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The Lead

Water in smog may reveal pollution sources

March 3, 2015 11:14 am | by Lee Siegel, Senior Science Writer, Univ. of Utah Communications | News | Comments

The chemical signature of water vapor emitted by combustion sources such as vehicles and furnaces has been found in the smoggy winter inversions that often choke Salt Lake City. The discovery may give researchers a new tool to track down the sources of pollutants and climate-changing carbon dioxide gas.

Carbon dioxide’s increasing greenhouse effect at Earth’s surface

February 26, 2015 8:12 am | by Dan Krotz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Videos | Comments

Scientists have observed an increase in carbon dioxide’s greenhouse effect at the Earth’s...

Air Filter Could Help Beijing Breathe Easily

February 19, 2015 2:00 pm | by Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

A professor and his students have turned a material commonly used in surgical gloves into a low-...

Slow-dissolving Particles Refute Air Quality Assumptions

February 12, 2015 8:32 am | by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers have tackled how the particles, called secondary organic aerosols (SOAs), evaporate...

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Preventing greenhouse gas from entering the atmosphere

February 5, 2015 7:41 am | by Caroline Perry, Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

A novel class of materials that enable a safer, cheaper and more energy-efficient process for removing greenhouse gas from power plant emissions has been developed by a multi-institution team of researchers. The approach could be an important advance in carbon capture and sequestration (CCS).

Understanding air pollution from biomass burners used for heating

February 4, 2015 2:37 pm | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

As many places in the U.S. and Europe increasingly turn to biomass rather than fossil fuels for power and heat, scientists are focusing on what this trend might mean for air quality and people’s health. One study on wood-chip burners’ particulate emissions, which can cause heart and lung problems, appears in Energy & Fuels. The scientists say the findings could help manufacturers reduce the negative impact of this fuel in the future.

Norway to cut climate pollution by 40% by 2030

February 4, 2015 1:16 pm | by Karl Ritter, Associated Press | News | Comments

Norway will cut its emissions of global warming gases by at least 40% by 2030, aligning itself with the target set by the European Union, the government said Wednesday. The 40% reduction, compared to 1990 levels, will be Norway's pledge to the U.N. climate agreement that's supposed to be adopted in December in Paris, government officials said.

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Humanity has exceeded four of nine “planetary boundaries”

January 16, 2015 7:53 am | by Adam Hinterthuer, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | Videos | Comments

An international team of researchers says climate change, the loss of biosphere integrity, land-system change and altered biogeochemical cycles like phosphorus and nitrogen runoff have all passed beyond levels that put humanity in a “safe operating space.” Civilization has crossed four of nine so-called planetary boundaries as the result of human activity, according to a report published in Science by the 18-member research team.

Systems crucial to stability of planet compromised

January 15, 2015 3:47 pm | by Raphael Larocque-Cyr, Media Relations Office, McGill Univ. | News | Comments

Almost half of the processes that are crucial to maintaining the stability of the planet have become dangerously compromised by human activity. That is the view of an international team of 18 researchers who provide new evidence of significant changes in four of the nine systems which regulate the resilience of the Earth.

Rainfall can release aerosols

January 14, 2015 7:38 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | Videos | Comments

Ever notice an earthy smell in the air after a light rain? Now scientists believe they may have identified the mechanism that releases this aroma, as well as other aerosols, into the environment. Using high-speed cameras, the researchers observed that when a raindrop hits a porous surface, it traps tiny air bubbles at the point of contact.

NASA awards $30M grant to Penn State

January 13, 2015 1:17 pm | by Patricia Craig, Penn State Univ. | News | Comments

Penn State Univ. will lead a five-year, $30 million mission to improve quantification of present-day carbon-related greenhouse gas sources and sinks. An improved understanding of these gases will advance our ability to predict and manage future climate change.

Estimated social cost of climate change not accurate

January 13, 2015 11:41 am | by Ker Than, Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

The economic damage caused by a ton of carbon dioxide emissions could be six times higher than the value that the U.S. now uses to guide current energy regulations, and possibly future mitigation policies, Stanford Univ. scientists say. A recent U.S. government study concluded, based on the results of three widely used economic impact models, an additional ton of carbon dioxide emitted in 2015 would cause $37 worth of economic damages.

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Small volcanic eruptions explain warming hiatus

January 12, 2015 8:13 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboraotry | News | Comments

The “warming hiatus” over the past 15 years has been caused in part by small volcanic eruptions. Scientists have known volcanoes cool the atmosphere because of the sulfur dioxide that is expelled during eruptions. Droplets of sulfuric acid that form when the gas combines with oxygen in the upper atmosphere can persist for many months, reflecting sunlight away from Earth and lowering temperatures at the surface and in the lower atmosphere.

Researchers create successful predictions of combustion reaction rates

January 6, 2015 8:22 am | by Jared Sagoff, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers have demonstrated, for the first time, a method to successfully predict pressure-dependent chemical reaction rates, an important breakthrough in combustion and atmospheric chemistry that is expected to benefit auto and engine manufacturers, oil and gas utilities and other industries that employ combustion models.

Electromagnetic waves linked to particle fallout in Earth’s atmosphere

January 5, 2015 3:31 pm | by Dartmouth College | News | Comments

In a new study that sheds light on space weather's impact on Earth, Dartmouth researchers and their colleagues show, for the first time, that plasma waves buffeting the planet's radiation belts are responsible for scattering charged particles into the atmosphere. The study is the most detailed analysis so far of the link between these waves and the fallout of electrons from the planet's radiation belts.

NASA scientists find meteoric evidence of Mars water resevoir

December 19, 2014 2:26 pm | News | Comments

NASA and an international team of planetary scientists have found evidence in meteorites on Earth that indicates Mars has a distinct and global reservoir of water or ice near its surface.            

Carbon-trapping “sponges” can cut greenhouse gases

December 16, 2014 8:56 am | by Anne Ju, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

In the fight against global warming, carbon capture is gaining momentum, but standard methods are plagued by toxicity, corrosiveness and inefficiency. Using a bag of chemistry tricks, Cornell Univ. materials scientists have invented low-toxicity, highly effective carbon-trapping “sponges” that could lead to increased use of the technology.

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Past global warming similar to today’s, but in two pulses

December 15, 2014 1:54 pm | by Jim Erickson, University of Michigan | News | Comments

The rate at which carbon emissions warmed Earth's climate almost 56 million years ago resembles modern, human-caused global warming much more than previously believed but involved two pulses of carbon to the atmosphere, researchers at the Univ. of Utah, the Univ. of Michigan and three other universities found.

Image: Clouds fill Grand Canyon

December 12, 2014 10:27 am | by Associated Press | News | Comments

A rare weather phenomenon at the Grand Canyon had visitors looking out on a sea of thick clouds just below the rim. The total cloud inversion is expected to hang inside the canyon throughout Thursday.             

Warmer Pacific Ocean could release millions of tons of seafloor methane

December 9, 2014 5:29 pm | News | Comments

Off the West Coast of the United States, methane gas is trapped in frozen layers below the seafloor. New research from the University of Washington shows that water at intermediate depths is warming enough to cause these carbon deposits to melt, releasing methane into the sediments and surrounding water.

Buckyballs enhance carbon capture

December 4, 2014 7:37 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Rice Univ. scientists have discovered an environmentally friendly carbon-capture method that could be equally adept at drawing carbon dioxide emissions from industrial flue gases and natural gas wells. The Rice laboratory of chemist Andrew Barron revealed in a proof-of-concept study that amine-rich compounds are highly effective at capturing the greenhouse gas when combined with carbon-60 molecules.

Small volcanoes make a dent in global warming

December 3, 2014 11:04 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

New research shows that relatively small volcanic eruptions can increase aerosol particles in the atmosphere, temporarily mitigating the global warming caused by greenhouse gases. The impact of such smaller eruptions has been underestimated in climate models, the researchers say, and helps to account for a discrepancy between those models and the actual temperatures observed over the last 15 years.

CO2 warming effects felt just a decade after emitted

December 3, 2014 10:54 am | by Institute of Physics | News | Comments

It takes just 10 years for a single emission of carbon dioxide to have its maximum warming effects on the Earth. This is according to researchers at the Carnegie Institute for Science who have dispelled a common misconception that the main warming effects from a carbon dioxide emission will not be felt for several decades.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide used for energy storage products

December 2, 2014 4:28 pm | by David Stauth, Oregon State Univ. | News | Comments

Chemists and engineers at Oregon State Univ. have discovered a fascinating new way to take some of the atmospheric carbon dioxide that’s causing the greenhouse effect and use it to make an advanced, high-value material for use in energy storage products. This innovation in nanotechnology won’t soak up enough carbon to solve global warming, but it will provide a low-cost way to make nanoporous graphene for use in supercapacitors.

Trace Analysis of Carbon Dioxide in High-Purity Hydrofluorocarbon

November 25, 2014 4:15 pm | by Zhuangzhi “Max” Wang, Clifford M. Taylor, Shimadzu Scientific Instruments, Columbia, Md. | Articles | Comments

Fluorocarbon, a generic term for organic compounds with carbon-fluorine (C-F) bonding, is a chemical material used as a refrigerant in refrigerators and freezers and air conditioners in cars, buses, other vehicles and buildings. It’s also used as a cleaning agent for electronic components and precision parts.

Model evaluates where bioenergy crops grow best

November 24, 2014 7:59 am | by Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Farmers interested in bioenergy crops now have a resource to help them determine which kind of bioenergy crop would grow best in their regions and what kind of harvest to expect. Researchers at the Univ. of Illinois have published a study identifying yield zones for three major bioenergy crops.

What agricultural ecosystems on steroids are doing to the air

November 21, 2014 9:21 am | by Nicole Casal Moore, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

In a study that identifies a new, "direct fingerprint" of human activity on Earth, scientists have found that agricultural crops play a big role in seasonal swings of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The new findings from Boston Univ., the Univ. of Michigan and other institutions reveal a nuance in the carbon cycle that could help scientists understand and predict how Earth's vegetation will react as the globe warms.

World not close to avoiding dangerous warming

November 19, 2014 11:00 am | by Seth Borenstein - AP Science Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The world still isn't close to preventing what leaders call a dangerous level of man-made warming, a new United Nations report says. That's despite some nations' recent pledges to cut back on carbon dioxide emissions. The report looks at the gap between what countries promise to do about carbon pollution and what scientists say needs to be done to prevent temperatures rising another two degrees.

Research quantifies health benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions

November 19, 2014 8:31 am | by Allan Chen, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which result from the burning of fossil fuels, also reduces the incidence of health problems from particulate matter (PM) in these emissions. A team of scientists has calculated that the economic benefit of reduced health impacts from GHG reduction strategies in the U.S. range between $6 and $14 billion annually in 2020, depending on how the reductions are accomplished.

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