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The Lead

U.S. pledges to cut emissions in global treaty

April 1, 2015 8:32 am | by Josh Lederman, Associated Press | News | Comments

The U.S. pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions up to 28% as part of a global treaty aimed at preventing the worst effects of climate change, the White House said. The Obama administration's contribution to the treaty, which world leaders expect to finalize in December, codifies a commitment President Barack Obama first made late last year in Beijing.

The unseen way organisms cope with climate change

March 31, 2015 10:55 am | by Robert Perkins, Univ. of Southern California | News | Comments

Scientists have found a way to measure the unseen toll that environmental stress places on...

Antarctic ice shelves rapidly thinning

March 27, 2015 10:08 am | by Mario Aguilera, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

A new study led by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the Univ. of California, San Diego,...

Critters found in Antarctic ice shows how tenacious life is

March 27, 2015 2:10 am | by Luis Andres Henao And Seth Borenstein, Associated Press | News | Comments

Deep below the ice, far from the playful penguins and other animals that bring tourists to...

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U.N. warns world could have 40% water shortfall by 2030

March 20, 2015 8:15 am | by Katy Daigle, AP Environment Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

The world could suffer a 40% shortfall in water in just 15 years unless countries dramatically change their use of the resource, a U.N. report warned Friday. Many underground water reserves are already running low, while rainfall patterns are predicted to become more erratic with climate change.

Massive amounts of fresh water, glacial melt pouring into Gulf of Alaska

March 20, 2015 8:00 am | by David Stauth, Oregon State Univ. | News | Comments

Incessant mountain rain, snow and melting glaciers in a comparatively small region of land that hugs the southern Alaska coast and empties fresh water into the Gulf of Alaska would create the sixth largest coastal river in the world if it emerged as a single stream, a recent study shows.

U.S. climate change envoy: China, U.S. working closer on deal

March 20, 2015 6:04 am | by Jack Chang, Associated Press | News | Comments

A U.S. envoy for climate change said Friday that China and the U.S. are working more closely than ever ahead of a conference this year in Paris that raises hopes for a global plan to cut greenhouse emissions. Special Envoy Todd Stern told reporters in Beijing that he still expects hard negotiations between many countries in advance of the U.N. summit.

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Ocean pipes “not cool”, would end up warming climate

March 19, 2015 1:52 pm | by Carnegie Institute | News | Comments

To combat global climate change caused by greenhouse gases, alternative energy sources and other types of environmental recourse actions are needed. There are a variety of proposals that involve using vertical ocean pipes to move seawater to the surface from the depths in order to reap different potential climate benefits.

In climatic tug of war, carbon released from thawing permafrost wins handily

March 18, 2015 3:55 pm | by Dan Krotz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

There’s a carbon showdown brewing in the Arctic as Earth’s climate changes. On one side, thawing permafrost could release enormous amounts of long-frozen carbon into the atmosphere. On the opposing side, as high-latitude regions warm, plants will grow more quickly, which means they’ll take in more carbon from the atmosphere. Whichever side wins will have a big impact on the carbon cycle and the planet’s climate.

East Antarctica melting could be explained by oceanic gateways

March 16, 2015 3:46 pm | by Monica Kortsha, Univ. of Texas at Austin | News | Comments

Researchers at The Univ. of Texas at Austin have discovered two seafloor gateways that could allow warm ocean water to reach the base of Totten Glacier, East Antarctica’s largest and most rapidly thinning glacier. The discovery probably explains the glacier’s extreme thinning and raises concerns about how it will affect sea level rise.

Methane in Lake Traced to Seasonal Thawing

March 10, 2015 7:00 am | by UC Santa Cruz | News | Comments

Scientists have long known that Arctic lakes emit methane, which comes primarily from the action of microbes in the water and lake sediments. Global warming may ramp up the flow of methane from groundwater into Arctic lakes, allowing more of the potent greenhouse gas to bubble out into the atmosphere.

Team Sees Circadian Clock Gene that Strengthens Crop

March 10, 2015 7:00 am | by Dartmouth | News | Comments

Researchers have identified a circadian clock gene that helps a key crop plant to withstand extreme cold and salty conditions, which could help to develop hardier crops with improved yield. The next step is to extend these studies to corn, rice, wheat and soybean, the world's four major crops.  

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Environment Tops Issues at Meeting in China

March 9, 2015 9:34 am | by Associated Press, Jack Chang | News | Comments

China's severe environmental problems and government pledges to fix them have dominated the start of the country's annual legislative meeting, as leaders try to ease public worries about air, water and soil contamination that threaten to derail the country's economic rise and cast doubts on the ruling Communist Party.  

Plants use water wisely—mostly

March 5, 2015 8:49 am | by Karen McNulty Walsh, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

Plants trade water for carbon: Every liter of water that they extract from the soil allows them to take up a few more grams of carbon from the atmosphere to use in growth. A new global study, led by Australian researchers and published in Nature Climate Change, shows that plants trade their water wisely, with different plant species having different trading strategies depending on how much it costs them to obtain their water.

Models yield clearer picture of emissions’ true costs

March 5, 2015 7:06 am | by Duke Univ. | News | Comments

When its environmental and human health toll is factored in, a gallon of gasoline costs us about $3.80 more than the pump price, a new Duke Univ. study finds. The social cost of a gallon of diesel is about $4.80 more than the pump price; the price of natural gas more than doubles.

Permafrost’s turn on the microbes

March 4, 2015 5:16 pm | by Mary Beckman, PNNL | News | Comments

As the Arctic warms, tons of carbon locked away in Arctic tundra will be transformed into the powerful greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane, but scientists know little about how that transition takes place. Now, scientists looking at microbes in different types of Arctic soil have a new picture of life in permafrost that reveals entirely new species and hints that subzero microbes might be active.

On thin ice

March 3, 2015 10:41 am | by Hannah Hickey, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

It’s no surprise that Arctic sea ice is thinning. What is new is just how long, how steadily, and how much it has declined. Univ. of Washington researchers compiled modern and historic measurements to get a full picture of how Arctic sea ice thickness has changed. The results show a thinning in the central Arctic Ocean of 65% between 1975 and 2012.

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Syria's civil war linked partly to drought, global warming

March 2, 2015 5:09 pm | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

The conflict that has torn Syria apart can be traced, in part, to a record drought worsened by global warming, a new study says. In what scientists say is one of the most detailed and strongest connections between violence and human-caused climate change, researchers trace the effects of Syria's drought from the collapse of farming, to the migration of 1.5 million farmers to the cities, and then to poverty and civil unrest.

Genetics reveals where emperor penguins survived the last ice age

March 2, 2015 9:00 am | by Univ. of Southampton | News | Comments

A study of how climate change has affected emperor penguins over the last 30,000 years found that only three populations may have survived during the last ice age, and that the Ross Sea in Antarctica was likely the refuge for one of these populations.

Sun has more impact on climate in cool periods

February 27, 2015 10:24 am | by Aarhus Univ. | News | Comments

The activity of the sun is an important factor in the complex interaction that controls our climate. New research now shows the impact of the sun isn’t constant over time, but has greater significance when the Earth is cooler. There has been much discussion as to whether variations in the strength of the sun have played a role in triggering climate change in the past.

The big melt: Antarctica's retreating ice may re-shape Earth

February 27, 2015 1:08 am | by Luis Andres Henao and Seth Borenstein, Associated Press | News | Comments

From the ground in this extreme northern part of Antarctica, spectacularly white and blinding ice seems to extend forever. What can't be seen is the battle raging underfoot to re-shape Earth. Water is eating away at the Antarctic ice, melting it where it hits the oceans. As the ice sheets slowly thaw, water pours into the sea—130 billion tons of ice (118 billion metric tons) per year for the past decade.

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 surface for the first time. The researchers, led by scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, measured atmospheric carbon dioxide’s increasing capacity to absorb thermal radiation emitted from the Earth’s surface over an eleven-year period at two locations in North America.

Climate science literacy unrelated to public acceptance of human-caused global warming

February 24, 2015 8:18 am | by Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Deep public divisions over climate change are unrelated to differences in how well ordinary citizens understand scientific evidence on global warming, according to a new study published by Prof. Dan Kahan. In fact, members of the public who score the highest on a climate science literacy test are the most politically polarized on whether human activity is causing global temperatures to rise.

La Nina-like conditions associated with 2,500-year-long shutdown of coral reef growth

February 23, 2015 11:18 am | by Brett Israel, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

A new study has found that La Niña-like conditions in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Panamá were closely associated with an abrupt shutdown in coral reef growth that lasted 2,500 years. The study suggests that future changes in climate similar to those in the study could cause coral reefs to collapse in the future.

Antarctica: Mystery continent holds key to mankind's future

February 20, 2015 1:08 am | by Luis Andres Henao And Seth Borenstein, Associated Press | News | Comments

Earth's past, present and future come together here on the northern peninsula of Antarctica, the wildest, most desolate and mysterious of its continents. Clues to answering humanity's most basic questions are locked in this continental freezer the size of the U.S. and half of Canada: Where did we come from? Are we alone in the universe? What's the fate of our warming planet?

Engineers Measure Tsunami's Impact on Columbia River

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

Engineers have completed one of the most precise evaluations yet about the impact of a major tsunami event on the Columbia River. They found what forces are most important in controlling water flow and what areas might be inundated.

More infectious diseases emerging because of climate change

February 17, 2015 9:03 am | by Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln Communications | News | Comments

The appearance of infectious diseases in new places and new hosts, such as West Nile virus and Ebola, is a predictable result of climate change, says a noted zoologist affiliated with the Harold W. Manter Laboratory of Parasitology at the Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln.  

Carbon release from ocean helped end the ice age

February 13, 2015 9:20 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

New techniques are allowing scientists to understand how carbon dioxide, released from the deep ocean, helped to end the last ice age and create our current climate. An international team studied the shells of ancient marine organisms that lived in surface waters of the southern Atlantic and eastern equatorial Pacific oceans thousands of years ago.

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 when the relative humidity is high. They found that these aerosols actually evaporate very slowly, sticking around for days. Models have persistently and significantly underestimated atmospheric loadings of SOA.

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