Until recently people believed much of the rain forest’s carbon floated down the Amazon River and ended up deep in the ocean. Research showed a decade ago that rivers exhale huge amounts of carbon dioxide, though it left open the question of how that was possible. A new study resolves the conundrum, proving that woody plant matter is almost completely digested by bacteria living in the Amazon River.
The old saying that "what goes up must come down" doesn't apply to carbon dioxide pollution in the air, which just hit an unnerving milestone. The chief greenhouse gas was measured Thursday at 400 parts per million in Hawaii, a monitoring site that sets the world's benchmark. This was last matched about 2 million years ago, or more, and is more than modern humans have ever encountered.
A team from the Smithsonian and the University of Rhode Island has found unsuspected linkages between the oxidation state of iron in volcanic rocks and variations in the chemistry of the deep Earth. Their detailed spectroscopic work has uncovered chemical trends that not only run counter to predictions from recent decades of study, they belie a role for carbon circulating in the deep Earth.
The ability to determine the fate of charcoal is critical to knowledge of the global carbon budget, which in turn can help understand and mitigate climate change. However, until now, researchers only had scientific guesses about what happens to charcoal once it's incorporated into soil. They believed it stayed there. Surprisingly, the findings of a new study shows that most of these researchers were wrong.
New research indicates that cutting emissions of certain pollutants can greatly slow sea level rise this century. Scientists focussing on emissions of four heat-trapping pollutants—methane, tropospheric ozone, hydrofluorocarbons, and black carbon—found that reductions these pollutants that cycle comparatively quickly through the atmosphere could temporarily forestall the rate of sea level rise by roughly 25 to 50%.
The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory this week announced the release of the Transportation Energy Futures study, an assessment of avenues to reach deep cuts in petroleum use and greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector. The project suggests opportunities for 80% reductions by 2050
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.
Chemists at the University of South Florida and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia have discovered a more efficient, less expensive and reusable material for carbon dioxide capture and separation. The highly efficient mechanism utilizes a previously underused material—known as SIFSIX-1-Cu—that attracts carbon atoms.
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.
Western U.S. coal companies looking to expand sales to China will likely succeed, according to Stanford University economist Frank Wolak. But, due to energy market dynamics in the United States, those coal exports are likely to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases.
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.
Sandia National Laboratories has launched a Sustainability Innovation Foundry that combines laboratories-wide resource conservation with efforts to turn research in fields related to sustainability into business opportunities. Sandia is on track to meet an ambitious goal of cutting energy intensity in buildings 30% by 2015, using a 2005 baseline, and it hopes that what it has learned as part of this effort will carry over into general industry practices.
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.
Beyond recent warnings from the United Nations about climate change tipping points, researchers are beginning to make practical insights about the effects a greater concentration of greenhouse gas has on areas of industry like agriculture. Researchers have recently found that certain high-yield dwarf varieties of plants such as rice are actually struggling to meet yield predictions because high carbon dioxide levels prevent them from producing a vital acid.
Results from field and lab tests have found that 7 to 9% of the kerosene in wick lamps—used for light in 250-300 million households without electricity—is converted to black carbon when burned. In comparison, only half of 1% of the emissions from burning wood is converted to black carbon. Kerosene is the primary source of light for more than a billion people in developing nations.
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.
Digging, trucking and processing make mining an energy-intensive industry that emits greenhouse gases. However, mine waste rock that is rich in the mineral magnesium silicate has an inherent ability to react with CO2 and chemically "fix" it in place as magnesium carbonate. Mining engineers in Canada believe that this ability to store carbon dioxide could five to 10 times greater than total greenhouse gas production from some mine operations.
One method of capturing carbon dioxide is through molecular sieve that is an ultra-fine filter system that captures a variety of molecules that need further filtering. Engineers in Australia have developed new sieve that allows only carbon dioxide molecules to be trapped and stored, helping to eliminate the cost and energy typically required for filtering.
Secondary organic aerosol (SOA) is a major component of smog, and people have long argued whether large diesel trucks are a bigger source of this pollution than gasoline-fueled cars. Recent University of California Berkeley research shows that diesel exhaust contributes 15 times more than gas emissions per liter of fuel burned, and can be responsible for a majority of a region’s SOA.
Increasing demand for bioenergy feedstock is generating land-use conflicts and food vs. fuel controversies. An team of 11 scientists from seven European countries and the United States have recently published a study that gives scientific background to the debate. It supports a reassessment of the land available for bioenergy feedstock production.
Overturning decades of conventional wisdom, researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have found that moderately high indoor concentrations of carbon dioxide can significantly impair people's decision-making performance. The results were unexpected and may have particular implications for schools and other spaces with high occupant density.
The natural decay of organic carbon contributes more than 90% of the yearly carbon dioxide released into Earth's atmosphere and oceans. Understanding the rate at which leaves decay can help scientists predict this global flux of carbon dioxide. But a single leaf may undergo different rates of decay depending on a number of variables. Researchers have just built a mathematical model that incorporates these variables, and have discovered a commonality within the diversity of leaf decay.
Water does not forget, says Prof. Boris Koch, a chemist at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research. With the combination of some new techniques, Koch and colleagues can now identify and retrace some of the biomolecular tracks left by living organism. This dissolved organic matter, detectable with mass spectrometry, is one of the largest active, organic carbon reservoirs on earth.
Researchers at Columbia University have developed a new software that can simultaneously calculate the carbon footprints of thousands of products faster than ever before. The software complies with the latest product LCA guidelines sponsored by the World Resources Institute, and any carbon footprint it calculates can easily be audited against this standard.
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.