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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

On the ice: Trio of complex Antarctic science efforts reach milestones

December 21, 2012 1:06 pm | News | Comments

In the past week, researchers with the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide (WAIS) project, the Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling (WISSARD) project and the Pine Island Glacier (PIG) project each announced they had achieved these various milestones. In each case, the successes were based on innovative drilling technologies and promise to open new scientific vistas for Antarctic research.

Climate poll: Science doubters say world is warming

December 16, 2012 11:28 pm | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Results from a new Associated Press-GfK poll is showing that a growing majority of Americans think global warming is occurring. The poll found 4 out of every 5 Americans said climate change will be a serious problem for the United States if nothing is done about it. That's up from 73% when the same question was asked in 2009.

Top officials meet at ONR in response to Arctic changes

December 14, 2012 10:28 am | by David Smalley, Office of Naval Research | News | Comments

The rapid retreat of sea ice in the Arctic has attracted the attention of top naval officials who have recently held an Arctic Summit at the Office of Naval Research to discuss their reponse to what will likely be a increased volume of human activity in the region. Although the meeting did not discuss policy, it did highlight the many potential areas of impact, from oil drilling to tourism.

Cloud forest trees drink water through their leaves

December 13, 2012 9:59 am | by Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley | News | Comments

Using an electronic “leaf” that is able to detect when leaves receive moisture, a team of researchers working in Costa Rica’s cloud forests have discovered that tropical montane cloud forest can augment their water intake by drinking directly from the clouds. In dry but otherwise foggy areas, this ability to drink water through leaves is an essential survival strategy.

Crevasses, bendable ice affect stability of Antartica ice shelf

December 10, 2012 8:09 am | News | Comments

Gaping crevasses that penetrate upward from the bottom of the largest remaining ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula make it more susceptible to collapse, according to researchers who spent the last four Southern Hemisphere summers studying the massive Larsen C Ice Shelf. But the team, which used radar technology to study the composition of the ice shelf, also identified structures that contributed to the shelf’s resilience.

U.N. climate talks go into overtime in Qatar

December 7, 2012 11:18 am | by KARL RITTER - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

  Nearly 200 countries haggling over how to stop climate change—and how to pay for it—failed to reach a deal on schedule Friday, setting the stage for the wrangling to continue late into the night. The two-week U.N. conference in Doha was never meant to yield a global climate pact to curb emissions of greenhouse gases—that has been put off until 2015.

Ancient microbes survive beneath icy surface of Antarctic lake

December 3, 2012 10:48 am | News | Comments

Researchers funded by the National Science Foundation describe in a new publication a viable community of bacteria that ekes out a living in a dark, salty, and subfreezing environment beneath nearly 20 m of ice in one of Antarctica's most isolated lakes. The finding could have implications for the discovery of life in other extreme environments, including elsewhere in the solar system.

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