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.
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, second only to carbon dioxide in its capacity to trap heat in Earth’s atmosphere for a long time. The gas can originate from lakes and swamps, natural-gas pipelines, deep-sea vents and livestock. Understanding the sources of methane, and how the gas is formed, could give scientists a better understanding of its role in warming the planet.
A long anticipated El Nino has finally arrived. But for drought-struck California, it's too little, too late, meteorologists say. The National Weather Service on Thursday proclaimed the phenomenon is now in place. It's a warming of a certain patch of the central Pacific that changes weather patterns worldwide, associated with flooding in some places, droughts elsewhere, a generally warmer globe and fewer Atlantic hurricanes.
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.
Trapping carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and various industries could play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the future. But current materials that can collect carbon dioxide have low capacities or require very high temperatures to work. Scientists are making progress toward a more efficient alternative, described in Chemistry of Materials, that could help make carbon capture less energy intensive.
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.
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.
As everyone who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area knows, the Earth moves under our feet. But what about the stresses that cause earthquakes? How much is known about them? Until now, our understanding of these stresses has been based on macroscopic approximations.
The chemical signature of water vapor emitted by combustion sources such as vehicles and furnaces has been found in the smoggy winter inversions that often choke Salt Lake City. The discovery may give researchers a new tool to track down the sources of pollutants and climate-changing carbon dioxide gas.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With many projects under development in coastal regions such as New England, tidal power seems poised to join other U.S. commercial power sources. A new study finds that little is known of the impacts that tidal power projects may have on coastal environments and the people who depend on them, but that the perspective of “ecosystem services” could provide a promising framework for evaluating impacts.
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.
Oil and gas operations in the U.S. produce about 21 billion barrels of wastewater per year. The saltiness of the water and the organic contaminants it contains have traditionally made treatment difficult and expensive. Engineers at the Univ. of Colorado Boulder have invented a simpler process that can simultaneously remove both salts and organic contaminants from the wastewater, all while producing additional energy.
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.
Many car buyers weighing whether they should go all electric to help the planet have at least one new factor to consider before making the switch: geography. Based on a study of a commercially available electric car, scientists report in Environmental Science & Technology that emissions and driving range can vary greatly depending on regional energy sources and climate.
Geysers like Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park erupt periodically because of loops or side-chambers in their underground plumbing, according to recent studies by volcanologists at the Univ. of California, Berkeley. The key to geysers is an underground bend or loop that traps steam and then bubbles it out slowly to heat the water column above until it is just short of boiling.
Sea levels from New York to Newfoundland jumped up about four inches in 2009 and 2010 because ocean circulation changed, a Univ. of Arizona-led team reports in Nature Communications. The team was the first to document that the extreme increase in sea level lasted two years, not just a few months.
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.
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.
As urban residents know, air quality is a big deal. When local pollution levels go up, the associated health risks also increase, especially for children and seniors. But air pollution varies widely over the course of a day and by location, even within the same city. Now scientists, reporting in Environmental Science & Technology, have used smartphone and sensing technology to better pinpoint where and when pollution is at its worst.
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?
A professor and his students have turned a material commonly used in surgical gloves into a low-cost, highly efficient air filter. It could be used to improve facemasks and window screens, and maybe even scrub the exhaust from power plants.