Climate

Birnam Wood in the 21st Century: northern forest invading Arctic tundra as world warms
March 7, 2011 08:22 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

In Shakespeare's play Macbeth the forest of Birnam Wood fulfills a seemingly impossible prophecy by moving to surround the murderous king (the marching trees are helped, of course, by an army of axe-wielding camouflaged Scots). The Arctic tundra may soon feel much like the doomed Macbeth with an army of trees (and invading species) closing in. In a recent study, researchers found that climate change is likely to push the northern forests of the boreal into the Arctic tundra—a trend that is already being confirmed in Alaska.

The snows of Mount Kilimanjaro may soon be no more
March 6, 2011 07:18 AM - University of Alabama, Hunstville, from Science Daily

The impact that local deforestation might have on the snowcap and glaciers atop Mount Kilimanjaro are being calculated at The University of Alabama in Huntsville using regional climate models and data from NASA satellites. The first piece of that research, which looked only at the month of July, found that deforestation is changing weather patterns around the mountain but not (at least in July) at the peak, according to Dr. Udaysankar Nair, a research scientist in UAHuntsville's Earth System Science Center.

Algal Blooms in the Arctic
March 4, 2011 09:23 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

An algal bloom is an explosion of growth and population of algae, which typically consist of one or a small number of phytoplankton, the foundation of the food chain. These blooms occur all over the world, even in the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean. They normally occur for a reason such as an overabundance of nutrients in the water from natural or man-made sources, or naturally with rising spring temperatures. In the Arctic, higher temperatures and melting ice have caused a shift in the region's natural bloom cycle. They are progressively coming earlier, and the shift has great importance to the entire food chain and global carbon cycle.

Some Antarctic Ice Is Forming from Bottom
March 4, 2011 08:36 AM - Editor, Science Daily

ScienceDaily (Mar. 3, 2011) — Scientists working in the remotest part of Antarctica have discovered that liquid water locked deep under the continent's coat of ice regularly thaws and refreezes to the bottom, creating as much as half the thickness of the ice in places, and actively modifying its structure. The finding, which turns common perceptions of glacial formation upside down, could reshape scientists' understanding of how the ice sheet expands and moves, and how it might react to warming climate, they say.

EPA Postpones GHG Reporting Deadline
March 2, 2011 10:02 AM - Jonathan Kalmuss-Katz, Sive Paget & Riesel, P.C.

On March 1, 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") announced its plans to postpone the upcoming deadline for mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas ("GHG") emissions, which is currently scheduled for the end of this month. EPA has not set a revised deadline, though the agency reported that it "is in the process of finalizing a user friendly online electronic reporting platform," which it plans to unveil this summer.

When and Where Life Began
March 1, 2011 08:14 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Almost 600 million years ago, before the rapid evolution of life forms known as the Cambrian explosion, a community of seaweeds and worm-like animals lived in a quiet deep-water niche near what is now Lantian, a small village in south China. Then they simply died, leaving some 3,000 nearly pristine fossils preserved between beds of black shale deposited in oxygen-free and unbreathable waters. Scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Virginia Tech in the United States and Northwest University in Xi'an, China report the discovery of the fossils in this week's issue of the journal Nature. The long-running puzzlement about the appearance of the Cambrian fauna, seemingly abruptly and from nowhere, centers on three key points: whether there really was a mass diversification of complex organisms over a relatively short period of time during the early Cambrian; what might have caused such rapid change; and what it would imply about the origin and evolution of animals. Interpretation is difficult due to a limited supply of evidence, based mainly on an incomplete fossil record and chemical signatures left in Cambrian rocks. The Lantia discovery suggests a much part of the picture.

China's take on the current issues in climate talks
March 1, 2011 06:41 AM - Retuers, BEIJING

China, the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter, wants rich nations to vow bigger cuts to emissions as part of a new international deal on fighting global warming, Beijing's top climate negotiator said on Tuesday. The negotiator, Xie Zhenhua, said he expects "arduous" wrangling about that and other issues facing governments seeking to settle on the key parts of a comprehensive climate change pact at talks in Durban, South Africa, in late 2011. Above all, Xie said in a policy-setting essay in China's official People's Daily, Beijing will not budge from demanding a second lease of life for the Kyoto Protocol, the greenhouse gas emissions pact which Japan, Russia, Canada and other critics have said does too little to curb the fast-growing emissions of China and other big developing countries.

Arctic Sea Ice Extent in January is Lowest in Recorded History
February 27, 2011 10:08 AM - Yale Environment 360

While extreme weather conditions and unusually cold temperatures have gripped much of North America and Europe this winter, unusually warm temperatures farther north produced the lowest Arctic sea ice extent ever recorded for the month of January, according to NASA. Areas such as Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait, and Davis Strait — which typically freeze over by late November — did not completely freeze until mid-January, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). And the Labrador Sea was also unusually ice-free. In this NASA graphic, based on satellite data, blue indicates open water, white illustrates high sea ice concentrations, and turquoise indicates loosely packed ice.

The Gerat Northern Lights
February 25, 2011 11:43 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

An aurora is a natural light display in the sky, particularly in the polar regions, caused by the collision of charged particles directed by the Earth's magnetic field. An aurora is usually observed at night and typically occurs in the ionosphere. It is also referred to as a polar aurora or, collectively, as polar lights. These phenomena are commonly visible between 60 and 72 degrees north and south latitudes, which place them in a ring just within the Arctic and Antarctic polar circles. Recent increases in solar activity, including the largest solar flare in four years, may lead to hopes of seeing the aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights, in the United Kingdom and other relatively more southern locales. In the United Kingdom, for example, the chances of seeing the aurora increase the further north you go – ranging from one or two displays every 10 years in the south of England to one or two displays a week in the far northern Shetland Islands. Solar variation is the change in the amount of radiation emitted by the Sun and in its spectral distribution over years to millennia. These variations have periodic components, the main one being the approximately 11-year solar cycle (or sunspot cycle). This variation causes the northern lights to vary in location and magnitude.

New Zealand quake sends 30 million tons of ice loose from glacier
February 25, 2011 06:33 AM -

The 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck New Zealand on Tuesday, killing at least 75 people in Christchurch, also shook loose 30 million tons of ice from the nation's longest glacier, sending boulders of ice into a nearby lake. Tour boat operators in the area said parts of the Tasman Glacier calved into the Tasman Lake immediately after the quake, breaking into smaller icebergs and causing 3.5 meter-high (11-foot) waves. "It was approximately 30 million tons of ice, it's just a massive, massive, massive scale," said Denis Callesen, the General Manager of Tourism at Aoraki Mount Cook Alpine Village.

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