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Forest emissions, wildfires explain why ancient Earth was so hot

February 6, 2014 8:53 am | by Kevin Dennehy , Yale Univ. | News | Comments

The release of volatile organic compounds from Earth’s forests and smoke from wildfires 3 million years ago had a far greater impact on global warming than ancient atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, a new Yale Univ. study finds. The research provides evidence that dynamic atmospheric chemistry played an important role in past warm climates, underscoring the complexity of climate change and the relevance of natural components.

Greenland’s fastest glacier sets new speed record

February 5, 2014 8:27 am | by Hannah Hickey and Bárbara Ferreira News and Information | European Geosciences Union | News | Comments

The latest observations of Jakobshavn Glacier show that Greenland’s largest glacier is moving ice from land into the ocean at a speed that appears to be the fastest ever recorded. Researchers from the Univ. of Washington and the German Space Agency measured the speed of the glacier in 2012 and 2013.

Temperature swings may be bigger threat to life than increased warmth

January 29, 2014 8:02 am | News | Comments

Insects may thrive in the warmer average temperatures predicted by climate models but are threatened by greater temperature variation also anticipated in many areas around the globe, a Yale Univ.-led study predicts. Scientists have tested the impact of temperature on 38 species of insects. The team coupled that data with historic climate data and climate projections for 2050 to 2059 in order to assess effects of temperature variability.

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High levels of molecular chlorine found in Arctic atmosphere

January 13, 2014 4:09 pm | News | Comments

Scientists studying the atmosphere above Barrow, Alaska, have discovered unprecedented levels of molecular chlorine in the air, a new study reports. Molecular chlorine, from sea salt released by melting sea ice, reacts with sunlight to produce chlorine atoms. These chlorine atoms are highly reactive and can oxidize many constituents of the atmosphere including methane and elemental mercury.

Scientists to study Pacific Ocean’s “global chimney”

January 8, 2014 11:42 am | News | Comments

Although few people live in the Western tropical Pacific Ocean region, the remote waters there affect billions of people by shaping climate and air chemistry worldwide. Next week, scientists will head to the region to better understand its influence on the atmosphere—including how that influence may change in coming decades if storms over the Pacific become more powerful with rising global temperatures.

The ocean’s hidden waves show their power

January 8, 2014 7:52 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | Videos | Comments

Their effect on the surface of the ocean is negligible, producing a rise of just inches that is virtually imperceptible on a turbulent sea. But internal waves, which are hidden entirely within the ocean, can tower hundreds of feet, with profound effects on the Earth’s climate and on ocean ecosystems.

El Nino tied to melting of Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier

January 2, 2014 2:21 pm | News | Comments

Pine Island Glacier is one of the biggest routes for ice to flow from Antarctica into the sea. The floating ice shelf at the glacier’s tip has been melting and thinning for the past four decades, causing the glacier to speed up and discharge more ice. Understanding this ice shelf is a key for predicting sea-level rise in a warming world.

Finding: Greenland ice stores liquid water year-round

December 23, 2013 10:15 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Utah have discovered a new aquifer in the Greenland Ice Sheet that holds liquid water all year long in the otherwise perpetually frozen winter landscape. The aquifer is extensive, covering 27,000 square miles and could figure significantly in understanding the contribution of snowmelt and ice melt to rising sea levels.

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Hack the planet? Geoengineering research, ethics, governance explored

December 18, 2013 7:54 am | by Hannah Hickey, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

A dozen research papers in a recent special issue of the journal Climate Change are devoted to the topic of geoengineering. They include the most detailed description yet of the proposed Oxford Principles to govern geoengineering research, as well as surveys on the technical hurdles, ethics and regulatory issues related to deliberately manipulating the planet’s climate.

Change in Pacific nitrogen content tied to climate change

December 17, 2013 2:40 pm | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

Using a new isotope technique and deep sea corals gathered near the Hawaiian Islands, a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientist, in collaboration with Univ. of California Santa Cruz colleagues, has determined that a long-term shift in nitrogen content in the Pacific Ocean has occurred as a result of climate change. This shift is similar to major paleoceanographic transitions in the sedimentary record.

Environment drives genetic changes in Evolution Canyon

December 12, 2013 10:27 am | News | Comments

Interplay between genes and the environment has been pondered at least since the mid-1800s. But until the arrival of modern genomic sequencing tools, it was hard to measure the extent that the environment had on a species’ genetic makeup. Now, researchers studying fruit flies that live on opposite slopes of a unique natural environment known as “Evolution Canyon” show the driving force in the gene pool is largely the environment.

Chemists discover long-lived greenhouse gas

December 10, 2013 12:15 pm | by Kim Luke, Univ. of Toronto | News | Comments

Scientists from the Univ. of Toronto have discovered a novel chemical lurking in the atmosphere that appears to be a long-lived greenhouse gas (LLGHG). The chemical—perfluorotributylamine (PFTBA)—is the most radiatively efficient chemical found to date, breaking all other chemical records for its potential to affect climate.

Geoengineering approaches to reduce climate change unlikely to succeed

December 5, 2013 10:01 am | News | Comments

Two German researchers have used a simple energy balance analysis to explain how the Earth’s water cycle responds differently to heating by sunlight than it does to warming due to a stronger atmospheric greenhouse effect. This difference, their work shows,  implies that reflecting sunlight to reduce temperatures may have unwanted effects on the Earth’s rainfall patterns.

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Study: Ocean crust lavas could store many centuries of industrial carbon dioxide

December 4, 2013 10:54 am | News | Comments

At high pressures and low temperatures, such as those in the deep oceans, carbon dioxide occurs as a liquid that is denser than seawater. Researchers in England have identified regions beneath the oceans where the igneous rocks of the upper ocean crust could safely store very large volumes of carbon dioxide.

The lingering clouds

November 26, 2013 8:14 am | News | Comments

A new study reveals how pollution causes thunderstorms to leave behind larger, deeper, longer lasting clouds. Appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the results solve a long-standing debate and reveal how pollution plays into climate warming. The work can also provide a gauge for the accuracy of weather and climate models.

Even if emissions stop, carbon dioxide could warm Earth for centuries

November 25, 2013 8:29 am | by Morgan Kelly, Princeton Univ. | News | Comments

According to recent Princeton Univ.-led research that simulated an emissions-free Earth, the carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere could continue to warm our planet for hundreds of years, even if emission came to a sudden halt. The study suggests that it might take a lot less carbon than previously thought to reach the global temperature scientists deem unsafe.

Pre-industrial rise in methane gas had natural and anthropogenic causes

November 22, 2013 9:15 am | News | Comments

For years scientists have intensely argued over whether increases of potent methane gas concentrations in the atmosphere, from about 5,000 years ago to the start of the industrial revolution, were triggered by natural causes or human activities. A new study suggests the increase in methane likely was caused by both.

Turmoil at climate talks as blame game heats up

November 20, 2013 8:15 pm | by Karl Ritter, Associated Press | News | Comments

With two days left at the U.N. climate talks in Warsaw, there was commotion Wednesday after negotiators for developing nations said they walked out of a late-night meeting on compensation for the impact of global warming. Rich and poor nations are struggling with a yawning rift as developing countries look for new ways to make developed countries accept responsibility for global warming and pay for it.

Scientists brave Old Man Winter to dig out secrets of lake-effect snows

November 19, 2013 7:15 am | News | Comments

Rare anywhere, thundersnow is sometimes heard during the lake-effect snowstorms of the Great Lakes. The interaction of clouds and ice pellets inside these storms generates a charge, with lightning and thunder the result. But how to catch thundersnow in action? Doppler-on-Wheels, a system used for other types of storms, will try to find them this winter.

Japan dials back climate change emissions target

November 15, 2013 11:22 am | by Associated Press | News | Comments

Activists taking part in U.N. climate talks say Japan's decision to drastically scale back its target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions will hurt the battle against global warming. The new target approved by the Japanese Cabinet calls for reducing emissions by 3.8% from their 2005 level by 2020.

Scientists find precipitation, global warming link

November 12, 2013 10:41 am | News | Comments

The rain in Spain may lie mainly on the plain, but the location and intensity of that rain is changing not only in Spain but around the globe. A new study by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists shows that observed changes in global (ocean and land) precipitation are directly affected by human activities and cannot be explained by natural variability alone.

Preparing for hell and high water

November 11, 2013 10:21 am | by Mary Beckman, PNNL | News | Comments

Changes are already happening to Earth's climate due to the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and large-scale agriculture. As changes get more pronounced, people everywhere will have to adjust. In this week's issue of the journal Science, an international group of researchers urge the development of science needed to manage climate risks and capitalize on unexpected opportunities.

Clean Air Act has improved water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed

November 7, 2013 7:00 am | News | Comments

A new study shows that the reduction of pollution emissions from power plants in the mid-Atlantic is making an impact on the quality of the water that ends up in the Chesapeake Bay. The study confirms a decreased amount of emissions of nitrogen oxide from coal-fired power plants.

The oldest ice core: Finding a 1.5 million-year record of Earth’s climate

November 5, 2013 12:24 pm | News | Comments

How far into the past can ice-core records go? Scientists have now identified regions in Antarctica they say could store information about Earth’s climate and greenhouse gases extending as far back as 1.5 million years, almost twice as old as the oldest ice core drilled to date.

Going deep to study long-term climate evolution

October 31, 2013 10:46 am | News | Comments

A Rice Univ.-based team of geoscientists is going to great lengths—from Earth’s core to its atmosphere—to get to the bottom of a long-standing mystery about the planet’s climate. The team will focus on how carbon moves between Earth’s external and internal systems.

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