Climate

Dust in the Waters
August 27, 2015 12:59 PM - Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office

Each spring, powerful dust storms in the deserts of Mongolia and northern China send thick clouds of particles into the atmosphere. Eastward winds sweep these particles as far as the Pacific, where dust ultimately settles in the open ocean. This desert dust contains, among other minerals, iron — an essential nutrient for hundreds of species of phytoplankton that make up the ocean’s food base.

NASA's latest satellite data reveals global sea level rise
August 27, 2015 08:49 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

Global sea levels have risen nearly 3 inches in less than 25 years, with some locations around the world rising more than 9 inches, according to NASA’s latest satellite data. An intensive research effort now underway, aided by NASA observations and analysis, points to an unavoidable rise of several feet in the future.

Carbon Credits Under Kyoto Protocol Actually Increased Emissions
August 27, 2015 07:28 AM - Gina-Marie Cheeseman, Triple Pundit

At the end of November, governments will come together in Paris to hammer out agreements for a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. Under the KP, there are two greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions offsetting mechanisms: joint implementation (JI) and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

JI allows countries with emissions-reduction commitments under the Kyoto Protocol to generate Emission Reduction Units (ERUs) from GHG reduction projects and transfer them to other countries. Almost 872 million ERUs had been issued under JI as of March 2015, about a third of all Kyoto offset credits. In a nutshell, JIs are carbon credits and include things like reforestation projects.

The Fingerprints of Sea Level Rise
August 26, 2015 02:49 PM - NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

When you fill a sink, the water rises at the same rate to the same height in every corner. That's not the way it works with our rising seas.

According to the 23-year record of satellite data from NASA and its partners, the sea level is rising a few millimeters a year -- a fraction of an inch. If you live on the U.S. East Coast, though, your sea level is rising two or three times faster than average. If you live in Scandinavia, it's falling. Residents of China's Yellow River delta are swamped by sea level rise of more than nine inches (25 centimeters) a year.

These regional differences in sea level change will become even more apparent in the future, as ice sheets melt. For instance, when the Amundsen Sea sector of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is totally gone, the average global sea level will rise four feet. But the East Coast of the United States will see an additional 14 to 15 inches above that average.

Arctic may help remove, not add, methane
August 25, 2015 08:54 AM - Morgan Kelly, Princeton Journal Watch

In addition to melting icecaps and imperiled wildlife, a significant concern among scientists is that higher Arctic temperatures brought about by climate change could result in the release of massive amounts of carbon locked in the region’s frozen soil in the form of carbon dioxide and methane. However, new research led by Princeton University researchers and published in The ISME Journal in August suggests that, thanks to methane-hungry bacteria, the majority of Arctic soil might actually be able to absorb methane from the atmosphere rather than release it. 

How a warming climate is impacting wild boar in Europe
August 23, 2015 07:54 AM - Paul Brown, The Ecologist

Increasingly mild winters have caused an abundance of acorns and beech nuts in Europe's woodlands, writes Paul Brown, triggering a wild boar population explosion - just one of the effects of warming climate on wildlife populations.

”‹Wild boar populations in Europe are getting out of control - and scientists are blaming climate change.

There are now millions of wild boar spreading out from their preferred woodland habitat, moving into city suburbs, and even crossing national boundaries to countries that had thought they were extinct.

Scientists Warn of Air Pollution Risks in West Africa
August 21, 2015 01:55 PM - University of York

New research by European and African scientists, including a team from the University of York, warns of the risks posed by the increasing air pollution over the cities of West Africa – amid fears it could have an impact on human health, meteorology and regional climate.

Is the California Drought Causing Land to Sink?
August 21, 2015 08:56 AM - Jet Propulsion Laboratory

As Californians continue pumping groundwater in response to the historic drought, the California Department of Water Resources today released a new NASA report showing land in the San Joaquin Valley is sinking faster than ever before, nearly 2 inches (5 centimeters) per month in some locations.

MIT analysis improves estimates of global mercury pollution
August 21, 2015 07:26 AM - MIT News

Once mercury is emitted into the atmosphere from the smokestacks of power plants, the pollutant has a complicated trajectory; even after it settles onto land and sinks into oceans, mercury can be re-emitted back into the atmosphere repeatedly. This so-called “grasshopper effect” keeps the highly toxic substance circulating as “legacy emissions” that, combined with new smokestack emissions, can extend the environmental effects of mercury for decades.

Now an international team led by MIT researchers has conducted a new analysis that provides more accurate estimates of sources of mercury emissions around the world. The analysis pairs measured air concentrations of mercury with a global simulation to calculate the fraction of mercury that is either re-emitted or that originates from power plants and other anthropogenic activities. The result of this work, researchers say, could improve estimates of mercury pollution, and help refine pollution-control strategies around the world.

China's carbon emissions may be lower than estimated
August 20, 2015 01:30 PM - Eliza Berlage, The Ecologist

The IPCC has over-estimated China's emissions since 2000 by 14%, almost 3 gigatonnes of carbon since 2000, while its energy consumption has been 10% higher than realised, writes Eliza Berlage. The country is far more carbon-efficient than we ever knew.

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