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Fool's gold found to regulate oxygen

July 23, 2012 5:51 am | News | Comments

As sulfur cycles through Earth's atmosphere, oceans, and land, it undergoes chemical changes that are often coupled to changes in other such elements as carbon and oxygen. Although this affects the concentration of free oxygen, sulfur has traditionally been portrayed as a secondary factor in regulating atmospheric oxygen, with most of the heavy lifting done by carbon. However, new findings suggest that sulfur's role may have been underestimated.

Tiny “Firefly” satellite may solve mystery about lightning

July 20, 2012 10:46 am | by Cheryl Dybas, NSF | News | Comments

CubeSats are fully-instrumented satellites the size of a half-gallon milk carton. Several are in orbit around the Earth, including Firefly, a CubeSat is designed to help solve the mystery of a phenomenon that's linked with lightning: terrestrial gamma rays, or TGFs. By using its small but powerful instrumentation,Its designers hope that Firefly will provide the first direct evidence for a relationship between lightning and TGFs.

New carbon accounting method to reduce nitrogen fertilizer use

July 18, 2012 7:27 pm | News | Comments

In 2011, corn was planted on more than 92 million acres in the U.S. Because corn is a nitrogen-loving plant, farmers must use synthetic nitrogen fertilizer to their fields every year to achieve their crop target. However, nitrogen is hard to contain and can negatively affect the environment. Researchers have come up with a solution, however, and it’s tied to the relationship between nitrates and nitrous oxide emissions.

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Technique helps forecasters see past clouds

July 11, 2012 3:50 am | by Gary Galluzzo | News | Comments

Until now, scientists who study air pollution using satellite imagery have been limited by weather. Clouds, in particular, provide much less information than a sunny day. A new method has been developd to help satellites "see" through the clouds and better estimate the concentration of pollutants, such as soot.

NASA satellites examine powerful summer derecho

July 6, 2012 8:21 am | News | Comments

As a powerful summertime storm, known as a derecho, moved from Illinois to the Mid-Atlantic states on June 29, expanding and bringing high levels of destruction with it, NASA and other satellites provided a look at various factors involved in the event, its progression and its aftermath.

Researchers image individual airborne particulates at the nanoscale

June 27, 2012 11:23 am | News | Comments

With the help of intense coherent X-ray pulses from the Linac Coherent Light Source free-electron laser, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers and international collaborators have, for the first time, peered into the makeup of complex airborne particulate matter so small that it can be transported into human lungs—usually without a trace.

New planet-weighing technique found

June 27, 2012 10:53 am | News | Comments

About 800 extra-solar planets have been discovered so far in our galaxy, but the precise masses of the majority of them are still unknown. The only previous way to determine mass was to observe a transit, during which the planet’s host is eclipsed. Now, scientist Mercedes López-Morales has, for the first time, determined the mass of a non-transiting planet.

X-ray vision exposes aerosol structures

June 27, 2012 9:23 am | News | Comments

Researchers at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have captured the most detailed images to date of airborne soot particles, a key contributor to global warming and a health hazard. The discovery reveals the particles' surprisingly complex nanostructures and could ultimately aid the understanding of atmospheric processes important to climate change, as well as the design of cleaner combustion sources, from car engines to power plants.

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Cassini shows why jet streams cross-cut Saturn

June 25, 2012 1:38 pm | News | Comments

Turbulent jet streams, regions where winds blow faster than in other places, churn east and west across Saturn. Scientists have been trying to understand for years the mechanism that drives these wavy structures in Saturn's atmosphere. Recent images from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has revealed the source from which the jets derive their energy.

Mercury rising

June 22, 2012 10:58 am | News | Comments

A groundbreaking new study led by University of California, Los Angeles climate expert Alex Hall shows that climate change will cause temperatures in the Los Angeles region to rise by an average of 4 to 5 F by the middle of this century, tripling the number of extremely hot days in the downtown area and quadrupling the number in the valleys and at high elevations.

Scientists track individual raindrops inside clouds

June 22, 2012 5:09 am | News | Comments

Naval Research Laboratory scientists are leading a multiagency study which reveals that a very high-resolution Doppler radar has the unique capacity to detect individual cloud hydrometeors in the free atmosphere. This study will improve scientists' understanding of the dynamics and structure of cloud systems.

Research shows response of carbon cycle to climate change

June 21, 2012 6:19 am | News | Comments

Marine and freshwater environments have the potential to release more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in a warmer climate than their land counterparts, scientists at Queen Mary, University of London have found. In the largest ever analysis of rates of respiration, scientists compared the temperature dependence of respiration between aquatic and land ecosystems.

Researchers calculate size of particles in Martian clouds of CO2 snow

June 19, 2012 3:44 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

In the dead of a Martian winter, clouds of snow blanket the Red Planet's poles—but unlike our water-based snow, the particles on Mars are frozen crystals of carbon dioxide. Most of the Martian atmosphere is composed of carbon dioxide, and in the winter, the poles get so cold—cold enough to freeze alcohol—that the gas condenses, forming tiny particles of snow. Now researchers have calculated the size of snow particles in clouds at both Martian poles from data gathered by orbiting spacecraft.

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Carbon emissions: U.S. fares better when considering climate

June 14, 2012 11:02 am | News | Comments

The U.S. has long been among the world's worst emitters of carbon dioxide, but when accounting for climate in addition to GDP, it is nowhere near the bottom of that list, according to University of Michigan researchers.

Potential carbon capture role for new carbon dioxide-absorbing material

June 12, 2012 4:03 am | News | Comments

A novel porous material that has unique carbon dioxide retention properties has been developed through research led by The University of Nottingham. The findings form part of ongoing efforts to develop new materials for gas storage applications could have an impact in the advancement of new carbon capture products for reducing emissions from fossil fuel processes.

Study: Environmental benefit of biofuels is overestimated

June 10, 2012 12:20 pm | News | Comments

A recent study by two scientists reveals that calculations of greenhouse gas emissions from bioenergy production are neglecting crucial information about carbon dioxide and nitrogen emissions that has led to the overestimation of the benefits of biofuels compared to fossil fuels. They claim the life cycle analysis models of bioenergy production are flawed as a result.

Study: Martian methane emerges from meteorites, not life

May 31, 2012 1:47 pm | News | Comments

On Earth, methane is produced predominantly by biological processes. So when scientists discovered methane in Mars’ atmosphere nine years ago, it raised an exciting possibility for some. Some researchers in Europe now believe they have found the cause of this previously undetermined methane source, and it has to do with radiation.

Study finds emissions from cookstoves vary with use

May 30, 2012 10:05 am | News | Comments

The smoke rising from a cookstove fills the air with the tantalizing aroma of dinner—and a cloud of pollutants and particles that threaten both health and the environment. How families in developing countries use their cookstoves has a big effect on emissions from those stoves, and laboratory emission tests don't accurately reflect real-world operations, according to a study by University of Illinois researchers.

Research focused on underground solution to greenhouse gas challenges

May 18, 2012 4:44 am | News | Comments

While many are focusing on atmospheric solutions to reduce greenhouse gases, some researchers are setting their sights on the ground—deep underground. Li Li, an assistant professor of energy and mineral engineering at Penn State University, is investigating geologic carbon sequestration as a way to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Could paint particles cool the planet?

May 15, 2012 8:47 am | News | Comments

A former U.K. government advisor and chemical engineer recently published an article that discussed how dispersing sub-micrometer light-scattering particles into the upper atmosphere could help to combat climate change. Author Peter Davidson says the effect would replicate the cooling that occurred after the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo.

New research brings satellite measurements, global climate models closer

May 8, 2012 4:23 am | News | Comments

One popular climate record that shows a slower atmospheric warming trend than other studies contains a data calibration problem, and when the problem is corrected the results fall in line with other records and climate models, according to a new University of Washington study.

More precise look at cradle-to-grave greenhouse gas emissions for energy technology

May 7, 2012 10:19 am | News | Comments

A new approach to assessing greenhouse gas emissions from coal, wind, solar, and other energy technologies paints a much more precise picture of cradle-to-grave emissions and should help sharpen decisions on what new energy projects to build.

Researchers use stalagmites to study past climate change

May 3, 2012 11:23 am | News | Comments

Existing historical climate records are typically biased to the high latitudes, where polar ice and ocean sediments lock in the atmosphere’s past. Yet a main driver of climate variability today is El Niño, which is a completely tropical phenomenon. Scientists at the California Institute of Technology believe they have found the ice core of the tropics, however.

Data shows spring advancing faster than experiments suggest

May 3, 2012 9:13 am | News | Comments

To help predict the rate at which plants respond to changing climate conditions, researchers use experiments that manipulate the temperature surrounding small plots of plants to gauge how specific plants will react to higher temperatures. But wild plants are leafing out and flowering sooner each year than predicted by results from these experiments, according to data from a major new archive of historical observations.

Scientists launch nationwide study of thunderstorm effects on upper atmosphere

May 2, 2012 9:33 am | News | Comments

While past field projects have focused on thunderstorm details with only some chemistry information, or on chemistry with limited data on storms, the Deep Convective Clouds & Chemistry (DC3) Experiment, which begins later this month, will be the first to take a comprehensive look at both chemistry and thunderstorm details, including air movement, cloud physics, and electrical activity.

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