laboratory, which has recreated so-called plasma loops that emanate from the sun’s surface. Considered to be possible precursors to solar flares, which release sometimes damaging radiation, these loops may be used to serve as a warning system for massive flares.

Experiment would test cloud geoengineering as way to slow warming

August 20, 2012 10:59 am | News | Comments

Even though it sounds like science fiction, researchers are taking a second look at a controversial idea that uses futuristic ships to shoot salt water high into the sky over the oceans, creating clouds that reflect sunlight and thus counter global warming. The point of the paper is to encourage more scientists to consider the idea of marine cloud brightening and even poke holes in it.

Modeling reveals climatic impacts of megapolitan expansion

August 13, 2012 9:12 am | News | Comments

In the first study to attempt to quantify the impact of rapidly expanding megapolitan areas on regional climate, a team of researchers from Arizona State University and the National Center for Atmospheric Research has established that local maximum summertime warming resulting from projected expansion of the urban Sun Corridor could approach 4 C.

Are methane hydrates dissolving?

August 13, 2012 8:57 am | News | Comments

The average temperature of oceans is rising along with the temperatures in the atmosphere, raising concern that ice-like compounds called methane hydrates could dissolve this powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. An expedition to Spitsbergen in the high Arctic could help answer this question.

Study: Skin-aging radicals also age naturally-formed particles

August 10, 2012 3:54 am | by Jocelyn Duffy | News | Comments

Pine trees give off gases that react with airborne chemicals, creating tiny, invisible particles that muddy the air. New research shows that the biogenic particles formed from pine tree emissions are more chemically dynamic than previously thought. A study has generated the first experimental evidence that such compounds are chemically transformed by free radicals, the same compounds that age our skin, after they are first formed in the atmosphere.

Discovered: New atmospheric compound tied to climate change

August 9, 2012 3:39 am | News | Comments

An international research team led by the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Helsinki has discovered a surprising new chemical compound in Earth's atmosphere that reacts with sulfur dioxide to form sulfuric acid, which is known to have significant impacts on climate and health.

Researchers unlock secret of the rare twinned rainbow

August 7, 2012 6:25 am | News | Comments

Scientists have yet to fully unravel the mysteries of rainbows, but an international team of scientists have used simulations of these natural wonders to unlock the secret to a rare optical phenomenon known as the twinned rainbow. Unlike the more common double-rainbow, which consists of two separate and concentric rainbow arcs, the elusive twinned rainbow appears as two rainbows arcs that split from a single base rainbow.

New study links current events to climate change

August 6, 2012 6:59 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

The relentless, weather-gone-crazy type of heat that has blistered the United States and other parts of the world in recent years is so rare that it can't be anything but man-made global warming, says a new analysis from NASA’s James Hansen. In a departure from most climate research, which is based on modeling, the new study relies on statistics.

Vaporizing the Earth to help find Earth-like planets

August 3, 2012 7:50 am | by Diana Lutz | News | Comments

In science fiction novels, evil overlords and hostile aliens often threaten to vaporize the Earth. Now, scientists are not content just to talk about vaporizing the Earth. They want to understand what it would be like if it happened. Why? Because such knowledge helps them determine the atmospheric composition of exoplanets.

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