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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.

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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.

Study: Warmer soils release additional carbon dioxide into atmosphere

January 21, 2013 8:41 am | by Beth Potier, University of New Hampshire | News | Comments

Warmer temperatures due to climate change could cause soils to release additional carbon into the atmosphere, thereby enhancing climate change—but that effect diminishes over the long term. The new study sheds new light on how soil microorganisms respond to temperature and could improve predictions of how climate warming will affect the carbon dioxide flux from soils.

Treaty aimed at reducing mercury emissions signed

January 19, 2013 4:35 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

U.N. officials say more than 130 nations have adopted the first legally binding international treaty aimed at reducing mercury emissions. The U.N. Environment Program says the treaty was adopted Saturday morning, after all-night negotiations that capped a week of talks.

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Experiment to reshape future of atmospheric science

January 17, 2013 8:38 am | by Kathryn Hansen, NASA | News | Comments

NASA scientists and engineers are working now to lay the groundwork for the Aerosol-Cloud-Ecosystem (ACE) mission, which will change what we can learn about clouds and aerosols. To that end, the Polarimeter Definition Experiment (PODEX) in Southern California will soon commence, testing a new class of polarimeters that are especially suited for finding the type, shape, and size of particles in the upper atmosphere.

Study reveals gas that triggers ozone destruction

January 14, 2013 9:28 am | News | Comments

Scientists at the Universities of York and Leeds have made a significant discovery about the cause of the destruction of ozone over oceans. They have established that the majority of ozone-depleting iodine oxide observed over the remote ocean comes from a previously unknown marine source.

Report says warming is changing U.S. daily life

January 13, 2013 7:01 pm | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

A special panel of scientists convened by the government issued Friday a 1,146-page draft report that details in dozens of ways how climate change is already disrupting the health, homes and other facets of daily American life. The blunt report takes a global environmental issue and explains what it means for different U.S. regions, for various sectors of the economy and for future generations.

Airborne pods seek to trace nuclear bomb’s origins

January 10, 2013 9:11 am | News | Comments

If a nuclear device were to unexpectedly detonate anywhere on Earth, the ensuing effort to find out who made the weapon probably would be led by aircraft rapidly collecting airborne radioactive particles for analysis. Relatively inexpensive UAVs—equipped with radiation sensors and specialized debris-samplers—could fly right down the throat of telltale radiation over a broad range of altitudes without exposing a human crew to hazards. A Sandia National Laboratories-developed airborne particulate-collection system demonstrated those kinds of capabilities.

Study: Major cuts to surging carbon dioxide emissions needed now

January 7, 2013 9:43 am | News | Comments

Halting climate change will require "a fundamental and disruptive overhaul of the global energy system" to eradicate harmful carbon dioxide emissions, not just stabilize them, according to new findings by University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine) and other scientists.

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Climate poll: Science doubters say world is warming

December 16, 2012 11:28 pm | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Results from a new Associated Press-GfK poll is showing that a growing majority of Americans think global warming is occurring. The poll found 4 out of every 5 Americans said climate change will be a serious problem for the United States if nothing is done about it. That's up from 73% when the same question was asked in 2009.

New forecast system helps transoceanic flights avoid storms

December 12, 2012 9:00 am | News | Comments

A new NASA-funded prototype system developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research now is providing weather forecasts that can help flights avoid major storms as they travel over remote ocean regions. The eight-hour forecasts of potentially dangerous atmospheric conditions are designed for pilots, air traffic controllers and others involved in transoceanic flights.

Energy experts say drilling can be made cleaner

December 11, 2012 8:46 am | by Kevin Begos and Seth Borenstein, Associated Press | News | Comments

In the Colorado mountains, a spike in air pollution has been linked to a boom in oil and gas drilling. About 800 miles away on the plains of north Texas, there's a drilling boom, too, but some air pollution levels have declined. Opponents of drilling point to Colorado and say it's dangerous. Companies point to Texas and say drilling is safe.

Researchers turn harmful greenhouse gas into tool for making pharmaceuticals

December 7, 2012 8:22 am | News | Comments

A team of chemists at the University of Southern California has developed a way to transform a hitherto useless ozone-destroying greenhouse gas that is the byproduct of Teflon and manufacture and transform it into reagents for producing pharmaceuticals. The method is now being patented.

California's nitrous oxide emissions nearly triple current estimates

December 5, 2012 12:09 pm | News | Comments

Using a new method for estimating greenhouse gases that combines atmospheric measurements with model predictions, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers have found that the level of nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas, in California may be 2.5 to 3 times greater than the current inventory. At that level, total nitrous oxide emissions would account for about 8% of California's total greenhouse gas emissions.

Carbon pollution up to 2 million pounds a second

December 2, 2012 10:44 pm | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

The amount of heat-trapping pollution the world spewed rose again last year by 3%. China was the biggest contributor to the increase, with only the U.S. and Germany decreasing their output among the top 10 polluters. Some scientists say it's now unlikely that global warming can be limited to a couple of degrees, which is an international goal.

Airborne particles smuggle pollutants to far reaches of globe

November 16, 2012 9:47 am | by Mary Beckman, PNNL | News | Comments

Even though pollution from fossil fuel burning and forest fires should decay long before it travels to Arctic regions, it nevertheless has been shown to successfully complete this lofty journey. Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have used SPLAT II, an instrument that can characterize millions of particles one-by-one, to determine what happens to these airborne particles over their lifetimes.

Scientists unravel the mystery of marine methane oxidation

November 13, 2012 10:39 am | News | Comments

Vast amounts of methane are stored under the ocean floor, and anaerobic oxidation of methane coupled to sulfate respiration prevents the release of this gas. Though discovered decades ago, the mechanism for how microorganisms performed this reaction has remained a mystery. According to recent findings, a single microorganism can do this on its own, and does not need to be carried out in collaboration with a bacterium as previously thought.

A strange diet for methane-consuming microorganisms

November 6, 2012 12:36 pm | News | Comments

To keep cellular systems running all cells need fuel. For certain ocean-dwelling microorganisms, methane can be such a fuel. But researchers studying these creatures had previously assumed that the methane they consumed was used as a carbon source. However, recent studies have surprisingly shown that is not the case and will force scientists to reevaluate the microorganisms’ role in inactivating environmental methane.

Scientists look at climate change, the superstorm

October 31, 2012 9:43 pm | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

For more than a dozen years, climate scientists have been warning about the risk for big storms and serious flooding in New York. A 2000 federal report about global warming's effect on the United States warned specifically of that possibility. Still, they say it's unfair to blame climate change for Sandy and the destruction it left behind. We cannot yet conclusively link a single storm to global warming, and any connection is not as clear and simple as environmental activists might contend.

Satellite data reveals power of solar wind

October 25, 2012 12:28 pm | by Karen C. Fox, NASA | News | Comments

A new study based on data from European Space Agency’s Cluster mission shows that it is easier for the solar wind to penetrate Earth’s magnetic environment, the magnetosphere, than had previously been thought. Scientists have, for the first time, directly observed the presence of certain waves that show Earth’s atmosphere behaving more like a sieve than a barrier.

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.

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