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Arctic sea ice: Unlikely to break records, but downward trend continues

August 27, 2013 3:14 pm | by Maria-José Viñas, NASA's Earth Science News Team | News | Comments

The melting of sea ice in the Arctic is well on its way toward its annual "minimum," that time when the floating ice cap covers less of the Arctic Ocean than at any other period during the year. While the ice will continue to shrink until around mid-September, it is unlikely that this year’s summer low will break a new record. Still, this year’s melt rates are in line with the sustained decline of the Arctic ice cover.

Study determines rate of release for old permafrost carbon

August 21, 2013 1:10 pm | by Peter Rüegg, ETH Zurich | News | Comments

Using indicator molecules, a team of researchers working in Eurasia has for the first time assessed contributions of old carbon from permafrost soils to riverine carbon headed. They were also able to demonstrate that permafrost soils where the frozen areas are interspersed with gaps release more old carbon than those where the permafrost is uninterrupted.

A new approach to making climate treaties work

August 21, 2013 7:58 am | by Rob Jordan, Stanford University | News | Comments

Why can’t global leaders agree on a broad, effective climate change pact? More than 20 years after they began, international negotiations based on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change have resulted in only one legally binding treaty. That agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, has not been ratified by the U.S., historically the world’s largest carbon emitter. 

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Heat waves to become more frequent, severe

August 20, 2013 10:31 am | News | Comments

Climate change is set to trigger more frequent and severe heat waves in the next 30 years regardless of the amount of carbon dioxide we emit into the atmosphere, a new study has shown. Extreme heat waves such as those that hit the U.S. in 2012 and Australia in 2009—dubbed three-sigma events by the researchers—are projected to cover double the amount of global land by 2020 and quadruple by 2040.

Antarctic ice core sheds new light on how the last ice age ended

August 15, 2013 3:18 pm | News | Comments

Analysis of ice samples taken by the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide drilling project reveals that warming in Antarctica began about 22,000 years ago, a few thousand years earlier than suggested by previous records. This timing shows that West Antarctica did not "wait for a cue" from the Northern Hemisphere to start warming, as scientists had previously supposed.

Climate benefit for cutting soot, methane smaller than previous estimates

August 13, 2013 8:23 am | News | Comments

Cutting the amount of short-lived, climate-warming emissions such as soot and methane in our skies won't limit global warming as much as previous studies have suggested, a new analysis shows. The study also found a comprehensive climate policy (including methane) would produce more climate benefits by 2050 than if soot and methane were reduced alone.

Report: Climate change is impacting California

August 8, 2013 3:15 am | by ALICIA CHANG - AP Science Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Coastal waters off California are getting more acidic. Fall-run chinook salmon populations to the Sacramento River are on the decline. Conifer forests on the lower slopes of the Sierra Nevada have moved to higher elevations over the past half century. That's just a snapshot of how climate change is affecting California's natural resources, a report released Thursday found.

NOAA report card for 2012's climate: More warming

August 7, 2013 8:04 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

A new massive federal study says the world in 2012 sweltered with continued signs of climate change. Rising sea levels, snowmelt, heat buildup in the oceans, and melting Arctic sea ice and Greenland ice sheets, all broke or nearly broke records, but temperatures only sneaked into the top 10.

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Scientists look into Earth’s “Deep Time” to predict climate change effects

August 1, 2013 4:15 pm | News | Comments

Climate change alters the way in which species interact with one another—a reality that applies not just to today or to the future, but also to the past, according to a recent study which analyzed information about past episodes of rapid climate change from Earth's history. The researchers hope to use this finding to help predict future changes to our planet's ecosystems.

Biggest extinction in history caused by climate-changing meteor

August 1, 2013 10:31 am | News | Comments

It's well known that the dinosaurs were wiped out 66 million years ago when a meteor hit what is now southern Mexico; but evidence is accumulating that the biggest extinction of all, 252.3 million years ago, at the end of the Permian period, was also triggered by an impact that changed the climate.

Sediment behind dams makes them “hot spots” for emissions

July 31, 2013 9:42 pm | News | Comments

With the “green” reputation of large hydroelectric dams already in question, scientists are reporting that millions of smaller dams on rivers around the world make an important contribution to the greenhouse gases linked to global climate change. Their study shows that more methane than previously believed bubbles out of the water behind small dams.

Planetary “runaway greenhouse” more easily triggered, research shows

July 31, 2013 8:10 am | by Peter Kelley, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

In the runaway greenhouse stage, a planet absorbs more solar energy than it can give off to retain equilibrium. As a result, the world overheats, boiling its oceans and filling its atmosphere with steam, which leaves the planet glowing-hot and forever uninhabitable, as Venus is now. Recent research shows this scenario might be more easily reached than previously thought.

Radio waves carry news of climate change

July 30, 2013 1:16 pm | News | Comments

The ionosphere, one of the regions of the upper atmosphere, plays an important role in global communications. Now, researchers have discovered that the radio waves reflecting back to Earth from the ionosphere offer valuable news on climate change as well.

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New knowledge about permafrost is improving climate models

July 29, 2013 2:04 pm | News | Comments

The rate at which carbon dioxide is released from permafrost is poorly documented, and is a crucial uncertainty in current climate models. New findings by environmental scientists at the Univ. of Copenhagen, Denmark, document that permafrost during thawing may result in a substantial release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and that the future water content in the soil is crucial to predict the effect of permafrost thawing.

New iceberg theory points to areas at risk of rapid disintegration

July 23, 2013 7:53 am | News | Comments

In events that could exacerbate sea level rise over the coming decades, stretches of ice on the coasts of Antarctica and Greenland are at risk of rapidly cracking apart and falling into the ocean, according to new iceberg calving simulations from the Univ. of Michigan.

For Obama's climate plan, devil is in the details

July 15, 2013 10:24 pm | by Josh Lederman, Associated Press | News | Comments

Three weeks after giving an ambitious speech to outline his climate change proposal, President Obama begins the arduous task of executing it. His plan is a complicated mix of rulemaking and federal permitting that's tough to encapsulate in a neat sales pitch—and may be even tougher to put into action.

Study: Continuous satellite ice sheet monitoring to better predict sea-level rise

July 15, 2013 9:45 am | News | Comments

The length of the satellite record for the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets is currently too short to tell if the recently reported speed-up of ice loss will be sustained in the future or if it results from natural processes, according to a new study. Sheets are losing are about 300 billion tons of ice each year, but no consensus has emerged about the cause of this recent increase in mass loss.

Scientists solve a 14,000-year-old ocean mystery

July 15, 2013 9:32 am | News | Comments

At the end of the last Ice Age, as the world began to warm, a brief pulse of biological productivity in the Pacific Ocean gave rise to large numbers of phytoplankton, foraminifera and other creatures. Researchers have hypothesized that iron sparked this surge of ocean life, but a new study determines instead that “perfect storm” of nutrients and light spurred the bloom.

Study: Continuous satellite ice sheet monitoring to better predict sea-level rise

July 15, 2013 7:27 am | News | Comments

The length of the satellite record for the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets is currently too short to tell if the recently reported speed-up of ice loss will be sustained in the future or if it results from natural processes, according to a new study. Sheets are losing are about 300 billion tons of ice each year, but no consensus has emerged about the cause of this recent increase in mass loss.

Changes in atmosphere affects how much water trees need

July 11, 2013 8:19 am | News | Comments

Studies have long predicted that plants would begin to use water more efficiently, that is, lose less water during photosynthesis, as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose. However, an international research team doing work at the Harvard Forest Long-Term Ecological Research site has found that forests across the globe are losing less water than expected and becoming even more efficient at using it for growth.

Obama climate change push draws industry criticism

July 4, 2013 3:22 am | by STEVE PEOPLES - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

President Barack Obama's push to fight global warming has triggered condemnation from the coal industry across the industrial Midwest, where state and local economies depend on the health of an energy sector facing strict new pollution limits. But such concerns stretch even to New England, an environmentally focused region that long has felt the effects of drifting emissions from Rust Belt states.

Power plant limits at center of president's climate plan

June 25, 2013 6:50 am | by Johs Lederman and Matthew Daly, Associated Press | News | Comments

In a speech Tuesday at Georgetown University, Barack Obama is expected to announce he's issuing a presidential memorandum to launch the first-ever federal regulations on carbon dioxide emitted by existing power plants, moving to curb the gases blamed for global warming despite adamant opposition from Republicans and some energy producers.

Global cooling as significant as global warming

June 18, 2013 10:30 am | News | Comments

A “cold snap” 116 million years ago triggered a similar marine ecosystem crisis to the ones witnessed in the past as a result of global warming, according to recently published research. The international study confirms the link between global cooling and a crash in the marine ecosystem during the mid-Cretaceous greenhouse period.

Underwater springs show how coral reefs respond to ocean acidification

June 17, 2013 7:06 pm | News | Comments

A recent study is the first to show that corals are not able to fully acclimate to low pH conditions in nature. The results are from a study of corals growing where underwater springs naturally lower the pH of seawater. The coral doesn’t die, but the acidity reduces the density of coral skeletons, making coral reefs more vulnerable to disruption and erosion.

How do you feed 9 billion people?

June 10, 2013 9:23 am | News | Comments

An international team of scientists has developed crop models to better forecast food production to feed a growing population—projected to reach 9 billion by mid-century—in the face of climate change. The team recently unveiled an all-encompassing modeling system that integrates multiple crop simulations with improved climate change models.

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