Climate

Shake It Off: Earth's Wobble May Have Ended Ice Age
April 5, 2012 08:34 AM - Christopher Joyce, NPR Topics: Environment

The last big ice age ended about 11,000 years ago, and not a moment too soon — it made a lot more of the world livable, at least for humans. But exactly what caused the big thaw isn't clear, and new research suggests that a wobble in the Earth kicked off a complicated process that changed the whole planet.

Wind Tops 10 Percent Share of Electricity in Five States
April 5, 2012 07:10 AM - J. Matthew Roney, Earth Policy Institute

A new picture is emerging in the U.S. power sector. In 2007, electricity generation from coal peaked, dropping by close to 4 percent annually between 2007 and 2011. Over the same time period, nuclear generation fell slightly, while natural gas-fired electricity grew by some 3 percent annually and hydropower by 7 percent. Meanwhile, wind-generated electricity grew by a whopping 36 percent each year. Multiple factors underlie this nascent shift in U.S. electricity production, including the global recession, increasing energy efficiency, and more economically recoverable domestic natural gas. But ultimately it is the increasing attractiveness of wind as an energy source that will drive it into prominence. Wind power accounted for just 2.9 percent of total electricity generation in the United States in 2011. In five U.S. states, however, 10 percent or more of electricity generation came from wind. South Dakota leads the states, with wind power making up 22 percent of its electricity generation in 2011, up from 14 percent in 2010. In 2011, Iowa generated 19 percent of its electricity with wind energy. And in North Dakota, wind’s share was 15 percent.

CO2 and Where it Hid in the Last Ice Age
April 4, 2012 08:58 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Climate theory has it that as atmospheric CO2 concentrations go up it gets warmer and vice versa. So where does it goes when it is not in the atmosphere? Much of the CO2 was hidden in the ocean, which explains its low atmosphere concentration during the last Ice Age 20,000 years ago, a group of researchers have just said. Climate researchers from the Universities of Bern (Switzerland) and Grenoble (France) and the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (Germany) found this close connection between CO2 and temperature has existed over the past 800,000 years.

Coral Links Ice Sheet Collapse to Ancient 'Mega Flood'
April 4, 2012 08:40 AM - Editor, Science Daily

Coral off Tahiti has linked the collapse of massive ice sheets 14,600 years ago to a dramatic and rapid rise in global sea-levels of around 14 metres. Previous research could not accurately date the sea-level rise but now an Aix-Marseille University-led team, including Oxford University scientists Alex Thomas and Gideon Henderson, has confirmed that the event occurred 14,650-14,310 years ago at the same time as a period of rapid climate change known as the Bølling warming.

Ocean Heating over the past hundred years
April 3, 2012 07:08 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

In 1872 the HMS Challenger pulled out from Portsmouth, England to begin an unprecedented scientific expedition of the world's oceans. During its over three year journey the HMS Challenger not only collected thousands of new species and sounded unknown ocean depths, but also took hundreds of temperature readings—data which is now proving invaluable to our understanding of climate change. Utilizing the temperature data from the HMS Challenger expedition and comparing it to contemporary temperatures, researchers writing in Nature Climate Change found that the oceans' surface— where marine warming is most intense—saw temperature rise on average by 0.59 degrees Celsius (1.1 degrees Fahrenheit) over the past 135 years or so. This implies that oceanic temperatures have been rising for at least a century.

Earth Hour biggest ever this year
April 1, 2012 09:25 AM - Editor, WWF

Last night, as Earth Hour beganits monumental journey around the globe, hundreds of millions of people united to demonstrate that we urgently need to take action to protect our planet. The largest voluntary action for the environment is reaching further than ever before. Earth Hour was celebrated in a record 150 countries and territories and 6494 towns and cities to send the message that our combined efforts are needed to change our future to one that is sustainable.

Planet Under Pressure Conference - State of the Planet Declaration Issued
March 31, 2012 07:07 AM - Aisling Irwin, SciDevNet

Earth has only one decade to pull itself back from various environmental 'tipping points' — points at which the damage becomes irreversible, scientists have said. If it fails to do so, it is likely to witness a series of breakdowns in the systems that sustain people, such as oceans and soil, according to a major meeting on safeguarding the planet's future, the Planet Under Pressure conference (26–29 March). "Research now demonstrates that the continued functioning of the Earth system as it has supported the wellbeing of human civilization in recent centuries is at risk," said some of the world's leading documenters of global environmental change in the first 'State of the Planet' declaration.

Scotland on the High Road to Sustainable Energy
March 30, 2012 07:10 AM - Staff, ClickGreen

Scotland is on course to smash its renewable energy targets after official figures revealed record-high levels of green power generation. The Scottish Government's Energy Minister Fergus Ewing welcomed the publication of the statistics that confirms Scotland will beat the 2011 renewables target. Statistics published today show that the amount of renewable electricity generated in 2011 rose 45 per cent on 2010 to 13,750 Gigawatt hours.

Rio+20 zero draft accepts 'planetary boundaries'
March 29, 2012 05:29 AM - Yojana Sharma, SciDevNet

The latest draft of the so-called 'zero draft' document, which will be presented to heads of government at the Rio+20 Summit in June, has been amended to include an acknowledgement that there are scientifically assessed 'planetary boundaries' which, if overstepped, could result in irreversible damage to the Earth's sytems. The draft is being prepared by national delegates to the United Nations, and will ultimately be presented to heads of government at the Summit for their endorsement.

Antarctica Ice Shelves
March 28, 2012 01:44 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

A glacier is a large persistent body of ice that forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation (melting and sublimation) over many years, often centuries. An ice shelf is a thick floating platform of ice that forms where a glacier or ice sheet flows down to a coastline and onto the ocean surface. Ice shelves are only found in Antarctica, Greenland and Canada. A new study examining nearly 40 years of satellite imagery has revealed that the floating ice shelves of a critical portion of West Antarctica are steadily losing their grip on adjacent bay walls, potentially amplifying an already accelerating loss of ice to the sea.

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