Climate

Hybrid Polar/Grizzly Bears showing up in the Arctic
July 28, 2012 07:52 AM - YALE Environment 360

Two Canadian biologists have reported sighting a handful of grizzly bears and hybrid grizzly/polar bears at unusually high latitudes in the Arctic, indicating that the interbreeding of the two bear species is becoming more common as the climate warms and grizzlies venture farther north. The sightings of three grizzly bears and two hybrid bears, made in late April and May, represent an unprecedented cluster of these animals at such high latitudes. The biologists even took DNA samples from a grizzly bear at 74 degrees North latitude. The report of the sightings comes on the heels of a recently published analysis of newly sequenced polar bear genomes, suggesting that climate change and genetic exchange with brown bears helped create the polar bear as we know it today. The genetic mixing that the Pennsylvania State and University of Buffalo analysis identified happening in the past — in which polar bears would interbreed with grizzly bears as the polar bears' sea ice habitat shrunk — is now happening again, according to bear biologists.

Aerosols Effect on Ozone and Global Cooling
July 27, 2012 11:49 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

What happens when one injects sulfate particles or aerosols into the atmosphere? Will it cause cooling (as seen with naturally occurring volcanic eruptions or will it cause harm to the ozone or other atmospheric variables? No one really knows for sure. Anderson, a professor at Harvard of atmospheric chemistry, said that he has a proposed project idea to spray a small amount of chemicals into the air to test their effect on free radicals that could destroy ozone. That’s because the aerosols may increase the reactive surface area for the conversion of chlorine (present from the release of now-banned chlorofluorocarbons) to a form that destroys ozone. The question is, how much ozone would be lost, and what benefit would be gained in the process?

Can Extreme Weather CONTRIBUTE to Climate Change?
July 27, 2012 06:26 AM - Science Daily

While experts debate whether extreme weather conditions such as this summer’s record rainfall can be explained by climate change, University of Leicester geographers are investigating whether the opposite is true – does extreme weather impact on climate change? To answer the question, a team of researchers from the Department of Geography and Centre for Landscape and Climate Research at the University of Leicester set up a new monitoring station in June to measure greenhouse gas emissions from drained and cultivated peatlands in the East Anglian Fens. They will make measurements over an extended period in order to record carbon emissions over a wide spectrum of weather conditions.

Forest Carbon
July 26, 2012 08:09 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Forests are many things to many people as well as nature. One is the benefit of carbon fixation. Using new, highly efficient techniques, Carnegie and Colombian scientists have developed accurate high-resolution maps of the carbon stocks locked in tropical vegetation for 40% of the Colombian Amazon (165,000 square kilometers/64,000 square miles), an area about four times the size of Switzerland. Until now, the inability to accurately quantify carbon stocks at high spatial resolution over large areas has hindered the United Nations’ Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation program, which is aimed at creating financial value for storing carbon in the forests of tropical countries. In addition to providing a key boost for implementing this program, the results from the Carnegie/Colombian partnership is a boon to tropical forest management and conservation by showing the benefits of forest carbon storage.

New EU Carbon Rules for Cars will save money
July 26, 2012 06:32 AM - EurActive

Connie Hedegaard, the EU Climate Action commissioner, argues that tougher standards for automotive carbon emissions are good Europe’s long-term economic and environmental health. "Do we really need more rules from the EU?" some might have thought when I presented the Commission's proposals for further reducing CO2 emissions from cars and vans earlier this month. The answer is: yes, we do need them. There is nothing wrong with new rules when they are well thought through and subjected to rigorous analysis, as ours have been. Environmental protection in Europe is one long story about the progress we can achieve when we make sensible regulation. Years ago we took the first steps to tackle emissions from cars. And it has worked. Just look how much the fuel economy of new cars has improved compared to just a few years ago. It is EU rules that have pushed this progress. And this is a great example of an area where it makes sense to do things together in Europe rather than developing 27 different national systems.

Hidden Rift Deep Beneath the Ice May be Accelerating Melting in West Antarctica
July 25, 2012 04:11 PM - David A Gabel, ENN

Scientists with the British Antarctic Survey have discovered a rift valley that is one mile deep. The valley is hidden deep below the Ferrigno Ice Stream in West Antarctica, an extremely remote region seen only once previously by human eyes in 1961. They found that this rift basin is connected to the ocean, allowing the ocean to penetrate into the continent. The Southern Sea impacting the ice has a warming effect, despite its cold temperatures. This has tremendous implications, as the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is melting at a faster rate than any other part of the continent.

The New Face of El Niño
July 25, 2012 08:37 AM - Editor, Science Daily

Emerging once every two to seven years in the equatorial Pacific, El Niño causes disorder across the globe and for the global economy. But in the past ten years, it has changed its face. It is increasingly taking the form of Modoki, 'similar but different' as it was baptised by the Japanese team who first discovered this less tumultuous cousin that provokes droughts in India and Australia.

Tracking Greenland's Ice Melt shows record melt area
July 25, 2012 06:10 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

NASA researchers studying data from the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Oceansat-2 satellite this month noticed that the ice melt area on Greenland covered almost the entire ice sheath. This is very unusual and means that melting was occurring over almost the entire surface of the ice sheath. In most summers, the melting occurs in portions of the ice sheath while other areas are not melting. Typically, less than half the ice sheath is melting at one time. At high elevations, most of that melt water quickly refreezes in place. Near the coast, some of the melt water is retained by the ice sheet, and the rest is lost to the ocean. But this year the extent of ice melting at or near the surface jumped dramatically. According to satellite data, an estimated 97 percent of the ice sheet surface thawed at some point in mid-July. This is unprecedented in 30 years of monitoring ice melt by satellite. Researchers have not yet determined whether this extensive melt event will affect the overall volume of ice loss this summer and contribute to sea level rise.

Polar Bear Evolution
July 24, 2012 09:07 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

The polar bear is a bear native largely within the Arctic Circle encompassing the Arctic Ocean, its surrounding seas and surrounding land masses. It is often considered a symbol of the pristine Arctic. An analysis of newly sequenced polar bear genomes is providing important clues about the species' evolution, suggesting that climate change and genetic exchange with brown bears helped create the polar bear as we know it today. The international study, led by researchers at Penn State and the University at Buffalo, found evidence that the size of the polar bear population fluctuated with key climatic events over the past 1 million years, growing during periods of cooling and shrinking in warmer times.

End of the last Ice Age - Close linkage between CO2 and temperature found
July 24, 2012 06:58 AM - Staff, ClickGreen

The greatest climate change the world has seen in the last 100,000 years was the transition from the ice age to the warm interglacial period. New research from the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen indicates that, contrary to previous opinion, the rise in temperature and the rise in the atmospheric CO2 follow each other closely in terms of time. In the warmer climate the atmospheric content of CO2 is naturally higher. The gas CO2 (carbon dioxide) is a green-house gas that absorbs heat radiation from the Earth and thus keeps the Earth warm. In the shift between ice ages and interglacial periods the atmospheric content of CO2 helps to intensify the natural climate variations.

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