Climate

Land surfaces are storing more water slowing sea level rise
February 12, 2016 08:07 AM - University of California, Irvine via ScienceDaily.

New measurements from a NASA satellite have allowed researchers to identify and quantify, for the first time, how climate-driven increases of liquid water storage on land have affected the rate of sea level rise.

A new study by scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, and the University of California, Irvine, shows that while ice sheets and glaciers continue to melt, changes in weather and climate over the past decade have caused Earth's continents to soak up and store an extra 3.2 trillion tons of water in soils, lakes and underground aquifers, temporarily slowing the rate of sea level rise by about 20 percent.

The water gains over land were spread globally, but taken together they equal the volume of Lake Huron, the world's seventh largest lake. The study is published in the Feb. 12 issue of the journal Science.

Sandia National Laboratories improves modeling of Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets
February 11, 2016 07:59 AM - Sandia National Laboratories

The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets will make a dominant contribution to 21st century sea-level rise if current climate trends continue. However, predicting the expected loss of ice sheet mass is difficult due to the complexity of modeling ice sheet behavior.

To better understand this loss, a team of Sandia National Laboratories researchers has been improving the reliability and efficiency of computational models that describe ice sheet behavior and dynamics. The team includes researchers Irina Demeshko, Mike Eldred, John Jakeman, Mauro Perego, Andy Salinger, Irina Tezaur and Ray Tuminaro.

Obama Administration's "Clean Power Plan" dealt a setback by the Supreme Court
February 10, 2016 07:03 PM - Jan Lee, Triple Pundit

The Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan suffered a setback on Tuesday when the Supreme Court granted a stay to the program. In a 5-4 decision, the court sided in favor of petitioning states, utilities and coal companies that claimed that the federal government was overreaching its powers when it attempted to establish a national plan to move away from fossil-fuel based power. Requests for the Supreme Court to impose the stay were submitted in January after an appeals court ruled that the plan could proceed while legal challenges were being heard.

The Supreme Court’s ruling is an about-face to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and it comes at a critical time for the Obama administration’s clean energy program, especially in light of the upcoming elections in November. While the administration can appeal the Supreme Court’s order, arguments would not be considered until June and, pending acceptance by the higher court, likely wouldn’t be scheduled until October or later this year. That leaves the fate of the Clean Power Plan in the hands of the upcoming presidency.

Warmer climate contributes to spread of the Zika virus
February 10, 2016 09:51 AM - Nadia Pontes, The Ecologist

The Aedes mosquitos that carry the Zika virus and dengue fever are not just perfectly adapted to life in cities, writes Nadia Pontes. They are also being helped along by warming climates which increase their range. It's time to get serious about the health implications of a hotter planet.

Global warming affects the abundance and distribution of disease vectors. As regions that used to be drier and colder start to register higher temperatures and more rain, mosquitoes expand their breeding areas, which increases the number of populations at

The explosion in the number of Latin American cases of microcephaly - a congenital condition associated with maldevelopment of the brain - has become an international emergency due its "strongly suspected"link with the rapidly spreading Zika virus, according to the World Health Organisation(WHO).

Climate change will delay transatlantic flights
February 10, 2016 07:21 AM - Pete Castle, Reading University.

Planes flying between Europe and North America will be spending more time in the air due to the effects of climate change, a new study has shown.

By accelerating the jet stream – a high-altitude wind blowing from west to east across the Atlantic – climate change will speed up eastbound flights but slow down westbound flights, the study found.  The findings could have implications for airlines, passengers, and airports.

Are we impacting the future of our planet for thousands of years?
February 9, 2016 09:12 AM - Oregon State University/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

The Earth may suffer irreversible damage that could last tens of thousands of years because of the rate humans are emitting carbon into the atmosphere.

In a new study in Nature Climate Change, researchers at Oregon State University, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and collaborating institutions found that the longer-term impacts of climate change go well past the 21st century.

“Much of the carbon we are putting in the air from burning fossil fuels will stay there for thousands of years — and some of it will be there for more than 100,000 years,” said Peter Clark, an Oregon State University paleoclimatologist and lead author on the article. “People need to understand that the effects of climate change on the planet won’t go away, at least not for thousands of generations.”

LLNL’s Benjamin Santer said the focus on climate change at the end of the 21st century needs to be shifted toward a much longer-term perspective.

The uneven impacts of climate change
February 7, 2016 09:14 AM - Wildlife Conservation Society via ScienceDaily

A new study by University of Queensland and WCS shows a dramatic global mismatch between nations producing the most greenhouse gases and the ones most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

The study shows that the highest emitting countries are ironically the least vulnerable to climate change effects such as increased frequency of natural disasters, changing habitats, human health impacts, and industry stress.

Those countries emitting the least amount of greenhouse gases are most vulnerable.

Universtiy of Alaska studies how the melting Greenland glaciers are impacting sea levels
February 6, 2016 08:41 AM - University of Alaska Fairbanks via ScienceDaily

University of Alaska Fairbanks mathematicians and glaciologists have taken a first step toward understanding how glacier ice flowing off Greenland affects sea levels.

Andy Aschwanden, Martin Truffer and Mark Fahnestock used mathematical computer models and field tests to reproduce the flow of 29 inlet glaciers fed by the Greenland ice sheet. They compared their data with data from NASA's Operation IceBridge North aerial campaign.

The comparisons showed that the computer models accurately depicted current flow conditions in topographically complex Greenland.

Kalligrammatid lacewings looked like butterflies, but lived millions of years before butterflies
February 4, 2016 01:00 PM - JOHN BARRAT Smithsonian News

New fossils found in Northeastern China have revealed a remarkable evolutionary coincidence: an extinct group of insects known as Kalligrammatid lacewings (Order Neuroptera) share an uncanny resemblance to modern day butterflies (Order Lepidoptera). Even though they vanished some 50 million years before butterflies appeared on earth, they possess the same wing shape and pigment hues, wing spots and eyespots, body scales, long proboscides, and similar feeding styles as butterflies.

A photo of the modern owl butterfly (“Caligo Memnon”) shown beside a fossilized Kalligrammatid lacewing (“Oregramma illecebrosa”) shows some of the convergent features independently evolved by the two distantly-related insects, including wing eyespots and wing scales. (Butterfly photo by James Di Loreto/fossil photo by Conrad Labandeira and Jorge Santiago-Blay)

In an incredible example of convergent evolution, both butterflies and kalligrammatids evol

Phases of the moon affect amount of rainfall
February 1, 2016 07:20 AM - Hannah Hickey, University of Washington

When the moon is high in the sky, it creates bulges in the planet’s atmosphere that creates imperceptible changes in the amount of rain that falls below. New University of Washington research to be published in Geophysical Research Letters shows that the lunar forces affect the amount of rain – though very slightly.

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