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Extreme algae blooms the new normal?

April 4, 2013 7:36 am | News | Comments

In 2011, Lake Erie experienced a record-breaking algae bloom that began in the lake's Western region in mid-July and eventually covered an area of 230 square miles. At its peak in October, the bloom had expanded to more than 1,930 square miles, three times greater than any other bloom on record. According to recent research, the bloom was triggered by long-term agricultural practices coupled with extreme precipitation, followed by weak lake circulation and warm temperatures.

New models predict drastically greener Arctic in coming decades

March 31, 2013 6:48 pm | News | Comments

Researchers from several universities, AT&T Labs, and the American Museum of Natural History have built new models that show a widespread redistribution of Arctic vegetation. They say their findings predict a massive “greening” in the Arctic, as much as 50% in over the next few decades. This transition will help accelerate climate warming, they add.

Meeting the computing challenges of next-generation climate models

March 27, 2013 7:47 am | News | Comments

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory recently hosted an international workshop that brought together top climatologists, computer scientists, and engineers from Japan and the United States to exchange ideas for the next generation of climate models as well as the hyper-performance computing environments that will be needed to process the data from those models. It was the 15th in a series of such workshops that have been taking place around the world since 1999.

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Study: Volcanic eruptions triggered the end-Triassic extinction

March 22, 2013 2:28 pm | News | Comments

It’s not entirely clear what caused the end-Triassic extinction, although most scientists agree on a likely scenario: Over a relatively short period of time, massive volcanic eruptions from a large region known as the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province (CAMP) spewed forth huge amounts of lava and gas, including carbon dioxide, sulfur and methane. Now, a research team has determined that these eruptions occurred precisely when the extinction began, providing strong evidence that volcanic activity did indeed trigger the end-Triassic extinction.

Ocean plankton sponge up nearly twice the carbon currently assumed

March 18, 2013 10:38 am | News | Comments

According to new research, models of carbon dioxide in the world’s oceans need to be revised.  Trillions of plankton near the surface of warm waters are far more carbon-rich than has long been thought global marine temperature fluctuations could mean that tiny microbes digest double the carbon previously calculated. 

Could global warming change tornado season, too?

March 18, 2013 9:12 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

With the planet heating up, many scientists seem fairly certain some weather elements like hurricanes and droughts will worsen. But tornadoes have them stumped. As the traditional tornado season nears, scientists have been pondering a simple question: Will there be more or fewer twisters as global warming increases?

Experts propose new structure to guide geoengineering research

March 15, 2013 11:16 am | News | Comments

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.

The science of clouds

March 13, 2013 1:14 pm | News | Comments

Clouds can both cool the planet, by acting as a shield against the sun, and warm the planet, by trapping heat. But why do clouds behave the way they do? And how will a warming planet affect the cloud cover? Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientist David Romps has made it his mission to answer these questions.

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Amplified greenhouse effect shaping North into South

March 11, 2013 9:00 am | News | Comments

An international research team has just published a study showing that, as the cover of snow and ice in the northern latitudes has diminished in recent years, the temperature over the northern land mass has increased at different rates during the four seasons. This has caused temperatures and vegetation at northern latitudes to more and more resemble those found several degrees of latitude farther south.

Volcanic aerosols, not pollutants, tamped down recent Earth warming

March 1, 2013 2:38 pm | News | Comments

A research team led by the University of Colorado Boulder had been looking for clues about why Earth did not warm as much as scientists expected between 2000 and 2010. They now think the culprits are hiding in plain sight—dozens of volcanoes spewing sulfur dioxide. The study results essentially exonerate Asia, including India and China, two countries that are estimated to have increased their industrial sulfur dioxide emissions by about 60% from 2000 to 2010 through coal burning.

Mineral diversity offers clue to early Earth chemistry

March 1, 2013 9:50 am | News | Comments

New research on a mineral called molybdenite by a team led by Robert Hazen at Carnegie's Geophysical Laboratory provides important new insights about the changing chemistry of our planet as a result of geological and biological processes. Analysis of the mineral showed  that concentrations of rhenium, a trace element that is sensitive to oxidation reactions, increased significantly—by a factor of eight—over the past three billion years.

Chemistry trick kills climate controversy

February 12, 2013 7:48 am | News | Comments

Volcanoes are well known for cooling the climate. But just how much and when has been a bone of contention among historians, glaciologists, and archeologists. Now a team of atmosphere chemists, from the Tokyo Institute of Technology and the University of Copenhagen, has come up with a way to say for sure which historic episodes of global cooling were caused by volcanic eruptions.

Sunlight stimulates release of climate-warming gas from melting Arctic permafrost

February 11, 2013 3:37 pm | News | Comments

Ancient carbon trapped in Arctic permafrost is extremely sensitive to sunlight and, if exposed to the surface when long-frozen soils melt and collapse, can release climate-warming carbon dioxide gas into the atmosphere much faster than previously thought.

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Volcano location could be greenhouse-icehouse key

February 7, 2013 8:00 am | News | Comments

A new Rice University-led study finds the real estate mantra “location, location, location” may also explain one of Earth’s enduring climate mysteries. The study suggests that Earth’s repeated flip-flopping between greenhouse and icehouse states over the past 500 million years may have been driven by the episodic flare up of volcanoes at key locations where enormous amounts of carbon dioxide are poised for release into the atmosphere.

EPA: Decline in carbon pollution from power plants

February 5, 2013 6:29 pm | by MATTHEW DALY - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Heat-trapping gases from U.S. power plants fell 4.6% in 2011 from the previous year as plants burned less coal, the biggest source of greenhouse gas pollution, according to a new government report. The report, released Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency, said power plants remain the largest stationary source of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that trigger global warming.

Antarctic ice core contains unrivaled detail of past climate

February 5, 2013 2:37 pm | News | Comments

A team of U.S. ice-coring scientists and engineers in Antarctica, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), have recovered from the ice sheet a record of past climate and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that extends back 68,000 years.

Team samples Antarctic lake 2,600 feet below ice sheet surface

January 28, 2013 10:41 am | News | Comments

In a first-of-its-kind feat of science and engineering, a research team has successfully drilled through 800 m (2,600 feet) of Antarctic ice to reach a subglacial lake and retrieve water and sediment samples that have been isolated from direct contact with the atmosphere for many thousands of years. The samples may contain microbes from an ecosystem isolated for thousands of years, with implications for the search for life elsewhere in extreme environments.

Analysis of Greenland ice cores may provide glimpse into climate’s future

January 25, 2013 11:10 am | News | Comments

A new study that provides surprising details on changes in Earth's climate from more than 100,000 years ago indicates that the last interglacial—the period between "ice ages"—was warmer than previously thought and may be a good analog for future climate, as greenhouse gases increase in the atmosphere and global temperatures rise.

In perceiving climate change, feeling the heat counts

January 23, 2013 11:24 am | News | Comments

Human beings around the world are observing and accurately detecting changes in their local climates, according to a new study led by Yale University researchers. The finding provides the first global evidence for the phenomenon and could have meaningful implications for attempts to combat climate change, they say.

Obama pledges to deal with climate change

January 21, 2013 2:53 pm | by MATTHEW DALY - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Environmental groups hailed President Barack Obama's warning about climate change in his second inauguration speech, but said the president's words will soon be tested as he decides whether to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada. Obama pledged Monday to respond to what he called "the threat of climate change," saying the failure to do so would be a betrayal of the nation's children and future generations.

Study: Warmer soils release additional carbon dioxide into atmosphere

January 21, 2013 8:41 am | by Beth Potier, University of New Hampshire | News | Comments

Warmer temperatures due to climate change could cause soils to release additional carbon into the atmosphere, thereby enhancing climate change—but that effect diminishes over the long term. The new study sheds new light on how soil microorganisms respond to temperature and could improve predictions of how climate warming will affect the carbon dioxide flux from soils.

Study reveals gas that triggers ozone destruction

January 14, 2013 9:28 am | News | Comments

Scientists at the Universities of York and Leeds have made a significant discovery about the cause of the destruction of ozone over oceans. They have established that the majority of ozone-depleting iodine oxide observed over the remote ocean comes from a previously unknown marine source.

Report says warming is changing U.S. daily life

January 13, 2013 7:01 pm | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

A special panel of scientists convened by the government issued Friday a 1,146-page draft report that details in dozens of ways how climate change is already disrupting the health, homes and other facets of daily American life. The blunt report takes a global environmental issue and explains what it means for different U.S. regions, for various sectors of the economy and for future generations.

Study: Major cuts to surging carbon dioxide emissions needed now

January 7, 2013 9:43 am | News | Comments

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.

Fluctuating environment may have driven human evolution

January 2, 2013 8:05 am | News | Comments

A series of rapid environmental changes in East Africa roughly 2 million years ago may be responsible for driving human evolution, according to researchers at Penn State University and Rutgers University.

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